Town through after Trophy drama
Enfield Town 4 Bishop’s Stortford 2 (AET)
Town progressed to the second qualifying round of the FA Trophy after coming from behind twice in a dramatic replay which needed extra time to separate the two sides.
The first chance of the game came only seconds in, with Nathan McDonald denying the dangerous Shomari Barnwell from close range, before tipping a Jordan Chiedozie freekick onto the bar.
Muhammadu Faal then shot just wide for the hosts, but Stortford’s early pressure eventually paid off and they took the lead after 26 minutes; Chiedozie heading in a cross from former Towner Aaron Greene.
Town, sloppy in possession, continued to give the ball away in dangerous areas and the visitors’ lead was almost doubled after a poor clearance from McDonald gave Chiedozie an open goal to aim at but he chipped just wide, so Stortford went into the break with just the one-goal lead.
Half-time: Enfield Town 0 Bishop’s Stortford 1
Town began the second half much the livelier, hitting the bar through Ken Charles’s fierce strike from the edge of the box. But Stortford still posed a dangerous threat, and McDonald had to make himself big in the home goal to stop a quick counter-attack after the hosts had committed bodies forward.
Town’s much improved second half efforts were eventually rewarded when, on 79 minutes, the ball dropped kindly for Blackman to smash home the equaliser past Stortford’s keeper Fred Burbidge and set the tie up nicely for the final phases.
Despite Town now having a spring in their step, it was the Blues who almost regained the lead only to be denied by an incredible save from McDonald, this time clawing Barnwell’s header back virtually off the line and to safety when it looked certain to be heading in.
As the game entered added time, Blackman agonizingly struck the post with a low drive and Marc Weatherstone then forced an excellent reflex save from Burbidge.
And so, after three hours of football couldn’t separate the two sides, an extra half an hour was needed.
Full-time: Enfield Town 1 Bishop’s Stortford 1
After a breathless 90 minutes, it would have been perfectly understandable for the teams show tiredness and slow down as extra time began, however this wasn’t the case. Barnwell, who had caused the Town backline many problems in the first game, was creating more havoc and he drilled just wide, before turning Weatherstone in the box and slotting under McDonald to restore the visitors’ lead.
Sam Youngs then had a shot cleared off the line Town by Stortford captain Ryan Henshaw, and as Town piled on the pressure once again, the equaliser arrived. Good work from substitute Sam Hatton on the right saw his cross land perfectly at the feet of Weatherstone at the back post, and the hosts’ skipper kept his cool and hit the roof of the net to once again level the game.
Half-time (ET): Enfield Town 2 Bishop’s Stortford 2
Town began the second half of extra time just as they finished the first. Faal had a header tipped over the bar and, after keeping the ball alive from the resulting corner, Town took the lead for the first time in the tie through Charles’s shot, which just crept in despite the efforts of the Stortford players on the line.
The visitors desperately searched for an equaliser of their own but, after committing men forward, Town capitalised. Faal was played through one-on-one after great work from Youngs on the right wing and the tall striker rounded Burbidge and finished well to seal the win.
Town now head into the next round and will face Thatcham Town at home on 9th November, hoping for more of the same after showing terrific fight even when trailing against strong opposition.
Enfield Town: Nathan McDonald, Jon Muleba, Joe Payne, Scott Thomas, Marc Weatherstone, Glenn Wilson (Sam Hatton 65), Ryan Blackman (Samson Esan 103), Sam Youngs, Ken Charles (Junior Mubiayi 111), Muhammadu Faal, Bobson Bawling (Alex Read 65). Unused subs: Ed Thompson, Callum Ellesley. Booked: Wilson.
Bishops Stortford: Fred Burbidge, Ben Sampayo, William Mycroft-Edwards (Ryan Charles 69), Jack Thomas, Sam Robbins, Ryan Henshaw, Alex Warman, Aaron Greene, Jordan Chiedozie, 15. Alfie Mason (Olly Miles 94), Shomari Barnwell. Unused subs: Jamie Cureton, Jack Johnson, Louis Johnson.