Isthmian North Play-off Final
Canvey Island 1 Brentwood Town 1 (After Extra Time – Canvey won 4-1 on penalties)
JOHN CHUBB at Park Lane
Canvey Island will play in the Isthmian Premier League next season for the first time since 2017, as they edged out Brentwood Town in a contest that went right to the wire in front of an impressive crowd of over two and a half thousand on Friday night.
Brentwood made the best possible start in just the fourth minute, when Ashley Nzala – scorer of Blues’ winner in their semi-final against Stowmarket Town three nights previously – laid the ball on for captain Tom Richardson, who fired the ball home from close range to put his side 1-0 up.
Shortly afterwards Canvey had a great chance to score a quick leveller when Matthew Price received the ball from the left, but he fired the ball over the bar.
And with a quarter of an hour gone, Price came very close to levelling the scores somewhat fortuitously, when a clearance by Brentwood goalkeeper Harry Girling rebounded off him and almost ended up in the net, but the ball rolled just wide of the right-hand post.
In the 19th minute Nzala found himself in a good position for the visitors in the six-yard box, but he couldn’t get sufficient power behind his shot, and it was comfortably gathered by Canvey keeper Bobby Mason.
Harrison Chatting then fired a shot on target for the Gulls with 22 minutes gone, which was blocked on the line by Brentwood’s Matt Cripps and the resulting corner came to nothing.
Then Canvey equalised on 38 minutes, when Evans Kouassi delivered a superb cross to the far post and Price nodded the ball past Girling to make it 1-1.
In the 43rd minute another Kouassi cross found Canvey captain Jay Siva, who has yet to score for the Gulls but came very close with a powerful effort that Girling did well to keep out, and the scores remained level going into the interval.
After a quiet start to the second half, just over an hour had gone when Brentwood’s Andy Freeman flipped a clever ball over the top of the home side’s defence in the direction of Richardson, who went close then an excellent George Craddock corner nearly resulted in a goal for Rod Stringer’s side.
Then with 72 minutes gone, Price created a fine opportunity for himself and turned well but his shot was well wide of the mark.
A couple of minutes later, it was Blues who had a great chance, when pacy right-back Rob Harvey made a run into the box from the wing and came very close to putting his side back in front.
The scores were still level after 90 minutes, so the match went into extra-time and on 94 minutes Gulls found the net through Price, but he was adjudged by referee Michael Robertson-Tant to have kicked the ball out of Girling’s hands and the goal was therefore not allowed to stand.
Brentwood won a free kick just outside the penalty box in the 114th minute, following a foul on Daniel Ogunleye and Harvey went very close, his strong effort going just past the post to Mason’s left.
The match was therefore decided on penalties, which proved disastrous for Blues for whom only Richardson’s spot-kick found the net via the crossbar, whilst Hubble, Kouassi, Stewart and Price all netted for Canvey to take the play-off crown, clinch promotion to non-League step three and spark huge celebrations among the majority of the crowd.
It capped a great season for Brad Wellmen and his side, whilst for Blues boss Stringer it was yet another play-off disappointment after losing three in a row in the National League South during his time as Chelmsford City manager.
But Stringer has done a remarkable job of turning around Brentwood’s fortunes since arriving at the club last October, and they can be very proud of what they have acheived in this campaign.
Canvey Island (Manager: Brad Wellmen) – Bobby Mason, Odei Martin Sorondo, Jey Siva ©, Jamie Salmon (O’Shane Stewart 71), Mason Hall (Miles Mitchell-Nelson 67), Rob Girdlestone, Elliott Ronto (Bradley Sach 99), Conor Hubble, Matthew Price, Harrison Chatting, Evans Kouassi.
Brentwood Town (Manager: Rod Stringer) – Harry Girling, Rob Harvey, Jake Gould, Jack umphrey, Matt Cripps, Jai Reason (Daniel Ogunleye 97), Andrew Freeman, Charlie Kendall (Connor Hogan 46), Tom Richardson ©, George Craddock (Josh Gray 96), Ashley Nzala.