Bowers & Pitsea 0-2 Canvey Island

(Higgins 30, Charles 45')

From the Len Salmon Stadium

Isthmian North

SAM Higgins played a key role as Canvey Island saw off Bowers & Pitsea to book their place in the Isthmian North play-off final.

The East Thurrock striker, who signed dual registration papers at the end of March, had been in the spotlight ahead of kick-off with many critical of Canvey’s decision to bring in the National League South’s top scorer.

And it came as little surprise that Higgins was to break the deadlock, heading the Gulls ahead at Bowers.

A second goal from Ryan Charles on the stroke of half-time doubled Canvey’s lead as Bowers struggled to make inroads on a frustrating night.

Only one would progress to Sunday’s showpiece and it was a slow start at the Len Salmon Stadium.

Higgins was handed a start for the Gulls but it was his strike partner that caused the early problems.

George Sykes felt he had a clear claim for a penalty waved away after 10 minutes when he collided with Lewis Clark.

And although there appeared to be clear contact, his appeal was waved away by referee Tom Danaher.

David Knight and Jamie Dicks sent shots off target up the other end, with the only shot of the first 30 minutes also coming from the home team.

A scuffed clearance by goalkeeper Henry Newcombe dropped to Lewis Manor but his curling effort was down the stopper’s throat.

But when the next shot on target came, it brought the first goal.

A right-wing free-kick from Mitch Gilbey was met by Higgins who glanced his header into the far corner.

Gilbey shot straight at Chafer after more good work by Higgins but it was the hosts that ended the half the brighter.

After Adalberto Pinto went down in the penalty area to no avail the ball dropped to Manor and his shot on the turn was pushed to safety by Newcombe.

But there was to be a hammer blow for the hosts on the stroke of half-time and it was a dreadful goal to concede.

A throw in was poked at goal by several Canvey players and, following a goalmouth scramble, the ball was prodded in by Ryan Charles.

Bowers needed to start the second half with intensity and they were playing the better football in the early stages, albeit without creating any clear-cut chances.

While the hosts continued to pile the pressure on Canvey, Danny Heale’s men always looked a threat on the counter-attack.

Charles’ mazy run ended with a shot that was deflected wide of the post but it remained 2-0 to the away side heading into the final moments.

Ben Sartain’s strike was deflected over the crossbar before Manor missed an even better chance.

Manor did superbly to get past his man but Newcombe came out and did superbly to guide the ball past the post with a strong right hand.

Bowers & Pitsea: Chafer, Boswell. Clark, Stokes, Easterford (Nyanja 57’), Leahy, Pinto (Salmon 80’), Sartain, Knight, Manor, Dicks

Canvey Island: Newcombe, Pitty, Dumas, Merrifield, Allen, Sheehan, Gilbey (White 61’), Collins, Higgins, Sykes (Tuohy 85’), Charles (Melaugh 83’)