Essex Senior League: Sporting Bengal 2 West Essex 4
- Credit: Archant
A game that promised goals lived up to the billing with Sporting Bengal falling to defeat by West Essex on a cold afternoon at Mile End Stadium.
A dazzling second-half display by West Essex ensured they took the three points home as Bengal rued missed chances and defensive frailties on an afternoon to forget.
After being dumped out of the Gordon Brasted trophy in midweek by St Margaretsbury, the East London outfit were looking the bounce back knowing a win and other results going in their favour would see them shoot up to second in the league.
The game started off as a lively encounter with West Essex on the front foot and Bradley Russell, who came through their academy, went on a marauding run through the heart of the Bengal side but eventually ran out of steam and the home defence was able to clear.
After a scrappy few minutes contested largely in the midfield, it was Sporting Bengal who went in front against the run of play.
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A cheap free-kick conceded well inside the West Essex half was whipped in by Steven Carvell and after a flick-on in the middle of the box the chance was finished by Curtley Mcintosh after his close-range header went in off the post.
Keen not to let their heads drop after conceding West Essex responded immediately as some good wing play from the ever-creative Charles Gregory down the right-hand side saw him whip in a low cross and, after Bengal couldn't clear their lines, it was duly tucked away by striker Symeon Taylor.
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Clearly buoyed up by their instant comeback, West Essex were on the attack again, with Russell again picking up on a poor pass from Edward Lang to develop a counter-attack, but the final ball was played a bit too late and a promising chance went begging.
After the blistering start, both teams seemed to find their feet and settle into a steady flow.
A quick short corner by the home side developed into some neat passing around the edge of the area with the ball eventually falling to pacey striker Chaka Barnett who was brought down as the home side were awarded a penalty.
Up stepped Gregory whose good strike was matched by an even better save from West Essex 'keeper Jack Coker.
After winning a free-kick in the same position from which they had scored earlier, the team from E3 took a more direct route, with Carvell stinging Coker's palms with a vicious effort.
In a pre-match interview, Bengal boss Imrul Gazi had said how 'alarmed' he had been at how many goals his defence was leaking, and their frailties were on show once again as a very poor defensive line played Michael Mignot onside, but his drive into the box and shot agonisingly hit the post.
The ever lively Russell was causing Bengal's defence all sorts of problems again, with his quick snapshot just shy of the 45 minute mark going narrowly wide.
Finishing the half on the back foot, the home team started the second half better, with Carvell again at the heart of the attack, playing a pinpoint ball out to attacking full back Rokib Choudhury, whose square ball across the box fell perfectly into the path of onrushing striker Mcintosh who forced a top save from Coker.
It was to be West Essex who took the lead when a lofted ball over wasn't dealt with by Bengal's shaky defence, Russell again showing pace and power to shrug off a defender before forcing Belal Khan into a good save but then keeping his cool to tuck home the rebound.
Five minutes later two became three as a disastrous goal kick from Khan kindly fell to Russell who, after dribbling past two players, laid it on a plate for Mignot who couldn't miss and slotted the ball under the Bengal 'keeper to give the away side some breathing space.
Sporting Bengal were all over the place defensively and an attack from kick off was well snubbed out by the West Essex defenders and then turned in to a blistering counter-attack.
Russell was again at the heart of his team's good work as he played a lovely ball into Taylor and, with half of the pitch to himself, he hit the woodwork from the initial shot and then buried the rebound with conviction.
The hosts looked dangerous from set-piece's all afternoon and that was how they scored their second goal when a mazy dribble from the ever-lively Barnett drew a clumsy foul on the edge of the area and Carvell lasered the ball past Coker and into the bottom corner to give Bengal some hope.
That hope seemed to dissipate as Khan was tackled midway inside his own half as Bengal pushed forward. Russell dispossessed the 'keeper and was through on goal, only for an outrageous clearance from Joshua Adejie to keep the score at 4-2.
Despite that escape, it proved a tough afternoon for Sporting Bengal, who always looked on the backfoot against a hardworking West Essex team who continue their fine form after dismanting Enfield 7-0 last week.