Walthamstow ended the season on a high, putting five past a young Southend Manor side.
Stow knew a win would secure third place, and for all the talk of taking the final game of the season seriously, there was an air of last-day about the last 20 minutes.
The game then came alive though. Manor were a danger from set pieces all afternoon, and a freekick from deep was headed towards goal, only for it to hit the underside of the bar and then be cleared by Stow.
This forced Stow into action, and they were ahead just a couple of minutes later. Dwade James carried the ball down the right wing, cut in and hit a low shot which the Manor keeper could only parry into the path of Kieran Bishop. Bishop’s first effort was blocked by the keeper, but he could do nothing about Bishop’s second, which nestled into the far bottom corner.
Moments later it was two. Kyan Gulliver sent a long ball over to James, who again cut in onto his left foot, and hit a low shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Stow were enjoying themselves by now, and James netted his second from the spot after Ben Crilley was taken out.
Samrai Gebrai then had a huge shout for a penalty turned down when he was bundled over in the box. This spelled a break in Stow’s pressure, as Manor – who despite their defensive failings, looked good going forward all afternoon – began to claw their way back into the game.
A unmarked shot at the back post should have been put away, before a header from a pin-point free kick eventually gave the home side a goal.
Stow did then get another penalty. Bishop cut the ball back to Crilley, who was bundled over just as he was about to tap the ball in at the back post. James took the ball and again delivered from the spot.
Gebrai went close twice; a one-on-one finish and then a half-volley from the edge of the box, which was spilled by the Manor keeper, falling at the feet of Reece Conway who poked the ball into the roof of the net.
The second half was a far more quiet affair. Craig Pope had two efforts cleared off the line following a corner, while Bishop and James both went close. Stow should have had another penalty when Tage Kennedy was scythed to the ground after beating two men, but the referee somehow waved play on.
Manor did score a penalty of their own down, when a player took a tumble as a free kick was swung in. Of the three penalties given, and the number waved away, it was probably the softest of them all.
Stow were then happy to see out the victory, a three points which secured the highest league finished since 1987.
Images: Andy Wilkins. Click here for more.