Dwade James netted a brace late on as Walthamstow came from behind to defeat Stanway Rovers at The Hawthorns, lifting themselves into fourth spot in the ESL Premier and keeping their slim promotion hopes alive as a result.
The first chance fell to the visitors and saw Samrai Gebrai get into a decent position but fire his cross shot over the bar, before hosts keeper Peter Haxell produced a wonderful save to tip James effort onto the woodwork, this after a poor defensive clearance had gone straight to the striker.
Marcus Bowers then sent a customary long-throw into the dangerzone, and Haxell came to claim but totally misjudged the flight of the ball and saw it sail over him and into the net, with James a fraction to late to nod over the line, and as it had gone straight in from the throw, the goal did not stand.
James then almost got in for Stow again but an awful touch allowed the ball go through to Haxell, before the hosts first real attack saw a dangerous ball into the six-yard box cleared away by the visitors.
James then got into a good position for the visitors, but his glancing header at goal was straight at Haxell, before the hosts saw a Fion O’Reilly effort blocked by the visitor’s defence after they could not clear their lines.
Gebrai then saw an effort saved by hosts keeper Haxell, before James drove forward at the Rovers back-line but could then only scuff an effort wide of the post, and then Haxell had to make yet another stop, tipping wide another Stow effort from the edge of the box.
In a rare hosts attack, Tyrone Scarlett saw a long-range effort go straight at James Bransgrove, before Bowers almost broke the deadlock in spectacular style down the other end, cutting inside before curling a beauty of an effort which thumped off the hosts crossbar with Haxell nowhere near it.
And then James managed to find himself free inside the visitor’s box for a header, but he took his eye off the ball and totally missed the ball with his head, and the chance was gone. It meant despite all the chances the visitors had created, they had nothing to show for it and went into the break level.
Half Time Stanway Rovers 0 Walthamstow 0
The second period carried on pretty much how the first half had ended, with Stow on the front foot, and James managed to shift the ball onto his left foot before sending an effort wide, before Stow got in again through James but Haxell came to make another save.
Bowers then curled a free-kick wide of the hosts post, before Gebrai burst into the box on the left and then went down inside the box, but the referee decided no penalty and the game continued.
Symonds then fired a decent effort from range at the Stanway goal but Haxwell again got down to save the effort, and after all the chances the visitors had missed, they paid the price midway through the half when a host’s corner saw Tommy Spillane volley home from close range, and Stanway had an unlikely lead.
And while Stow were still coming to terms to this set-back, Rovers flashed one across the six-yard bix as they so nearly doubled their lead, before down the other end a superb ball from second half substitute Ollie Fortune released James in behind, but yet again he saw his effort saved by Haxell.
Gebrai then saw an effort beaten away by Haxell before Bowers turned a fired the loose ball over the bar, and the visitors passed up yet another opportunity when a loose ball fell to Fortune, but he could only control and then volley over from inside the box.
And the hosts should then have doubled their lead and really given the visitors a mountain to climb when substitute Jay Nash was sent clear, and with Bransgrove out of goal to narrow the angle Nash could only lob the ball over the target, and Stow could breathe a huge sigh of relief.
Rovers then saw a diving header go straight at Bransgrove, but with eleven minutes remaining the visitors had a golden chance to level when the referee gave a handball against Rovers inside the box, meaning a penalty for the visitors, much to the hosts disgust. After the dust had settled though James sent Haxell the wrong way and Stow had ten or so minutes to win the game.
Bowers then tried to muscle his way into the dangerzone but could only poke wide of the hosts goal, and then came the winning moment, and again it was shrouded in controversy, as after the ball appeared to strike the hand of James, he went on and slotted beyond Haxell to put Stow ahead in the 86th minute.
Stanway were furious and surrounded the referee quite aggressively, they were adamant the goal should not have stood and it resulted in keeper Haxell and defender Milo Grimes going into the referee’s notebook for their rather over-zealous protests. But they now had four minutes plus added on time to try and salvage a draw from this one now.
Fortune then saw another effort saved by hosts keeper Haxell before the rebound flew straight back out to James who could not sort out his feet in time and it just hit him and went away from goal, and despite some late pressure from Stanway it was the visitors who managed to claim the three points and keep themselves within touching distance of the top two.