CANVEY Island suffered a fourth defeat in their last five Isthmian North outings after losing 2-1 to high-flying Heybridge Swifts.

Martin Tuohy gave the Gulls hope of snatching a share of the spoils after halving the deficit late on, but goals from Elliot Ronto and Matt Price ensured Heybridge’s promotion push continued at the Frost Hire Stadium.

The opening 45 minutes proved to be particularly quiet, with both sides failing to create a clear-cut opportunity.

Adam Vyse, who was restored to Canvey’s starting line-up after creating the winner at Romford last time out, blazed high and wide soon after the half hour mark.

Swifts, who are managed by former Canvey full-back Julian Dicks, then hit the side netting through Chris Millar moments before the interval.

However, Heybridge broke the deadlock two minutes after the resumption.

Zack Littlejohn’s headed clearance fell to Ronto and the midfielder, who was in acres of space 25 yards from goal, found the bottom corner of the net.

Swifts doubled their advantage moments after the hour mark as Kreshnic Krasniqi’s inch-perfect cross allowed Price to head home from close range.

Tuohy wasted a fine opportunity to reduce the arrears when he could only head Sam Collins’ cross wide of the target, while Heybridge substitute Harrison Chatting missed a glaring opportunity to put the game to bed against his former employers.

And Canvey gave themselves hope 12 minutes from time as Tuohy got between two Heybridge defenders before directing a header into the far corner of the net.

Heybridge were reduced to 10 men before the restart after a moment of madness from Joe Claridge.

Claridge tripped Kane Gilbert, who had picked the ball out of the net in an attempt to get the clash back underway as quickly as possible, and the left-back was shown a straight red card after the referee consulted his assistant.

The Gulls pushed for a late leveller to hamper Heybridge’s promotion hopes, but Mark Bentley’s side could not grab a second goal.

Goalkeeper Harry Palmer denied Heybridge a late third goal as he beat away Emmanuel Osei-Owusu’s attempt after being played through on goal.