Stow 2-0 Takeley

Walthamstow moved four points clear at the top of the Essex Senior League on Tuesday night after goals from Charlie Cole and Jason Hallett secured all three points against Takeley at Wadham Lodge.

Takeley dominated possession for much of the game, but a strong rearguard performance from John Mackie and Terry Spillane’s side meant keeper Amarildo Cekrezi had little to do to keep warm on a freezing night in E17.

The result means Stow are in very good standing with four games in hand over second-placed Stanway Rovers, having lost just one game all season, but John and Terry will be keen to stress the importance of not getting complacent.

Stow started brightly fashioning a golden opportunity to take the lead just two minutes in when a ball in from the right by midfielder Charlie Edwards was missed by a Takeley head and fell at Hallett’s feet, but Sam Souter in the Takeley net produced a superb fingertip save to deny our top-scorer.

Takeley began to take control of the game after that, and were close to producing a perfect chance to take the lead themselves. The fleet-footed Kieran Southgate broke into the left channel, and only had to find his strike partner Glenn O’Hanlon for a tap-in, but Keegan Cole produced an excellent sliding challenge to deny the two from linking up.

That was the rhythm that the game fell into from there, with Takeley on top in terms of possession but unable to fashion a clear sight at goal and Stow defending resolutely.

Charlie Edwards had a fantastic game patrolling the midfield area along with his Stow captain Adalberto Pinto, with both having to cover a lot of ground as they found themselves overloaded by Takeley’s midfield trio.

Hallett then fashioned himself another chance, showing some excellent footwork to twist and turn beyond Takeley’s reach, but his shot was well saved again and Takeley managed to pounce before Hallett could get to the rebound.

There was then a phenomenal scramble right in front of the Rabble at the end Walthamstow were attacking. Jason Beck showed some superb skill for a centre-back to beat a defender before crossing for Keegan Cole, whose shot took a couple of deflections and almost forced an own-goal by Takeley before defensive midfielder Theo Campbell recovered well to clear off the line.

Stow weren’t to be denied much longer though and took the lead seven minutes before the end of the first half. The Takeley full-backs will have had nightmares of Stow winger Harrison Carnegie running at them, and after cutting in on his left from the right flank, Carnegie dug out a wonderful ball for Cole, who timed his run well and on the stretch planted a volley beyond Souter.

Carnegie then spun his defender again and fired a strike at goal but Souter was able to match it just before the half-time whistle.

After 53 minutes, Cekrezi was given his first big test on what must have been a very cold night for Stow’s number one. A mistake in midfield gave O’Hanlon the chance to put Southgate in on goal in the left channel, but his shot on his weaker foot was held well by Cekrezi who bailed Stow out.

The save proved vital as just four minutes later Stow doubled their advantage. Samir Bihmoutine – who has impressed greatly since joining only a couple weeks ago – floated a ball into the box, but a Takeley defender handled the ball and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Up stepped our man Jason Hallett, who coolly and confidently converted to cause more confetti to rain down on the Rabble.

Whenever Takeley did find an opportunity to get into Stow’s box, they were wasteful, often electing to shoot from range rather than find a chance closer to goal. Elliott Long, who impressed with his silky dribbling, was particularly guilty of this, firing high and wide on a couple of occasions in the second-half.

Walthamstow should have made it three with about 15 minutes to go. Carnegie and Cole – a duo that sounds perfect for a TV Crime drama – linked up again, with the winger cutting the ball back from the left for the onrushing Cole who smashed his effort against the bar.

The game died down after that as Takeley continued to push against the immovable Stow backline, aided by Edwards and Pinto ahead of them, and as time wore on Takeley turned to taking their frustrations out on Stow’s players.

Yemi Adelani did nothing but stand still to annoy Takeley centre-back George Powell, who pushed the 27-year-old aside and earned himself a needless yellow, and he was sent off 5 minutes from time for a second yellow after a strong challenge on Pinto who threatened to score on the counter.

Stow saw the rest of the game out well, their professional performance rewarded with another three points which strengthens their position at the top of the ESL.

The victory is Stow’s final home game for three weeks as a run of five away games on the bounce begins.

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