Stansted 1 – 1 Buckhurst Hill
Essex Senior League – Saturday 29th October
By Scott Lanza
Buckhurst Hill had to be content with a well-earned point over at Hargrave Park on Saturday. A 39th minute penalty from Suley Zuhdu gave them the lead, which the Stags held on to until a late equaliser from Bradley Russell allowed the hosts to snatch a share of the spoils.
This was the first league encounter between the two sides, however they have played each other three times in Cup matches so far this season, meaning that both teams spent the opening stages testing each other out. A few corners and crosses here and there, not much to really concern either keeper.
It took until the 12th minute before there was a clear shooting opportunity; it fell to Hassan Nalbant but he could only direct his shot high over the cross bar. Nalbant had another shot blocked soon afterwards, as did Conor Tyrell. Meanwhile at the other end Suley Zuhdu put in a powerful headed clearance to remove a Stansted corner ball.
Stansted’s first real threat wasn’t until midway through the half when Jack Mitchell moved ominously with the ball into the Buckhurst Hill box but solid tackling from Tyrell snuffed out the move. But that livened up the Stansted front line, although when Bradley Russell powered his way into a shooting position he could only direct his shot over the cross bar. The Stags also had to call upon Dan Blockley, he dived low to save a Jacob Barlow effort.
But in the 39th minute the Stags got the ball into the Stansted box and a foul was committed in the box, resulting in the referee awarding a penalty. It was a glorious chance to break the deadlock and Zuhdu made no mistake, sending the James Dillon the wrong way to hand Buckhurst Hill the lead.
Stansted came out in the second half and attacked from the outset. Within seconds of the re-start Connor Hammond was hammering a shot well wide – but it was an indication that the hosts were about to throw everything at it to get something from the game. A couple of corners tested the Stags defence, each time though they cleared their lines.
At the other end Zuhdu aimed a shot well wide, while Nalbant ran onto a through ball but Dillon showed bravery to come and claim the ball.
The hosts were starting to play direct balls into the box, Tyrell having to cut out a cross from a corner. The next corner ended up with Brad Russell who found space in a packed box to get a shot off, but it lacked accuracy. Chances were hard-fought for. The Stags went forward and a good Zuhdu run saw him play a neat ball to Nalbant, but John Clarke put in a meaty challenge to win the ball. Our defence courageously dealt with two successive Stansted corners and were also digging in when needed. The Stags needed another goal to keep Stansted at bay.
As it was the next chance fell to the hosts and it needed Blockley to be at his very best as Russell placed a well directed header towards the top corner, but the Stags keeper tipped it over the bar. The hosts got something off the resulting corner as well; Hammond unleashing a shot that was only inches wide.
The Stags eked out a couple of chances themselves, Nalbant cannoning a shot too high, followed by Zuhdu who could only direct a shot straight at the Stansted keeper. Hammond was able to create a chance for himself when he cut inside, but he steered his shot well wide of the target.
The final minutes saw the hosts pepper the box with crosses but Blockley and his defence stood firm. That was until one final corner deep in stoppage time. The final corner bobbled about the box, but shots were blocked until Russell was able to swing a leg at it at the back post and score a 93rd minute equaliser.
The Stags would have taken a point away at the start of play, but were so close to taking all three, in a game that was a tough old ESL battle.
Buckhurst Hill: Daniel Blockley, Liam Foster, Alfie Harris, Henry Day, Conor Tyrell, Tyler Doolan, Josh Banfield, Hassan Nalbant (Jake Moss 90+1′), Suley Zuhdu (Fehinti Falola 80′), Nathan Sollosi.
Scorer – Suley Zuhdu (39′ pen).