What an afternoon we had in the Premier Division yesterday- at both ends of the table. Let’s start at the top.
Dorking Wanderers picked up their title, but they did that a number of weeks ago so yesterday was just a trophy presentation with the small side issue of a football match. Dorking did what they have tended to do all season, won it- goals from Jason Prior and Elliott Buchanan seeing off Haringey Borough- a result which saw Borough slip from second to third. The image above is from Simon Roe- and you can see the rest of his shots from the title party here.
That means that Coles Park will host Tonbridge Angels in the playoffs, as Angels fell to a two-one defeat at Potters Bar Town and as such lost their home advantage. The Scholars went two up through Marvin Morgan and Nana Kyei, and although Sonny Miles reduced the arrears with twenty three minutes to go an equaliser wasn’t forthcoming.
Even had Angels got that equaliser they would have still needed another goal to get back into the top three, as Carshalton Athletic won a pulsating match at Colston Avenue to jump into second place and leave their opponents, Bishop’s Stortford, outside the playoff places. It was a true winner-takes-all clash, and it was our Bostik Matchday feature, so you can read about it HERE.
Athletic’s opponents in the Playoffs will be Merstham. The Moatsiders travelled to face a Worthing side who still had playoff pretentions of their own, and started like an express train, scoring three goals in the first SIX MINUTES! Kershaney Samuels opened the scoring, then Walter Figueira got two more as the Mackerel Men’s fans were left gasping like fish out of water. Ollie Pearce reduced the arrears for Worthing ten minutes before the break, but thirteen minutes after the restart Tom Kavanagh restored the three goal advantage from the spot, and the Moatsiders celebrated a man advantage too, Ricky Aguiar being sent off. Jesse Starkey was still able to score for the ten men to make it 2-4, but that’s how it ended.
Folkestone Invicta also had hopes of making the top five, and they did all they could, defeating Bognor Regis Town one-nil; but it wasn’t quite enough, and they ended the season one point adrift of the promised land. The only goal of the game yesterday came from Ira Jackson in the sixty eighth minute.
Now let’s look at the bottom. We’d already lost Harlow Town, so their 4-3 home defeat to Margate might have been exciting to watch but meant little so far as the final outcome was concerned. Tobi Sho-Silva got a hat trick for Gate, James Rogers getting the other, whilst the Town goals came from Scott Davies, Tom Hitchcock and Matt Foy.
The critical matches came at Summers Lane and the Enclosed Ground. Wingate and Finchley knew that victory would be enough to keep them up, but that any other result might see them down- whilst Whitehawk knew that they had to win against Corinthian-Casuals and hope that Wingate slipped up against Burgess Hill Town. Burgess Hill, the visitors to Summers Lane, needed what looked to be an impossible result to have any chance of survival, having to turn around a goal difference deficit of fourteen and hope that Whitehawk lost.
What drama we had. Wingate and Finchley were two goals up by half time, an Anthony Mendy double doing the damage, but the news from the Enclosed Ground was that the Hawks were two up as well, a Henry Muggeridge double giving them hope. With ten minutes remaining the Hawks were staying up and the Blues were going down, as Burgess Hill hit back to level through Dan Beck and Joseph Felix and delivered joy in Brighton; but that joy was to be short-lived. Wingate weren’t done, and first Charlie Ruff and then Luke Ifil managed to find the net, seal the victory, and delight the fans at the Maurice Rebak Stadium. The Hawks added two more, Nathaniel Pinney making it three and Muggeridge confirming his hat trick, but it wasn’t enough, and Whitehawk were relegated for the second season in succession.
You can take a breath now.
Elsewhere, Brightlingsea Regent ended what has been a fine campaign with another fine victory, a late Pip Boyland goal giving them a 1-0 win over Enfield Town. Leatherhead also finished their campaign in style, walloping a sorry Kingstonian at King George’s Field with four second half goals through Travis Gregory (2), Daniel Gallagher and Ibrahim Olutade to end the season in eighth place.
The match between Lewes and AFC Hornchurch ended goalless.
We already knew that Bowers and Pitsea were champions, and they finished their season in style with a three-one win over Tilbury. James Thomas, Jamie Dicks and David Knight got their goals, whilst George Sykes responded for the Dockers.
We also knew which four clubs would contest the playoffs, but we didn’t know who would get home advantage. We certainly know now, as the two sides in pole position made quite certain with thumping victories.
