At Berkeley Fields on Saturday – for the third game in a row – North Greenford gave their opponents a head start by conceding a goal in the opening minutes. On this occasion, against Chertsey Town – a team like Greenford needing to move well clear of the relegation zone – it was a goal that was to prove enough to win the contest moving the Curfews up to 14th in the CCFL Premier Division table, with United slipping down to 17th – level on points with near neighbours AFC Hayes who they play at Farm Park on May Bank Holiday Monday.
The match could not have got off to a better start for the visitors. At the end of the side’s first significant attack down the right a cross from Connor Cullen found striker Marcus Mealing in space, and Mealing made no mistake with a clinical finish that gave Blues keeper Bailey Mulhall no chance.
More goal-scoring action was provided at both ends. Almost immediately after going behind United created a chance to quickly get back on level terms through Leius Sinclair but the opportunity was missed.
On 20 minutes, after being cautioned for a foul just outside his area, Mulhall pulled off an excellent save from Cullen from the resultant free-kick – the ball heading for the top corner after being superbly struck by the Curfews’ winger – to prevent the visitors extending their lead.
Sinclair then did well on the half hour with a fine, persistent run before putting Nathaniel Mensah through on goal, but Mensah’s effort was well saved by Curfews’ keeper Mo Mann. From the resultant corner a fierce strike by Blues captain Daniel Vincent from the edge of the box led to Greenford claims for handball, turned down by referee Anthony Quinn.
Then, some seven minutes from the interval, a shot on target by Blues left midfielder Arash Abdollahi was comfortably saved by Mann. This effort was followed by a scrappy passage of play that ended on the stroke of half-time with a free-kick awarded to United on the edge of the Chertsey area. Tom O’Regan went for goal but unfortunately his strike missed the Curfew’s crossbar by some distance.
The second period was, for the most part, an extremely scrappy, flat affair with both teams looking very tired and struggling to keep possession, with very little penetration in the final third and both defences well in control.
Matters only livened up during the contest’s final ten minutes when, with Chertsey looking to wrap up the points, an effort by substitute Leonardo Pedro brought out another fine Mulhall save to keep the Blues in the game.
Then at the other end an effort from full-back Carl Bower, flicked on by Jamal Velinor came agonisingly close to earning the Blues a share of the spoils, but it wasn’t to be and the Curfews clung on to their narrow lead to earn three more crucial points.
North Greenford now have four more games remaining, three at home against CB Hounslow Horley and Godalming Town and the away fixture at Farm Park. For obvious reasons it is vital that the team get back to winning ways after their poor recent run.
NGU Team: Bailey Mulhall, Carl Bower, Ryan Murphy, Stuart Muldrew, Austin Schofield, Kian Martin, Tom O’Regan, Daniel Vincent (captain), Leius Sinclair (Jamal Velinor 75), Nathaniel Mensah, Arash Abdollahi (Jordan Ellis 72)