Maldon are hit by a late equaliser

By Lee Witney

13th Aug 2023 | Football

The numbers were up for Maldon
The numbers were up for Maldon

Maldon & Tiptree 2, Felixstowe & Walton United 2

Maldon & Tiptree were denied a dream start to the season, as Joshua Hitter struck deep into injury time for a dogged Felixstowe & Walton United side to ensure the opening day spoils were shared at Park Drive.

Following last week's FA Cup win, there was one change to the Jammers' lineup, with Callum Stringer replacing Lewis Jaggs in midfield.

It was Alex Clark who nearly got the hosts off to an ideal start, but no one at the back post could connect with his whipped freekick from the right hand touchline with five minutes played.

Felixstowe's first chance on goal came courtesy of Charlie Warren who found himself free in the six yard box, but his near post effort was well saved by Tom Middlehurst.

With just over 15 minutes played, the Jammers had the lead. Some great running by Terrell Egbri down the left hand side forced a corner which wasn't dealt with by Felixstowe. After some half clearances, the ball eventually fell to Louie Remi on the edge of the box who fired home low and hard to give Callum Robinson no chance.

Clear cut chances were hard to come by although the visitors saw more of the ball as the half progressed.

Both sides created a couple of half chances, firstly with Stringer firing over from distance after the Jammers had won the ball back in the middle of the park and then Samuel Ford seeing his shot blocked from 12 yards by a resolute Jammers defence.

With half time approaching, Robinson was called into more urgent action by Clark and then Egbri in quick succession, Clark forcing a smart stop after beating 2 men down the right hand side which again wasn't convincingly cleared by the Seasiders and then Egbri's long range effort was well held by the keeper.

Deep into stoppage time at the end of the first half, George Smith gave the Jammers breathing room. It was more great work from Egbri down the left to send the full back for a half time pie before driving into the box and cutting a wonderful ball for Smith on the edge of the box. He unleashed a first time effort that crashed into the ground off the underside of the bar. After a lot of confusion, the referee eventually awarded the goal to send Maldon into the break two goals to the good.

If Felixstowe were all at sea (sorry) in the first half, then the second 45 couldn't have been anymore different as they set about reducing the arrears almost immediately through Henry Barley who saw a shot deflected wide and then fired over from a narrow angle within five minutes of the restart.

Moments later, the visitors had their goal courtesy of captain Billy Holland's wonderful curling shot from 25 yards out that gave Middlehurst no chance in the Jammers' goal.

Buoyed by the goal, Felixstowe pushed for an equaliser and just before the hour mark, they thought they had it only to be denied by the offside flag.

Chances were becoming increasingly rare for Maldon, but on 65 minutes they countered the almost constant Felixstowe pressure. Egbri threaded Remi though on the left hand side who pulled the ball back to Billy Willis whose cross just skimmed the head of Sam Ayoola.

With 10 minutes of normal time, the visitors were hammering at the door but the Jammers' defence looked to be holding firm. A corner for the Seasiders was partly cleared but led to a free kick on the edge of the box for handball. That too, was dealt with by Maldon.

The 90 minutes were nearly up yet still the visitors wouldn't lie down. A magnificent reflex save from Middlehurst down low repelled yet another attack after a goalmouth scramble from a corner.

The referee's assistant signaled nine minutes of additional time for the Maldon defence to hold out. Callum Harrison had a shot deflected wide for a corner from which Hitter thundered a header off the crossbar.

Not to be denied, Felixstowe finally broke the Jammers' resistance with the last kick of the afternoon, Jack Ainsley squaring the ball to Hitter who had the simple task of rolling home to give the visitors a share of the spoils.

Next up for Maldon, the road to Wembley continues as they take on West Essex in the FA Cup on Saturday, 19 August at Park Drive.


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