Seasiders have to settle for a point on the road


Felixstowe & Walton United had to settle for a point in a game they looked destined to win from the first minute. A dominant performance had only led to a one goal lead, through Joe Whight, when Tilbury equalised with a clinical move 9 minutes from time. The point saw the Seasiders rise to seventh in the table, four points off the play-offs.

Felixstowe travelled to Tilbury with the bare bones of a squad, a hamstring injury for Noel Aitkens ruling him out and adding to the injury/suspended/unavailable list that would now make quite a team in its own right. Haynes-Brown, Ottley-Gooch, Jopling, Aitkens, Bennett, Howell, Schaar, Barley, Brown, Hitter and Clarke. New loan signing Andre Hasanally from Colchester United made his debut and a late one-off match signing of Woodbridge Town forward Elliott Capel made sure the bench had at a least a couple of fit players on it.

From the kick off it was clear that the pitch was going to have a big impact on the game, a cobbled together collection of tufts of bobbly grass was not conducive to a passing game. Despite this, it was the away side who immediately took control of the game and for the entire first half, Tilbury struggling to make any inroads at all to the Seasiders defence and it would not be an exaggeration to say they did not enter our final third until very late in the half. Ollie Canfer was covering many miles with his constant harassment of the home defence and he nearly opened the scoring on 7 minutes, darting in from the right through three players and as the goal beckoned his shot from an angle was cleared by the goalkeeper, but only to Stuart Ainsley whose cross/shot was heading in until the keeper scooped it away from under the bar. Jordan Matthews won the ball magnificently in a central area on 14 minutes and threaded a lovely ball through for Canfer who managed to hold off defenders on either side of him before toe poking a lovely effort from the edge of the box that was inches over the bar with the keeper beaten. A minute later and it was Canfer again in the action as he sent over a bullet like cross that Tommy Smith met on 8 yards with his head and forced a great close range save from Johnson in the home goal. Tilbury were still showing absolutely nothing in the way of an attacking threat and despite the game being far from a classic, it was still a decent watch for the 30-40 away supporters amongst the sparse crowd. Canfer again had a golden chance to give Felixstowe a much deserved lead on 30 minutes, bursting forward and firing across goal from an angle, the ball agonisingly missing the far post by the width of a Rizla paper. The referee then added to Felixstowe’s future availability issues with a bizarre booking for Billy Holland that I believe will now mean a two match suspension for the fan favourite, Holland lining up a knee height volley on 20 yards that a defender came in to block with his leg, strangely the referee judged that not only a foul, but worthy of a booking! Much to the disbelief of the player himself, his teammates, and the supporters. Tilbury made their first move forward on 43 minutes, the ball spread down the right and pulled back for Olukolu who blasted way over the bar from 20 yards. Tommy Smith had the last chance of the half when he met Ainsley’s cross on the angled volley and fired a foot wide of the left post.

Olukolu shot straight at Callum Robinson on 47 minutes as the home side stepped up their game finally but on 58 minutes it was the away supporters in good voice as the opening goal eventually came. A corner from the right was diverted onto his own crossbar from the goal line by a defender, the ball fell kindly for Joe Whight to slam it home from six yards through a heavily guarded box. Tilbury won a corner from the restart and should have equalised, a good jump leading to a header from 12 yards that went well wide. A ricochet in the box on 62 minutes led to another effort from the home side who again could only find the car park. Joe Whight looked to have doubled the Seasiders advantage on 63 minutes when his header from two yards was somehow kept out by Johnson, on 70 minutes a beautiful ball forward found Canfer  on the right angle in on goal, he took his shot early from 18 yards and fired well wide when in a cracking position. Hasanally showed good skill to create space and a cross on 71 minutes that was cleared by a defender and the goalkeeper just as Tommy Smith was lining up to shoot. The old cliché of one goal is never enough came to haunt Felixstowe on 81 minutes, appearing to be heading for what must have been the most comfortable of one nil wins of all-time, but caught out by the one clinical move that the home side mustered in the entire game. Curtley Williams cramped up on the half way line when about to feed the ball to a forward, the midfield pounced and three passes later Tilbury were in the box two on one and a square pass across the area found substitute Suaibo Balde all alone due to the gap left by Williams and he side footed home from 8 yards. The Felixstowe supporters were stunned and it was a subdued last ten minutes on the side-lines as Tilbury shut up shop and closed down whenever Felixstowe ventured forward. A nervy corner and a free kick for the home side were wasted as they looked to make a real smash and grab of the game but it was Felixstowe who so nearly scored the winner in injury time, Hasanally producing a great cross from the right that Billy Holland met with a diving header from 8 yards that shaved the outside of the post,  that would have been the least they deserved from a game that will not live long in the memory from a quality point of view, and does mean two points dropped in the play-off race.

Stuart Boardley spoke after the game. “We are really disappointed, we created numerous chances, and I can’t remember them having more than one shot if I’m being honest. Credit to Tilbury though, they kept going right to the end and one bit of quality has managed to get them a point and that’s how cruel this league can be at times. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so comfortable at one nil in a game of football as I did today, that shows how quick things can turn as they got their goal and then had a five minute spell where they could have nicked it. We then have another great chance right at the end with Billy’s header that has just gone wide and that summed up our afternoon really, a nearly afternoon”. Boards went on to say. “We brought Elliott Capel in last night on a dual-registration from Woodbridge, which we thank Luke Hyam and those at Woodbridge that allowed that to happen, he’s pretty much come in for one game only just to give us a bit of depth today due to our issues and he’s done well when he came on. Andre Hasanally looked bright at times, it wasn’t his type of game today, or his type of pitch, but he endeavoured to work hard, also Tommy Smith did well on the left, the young lad has done well coming into the first team and gave us 75-80 good minutes. Results in the league looked promising, lots of draws so we haven’t lost too much ground, we’ve actually risen a place so you have to look for the positives and we move on to two big games at Bury in the cup and then Sudbury at home on Friday, two big crowds also I’m sure and we’re looking forward to both games.”



Match report by Stuart Daynes - Photos by Thomas Bradford

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