Stow 2-1 Athletic Newham

Stow rose to the summit of the Essex Senior League thanks to two goals from Jason Hallett, in a feisty affair at Wadham Lodge. The visitors, Athletic Newham, were the league’s top scorers, but Stow kept their heads, securing a huge three points.

It was a stop-start opening, and with so much attacking talent on display from both sides, it was clear that each would try and stop the other playing. The first chance of the game came when Charlie Cole robbed Sabio Janja who was trying to run the ball out of play. Cole cut back to Hallett, and though his shot beat the keeper, it was blocked by a defender on the line.

Hallett didn’t have to wait much longer though, getting on the end of Tommy Spillane’s deep free kick and sending a looping header over Wilkinson Boateng in the Newham goal.

Hallett did have a couple of other half headed chances, and Adalberto Pinto also headed wide, but Stow were well kept out by the Newham defence. Their only real chance of the half came just before the break, when Amarildo Cekrezi did well to keep out a goalmouth scramble.

Newham started the second half with far more attacking impetus, and were rewarded on 52 minutes when Richard Kone made the most of a couple of missed Stow clearances, getting around Spillane and slotting home to level the scores.

But this only helped to get Stow going again, and the home side were soon on the front foot. Hallett thought he should have had a penalty when pulled down a couple of yards from goal, but the referee was unmoved. A couple of minutes later though, he did point to the spot after Hallett was bundled over on the edge of the penalty area. In truth, it was probably the softer of the two challenges, but Stow’s top scorer dusted himself off and coolly slotted the ball home.

Stow looked to see the game out, but Newham continued to press and could have been level when a deflected shot hit the outside of the post, only for the rebound to be put tamely into Cekrezi’s arms. Deep into injury time they thought they had equalised, when a deep cross was bundled in, but the referee awarded Stow a free kick as at least two Newham players had body checked Cekrezi as the cross came in.

There was almost time for Yemi Adelani to add a third, his long-range effort drawing a fine save out of Boateng, but Stow were then able to keep the ball in the corner and secure a crucial three points.

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