Haringey Borough see off Canvey Island in Bostik North play-off final to seal promotion to Bostik Premier
- Credit: George Phillipou/TGS Photo
Bostik North play-off final: Haringey Borough 3 Canvey Island 1
Haringey Borough secured promotion to the Bostik Premier for the first time in their history with a 3-1 win over Canvey Island in this afternoon’s Bostik North play-off final at Coles Park.
After a goalless first 45 where Tom Loizou’s men looked nervous, they produced a superb showing after the restart to deservedly book their spot at step three of the non-league pyramid.
Goals from Mark Kirby, Ralston Gabriel and Michael Ademiluyi helped Borough see off the challenge of Danny Heale’s Gulls, but only after an entertaining four-goal second half at Coles Park in front of 809 spectators.
Both sides reached the play-off final with 2-0 victories on Wednesday with Borough defeating Heybridge Swifts and Canvey seeing off Bowers & Pitsea.
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Loizou kept faith with the same team which earned Haringey a shot at promotion to the Bostik Premier.
Meanwhile Canvey boss Heale included Sam Higgins and James White in his starting XI, both of whom signed for the club on dual registration forms from East Thurrock United back in March in preparation for the play-offs.
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A minute’s applause took place before the game in memory of Hornchurch secretary Pete Butcher, who passed away on Friday.
Butcher had worked for London Archant and had roles with the Essex Senior League and Isthmian League and his life was respectfully honoured before kick-off.
Once play got underway, it was Canvey who settled quickest and had a fraction more of the possession during the opening exchanges.
The Gulls created the first chance with eight on the clock when Sam Collins ball over the top found Sam Higgins and he fired towards goal, but Valery Pajetet was well place to save.
Canvey were increasing their stranglehold on the match and delivering a number of balls into the Haringey area, but the ‘home’ defence were dealing with them.
Another opportunity nearly occurred for the Gulls in the 11th minute when Mitchell Gilbey turned away from his marker, but Rakim Richards slide in perfectly to thwart the danger.
Borough boss Loizou was not looking happy on the sidelines and urged his team to ‘settle’ after a shaky start.
It continued into the 13th minute as Anthony McDonald picked up an early booking for a needless foul on Gilbey.
Eventually Haringey did settle and they won a free kick in a dangerous position five minutes later after Gabriel had turned impressively.
Andre McCollin stepped up to take the set-piece, but drilled it straight into the wall and a good opening had been wasted.
It did help Loizou’s team jolt into action and they threatened again four minutes later when McDonald’s free kick took a deflection and rolled just wide.
The game was a lot more even now, but Canvey wasted another decent chance in the 24th minute when Steve Sheehan headed over Gilbey’s corner.
Gulls centre back George Allen was the next person to go into the book with 26 on the clock after a cynical foul on Gabriel.
Referee Steven Hughes, with the temperatures in north London hitting high twenties, made the decision to have a short water break with half an hour played.
Once play resumed the pattern of the game continued with both sides struggling to create chances.
Canvey did produce a good opening in the 34th minute though, and they should have done more from it as George Sykes and Higgins combined well.
Higgins got away from Richards, but with Gilbey in space to his right, he went alone and saw his effort deflected and easily saved by Pajetet.
Less than 60 seconds later and Borough threatened as Gabriel was played in on the right, but he blazed over from 14-yards.
Opportunities were slowly occurring on a more regular basis and centre back Sheehan had a chance in the 35th minute, but his low shot was easy for Borough’s number one.
The Gulls were beginning to get on top again and there was a nervy moment for the ‘hosts’ in the 40th minute when Richards inadvertently headed past Pajetet, but luckily for him to rolled behind for a corner.
From the resulting set-piece, Lauren Luke had to make a superb sliding tackle after Haringey’s goalkeeper had come for the cross and failed to claim it.
The Borough crowd did their best to get their team playing again with the drummer near the pitch helping the Coles Park faithful go through their repertoire of songs.
It seemed to be working as good play between McDonald and Michael O’Donoghue won Loizou’s men a free kick in a dangerous position in the 43rd minute.
Gilbey went into the book as a result of his challenge on O’Donoghue and Haringey now had a great chance to threaten the Canvey goal.
McDonald’s first delivery was headed behind for a corner and he took the next set-piece, but again it was cleared, although only back to the winger. His third cross did find a Borough player, yet McCollin headed well wide with half time moments away.
Two minutes of stoppage time were added on at the end of the 45 and another tense moment occurred for Haringey when Jorge Djassi-Sambu headed behind for a Canvey corner, but after some pressure, the north Londoners survived.
It was the last moment of note before the half time whistle was blown to bring a tight and tense opening 45 to an end at Coles Park.
Loizou made a change at the break as McDonald made way for Ademiluyi, who had played a big role off the bench against Heybridge.
Borough created the first opportunity of the half in the 48th minute when David Olufemi cut inside and curled over from 20-yards.
Another chance occurred two minutes later when Ademiluyi passed into McCollin’s path and he turned away from his marker, but his shot was tame and easy for Henry Newcombe.
