Stripes hit the summit!

10 months ago By Ian Townsend

After the weather-related shambles of last weekend it was nice to get an-almost- full programme of Bostik football once more, and there were a number of significant matches across our Divisions. Here’s your round up.

Any one of our top four clubs could have ended the day on top of the pile, although that went down to three after the match at Billericay Town was postponed only ninety minutes prior to kick off. Leaders Dulwich Hamlet, having had one of the most traumatic weeks in their history, travelled to Brightlingsea Regent after winning two away matches already over the last few days- defeating Billericay and Brentwood Towns, the latter on Thursday in the Velocity Trophy. They took the lead at the Taydal Stadium- twice- through Ciao Guimares and Dipo Akinyemi, but on each occasion Regent came back, and earned a draw with goals from Jake Turner- four minutes before the break- and Aaron Condon eight minutes from time.

A second match between two playoff rivals saw fifth place Hendon host fourth place Margate, and you can read about their 1-1 draw HERE as it was our #bostikmatchday featured game, whilst the only team in the playoff places we haven’t mentioned, Folkestone Invicta, travelled to Harrow Borough. The home side had won four of their last six, wins over Needham Market, Burgess Hill Town, Thurrock and Worthing lifting them twelve points clear of trouble, whilst Invicta had followed a famous victory over Billericay with draws against Kingstonian and Harlow Town, before facing the K’s again in midweek and despatching them 3-0. The thought before the match was that the contest may be tight, but it turned out to be anything but, as second half goals from Adam Yusuff (2) and Joseph Taylor gave the stripes all three points and left them sitting proudly on the top of the Bostik Premier Division.

Leiston and Leatherhead still have ambitions of sneaking into a playoff place, and both were away- to Kingstonian and bottom side Burgess Hill Town respectively. Sadly the Tanners generated only another game in hand, the Hillians pitch falling foul of the elements and causing a postponement, but Leiston took advantage with a 3-1 victory at Fetcham Grove. Christy Finch gave them a very early lead, but it took them almost the entire match to double it, with an own goal fifteen minutes from the end. Toby Ayala halved the arrears almost immediately but Leiston’s new striker Jake Reed, who signed from Lowestoft Town earlier this week, scored for his second successive game to make the points safe four minutes from the end.

Waltham Abbey with the Witham Town Under 7's

Waltham Abbey with the Witham Town Under 7's

Second bottom Harlow Town hosted a Metropolitan Police side who lost to Tonbridge Angels last time out- although that was only their second loss in their last ten matches. Harlow, without a win in nine, certainly had more need of the points, and they got them in a thrilling match which saw them win by the odd goal in seven and twice come from behind. There was only one goal in the first half, Jared Small getting it for the Hawks, but within ten minutes of the restart the home side were behind, Luke Robertson and Tom Bird scoring for Met. Sam Clarke equalised for Harlow only for Gavin James to restore the lead for the boys in blue, but the Hawks weren’t done and a Matt Foy double gave them all three points and moved them six clear of Burgess Hill Town- although the Hillians do have three games in hand.

Third bottom Tooting & Mitcham United hosted a fifth bottom Dorking Wanderers side who may have felt they were in a rather false position, having managed to play only two matches since the end of January and none whatsoever since defeating Kingstonian on 17th February. The enforced absence may have left the away side ring rusty, and so it seemed after Omar Folkes put the Terrors ahead, but Dorking responded with an equaliser through James McShane five minutes before the break, and it was the same player who gave them all three points just three minutes later- a result which drops the home side to second bottom, level on points with Harlow Town but behind them on goal difference.

Enfield Town and Lowestoft Town shared the dubious distinction of only managing one win from their last six, but it was the Trawler Boys, in financial difficulty and having lost a number of key players, who most needed the points- however they left with none, as Enfield scored three goals without reply. Mat Mitchel-King gave them a first half lead, and two from Ryan Blackman and Liam Hope secured the victory.

Last weekend’s heroes Worthing followed up their win over Billericay Town by earning a point at Staines Town in midweek- a point which manager Adam Hinshelwood felt should have been three. They travelled to face a Tonbridge Angels side who have won three matches in a row since having their playing budget cut, but their lack of resource came back to haunt them after an injury to defender Callum Adonis-Taylor saw striker Nathan Elder having to play the rest of the match in defence. Despite this handicap it was Angels who took the lead through Joe Turner, but Worthing responded in the last minute through Zak Newton, and then managed to break the hearts of the home fans by scoring a winner in stoppage time, Ben Pope taking the once rock bottom Mackerel Men up to the heights of fifteenth place.

Finally, Wingate and Finchley, in ninth place after a run of four matches without a win, hosted a Thurrock side who had ended a similarly inconsistent run by thrashing Burgess Hill Town last weekend. Five years previously- to the day- the two sides had met in a match which was abandoned after Wingate & Finchley had five players sent off, but the highest score was four on this occasion- goals, not cards- as two each from Lewwis Spence and Jordan Clarke saw Thurrock come from behind to win four-two. The Finchley goals, which saw them go into the break 2-1 ahead, came from Layne Eadie and Reece Beckles-Richards.

