Walthamstow continued their unbeaten start to the season with a draw against Hadley as they returned to league action following their fantastic win in the FA Cup. It was Stow’s toughest test this season and a difficult game for both sides as they battled hard and tried to get a result.
It was Hadley who started the quickest when former Stow front-man Solomon Ofori saw his effort tipped over the bar by James Bransgrove in the first minute. They continued their attacks as Ofori intercepted a ball and had another shot but it was saved by Stow’s keeper. For Walthamstow, they couldn’t find their feet in the opening 10 minutes as several passes went astray.
Stow’s first real attempt at goal came around the 30-minute mark when Emiel Aiken tried to curl an effort towards goal, only to see it fly over. The opportunity saw the Stow gain a foothold in the game and begin to dominate the play. Following a header from Benji Crilley which just went over, Walthamstow found themselves ahead through Samrai Gebrai. A delightful ball across the face of goal by Dwade James was run onto by Gebrai who smashed it into the roof of the net.
The goal certainly gave the home side confidence and they were unlucky not to be further in the lead. Dwade James had a shot from the left-hand side but could only manage to get the ball across the face of goal before Jamie Bennett was denied by the back of a Hadley player on the line.
The visitors had a penalty shout for handball as we approached half-time but the referee wasn’t interested before a couple of shaky minutes for the defence nearly saw Hadley equalise. Despite a chance for either side, Walthamstow led at the break.
It was Walthamstow who came out the quickest from the interval and were unlucky not to have increased their lead around the 50th minute. A cross by Danny McCullock was just over everyone’s head before a half-volley from Benji Crilley was high and wide.
Just after the 60-minute mark, Hadley scored the equaliser. Ofori poked the ball over the line after some good play from Hadley. Despite the goal, Walthamstow continued to pressure and seeked a winner from a tough game. A shot from Callum Ibe was comfortably saved before a shot from Samrai Gebrai was deflected wide. The home side had a little scare at the back when James Bransgrove initially dropped the ball but collected on a second attempt. Despite the press from either side, the game ended 1-1.
Speaking after the game, Stow captain Vinny Murphy said “If I’m honest, we all know that we weren’t good enough today. We didn’t start how we usually start and we didn’t carry out jobs like we normally do and that has come back to bite us. The only saving grace is that it’s not a loss but it certainly feels like one.”
[When asked how they will improve ahead of the next game] “100% we need to use it going forward because it’s an eye opener. Every team is going to come out like they did and fair play to them. They came out hungry and wanted it. If we don’t start as fast and as high tempo as we know we can, more teams will creep into the game and they will grow in confidence. Overall, I’m disappointed.”