Upminster ended 2016 with a tightly fought win against East London at Coopers, avenging their 4-0 loss in the opening match of the season.
Upminster have grown throughout the season so far, and this was illustrated as their defence shut out the away side for the entire first half, though this was largely thanks to some smart saves by keeper Phil DIxon and solid defending from DOTM Jack Coleman. Even rarer, the home side actually took the lead in the match toward the end of the first half, as Alex Mitchell completed a fluid counter attacking move. Defender Nathan Woods saw yellow but Upminster went into the break 1-0 up.
The second half saw East London start brightly, with Upminster providing a strong rebuttal. Both sides had good spells of pressure, though neither side fashioned many clear cut opportunities. In the spirit of the festive season, the second half saw enough cards to decorate a Victorian hallway. East London were were reduced to 10 men for an obstruction, before winning and duly despatching a penalty stroke to draw level. Sam Langston then saw yellow for Upminster, before another East player spent some time on the sidelines after cynically bringing down Steve Wright when clean through, before the Upminster striker dusted himself down and converted the worst penalty stroke ever attempted to restore Upminster’s lead.
In the closing minutes another East London player saw yellow, which was then upgraded to red and Upminster were able to close the game out well despite pressure from the away side in the final minutes.
Upminster go in to 2017 in a healthy position in Division 1 and will hope to build on the discipline shown in the latter months of 2016 in order to maintain their league status for the next season.