Monday, January 23, 2012
It was a Saturday for the pursuers in the scrap for the Ryman Premier play-off places. None of the top six managed a win, but the next three clubs in the table, Bury, Hendon and Margate, all came out on top.
Margate produced the result of the day, whipping fourth placed Lewes 5-1 in Kent. Although they are only eighth, they have games in hand on most of the sides above them, and on current form, look to be favourites for a play-off berth. Despite the emphatic scoreline, it was 0-0 until just before the hour mark, when Margate struck twice in as many minutes, through Matt Bodkin and Dan Stubbs.
Paul Booth quickly pulled one back with a penalty, but Richard Avery made it 3-1 in the sixty-seventh minute, and Bodkin struck again nine minutes later. Where was Kwesi Appiah? The master marksman, having turned down a move to Blackpool, finally made his contribution with four minutes left, his twenty-second of the season in the league, and thirty-fourth in all.
Leaders Billericay improved their position, despite being held to a goalless draw at Hastings, who played with ten men for most of the game, after Jamie Crellin's twenty-fifth minute dismissal.
They are now two points clear of Hornchurch and Lowestoft, who were both beaten. Urchins fell behind to a Sam Reed goal midway through the first half at Bury, and had centre back Reiss Noel sent off soon after half time. Jonathan Hunt's penalty in the eighty-third minute seemed to have saved the day for the ten men, but John Sands struck in the third minute of added time to give Bury a 2-1 victory, and move them up to sixth spot.
Lowestoft almost salvaged a point at Canvey, hitting the bar in the dying moments. Alex Rhodes gave Canvey a thirteenth minute lead, which was wiped out by Lubo Guentchev ten minutes before half time. The Trawlerboys were then hit by two goals in the last two minutes of the half, from Bradley Woods-Garness and Jay Curran. The bar denied Rob King a fourth, before Chris Henderson pulled it back to 3-2 in the sixty-sixth minute.
Cray remained fifth, after a 1-1 draw at Wealdstone. Tommy Whitnell put Cray ahead after fifty-eight minutes, capitalising on the rebound when Jack Clark's shot was tipped on to the bar, and Wes Parker headed the reply within two minutes.
Hendon are up to seventh, after collecting their ninth away win of the season at rock bottom Horsham, for whom it was a twelfth home defeat. Horsham had their chances, before Ryan Wharton opened the scoring in the thirty-eighth minute. Greg Ngoyi made it 2-0 in the seventy-third, and Elliot Charles added another two minutes later, not that he knew much about it, as he was laid out by a clearance, which hit him in the face and flew into the net.
Met Police slipped from sixth to ninth, after being held to a 0-0 home draw by lowly Aveley. That was the only point gathered by any of the bottom four, and Millers had plenty of chances to win it, before keeper Adam Rafis pulled off two fine saves in added time to deny the Police what would have been a fortunate victory.
Tooting went down 3-1 at home to Harrow, who took the lead with a Danny Leech header midway through the first half. Tristan Toney added another on the hour, and Danny Buckle notched the third shortly afterwards. Andre McCollin netted a consolation goal with nine minutes left.
Leatherhead, in nineteenth place, are four points adrift of safety, after their 1-0 defeat at Wingate, who eased their own fears thanks to a ninth minute goal from Leon Smith. David Laird was unlucky not to add a second, when his volley crashed against a post.
Concord moved further away from trouble with a win by the same margin at Kingstonian. They were on top for much of the game, but thanks to excellent goalkeeping by Rob Tolfrey, they had to wait until the seventy-eighth minute for the decider from Tony Stokes, his twentieth goal of the season in league and cup.
East Thurrock's Sam Higgins reached the same target, and with luck, might have gone well past it, in their 1-1 home draw with Carshalton, a battle of two of the league's FA Trophy survivors. Higgins hit the inside of a post in the fourth minute, the ball somehow eluding two of his teammates, as it bounced along the goalline.
Carshalton took the lead in the seventeenth minute, against the run of play, with a fine header by Paul Vines from an accurate cross by Craig Tanner. Rocks dominated after that, with some neat passing, and Higgins eventually squared matters in the sixty-first minute. Nick Hamann made some superb saves either side of the goal to earn Robins a point, though the hosts almost snatched it at the death, when the dangerous Higgins struck a post again.