Essex Senior League: Ilford 3 Takeley 1
PUBLISHED: 07:59 24 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:00 24 October 2019
Ilford came out on top against Takeley in a highly anticipated game in the Essex Senior League on Wednesday.
Takeley came into the game on a poor run of form, while Ilford are languishing at the wrong end of the table and were playing their first league game under new manager Jonny Fowell.
And the game was a scrappy affair with chances hard to come by, with play largely contested in the middle as both teams played with a direct style and tried not to overplay in tricky conditions.
The first notable chance came on the 15-minute mark when Takeley winger Dylan Flurence saw his rasping effort from 25 yards cannon back off the crossbar which developed into a golden chance for striker Glen O'Hanlon, who missed an open goal with a header.
Despite being the favourites, the scrappy game meant neither team could take a stronghold on the game and it was 18th-placed Ilford who went close next.
Ikechi Eze made a trademark run forward and played in Ali Al-Nashi who cut in on his favoured left foot, but his shot, lacking power, cannoned off the post and was cleared by the Takeley defence.
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It was Ilford who seemed to be creating the better chances and Al-Nashi whipped in a dangerous free kick which was met by the head of Greg Akpele who forced Takeley stopper Matt Gill into a world-class save.
The second half began as the first ended, as a largely cagey affair.
But the deadlock was finally broken on the 54th minute when Akpele latched on to a ball over the top and, after shrugging off a defender, his scuffed shot wrong-footed Gill and ended up trickling into the corner.
Takeley seemed to up their game and try to get the ball on the deck, abandoning their direct approach, and this paid off as a cross evaded everyone and fell to Flurance whose initial shot should've been comfortably saved by the Ilford keeper, who parried it, and the ball bounced up and was met by Bryn Thorpe whose header went in softly off the post.
Despite conceding such an avoidable goal, Ilford's heads didn't drop, and they continued to plug away and took the lead again through Al-Nashi.
After a ball was expertly controlled by Akpele it was worked to the winger who looked dangerous all night and again cut onto his left foot and finished well into the bottom corner.
Takeley had a succession of corners at the tail end of the game, but Ilford stood strong and Eze found Akpele who drove at the heart of the visiting defence and, after skipping round a defender, he played a wonderful outside-of-the-boot pass to Al-Nashi, who had the freedom of Ilford and showed great composure to slot his finish under Gill.
It was a good win for Ilford who will see this as a springboard defeating a team who began the night sitting fifth in the league, while Takeley's woeful form continues and sees them now five games without a win.