Bowers & Pitsea 5-2 Great Wakering Rovers
(Warner 9’, 21’, 52’, 66’, Nyanja 34’: Evans 33’, Johnson 71’)
From the Len Salmon Stadium
BOWERS & Pitsea’s hopes of making the play-offs will go down to the final day of the season as they claimed a convincing win over Great Wakering Rovers.
Rob Small’s side went into the local derby knowing that six points from their final two games was needed to have any chance of beating Haringey Borough to a play-off place.
And Bowers will now have to beat fourth-placed AFC Hornchurch and rely on Norwich United to see off Haringey on Saturday to claim a place in the Ryman North top five.
Goals from Wakering’s Ricky Evans and Billy Johnson were not enough as Brad Warner found the back of the net four times and Fahad Nyanja once to seal a 5-2 win for Bowers.
Warner gave the home side an early lead with a 25-yard free kick that curled over the wall and just out of Great Wakering Rovers goalkeeper Rees Hawkins’ reach.
With 16 minutes on the clock, Wakering came close to getting back on level terms. A mistimed clearance from Jamie Salmon from a Evans corner was goalbound but Lewis Clark saved Salmon’s blushes with a goal-line clearance.
Hawkins was at fault for Warner’s second goal of the night on 21 minutes. The goalkeeper’s poor clearance fell at the feet of Warner, and the striker ran through on goal from 35 yards out before calmly slotting the ball past the onrushing Hawkins.
Lewis Manor, who was causing havoc for the visitors before being taken off at half time with a calf injury, rose above the Wakering defence and Hawkins to head a Salmon free kick just wide soon after.
Wakering halved Bowers’ advantage just past the half hour mark as a Stephen Butterworth cross from the right reached Evans, whose header found the bottom corner.
But just a minute later, a Manor header was bundled home by Fahad Nyanja to restore the hosts’ two goal lead.
Wakering appeals for a penalty were waved away by the referee just moments later after the visitors felt Bowers skipper Martyn Stokes had handled the ball.
Warner came within a whisker of completing a first half hat-trick soon before the interval. His 30-yard free kick was brilliantly tipped by Hawkins onto the crossbar, who was then able to deny Stokes on the rebound.
Bowers midfielder Callum Leahy should have scored soon after the restart, but his header fell just wide of the far post.
Warner completed his hat-trick seven minutes into the second half after being found by a fantastic pass from Leahy, before running through one-on-one with Hawkins and calmly finding the far corner.
Just past the hour mark, substitute Aaron Russell saw his effort from the edge of the penalty area comfortably saved by Hawkins after being found by Warner. The midfielder then hit another chance just wide of the target soon after.
Warner notched his fourth of the evening with a superb strike on 66 minutes. After taking the short corner, the striker regained possession and cut inside a Wakering defender before finding the top corner from an acute angle.
Wakering reduced the deficit five minutes later as Billy Johnson was the first to a Harley Kee cross and beat Bowers goalkeeper Martyn Guest.
Lewis Clark had a goalbound header cleared off the line as Bowers looked to improve their goal difference even further ahead of the final day of the season.
But Bowers had to settle for five and will go into the final day of the season with their hopes of a play-off place still intact.
Bowers & Pitsea: Guest, Clark, Cross (Knight 45’), Stokes, Salmon, Sartain, Manor (Russell 45’), Leahy, Nyanja, Warner, Hilton
Great Wakering Rovers: Hawkins, Ring, Johnson (Fatts 82’), Robinson, Beale, Pethers, Butterworth, Evans, Gordon, Richmond (Warren 64’), Kee