Aveley finished in second place. The Millers confirmed a home tie against Heybridge Swifts by walloping Soham Town Rangers four-nil, a Sam Bantick double being added to by Adam Bailey-Dennis and Tom Richardson. Rangers weren’t helped when their keeper Craig Foxall received a red card after half an hour, so will perhaps argue that they might have done better had they been able to play with eleven men!
Maldon & Tiptree’s end to the regular season was even more emphatic, as they walloped Barking seven-one to set up a home tie with Coggeshall Town. Jorome Slew got two, Eddie Louis Dsane got two more, whilst Percy Kiangebeni, Tariq Issa and Rob Girdlestone got the Jammers opening three goals. Nana Boakye-Yiadom got Barking’s goal, but it can’t have been much of a consolation.
The Seed Growers will travel to Maldon on the back of a home defeat, Darryl Coakley getting the only goal of the game for AFC Sudbury, whilst fifth place Heybridge ended Bury Town’s recent good run with a two-one win at Ram Meadow. Jayden Randell put Swifts ahead, Emmanuel Machaya equalised, and Evans Kouassi got the winner seven minutes before half time.
Down at the bottom it was heartbreak for Romford. The Boro looked dead and buried a few weeks ago, but for a second season in a row attempted a great escape, going into the last match of the season behind free-falling Witham Town only on goal difference. They did what they could to stay up yesterday, goals from Craig Jeakins, Joseph Chidyuasiku and Jimmy Cox enough to defeat Felixstowe and Walton United despite Darren Mills getting one back for the Seasiders. It wasn’t enough, however, because Witham finally remembered how to win! A run of ten matches without a victory had seen them plunge into trouble, but second half goals from Kevin Coyle and Sam Ashfordsaw them run out winners at Basildon United, and stay up because of a goal difference of minus 30. Romford recorded minus 34.
Elsewhere, Dereham Town walloped six goals past not-so-Great Wakering Rovers. Daniel Beaumont got three of them, Karol Wengrzik, Rhys Logan and Jamie Forshaw got the rest, and the Magpies also scored Rovers goal too, as they ran out six-one winners.
Canvey island continued their recent good form with a three-one win at Brentwood Town. Adeyinka Cole, Frankie Merrifield and Ryan Melaugh got their goals, whilst Charlee Hughes scored for the home side.
Finally, bottom side Mildenhall Town said goodbye to the Bostik League with a whimper, goals from Dennis Oli, Mitchel Hahn and Michael Toner seeing Grays Athletic ease to victory.
We already knew that Bracknell Town, Cheshunt, Marlow and Westfield had qualified for the playoffs. We also knew that Westfield, unless they could inflict a rather hefty defeat on the Ambers, would finish fifth. We didn’t know who will have home advantage, however.
We certainly know now.
Firstly, Champions Hayes & Yeading United were held two-two at Uxbridge, a match in which they were twice behind. Tyrone Pink got the opener for the home side just before the break, only for Lee Barney to equalise seven minutes later- but Uxbridge weren’t downhearted and Craig Tomkins put them ahead once more five minutes later. This time the lead lasted only two minutes, Elliot Benyon with the leveller, and that score remained unchanged.
Our interest, however, was in the four sides just below Hayes, and two of them managed thumping victories, whilst two were on the end of heavy defeats. Bracknell Town got goals ninety seven to one hundred and two of a season in which they’ve not been able to stop scoring, an Adam Cornell hat trick added to by Joel Jacobs, Liam Ferdinand and Kensley Maloney as they walloped Ashford Town six-nil. They’ll host Westfield in the playoffs, the Woking side travelling to Larges Lane on the back of a three-nil defeat at Cheshunt. Brian Moses, Ashley Nzala and Mark Hughes with the goals which saw Cheshunt confirm home advantage in their playoff match.
They’ll face a Marlow side who were walloped in their final match, at home to Ware; the visitors heading back to Wodson Park with a four-nil victory against what had been the best defence in the division- an accolade which now goes, like all of the others, to Hayes & Yeading United. Ware were helped by the sending off of Marlow striker Kelvin Bossman, as all four of their goals came in the thirty nine minutes after his second half dismissal. Louis Rose, Dave Cowley, Albert Adu and Brandon Adams all found the back of Simon Grant’s net.
