Buckhurst Hill narrowly lost to a side two-levels above them at Roding Lane, as an early goal from the Woodford Town was enough for a victory.
The newly-promoted hosts had come into the game excited off the news they would be playing in the Eastern Counties League Division South (Step-6) next season following their promotion from the Essex Olympian League (Step-7), but keeping their competitive attitude, they knew they had a tough friendly in hand and was a game they wanted to show their worth.
While both sides looked to get on the front foot early on, it was the Woods who broke through early and opened the scoring in the 3rd-minute as a shot from outside the box, eluded the grasp of the keeper and snuck into the net. Woodford didn’t make the most of an early lead tough and the game remained open.
Callum Ibe looked to use his pace against a familiar opposition, but his first effort on goal curved wide of the post. The hosts kept coming forward as they were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box, but the number 10 was unable to keep his shot down, before the 11 turned and shot in the box but saw his effort trickle wide of the post.
The visitors looked to get a foothold in the game as they 11 twisted and turned the defence, but couldn’t fire his shot between the posts before the visiting keeper pulled off a superb save to deny Hill an equaliser.
As the first half approached the last 15-minutes, Buckhurst keep pushing for an equaliser, but couldn’t forge an opening. The long ball towards Ibe was cut out on many occasions while other shots either went over the bar or just wide of the target.
At the start of the second-half, the Woods applied some pressure on the hosts, but they were able to defend well. The resilient defending almost payed off as down the other end, a couple of minutes later, Hill thought they had found an equaliser. The ball was nestled into the back of the net, but the referee had blown for a foul on the keeper and the goal ruled out.
The Woods had a shot from the edge of the box, saved comfortably by the keeper, before Ibe saw his shot down the other end parried before a last ditch tackle denied the hosts a shot at the rebound. The hosts continued to dominate possession as they looked to level the game. They couldn’t have came any close as the 4 weaved his way into the box, but saw his effort cannon off the crossbar and cleared.
Both sides looked to score in the final 20-minutes as they battled well in midfield, but neither side created many clear cut opportunities. Despite late pressure to salvage a draw from the hosts, the game was brought to an end with a narrow win for the Essex Senior League side.