Waltham Forest rocked up at promotion hopefuls Basildon United on Tuesday and came away with an incredible away victory that comes in handy for their own fight against relegation. Ryan Maxwell had drafted in Lamar Joseph-Johnson from Bostik North outfit Grays Athletic for the evening, but despite an early call to action, which came inside the opening minute, the loanee keeper had little to do apart from marshal his defence, who put in a great shift to keep the Basildon frontline quiet.
Forest however put themselves in a dominant position within six minutes as by then they had gone into a two-goal lead. The opening goal came in the 3rd minute when a ball fell to Joshua Brimacombe-Wiard outside the box and he whipped it into the bottom left hand corner of the net. Three minutes later and the lead was doubled with an almost identical goal. This time Harry Morgan found himself in a very similar position and he cannoned a shot past Connor Wheatley that also ended up in the bottom left hand corner. It now looked uphill for Basildon, even with so much of the game left to play.
Billy Sendall has campaigned at a higher level and he showed some defensive prowess to cut out a ball that was aimed for James Peagram. And Joseph-Johnson had to do some work, cutting out a deep cross as the Bees finally switched on and starting getting some attacks going. Jack Adlington also had a cross shot cut out by the Forest keeper as the hosts now attempted to try and salvage something from the game. They peppered the Forest box but couldn’t prise open the Forest defence although Adlington did manage to get a shot on target, which Joseph-Johnson tipped away; and then he was able to beat the Forest keeper with another effort that just landed the wrong side of the post.
But Forest having soaked up that pressure then went on the attack again with Shomari Barnwell having a shot blocked, while Chris Lecointe and Christian Owusu also kept the Basildon defence on their toes with their constant runs into attacking positions. The visitors even had a penalty appeal turned down after Barnwell went down under a heavy challenge, which the Referee thought was legitimate and waved play on.
The three points were virtually in the bag by the 26th minute when Waltham Forest extended their lead even further. A ball down the left flank was swept into the box, which the Basildon defence didn’t clear, resulting in Christian Owusu jumping on a loose ball and slamming it past Wheatley.
Basildon needed to at least get a goal before the break but couldn’t penetrate the Forest defence, with a Renew free kick being the only clear cut chance they could muster. And Forest were able to test Wheatley twice in the closing stages, with the Bees keeper pulling off good saves to thwart Morgan and Lecointe.
Basildon United had it all to do in the second half and the longer it took for the hosts to get a goal, the harder it would be for them to salvage anything from the game. Waltham Forest were aware of this and so kept it tight at the back. Some good early defending by Gus Douglas saw him knock away a decent Adlington cross. Sendall, Josephs and Lustig all put in a solid defensive shift which protected their goal, ultimately meaning that Joseph-Johnson was only really called upon to claim crosses, although he did have to pull off a good save to deny Peagram. Forest simply were not going to let the points slip and dug in and prevented Basildon from getting any forward rhythm going.
Forest would also occasionally launch a counter-attack, with Lecointe and Barnwell both having chances stopped by Wheatley, as they wound down the clock and took all the points that their first half performance alone merited.
Defeat leaves Basildon 4th, with a massive eleven points to make up if they want to catch leaders Great Wakering Rovers; ten points are required if they want to pip Redbridge to the other promotion spot. As for Waltham Forest they go into the business end of the season with a fight against relegation on their hands, but were able to climb out of the drop zone after this well deserved victory.
Report by Scott Lanza