Bishop Stortford 2 - 3 Grays Athletic
Blues get pre-season underway with a win at National League South side Bishop's Stortford.
Mark Bentley's side started their pre-season program with a surprisingly entertaining match at a sun-drenched ProKit UK stadium with the Blues edging a 3-2 win against their National League South hosts.
It was a good workout for both sides, with Benno and Rod Stringer making the most of the opportunity to see first team regulars alongside fringe players and trialists as they prepare for the coming season.
Benno will be the happier of the two managers especially as The Bishops were the more committed side in the opening stages and were well in control of the game when they took a deserved lead after eight minutes. Elliott Buchanan capitalised on some hesitancy amongst the Blues defence to set up Billy Lobjoit who fired the ball home from the corner of the box.
The well organised hosts pressed The Blues deep into their own half, were strong in the challenge and denying any space to the wide players. DD and Bradley Tomlinson were well marshalled and it looked like it was going to be a long afternoon when Stortford tightened their grip on the game after 26 minutes. Buchanan was first to the ball from a corner and his chip back into the box was met well by George Allen who headed in off the underside of the crossbar.
As the home side started to feel the heat Blues were back in the game after 32 minutes when Siva played a low corner into the feet of Carlos inside the area, he played Beaney in on the right and the skipper drilled home through a crowded six yard box. DD was taken off as a precaution just after 40 minutes and his replacement, Chris Benjamin, was involved in the move which led to the equaliser. A ball forward was deflected high into the air and Benji brought it down superbly, changing the direction of play and wrong footing his marker. He played the ball behind the defence for Bradley Tomlinson to latch onto and drive past the keeper to make the score 2-2.
The hosts made ten changes at the break, Blues making five and the second-half was end-to-end as trialists and fringe players looked to impress their respective managers and make inroads to a regular place in the squad. Both sides made plenty of half-chances but too many shots were wayward and at one point there was farcical defending at both ends to keep the crowd entertained.
Blues made a further three changes, including assistant manager Glen Little replacing Sean Cronin at centre-half, and in the dying moments of the game Akwasi Marfo wriggled in from the left and unselfishly set up Brian Moses to finish from close range and make the score 3-2.
Second-half starting line-up:
40 Benjamin on for DD
46 Small on for Sackey
46 Ferguson on for Stevens
46 Reynolds on for Carlos
46 Marfo on for Addia
46 Sterling-Parker for Tomlinson
65 Moses for Benjamin
70 Poole for Beaney
75 Little for Cronin
Match highlights available here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbGo1ST9fms&feature=youtu.be with thanks to Kevin James for the video