Heybridge Swifts 2–0 Bowers & Pitsea

Luque 17’, 59’)

From Scraley Road

Isthmian North

BOWERS & Pitsea started 2018 with defeat as they failed to get the better of an impressive Heybridge Swifts side.

Goals in either half from Juan Luque downed Bowers, for which the defeat was the second in a row.

It was another clash that could prove pivotal come the end of the campaign. Although way down in 17th position, Swifts have up to 12 games in hand on some of the sides above them and are expected to be in the promotion mix come April.

But Bowers, who won all but one of their matches in December, were one of the form teams in the division and were bidding for an immediate response to Saturday’s defeat against Ware.

David Knight, restored to the starting line-up, forced the first save of the afternoon having outmuscled former Billericay Town man Ricky Sappleton only to strike straight at goalkeeper Danny Sambridge.

The same man shot wide before the home team hit their stride. Harrison Chatting’s well hit shot was parried away by Callum Chafer but the keeper was helpless to prevent Bowers moving ahead.

Winger Juan Luque blazed a wonderful 30 yard free-kick into the top corner for the opening goal of the game on 17 minutes.

The same man almost got a second but shot wide as Bowers struggled to match the intensity of the first 10 minutes.

Breaks in play didn’t help their cause as Bowers remained a goal down at the break.

Ben Sartain saw a shot saved in Bowers’ first attempt of the second period, following some good work by Fahad Nyanja but on the hour it was to get worse for Rob Small’s team.

A swift counter-attack resulted in Luque beating Ryan Boswell and powering past the dive of Chafer.

And Hyebridge were in control. Ruel Soritiou hit both posts for the hosts as they continued to dominate.

But two goals were all Swifts needed in the end.

Bowers & Pitsea: Chafer, Boswell, Thomas, M. Stokes, Easterford, Dicks, Pinto (Salmon 83’), Sartain (T. Stokes 71’), Knight, Manor, Nyanja (Ashman 60’)