Brackley Town  3-3  Bishop’s Stortford (aet; Brackley win 3-2 on pens)    FAC 1   7 Nov 2020

Cup drama as Saints edge through

A dramatic cup tie that had everything saw Saints squeeze through to the 2nd round of the FA Cup for only the third time in the club’s history.

“Where do we start?  It was a rip roaring cup tie,” Kevin Wilkin said. “They put us under pressure and it could have gone either way so fantastic credit to them and fair play to our boys who came through in the end.”

Commanding a two goal half-time lead through terrific goals by Lee Ndlovu and Matt Lowe, Saints twice let the lead slip as Step 3 side Bishop’s Stortford mounted an impressive second half come-back to take the game into extra-time and then a penalty shoot-out as Kevin Wilkin’s side eventually won through despite a long delay through floodlight failure.

Ndlovu finished clinically on 12 minutes after good work by Tre Mitford, a lead that was doubled on 20 minutes as Ndlovu set up Matt Lowe who fired a first-time rocket past keeper Jack Gibbens.  Mitford shot just wide and the visitors were only denied by the cross-bar late on in the first half.

The game took on a changed dynamic after the break with The Blues’ double substitution and they narrowed the deficit on 64 minutes as Darren Foxley broke free and finished neatly past Ali Worby.  Saints extended the lead again within three minutes as Mitford finished well, rounding Gibbens and finding the net from a tight angle.

But Bishop’s Stortford scored again on 72 minutes through substitute Tom Richardson stabbing home the loose ball as a free-kick was not cleared to set up a tense finish and the game went into extra time when the visitors scored a third goal on 87 minutes, Foxley capitalising on a defensive mix-up..

Extra-time served up tension but few chances.  Ndlovu fired over when well placed and Louis Johnson’s shot from distance hit the woodwork to deny The Blues a late winner.  Power failure to half the floodlights threatened an abandonment but following a 15 minute delay extra-time resumed with neither side able to make the break-through.

The spot-kick shoot-out saw Shane Byrne, Ethan Coleman and Jimmy Armson net, both sides missed one and then Ali Worby saved before The Blues missed again to send Saints through.

“We had a good cushion in the game and the chance really to put it to bed,” Wilkin added.  “On another day they could have won it but we have been on the wrong end of that situation on more than one occasion and credit to our boys for resilience to come through and we’re in the hat for the next round.” 

Brackley Town:  Worby, Myles, Franklin (Dean 69), Byrne, Coleman, Walker (Flowers 90+13), Lowe, Murombedzi, Ndlovu, Mitford (Armson 83), Chambers (York 57).   Subs unused:  Rolt, Noon.

Bishop’s Stortford:  Giddens, Mvemba, Thomas, Robbins, Henshaw, Marlow (Richardson 46), Merryfield, Greene (Davidson 46), Jones, Foxley (Johnson 90+11), Haines.   Subs unused: Warman, Haxell, Brown, Smith. 

Referee:  Adrian Quelch       Assistants:  Mark Stevens and Jon Block     4th official: Alan Cresswell 

Attendance:  BCD