Herne Bay 1 Enfield Town 3
Report by Andrew Warshaw
Three inspired substitutions from the management team and a couple of magnificent saves from Nathan McDonald got us over the line against a side who looked far from relegation material.
So, it has to be said, did an absolute worldie from Adam Cunnington to restore our lead after we had been pegged back by a team that had won three of their previous four despite their perilous league position.
Winning back-to-back away games cannot be under-estimated in terms of restoring confidence and has set matters up beautifully for our game in hand on Tuesday night against leaders Hornchurch and a chance to avenge last season’s playoff semifinal defeat.
Some things, however, are more important than football. We can only wish Herne Bay captain Laurence Harvey well after he was stretchered off with concussion and a suspected broken jaw following a sickening accidental early clash of heads that required immediate and then lengthy medical treatment.
Bay appeared to recover well from the setback but on 21 minutes we took the lead playing into the wind in yellow and white. A Joe Payne long throw was flicked on by Jake Cass and when Sam Youngs laid the ball back into his path, Jake thumped it home.
As Bay rallied, a superb block by Lewis Knight thwarted the dangerous Jerson Dos Santos, playing only his second game for the Kent side.
Yet one minute later some clever interplay between Dos Santos and Mike West resulted in the former being tripped by Knight. Up stepped Marcel Barrington to send McDonald the wrong way from the spot to level at 1-1.
With their tails up, the hosts almost snatched the lead on the stroke of halftime when Barrington worked his way into a scoring position, only for his shot to be blocked for a corner.
Despite being forced into another substitution during the break, the home side came within a whisker of a second goal when a well-worked free kick found defender Dan Johnson who fired narrowly over from close range.
Cue the first of three Town changes, James Dayton replacing Mo Kamara and bringing stability and composure to the centre of midfield.
Johnville Renee saw his delicious low centre evade everyone in front of goal while Cass, a handful all afternoon for the home defence, carried the ball 30 yards before playing in Khale da Costa who blasted over.
The next goal was always going to prove crucial and Herne Bay might well have had it, only for McDonald to keep the scores level. First he managed a spectacular finger-tip save to keep out Jack Sammoutis’ low 25-yard effort. Then he pulled off an equally brilliant flying stop to deny Barrington.
On came Cunnington and Lyle Della-Verde and the game quickly swung our way.
On 76 minutes, just after Harry Brooks had been forced into a double save, Cunnington found himself in a pocket of space and unleashed an unstoppable 25-yard screamer that almost burst the net (pictured).
Now it was a question of making the game safe and with time running out, Della-Verde was blatantly tripped as he outpaced his marker while bursting into the area from the right.
It was the 14th penalty Bay had conceded this season and Cass smashed it straight down the middle to the delight of a healthy Town following in the 604-strong crowd on Non-League Day.
“Another important win as we challenge to secure a top-five place,” said Andy Leese. “We had to weather a couple of spells of pressure as you’d expect away from home.”
“They didn’t really trouble us much apart from two stops from Nathan. We made changes at a good time in the game and all the subs made a significant contribution to the result. It sets us up nicely for this week with two more difficult games to come.”
Town McDonald; Renee, Knight, Richmond, Payne; Taaffe ( Della-Verde 69’), Youngs, Kamara ( Dayton 59’), Da Costa (Adam Cunnington 69’