MERRIFIELD HAT-TRICK DELIVERS WAKE-UP CALL
Town capitulated in the second half of this match in a worrying manner. At half-time they were still in the game at 2-1 down, but the wheels came off after the break to undermine their solid start to the 2020-21 campaign.
Stortford had waited just over a year to avenge their 5-0 drubbing at the QEII Stadium at the start of last season and, although the scoreline may have been different, they certainly did just that.
There were relatively few alarms in the opening, end-to-end, 45 minutes, with Jared Small forcing a corner with Town’s first attack on a slick surface. A good, flowing passing move ended with Josh Urquhart on the edge of the Stortford box but, as he looked up for options he was crowded out. In the 14th minute, Archie Jones fed Darren Foxley from the right, but Nathan McDonald got down to make a good low save.
After 17 minutes, Marc Weatherstone challenged Frankie Merrifield from behind in the air and the referee pointed to the spot. Frustratingly, it was one of those 50:50 decisions which went the wrong way from a Town perspective on this occasion. Merrifield made no mistake with the penalty, thrashing the ball straight down the middle.
Percy Kiangebeni, set up by Small, drew a save from home keeper Jack Giddens as Town looked to get back into the game as soon as possible. But on 25 minutes, Josh Urquhart’s attempted clearance fell to Jones inside the box and the ball was squared to an unmarked Merrfield to give Town a mountain to climb.
Jones was causing Town all sorts of problems with his pace, and he played in Correy Davidson on the half hour mark to miscue well wide. Then, a couple of minutes later, Town were thrown a lifeline when Small found Della Verde with a crossfield pass and the former Hayes & Yeading man placed a careful shot just inside the post past a static Giddens.
As patchy mist descended, Small and Sam Youngs both had shots blocked in quick succession as the visitors finished the half in the ascendancy.
Half time: Bishop’s Stortford 2 Enfield Town 1
The second half was, disappointingly, pretty much one way traffic as Town failed to cope with Stortford’s direct, pressing style while being unable to assert their own passing game sufficiently. Sam Youngs did have a shot deflected behind early on, but soon afterwards McDonald had to tip over a lob from distance by Ryan Henshaw and, from the resulting corner, Merrifield powered home a well-timed header.
After Weatherstone had lost possession in a dangerous position, McDonald made a great stop from Ben Marlow in the 67th minute. But the game was up when substitute Tom Richardson converted a move down the Blues’ right to leave Town looking ragged.
A double substitution from Andy Leese did little to stem the tide and, after Giddens had gathered a Youngs free kick comfortably, former Towner Aaron Green attempted a chip, but the exposed McDonald stood tall and grabbed the ball. Greene then crossed low for Marlow, and again McDonald was called into action.
Ryan Blackman and Billy Bricknell had attempts from distance which went high and wide respectively, but it was only woeful finishing from Marlow and Greene that kept the scoreline below rout proportions.
Bishop’s Stortford: Jack Giddens, Sam Mvemba, Jack Thomas, Sam Robbins, Ryan Henshaw (Michael Mullings 76), Correy Davidson, Ben Marlow, Frankie Merrifield (Tom Richardson 53), Archie Jones, Darren Foxley (Aaron Greene 69), Mark Haines. Unused: Joe Boachie, Ben Smith. Booked: Foxley.
Enfield Town: Nathan McDonald, Jon Muleba (Junior Mubiayi 69), Josh Urquhart, Scott Thomas, Jeremiah Gyebi, Marc Weatherstone, Jared Small, Percy Kiangebeni (Ryan Blackman 64), Billy Bricknell, Sam Youngs, Lyle Della-Verde (Larry Asare 70). Unused: Adam Pepera, Lewis Taaffe. Booked: Weatherstone, Youngs, McDonald.
|Pitching In Isthmian League Premier
KO 22 64 66 69 70 75 FT