Report by Scott Lanza for the Essex Senior League.
A dominant Walthamstow took all the points after blasting four shots past Jarvis Monk, who nonetheless put in a praiseworthy goalkeeping display that denied Stow winning this one by an even bigger margin.
The Robins keeper saved his side’s blushes as early as the 5th minute when a defensive error allowed Ryan Ramsey to pick up a loose ball and hit a shot that Monk tipped around the post. And while it looked like Sawbridgeworth were still in the changing room, Stow were playing the ball around the park, creating another chance in the 9th minute that James Peagram could only fire wide.
Lee Flynn was next to have a go with a free kick that Monk cut out. And Stow’s forwards continued to pressurise Monk and his defence, with Peagram having a ball taken off his feet by Monk, who showed tremendous bravery in doing so. But Monk was perhaps lucky that a Peagram cross to Billy Jones ended up in his hands only because the resulting shot lacked power.
However the Robins could not stem the flow forever, and it was therefore no surprise when they fell behind to a Walthamstow goal in the 18th minute. Christian Owusu started the move as he paced into Sawbridgeworth’s box and delivered a ball to Jones who stabbed home from close range.
Sawbridgeworth finally carved out an opportunity in the 23rd minute when Louis Monk played a short free kick to Danny Wickenden who struck a shot just wide of the right hand upright. Two minutes later and the Robins were level after Chris Clark fouled Daryl Doolan to concede a penalty which Joe Wright converted.
But Stow were back in the lead three minutes later as Sawbridgeworth gave away a careless free kick on the left flank. Owusu’s kick swept across Sawbridgeworth’s box and was turned in by Jake Gittens.
Having taken the lead for the second time, Walthamstow now went out to find another goal; Peagram and Owusu exchanged passes but Lewis Deamer put in a solid tackle to end that forward move. However the Robins were perhaps lucky that Peagram didn’t do better with a cross that reached him at the back post but the Stow talisman could only shoot tamely at Monk.
However Stow duly added a third goal on 40 minutes when they were awarded another free kick which Flynn struck with so much power that it took a deflection off a Sawbridgeworth player before careering into the back of the net. There was still time left for Stow to put the Robins defence under more pressure as Jones, Owusu and Peagram all had shots blocked.
Sawbridgeworth needed to get a goal as early in the second half as possible if they wanted to get anything from the game. Wickenden had a shot in the opening minute of the half that was saved by Clark, then a Doolan corner was blocked and then cleared by the Stow defence. Wright then showed some good skill to get a ball under his control, and his cross looked dangerous as well, but Clark punched the ball clear; Sawbridgworth had one other effort of note, a blistering volley from James Baughurst that Craig Pope blocked.
As the half progressed Stow managed to stunt Sawbrdgeworth’s forward play and then started having more of the play themselves, although it wasn’t until the 70th minute that they were able to muster a noteworthy opportunity, which fell to Ramsey who fired an effort wide.
The hosts extended their lead even further in the 76th minute when John Clark felled Peagram in the box. The referee had no hesitation in awarding the penalty and there was no hesitation from Peagram either as he drilled the penalty home.
Stow nearly made it five when Ramsey sped down the left flank and centred to Samrai Gebrai whose shot was well saved by Monk; moments later and Monk was denying Ramsey with his legs, before going on to pull off two further quality saves to deny Ramsey and Peagram. It was a great man of the match performance from Monk whose interventions meant that his side only lost this by a three goal margin.