Ilford 0 Basildon United 1
Wednesday 31st January
James Peagram came back to haunt Ilford as he returned to Cricklefield with new club Basildon United and scored the game’s only goal early in the second half. The Foxes had withheld steady Basildon pressure for most of the first period; it therefore seemed almost inevitable that if anyone was going to break the deadlock it was going to be Peagram, who bagged his 27th goal of the campaign, with this particular goal winning the game which keeps Basildon United very much involved in the title race.
It was Marcus Bowers who had the first chance of the game with a header that he glanced wide. An early corner then had to be punched clear by Clarke, who was then kept busy with a Bowers header which he stopped. Another dangerous corner from Joe Skeels was pushed away by Clarke, then Charlie Kendall found himself unmarked, in possession of the ball, but he hashed his opportunity as he miscued the shot wide. But Basildon’s pressure was relentless, meaning that Ilford’s only chance came when a through ball aimed towards Tony Cookey was thumped clear by Basildon keeper Connor Wheatley. It took until the 22nd minute before Ilford were able to muster another chance at the Basildon goal. A Liam Whipps header reached Cookey, but he didn’t set himself, rushed his shot and as a result missed the goal by some distance.
It was Clarke who was the much busier of the keepers and he was called upon once more, diving to his right to tip away a Bowers effort. The resulting corner from Skeels again darted dangerously towards the far post which Clarke again leapt high to punch clear. Skeels then curled a free kick towards the top right hand corner which Clarke parried, then smoothed the ball at the feet of Bowers. Ilford’s keeper and his defence were battling hard to stem the flow, but the problem was that the Foxes didn’t keep possession too well, opting to play the ball long which resulted in Basildon often winning the ball and then launching another attack. Clarke however was putting on a goalkeeping master class as he saved a Peagram shot, then a Tom Barton header, while showing bravery twice as he smothered balls at the feet of Adlington and Bowers.
Bowers received a booking for having angry words with the referee after claiming he had been studded; moments later he took his revenge on the Ilford woodwork as he unleashed a dipping shot that bent round Clarke before crashing against the post. Ilford were able to have another effort when a counter-attack ended with Lockwood having a header blocked in the six yard box before being cleared. But it was the Bees who ended the half being the more dominant as Clarke again foiled Basildon as a Skeels free kick was tipped away. The resulting corner was blazed narrowly wide by Charlery, with the final act of the half seeing Clarke punching clear a cross that Bowers was looking to get on the end of.
Having held out for most of the previous half, the Foxes then fell behind three minutes into the restart. It couldn’t have been better scripted as Peagram popped up into the box and headed past Clarke, opening his goal scoring account for Basildon United against the team he had recently left.
Adlington almost doubled the lead when he took the ball past Clarke but rifled his shot wide. Skeels let fly with a scorching shot that was only inches off target, then Bill Bungay put in a great tackle to dispossess Adlington in the Ilford box.
Wheatley got down low and claimed possession of a ball at the feet of the Cookey, but his defence kept it tight meaning that Ilford were not able to mount any threatening attacks. Alex Paraskeva was able to rattle off a shot that flashed past the Basildon goal, but the only time Wheatley was called upon was when the occasional cross came into his box.
Basildon were not able to add any further goals as their attacks started petering out as the game came to its finale. They were nearly gifted a golden opportunity in the 85th minute when Clarke slipped and Spooner was able to pounce on the loose ball but the Ilford keeper redeemed himself by charging the ball down. Cookey had the games last attack, a header from a corner which he placed well wide. Basildon deserved the victory for their dominance, and whilst it may only have been by a one-goal margin, the real importance was not the score line but the collecting of all three points on offer, particularly as title rivals Redbridge and FC Romania also won in midweek.
Ilford: Chris Clark, Bill Bungay, Brad Gayer (Landry Gogoa 62’), Harrison Grant, Isaac Nkosi, Jonah Gregory, Liam Burgess, Chris Lockwood (Capt), Alex Akanbi (Alex Paraskeva 46’), Tony Cookey, Liam Whipps.
Basildon United: Connor Wheatley, Joe Burgess, Joe Skeels, Chris Charlery, Darren Phillips, Jack Adlington (Jordan Cox 62’), Tom Barton (Capt), Marcus Bowers (Grant Cumming 77’), James Peagram, Charlie Kendall (Oli Spooner 66’), Jamie Selby-Knight.
Scorer – James Peagram (48’)
Report by Scott Lanza / Photo by DW @essexfootie