The game was more open now and Higgins failed to make the most of an opportunity in the 53rd minute when Jake Pitty picked him out in the area, but the forward headed straight at Pajetet when he could have brought the ball down.
Back came Haringey though and lovely footwork from Djassi-Sambu saw him get away from White and drill a cross towards goal where Newcombe spilled the centre, but his defence were on hand to clear.
Pajetet was called into action again in the 56th minute when Gilbey’s cross dropped in the area and Borough’s goalkeeper did well to block efforts from Sykes and Higgins before he needed some treatment.
Unfortunately for Haringey Pajetet wasn’t able to continue after appearing to suffer a hand injury and so Austin Byfield replaced him just before the hour mark.
It was far from idea for the north Londoners, but failed to dampen the spirits of the Coles Park crowd who continued to loudly support their team.
Higgins tried to silence them in the 61st minute when he received from ball from Sykes, but his low shot went wide of the post.
Ashley Dummas was the next person to go into the book in the 67th minute for a foul on Ademiluyi by the touchline when the Haringey substitute had nowhere to go.
O’Donoghue’s first delivery was knocked behind by Newcombe and the resulting corner forced more action in the Canvey area.
Gabriel had two efforts blocked with the second leading to penalty calls after Allen had chucked himself in front of the shot.
Although Haringey wanted a penalty, it did seem to hit the Canvey defender in the stomach, but the pressure from the north Londoners was increasing now.
Heale reacted by introducing Ryan Charles for the dangerous Gilbey, who was only passed fit on the morning of the game.
The Haringey pressure continued, however, and Jake Pitty earned a yellow with 71 on the clock for grabbing the ball when Gabriel had got the better of him.
It seemed like a matter of time before Borough made the breakthrough with Loizou’s team creating wave after wave of attacks.
And with 17 minutes of the 90 left, it finally arrived and through an unlikely source in the shape of Kirby.
O’Donoghue whipped in a wonderful corner from the right and Kirby headed towards goal and although Canvey goalkeeper Newcombe got a touch, the linesmen adjudged the ball to have crossed the line.
The former Enfield defender wheeled off to celebrate after sending the Haringey fans inside Coles Park into pandemonium.
Canvey immediately made a change with Ryan Melaugh introduced for Collins with 14 minutes left.
Haringey’s substitute goalkeeper Byfield was called into action on a couple of occasions, but it was only to claim routine crosses.
Borough were still looking a threat on the break and certainly appearing to have much more energy than Canvey as the game entered its closing stages.
Then with 82 on the clock a string of mistakes lead to Haringey winning a penalty and taking a big step towards promotion.
First White’s pass was poor and intercepted well by Gabriel who ran towards Canvey’s defence.
Merrifield came round and looked to have covered the danger well, but he slipped and touched the ball with his hand and referee Hughes pointed to the spot.
Up stepped Gabriel and he rolled the ball past Newcombe to make it 2-0 with 83 left at Coles Park.
The Borough faithful were in dreamland now, but Heale and Canvey were not giving up just yet and he made his final roll of the dice by bringing on Martin Tuohy for White.
Haringey’s second goal was not the end of the drama though as the Gulls should have made it 2-1 on the stroke of full time when Merrifield showed good strength out wide and crossed in for Sykes, but he headed wide.
It was a guilt-edged opportunity and Borough didn’t heed the warning signs as during the third minute of four minutes stoppage time, they conceded to set up a nervy finale.
Again it was Merrifield causing problems out wide and this time his cross was headed in by Sheehan.
It set up a tense last 60 seconds and there was more drama to come as a quick one-two between Gabriel and Ademiluyi saw the substitute through on goal.
Fellow Haringey sub Chinedu McKenzie, who came on after the second goal, went to go for the ball, but quickly realised he was in an offside position and so stopped and allowed Ademiluyi to race through.
The linesman raised his flag, but Ademiluyi didn’t let it affect him and he coolly slotted past Newcombe to make it 3-1 and put the game to bed.
Canvey’s players remonstrated with the linesman and referee Hughes, who consulted with his official before awarding the goal, but he wasn’t changing his mind and the goal stood and Borough were on the verge of promotion.
Seconds later it was confirmed when the full time whistle was blown and it meant the Coles Park club will be playing Bostik Premier football next season.
It is a superb achievement by Loizou’s men and fully deserved given this was their 10th straight win.
After finishing this campaign in stunning form, Haringey will already be looking forward to next season in the Bostik Premier.
Haringey Borough: Pajetat (Byfield 59); Olufemi, Richards, Kirby, O’Donoghue; Stone, Luke, Djassi-Sambu; Gabriel, McCollin (McKenzie 85), McDonald (Ademiluyi 46).
Unused substitutes: Asamoah, Mitchell.
Canvey Island: Newcombe; Pitty, Sheehan, Allen, Dumas; Gilbey (Charles 70), Merrifield, White (Tuohy 84), Collins (Melaugh 76); Higgins, Sykes.
Unused substitutes: Warren, Wiggins.