Whilst we all expected Dorking Wanderers to clinch the Premier Division title, and with it promotion to National League South, as their match at Meadowbank against Worthing drew to a close it seemed we’d have to move on to next weekend for them to have the chance to make it mathematically certain. Although Marc White’s side were doing their bit, three-nil up against Worthing, and Tonbridge Angels were a goal down at Leatherhead, victory over AFC Hornchurch for Haringey Borough would mean that the Coles Park side would keep their title challenge alive, if hanging by a very thin thread.
And then the world changed. In added time at Bridge Avenue the Urchins Sonny Dutton, on the edge of the six yard box, fired home an equaliser- and that meant the celebrations could start in earnest for Wanderers, promoted with four matches to spare!
Wanderers had done their bit quite a while earlier. A Jason Prior penalty had given them a half time lead, and then two goals in three second half minutes from Luke Moore and Lewis Taylor allowed most of the one thousand and twenty three inside Meadowbank to breath a little easier. And then, just after the match had ended, came the news from Bridge Avenue. Celebrations could start in earnest! Our headline image is from Simon Roe, and you can see the rest of his excellent shots from the match here. .
Bowers fans await the full time celebrations
As already mentioned, Haringey Borough had seen an own goal and a second from Coby Rowe put them two up at Bridge Avenue, home of AFC Hornchurch- just plain Hornchurch next season. The Urchins weren’t going to give up, however, and Lewwis Spence reduced the arrears before that Dutton goal gave them a point and Wanderers the title.
Leatherhead kept their playoff hopes alive when Daniel Gallagher scored a 72nd minute winner to defeat Tonbridge Angels. That sees the Tanners only a point off fifth place, which is occupied by Carshalton Athletic. The Robins walloped Wingate and Finchley at Colston Avenue, a Ricky Korboa hat trick doing most of the damage- although an own goal and an opener from Harry Ottaway helped as they ran out 5-1 winners, Anthony Mendy getting the consolation for the Blues. Athletic have won seven of their last ten, with only one defeat during that period- indeed, only one defeat since January 19th.
Tonbridge Angels remain third, three points ahead of Worthing who stay fourth- but only two points separate fourth and seventh. Merstham are the side occupying that seventh spot, and they fell to defeat at the Dripping Pan yesterday, Lewes keeping their playoff hopes alive with a two-one victory. Charlie Coppola put the Rooks ahead just after the break only for Walter Figueira to equalise almost immediately, but Harry Reed’s sixty-third minute goal kept the points in East Sussex.
The Rooks are five points from fifth place, in ninth position, put a point better off are Bishop’s Stortford, who finally ended Margate’s recent unbeaten run. Noel Leighton put the visitors ahead at the Prokit UK Stadium, only for Ben Worman to equalise, and then two minutes from time Jamie Cureton did what he does best, winning the match for the home side.
Hayes & Yeading Utd celebrate promotion
Folkestone Invicta are level on points with Lewes, and they did Whitehawk’s chances of avoiding the drop no good at all with a 2-1 victory at the Fullicks. Matt Newman and Adam Yusuff gave them a two-nil half time lead, and although Duane Ofori-Acheampong got one back for the Hawks it wasn’t enough, and sees them remain three points from safety.
A point ahead of them now- although two points behind fourth-bottom Wingate and Finchley- are Burgess Hill Town. The Hillians have now won three of their last four matches after earlier looking dead and buried, and if they escape the drop by the skin of their teeth for a fourth year in a row really should invest in a lottery ticket! They won a mini-jackpot yesterday, coming from a goal down with only three minutes remaining to earn an unlikely three points at home to Corinthian-Casuals, whose fans must be wondering how on earth that happened- although given their comments about the referee on social media they aren’t wondering all that hard, they feel they know. Warren Mfula put Casuals ahead just after the break, Boris Kipeye-Bonno equalised for the Hillians three minutes from time, and then in added time Tommy Wood was fouled in the box and got up to convert the penalty. Casuals are seven points clear of Hill, in eighteenth place.
Potters Bar Town are level with Casuals, and yesterday did their survival hopes a whole lot of good by scoring four times in nine minutes against Harlow Town. Those goals came in the thirteenth, eighteenth, twentieth and twenty second minutes as the Scholars astonished and demoralised the crowd at the Harlow Arena by going four goals up. Tom Hitchcock and Matthew Foy gave the home fans some hope by reducing the arrears after the break, but Bar made it 5-2 when Dernell Wynter scored from the spot, and that was that.
