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Gateway’s sports correspondent Ali Stafford takes a look at the weekend’s local football action.
Competitive football finally returned this weekend with the start of the Essex Senior League season.
Last season’s bottom club Basildon United started their season off brightly, as they came from a goal down to win 3-1 at home to Clapton in one of seven league games to take place. The club sit in second place at this early stage of the season, with Great Wakering Rovers leading the way after their 4-1 win at home to Stansted.
Fellow Senior League side Bowers & Pitsea don’t get their league campaign until Wednesday when they travel to Basildon United in a local derby, although John Doyle’s side continued their pre-season with an impressive 4-3 win away at Ryman League Division One North side Redbridge.
With the Conference and Ryman League’s all not kicking off for another fortnight, many of our other local sides also continued their pre-season preparations with more friendlies.
Blue Square South newcomers Billericay Town followed up their midweek thrashing of Enfield Town with a narrow 1-0 win away at Lowestoft Town. A goal just before the interval from skipper Rob Swaine was enough to give Town the victory at Crown Meadow.
Elsewhere, Steve Tilson’s Canvey Island became the latest side to thrash the celebrity team Essex United that includes TOWIE’s Mark Wright, as the Ryman Premier Division outfit ran out easy 5-0 winners. Local rivals Concord Rangers also earnt a comfortable victory, as goals from Danny Spendlove and Chris Bourne earnt them a 2-0 win over a youthful Southend United .
Recently relegated Thurrock slipped to a 1-0 home loss against Blue Square North side Bishop’s Stortford, while East Thurrock United comfortably won away at Tilbury.
Grays Athletic continued their pre-season campaign with a 1-1 draw away at Thurlow Nunn Division One newcomers Team Braintree, with ex-Chelmsford City Tyrone Scarlett scoring the Blues only goal just before the break.
Next weekend sees the road to Wembley begin for many Non-League clubs as the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round takes place. Basildon United host Thurlow Nunn Premier Division side Diss Town, while Bowers & Pitsea are at home to Essex Senior League rivals Eton Manor. There are also another selection of friendlies taking place, with Leiston being the visitors to Billericay Town and Canvey Island facing Heybridge Swifts.
You can hear Ali’s Weekend Sports Round Up every Monday on both The Brighter Breakfast and Drivetime. Throughout the Olympic Games, there is also a special preview to the next day’s action on Drivetime, which you can hear every weekday after 6.30pm.