Solid second half showing gets Town over the line
Leatherhead 1 Enfield Town 2
On a sweltering afternoon, with temperatures above 30 degrees, and after a slow start, Town did themselves and their travelling supporters proud with a very hard-working performance, which eventually reaped the reward that their showing in the second 45 minutes fully warranted.
The corresponding fixture last season saw a 1-4 capitulation which sent shudders down the spine of those Towners recalling it before kick-off. And indeed, there was another, much more recent, 1-4 reverse (at home to Horsham last Saturday) to get out of the system. For this game Jon Muleba moved into a centre-back role with Sam Hatton coming in a right back for his first appearance of the season, with Sam Bantick on the left and Ken Charles and Muhammadu Faal working together up front. Billy Bricknell was unavailable but will be back in contention for Bank Holiday Monday’s home derby against Potters Bar Town.
The signs were not good early on as Town were second best in most areas of the pitch and found it difficult to cope with Leatherhead’s impressive movement, especially down their right-hand side. And it was through this channel that they took the lead in the tenth minute. After forcing a couple of early corners, the pace of Jack Skinner won another flag kick. Eddie DSane, lively throughout, received it at the near post then spun and chipped the ball up for home skipper Will Salmon to thunder an unchallenged header emphatically past Nathan McDonald.
After a quarter of an hour there was a huge let-off for the visitors when Charlie Hester-Cook crashed a shot against a post to McDonald’s left, and the ball rebounded to DSane who looked odds-on to score, but he was flagged offside.
Shortly afterwards Town’s best chance of the half arrived when Muhammadu Faal beat the offside trap and ran to the byline on the right, cutting the ball back across the six-yard box but Bantick, in for his first game of 2019-20 following suspension, couldn’t get onto the end of it. Another mazy run from Faal ended with his shot being blocked, and a Lewis Taaffe free kick on the left came to nothing, but there were some signs that Town had weathered the initial storm. A half-volley from Will Seager had McDonald scrambling to his right, and Town’s keeper also held onto a toe-poke from a prone DSane as the half came to a close.
Half-time: Leatherhead 1 Enfield Town 0
Whatever was said at the break, the visitors had a much better start to the second period. And, on 53 minutes, a corner on the left from Taaffe soared over the Leatherhead defence to the far post and the other centre-back skipper on the field, Marc Weatherstone, connected with his head to ripple the net.
Suitably buoyed by this, Town pushed for a second as the Tanners’ early momentum all but fizzled out. Faal was unceremoniously brought down in full flight by Salmon, but a yellow card was shown by referee Tom Danaher, not red, as he wasn’t the last man. Charles fired wide while, at the other end, the ever-dangerous DSane shot wide after making space for himself.
Another Faal cut-back found Taaffe, but he couldn’t connect properly, and the chance was gone. The tempo showed no signs of relenting in the intense heat – a sensible number of drinks breaks may have helped – and Charles latched onto a though ball with only keeper Zaki Oualah to beat, but he couldn’t flick the ball past him. Just beyond the hour mark Ryan Blackman came on for Bantick and, if there were any doubts about his fitness after his three-match unavailability, he dispelled them virtually immediately with a lung-busting run the length of the field down the right-hand side.
With fifteen minutes to go, further chances came and went for Charles and Weatherstone, and DSane saw yet another low effort fly inches past McDonald’s right hand and upright. But there was an additional moment of away delight to come. After Oualah had saved a snapshot from Youngs with the game becoming stretched, Charles picked the ball up in the inside-left channel, sent two defenders the wrong way with some trickery and, despite the close attentions of a third green shirt, the former Colchester United youngster laid the ball back for Faal to blast high into the net to send the Town fans home happy. It could have been even better in the final few minutes, but Faal firstly fired narrowly over the top with Oualah beaten and then had another shot saved before he was substituted to a loud ovation. It was heart-warming stuff. Not that any heat was really needed.
Leatherhead: Zaki Oualah, Izunna Ikebuasi, Misha Djmaili, Charlie Hester-Cook (Dejarhn Grant 62), Will Salmon, Jerry Nnamani (Craig McGee 76), Daniel Gallagher, Will Seager, Eddie DSane, John Ufuah (Travis Gregory 63), Jack Skinner. Unused subs: Andrew Blake, Simon Offei. Booked: Salmon.
Enfield Town: Nathan McDonald, Sam Hatton, Joe Payne, Scott Thomas, Marc Weatherstone, Jon Muleba, Lewis Taaffe (Junior Mubiayi 84), Sam Youngs, Ken Charles, Muhammadu Faal (Alex Cathline 88), Sam Bantick (Ryan Blackman 63). Unused subs: Dan Rumens, Nathan Livings. Booked: Hatton, Weatherstone.
|24/08/2019||3:00 pm||Pitching In Isthmian League Premier||2019-20|