Report: Bishop’s Stortford

Last Saturday, the EUFC Schools Programme provided Keehan Corden-East, a Year 12 student at Saint George’s CofE School in Gravesend, with the opportunity to sit in the press box for the Isuzu FA Trophy game and get a taste of the matchday experience for journalists attending the Fleet. Here’s his match report

Find out more about the EUFC Schools Programme here.

The third round of the Isuzu FA Trophy provided a nail-biting game as Bishop’s Stortford narrowly progressed to the fourth round of the competition following their 5-3 penalty shootout victory over Ebbsfleet United after the initial 90 minutes ended with a 1-1 draw, writes Keehan Corden-East.

Five changes were made to the Ebbsfleet starting eleven following their 2-0 defeat to Kidderminster Harriers in the league. After much anticipation, Fleet fans were delighted to see Rakish Bingham on the bench after suffering an Achilles injury back in March. 

Despite the game getting off to an intense start, both teams struggled to open their account early on. Chances were raining down for both teams, but the first big chance fell to Ebbsfleet’s Dominic Samuel after being played though the middle within the first two minutes, and finding himself one on one with Bishop’s keeper, Jack Giddens, who smothered the attacker’s chance at goal. 

Bishop’s were quick to respond as they saw a shot from Mbunya Alemanji trouble the Ebbsfleet goal forcing Mark Cousins to perform a crucial save tipping the ball onto the crossbar leading to a Blues’ corner. 

The two teams fought tooth and nail with one another with chances falling to both teams in quick succession, beginning with Darren Foxley’s long shot in the 11th minute, an attempt saved by the Fleet number one. Samuel quickly responded to this with a long shot of his own whistling over the bar less than a minute later. 

Soon after, Ebbsfleet conjured up an attack down the right-hand side of the pitch which resulted in the ball finding the feet of Toby Edser who fired a shot at the Stortford goal forcing the Blues’ keeper to perform an important save just before the 15-minute mark. 

Eight minutes later, a large amount of build-up play allowed the home team to fight their way into the Bishop’s Stortford penalty area after Samuel found Luke O’Neill on the right-hand side, who skipped past his man and fired the ball low and hard in search of the near post but only managed to find the side netting of the goal. 

Bishop’s Stortford still refused to crumble under the constant pressure applied by Ebbsfleet and found themselves driving forward with Harry Beadle, who played a brilliant one-two with the Stortford number nine on the edge of the box which left Beadle with space to run into the Ebbsfleet penalty box on the stroke of the 25th minute.

Beadle was challenged inside the penalty area and was quick to fall to ground in search of a penalty, but this request was denied by the referee who considered the challenge to be fair and as a result gave a free kick in favour of Ebbsfleet, though did not give the visiting team’s player a yellow card.

Chances quickly became scarce regardless of the high percentage of possession held by Ebbsfleet and fouls became consistent among both teams throughout the half, which saw the visitors’ Jack Thomas and Alemanji receiving yellow cards for their challenges on Edser and Darren McQueen, in the 30th and 34thminutes. 

A rare chance fell to Ebbsfleet late into the first half, but nothing came of it as McQueen’s tame attempt from outside the box was saved comfortably. 

Already deep inside the one minute of added time, Bishop’s Stortford won a freekick as a result of a clumsy challenge from Ouss Cisse, a desperate ball was hit over the top of the Ebbsfleet defence but was headed over the bar and the whistle for half time was blown. 

Going into the second half, both managers opted to remain with the starting eleven they had originally set out. 

The Blues were awarded an early free kick just outside the Ebbsfleet penalty box on the left-hand side. Giovanni McGregor had his eyes set on goal but did not challenge Cousins as the keeper watched the ball sail over his crossbar. 

Fleet continued to dominate possession of the ball but struggled to create any clear opportunities and resorted to trying to force shots. David Amoo found himself with the ball on the edge of the box, in the 54th minute, and hit the ball with a lack of power but fortunately found a deflection, which resulted in a corner for the home side. 

After Jordon Ibe’s original corner resulted in a second corner, Ebbsfleet found the ball at the feet of O’Neill who tussled with the Bishop’s defence and eventually found a return pass to Ibe who won yet another corner for the home side. 

Edser chose to take the corner and fired an out-swinging ball into the box, which was met by a cry of handball, but these cries were ignored by the referee and play continued. 

After just over an hour, O’Neill received the third yellow card of the afternoon as a result of his cheap foul, which prevented a Bishop’s attack. 

Ebbsfleet manager Dennis Kutrieb decided to make a triple substitution on the 61st minute replacing Amoowith Greg Cundle, Ibe with Dominic Poleon and Nathan Odokonyero with Bingham, who received the biggest cheer of the game for his return. 

Ebbsfleet managed to break the deadlock in the 64th minute with McQueen making a pass into the middle of the pitch to Edser who turned and played the ball into the feet of Cundle, who fired a curling shot into the bottom right corner of the Stortford goal within three minutes of him being subbed on. 

Charging forward with newly found momentum, the home team barely missed the chance to double the score with a quickly taken free kick from Edser down the line to McQueen, who played it across the box to Samuel, who tried to take it round Giddens but failed to do so and the ball was claimed by the Stortford keeper. 

Samuel drove deep into the visitors’ half and played the ball to Bingham who fired a venomous shot which was saved by the legs of Giddens and resulted in a Fleet corner.

Myles Kenlock became the referee’s fourth addition to his book and received a yellow card in the 83rd minute for what seemed to be a mild challenge. 

A low driven cross from McQueen found Poleon on the edge of the six-yard box who failed to control the ball resulting in it rolling up his leg and into the arms of Giddens, keeping his team in the game. 

Suddenly, as the game began to approach the 90th minute and the run of play completely going against Bishop’s Stortford, McGregor found himself in a shooting position 20 yards out from the goal but unfortunately for the visitors blazed the ball over the bar and out the stadium. 

The match officials decided on five minutes of added time, giving Stortford enough time to create their golden opportunity from a free kick taken just inside their own half. Giddens switched the ball to the right wing, which was poorly cleared by Ebbsfleet, and the ball fell to McGregor who crossed the ball back into the box and picked out the feet of Kane Critchlow, who guided the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal despite Cousins’ desperate attempts to save it. 

The Fleet failed to find a second goal deep into extra time from their free kick in the Stortford half and the referee blew his whistle for full time, leaving both teams’ fate down to a penalty shootout. 

Bishop’s Stortford’s Alemanji, McGregor and Critchlow all scored their penalties, which Ebbsfleet’s O’Neill and Edser were equal to. When the responsibility to make it 3-3 fell upon Samuel, he was not able to step up for his team and sent a soaring shot over the bar. Rakish Bingham showed his best efforts to keep his side in the game by scoring Ebbsfleet’s fourth penalty, but this was in vain as Stortford’s Foxley and Zain Walker finished off the home team by scoring their penalties and sending their team through to the fourth round of the Trophy.

Ebbsfleet United: Cousins, O’Neil, Cisse, McQueen, Edser, Odonkonyero (Bingham 61), White, Amoo(Cundle 61), Samuel, Ibe (Poleon 61), Kenlock. Subs not used: Martin, Sterling-James, Tanner, Chapman.
Bishop’s Stortford: Giddens, Haines (Adebowale 70), Thomas, Robbins, Beadle, McGregor, Alemanji, Foxley, Olufemi (Walker 81), Sow (Critchlow 64), Charles. Subs not used: Marlow, Greene, Alexander.

Referee: Farai Hallam
Assistant Referees: James Hurst, Aaron Conn
Fourth Official: James Hall
Attendance: 586


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