There was also a battle at the bottom. Molesey started the day in the final relegation place- the departure of Egham Town being confirmed some weeks ago- and sadly for the Moles they ended the day there too, Tremayne Charles goal for Northwood earning the away side a one-nil victory and confirming the fate of the Walton Road side.
South Park were also in terrible danger, but Great Evans (2) and Daniel Ucheci gave them breathing space at Waltham Abbey, before Sammy Knott and Billy Holland made them sweat. The Sparks held on for victory, however, and in the end the Moles defeat meant that they would have stayed up even had they lost. Hertford Town were the other side threatened by final day relegation, and they came back from three-one down to grab a point at Bedfont Sports. Didi Ndombe put Sports ahead, and although Charncey Dash equalised six minutes after the break Charlie Postance and Sean McCormack gave the home side a two goal advantage. Dash reduced the arrears with his second twenty minutes from time, and Tyler Hatherly grabbed an equaliser four minutes from time.
Elsewhere, Egham fell four-one at home to Chipstead, despite Anthony Thomas giving them an early lead. Sam Clayton, Izzy Bademosi, Jacob Sewell and Callum Hope scored for the Chips.
Hanwell Town saw their good form continue, as a last minute goal from Jeremiah Maja saw them earn victory at home to Chalfont St Peter. Olly Duffy had earlier put the Geordies ahead, only for Alex Paine to equalise.
Finally, Tooting & Mitcham United ended their season in sixth place courtesy of a two-one win over FC Romania, Hady Ghandour and Dontai Stewart with their goals whilst the Wolves reply was also scored by Tooting. All of the goals came in the last twelve minutes.
Champions Cray Wanderers were already assured of their title, but didn’t slacken off, running out three-one winners at Hythe Town. Freddie Parker and Joseph Taylor gave Wands a two-nil half time lead, and then Ollie Rowe scored at both ends to complete the scoring.
Horsham were already confirmed in second place, and had completed their fixtures, so the Hornets were able to relax and wait to see who would travel to Culver Road in the playoffs. The answer to that question is Haywards Heath Town, who were absolutely walloped by Ashford United at Homelands- although that wasn’t really a surprise given they fielded striker Trevor McCreadie in goal! We’re not sure what happened to regular keeper Anthony Ender, but hopefully he’ll be back tomorrow. Josh Wisson put the Nuts and Bolts ahead, but they only had one by the break. Shortly after it Danny Parish got two and Sam Corne added a fourth, after which McCreadie was replaced between the posts by another outfield player, Karl Akehurst, who was unable to stop Parish getting his hat trick three minutes from time.
Despite that victory Ashford will travel for their playoff tie, to Hastings United, who confirmed third place with a three-one victory at Greenwich Borough. Jack Dixon (2) and Sam Adams got United’s goals in the first half, Luke Leppard pulling one back for Borough after the break.
That result saw Borough relegated, their unfortunate three-point deduction earlier this week not in the end making a great deal of difference, as although Guernsey finished only three points ahead of the Cannons they had a vastly superior goal difference. The Green Lions fell two goals behind at Sittingbourne, a first half double from Roman Campbell doing the damage, but Kieron Mahon got one back after the break and then Paris Pereira got a late, late equaliser.
Phoenix Sports were our big winners, running out five-two victors over Herne Bay. Kenny Alireu got a hat trick, Jack Barry and Jeff Duah-Kessie got the others, whilst Danny Leonard and Ronald Sobowale scored consolation goals for Bay.
East Grinstead Town fell behind to Faversham Town in the third minute, Ashley Miller with the goal, and although Matt Day equalised Jamie Maxted got the winner for the visitors with twenty five minutes remaining.
Two early goals from Rory Smith and Kane Rowland gave Ramsgate what turned out to be a commanding lead against Whyteleafe, for whom Andre McCollin got a goal back, whilst Three Bridges also won two-one at home to Whitstable Town despite ending the match with nine men. Stephen Smith put the Oysterboys ahead, but after the break Connor French and Brannon O’Neill turned the game on its head, and Bridges held on despite the dismissals of Andrew Sesay and French.
Finally, VCD Athletic ended the season by continuing their great form. Malachi Hudson, Junior Baker and Jack Steventon put them three goals up at Sevenoaks Town, and although Frankie Sawyer got a goal back, that was all that Oaks could manage. VCD missed out on the playoffs by a single point, but must surely by amongst the favourites for next season after ending this campaign with seven wins from their last ten matches.