Redbridge 1 Ilford 1

Saturday 16th February 2013
Redbridge 1 Ilford 1
Ryman League Division One North
At: Oakside Stadium, Barkingside
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £7 including 32 page programme
Weather: mild, sunny, dry
Attendance: 93
Duration: first-half: 46:08; second-half: 48:17

A third consecutive Saturday ‘derby’ for me and one quite rightly described as a classic ‘six-pointer’. Local rivals Redbridge and Ilford are both embroiled in a fight to avoid relegation from Ryman League Division One North to the Essex Senior League, so really needed to claim all three points. Both, in the end, had to settle for a draw with a 1-1 draw with The Motormen’s earlier opener from Jason Cleaver cancelled out by a super strike from Ilford’s Daniel Crowie just before the break. Both sides created chances during the second half and Ilford survived late pressure from Redbridge in stoppage time. Nice club, nice people!

Last Saturday at Brocton, one of the Stafford Town officials who reads my programme articles about my football travels, asked me which games I had in mind for today. I didn’t know precisely then other than a trip somewhere by train to London was more than likely. The first post on the Non-League Matters Forum in the ‘Where are you going?’ section for today by Runwell highlighted the ‘Part 2 of the 169 derby... Isthmian League Division 1 North Redbridge v Ilford’. My mind was made up, especially as Redbridge are good tweeters (@TheMotormen) and had replied to my tweets hoping I enjoy my visit.

To some people, it may seem strange to head to London and visit a ground I’d previously visited. Possibly true but my only previous visit to the Oakside Stadium was a dark November evening in 1992 for a Barkingside home game against Southgate in the London Spartan League Premier Division. Ask me what I recall about the ground and all I could say off the top of my head would be ‘situated next to Barkingside tube station’ and not much else.

This morning at the station, I got on and almost immediately off the London Midland train heading for Euston as it was standing room only, presumably packed with travellers taking advantage of LM’s Great Escape promotion. Thankfully, I was able to cancel and replace my original ticket with one for Virgin trains and, after a 40-minute wait, ‘Penny the Pendolino’ arrived at Platform 1 then hurtled down to the capital. The Virgin ticket did have advantages after the match.

Some while ago, I read an article on the Cask Marque app which provides, amongst other things, pub finder listing accredited premises – one of the first apps added yesterday to my new smartphone. So with spare time before heading to the match, the app ‘found’ the Doric Arch near Euston and then the Coal Hole, an old favourite of mine on the Strand near to where I worked during the early 1990s.

The easy option from Coal Hole to the ground was Central Line all the way from Holborn to Barkingside. But arriving on the 169 had an attraction so instead it was Central Line to Liverpool Street then Shenfield-bound Greater Anglia train to Ilford from where I caught the bus from round the corner on Ilford Hill all the way to Barkingside.

Within minutes of walking into the ground, I’d already sensed a really friendly club and one I wouldn’t hesitate to visit regularly if I lived locally; programmes on sale at the gate, badges and raffle tickets on sale immediately inside the ground, a nice clubhouse, Jeanette’s Kitchen refreshments bar, teamsheets from the PA box, etc., as well as a warm welcome everywhere.

‘Redbridge FC’ was known as ‘Ford United FC’ prior to July 2004 and played home games at Rush Green Road, where I saw Ford United host Concord Rangers in a Harry Fisher Memorial Trophy First Round tie which the visitors won 2-1.

Returning to Oakside Stadium, as I predicted, was a good as visiting a new ground. My diagram from 1992 shows just a small seated stand on the railway side, a clubhouse and nothing much else. Now Oakside Park has been transformed to include a larger seated stand on the railway side, covered standing along the length of the opposite touchline and terracing behind the near goal.

The league table in the programme showed just how crucial today’s game was to both sides. Just one point separated bottom side Ilford (22nd with 12 points from 25 games) and third-bottom Redbridge (13 points from 25 games). Interestingly Redbridge had won just one home league game and lost the other 10, while Ilford had one win and one draw on their travels.

Teams changed ends after the toss and Ilford (in blue, white and red) got the game underway defending the entrance end into the low sun. On a “nice spring day” as one supporter remarks, the visitors applied early pressure and Warren Mfulam missed a great chance to give the Foxes the lead, firing over instead at close range.

We didn’t have to wait long for the opening goal which came in the 13th minute. A howler from Ilford goalkeeper Daniel Mbaku gifted the ball to Jacob Cleaver shot home low from 20 yards out via the base of the left-hand post.

Undeterred with plenty of time left, Ilford continued to threaten and Michael Bowditch got down to his left to hold an angled shot from Daniel Crowie.

Following my raffle success at Rocester on Tuesday, confidence was high especially when the winning number of ‘89’ sounded familiar. It was, as I had 90-95! The near misses continue, lol.

