Town through convincingly
Enfield Town 2 Braintree Town 0
Enfield Town pulled off a deserved FA Cup upset, reminiscent of our euphoric run a couple of years ago, as Muhammadu Faal’s brace dumped National League South Braintree out of the competition in front of a noisy home crowd last Saturday writes Andrew Warshaw.
Andy Leese enjoyed some great FA Cup exploits when he was at Chesham, even reaching the second round proper, and can be proud of his tactics and the boys who performed with heart, spirit and commendable teamwork to end high-flying Braintree’s five-game unbeaten streak.
We have made an impressive start to our own season, of course, having lost just once in all competitions. Despite the gap between the sides and the fact that Lewis Taaffe failed a late fitness test and we lost Billy Bricknell with a calf injury just before the kick-off, we were unfazed, defended well when we needed to, stuck admirably to a game plan of hitting Braintree on the break and can now look forward to a trip to Chichester City in the next round.
With Charles Brown promoted from the bench to replace Bricknell, and youngsters Jonah Sarpong and Gideon Nsiah called up to the bench from the U23/U18 set up, the former Essex Olympian League player played his part in our most thrilling win of the season so far. Town man of the match Ryan Blackman, who broke up a number of Braintree attacks with a sparkling performance, was first called into action after ten minutes to clear a dangerous cross from Ade Cole, the visitors’ most threatening player.
But after surviving the first quarter of an hour or so, Town grew in confidence and broke the deadlock on 26 minutes. Blackman was allowed to run 30 yards unchallenged through the heart of midfield before feeding Faal who kept his composure to finish sweetly.
Ken Charles fired a shot wide and Joe Payne’s freekick flashed across the face of goal as Town sought to double the lead but we got lucky on the stroke of half-time when Nathan McDonald was relieved to see Tom Richardson’s free header fly inches wide of the post.
Half-time: Enfield Town 1 Braintree Town 0
Braintree’s players were clearly given a dressing down at the interval as they drove forward with renewed purpose, vigour and intent straight after the restart. Sam Youngs made a vital clearance after Richardson had played the ball in from the right and, around the hour mark, McDonald made a brave point-blank stop with his legs in a crowded six yard box.
For 15 minutes we could hardly get out of our own half and another Braintree free header was thankfully again off target. Yet for all their possession, the National League South team simply didn’t create enough as Marc Weatherstone and Jon Muleba, ably supported by full-backs Sam Hatton and Joe Payne, restricted the visitors to half-chances.
On 75 minutes, howls for a Town penalty for handball were waved away but it wasn’t long before the fans were celebrating another scintillating counter-attack. After substitute Junior Mubiayi had sent a 25-yard effort just wide, the tie was put to bed with four minutes left on the clock. The indefatigable Blackman once again set up Faal, who drilled the ball past Iron keeper Michael Johnson to complete a superb team performance and erase the memories of last season’s ignominious first qualifying round defeat to lower-league Bedford Town.
Enfield Town: Nathan McDonald, Sam Hatton, Joe Payne, Scott Thomas, Marc Weatherstione, Ryan Blackman, Sam Youngs, Charles Brown (Junior Mubiayi 70), Muhammadu Faal, Ken Charles (Nathan Livings 80). Unused subs: Tyler Forde, Billy Bricknell, Callum Ellesley, Jopnah Sarpong, Gideon Nsiah. Booked: Thomas, Brown.
Braintree Town: Michael Johnson, Harry Donovan (Tyler Christian-Law 81), Harry Osbourne, Cameron Green, Josh Urquhart, Jake Hutchings, Femi Akinwande, Ade Cole, Tom Richardson, Jason Banton (Alfie Cerulli 64), Adam Mills (Tobi Coker 69). Unused subs: Charley Barker, Michael Clark, Rob Harvey.