Town bow out
Enfield Town 1 Brightlingsea Regent 2
Town’s holders’ grip on the Velocity Trophy came to an abrupt and hugely disappointing end on Tuesday night, but Andy Leese’s players had only themselves to blame writes Andrew Warshaw.
Nine months after winning the cup on that euphoric night at Aveley last April, Town bowed out at the last 16 stage against visitors Brightlingsea Regent; throwing away a half-time lead at the QEII against the same opposition who had eked out a 2-2 draw at the same venue in a league game ten days previously.
It appeared that little or nothing had been learned from that meeting as, once again, all the hard work of the first 45 minutes was thrown away through defensive lapses of concentration. Isthmian Premier strugglers Regent came into the game on the back of a 0-3 defeat by high-fliers Worthing during which they very unfortunately lost captain Matt Cripps with a broken leg. Town, conversely, were boosted by Saturday’s derby win at Cheshunt in the club’s 1000th game.
With matches coming thick and fast, Town rested Marc Weatherstone, Scott Thomas and Joe Payne, all of whom were on the bench. Recent signing Josh Urquhart switched to left-back to accommodate Sam Hatton on the right, Glenn Wilson was restored to the middle of the defence and Junior Mubiayi was given a start in midfield. In fairness, the visitors had the first couple of chances, both falling to the pacey Jake Clowsley, who, after testing Nathan McDonald, was then allowed to run thirty yards through the centre of midfield, only for McDonald to come to the rescue again, this time with his knees.
After a nervous start, however, Town took control with Ryan Blackman, skipper for the night, stamping his authority on proceedings and wresting the initiative away from the visitors. It was no surprise when Town went in front on 22 minutes. The pass of the night from Sam Youngs had Regent back-peddling and, although they managed to clear the resultant cross for a corner, the ball was recycled back into the box for Ken Charles to rifle home.
Charles could have doubled the hosts’ lead, only to see his goalbound shot blocked. Wilson then forced Charlie Turner into a tip-over save and the Regent keeper subsequently thwarted Blackman who, after finding all passing avenues cut off, let fly himself and was so nearly rewarded.
Town were well worth their lead at the break.
Half-time: Enfield Town 1 Brightlingsea Regent 0
It seemed inevitable that Town would put the tie to bed as they continued from where they had left off at the break, but everything changed six minutes after the restart. Out of nothing, Jordan Barnett headed the visitors level after a quick breakaway and, as Town wobbled and Regent grew in confidence, Romario Dunne flashed a header wide and Clowsley fired over from a tight angle.
Town also had chances, but things were beginning to look ominous and, sure enough, with eleven minutes left, a shocking defensive mix-up allowed Clowsley to pounce on a loose ball and comfortably stroke it home. Cue pandemonium among the Regent players who held off a last-ditch Town rally to move into the last eight, prompting yet more head-scratching about the need to finish off opponents when in the ascendancy.
Enfield Town: Nathan McDonald, Sam Hatton, Josh Urquhart, Ryan Blackman, Jon Muleba, Glenn Wilson, Junior Mubiayi (Samson Esan 81), Sam Youngs, Billy Bricknell, Ken Charles, Lyle Della-Verde (Bobson Bawling 73). Unused subs: Marc Weatherstone, Joe Payne, Scott Thomas. Booked: Della-Verde, Hatton.
Brightlingsea Regent: Charlie Turner, Morisi Gelsahviili, Jake Gould, Jake Turner, George Forrest, Pip Boyland, Romario Dunne (Finn O’Reilly 73), Jerry Kamanzi, George Bugg, Jordan Barnett, Jake Clowsley. Unused subs: Charlie Lindoe, Jack Mahon. Booked: Gould.