Hamlets triumph; Bengal pick up point
- Credit: Archant
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Tower Hamlets recorded their first win in nine games against fellow strugglers Eton Manor by two goals to nil at the Mile End stadium in the Essex Senior League.
An own goal by Kevin Bonjanga gave Hamlets the lead and Nasser Bello added the second late on to take the three points in a lacklustre encounter.
Heading into the game, Ade Abayomi’s side were on a run of terrible form with their draw against Burnham Ramblers last Saturday was their only positive result in the last seven.
They had also exited the Essex Senior League Challenge Cup midweek to Wadham Lodge, which meant confidence in the dressing room was low.
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But they faced a Manor team who were only a place above them, lying in 15th place, in the table and Hamlets knew victory would see the two sides swap positions.
The wet weather that had preceded the game was much like the first half, a damp squib.
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Eton fired out of the blocks well, Chidi Onokwau drawing gasps from the fans with a long rage effort early on. But after that, there wasn’t much on show to get the crowd excited.
This may have been in part to the two teams styles of play. Unlike the usual non-league style, that of aerial assaults on the opposition, both sides looked to play the ball through the back, with a passing mentality. Yet each lacked the panache and finesse in the final third.
Ironically, it was from a long ball on the 35th minute that gave the first clear cut opportunity of the afternoon to Tower Hamlets.
Rory Harper’s headed flick on found Bello, who latched onto the ball and was about to unleash his effort, until a despairing defender poked the ball away to smother the chance.
The likelihood of a goal from open play looked slim, so dead ball situations were of increased importance.
Just before half time, Eton’s Dean Florence hit a curling free kick that looked destined for the top corner, but Andre Stirica produced a leaping save.
Moments later and Hamlets took the lead from a free kick whipped into the box that wasn’t cleared, Mohammed Ndao swept the ball goal wards, with Eton defender Bonjanga’s attempts at saving the ball inadvertently causing the goal.
The start to the second half was much the same as the first, as the supporters toiled hard in the cold weather.
But they were rewarded for their patience, as with 10 minutes to go the game came alive.
Patrick Lukondo’s pressing won the ball off the Eton centre back and the ball squirmed its way to Bello who had a clear sight of goal, but failed to wrap up the three points.
Eton almost made him pay in a period of play that Abayomi called “one of the most nerve-wracking of my career” as the visitors had two cutting edge chances.
The first in the 85th minute came from a marauding Onokwau run down the wing, his cross into the box set Tafari Nicm one-on-one, but Stricia kept his managers blood pressure at a healthy rate.
As the clock struck 90 minutes Eton almost equalised again, but captain Kingsley Francis unable to head in at the back post.
As Eton threw more men forward, it gave recent signing Bello more room and in stoppage time he finished of a counter attack, much to the relief of all those involved at Tower Hamlets.
Abayomi said: “We have been playing so well but not getting the results, yet on Saturday we played not so well and win, but that is football!
“I am so proud of my young players and if we can be mid-table at the end of the season, I will have high hopes for the future.”
Tower Hamlets travel to Basildon United on Wednesday in their next league meeting.
Sporting Bengal United ended their two-match losing streak with a hard earned point at Takeley on Saturday despite playing with 10-men for 70 minutes.
Tunde Adewunmi, who has been in good goalscoring form lately, was dismissed at Station Road, but the east Londoners were one up at the break.
They conceded afterwards, but managed to hold out for a 1-1 draw which places them 10th in the table.
Manager Anwar Uddin said: “Proud of the spirit and attitude of the Sporting Bengal team.
“To play 70 minutes with 10 men and pick up a point away shows great resolve.”
They face Wadham Lodge next on Wednesday night in the league.