Seasiders stroll to victory in Essex


Felixstowe & Walton United cruised to a 4-0 away win in the Isthmian North to keep their playoff hopes on track, on a day that saw rivals teams lose ground. First half goals from Leon Ottley-Gooch and Josh Hitter were followed up by a dominate second half display that saw the Seasiders build their lead further through Hitter once more and Ollie Canfer.

Felixstowe supporters made up half the crowd at a Great Wakering Rovers ground that had seen the home side unable to register a win since October 8th (Against Coggeshall) and who were on a ten-match losing run and a 17-match winless run that had produced just two points.

Felixstowe welcomed back Stuart Ainsley into the starting eleven after injury, with Harry Knock and Noel Aitkens still side-lined through injuries. A strong bench contained the likes of Zak Brown, Callum Harrison, Andre Hasanally and Ollie Canfer!


Similar to that at Tilbury a fortnight ago, the pitch was not in a condition that suited Felixstowe’s style of play but they adapted well after a quiet start that had seen the home side have more of the ball and looking energetic rather than particularly capable of piercing the Seasiders rear-guard, despite playing four men up front for the first half an hour. The first chance for Felixstowe fell to Billy Holland on 12 minutes, his firm header from a corner going wide of the back post from a great position. George Clarke was bulldozing his way forward at every opportunity and he was set clear by Josh Hitter on 20 minutes, he rounded the goalkeeper inside the box but a combination of the keeper and his two defenders allowed the ball to be cleared to safety. Rovers seemed incapable of playing the offside trap throughout the game and time and time again, Felixstowe breached the defensive line with through balls which Clarke and Charlie Warren were lapping up. George Clarke knocked the ball down for Leon Ottley-Gooch to send in a piledriver from 25 yards on 25 minutes but the goalkeeper did well to keep it out. Two minutes later and Ottley-Gooch was not to be denied, and he scored his second goal of the week, following his effort at East Thurrock on Tuesday. Clarke had seen his effort cleared off the line and out, but quick feet from Warren and Barley saw a cross come back into the six-yard box for Ottley-Gooch to evade his marker and slam the ball home from close range. George Clarke was taken off straight away and replaced by Zak Brown after going down under a challenge in the lead up to the goal, and Brown was immediately carrying on Clarkes job of making it a difficult afternoon for the home defence, his first task was to win the ball in his own half and sprint through the opposition half, beat two defenders and spread the ball to Josh Hitter, he returned the favour to Brown in the box but the goalkeeper scrambled the effort away. The need for the second goal was evident on 38 minutes when the home side nearly equalised, the lively Harry Brown at number nine produced a fierce shot from 16 yards that Callum Robinson did brilliantly to keep out at ground level, with the ball spinning away towards the goal before being cleared. That crucial goal did come for the Seasiders as the clock ticked over into added time at the end of the first half, again Zak Brown was unplayable up top and his burst forward resulted in a high cross to the far edge of the six-yard box which Josh Hitter was steaming towards, and he converted brilliantly from a tight angle to get the goal his first half display had deserved. Joe Whight, a pillar of strength at the back, showed his abilities higher up the field too before the whistle, his free kick from 20 yards out on the right looking like extending the lead before the goalkeeper pulled off a fine save at the near post.


Felixstowe were in complete control for the second half from the opening whistle and it was just a case of how many more they would score, Zak Brown started the succession of opportunities by creating his own glorious chance on 48 minutes, beating two men to set himself up just inside the area and volleying just over from the angle. Four minutes later and it was Brown again on the right storming into the area and seeing his effort smothered by the keeper on the six yard line. Brown was on fire (not literally) and he showed his generous nature by gifting a goal to Josh Hitter on 56 minutes, Zak had won the ball again in his own half and left the defence for dead by getting the ball to the left byline, drawing the last two defenders to him, and sending a delicious ball through to the hungry Hitter who may have miskicked, but did enough to connect and see the ball spin out of the reach of the goalkeeper and squirm over the line. Ottley-Gooch had played a tremendous game but had to be replaced by Ollie Canfer shortly after, with Canfer soon showing his usual clever play and quality. Charlie Warren nearly caught the keeper out with a great effort on 63 minutes, his effort from the far side having to be tipped over the bar after more fine build up play from Billy Holland. A minute later Josh Hitter was a whisker away from a hat-trick, taking a beautiful ball down from the far left and whipping over what appeared to be cross? But instead turned into a smart volley that beat the goalkeeper and smacked against the cross bar from 15 yards. 5 minutes from the end, Henry Barley had the Felixstowe supporters purring as he displayed his full repertoire of skills to gain the ball just inside the Wakering half and go on a mazy run that took out at least five players, he then selflessly played the ball into Zak Brown who saw his shot saved again by the goalkeeper. The fourth goal did come as the added time board went up, and it was Ollie Canfer on hand from 16 yards to take the ball and fire a vicious effort across the keeper and into the net to put the cherry on a very tasty cake that the Seasiders had baked for the fantastic travelling supporters during the afternoon, although the cake was nearly dropped in injury time when the home side found a spark and a quite breath-taking volley from 20 yards that smacked the cross bar and bounced down on the line and out to safety.


Report by Stuart Daynes

Photos by Thomas Bradford

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