Woodford Town 3-3 Sawbridgeworth Town
(Woodford Town win 4-2 on pens)

Match Report by Harrison Nathan

It was a triumphant night at Ashton’s for Shane Baptiste’s men, as the Woods progressed to the 2nd round of the FA Vase, for the fist time since 1980!

The hosts started the game on top and took a deserved lead on the 11th minute mark as striker Luke Parrott found some space and fired it into the corner after some tidy build up play. The domination from the Woods continued and they came close to a second as chances from Parrott and Phillips narrowly missed the target, they also had the ball in the net but the flag was already up and therefore the score remained 1-0. It was looking like Woodford would take a slim lead into the interval, but as Jaedon Phillips ran through on goal in first half stoppage time – he managed to poke it past the onrushing Edgeworth, who was caught in no-mans land, and double the Woods’ lead!

Shane Baptiste would have been delighted with his sides performance in the first half and would have asked for more of the same from his players as they looked to see the tie out. His pleas were listened to as within 15 second half seconds, striker Luke Parrott, who had caused unpleasant issues for the Sawbridgeworth defence in the first half, doubled his tally after some awful defending from the kick off!

Woodford skipper Georges Kebi was lucky to escape a red card as his poorly timed challenge on Lewis Wicker saw him shown a yellow. With Monday’s Errington Challenge Cup tie in the back of his mind, Shane Baptiste turned to the bench as Anderson, Christou and Odedoyin replaced Kebi, Parrott and Phillips. It proved to be a mistake though, as on 78 minutes the visitors pulled a goal back and with last Friday’s throw away at Romford still fresh in the memory, its safe to say some feared the worst…

As the clock ticked away – although Sawbridgeworth had started to grow into the game a little more, it was looking increasingly likely that the hosts would progress. Woodford had plenty of chances to open up the Sawbo defence but didn’t take their opportunities well enough and after a cross came in and Woodford failed to clear their lines, a moment of magic from Adedeji saw his overhead kick fly past McEvoy into the Woods net and with time running out the Robins were right back in the tie!

Added time seemed to go on for an eternity, but in the dying seconds a long free kick from inside the Sawbo half reached the Woodford penalty area – the first attempt crashing against the crossbar but the rebound was bundled over the line and against all odds, the visitors had come from 3 goals down to rescue a 3-3 draw and send the tie to penalties with virtually the last kick of the game.

With the hosts victorious in a shootout earlier in the month, the entire Ashton’s faithful was hopeful once again. Woodford tapped up first and scored, but the visitors replied, 1-1. Woodford made it 2-1 and with the pressure on the Sawbo taker, he put his penalty wide; advantage Woodford!! Two consecutive penalties were smashed home by the boys in yellow and with the shootout at 3-2, the away side had to score. Their taker stepped up and just like earlier in the month, young keeper Callum McEvoy was the hero as he saved brilliantly to secure the win for Woodford!

A topsy-turvy game at Ashton’s, but in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter as the Woods make it to the second round of the Isuzu FA Vase via penalties.

A huge thank you to all 131 in attendance on what was a historic night at Ashton’s and we hope to see you all on Monday when we face Stanway Rovers in the Errington Challenge Cup (7:45pm KO).

COYW!