Kingstonian surely ended any lingering relegation worries, and also ended their period in freefall with victory over Enfield Town. Aaron Lamont and Delano Sam-Yorke put them two up, and although Dan Rumens got one back for the Towners that was that, and the K’s had their first league win since 5th January.
Finally, surely any lingering hopes of a play off place that Bognor Regis Town had were ended by Brightlingsea Regent, the away side clinching all three points seven minutes from time through Jake Turner. Regent took the lead in the first half, Matt Cripps opening the scoring after only six minutes, but Theo Widdrington then equalised from the spot twenty four minutes from time. Bognor are twelfth, Regent fourteenth.
Bowers and Pitsea clinched the North Division title in style with a four-nil win over Dereham Town, and you can read about it here as it was the subject of our Bostik Matchday feature.
Elsewhere, we already knew which four sides would contest the playoffs, so now the battle is only for home advantage, psychological advantage, and the need to get as many points as possible due to the points-per-game lottery that may yet ruin someone’s promotion hopes. Aveley helped themselves in every category with victory at fifth place Coggeshall Town, Thomas Richardson and Alex Akrofi earning them the points despite Connor Hubble pulling a goal back five minutes from time.
Aveley go third, three points behind Maldon & Tiptree who got the only goal of the game at home to Basildon United, Liam Hope with it in the second half. Heybridge Swifts are fourth, but they were held at Tilbury, Kreshnic Krasniqi’s goal in the seventy-sixth minute coming just moments after Kris Newby had given the Dockers the lead.
At the bottom, we had a particularly significant match at the FutureFuel Stadium as Romford kept their escape hopes alive with victory over they only side they can catch, Witham Town. Witham came into this match with only one victory in their last ten matches, and the Boro made sure that statistic got even worse despite ending the game with ten men after Toby Barlow picked up a second yellow.
Romford were 2-1 up at that point, first half goals from Danny Nesbitt and Ayo Olukoga being followed by a Johnny Ashman goal with eighteen minutes remaining- but the ten men secured the victory with a third goal thirteen minutes from time, George Woodward with it. Romford are still six points behind third-bottom Town with only four matches remaining, but Witham might yet need to find a way to win again.
Mildenhall Town are a point behind Romford, and they were walloped at home to Great Wakering Rovers, Shomari Barnwell scoring a hat trick for the visitors in a three-nil victory.
Elsewhere, a Sam Mulready hat trick gave Soham Town Rangers an impressive 3-0 win at AFC Sudbury, whilst Felixstowe and Walton United continued their fine form with a 1-0 win at Canvey Island, for whom the season has been something of a disappointment. Liam Hillyard got the only goal of the game.
Bury Town are just above the Seasiders in 6th place, an Ollie Hughes double enough to defeat Brentwood Town, although an own goal had given Brentwood hope of getting something from the match. Grays Athletic and Barking shared four goals in our other match, a Jacob Hutchinson double putting Athletic in the driving seat only for Rashid Kamara and Abs Seymour to score for Barking.
Twenty seven victories and only three defeats, one hundred and nineteen goals scored, a goal difference of ninety- we could easily run out of superlatives when describing the season that Hayes & Yeading United have enjoyed. Yesterday they wrapped up the title as Toby Little scored the only goal of the match at the Skyex against managerless Chipstead, and the party that we all knew was coming was able to begin. Thanks to Lisa at the Skyex for the celebration image.
Bracknell Town have been the closest of their challengers, and yesterday they maintained their second place- and put a huge dent in Ware’s playoff ambitions- by coming from two goals down to win three-two at Larges Lane. A Brandon Adams first half double for the visitors had seen them open up a seemingly-unassailable lead, but when Seb Bowerman got one back for the Robins twenty two minutes from time it was game on, and Adam Cornell equalised eight minutes later. Finally, in the very last minute, Liam Ferdinand grabbed a winner that gave them a four point lead over third place Cheshunt.
A little earlier it has seemed that the Ambers might overhaul the Robins, as they were a goal up at home to Uxbridge whilst Bracknell were losing. Shane Cojocarel had got that goal, but Uxbridge bounced back through Charlie Malin in the second half and took a point.
