Seasiders entertain huge crowd with thrilling victory


Felixstowe & Walton United remain firmly in the hunt for the playoffs after a thrilling comeback victory against local rivals Stowmarket Town. The away side took an early lead from a deflected shot and had the better of the first half but the second half belonged to the Seasiders who secured the vital three points with goals from Andre Hasanally and a late winner from Man of the match Billy Holland.

There was a good attendance inside the Goldstar Ground of 617 considering the unexpected rain and the usually lower midweek crowd expectations. Jordan Matthews remained side-lined for Felixstowe, Andre Hasanally returned to the side with Josh Hitter absent. Recent loanee Manny Osei was on the bench for the visitors.


The game started at a good pace with both sides playing the ball around without too many forays forward, Stowmarket were forcing Felixstowe to go long to Armani Schaar on most occasions but it was clear from the off that the game was going to be different from the away fixture, a game that Stowmarket had dominated from start to finish. Stowmarket took the lead on 11 minutes with their first decent chance of the game, a quick break on the right found Luke Brown free on the byline and his ball across the six yard box took a deflection of Sam Nunn’s shin and beat former Stow keeper Callum Robinson. A Stowmarket corner on 20 minutes nearly led to a second goal, Robinson dropping the cross and a looping header from Mayhew was cleared off the line at the last second. A good, competitive game continued to gather momentum and both sides were playing good football in the wet conditions. A ball over the top set Armani Schaar free on 26 minutes, he stormed forward and with the goalkeeper coming outside his box to meet him, the inevitable collision left both players flat out and needing lengthy treatment. Bizarrely the referee gave a free kick despite the over-enthusiastic challenge from Bradbrook who had no alternative but to go in with his shoulder to take Armani out. Another quick break on 38 minutes set Hasanally clear for Felixstowe; he raced the length of the half and spread the ball out to Ollie Canfer who returned the pass to Hasanally in a great position inside the box but two defenders cleared just as the shot was attempted. Stowmarket were still looking strong and quick but not creating too much up front, whilst Felixstowe continued to grow into the game the longer the first half progressed. Henry Barley had a free kick on 44 minutes that was cleared out to the edge of the area to Hasanally whose curling shot just missed the left hand upright. Felixstowe were close to an equaliser in added time as another Barley free kick was headed away as two forwards steamed in to meet it, from the resultant corner the ball was cleared off the line from Canfers firm header.


Zak Brown replaced Armani Schaar at half time as Felixstowe searched for the goal that would keep the playoff dream alive, but instead it was nearly two at the other end as a free kick missed everybody in the box except the Stowmarket forward who headed up and onto the roof of the net. Felixstowe were stepping up the pace even further and looking to set players free at every opportunity, on 48 minutes Noel Aitkens broke brilliantly and got to the byline before crossing into the box for the two waiting attackers, Bradbrook was first out to clear the danger. Manny Osei was introduced to the game and his pace immediately set Caley-Brown up to shoot low towards the near post but Robinson saved comfortably. Felixstowe were deservedly level on 58 minutes, Hasanally did brilliantly to break on the left and cut inside, with two defenders to beat he curled a shot towards goal which deflected off Jack Ainsley and nestled in to the bottom corner of the net. With the atmosphere building inside the ground it was Felixstowe bursting forward constantly; Zak Brown won the ball in the centre circle and was about to race clear on goal, he was pulled back but the referee played the advantage even though two defenders had been given the opportunity to mop up after the tug. Zak Brown was then given the perfect present to make amends when a penalty was awarded to the home side on 64 minutes for a clear handball in the area. Despite Joe Whight being on the pitch, it was Brown who stepped up to take the spot kick, only to see his low and slow shot saved comfortably down to Bradbrook’s left. That miss deflated the home side for several minutes as the steam they had built up throughout the second half evaporated somewhat as the disappointment of a golden chance to go ahead had been spurned. Felixstowe were still containing Stowmarket at the back and started to reassert their control of the game, Henry Barley saw his header land on the top of the net on 70 minutes and then on 79 minutes had the crowd holding their heads as Joe Whight sent over a pinpoint cross to the far post that Barley met but headed inches wide. The game had reached new heights for the home side and two minutes later the home crowd were again nearly celebrating as another golden chance was created, this time a great cross was met at the far post by Billy Holland whose effort was cleared off the line. On 83 minutes the pressure finally paid off for the home side, a corner from the right was inch perfect for Billy Holland who rose above two defenders from an angle and he thundered his header into the far side of the net to send the crowd wild. With ten minutes left to play, it was now all about game management. Felixstowe had controlled the half with probably their best 45 minutes of the season and with the away side desperate to get back into the game to keep their automatic promotion hopes alive, Stuart Boardley and his assistant for the night, Leon Ottley-Gooch (Andy Crump at Peppa Pig World!) managed to instil a calmness and focus into the players despite the fever pitch atmosphere around the ground. No real danger was created by either side as the minutes ticked by and the final whistle was met with relief and pride at a significant result for the Seasiders in a game that was a fantastic advert for non-league football, with both teams deserving praise for their contribution.


Stuart Boardley spoke after the game. “It was an incredible game of football, a brilliant advert for non-league, two really good sides going at it hammer and tongs for 95 minutes. We are incredibly proud of the effort, the endeavour and more importantly the togetherness of the group that was really on show tonight. Stowmarket came out of the blocks quick, they played some good attacking football that we struggled to deal with for the first twenty minutes, we kind of tweaked our shape and who was playing where and that got us a hold in the game from there, it didn’t turn it in our favour as such but it certainly gave us a bit more solidity at the back and stopped some of their attacking threats. From there we built into the game through the first half, got to grip with things and started to pass the ball a little better. At half time I said to them we’ve got nothing to lose, we needed to win the game and I’ve challenged the lads to stop being so cautious, stop worrying about what ifs and what’s going to happen here, it’s just about us going and being positive and I felt from the 46th minute right through to 95, that’s exactly what we did do and all credit to the players for that. We got the deflection for the first goal, like they did for theirs, but I felt our play deserved that little break and then we dominated from there, we got the penalty that we should have put away, had other chances, and then got the winner. I felt our general play was so good second half, I couldn’t be prouder. Despite the penalty miss, Zak Brown ran himself into the ground, the whole group did, they just believed that we could get a result, despite missing chances. We didn’t let our heads drop at those moments, we kept believing it would come and eventually we got that winner. We’ve been good of late at handling that pressure after that, they were throwing bodies forward and put the skipper up front, but we defended manfully at the end and more importantly played very very well”. Boards went on to say. “What a game we now have to follow it up with, Bury at home on Saturday, another local derby, Bury will have good support but it’s about us not allowing them to spoil our party, let’s not rest on our laurels, and say hold out and nick a one nil. It’s about being positive and taking the game to Bury as we did with Stowmarket second half tonight. They actually come here with everything to play for, it’s a local derby and they want to spoil things for us, just as we would if it was the other way around. They have a lot of pride to play for so it will be a really hotly contested game and I hope people turn out on Saturday and give us that support, the atmosphere inside here tonight was fantastic and that, without a shadow of a doubt does make a difference and gives the players that bit extra”.



Report by Stuart Daynes

Photos by Thomas Bradford & Nicholas Flexman - Freelance Sports Photographer

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