Bowers claim Bragging Rights to Top the Christmas Tree
By Dean Wootten
Knight and Warner goals see Bowers top of the league at Christmas
Slade once sang that they wished "it could be Christmas everyday", and it landed them the number one spot. Well, Rob Small may well be wishing for the same as goals from David Knight and Bradley Warner saw Bowers & Pitsea to a 2-1 derby win over Canvey Island to see them land their very own Christmas number one spot. Knight's early opener was cancelled out by a Martin Tuohy penalty, but Warner scored shortly before half-time to ensure that Bowers topped the Bostik Division One North by five points on Christmas Day.
Bowers made one change to the side that beat Soham Town Rangers 3-1, with Knight replacing the absent Lewis Manor. It was the opportunity that Knight had been searching for, having started on the bench in The Reds two previous games, and he showed why he deserved the start just seven minutes into the contest.
Having received the ball in the middle of the park, Brad Warner flicked the ball around the corner to set Quentin Monville on his way. The Bowers winger drove past Gulls full-back Sam Collins before crossing to Knight who glanced his header into the bottom corner. Bowers nearly doubled their lead within minutes of the restart, but Harry Palmer was able to tip James Thomas' 25 yard strike away for a corner.
Bowers continued to see more of the play and saw Warner fire just wide before Jose Figura was booked for a lunge on Thomas. Tuohy had Canvey's first effort of the game, seeing his blocked shot easily held by Andy Wilton, before Monville saw his goalbound effort blocked by Elliot Warren after Knight's clever backheel.
Shortly after the half an hour mark, Jack Simmons was taken off injured following a lengthy delay and Josh Hutchinson came on in his place. The Bowers defence, who up until this point had looked solid thanks to the efforts of Richard Halle and Martyn Stokes, seemingly switched off in this delay as from the game restarting free kick Tuohy lost his marker before being bundled over. Stephen Bates pointed to the spot and Tuohy dusted himself off before slotting the penalty to equalise.
Canvey were now in the ascendancy, causing panic with quick passing football and balls into the box with Sam Collins coming close to putting the Gulls ahead, but his 35 yard free kick was smashed just wide. But it was to be the visitors that would go into half time ahead, as Warner scored in the 41st minutes to restore Bowers lead.
Knight showed great desire to go up against Warren and win a seemingly lost header in the middle of the pitch, which fortunately fell to Monville who was soon racing away. Canvey skipper James White had no answer for Monville's pace, and the winger swept round the defender before earning his second assist by putting the ball on a plate for Warner who headed home from eight yards.
Within five minutes of the restart Palmer had to pull off a world class save to deny Bowers from going further ahead. Monville's long throw was flicked on by Callum Leahy and the ball eventually fell to Warner on the edge of the area. Warner struck the sweetest of volleys, but somehow Palmer was able to throw a glove at the shot and push it away for a corner. At the other end Tuohy was denied a second as his ranged attempt was safely held by Wilton.
Ben Sartain was the next to try a long range effort but his shot was easily held, before Leahy saw his header into the ground clawed away by Palmer. Palmer was clawing away again minutes later as he scrambled across to keep out Warner's exquisite free-kick. Bowers made their first substitution of the after as Jamie Dicks made a welcomed return from injury, replacing Tom Stephen who had been booked earlier in the second half.
Bowers stayed on the front foot, going for the attack is the best form of defence tactic, with Monville seeing his left-footed strike bend just wide. Wilton had to keep on his toes though, and the Bowers goalkeeper saved well down to his left to deny Frankie Merrifield.
Warner had the chance to secure the points for Bowers having been played in by a scrumptious Ben Sartain clip, but having made the space by skipping inside White, he skewed his shot horribly wide with the goal at his mercy. It proved to be Warner's last contribution to the game as he was replaced by Fahad Nyanja with eight minutes to play.
Canvey began to see more of the ball as the clock ticked down, but most of the possession was inside their own half, as Halle and Stoke snuffed out any and all balls forward regularly finding touch and gaining territory for Bowers. As such, Bowers were able to see home the victory, and will wake up on Christmas Day as the leaders of the Bostik Division One North.
Oh I it could be Christmas everyday.