Ilford finish their season in nightmare fashion
Nine-man Ilford ended their disappointing season with a 7-2 hammering away at Heybridge Swifts on Saturday.
The Foxes, who had secured survival the previous week, named rookie goalkeeper Elliot Barrow in the starting line-up with regular custodian Rob Budd unavailable.
But Barrow, making his full debut for the club, had an afternoon to forget as he was sent off before half time, while his team’s capitulation in the final 10 minutes saw defender Liam Thomas also sent off and the Foxes concede three times.
Watched by the largest Ryman Division One North crowd of the day, 345, Swifts took the lead after just 10 minutes when Luke Callander netted the first of his three goals.
Just three minutes later, Michael Toner lobbed Barrow from 40 yards to double the lead, but Ilford hit back on 29 minutes when Derek Hawtin scored his second goal in as many games.
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However, the game turned on 34 minutes when Barrow was dismissed for hauling down Toner inside the box.
The resulting penalty was scored by Callander, who fired past defender Jerome Paul, forced to don the gloves in the absence of a substitute keeper.
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The visitors, and Paul in particular, must have been dreading the second half.
But it was Ilford who struck first through Fehinti Falola to seemingly put his side back in the game on 62 minutes.
However, that hope was short-lived as Heybridge netted their fourth through Ricky Griggs on 67 minutes and ran riot in the closing stages to end their season in style.
Retiring goalkeeper Ollie Morris-Sanders successfully converted the home side’s second penalty of the match with nine minutes remaining.
Then, defender Thomas saw red for the Foxes following his foul on Griggs and moments later Callander completed his hat-trick, taking his season’s tally to 22.
With three minutes remaining, the miserable finale was complete, as Danny Barber curled in a free-kick off the underside of the crossbar to finish the scoring at seven and inflict Ilford’s 24th and heaviest defeat of the campaign.