The match didn’t exactly go according to the ‘script’ right from the get-go as after only three minutes, a foul on full-back Luke Casey on the right flank allowed a free-kick to be sent in by support forward Callum Maltese which home goalkeeper James Bransgrove punched away – only for the ball to find it way to Ilf winger Collins Atubrah who lashed home well from 20 yards out. Unsurprisingly, ‘Stow picked up after they conceded, and in the next portion of the game they had the vast majority of the play though didn’t have quite as many chances as their play warranted.
Attacking midfielder Christian Owusu blazed two efforts over the bar before experienced forward Leon McKenzie sent over a tellling cross from the right wing, which Foxes custodian Hugo Rossetti had to punch clear before fellow forward Dwade James could get a header in on goal. The pressure was clearly on the visiting defence at this point (just past the quarter-hour) though Ilford’s committed nature was summed up superbly by captain Danny Haigh’s great tackle on James in the area after he was well-found by rapid full-back Ryan Ramsey’s pass.
The visitors were looking decent on the odd occasion they had the chance to counter-attack though another ‘pinch point’ came on the half-hour as McKenzie’s fine goal-bound header was tipped over brilliantly by Rossetti. An increasingly frantic end to the half saw James uncharacteristically blaze over when one–on-one with Rosetti three minutes before the break while Bransgrove did well at the other end to deny Ilf forward Deji Adeniran from close range.
Half-Time: Walthamstow 0 – 1 Ilford
Straight into the second half and new boy Correy Davidson was thrust into proceedings for the hosts, who could have been level two minutes into the second half though somehow James didn’t make the most of a one-on-one chance, scuffing his shot wide of a post. To be fair, it wasn’t just down to the striker having an ‘off-day. Rossetti denied centre-back Craig Pope’s effort from close range, from a ‘Stow free-kick on 54 minutes as Martin Haywood’s side showed no lack of fighting spirit as they battled hard to keep their admittedly slender advantage.
Samrai Gebrai entered the fray with 20 minutes left for Ryan Maxwell’s men and quickly set about giving the tiring Ilford back-line another problem or two with his pace and crossing. Another good interception by Ilford midfielder Billy Golledge to deny a decent chance on goal showed that the Foxes were determined to hang on for the points and although their defending wasn’t pretty at times, in the face of big-time pressure from the home side who pretty much did everything but score, the Foxes stood firm.
And with ‘Stow pouring players foward, Ilford remarkably went two goals up as a good ball in found forward Okunlola at the back post and he made no mistake from close range with 13 minutes to play. Soon afterward, Ilf centre-back Steven Sylvester was dismissed for his second bookable offence and then to make matters really jittery for them, ‘Stow were given a penalty for a hand-ball in the are. James duly converted to atone for the earlier misses and it took another quality tackle from Haigh to deny him another opening in added-time.
Full-Time: Walthamstow 1 – 2 Ilford
All in all, this gutsy display from the Foxes was enough to claim a priceless three points for them, considering their recent form. Goalkeeper Hugo Rossetti and centre-back Danny Haigh shone for them today. Walthamstow will undoubtedly have better days than today, indeed it may well fire them up to go on another decent run. They are certainly able to win games well with the goal-power they have, that has not changed. Ryan Ramsey and tenacious midfielder Reece Conway stood out in my view for them today.
Report thanks to Scott W