Walthamstow ended the year on a high with a 1-0 win over neighbours West Essex.

There were some new faces for Stow, with Marcus Bowers and Hussain Jaffa making debuts, while there was also returns for Leon McKenzie after a 12 year absence, and Vinny Murphy after four years. Jack Folan would also come off the bench to make his debut.

Stow came out of the blocks firing, and could have been ahead after 10 minutes when a cross wasn’t punched far enough by Essex keeper Jack Coker, but McKenzie couldn’t quite get on top of the ball and his header looped over the bar.

Playing four strikers, Stow weren’t short of attacking threat, and with a quarter of an hour played Bowers hit the side-netting at the back post, followed by a perfect header from Dwade James which found the top corner of the goal, but was ruled out for offside.

The pattern continued, with the visitors’ defence doing well to keep Stow at bay. McKenzie would also have a goal disallowed for offside before the half was over, but Essex went close on the counter, a lobbed finish beating Harry Girling, but fortunately Craig Pope was back on the line to head the ball to safety.

Ryan Maxwell’s men started the second half with even more drive, and were ahead after just a couple of minutes. Pope’s perfect ball out of defence found McKenzie, who turned and put James in down the right wing. With most expecting James to cut the ball back, he strode towards goal and finished with a low, powerful effort past Coker.

The Stow defence had little to do for the majority of the second half, and it seemed to be a matter of when Stow would score again. Unfortunately, it was one of those afternoons where it seemed nothing would go in.

West Essex mounted a bit of pressure in the last five minutes, including Coker going up for a corner, but Stow held firm and ended the year on a high, after being just two points off the bottom of the table 365 days ago.