Upminster 2s vs Wapping 3s - Wapping Won 4-1 (White 2, Austin, Edmunds)
Wapping 3s have secured promotion into Division 2S, their highest-ever league position, after defeating a feisty Upminster side.
The players were warming up when news began to filter through of results elsewhere - third-placed Redbridge had lost to Wapping 4s, meaning a win would secure second place with a game to spare. The 3s, who have been seeking promotion from Div 3SE for several seasons, took this news to heart ad put Upminster under pressure from the first minute, retaining possession well. Midfielder Alain Traill continued his impressive form by earning the game's first penalty corner with a driving run down the right.
From the set-piece, Alder's initial effort was saved but the rebound fell to Chris Austin, who scored the first of the game with a sweetly-taken reverse stick strike.
However, Upminster equalised almost immediately, with what was their only concerted period of pressure in the game. A penalty corner was carelessly conceded after a long ball through found an Upminster player in space. From the corner, an Upminster shot was going in and stopped by an uncontrolled swing by Adam Farley on the line, resulting in a penalty flick, which Goalkeeper Pilani Moyo just failed to keep out.
Wapping responded to the equaliser with more pressure, but Upminster were defensively resilient and Wapping too often fell into the trap of blasting the ball across the D, hoping for a tap in. Just before half-time, another penalty corner was won by Wapping and instead of shooting, the ball was moved around the Upminster defence, resulting in a tap in for captain Edmunds at the post that was neatly taken. 2-1 at halftime.
The halftime team talk emphasised the need for more movement and passing up front, but immediately after the break it was clear that nerves were showing as the prospect of promotion came closer. Upminster came more into the game and had a couple of breakaway opportunities as the Wapping team started to lose its shape.
However, Wapping was still making chances up front, especially through Alex White, who dribbled through the Upminster defence time and time again, only to have his efforts repeatedly cleared off the line. Eventually, another penalty corner was won and switched to White, who committed the keeper and then handily flicked over the top and into the goal to put Wapping well in front.
With the pressure suddenly off, Wapping found their form and notched a fourth goal almost immediately. Farley intercepted an Upminster ball in defence and sprinted forward, adding an extra man to the attack. This broke down the Upminster defence and the cross was converted by White at the back post, despite Farley's desperate efforts to get the final touch. Final score - 4-1 to Wapping.
This was a solid team performance, doing enough to claim the win in testing circumstances. Haines and Traill were particularly impressive in midfield, continually running at defenders and retaining possession, while White was also full of running up front. In all, it was a good win for Wapping, with the promotion also showing how much the club's teams have risen through the leagues in recent years.