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Sports Report - Buckhurst Hill 2 The Bridge 1

Sports Report - Buckhurst Hill 2 The Bridge 1

Dave Colmer30 Apr - 06:56
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Essex Senior League Premier - Saturday 27th April 2024

The miserable end to The Bridge’s Essex Senior League season continued until the very last game of the season as the losing trend extended to eight straight defeats at Buckhurst Hill on Saturday.

I’ve said to quite a few people (anyone who will listen really!) that I didn’t see that run coming when we went to FC Clacton on March 9th and won 5-2 leaving us in 7th place and well within distance of a shout at play-off qualification. Since then, however, The Bridge have played eight games and lost them all, scoring just 3 goals and conceding 14 and that run has seen us finish in 12th place, way off the play-off places.

Saturday at Roding Lane was another example of a defeat against a team that we probably should be beating although The Stags did beat Romford recently and Tilbury a little while ago so, on their day, they can be a decent side but still a team that The Bridge should probably be getting a result against.

Luckily for anyone at Roding Lane on Saturday, the weather was kind and the sun even shone for a bit, which if you've been to Roding Lane you’ll understand what I mean, when I say luckily, as it’s very, very open to say the least and I wouldn't want to be there when it’s raining, although they do have two small stands providing some cover from the elements and a nice little clubhouse.

Comparing the starting line-ups (including subs), for once The Bridge had the advantage, in terms of appearances and goals scored, although the stats are from FA Full Time and The Stags stats are not always totally accurate. Having said that, the opposition did have some lively, dangerous players and so it proved as the afternoon progressed.

The game started well for The Bridge and they looked up for the battle as they made a fast start and were on the scoresheet within the first minute when Michael Dixon received the ball and played in Oscar Onuorah who had too much pace for the Buckhurst Hill defence and broke free and rounded keeper Alex Reed to roll home the opener. A good start but, as my Hullbridge companion Lee noted, “we’ve done that a few times and it’s then gone wrong”. However, The Bridge continued to press in the early stages although The Stags didn’t look rattled by conceding that early goal and went about getting themselves back into the game. They had had a few attacks and in the 9th minute they did so again and The Bridge back-line couldn't close the ball down quickly enough and their danger man Josh Samuels fired home the equaliser. Here we go again said Lee to me and me to him!

I mentioned the lively players that the home team had in their line-up and forwards Josh Samuels and Chandler Wray along with attacking midfield man Youcef Yacine were beginning to worry me and, more importantly, The Bridge defence. Both sides were having goal attempts but they were either easily saved or wide or high or both. As we were approaching half-time, there was a moment that could have been a game-changer as a through ball saw Michael Dixon through, only to be pulled back by Nathan Daniels. The referee brandished a red, which most people thought was harsh as there were covering defenders and Mike was a little way out so it probably wasn’t a definite goalscoring opportunity. However, the man who mattered had made up his mind and the home side were down to ten and sacrificed Marcus Samuels to allow Max Nicholson to join Stags player of the year Alfie Harris at the heart of the newly formed defence. The resultant free-kick was on target by Jon Evans but caught by keeper Alex Reed and we reached half-time at 1-1 and 10 v 11.

Jason Banton replaced Billy Willis at half-time, a good move we thought as we expected Jason to exploit the extra space, and he did, linking well with Alfie Whiteaker and Jon Evans down the left side. The final pass was still missing from The Bridge play though and, to be fair, the home side were keeping the ball better than The Bridge and didn't look troubled too much by their reduced number. The Bridge, not unexpectedly, had more of the ball but the home side still looked dangerous when they did get it and attacked at speed. Oscar Onuorah had an effort scrambled away from the goal line and Jon Evans had a shot off-target and then The Bridge lost the ball in midfield and Chandler Wray was in loads of space on the right side and he made no mistake when he accepted the pass and went for goal, finishing well to make it 2-1.

Both sides continued to have half chances but The Bridge still couldn't find that elusive final ball as they made replacements and changed formation pushing the full-backs high up the pitch in an attempt to level, with Adam Topley dropping into a back three. Alfie Whiteaker was virtually playing centre-forward by now as the visitors continued to push for the equaliser but The Stags still looked calm on the ball and resolute in defence, Nicholson and Harris looking a solid pairing at the heart of their backline. Corners and crosses came in from The Bridge but nothing clear-cut was being created and the time ebbed away as the home side held on to their lead.

Then, that was it...the game and the season was over and another defeat was added to the previous seven. A season that at times looked every bit as if we were going to enjoy(!) some play-off action at the end of it, ultimately faded away into a lower mid-table finish and the disappointment that brings, especially with the results of the last eight games. Unless there is a bizarre league reallocation for some reason, it’s Essex Senior League Premier for 24/25 and, to be honest, I’ve enjoyed the ESL which has been a competitive league this season and produced some entertaining stuff but not all of the time for The Bridge! Have a great summer #hullbridgefamily and see you all again for more ESL action in 24/25...and of course…

This was another of those games when there was not a big list of candidates for this award and Big Mike gets it for a battling display when not everything he did was great but it was better than other performances from the boys in green and yellow.

Mike won most of his battles and tried to get The Bridge going, bringing the ball out from the back, especially when The Stags were reduced to ten, and this wins him the MOM award. A ripple of applause also for Alfie Whiteaker and Jason Banton who combined well down the left in the second half but, for me, this one goes to Big Mike.

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