Never-say-die Town through to Velocity Final
By Ken Brazier
Enfield Town 3 Bishop's Stortford 3 (4-3 pens)
A triple second half substitution from manager Andy Leese was the catalyst as this slow burner of a tie eventually swung in Town’s favour in exciting fashion with two Joe Wright shoot-out saves sending Town through writes Aaron Patel.
The hosts kept the same starting XI as on Saturday against Burgess Hill Town, with Marc Weatherstone and Kezie Ibe cup-tied. Both sides forced a number of unproductive corners early on, before Sam Robbins’s chipped effort for the visitors from twenty yards just cleared the home bar seven minutes in. Stortford maintained the early pressure as George Craddock’s long range effort was deflected behind after ten minutes. The resulting corner caused some issues for the home side, but Town were eventually able to clear their lines.
Town’s first clear cut effort was a Bilal Sayoud lob which keeper Arthur Janata turned over for a corner in the 16th minute. Then a free-kick was swung in and Matt Johnson’s well- directed header was held by Janata a few minutes later. But it was the visitors who took the lead when a cross from Ben Worman was floated into the Town box and Alfie Mason headed the ball past Joe Wright at the far post with 27 minutes played. An instant response from Town was denied by some heroic defending by the visitors; Sam Youngs broke into the box and beat Janata but a clearance off the line by Robbins preserved the lead.
On the stroke of half-time Town came close to equalising. A good sequence of midfield passes ended with Johnson being played through but he scuffed his effort wide.
Half-time: Enfield Town 0-1 Bishop’s Stortford
Ben Worman’s low shot inside the box was deflected behind in the 54th minute and an Olly Miles header from Johnville Renee’s cross was held by Wright moments later as the visitors sought to take advantage of Town’s flat start to the second period.
After 57 minutes, a triple substitution saw Josh Davison, Aaron Greene and Sam Chaney replace Bilal Sayoud, Karl Oliyide and James Mulley and, three minutes later, an effort from Johnson with the outside of his right boot was palmed away by Jananta as Town were looking livelier. But Stortford doubled the lead when a speculative George Craddock effort took a deflection which wrong-footed Wright in the 63rd minute.
Town’s lifeline response came less than four minutes later. Youngs was played through, latched onto the ball and slotted it past Janata. Amazingly, less than sixty seconds later Billy Bricknell’s hold-up play sent the ball into the path of Davison who smashed home into the top corner from the edge of the box.
With Davison having impact up front, the momentum appeared to be in Town’s favour at this point but, from a Stortford corner, the ball fell to Mason who unluckily struck the post from close range. Then, in the 75th minute, the same player headed just wide after a great cross from the right by Worman.
Sloppy defending from Town led to Stortford’s third. After repeated attempts at clearances, the ball fell to Worman, who impressively squeezed the ball between Wright and the post from an acute angle.
A shot from Alex Warman for Stortford flashed just wide of the post in the 87th minute, as the visitors looked to be home and dry. But, beyond the 90 minute mark, a long throw from Johnson eluded everyone and was tapped in by Bricknell at the back post.
With no extra time in this competition, the game went straight to penalties, and the sequence was: Kyprianou scores for Stortford 1-0, Hatton scores for Town 1-1, Amoo scores for Stortford 2-1, Bricknell scores for Town 2-2, Worman’s kick is saved by Wright 2-2, Blackman scores for Town 3-2, Renee scores for Stortford 3-3, Youngs scores for Town 4-3, Gregan’s kick is saved by Wright 4-3.
Despite significant spells of pressure from the visitors, a great spirit and determination ended with some cool-headed spot kicks and Joe Wright’s double heroics being enough to send Town through to their first Isthmian League Cup final, where they will face AFC Hornchurch at Parkside, Aveley FC, on Wednesday 10th April.
Enfield Town: Joe Wright, Ryan Blackman, Mickey Parcell, Matthew Johnson, Sam Hatton, Dan Rumens, Sam Youngs, James Mulley (Sam Chaney, 58), Billy Bricknell, Karl Oliyide (Aaron Greene, 58), Bilal Sayoud (Josh Davison, 58). Unused subs: Junior Mubiayi and Dan Heald. Booked: Johnson.
Bishop’s Stortford: Arthur Janata, Johnville Renee, Christopher Gregan, Alex Warman, Sam Robbins, Hector Kyprianou, Benjamin Worman, Jack Thomas, Olly Miles (Stanley Green, 78), George Craddock, Alfie Mason (Jeremiah Amoo, 86). Unused: Unused subs: Izuchukwu Okwute, Haaroon Belaid and Lewis Wicker . Booked: Warman.