Redbridge, who hadn’t won a home league game since end of October, created chances themselves and only the bravery of Mbaku prevented Lee Martin from taking advantage of a great scoring opportunity inside the area.

Ilford certainly didn’t look like a bottom-of-the-table side and got back on level terms in the 40th minute. Crowie, from an acute angle on the left, fired across the face of goal and into the far side of the net. A super strike.

The impressive Jody Banim (wearing ‘8’) saw his initial free-kick blocked, then volleyed a second chance just over the bar as the Foxes finished the first half in the ascendency.

Jody Banim? That name sounds familiar. Yes, he is a former Droylsden and Stalybridge Celtic midfielder who faced Stafford Rangers on several occasions.

During half-time, a fellow supporter who turned out to be ‘Chorley2002’ spotted me taking some photos and introduced himself. He also pointed out the equally legendary ‘Runwell’ and ‘IlfordFox’. Good to meet and chat with you guys!

At the end of last month, Ilford won the first ‘169 derby’ at the Cricklefield Stadium 2-1. Would there be a winner today?

Chances continued to be created after interval as both sides strived hard to bag all three points from this ‘six-pointer’. Crowie saw an angled shot flash across the face of the Redbridge goal and, on the hour, a shot from Ilford’s player-assistant manager Paul O’Shin was booted clear by a defender from in of goal.

I made a note describing ‘Ilford 8’ as ‘influential’. I now know why!

Antony McDonald then missed a great chance after staying onside to latch onto a throughball from Cleaver, only to hit the post with just Mbaku to beat. The Ilford goalkeeper didn’t well to stop a low drive from Cleaver in the 69th minute.

Behind me in the stand, I overheard someone following Ilford comment “that 9 is a dangerous forward, he’s been scoring goals, scored today didn’t he?’. That early goal was Cleaver’s 10th of the season.

The game certainly provided entertainment as the chances kept on coming. Unlucky, Shamrez Darr had a shot blocked in front of goal.

Redbridge made a strong finish and put Ilford under a lot of pressure during the closing stages. Ryan Reed cut in from the right past Crowie aimed a shot towards the far side of the net which Mbaku did well to hold. In stoppage time, the referee had a big decision to make when Reed went down under the challenge of Mbaku but turned down appeals for a penalty. Robbie Ryan saw a shot blocked by a defender and Mbaku saved from Reed shortly before the referee blew for full-time.

The consensus... “good game” and “fair result”.

The draw perhaps did neither side any favours. Ilford remained bottom while Redbridge dropped one place to second bottom as Ware moved above them with a 3-2 win at Chatham Town.

Before heading on my way there was plenty of time to further chat to Runwell and Chorley2002, as well as eavesdrop Dell Robinson’s post-match interview.

Because of my Virgin trains ticket, the day didn’t end with a just a trip back to Euston and the last London Midland train home. So, I hopped on a Central Line train at Barkingside to nearly Fairlop and a walk from that station to Hainault via the New Fairlop Oak and Old Maypole both on Fencepiece Road. And, a quick half of Hogs Back T.E.A. in the Royal George near Euston Station before catching the train home. The Ale Trail is underway.

Fab day out and I can’t wait for my next football trip to London!

Redbridge (red/black/black): 1. Michael Bowditch, 2. Danny Hayes, 3. Charlie Rolls, 4. Antony McDonald, 5. Shane Lemard, 6. Sam Holloway (capt), 7. Stephen Ikumelo, 8. George Monger, 9. Jacob Cleaver, 10. Lee Martin, 11. Jay Porter. Subs: 12. Charlie Portway (for Ikumelo, 68), 14. Ryan Reed (for Martin, 59), 15. Robbie Rees (for Porter, 81), 16. Jon Green (not used), 17gk. Dean Neil (not used). Managers: Dell Robinson and Steve Portway.

Ilford (blue and white hoops / red / red): 1. Daniel Mbaku, 2. Justin Hounkpatin, 3. Shawn Gardiner, 4. Paul O’Shin (capt), 5. Josh Coulson, 6. Nirydeem Kallon, 7. Daniel Crowie, 8. Jody Banim, 9. Shamrez Darr, 10. Warren Mfulam, 11. Lee Flavin. Subs: 12. Isa Bangoura (for Banhim, 87), 14. Usama Hamdan (for Mfulam, 68), 15. Luke Francis (not used), 16. Harry Sintim (not used), 17. Ebrimu Isidizech (not used). Manager: Kevin Lucas.

Referee: T. Brooks.
Assistants: T. King and M. Nicholson.

1-0 Jacob Cleaver (13)
1-1 Daniel Crowie (40)

Cards: none