Ongar Town travelled down the A127 for their game against Shoebury Town, only three weeks after their 15-0 demolision against the same side.
Shoebury, with quite a few new faces in their ranks from the previous game, clearly were up for the prospect of having a good go at the league leaders and restore a bit of respectability after the previous result between the two sides and with results throughout the division leaving Ongar Town knowing that 3 more points today would see them needing just one more win from their final four games to secure promotion to EOFL Premier division, so this game was huge for both teams in very different ways!
Town, making 5 changes to the side, due to work and injury issues, started the game brightly, attempting to get on the front foot and impose themselves on a struggling Shoebury and they took the lead after 8 minutes when Jack Zielinski tapped home from 5 yards after good work down Ongar’s left from the returning Josh Boxall.
1 nil so early, would usually mean the beginning of a glut of chances created by Ongar but today they were not looking their usual fluid selves and looked quite hesitant at times, also due to the home sides aggression and commitment.
Ongar had a couple of half chances to extend their lead but never honestly looked like scoring as the half wore on and Shoebury, clearly sensing this, upped their efforts and started to cause Ongar some problems at the other end, bringing away goalkeeper George Oake into action a couple of times before the end of the first half, with him having to make a couple of sharp saves after poor defensive mistakes by those in front of him.
Shoebury then equalised right on half time. After winning a corner, Shoebury bought up the big lads, swung the ball into a dangerous area, and Dominic Binns headed a back post opportunity in the net after everyone else in front of him missed the ball. A very poor goal to concede from Ongar’s point of view, but totally what the home side deserved on the balance of play in this first half.
Ongar made a few half time changes, with their manager Ponsford clearly not happy with their first half’s output and brought on Frank Goodall and Aaron Blair into the fray to try to get some attacking intent back into their game and look for the win that could take them closer to the promotion their superb football this season clearly deserves!!
The game was becoming a real battle, with some strong challenges flying in and a real air of agitation running through.
Shoebury were clear in their plan to unsettle at any and every point, slowing the game whenever Ongar got a freekick and were beginning to really annoy a usually unflappable Ongar Town side.
Mid way through the 2nd half this game was clearly in the balance, both sides were creating half chances, but nothing of real note with the game now moving towards an entertaining but volatile climax.
Ongar had now changed formation looking for the win, clearly also in recognition of Shoebury’s doggedness and decent counter attacks and these 15 minutes were the most entertaining of the contest.
Jack Zielinski and Boxall then had good chances to give Ongar the lead, but for good saves from the excellent Shoebury keeper.
Ongar’s new found solidity and decent pressure then paid off in the 80th minute, when Aaron Blair burst on to a good through ball from Frank Goodall and slalomed his way through a few defenders and smacked the ball in to the net off the inside of the near post, much to the total euphoria of everyone connected to Ongar Town!! Crazy scenes of celebration and relief!
Ongar went on to close the game out and grab all 3 points, but this was a very nervy performance for the Town, who have looked so assured and confident recently, but the value of this win in the race for promotion and potentially becoming champions is vast and they travel home 3 points closer to their main season target, promotion to the Premier division!
Full time 1-2.