Town Beaten Away At Heybridge
Town travelled into Essex to play their 6th pre-season fixture against Heybridge Swifts at The Texo Stadium.
Heybridge have been unbeaten in their eight pre-season matches, with five wins and three draws, and with Town having won four out of five it would seem to a fitting pre-season test for both sides.
The Swifts kicked-off and were soon to make a break down the right with Ramon’s ball into the box going long. In the 6th minute Morgan seemed to back into Town’s Darren Purse, who was spoken to by the referee before he awarded a free kick three yards outside the box. The resulting free kick saw Bantick's strike going straight out.
There followed a dominant spell by the Swifts with strikes by Morgan going over the bar and in the 11th minute, Bantick’s drive was saved by Joe Wight only to fall to Griffiths, but the Heybridge midfielder’s shot was denied by Rumens, who cleared it off the line.
This seemed to stir the Towners into action and a period of good movement. In the 20th minute a Town attack drew a save from Billington, but the Swifts stopper was unable to hold-on to the ball and Simon Thomas pounced to slot the ball into the back of the net and make it 1-0. With that Town started to find their flow and Andy Leese was able to see how some of the new squad would fair against opposition. A good cross from Robbie Rees was headed out for a corner and Sam Youngs was getting forward with surging runs to assist Steve Wales and Ralston Gabrielle, who had a scooped shot saved by a diving Billington on 27 mins.
Heybridge were awarded a free kick in the middle of the Town half and centre back Ryan Henshaw headed just wide of Wright’s post. In the 34th minute a Town attack saw Sam Youngs fouled and the resulting free kick by Rumens picked-out Steve Wales, whose shot went just over the bar. A minute later it was Wales who was fouled by the Heybridge back line, but the resulting free kick was cleared by the Swifts. With minutes left in the first half, Gabrielle was deftly put through with a incisive pass by Noto and he narrowly put it wide of the left upright.
In the 43rd minute is was Gabrielle again leading the attack, but with the ball lofted above the box he was unable to capitalise on a half-volley. Heybridge picked-up the ball and with a minute left on the clock the ref blew for a challenge by Purse on a Swifts midfielder insider the box - penalty. Sam Bantick stepped-up to take the spot kick, which he dispatched emphatically into the top right corner to level the scores before the break.
As the clock wound down Wales broken down the right for Town, crossing the ball into the box where a Rees header was deflected off the post and out for a corner. A shot from the corner was fired over the bar and the following attack saw the Swifts break ranks and attack with pace. Not to be outdone Sam Youngs out-sprinted the winger, calmly claimed the ball and threaded his way through challenges before passing out to the wing.
HT: Heybridge Swifts 1-1 Enfield Town
For the start of the second half Andy Leese made some changes with Jack Higgs on for John Kyriacou and George Quarrington-Carter on for Darren Purse. It was Town that had the first real attempt of the half when centre back Henshaw up-ended Youngs 25 yards out, but the resulting free kick was miscalculated and lofted straight into the arms of the keeper.
The Swifts then took the impetus with an attack seeing the Town defence caught off-guard, leaving Wright scrambling for the ball only to be rounded by the forward, whose shot was denied by a dashing goal line clearance.
Town brought Krasniqi on to play on the right wing and switched Gabrielle to replace Thomas in the centre forward position (60 mins). In the 73rd minute a Heybridge attack found Luke Callender in the box and he fired it home beyond the reach of Wright in the Town goal to make it 2-1. Minutes later Krasniqi broke through the midfield and was up-ended by a challenge in the Heybridge half. Higgs stuck the free kick, but it was a missed opportunity for Town as the ball flew over the bar. In another attack by Town it was clear to see a hand-ball by the retreating defence but play was waved-on and another opportunity missed. Undeterred, Town continued to press for a goal, but a free kick from 35 yards unable to penetrate the Heybridge wall and a break through from Youngs ended with a shot over the bar.
FT: Heybridge Swifts 2-1 Enfield Town
Not the greatest performance from the Towners, but it must be remembered that this is an all-new team. As yet there is no settled starting line-up, what with a number of our newly signed players away on holiday. It was however a chance for Andy Leese and Darren Purse to try out some options ahead of the start of the season.
1. Joe Wright, 2. John Kyriacou, 3. Dan Rumens, 4. Robbie Rees, 5. Darren Purse, 6. Mario Noto, 7.Steve Wales, 8.Sam Youngs, 9. Simon Thomas, 10. Drew Roberts, 11. Ralston Gabrielle
SUBS: Harley Hagg, George Beattie, Kreshnic Krasniqi, Jack Higgs, George Quarrington-Carter
Barton Rovers – Friday 4th August @ The Queen Elizabeth Stadium