Stansted 1 Buckhurst Hill 1
FA Cup Preliminary Round – Friday 19th August
Buckhurst Hill were able to pull something out of the fire after going in the break trailing to a Jack Mitchell goal, however Suley Zuhdu levelled up in the 68th minute meaning that the tie will now be decided via a replay.
Stansted created their first chance in the opening minutes when a ball whizzed into our box but was cleared. The Stags then went up the other end and won a corner that was also hooked clear.
The hosts continued pinging the ball around and Andre Embalo showed a clean pair of heels as he sped down the wing and found Brad Russell with a pinpoint cross but Keaton Moore was alert to the danger and blocked Russell’s shot. Then Jack Mitchell drilled a shot over the cross bar for the hosts, followed soon afterwards by Michael Mignot who flashed a shot across our goal.
However the Stags did manage to work the ball into the Stansted box with Liam Foster delivering a weighted cross that Louis Hawes claimed while under pressure. Seconds later and we created another chance but Zuhdu placed his shot over the crossbar. Zuhdu did manage to dink a ball into the Stansted box in the 29th minute but John Clarke hooked it away. And the next ball played into the Stansted box by Foster was swamped out by the hosts who had filled their box with plenty of players and so the ball was blocked, then blocked again before finally being cleared.
Stansted came back at us and won a brace of corners, the second of which was caught by Blockley. But then a back pass was handled by Blockley, resulting in the hosts being awarded an in-direct free kick inside our penalty box which was taken by Mitchell but was cleared on the goal line.
The hosts continued to have the better of it, peppering our box with crosses but unable to create anything remotely clear-cut.
That all changed in the 37th minute when a ball was played into the left-hand side of the box where Mitchell was waiting, and he fired his shot into the bottom right-hand corner giving Blockley no chance.
And the hosts were able to test Blockley in first half stoppage time when a pinpoint cross reached Courtney Justin who met the cross with a powerful header but Blockley was equal to it.
We needed to raise our game as we started the second period, and within two minutes of it Zuhdu went on a run that saw him hauled down. However the resulting free kick was cannoned into the Stansted wall, while at the other end Russell had a shot on the volley for the hosts, but it was way off the mark and sailed safely away from Blockley’s right-hand post.
The Stags were starting to have more possession of the ball as the half wore on and on the hour we won a free kick on the byline. From it Buchanan was able to get a header on it, but Hawes pulled off an acrobatic save to palm the ball away.
In the 67th minute Zuhdu finally managed to get into a good position and he took his chance well, picking his spot before thumping the ball past Hawes to level the tie.
Three minutes later the Stags won a corner and it was deep one that fell to Jack Griggs but he couldn’t keep his shot down and it sailed over the cross bar.
But the Stags fans, who had travelled in good numbers up the M11, had a heart-in-mouth moment in the 73rd minute when Mitchell burst down the left wing, picked out Mignot who turned and fired a shot at Blockley that he parried, before managing to claim the ball as it rolled dangerously towards our goal-line. We returned the favour soon afterwards when Moore had a dig from the left of the box that sailed over Hawes and very nearly dipped under the cross bar. And more good work was displayed by Moore two minutes later, this time though he was in our box putting in a solid challenge to dispossess a Stansted player before smashing the ball away from the danger zone.
But man of the match has to be, in my opinion anyway, Dan Blockley who pulled off two very important saves in the closing stages to prevent the hosts claiming the spoils. The first in the 88th minute saw him get down low to tip away a powerful Ruemu Abutoh header, then he did the same in stoppage time, this time Abutoh having a low shot that he tipped away, and he also had to come out and claim the resulting corner whilst under pressure from a plethora of Stansted players.
In the end a draw was a fair result and both teams get another chance to continue their FA Cup campaign on Tuesday.
Buckhurst Hill: Dan Blockley, Liam Foster, Keaton Moore, Alfie Harris, George Essuman (Jack Griggs 46′), Max Nicholson, Sonny Shilling (Fehinti Falola 63′), Harry Markatis, Ezekiel Bademosi, Suley Zuhdu (Capt), Ted Buchanan.
Scorer – Suley Zuhdu (68′)