Romford shoot down Swifts
PUBLISHED: 08:00 17 January 2016 | UPDATED: 11:29 17 January 2016
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Ryman North: Romford 2 Heybridge Swifts 0
Romford picked up only their second win in 12 games in Ryman North with a hard fought victory over relegation strugglers Heybridge Swifts at Ship Lane.
A first half free-kick from George Woodward and a late strike from Talha Zakariya was enough to secure three valuable points for Boro, who had beaten Barkingside two weeks earlier.
On a bitterly cold afternoon, it was Heybridge who looked much the dominant side in the opening minutes, appearing far more comfortable on the ball than the hosts without producing any notable opportunities.
But it was Romford who, against the run of play, had the first genuine chance to take the lead when Marvel Ekpiteta tripped Greg Akpele as the winger burst into the area from the left flank, conceding an unexpected penalty on 14 minutes.
Chinedu McKenzie stepped up only to see his tame spot-kick easily saved by Danny Stambridge who guessed correctly and tipped the ball around the post low to his left.
With the visitors having been the better team to that point, it was a missed opportunity that Boro might have lived to regret.
However, those fears were laid to rest just two minutes later when Woodward’s low, curling free-kick found the back of the net from 20 yards, giving Stambridge no chance and sparking delirious celebrations.
Heybridge were back on the offensive after the goal, but had little joy as Romford defended manfully with experienced captain Matt Frew able to thwart much of the danger.
Then came a period of sustained pressure for the hosts as early substitute Akwasi Marfo, on for the injured Akpele, exhibited his ability to beat a man on the wing, but was unable to get a shot away.
Probably the visitors’ best chance of the half came on the half-hour mark when Tyrone Scarlett’s cross found Jamie Guy free on the edge of the six-yard box, but the striker frustratingly failed to lay his head to the ball completely.
McKenzie forced a smart save low to the keeper’s right shortly after before Guy broke into Romford’s penalty area only to hit his shot straight at the yet untroubled Michael Gooch.
It was a tense half which offered little in the way of attacking quality, but with which Boro would have been much the happier.
The restart began with the home side looking far more confident for their lead, managing to string together the occasional attractive passing move.
One such play resulted in a powerful shot from Tom Anderson from the edge of the area which, although hit straight at the keeper, was nonetheless appreciated by the home faithful.
Following this, there was the suggestion on a couple of occasions that Romford were beginning to overplay, but this was done away with when Nick Reynolds stormed directly into the box before having his low shot bravely blocked.
Heybridge striker George Cole then managed to squeeze a threatening low cross in front of goal, but he was without support from his team-mates before McKenzie countered with a similar cross of his own.
Boro continued to search for the killer second goal as Reynolds blasted three quick-fire shots on target which were twice blocked and then well saved.
Guy and Jack Barham looked like they might have been in on the end of a ball over the top as the minutes ticked by, but Gooch reacted well and rushed off his line to hoof the ball away.
And then the decisive moment came as substitute Zakariya received a pass from Sam Coe in front of goal and, after managing to untangle the ball from beneath his feet, bundled home to round off a hard-fought win for his side in the dying moments.
Paul Martin’s men will take confidence from their performance as they host fifth-placed Harlow Town on Wednesday.
Romford: Gooch, Boswell, Woodward, Frew, Potter, Dicks, Anderson, Taylor, Reynolds (Zakariya 85), McKenzie (Coe 81), Akpele (Marfo 20). Unused subs: Burgess, Scott.
Heybridge: Stambridge, Ekpiteta, Cross, Line, Townrow, Humphrey, Pooley, Doyle, Guy, Cole, Scarlett (Barham 58). Unused subs: Maxwell, Smith, Godbold, Duyile.