Romford’s third straight win ensures a Happy Christmas
PUBLISHED: 21:35 17 December 2016 | UPDATED: 21:35 17 December 2016
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Heybridge Swifts 0 Romford 1
Romford ensured a Happy Christmas for their loyal supporters after recording their third successive win in Ryman North at a foggy Scraley Road.
Greg Akpele’s third-minute goal proved enough to see off struggling Swifts, as Callum Chafer saved Jack Smith’s penalty moments later, but Nick Reynolds must wait to try and break the club’s goalscoring record, although he did set up the Boro winner.
The only goal of the game came when Jamie Dicks played the ball in from the left and Danny Sambridge spilled it under pressure from Reynolds, who dug it out from under his own feet and unselfishly teed up Akpele for a simple side-footed finish.
But Swifts were awarded a penalty less than two minutes later when George Cole’s ball from the right was adjudged to have hit Danny Cossington’s hand, only for Chafer to dive to his left and save Smith’s spot-kick, before grabbing the loose ball.
Boro boss Paul Martin felt justice had been done, having disputed the penalty award, and the visitors put some good moves together, buoyed by their reprieve.
Heybridge, in comparison, looked short of confidence until Alieu Njie forced his way into the box and saw a shot blocked on 18 minutes.
Harry Morgan then produced a good diagonal run across the pitch, skipping past two tackles, only to see a team-mate drift offside as he played a through ball inside Ryan Boswell.
Reynolds got up to nod down Chafer’s long kick, but McKenzie could not latch on to it as a defender put the ball behind for a corner, which Dicks swung in from the right and Reynolds felt his volley hit a Heybridge hand, before Ishmail tapped in from close range.
The goal was ruled out for offside, with Ishmail controversially adjudged to have been beyond Sambridge when the ball went forward.
And Kai Bichard, impressing in a central midfield role, was harshly booked for what looked like a good sliding tackle on Morgan on 25 minutes, but Heybridge’s Riley Baker was then shown a yellow card for a petulant challenge on Ishmail.
The Boro centre-back saw a header from Akpele’s right-wing cross comfortably gathered by Sambridge, after it appeared to catch the back of McKenzie’s head on its way goalwards.
And Sambridge made a more difficult, diving save on 32 minutes to keep out Reynolds, who was left with his hands on his head, after Dicks had won a full-blooded tackle on halfway, made progress up the left flank and delivered a teasing ball into the near post.
But Heybridge were starting to enjoy a bit more time on the ball as the first half drew to a close, albeit without being able to beat the Boro offside trap, of which they continued to fall foul.
Left-back Guillem Ramon tried to create an outlet for the hosts, but was well marshalled by Boswell, who produced one excellent tackle and then began a counter-attack, before a poor pass was cut out.
Late in the half, Heybridge’s Njie let his frustrations get the better of him, after having appeals for a free-kick ignored, and shoved Dicks to the ground, but escaped with only a telling-off from referee Matthew Morrison.
And Lewis Godbold was not even spoken to after scything down Akpele by the touchline, but Boro could not capitalise from the free-kick.
Heybridge made a change during the break, replacing Stefano Mallardo with Nicholas Brown, who saw a dangerous-looking ball into the Boro box gathered by Chafer within seconds of the restart.
And an offside decision against Brown left Cole stunned, although his dissent towards assistant referee Alex Kyriacou went unpunished.
The flag was up again on 52 minutes as Brown fired goalwards to force Chafer into a save and the referee spoke to Cole this time, as the hosts struggled to keep their emotions in check.
Martin was also growing frustrated as his side struggled to make much of an impact, although Reynolds scuffed an attempted shot on the turn from Boswell’s ball into the box just before the hour mark.
McKenzie then found Reynolds in a wide position on the right and he flashed a low cross to the far post, where it was put behind by Njie as Kwasi Marfo looked to prosper.
Akpele’s cross from the right then dropped to Marfo, whose right-footed shot was smothered by Sambridge on 65 minutes, before McKenzie swapped passes with Reynolds and saw a curling effort comfortably pouched by the keeper.
McKenzie stung the palms for Sambridge with an angled effort five minutes later, with Marfo’s follow-up effort also saved before Reynolds fouled Phil Anderson in his bid to stuff home the loose ball.
Boro were starting to look a bit better, seeking the decisive second goal as Heybridge continued to struggle going forward, but Akpele put a cross over the crossbar with numbers in the box.
Reynolds made way for Ayodeji Olukoga with 16 minutes remaining, as his search for an historic 68th goal was made to wait until after Christmas.
And Swifts went close to levelling soon after when Cole let fly with a speculative effort from the left corner of the box which a full stretch Chafer pushed around the far post.
But Olukoga was denied by a goalline clearance on 79 minutes after being teed up by McKenzie, before Will Green replaced goalscorer Akpele.
And Green might have secured the points with his first touch as Bichard beat Sambridge at the far post to nod down McKenzie’s cross from the right, only for his scuffed effort to be blocked by a defender.
Swifts substitute Glen Little smashed over a good chance from the right side of the box as normal time drew to a close, with Boro sending on Chris Taylor for Bichard for the three minutes of injury time.
And Little saw a ball to the far post skip off a Boro head and behind for a corner which Chafer punched clear to secure a third victory in a week for the visitors and a very happy Christmas before their return to action against landlords Thurrock on December 28.
Romford: Chafer, Boswell, Dicks, Cossington, Ishmail, Bichard (Taylor 90), Adebayo, Akpele (Green 81), McKenzie, Reynolds (Olukoga 74), Marfo.
Unused subs: Age, Mallett.