Seasiders suffer playoff heartbreak in semi-final


Felixstowe & Walton United suffered playoff heartbreak at Canvey Island in last night’s semi-final, losing 3-1 to a strong home side that took the lead after just two minutes. The Seasiders weathered the early storm and eventually equalised through Sam Nunn on 65 minutes. With the tie seemingly headed for extra time, Canvey danger man Evans Kouassi twice broke through in the last few minutes to send the Islanders into the playoff final on Friday.

Zak Brown returned to the starting line-up after being rested on Saturday and it was a strong looking starting eleven and bench for the away side, who were well backed by the travelling red and white army. The team bus suffered traffic delays en route, making for a three hour journey and a far from ideal lead up to the game.

With Matthew Price returning to the home side after injury to partner Evans Kouassi up front, it was clear that Felixstowe would have to try to contain the pairing that had produced 49 league goals between them this season. Unfortunately that did not go quite to plan, with Price taking just two minutes to open the scoring, to the delight of the large home crowd. Price heading home Hubble’s cross after making space between two defenders. Canvey were looking lightning quick and causing all sorts of problems at the back, especially from Kouassi. Siva curled a shot over the bar on 10 minutes and Ronto crossed well for Price on 12 minutes but this time the goal scorer could only head wide when well placed. Kouassi then broke quickly on 15 minutes and raced into the box and brilliantly beat his man to send in a shot that cannoned back off the near post. For all the home sides attacking quality, Felixstowe were showing signs of countering that and were starting to play the ball around nicely, on 15 minutes that nearly paid off with a sparkling passing move that led to Callum Bennett crossing towards the far post, Zak Brown launched himself at the ball and looked certain to equalise but just couldn’t get his big toe to the ball and it zipped out to safety. That man Price again nearly doubled the lead on 22 minutes, spotting Robinson off his line, his audacious effort from the halfway line sailing just a foot wide as those Seasiders supporters with a nervous disposition (me) looked away. Felixstowe were then gifted their best chance of the half on 24 minutes, a brilliant ball into the box was about to be headed in by Billy Holland but the home side’s Girdlestone just beat him to it but could only send his close range header directly towards the roof the net where Bobby Mason produced a stunning save to turn the ball over. Price had the ball in the net at the other end on 27 minutes but was rightly penalised for fouling Robinson to knock the ball from his hands in doing so. Felixstowe managed to keep the score to one until half time and had weathered that early period where it looked like Canvey could run away with the game, Ronto had a shot saved in added time but the half ended with just the one goal.

Felixstowe had been in this position many times this year, supporters will remember the trip to Hastings in the FA Trophy where they had conceded early, soaked up all the pressure and then went on to control and ultimately win the game, same scenario versus Stowmarket at home recently, so talk in the stands was how “next goals wins”. Canvey very nearly did that on 51 minutes, Kouassi squaring the ball to the back post to Price who had lost his man, but the ball flew just behind his stride. Andre Hasanally produced a great free kick on 54 minutes that Mason did well to save, but Hasanally was then to claim an assist as the equaliser came on 65 minutes. His corner was met by an incoming Sam Nunn who scored with his trademark finish to send the away fans into ecstasy and silence the raucous home support in the 1,059 crowd. Felixstowe sensed the game was now for the taking and managed to limit any further home attacks for 20 minutes whilst they peppered the home defence with numerous half chances, Felixstowe’s best chance fell to Ollie Canfer on 75 minutes but his header was just wide. Just as the game looked to be heading for extra time, Canvey found a new burst of energy and started to push up, Price forced a good save from Robinson on 83 minutes with his dipping effort but on 86 minutes, the Seasiders hearts were broken when Kouassi sprinted forward and smashed his shot under Robinson and into the net to retake the lead. A stop start next five minutes meant Felixstowe could not mount any pressure going forward and as the clock ticked into added time, Kouassi again showed his Usain Bolt type sprinting ability to again race forward and finish well into the far corner.  Canvey go through to the playoff final on Friday and will face Brentwood Town at home. Felixstowe will reflect on a superb season in league and cup and rest well, ready to do it all again next season!

Felixstowe Manager Stuart Boardley was interviewed after the game and that can be found on our YouTube channel.



Report by Stuart Daynes

Photos by Thomas Bradford

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