So much jeopardy!

By Ian Townsend

Drama amongst the playoff chasers, drama amongst the relegation threatened, so much drama it should be featured on BBC One at 9PM. Oh, and Cray won the South East title! It’s our round up of yesterday’s action.

Premier Division

Champions Dorking Wanderers got over the line last weekend, so were playing only for pride as they visited Longmead, home of Tonbridge Angels. Angels, however, needed the points as they looked to guarantee first a play off place and then home advantage in the end of season lottery, and they had been promoting the match like crazy on social media, with the aim of attracting a crowd of 800 to shout them on. Well they got their 800- indeed, they got 825- but they got no points as Dorking were, well, their usual selves. Jason prior got things underway in the seventeenth minute, turning home a rebound from a Matt Briggs shot, and a back post finish from Reece Hall made it two just before the break to effectively end the contest despite the best efforts of the home side, who remain third.

Second placed Haringey Borough hosted a Kingstonian side who had finally got back to winning ways last weekend with three points against Enfield Town. They invited Tottenham Hotspur fans, who had finished watching their side defeat Huddersfield Town a twenty minute walk down the road, to come and join them for free, and a crowd of five hundred and eleven turned up to watch Lyle Della Verde score twice and give them all three points. Borough’s playoff place is now confirmed barring a mathematical miracle, and with a five point cushion over third placed Tonbridge, six points over fourth placed Carshalton Athletic, surely home advantage is as good as confirmed too.

A trophy-winning huddle for Cray Wanderers

A trophy-winning huddle for Cray Wanderers

Fourth placed Worthing have the joint-best away record in the Division, with eleven victories on their travels so far, but would have needed to be at their best as they headed to the Prokit UK Stadium to face Bishop’s Stortford, as their hosts were on a fabulous run. Sadly for away fans the Mackerel men were simply outclassed, with Jamie Cureton scoring twice in his nine hundred and ninety ninth appearance and Shadrach Ogie getting another, Bishop’s recording their fifth win in a row and moving to within two points of their visitors and the final playoff place.

Carshalton Athletic started the day in fifth place, and travel to our midweek Velocity Trophy winners Enfield Town. They ended it in fourth, and also surely ended any hopes the Towners had of getting a playoff spot, a comprehensive three-nil victory meaning that the Robins have lost only one match in their last fifteen, and climb to fourth. The three goals came in nine minutes at the start of the second half, and Harry Ottaway- who had earlier seen a penalty saved- Ricky Korboa and Peter Adeniyi got them.

Sixth placed Leatherhead had been in magnificent form, with only two defeats in their last ten matches- but hosted a Lewes side who also still had playoff pretentions. There were two goals, and both came in the opening quarter of an hour, James Hammond putting the Rooks ahead on ten minutes only for Jerry Nnamani to equalise five minutes later. That result leaves the Tanners one place and one point outside the playoff places, whilst the Rooks are four places further back and four points worse off.

Merstham slipped to seventh following defeat against Lewes last week, and yesterday slipped a further place despite taking the lead at home to Folkestone Invicta, Kershaney Samuels with the goal. The stripes roared back with three of their own, Ira Jackson and Micheal Everitt scoring in the five minutes before the break to give them the lead, and Adam Yusuff rounding off the victory in the very last minute.

Man of the Match Nick Blue gets his winners medal for Cray

Man of the Match Nick Blue gets his winners medal for Cray

Down at the bottom, Burgess Hill Town were hoping to survive by the skin of their teeth for a fourth year in succession, and hosted Brightlingsea Regent. It was the side from the Essex coast who went ahead, Jake Turner finding both posts and the net just before the break, and it looked like despite dominating much of the game the Hillians would fall to defeat, but Tommy Wood decided otherwise, and walloped the ball home to earn his side a point as the match entered added time.

Hillians are second-bottom, but only a point from safety as Wingate & Finchley, who started the day two points clear of the drop zone, travelled to Corinthian-Casuals and lost once more. Casuals went ahead in the fourteenth minute through Majed Osman, and Warren Mfula made that more comfortable with the second just before the break. In the second half the visitors struck back, Anthony Mendy reducing the arrears with eighteen minutes left, but just two minutes later Osman made the match safe with Casuals third goal.

Whitehawk started the day in second bottom but ended it in a position of safety. The Hawks travelled to our beaten Velocity Trophy finalists AFC Hornchurch, hoping that the Urchins hadn’t got over their cup disappointment, and perhaps their hopes came true as they picked up a vital two-one victory. Lucas Rodrigues got the first just before the break, and Finton Walsh made it two-nil on the hour- and although Joe Christou found the net on seventy three minutes to make the closing stages interesting, Whitehawk held on for the points and moved out of the bottom three on goal difference.

