League leaders with a 100% record. 5 & 0. Back at Clarence Park for for the visit of Jeff King's Canvey Island. They were pre-season favourites for the title and they have a wonderful record over the last few seasons, but they have stuttered this term. 4 points from 5 games. It seems like forever since City won a League game against The Islanders and tonight will be a stiff test.
Saints celebrate Rob Smith's goal
The Dynamic Duo fielded the same line-up that won at Grays on Saturday. Wilmot in goal; 4 at the back: Evans, Campbell, Townley and Naylor: 4 in the midfield: Oakes, Challinor, Smith and Hollenbach; and up front Martin and Crawshaw. The same bench: Moran, Brown, Keen, Gould and Roberts.
5 wins on the bounce brings it's own confidence and City started in lively fashion, forcing 4 or 5 corners and a couple of free kicks close to the visitors box in the first few minutes. Canvey coped and showed their own class in midfield and defence. Against the run of early play after 7 or 8 minutes, Canvey broke down the left and a cross from deep was misjudged by the home defence and was met at the far post. 0-1. A soft goal. City's heads didn't drop and they continued to force the pace. This was very good football from two very good teams. Both defences played well and clear chances were few. The Saints were a little more threatening, I thought, and a few minutes before half-time deservedly drew level. A cross from wide left by Martin was met by Townley's head and on to Crawshaw who hit home a smart volley. 1-1. City would have taken the lead but for a fine full length save by the visitors keeper from a fierce Smith long shot. H.T. 1-1.
Canvey pressed from the start of the second half and, once again, Campbell and Townley were tested and passed with flying colours. City rallied and for a long spell payed super football through the midfield using every inch of the pitch. (They haven't taken my tip and returned the pitch to full size, yet). After about15 minutes The Saints were awarded a free kick 30 yards out. Oakes and Smith shaped up from left and right, but it was Smith with a powerful strike, around the wall and inside the right post. A cracker. 2-1. Canvey responded, playing good football of their own. City dropped deep, too deep for me, and, as in a couple of games this season, the midfield allowed their opponents too much time and space. The last line of defence held firm and I can't really recall Wilmot being required to make a good 'save'. Martin was replaced by Brown and City reverted to 4-5-1, leaving Crawshaw to harry the visitors on his own. City had their moments in the last few minutes but could not add to the score. F.T. 2-1.
Crawshaw was awarded MotM, a decision that I fully endorse. His work-rate is terrific. The crowd was, perhaps 650 or so, with some 170 having made the trip from The Island. A thoroughly entertaining game with good football played by both sides throughout.
The Duo will be delighted with a sixth straight win against very good quality opposition. There are very talented players in this City side and they are not shy of showing their skill. What's more, they work hard. That, and an obvious team spirit. Super stuff. Canvey played very well. They are a good side with talent of their own. Not many sides in the Premier League are as quick or work as hard. They will know that the better team won tonight and they will also know that they wont meet many sides of the calibre of this Saints team this season. Like Grays, they will be there or thereabouts in May.
Entertainment 10/10. Technical Merit 9/10. Atmosphere 9/10. Referee 8/10.
Match report by Homer