Stansted 2 Takeley 1
Saturday 22nd December
Stansted will go into the Christmas break leading the Essex Senior League table after a hard fought battle with local rivals Takeley. The game also had a lot more than bragging rights involved as the visitors had gone into this one on the back of an eleven game unbeaten run that had seen them up to 3rd and very much back in the title hunt.
And it was to be the visitors that went on the attack early as Alex Martin drilled in a free kick that needed to be hooked clear, and then Andre Humphries flashed a shot from the left that whizzed past Stansted’s goal mouth.
No surprises when Takeley took the lead then, with a mere eight minutes played when Coby Miles managed to loft a shot over Charlie Turner to put Takeley ahead.
But Takeley almost gifted Stansted an instant equaliser when sloppy passing was capitalised on by Ollie Bell, who threaded a good ball through to Callum Ibe that required Matt Hurley to put in a solid tackle to clear up the mess.
The hosts went on to have a good shout for a penalty turned down when Joe Clark was felled in the box; the referee waved play on and in the next moment Clark was having to put in a tackle in his own box to dispossess Miles who was looking to make good with Takeley’s counter attack. And in the 23rd minute good play by Mosope Oguntuga set up Josh Sykes, who turned and fired his shot over.
Takeley were guilty of giving the ball away cheaply at times; they did so again on the half hour with Connor Hammond picking up a loose ball and delivering a dangerous cross that Hurley had to head clear. And Stansted crafted another opportunity soon afterwards as Billy Coyne’s free kick reached Ibe who managed to get a touch but the ball was cleared off the line.
Solid defending, in fact solid tackles all over the pitch, had made this a compelling game despite there being too little in clear cut chances. Stansted were able to create the best chance of the game in the 39th minute when a cross reached Jordan Palmer, but he rushed his shot and blazed over. Coyne’s curling effort was palmed away by Yates, with the rebound being poked wide by Jack Mitchell.
But Stansted were able to find a way to get back on terms before the break. In the 43rd minute Yates fouled Palmer and Hammond made good with the penalty.
The hosts opened the second half with some urgency with Coyne going close with a free kick, and then Yates pulled off a great save to deny Turvey. And Takeley caused a bit of panic with a free kick of their own; Hurley floating a ball over that just missed Oguntuga at the back post. But the game soon went back to being a chess-match with both teams resolute. Local derbies have that aspect to them, but of course this was a game that would determine who would be leading the table at Christmas. There was not much Christmas spirit as both defences kept a tight rein, with West and Clarke standing out for Stansted, while Hurley put in a shift and marshalled the players around him.
Stansted were however having a bit more possession of the ball and that won them a free kick just past the hour mark. Coyne drilled his shot narrowly wide.
Then in the 68th minute the Airportmen were in the lead as Turvey’s deep cross was drilled home by Ibe. Takeley almost had an instant reply though as Sykes had a fierce shot blocked. And all of a sudden the game opened up a bit as Stansted went and had another go. Ibe this time delivering a cross that Hammond knocked onto Palmer, the attack coming to an end with a hefty clearance from Powell.
Ibe managed to bustle his way through in the final minute and nearly set up James Peagram in the process. But the five minutes of stoppage time saw Takeley testing Stansted’s resolve as a number of crosses needed to be blocked. Takeley hadn’t over burdened Stansted’s goalkeeper and the hosts were not about to let them create anything with the clock winding down. Joe Pullen was able to rifle a shot off in the final minute but West got his body behind that one, and the final whistle soon went to affirm Stansted’s title intentions – as we go into the Christmas break they are four points clear. Takeley remain 3rd after this set back.
Stansted: Charlie Turner, James Turvey, Billy Coyne (Capt), Sam West, Joe Clarke, Rob Norris, Callum Ibe, Ollie Bell (Connor Tyrell 62’), Jack Mitchell (James Peagram 78’), Jordan Palmer, Connor Hammond (Jack West 70’).
Scorers – Connor Hammond (43’p), Callum Ibe (68’).
Takeley: Ron Yates, Mitchell Laronda, Andre Humphreys, George Powell, Matt Hurley (Capt), Coby Miles, Kyan Gulliver (Leo Pontes 62’), Josh Sykes, Mosope Oguntuga (Mason Page 80’), Ben Smith (Joe Pullin 90’).
Scorer – Coby Miles (8’).