Walthamstow 4-2 Basildon United

Walthamstow made it back-to-back wins and scored four goals in consecutive games for the first time since the start of the 2021-22 season. Sixth-placed Basildon United has no response to Stow’s combination of attractive forward play and sheer brute force.

Eman Okunja returned to the starting line-up, coming in for the injured Adalberto Pinto, while Callum Ibe also came back into the fold, playing in the ‘ten’. Roraigh Browne, on loan from Watford, continued in goal after impressing in his debut against Grays.

It was a frantic start to the game, and the visitors took the lead after just five minutes when Samir Ali was able to waltz in from the right wing and finish lowe past Brown.

The early goal didn’t alter Stow’s approach though and they gradually wrestled control of the game. Basildon’s high line was giving Bilal Sayoud and Kymani Thomas plenty of room down the wings, and that almost came good when Sayoud was put in by Ryan Hervel, but his cross was just past his teammates.

It mattered little though, as a minute later Brian Moses gave Stow the lead. Latching onto a fairly routine ball over the top, he held off Callum Stringer, turned the Bees centre back inside out and then finished powerfully past George Marsh.

Two minutes later Stow were ahead. A wonderful passing move from midfield ended in Stow gaining a corner, where Sayoud and Jarred Small played a one-two out wide. Sayoud cut in and crossed low, the ball squeezing through a sea of bodies in the box and into the bottom corner. The Basildon defence were incredulous that no offside decision was given, but after consultation with his assistant, the referee awarded a goal.

Basildon looked rattled at this point, and it looked like Stow would increase their lead. So it was somewhat frustrating when the visitors were allowed into the game again, Ali being in the right place to slot home when Stow failed to deal with a cheap free kick.

Moses and Eman Okunja had a couple of chances before the break, but boss Vinny Murphy was keen to get his side into the changing room and sure things up at the back.

Both teams had changed managers since their early-season encounter – in fact, Basildon were now on their third, former Stow player Chris Taylor – and while Stow’s team and approach to the game has been revolutionary, the Bees were more of the same.

It took Stow a little while to get going in the second half, but the introduction of Jordan Peart – signed from Grays Athletic – gave Stow the extra legs needed and they soon took control of the game.

Corners had been a source of panic in the Basildon box all evening, with Marsh unable to get anywhere near the ball, surrounded by Moses and Kevin Songolo. With 68 minutes played Sayoud swung in another perfect corner, to the waiting Moses at the back post who glanced home. It was Moses who scored the goal, but it was made by Songolo; Basildon midfielder Clyde Semazzi attempted to push Songolo away, but didn’t have the strength, and only ended up bouncing off and taking out his own goalkeeper.

The Bees did force one good chance in the second half, but it was spectacularly tipped away by Browne.

With Basildon piling forward in search of an equaliser, Stow were given acres of space to play on the counter. On 80 minutes Sayoud was put in down the right and as he reached the box he turned substitute Arnold Mengi. He drove towards goal, but Mengi cynically clipped Sayoud from behind and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Ollie Sotoyinbo, recently off the bench, made no mistake despite Marsh going the right way.

Okunja shot wide for Stow shortly after, but what could have been the crowning moment for Stow and Moses came a couple of minutes later. Again latching onto a lofted pass, Moses beat Stringer for strength twice but his one-on-one shot was brilliantly tipped over by Marsh. Stringer, who had a torrid evening against Moses simply held out his hands at his goalkeeper, exasperated, seemingly saying “what else can I do?”.

Stow now make the longest trip of the season to Great Yarmouth to play Gorleston, as they hope to continue a late push for the play-offs.

Image: @jamessheriv

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