Stansted 2 Hullbridge Sports 0 (Premier Division)
Report by Scott Lanza / Photo by Neil Hunwicks @ABridgeTooFar16
Hullbridge Sports made it a hat-trick of league losses on Tuesday evening which shows that things will be just as exciting down at the bottom as they will at the top. Simply put, the visitors gave the Airportmen a very tough battle and created enough chances to have got something out the game. It was nip and tuck until Stansted took the lead via a penalty and even then Paul Pittuck’s side had to wait until three minutes into stoppage time to secure the three points.
The Airportmen put the Hullbridge defence under early pressure but the visitors showed a solid backline which kept the hosts at bay. The game was largely played in midfield as both sets of players contested every ball although when front men did get service they were often immediately closed down by the defenders. Hullbridge were able to assert a bit of pressure themselves, winning a succession of corners which saw Rob Hodgson and Howard Wright both getting headers off from corners, with Wright’s effort going the closest as it crashed against the cross bar.
The visitors kept at the task and hit the cross bar again after Jamie Buffin turned in the box and unloaded. Another Hullbridge corner also created an opportunity as Hodgson was again able to get a header on target which was cleared off the line. Tim Pitman then made sure Stansted went in at the break without conceding when he tipped away a Buffin shot towards the end of the half.
The second half continued to be a tight affair meaning little goal mouth action but plenty of individual battles on the pitch and it made compelling to watch as both teams tried to play attacking passing football but were also not afraid to shirk tackles. It was a right ding-dong battle meaning that the first real chance came just on the hour mark when Charlie Gerada cracked a free kick towards the top left corner which Pitman palmed away.
Then in the 65th minute came the first major turning point of the game as Nick Brown sped into the Hullbridge box where he was hauled down by Jamie Merralls. The Referee pointed to the spot and showed the Hullbridge keeper a straight red card. Mike Edgar took the goalkeeper jersey but was soon picking the ball out of the back of the net as Brown made no mistake with the penalty.
The second major turning point came moments later when this time it was a Hullbridge’s turn to have a player tripped in the box; Sam Dulieu this time being the player denied a goal scoring opportunity as he was felled by James Ainslie. It was a second yellow for the Stansted player, so the red card followed and the Airportmen were also now reduced to ten men. However Luca Frankis blazed his penalty high over the bar.
Stansted dug in as Hullbridge mounted a few more attacks but the Airportmen finally secured victory in the third minute of stoppage time when they launched a counter-attack which ended up being played into the path of Ryan Ramsey, who drilled a shot past Edgar to make sure the points remained at Hargrave Park. On this evidence it’s hard to see Hullbridge remaining in the bottom two for much longer, while Stansted have also got enough about them to give anyone a game.
Stansted: Tim Pitman, Chris Gormley, James Ainslie, Chris Moore, Dave Limber, Elias Olmas, Chris Howard (Julien Lloyd 61’), Daniel Longalonga, Ryan Ramsey, Nick Brown (Jack Folan 75’), Jack Sykes (Stefan Nielson 77’).
Scorers – Nick Brown (66’p), Ryan Reid (90+3).
Hullbridge Sports: Jamie Merralls, Charlie Buffin, Aaron Hunwicks, Michael Edgar, Angus Poole, Rob Hodgson, Luca Frankis, Lewis Watson, Howard Wright (Sam Dulieu 46’), Jamie Buffin, Charlie Gerada (Kieran Offord 89’).