Hashtag United 3 Enfield Town 3
Report by Andrew Warshaw
In a game that always promised goals, Enfield Town shared six but threw away a 3-1 lead in the process to maintain their stuttering start to the New Year.
Second best for the opening 45 minutes when the hosts had eight attempts on goal to our one, we looked a different side after the break and seemed to be well on course for victory before being pegged back.
Five points from as many games is hardly playoff form and with tough encounters against Hornchurch and Billericay to come, Town need to rediscover their mojo as quickly as possible.
With Mickey Parcell and Ollie Knight both missing through injury, our right flank consisted of Renedi Masampu, making his Town debut, and Obi Onyeagwara in his first league start.
Town also fielded newcomer Manny Harvest in central midfield alongside Scott Thomas as we adopted a flexible 4-2-3-1 system with Sam Youngs pushed further forward
Hashtag were without even more players, including former Towner Percy Kiangebeni, but you would never have known it judging by their early dominance.
But for a couple of magnificent saves from Rhys Forster and several glaring misses by the Tags, we may well have had a mountain to climb.
Instead we went in front against the run of play on the half hour. Reece Beckles-Richards, restored to the starting lineup, played in Marcus Wyllie with a sublime flick and keeper Joshua Strizovic couldn’t do enough to keep the ball out as Marcus got back on the score sheet after a lean patch.
The lead was shortlived, however. Five minutes later, we somehow allowed Camilo Restrepo, who nicked the ball high up the pitch, to burst through the heart of midfield and finish in the corner.
It was clear that our right side needed fixing and the management team wasted no time pulling off Masampu, whose preferred role is on the left, and bringing on Lewis Taaffe.
After a stern talking-to, we re-emerged looking far more of a threat, taking the game to our opponents.
Strizovic made two huge saves to deny Wyllie and Beckles-Richards but could do nothing to keep out Taaffe’s sumptuous pinpoint 20-yard freekick on 56 minutes (pictured).
It was the away team now asking all the questions and on 71 minutes, we seemed to have put the game to bed as Onyeagwara latched on to a loose ball and smashed a curling strike into the far top corner.
Hashtag were far from finished, however. Just two minutes later, with the centre of our defence exposed, substitute Alex Teniola headed home a right-wing cross to set up a nail-biting finale.
It gave the Tags fresh impetus at the worst possible time and with nine minutes left, an angled shot by Hassan Sakariya was deflected back into his path and at the second attempt he made no mistake as two points were ripped from our grasp.
Whilst we remain in fourth spot, several of those around us had their games called off and Gavin Macpherson understandably cut a frustrated figure.
“Whether or not we on the back foot in the first half, the fact is we were 3-1 up,” said Gavin. “Renedi wasn’t quite up to speed and that’s my responsibility. But generally they were doing things they were not asked to do.”
“They got a rocket a halftime but whereas we had to work really hard for our goals, they were given theirs on a plate. I’m devastated for the supporters. I know Hashtag score goals but we didn’t manage the game properly. Now they have it all to do in the next two games because otherwise they could be playing catch-up.”
Forster; Masampu (Taaffe, 45), McKenzie, Richmond, Payne; Beckles-Richards, Thomas, Harvest, Youngs; Onyeagwara; Wyllie