Harlow Town had conceded twenty goals in their last four matches, but they found Bognor Regis Town less deadly and earned a point- indeed, they almost took all three. Tom Hitchcock put them ahead with twenty two minutes remaining, but the Rocks, buoyant after their midweek Sussex Senior Cup Semi-Final victory over Brighton & Hove Albion Under 23’s, grabbed a late, late equaliser through Jimmy Wild.

Wanderers manager Tony Russell gets deserved congratulations from League Chairman Nick Robinson

Wanderers manager Tony Russell gets deserved congratulations from League Chairman Nick Robinson

Finally, Potters Bar Town are now surely safe, will hope that they are now safe, eight points clear of the drop zone after victory at Margate. Dernell Wynter put the Scholars ahead in the first half, Josh Hutchinson made it two in the second, and gate saw James Rogers sent off in added time.

North Division

Champions Bowers & Pitsea got a remarkable fifteenth straight victory at Felixstowe and Walton United, and in so doing went seventeen points clear at the top of the table. Bradley Warner, Matthew Lock and James Thomas made it safe by half time, and Ben Sartain added a fourth after the break to put the icing on the cake. Bowers will receive the trophy at their next home match.

We already knew who had qualified for the playoffs, too, so the job of Maldon & Tiptree (away to Canvey Island), Aveley and Heybridge Swifts- who were playing each other at Scraley Road- and Coggeshall Town, who travelled to Tilbury, was simply to fight it out for home advantage whilst garnering as many points as possible in case points-per-game comes into play at the end of the season. The Jammers remain second, but they got only one point at Canvey Island in a two-two draw. Frankie Merrifield got the opener and the equaliser as Canvey first went ahead and then came from behind in a two-two draw, Liam Hope and Kojo Awotwi finding the net for Maldon.

Aveley are a point further back, a Jason Raad double seeing them come from behind at Swifts, for whom Emmanuel Osei-Owusu opened the scoring. That defeat sees Swifts drop to fifth, overtaken on goal difference by the Seed Growers who walloped Tilbury five-one at Chadfields. George Allen and Michael Gyasi gave the away side a two goal lead only for Ryan Ramsey to helve it for the Dockers, but after the break it was one way traffic as first Ross Wall and then Nnamdi Nwachuku- twice- made the points more than safe.

Our biggest excitement came at the bottom of the table. Romford started the day six points from safety, Mildenhall Town seven, but both would have been heartened by the fact that the only side they could catch, third bottom Witham Town, were in freefall. Witham hosted Dereham Town, their poor form and poor luck continued as the Magpies ran out three-two winners. Siju Odelusi got the first goal of the game and the last, but in between Adam Hipperson and Ryan Crisp (2) had scored for Dereham.

Mildenhall travelled to Barking and left with a point, Luke Butcher giving them the lead only for Ola Ogunwamide to equalise, but Witham will have been stunned by the news that the Romford revival continued, the Boro travelling to AFC Sudbury and winning 3-1, Joseph Chidyausiku, Nathaniel Joseph and Pedro Silva Barbaoso Bento De Carvalho (thank goodness we don’t put names on shirts, he’d need an XXXXL) finding the net for the away side whilst Liam Bennett got Sudbury’s consolation. That result means that Romford are now only three points behind Witham with three matches remaining.

Goals from Mitchel Hahn and two from Jacob Hutchinson were enough to see Grays Athletic defeat Brentwood Town, despite Mitchel Hunter’s first half equaliser for the visitors, whilst Bury Town are sixth after coming from behind to win at Great Wakering Rovers, late goals from Ollie Hughes and Jake Chambers Shaw sealing the victory after Hussain Jaffa had put the home side ahead.

Soham Town Rangers entertained Basildon United, and Bees fans found it very entertaining indeed as their side recorded a 2-1 away win. Callum Taylor and Kurt Smith scored the visitors goals, Lloyd Groves pulling one back for Rangers.

South Central Division

Hayes & Yeading United had already clinched their promotion with four matches to play, but weren’t in the mood to ease up, and finally ended Waltham Abbey’s playoff hopes with a four-two victory. A double from Elliot Benyon was sandwiched between goals for Chid Onokwai and Josh Chamberlain, whilst the Abbotts had late goals from Jack Stevenson and Ellis Brown to celebrate.

Second placed Bracknell Town, who surprisingly lost at bottom side Egham Town in midweek, travelled to Northwood and confirmed their playoff place with a three-nil victory, Joseph Grant, Liam Ferdinand and Jordan Brown with the goals; whilst two points further back in third place Marlow were doing the same barring some mathematical jiggery-pokery, goals from Kameron English and Marcus Mealing, both from the spot, easing them home at FC Romania.

