On the spot performance
Anyone for penalties - left/centre/right - Muzza’s your man!
A cold spring evening and a paltry crowd of 60 witnessed the ‘Scholars’ continue their impressive run in the playoff cauldron.
The game started quietly as each team was well organised and working hard both in defence and the midfield.
But it was the visitors who threatened first with Eoin Casey just failing to reach a good through ball then Sandro Costa Dias Fernandes cut in and shot but his effort cleared the bar. After another quick break from the left the same player saw his goal bound shot blocked before the home side got their first sight of goal with Oluwole Akinsanya's low shot being saved by visiting keeper Berkley Laurencin.
On 24 minutes home keeper Christopher Haigh fouled Eoin Casey just inside the penalty area and Michael Murray stepped up to put a powerful spot kick into the left hand corner.
Neither side really created that much in the way of clear goal scoring chances with Eoin Casey putting Michael Murray's free kick just wide and the home sides Michael O'Sullivan heading Joe Claridge's free kick just over.
After 36 minutes it was déjà vu as Eoin Casey was again fouled in the home penalty area and once more Michael Murray stepped up to hammer his spot kick into the net straight down the middle.
The home sides Olu Quadri then did well down the right and his floating cross was just touched over the bar before, after 41 minutes, the home side reduced the arrears thanks to keeper Berkley Laurencin completely misjudging a soft shot from Akinsanya that somehow trickled through the keepers hand and into the net.
After the Jammers Joe Claridge had seen his volleyed effort just blocked at the expense of a corner it was the visitors who scored the next crucial goal after 57 minutes as Michael Murray was again involved when his free kick from out on the left found James Budden, criminally in yards of space, and his unchallenged header from close range found the net.
Jammers keeper Haigh then did well to hold Ben Ward-Cochrane's shot after the forward had done well down the right before the penalty saga continued but this time it was the home side who benefited on 74 minutes when the referee decided that Olakunle Akinwande had been fouled leaving Akinsanya to continue the perfect scoring from the spot with a firm shot into the corner.
The visitors were awarded another penalty after 80 minutes when another foul tackle (Ref had a choice of two here as both Sandro Costa Dias Fernandes and Eoin Casey were upended in a matter of seconds) was penalised in the area and Michael Murray stepped up to complete a very rare hat trick of spot kicks with another fierce effort this time to the right hand corner.
Various late substitutions failed to see any further additions to the score line “leaving Maldon and Tiptree just clinging to the cluster of teams aiming for the play offs and Potters Bar, in their current form, surely aiming for automatic promotion”.
Team: Berkley Laurencin, Christopher Doyle, Andrew Lomas, Lee O'Leary, James Budden, Sean Grace, Ben Ward-Cochrane, William Wambeek, Michael Murray (Ryan Forde 87 mins), Eoin Casey (Ronny Mfinda 81), Sandro Costa Dias Fernandes
Unused Substitute: Steve Brown
Man of the Match: Michael Murray - penalties - left/centre/right - Muzza’s your man!