Marlow and Waltham Abbey shared the points in a topsy-turvy game at Capershotts. The Abbots roared into a two-nil lead through Louis Bowen and Billy Holland only for an own goal to immediately get Marlow back into the match, and then before the break Jordan Edwards and Isaac Osei-Tutu gave the visitors a three-two lead. They held that lead until the very last minute, Darelle Russell rescuing a point for Abbey.
Marlow are fourth, and Westfield are two points behind after getting back to winning ways with a three-nil victory at third-bottom South Park. Julius Mngadi, Aaron Watson and Elijah Simpson got the goals for Field, who now have opened up a four point gap between themselves and sixth placed Ware.
The Sparks would have taken some comfort from the fact that there was no good news for their rivals for that second relegation spot. Second bottom Molesey went down 2-0 at Tooting and Mitcham United, Tope Fadahunsi and Danny Bassett earning the three points that take the Terrors level with Ware and four points off fifth place, whilst third bottom Hertford Town fell 2-0 at home to FC Romania, Gabriel Ghinea and Roddy Lemba with late strikes to ease any relegation fears the Wolves may have been having and giving them a nine point cushion.
At the bottom, Egham Town seem to have improved since they have had no manager, a late Ashley Carew penalty earning them a point at home to Bedfont Sports, for whom Charlie Postance had opened the scoring nineteen minutes earlier. The Sarnies are eleven points from safety, however, with only five matches remaining.
In our other matches, Chalfont St Peter moved up to fourteenth with victory over Ashford Town, Adam Morris giving them all three points after Jack Beadle had levelled the match for the Tangerines. Michael Kalu had got the opener. Hanwell Town are ninth, climbing above opponents Northwood despite falling behind as early as the sixth minute. Zaied Sabti had given Woods that lead, but by half time the Geordies were 3-1 up, Dwayne Duncan, Harry Rush and Louis Bircham with the goals- and the scoreline henceforth remained untroubled.
Leaders Cray Wanderers could make it four titles decided today, as they host relegation-threatened Greenwich Borough, but yesterday was all about whether any of the chasing pack could close the gap and-perhaps- keep Cray waiting a little longer. Horsham stepped up to the challenge, travelling to Sittingbourne and walloping home six goals to close to within seven points of the leaders. Chris Smith got a hat trick, Jack Brivio got two more, and the other was an own goal, whilst Billy Lewins got a last minute goal that wouldn’t have been much of a consolation for the Brickies.
Third place Hastings United didn’t play, whilst Ashford United, in fourth, fell to defeat at a Sid Sollis inspired Hythe Town. Sollis got two, Charlie Webster a third, and that gave Hythe a 3-1 win deapite them earlier falling behind to Toby Ajala’s fifteenth minute opener. Haywards Heath Town got back to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over Whitstable Town, Thomas Graves and Kenny Pogue getting the Heath goals at Hanbury Park, whilst Nick Treadwell hit back for the Oysterboys.
It was just as well that Heath won, as sixth place VCD Athletic show no signs of giving up on their own playoff hopes, late goals from Charlie MacDonald and Ali Fuseini seeing them come from behind at Ramsgate to remain six points behind Heath with four matches remaining. Rory Smith got the opener for the Rams.
Victory for Greenwich today, much as it may be a tall order, would lift them out of our one relegation place, as Guernsey fell to a 3-1 defeat at home to Whyteleafe despite taking the lead. Carlos Canha had given them that lead, but Matthew O'Donoghue equalised and then with just one minute remaining Andre McCollin turned the match on his head, Tre Daley making sure of the points a minute later.
Phoenix Sports were our big winners of the day. A double from Zak Bryon and another double from Jeff Duah-Kessie sandwiched a strike from Kenny Alireu as Sports defeated East Grinstead Town by five goals to one, Matt Day getting the Wasps solitary goal.
Herne Bay surely ended any lingering relegation worries- on the field, anyway- whilst deepening Faversham Town’s woes in a 3-1 victory. Ronald Sobowale, Danny Rumbol and Raphe Brown got the goals for Bay- indeed Brown seemingly scored at both ends, as he had earlier been unfortunately credited with the Town equaliser. Faversham are four points clear of danger.
The match between Sevenoaks Town and Three Bridges ended without a goal.