On one of the most important afternoons in the club’s history, Forest came back from a goal behind to beat Ilford 3-1 and secure their place in the Essex Senior League.
After a difficult season, both on and off the pitch, Ryan Maxwell’s side went unbeaten in their final five games, meaning Forest are safe from the bottom four positions in the table (so long as Wadham Lodge don’t beat Barkingside by 12 goals on Wednesday).
Forest dominated from the get-go against an Ilford side which had Forest’s second-highest all-time scorer Billy Cove in between the sticks.
But the occasion got to Forest 12 minutes into the first half, when a miscommunication at the back saw Gus Douglas head the ball over keeper James Harkin. Jonjo Walsh was there to pick up the pieces, but the referee judged him to have committed a foul in the process, and pointed to the spot. Chris Lockwood made no mistake, smashing the ball into the roof of the net.
Despite being a goal down, Forest began to relax a bit, and created a number of decent chances before Tony Da Silva was brought down in the penalty area, giving Forest their fourth penalty in four games, where Shomari Barnwell made no mistake from the spot.
As the rain came down in the second half the pitch softened, and allowed Forest to keep the ball on the deck, getting in behind the Ilford defence.
A couple of corners increased the pressure in the Foxes box, and when the ball eventually fell to Josh Brimacombe-Wiard, the winger was able to take a touch before smashing the ball home to rapturous scenes.
The Waltham Rabble, ever increasing in noise and numbers have had a nervy last few weeks, but just three minutes after Brimacombe-Wiard’s goal, any feelings of worry were put firmly to bed.
Festus Lori was given acres of space down the right wing, and when his deep cross bypassed a number of Ilford defenders, Rheo Josephs was there at the back post with the easiest of tap-ins.
Harkin had little to do at the other end, and with the pressure off both teams, the game petered out with both sets of players and supporters enjoying the end of a tough season.
There was a point a few months ago when it looked like Forest were destined for the drop, but the reversal in fortunes is nothing short of remarkable. Spurred on by a home support making all the difference, passion and commitment on the field secured 11 points in the last five games, ensuring Essex Senior League football for another season.
Amazing last game of season @walthamforestfc Well played to the all the players including @Ilfordfcfoxes for a well fought game. Onwards and upwards! Big up @WalthamRabble!!!!! #awesomestow #e17 #walthamstow pic.twitter.com/pWVwhyDpb8
— Renny Jackson (@RennyJackson) April 28, 2018