Goals from Lewis Francis saw Walthamstow came away from Cricklefield with a draw as both sides battled hard on Wednesday night. Despite the draw, Walthamstow returned to 2nd-place with a better goal difference over Hashtag United.
It was Walthamstow who made the better and quickest start as they tried to bring the ball forward. Lewis Francis had the first real opportunity of the game when he was played through but was denied by Joe Taylor in the Ilford goal. Stow continued with the pressure but couldn’t find he break through. Dwade James fired a good effort from distance but it was just over the bar before Callum Ibe had a shot tipped aside by the keeper and a ball bounced off Dwade’s feet and into the hand of the keeper.
Ilford had tried to bring the ball forward but struggled to get any clear chances. Their first opporunity of the game lead to a goal as they took the lead. A corner was fired in with the ball falling to the feet of Jordan Fisher, who poked the ball past James Bransgrove. Despite taking the lead, it was all Walthamstow for the remainder of the first half. An effort from Jamie Bennett was over the bar before Lewis Francis brought the visitors level. Callum Ibe fed a ball through the Ilford defence with Francis slotting it past the keeper.
Dwade James tried to turn and shot in the box but his shot was saved before a cross from Joel Brown was just beyond the reach of Ibe. Despite several minutes of average time due to an injury stoppage and a comfortable save from a Stow header, the teams went into the break level.
Both sides tried to make a strong start to the second half with both sides having a chance in the opening minutes. Dwade James couldn’t latch onto a low cross whist Ilford had a shot from distance saved by Bransgrove.
In the 53rd minute, Lewis Francis had his second goal of the game when he fired a free-kick into the top corner at the near post to give Stow a 2-1 lead. Both sides battled hard in the midfield and Ilford were almost gifted an equaliser. A mis-kick from Vinny Murphy saw Ilford have a shot saved before Murphy blocked a second attempt.
Walthamstow had another chance from a free-kick, but with Lewis Francis off the pitch, Vinny stepped up but his shot was saved comfortably by the Ilford keeper. Ilford send Stow a warning shot when Chris Manangu ran in on goal but his shot trickled just wide of the post before they had their equaliser. A corner was whipped in by Foday Jaiteh and bounced straight past James Bransgrove and into the net. Walthamstow tried to push for a winner but couldn’t take their chances. A low ball from Samrai Gebrai was met by Emiel Aiken but his touch was deflected just wide before Dwade James found some space in the box but his shot was comfortably saved.
Despite a last ditch tackle from Vinny Murphy to deny Ilford a last minute goal and Stow trying to bring the ball forward, the game finished level.