Great Wakering Rovers 0 Basildon United 2
Saturday 23rd December
On the last day of ESL action in 2017, Great Wakering welcomed Basildon in an eagerly-awaited encounter at Burroughs Park. Before kick-off, it was a tough one to call as fourth place took on fifth here. The hosts were a little depleted, missing the likes of Chris Bryan and Ollie Woodhouse with Louis Hawes continuing in goal. Jake Gordon and recent signing Nathan Dewberry were both on the bench, the latter against his old club. Basildon welcomed back midfielder Joe Skeels to the club while hard-working forward Marcus Bowers led the line with Ash Blackburn among the options on the bench.
This may have been a festive match though Wakering were slack in defence from the get-go as Basildon winger Jack Adlington ghosted in and nodded past custodian Louis Hawes to give the Bees a dream start. Wakering started to find their passing somewhat as on ten minutes winger Billy Johnson fired wide. Adlington missed another headed opportunity a few minutes later. Wakering couldn’t really find their feet going forward and struggled to create the firepower for forwards Nash and Richmond.
What was also apparent as we approached the half-hour mark was that while it was a physical match, which did include some silly challenges at times, the rhythm of the match was broken up to a degree by the referee’s whistle. More on that later, unfortunately.
On 28 minutes, Basildon captain Tommy Barton’s drive was well-kept out by Hawes although it wouldn’t have counted had it gone in. Eight minutes before the break, the Bees were awarded a penalty which forward Marcus Bowers stepped up to take though Hawes did well to save. Could this have been a turning point?
On another day it might have been – though Bowers atoned for that miss by slotting home well past Hawes on the cusp of half-time. To be fair, Hawes was the busier goalkeeper by far while the Wakering attack were met by a strong, tough Bees backline.
After the break, the bitty nature of the match continued and as the half went on the home side’s frustrations became more evident, though there were few clear-cut opportunities for either side. It did also turn rather bad-tempered at times to say the least which added to what was a hard afternoon for the referee.
Midway into the second half, Wakering full-back Jason Ring fired wide though you got a sense that unfortunately it was not going to be Rovers’ day. Hawes was in action again with a quarter-hour remaining to first rush out to deny Bowers and then soon after to deny Barton’s close-range shot.
Truth be told, Basildon were the better side today although the match was rather affected by the sheer amount of bookings (at least a dozen, frankly it was tough to keep track of them towards the end) which included a late dismissal for Basildon midfielder Skeels. Fortunately, it didn’t decide the match as such which the Bees will be delighted to have won. Wakering were below-par here and will no doubt look to use today as a marker to improve on after the festive break.
Great Wakering Rovers: Louis Hawes (GK), Jason Ring, Jimmy Cook, Scott Pethers (Capt), Robert Whitnell, Sam Carter (Jake Gordon 67′) Billy Johnson, Ricky Evans, Jay Nash (Stephen Butterworth 57), Neil Richmond (Nathan Dewberry 77′), Aaron Russell.
Basildon United:Connor Wheatley (GK), Jamie Selby-Knight, Chris Charlery, George Whitby, Darren Phillips, Jack Adlington, Tommy Barton (Capt), Marcus Bowers, Oliver Spooner (Grant Cummings 73′), Kurt Smith.
Scorers – Jack Adlington (1’),Marcus Bowers (45′)
Report by Scott W @ScottMHC14 & Blog: www.survivor16b.wordpress.com
Photo by Sherry Cumming