Walthamstow went up against Heybridge Swifts of the Isthmian League North Division as both teams cancelled each other out to draw 1-1. It was Stow’s first pre-season test ahead of the upcoming season but were certainly unlucky not to come away with a win following a dominating performance.
It was the visitors who started off the best with some early possession as they dominated in the opening minutes. Walthamstow slowly grew into the game and started to have a foothold, dictating play.
Neither keeper was really tested but it was the home side who had the best opportunities. Samrai Gebrai won a free-kick on the edge of the box following a driving run. The resulting free-kick was deflected out of play but nothing came from the corner that followed before another corner was headed just over around the 30-minute mark and Dwade’s shot on the turn was matched by the save of the keeper and parried away.
Heybridge did have their moments and their number 11 was at the heart of everything when he had a shot deflected wide before finding space for another shot but James Bransgrove saved comfortably. The teams went into the interval level at 0-0.
Right from the off in the second half, Walthamstow certainly came out the strongest and carried the momentum from the first half. Despite Stow being on top, it was the Swifts who took the lead. A shot was cruelly deflected over James Bransgrove less than 10 minutes into the second half. Walthamstow were still on top following the goal and had a couple of chances but couldn’t find the back of the net.
It didn’t take Dwade James long to get his name on the scoresheet when he slotted the ball past the keeper to level the score.
Stow wondered how they hadn’t taken the lead when Charlie Yexley’s low cross-shot was inches away from the post and James was through on goal again but this time, the keeper saved well.
Heybridge had a couple of shots themselves but they were fired over and didn’t test Walthamstow’s number one between the sticks. Despite the last chances for both sides as we approached 90 minutes, the game finished level.
After the game, Stow Manager Ryan Maxwell said: “I am quite pleased with how the game went especially with the intensity of the game and the fitness levels of the players.
“Knowing who Heybridge Swifts are, it was played in a good manner and was very competitive. We now need to focus on recovery and rest [ahead of Tuesday’s game] as well as intake for the players. We trained hard last week so the intensity in training is not our main focus.”