In the North Division we knew that AFC Hornchurch would remain top no matter the result of their match against third place Canvey Island, given that they started the day eleven points clear of Bowers and Pitsea- although perhaps more crucially nineteen points clear of their visitors. That gap had increased to twenty two by full time, as a goal from Theo Fairweather-Johnson earned the Urchins all three points after some stout defending kept Canvey at bay.

Bowers were due to take on seventh place Dereham Town, but their game was postponed, and Haringey Borough, back to their early season form after four wins from their last five (losing only to the Urchins), took advantage to jump into third with a 3-0 victory over an AFC Sudbury side who had won five- and drawn one- of their last seven. All of the goals came in the second half, and Anthony McDonald, Michael O'Donoghue and Jordan Edwards got them, as Borough closed the gap on Bowers & Pitsea to six points.

Potters Bar Town, starting the day in 5th place, hosted Tilbury on the back of a defeat and two draws, whilst the Dockers were on a good run, with two wins and two draws from their last four. It promised to be a tight contest, but ended up being anything but, as goals from Chris Doyle (2), Michael Murray and Sam Grace gave the Scholars a 4-0 victory to move them level on points with Canvey. Sixth place Maldon & Tiptree were due to entertain eighth place Barking, but their match was beaten by the weather.

Aveley came into their match against Ware top of the six game form table, whilst their visitors sat entirely at the opposite end, but the result showed clearly that you can’t take anything for granted in football as the visitors came to Parkside and left with the points, a goal from Jordon Watson taking them seven points clear of bottom side Romford. The Boro were entertaining Hertford Town, and are now marooned five points behind at the bottom of the table, the away side recording a 4-1 victory. Romford scored through Andrew Tiranhu just before the break, but by then Town already had two, through Phillip Lowen and Charlie Ruff- and they were to get two more in the second period, Michael Toner and Luke Illsley the scorers.

Witham Town earned a 2-0 victory over Waltham Abbey with a late smash and grab, two goals in the last two minutes from Chinedu Osadebe giving them all three points, whilst the two remaining matches ended 2-2, between Norwich United and Grays Athletic and between Soham Town Rangers and Cheshunt. Adam Hipperson and Nathan Stewart scored for the Planters, with Kieran Bishop and Joao Carlos replying, whilst at Julius Martin Lane Rangers twice came from behind, a brace from Sam Mulready cancelling out Ambers goals from Dave Kendall and Jason Hallett.

There were victories for four of the top six in the South Division, and Lewes retained their five points lead with victory at a recently much-improved Ashford United. Frankie Chappell gave the Rooks a first half lead which Jonte Smith (78') and James Hammond (80') added to, before Dean Grant got a last minute consolation for the Nuts and Bolts. Corinthian-Casuals remain second, first half goals from Josh Uzun and Warren Morgan enough to beat Thamesmead Town, for whom Paul Vines got a last minute consolation, whilst Carshalton Athletic remain third, after a five-nil thumping of Molesey. On the day that their former striker Mikel Miller made his professional debut for Hamilton Academicals the Robins showed that they could manage without him, Omar Koroma, Christie Pattison and two from Tommy Bradford making the match safe before an own goal rubbed salt in the Moles wounds.

Cray Wanderers had won only one of their last six, and their slump continued at Hythe Town, where Ryan Palmer and Zak Ansah gave the home side a 2-0 lead. Charlie MacDonald reduced the arrears with six minutes to go, but the former leaders are now eleven points behind Lewes having played a game more, whilst Hythe are now only four points off the final playoff place, held by Walton Casuals whose match at Shoreham was called off just before 12 o’clock. Greenwich Borough sit between Carshalton and Cray, and they got all three points at home to Faversham Town yesterday, winning by a single Kaka Dembele goal eighteen minutes from time.

Whyteleafe may also be playoff challengers, and yesterday kept up their recent great run with a 1-0 victory over Hastings United at Church Road, Vance Bola with the only goal of the match, whilst a double from Jeff Duah-Kessie- following a goal by Kelvin Ogboe- was enough to give ninth place Phoenix Sports all three points at home to Herne Bay, for whom Junior efosa Aikhionbare got a consolation.

Ramsgate moved up to eighteenth with a 3-0 win over Chipstead, Liam Dickson, Rory Smith and Alfie Paxman with the goals, whilst in the other match Guernsey also recorded a 3-0 victory over Sittingbourne, Paris Pereira and Dave Rihoy (2) moving the Green Lions twenty seven points clear of the drop in twentieth place.

Our next action is at Fetcham Grove on Monday as Kingstonian take on Staines Town- and we have more matches on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week, as our sides play catch up following the recent terrible weather. Check the fixture list for full details.

By the way, the image above is of the Waltham Abbey squad being visited by the matchday mascots, Witham Town Under 7's, before their match at the Village Glass Stadium. Thanks to Jim Purtill for taking it, and to Mark Bundock for providing it.

Where next?

Hamlet to play first 'home' match at Imperial Fields on Tuesday Pink and Blues entertain the Boys in Blue in the House of Terrors!
Bostik Matchday: The art of contentment Hendon and Margate look for the path to serenity. Liverpool and Manchester United fail to help.

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