Stanway Rovers 0 – 0 West Essex
After the excitement of last Saturday’s 4-0 victory over Enfield, Rovers were abruptly brought back down to earth with a 0-0 draw against mid-table West Essex in a game where they failed to get out of second gear in a frustrating 90 minutes which was low on quality throughout.
Rovers were given the perfect opportunity to take the lead inside just two minutes when Ayo Odukoya was upended in the West Essex box and the referee pointed to the spot. The resulting penalty however from Sean Bartlett was far too well advertised and the West Essex keeper made a comfortable save to his left. Bartlett almost made amends on 10 mins when he volleyed home from close range. but the off-side flag went up against Jack Clampin who had headed back across goal to create the chance. The next chance also fell to Rovers when Joel Older found himself on the ball on the left flank and his run and cross found Odukoya who could only shoot straight at the keeper from the middle of the penalty box. That chance was as good as it got for Rovers, as West Essex then dominated the half. Twice they wasted good scoring opportunities by shooting high and wide with just Harry Aldridge to beat, and Aldridge made one exceptional save from point blank range when West Essex looked certain to score following a break. Rovers enjoyed little possession or territory and were perhaps somewhat fortunate to enter half time still level at 0-0 after never threatening after the opening fifteen minutes.
Manager Danny Slatter was clearly as displeased as many of the Rovers faithful with the first half showing and made two changes at half time replacing Jordan Barnett and Joel Older with Joe Heron and Lewis Francis. Despite the changes it was West Essex who continued to dominate but against the run of play it was Rovers who had the first clear cut chance when a Crisell effort from 8 yards was deflected out for a corner. Other than an optimistic appeal for a penalty from Lewis Francis, Rovers continued to struggle for any fluency and it was no surprise when Slatter made his third change just 20 minutes into the half with Franchi replacing Bartlett; or indeed any surprise when frustration boiled over and Francis was booked for a needless cynical tackle on the half way line.
The game continued to lack any real quality with both teams restricted to half chances and long range efforts, and with West Essex using every opportunity to run down the clock satisfied with picking up a valuable away point Rovers became interesting frustrated. We almost stole it at the death when a Danny Nesbitt header from a Joe Heron corner was tipped over the bar but in truth Rovers didn’t deserve any more than the point they got and were perhaps fortunate to come away with that in a game in which they were no-where near their best.