Newly-promoted Step 4 side Hadley edged out a win in the Walthamstow sunshine as they faced Essex Senior League side West Essex in their latest pre-season clash at Wadham Lodge.
West Essex looked to make the quickest start to the game as they got down the left-hand side well, but the cross into the box was too close to the keeper, who managed to hold on. The quick start didn’t kick-start the hosts as Hadley began to dominate the game from early on. A low cross from the right hand side was caught under the feet of the attacker before the Bricks no.11 came close twice in two-minutes; first creating some space for himself, but seeing his shot clip the post and then attempting a half-volley which the keeper saved well.
Hadley looked most likely to open the scoring as they continued to pressure the West defence. A shot was palmed away from the keeper before a volley from distance was well dealt with and a lay-off to a Hadley centre-back was fired wide of the target. The hosts had a rare chance in the 20th-minute as the no.14 created some space for himself, but he couldn’t take advantage and the shot was dragged wide.
Chances slowed down for both sides as the heat took its toll, but as the half approached its end, chances began to come for both sides. A shot from Hadley was blocked and cleared by the keeper before a cross was well dealt with and a header was inches wide of an open goal while West’s no.7 did well to shrug off the challenges thrown at him, but nothing came from his hard work as the resulting shot was fired over before the hosts came close again, this time a shot from the edge of the box was clawed away by the Hadley keeper.
With minutes left to play of the first half, Hadley had enough time for some more shots. The away side broke through the defensive line, but saw the resulting shot dragged wide before one of the centre-backs rose well to get onto the end of a cross ball, but the header cannoned off the crossbar.
The second half began as the first had ended, with a Hadley shot at goal. The result was the same though as it was dragged wide. West looked to score against the run of play with a couple of chances for themselves, but a free-kick in a dangerous position was wide of the goal before another opportunity was squandered minutes later.
The first goal of the game came in the 61st-minute as Hadley’s pressure finally broke the hosts resistance. A ball was played forward and poked beyond the keeper by the no.14. With the deadlock finally broken, Hadley looked to extend their lead as a couple of efforts were blocked before West had the same outcome down the other end. The hosts looked for an equaliser as they tried to play through the attacker, but the ball just ran through to the keeper.
The Bricks lead didn’t last long as West found themselves level in the 77th-minute. An excellent break from the hosts saw the no.17 played through and slotted the ball beyond the keeper. The leveller didn’t do much for West’s dominance in the game as Hadley continued to come forward. The visitors were almost ahead a couple of minutes later, but a ball floated towards the far post was touched over by the attacker before they found themselves back ahead in the 85th-minute. A corner was whipped in and headed beyond the keeper.
With minutes left to play, both sides had another chance each. A ball was played over the top by Hadley, but just ran away from the attacker before West looked for another equaliser in the 89th-minute, but the long-distance shot didn’t test the keeper and the game ended in a narrow win for the Step 4 side.