A hattrick from Tyler Dolan and a goal from Callum Ibe saw Buckhurst Hill take a huge step towards the Essex Olympian Football League Premier Division title as they eased past Shenfield AFC at Roding Lane on Saturday.
The hosts dominated for much of the first half and had control of the second half as the visitors struggled to take their chances.
The result saw Buckhurst Hill hold a 7-point lead over Second-placed Basildon Town, who could only manage a goalless draw with Harold Wood Athletic, while Shenfield dropped down to 13th and sitting 2-points ahead of bottom side Old Southendian, having played two-games more.
It was the perfect start to the match as the hosts took the lead within the first 3-minutes. A mix-up between the Shenfield defence and the keeper gave Tyler Dolan the opportunity to intercept the ball and slot it home.
After the first goal, neither side dominated the chances as both sides looked to score. A free-kick from outside the box was punched clear before cross from the goalscorer was well held by the keeper. Down the other end, Shenfield’s 9 fired a shot over the bar from the edge of the box before another effort from the 9 was a low driven shot from outside the box but it was wide.
As the first-half wore on, Buckhurst began to dominate more of the ball and create more chances, but they couldn’t expand their lead. Alfie Harris made a good run down the right-hand side and aims across towards Suleyman Zuhdu but the ball was cut out before it could reach it’s target. The result corner was kept out on the line before the keeper was able to clear the ball. The visiting keeper held onto the ball well from two efforts from Dolan before the goalscorer dragged a shot wide. Nathan Sollosi had a couple of efforts himself but couldn’t find the target; A shot bobbled off the grass and bounced wide before an effort from distance was fired over. Shenfield had a couple of chances in-between the Hill efforts but a shot from a tight angle was caught well by the keeper and a corner ball was flicked onto the roof of the net.
The second-half saw Buckhurst Hill come out of the traps the quickest. Callum Ibe almost intercepted a pass to the keeper but was just short in the opening minutes before Ibe won the hosts a penalty a minute later. The forward was clattered into, as he looked to round the keeper. Tyler Dolan was given the honour of taking the spot-kick and didn’t disappoint as he empathically finished the penalty into the top corner.
The two-goal cushion gave the hosts the confidence they needed as they continued to look for more goals. They were aided by the fact that the visitors were briefly down to ten-men as the 8 was sin-binned. Despite being a man-down, Shenfield had a couple of good opportunities but couldn’t take them. A shot from the 16 was fired over before the Daniel Blockley parried a shot into the path of the number 7 but a superb last-ditch tackle Max Nicholson denied the visitors a tap-in.
The visitors were left to rue the missed chances as Hill extended their lead. Callum Ibe latched onto a pass in the box and as he intended at the start of the second-half, rounded the keeper and tucked home his effort. The third wasn’t enough and the hosts had a fourth, two-minutes later. Nicholson was brought down inside the box with the referee not hesitating to point to the spot. Again, Dolan stepped up and fired a carbon-copy shot into the top corner to complete his hattrick.
Shenfield had another rare opportunity as the 10 ran onto the ball and headed towards goal but his effort was comfortable for the keeper. As the game approached the last 10-minutes, Buckhurst looked to see out the game with a clean sheet. They thought they had scored a fifth as Josh Banfield broke through the defensive line and squared the ball to Davidson, but the latter was deemed to have been offside and the goal chalked off. Down the other end, the visitors’ 11 ran towards goal but Kenny Day took the ball off the toes of the forward before the hosts looked to come forward; A floated cross from Nicholson was headed just over by Zach Davidson before Davidson made a good run towards the goal but overran the ball and it was safety into the hands of the keeper.
The visitors had the chance to pick up a consolation goal right at the end of the game as a header was aimed towards goal from the number 8 but his effort was just over.