Following a late recovery the previous week to maintain their unbeaten run, Upminster 3s knew that an improved performance was necessary against mid-table Maldon 2s if they were to return to winning ways.
Travelling with a bare 11, including late call-up Jordan Southan, the team started strongly and peppered the opposition D regularly, winning a number of short corners. However, they failed to convert these early on, and were almost caught out were it not for goalkeeper John Daltrey – later voted Defender of the Match – who was forced to make a couple of smart saves.
Upminster’s relentless pressure eventually told, with first Phil Hudson and then Jordan Southan finishing off short corner moves within a few minutes of each other to put the visiting side 2-0 up. Hudson then made a terrific clearance off his own goal line to maintain the lead heading into the break.
Upminster retained composure after the interval, with Luke Scrivener and Man of the Match Jacob Fortune bolstering the midfield and ensuring that the visitors maintained possession.
Maldon did create chances as they chased the game, with Daltrey being forced into a number of terrific saves as he flung himself around to protect his clean sheet, while Maldon were guilty of profligacy in attack at times.
With the hosts having struggled to halve the deficit, it was almost inevitable that Upminster would extend their lead. Solid work from Ryan Hodges and Will Topp in midfield and on the wing respectively moved the ball into the D, where link-up play from captain Tom Hilson and Hudson squeezed the ball to Southarn, who slotted into the corner with a tidy finish.
From then on, the visitors played competent possession hockey. The back three of Jonny Appleton, Michael Jones and, in particular, Rob Fordham spread the play from left to right with ease, ensuring any potential threats from Maldon were dealt with safely.
With three points in the bag, Upminster moved up to third in the 5SE league, with only free-scoring sides Romford and Plashet above them. Next week (11 November) is a return to fortress Coopers to play Wapping 8s, who have had a mixed season so far. Push back at 11:30.