Ilford FC 0-3 Hullbridge Sports FC (Buildbase FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round)
Report/Photo by Neil Hunwicks @ABridgeTooFar16
Sports came in to this FA Vase game 3 points behind Ilford in the Essex Senior League, but with a game in hand. Both sides were further down the table than they would have wanted to be at this point of the season and both coming in to this game with poor losses during the week.
Hullbridge had Howard Wright step up from the Reserves in to the number nine position, but were still without the injured Sam Taylor and Charlie Gerada. Yvan Kombi and Damien Siemienczuk had been drafted in from the Reserves to support what was a much depleted bench, as the small Sports squad continued to suffer.
As the game got underway the big strong Ilford side had the better of the first few minutes, pumping the ball in to the Hullbridge back four, almost an early test to see what they were made of. Top Ilford striker James Peagram was hovering around trying to get a good ball to feet to test the Sports side, but it was Hullbridge that were now getting in to their stride. On ten minutes Rob Hodgson pulled a header back across the goal to Howard Wright whose header was going goal bound, but an Ilford player managed to clear it off the line, but only to the feet of Rob Hodgson at the far post who was able to tap it in.
Sports knew a one goal lead was unlikely to be enough and had to soak up some pressure from Ilford after the kick off and although Bobby Mason didn’t have an outright save to make, it was tough going for a while.
Ilford seemed to be frustrated and were pumping the ball long all the time which Ollie Quick and Rob Hodgson were clearing up without too many issues. Ilford did break on twenty five minutes and it took a fantastically times tackle by Ollie Quick as the Ilford player was about to pull the trigger.
On twenty eight minutes Sam Dulieu had a shot, but he couldn’t quite strike it right and it was easily saved by Chris Clark in the Ilford goal.
The game was broken up by too many fouls being given away by both sides and as the half drifted away neither keeper had really been under pressure.
The second half didn’t really have a chance to get underway before Ilford gave away another foul and this time it was just outside the area. Jimmy Cox stepped up and curled his free kick into the back post where the unmarked Lewis Watson was running in and he managed to power his header low through a group of players and past the unsighted Chris Clark in the Ilford goal to make it 2-0 to Hullbridge.
Sports were now in the driving seat and seemed to relax slightly and passed the ball very well to feet frustrating an Ilford side that couldn’t get the ball and keep it.
On fifty eight minutes Rob Hodgson had another effort go just wide after he latched on to a quick Jimmy Cox throw that Ilford didn’t seem to respond to.
James Peagram finally got a ball to his feet midway through the half and as he ran on to it, he lashed his shot wide, as it seemed to spin off the outside of his boot. Allan Fenn the Ilford Manager must have been frustrated with his players, as their game seemed to have little drive and it was almost like the Hullbridge boys kept waiting for it to happen from Ilford, but it didn’t.
On the other side of the coin Howard Wright for Hullbridge was doing a great job holding up the ball sometimes for long periods on his own up front as the battles went on in midfield or the long ball was clear up by the Sports back four.
On seventy five minutes the game was put out of Ilford’s reach as Howard Wright was fouled in the area and the Referee awarded a Hullbridge penalty. Luca Frankis calmly stepped up and blasted his kick in to the top right hand corner, sending Chris Clark in the Ilford goal the wrong way.
With fifteen minutes left Hullbridge were put under little pressure from Ilford, which was really surprising as it was as if they had just conceded the game. The Hullbridge defence stayed defiant and now it was all about keeping a clean sheet and running the clock down to the ninety.
As much as Rob Hodgson will have been happy with his side’s performance, I’m sure Allan Fenn will be disappointed with his. Despite having some players out, this didn’t look like an Ilford side that wanted to be in the competition and this is a cup that Hullbridge love.
Rob Hodgson and Aaron Hunwicks can take heart from this performance and will hope to progress this in to the league where they now sit dangerously near the bottom (16th) despite having a couple of games in hand over sides directly above them.
Hullbridge won’t have concerns about who they get in the next round as long as it’s at home. With all the local sides doing well in the FA Vase, it is likely to be an Essex Senior League team that they meet in to the First Round.