Stow returned from their first ever trip to Brightlingsea with a hard-fought and well-deserved three points.
One of Stow’s biggest troubles this season has been at right back. Nine different players had worn the number two shirt so far, with probably only a couple of them being recognised right backs. So the news that Kai Davis had returned to the club was most welcome.
Brightlingsea opened the game on top, forcing an early cross but no sooner had they done that, then they found themselves behind. Brian Moses won a loose ball in midfield and laid it off to Eman Okunja. Okunja somehow threaded a pass through a sea of players into the path of Bilal Sayoud, who fired in from the edge of the box, one-on-one. Former Stow keeper (and acting manager for one game) Lamar Joseph-Johnson got two hands to the effort, but they were not strong enough as he could only parry the ball into the bottom corner.
With four former Regent players in the Stow team, and one former Stow player in the Brightlingsea team (with another unavailable), it was always going to be a full-blooded affair. Neither Okunja nor Adalberto Pinto were willing to let the game settle down, and with the two combining in midfield throwing in some meaty challenges, ably assisted by Kevin Songolo at the back, it looked like there would be at least one red card in the afternoon’s proceedings. But Brightlingsea did not seem as up for the fight as Stow, and they struggled to impose themselves in midfield.
But Brightlingsea could have leveled with half-hour gone after Watson and Sayoud had both had shots blocked for Stow. A cross was played across the Stow box but Ashlee Jones’ giant hand somehow denied Max Jolliffee from six yards out.
On 37 minutes came the suggestion that this could be Stow’s day. A routine long-ball was heading towards Joseph-Johnson who steamed out of his goal and missed the sphere completely, kicking nothing but air and ending up in a heap on the ground. This gave Watson the easy task of strolling the ball home and smashing it into an empty net. The goal was no doubt a result of Watson’s constant hurrying of Joseph-Johnson in the game until then.
There was little to talk about in the first 40 minutes of the second half. Brightlingsea enjoyed most of the ball, but couldn’t find a way past a resolute Stow defence, despite Davis and Luke Foster both going off injured. Sayoud swung in a cross/shot free kick which evaded everyone and ended up in the back of the net, but the referee judged Moses’ run to have interfered with play.
But with five minutes to go Stow got their third. Ollie Sotoyinbo did brilliantly to rob Zack Littlejohn, and when the ball fell to Sayoud on the edge of the box, he hit a sweet low shot in off the inside of the post. Job done, or so it seemed.
Regent pulled one back on 88 when they forced a corner. Jake Thompson was in the right place to bundle the ball home after Littlejohn’s header had hit the post. And then two minutes later Harry Honesty set up what could have been a grandstand finish when a tired Stow gave him too much space on the edge of the box and the midfielder curled low into the bottom corner.
But Stow saw out the win with little fuss in the five minutes added on, giving manager Vinny Murphy his third win in four games since taking over.
Image: Neil Payne