Stowmarket Town 1 Romford 1
Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round
Report by Mike Woods
A somewhat scrappy match on a blustery afternoon at Ipswich Wanderers against Thurlow Nunn League side Stowmarket Town saw Romford secure a draw, and a replay at Ship Lane.
Early chances fell to the home side with Boro captain Adam McGeorge having to make an early clearance before an improvised back-heel by Stowmarket’s Andrew Wood sailed over Michael Gooch’s crossbar. Hugo Atkinson’s back-pass was intercepted by Josh Mayhew, but he was unable to take advantage and Gooch blocked his effort, before Romford created their first chance when Jamie Dicks headed on Nick Reynolds’ long throw and Jonathon Nzengo shot wide.
Nzengo was involved in the game’s next incident of note, when he was adjudged to have fouled Remi Garrett in a challenge to which Garrett’s team-mates took exception resulting in Norwich referee Paul Stearman showing the Romford man a yellow card. Moments later what appeared to be an elbow flung in Jonathon Adebayo’s face resulted in just a free-kick.
Clear cut chances were few for the remainder of the half: Garrett shot extravagantly over the Romford crossbar, while Nick Reynolds was just beaten to Atkinson’s cross by home keeper Brand.
Stowmarket were forced into a change when central defender Mitchell was injured, but they put that behind them to take the lead after 41 minutes. There appeared to be a foul on a Romford player in the build up, but nonetheless Boro ought to have cleared their lines before the ball fell kindly to Andrew Wood and he swept it past Gooch.
With referee Stearman apparently reluctant to get his cards out again – a foul on Dicks might have warranted sanction, but the referee decided to administer a lecture rather than a caution – the first half ended with the home side twice having attempts at goal, although neither were on target.
Two minutes of the second half and Romford’s Daniel Akande went down under a very robust challenge from Stowmarket’s Cunningham, who was booked, although referee Steadman restarted play with a throw-in to the home side rather than the free-kick Boro were expecting. That was to be Akande’s last involvement in the game as he limped off to be replaced by Ben Clarke after 51 minutes, and Clarke made an immediate impact when, two minutes later, he fed Ayo Olukoga, who lifted the ball over the advancing goalkeeper for the equaliser.
A series of Stowmarket corners came to nothing; Gooch punched one away and Dicks headed another clear, before Nzengo’s cross was dropped by the Stowmarket keeper with no Romford player able to capitalise. Stowmarket’s Clarke shot extravagantly wide as did Garrett, while Nzengo twice had chances for Boro, breaking through only to be dispossessed, and then shooting wide from Chris Taylor’s throw in, while Olakunle Giwa’s on target effort was comfortably fielded by Brand in the home goal.
Stowmarket had appeals for a penalty waved away by the referee, and Michael Gooch had to be quick off his line to foil a late break by the home side as the match entered additional time. Chris Taylor might have won it for Boro in the 93rd minute when his excellent shot from Clarke’s throw in narrowly cleared the bar, and there was still time for Boro to pick up another yellow card when McGeorge was booked for a tackle in which he seemed at least as sinned against as sinning.
Boro will be hoping to finish the job at Ship Lane, but must be wary of the very obvious threat posed by a Stowmarket team who boast a number of players who have featured at a higher level.
Stowmarket Town: Craig Brand, Ollie Brown, Ethan Clarke, Duane Wright, Scott Mitchell (Jemel Fox 30′), Phil Weavers, Danny Cunningham, Jack Baker, Josh Mayhew, Andrew Wood, Remi Garett (George Bugg 58′).
Scorer – Andrew Wood (41′)
Romford: Michael Gooch, Ryan Burt Allen, Hugo Atkinson, Danny Cossington, Adam McGeorge, Jamie Dicks, Jonathon Adebayo, Ayo Olukoga (Olakunle Giwa 74′), Daniel Akande (Ben Clarke 51′), Nick Reynolds (Chris Taylor 70′), Jonathon Nzengo.
Scorer – Jonathon Nzengo (53′)