Town bow out of FA Trophy
Enfield Town 0 Ebbsfleet United 2
Andy Leese and his squad were left to rue some costly mistakes and missed opportunities as their battling performance against National League opposition wasn’t enough to see them progress into the second round of the Buildbase FA Trophy writes Jack Quantrill.
Much like the weather, Town’s prospects of causing a cup upset seemed gloomy after the opening minute saw the visitors take the lead. Sam Hatton was given a tough afternoon by Fleet’s Tomi Adeloye who beat his man before swinging in a cross from the left flank that navigated its way through a host of Town defenders to be converted at the back post by Alex Reid.
With the worst possible start disrupting plans from the outset, Town sat back in a block to compose themselves which allowed Ebbsfleet to control possession for the first ten minutes or so. The away side’s passing was slick and their touches crisp, but Enfield pushed them into wide areas by remaining compact.
After a while Town began to venture out of their defensive shape in search of an equaliser and, on 14 minutes, Mo Faal nearly provided it. A quickly taken free kick found Faal in the inside-left channel, he cut inside full back Jamie Grimes and pulled the trigger from a tight angle, but his good work came to nothing as his shot ballooned way over the bar.
Fleet continued to have the lion’s share of possession as the game approached the half-hour mark and, on 28 minutes, they doubled their advantage. The away side earnt a free kick on their left side, and Josh Payne delivered a lofted ball to the edge of the box, which found Ebbsfleet’s Gozie Ugwu who controlled the ball with his back to goal before spinning to fire a rasping half volley into the top right hand corner leaving Town custodian Nathan McDonald helpless.
In the 33rd minute Enfield were presented with a route back into the game; Tyler Cordner pushed home skipper Marc Weatherstone to the floor at a set piece and referee Paul Howard correctly pointed to the spot. Former Ebbsfleet striker and current Enfield number nine Billy Bricknell stepped up to get the home side back into the game but his effort was saved by a diving Jordan Holmes who guessed the correct way to his right, and he held onto the ball.
In the 40th minute Faal came a few inches closer to finding the back of the net having driven at the Fleet backline and, once again cutting inside, he struck a shot over the bar from a tight angle with his favoured right foot.
Half-time: Enfield Town 0 Ebbsfleet United 2
In a similar start to the first half, Ebbsfleet came out in the second and dominated the ball for the opening ten minutes, creating a few half chances in the process. But this time Enfield weathered the storm and began to see more of the ball past the hour mark.
In the 68th minute, Town had another fine chance to score their first of the game. Hatton found Faal with a perfectly weighted pass from the right, leaving the Towners no. 10 one-on-one with Holmes, but the Fleet stopper smothered his effort, pushing the ball back to Bricknell who fired on target only for his strike to be pushed wide by Holmes in an excellent display of agility.
The game became scrappy after that, both teams’ content to play longer and both sets of centre backs doing their defensive duties, heading the ball away well when needed. In the 87th minute the away side nearly scored another goal of real quality, but Alex Reid’s flying header cleared the cross bar from six yards out. Finally, with regular time up, a home consolation was again elusive when Holmes fluffed a clearance and Bricknell attempted a lob him from 40 yards, with his superb effort clipping the crossbar.
Enfield Town: Nathan McDonald, Sam Hatton, Joe Payne, Scott Thomas, Marc Weatherstone, Glenn Wilson, Junior Mubiayi (Bobson Bawling 77), Sam Youngs, Billy Bricknell, Muhammadu Faal, Charles Brown (Kezie Ibe 60). Unused subs: Tyler Forde, Nathan Livings, Samson Esan, Lewis King, Tom Gardiner. Booked: Hatton.
Ebbsfleet: Jordan Holmes, Lawrie Wilson, Jamie Grimes, Jack King, Tyler Cordner, Frankie Sutherland, Josh Payne, Alfie Egan, Tomi Adeloye (Ayo Obileye 86), Alex Reid, Gozie Ugwu (Josh Umerah 60). Unused subs: Andre Blackman, Harry Palmer, Myles Weston, Mathew Achuba.