Enfield Town 0 Bishop’s Stortford 2
Report by Andrew Warshaw
Enfield Town’s seven-match unbeaten run was halted in its tracks as equally in-form Bishop’s Stortford completed a rare league double over us on Saturday.
For once we failed to live up to our reputation as the division’s great entertainers but we are still in a fantastic position in the runners-up spot as the race for playoff places intensifies.
Rian Bray and Lee Chappell were both unavailable for different reasons while Manny Maja has only just resumed training after a lengthy injury absence.
No team can win every game and this was simply an off-day, something that all our play-off rivals have suffered over the last few weeks as we claimed victory after victory.
If our visitors were slightly fortunate to win the corresponding game with that last-ditch goal back in November, on this occasion they on balance deserved the three points.
Stortford were quicker to the ball and more composed than Town and managed to keep our strike force quiet for most of the game.
After a scrappy first 20 minutes in front of a bumper 754 crowd, the Blues took the lead on 23 minutes as Ryan Charles ran on to Frankie Merrifield’s defence-splitting pass to beat Nathan McDonald who got a hand to the shot but couldn’t keep it out.
Town have been scoring goals for fun but on this occasion hardly troubled a defence marshalled superbly by skipper Ryan Henshaw.
Three minutes after the break, our visitors doubled their lead as Merrifield converted from the penalty spot, sending McDonald the wrong way after Charles was barged over by John Muleba.
Lyle Della-Verde and Sam Youngs both had chances to reduce the deficit but it wasn’t until Adam Cunnington and Bilal Sayoud came off the bench that we posed any real threat.
Whilst no-one can take anything away from Stortford, who closed us down at every opportunity, the fact remains that the players and management team have a superb job getting us to where we are now, something all of us would have taken at the start of the season.
It’s just a shame Jake Cass didn’t get a chance to shine against his old team and that we again dropped points against one of our play-off rivals who look certain to be in the mix with us come the run-in.
On the plus side, which cannot be emphasized enough, we have two highly winnable games – against Wingate and Finchley on Tuesday and Leatherhead on Saturday – before the eagerly awaited clash at Worthing.
Andy Leese summed up our performance as “bitterly disappointing. We never really got going and seemed a bit too anxious.”
“We didn’t start well. The things we’d asked to do we weren’t doing. I thought at halftime we were in it. I thought we could go with two strikers and then we concede a penalty at a poor time. More disappointingly after that, we didn’t really create a lot. But credit to Stortford, they are good at what they do.”
McDonald; Muleba, Smith, Gyebi, Kirwan (Sayoud, 69); Thomas, youngs, Kiangebeni (Taafe, 77), Della-Verde; Cass (Cunnington 66), Faal