LITTLE Oakley played out a 1-1 draw with Ilford to secure a sixth-place finish in their first-ever Essex Senior League season, writes LARRY DOBKIN.

Cheered on by a coach load of Ultras, the game also saw former captain Jamie Dobkin ending his playing career, after 19 years of service in an Oakley shirt.

Oakley chairman Michael Good presented a signed ball from the players and supporters to Dobkin, in recognition of his service to Little Oakley.

The Acorns started well and bundled the ball over the line early on, only for the referee to quickly disallow the effort.

Garrard then forced a fine save from the Ilford keeper, who also parried Mann's sharp shot.

After a goal-less first half, both teams tried to win the midfield battle after the break.

Dutch's effort was deflected off for a corner but Oakley had started to get the upper hand.

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Mann's flick fell the wrong side of the post but Ilford took the lead when poor marking from a free-kick allowed the hosts' forward to tap home unmarked for 1-0.

The goal seemed to give Oakley a determination and some intricate passing afforded James a chance to shot but the shot went high over the bar.

Oakley equalised when Nobbs' accurate free-kick into the box found Mann, who powered the ball past the keeper.

The game started to boil up with tackles befitting a rugby match rather than a football match becoming the norm.

Another poor tackle from the Ilford centre-half resulted in a 20-man brawl.

Scuffles broke out around the pitch and after the referee eventually got control, he dismissed one of the Ilford players.

Just two minutes later, a high and late tackle from one of the Ilford midfielders resulted in the referee brandishing a second red card, leaving Ilford down to nine men.

But while Oakley had the lion's share of the remainder of the game, they were unable to create any further chances and the spoils were shared.

Oakley's man of the match was Nobbs who capped an excellent season where every performance has been an eight or nine out of ten.