Jammers frustrated by Seedgrowers - Maldon draw with Coggeshall

By Ben Shahrabi

20th Mar 2023 | Football

Maldon skipper Michael Finneran celebrated his third goal of the season with a knee slide. (Photo: Roy Warner)
Maldon skipper Michael Finneran celebrated his third goal of the season with a knee slide. (Photo: Roy Warner)

Maldon & Tiptree 1 - Coggeshall Town 1

A third goal of the season for skipper Michael Finneran wasn't enough to secure a win for Maldon & Tiptree last Saturday (March 18), as substitute Darnell Kithambo equalised for Coggeshall to recuse a point that did nothing to ease relegation fears of either side.

There were no fewer than four debutants for the Jammers with goalkeeper Noah Phillips starting in place of Rob Budd who could consider himself incredibly unfortunate not to be starting given his heroics last Saturday at Stowmarket, midfielders Michael Salako and Samuel Carter named in the starting line-up with Samuel Ayoola coming off the bench to complete the quadruple.

After an early chance for new man Salako, who fired wide from the edge of the box after two minutes, it was something of a cagey opening spell from both sides who were perhaps aware of what losing this six-pointer would do for their survival chances.

With 15 minutes played, a poor clearance from Danny Nesbitt in the Jammers defence landed at the feet of ex Maldon man, Evan Collard. He unleashed a fierce effort from 25 yards that just skimmed the outside of the post and rippled the side netting.

That seemed to spur the home side into life. On 20 minutes, some quick play across the right of the pitch from Salako to Harry Phillips gave Terrell Egbri a chance to get at his defender. Taking inspiration from World In Motion, he beat the man, took him and never gave up when it was one on one. His pace and trickery forced a corner which fell to Lewis Jaggs on the edge of the box, but his shot cleared the bar as the visitors survived their first real scare.

The Jammers had started to take hold of the game. Just before the half hour mark, Carter released Egbri, again allowing him to run at his man. He was fouled as he tried to cut in on his right. Coggeshall managed to clear their lines from the resulting set-piece but it had become one-way traffic.

Moments later, a weak defensive clearance from Coggeshall's Freddie Tandon fell for Harry on the edge of the box. His volley forced ex-Jammers keeper Tom Middlehurst into a smart save down low to his right, but no one was on hand to follow in the rebound.

Just before half-time, Middlehurst again thwarted his old side to prevent an own goal. Some neat play between Salako and Phillips on the edge of the box gave the former a chance to cross in. His low ball in hit a Coggeshall leg and was heading in but for Middlehurst, who got down spectacularly well to push the ball to safety.

That gave the hosts one last chance to go into the break with a lead. The resulting corner was put deep into the back of the Coggeshall box for Jaggs to head back across into danger, that found George Smith but he couldn't keep his header down and Middlehurst had got the break his excellence had probably deserved.

The interval arrived with both sides yet to find a breakthrough but with the Jammers unlucky not to be ahead.

The second half began with a torrential downpour. With the game threatening to resemble an aqua aerobics session, the Jammers got the breakthrough their endeavour deserved. A freekick in from the left by Harry found the head of Finneran, with the skipper leaping like a spawning salmon to guide the ball into the bottom corner past Middlehurst.

With their tails up, Maldon went looking for a second. Egbri was giving his marker, left back Ben Search, a torrid afternoon in particular. Already on a yellow card, the Coggeshall man must've been a real fan of the Jammers' winger as he tried to swap shirts with him after only 55 minutes. The referee, however, didn't search for a second yellow and it somehow stayed 11-a-side.

Just before the hour, another fine Middlehurst save - this time from George Smith - and a Salako header that landed just the wrong side of the post kept the home side's lead at just 1-0.

With 25 minutes left, the Jammers were given an almighty let off, when the aptly named goalkeeper Noah slipped as he went to claim a routine through ball. His fumble gave Stan Leech a chance, but a combination of Phillips and Nesbitt managed to scramble the ball clear.

Five minutes later and we were made to pay for not taking our chances. Substitute Darnell Kithambo scored with his first touch, lifting the ball over Phillips after latching onto a long throw to the delight of the travelling contingent.

Straight from the kickoff, we nearly retook the lead. A high cross into the box from Billy Willis was dropped by Middlehurst. Harry slipped as his tried to slot the ball home and the ensuing goalmouth scramble, combined with the rain and mud looked like something out of Saving Private Ryan.

Five minutes from time, a stunning point blank double save from Middlehurst to deny Finneran and then Salako on the line summed the Jammers' (and Middlehurst's) afternoon up.

A flurry of late Coggeshall set-pieces as we entered four minutes of stoppage time came to nothing, leaving Maldon to rue missed chances.

That point, coupled with defeats for Tilbury and Great Wakering, moves us eight points clear of the bottom four, although perhaps still - like Mike and The Mechanics - looking back over our shoulder with six games to play.

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