Cheshunt, in fourth, did relegation threatened South park no favours whatsoever, arriving at Whitehall Lane and scoring four times. Brian Moses, Jason Hallett (2) and Shane Cojocarel did the damage, Andrew Herring’s goal for Sparks no more than a consolation. The Ambers are now also surely safely in the playoffs, as they have a seven point advantage over Ware and Tooting & Mitcham United with only three matches remaining.

Those two sides will be focused on catching fifth place Westfield, but they did themselves a power of good yesterday with a three-one win over Molesey. An own goal and goals from Aaron Watson and Elijah Simpson were enough to seal the points despite an earlier Craig Lewington equaliser for the Moles, who remain second bottom, four points behind South Park with a game in hand.

Both Ware and Tooting ensured that they did all they could to remain on Westfield’s coat tails. Goals from Jordon Watson and Gareth Madden saw Ware come from behind to defeat Uxbridge, for whom Craige Tomplins had opened the scoring; whilst the Terrors also won 2-1, in their case at Ashford United, Danny Bassett and Isaiah Jones with their goals. Nebay Haile pulled one back for the Tangerines.

Ware and Tooting are four points behind Westfield with three matches remaining.

The relegation of Egham Town was finally confirmed, their recent revival coming to an end at Hertford Town. A first half hat trick from Brandon Wade calmed the nerves of the Hertingfordbury Park crowd, and although Brandon McCarthy got one back after the break the Sarnies finally had to bow to the inevitable. Hertford still aren’t mathematically certain to stay up, but are now five points clear of the second-bottom Moles with their rivals having four matches left. They are a point clear of third bottom South Park, with both sides having three matches remaining.

Goals from Michael Kalu, Jack Read and Adam Morris saw Chalfont St Peter ease to a three-nil win over Bedfont Sports, whilst an early Jack Waldren goal was enough to give Hanwell Town victory at Chipstead.

South East Division

Cray Wanderers needed two points to confirm their promotion, but they got three, with victory over Ashford United. It was our Bostik matchday feature, and you can read all about it in depth HERE. We've illustrated this round up with images from their celebrations.

Second placed Horsham confirmed their playoff spot with victory at Herne Bay, despite being twice pegged back by the home side. Chris Smith, Lee Harding and Kieran Lavery found the net for the Hornets, whilst Bay’s two equalisers came from Bradley Schafer and Tahjae Anderson.

Hastings United are five points further back, in third place, and they had to come from behind at Pilot Field to get a point against a stubborn Hythe Town side. Sid Sollis gave the Cannons a first half lead, whilst Bradley Stevenson got the equaliser twenty-one minutes from time.

Ashford are fourth, and aren’t yet secure, but it is the battle for fifth place which is becoming the most interesting, VCD Athletic giving it life in abundance with a 5-4 win over East Grinstead Town at Oakwood. VCD were ahead, level, ahead, level, behind, level, behind, level then ahead in a match which swung from end to end and included a hat trick from the evergreen Charlie MacDonald. Alex Gaggin and Temi Eweka got the home side’s other goals, whilst the Wasps saw Orlando Smith (2), Jerson Dos Santos and Jack Bray find the net. This allowed VCD to close to within three points of Haywards Heath Town, who were slipping up at home to Sevenoaks Town, Jack Miles with the only goal of the game in the ninth minute.

At the bottom, Faversham Town did themselves a power of good with a three-nil win over Three Bridges. Carl Rook, Liam King and Daniel Carrington got the goals that lift them six points clear of Greenwich Borough and Guernsey in the fight to escape that relegation spot.

Those two play each other, TODAY, in the Channel Islands. The Green Lions haven’t picked up a win since 19th January, and don’t have a home victory since 21st November, when Herne Bay were their victims at Footes Lane. Borough, in contrast, have improved in recent weeks, a draw with champions Cray Wanderers last weekend following victory over Sittingbourne.

Elsewhere, Whitstable Town got a last minute winner to see off Phoenix Sports, Connor Sanders with the goal after Solomon Taiwo had cancelled out Ricky Freeman’s penalty for the Oysterboys, whilst Whyteleafe defeated Sittingbourne three-nil, Dan Hector, Marvin Armstrong and Andre McCollin doing the damage. The Brickies aren’t mathematically safe, seven points ahead of Greenwich and Guernsey, but would hope that they’ve done enough for survival.

Where next?

It's not easy being Green Green Lions and Green-wich Borough cancel each other out at Footes Lane
The stuttering stops! Wanderers waltz back to the Bostik Premier Division. Cray Wanderers have stumbled towards the finish line in recent weeks, but today they deservedly crossed it. And we were there to watch. Our Bostik Matchday feature came from Hayes Lane.

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