Fireworks on the pitch – in more ways than one – on Bonfire Night saw Bishop’s Stortford lose 3-1 to St Albans City in the second round of the Herts Senior Cup.
Second bottom of the Vanarama National South, the Saints scored two goals in three second half minutes to seal the win, with Rod Stringer’s Chelmsford City next to visit Clarence Park.
The Blues scored with the first real chance of the match, Ryan Charles shooting from outside the box in the fourth minute and, courtesy of a cruel deflection, Dean Snedker was left powerless and could only watch to see the ball loop into the net.
After a frenetic start, the hosts settled into the match and scored with their first real chance, Oli Sprague shooting low from the left channel on the edge of the box, with Bishop’s Stortford slow to close down the full back as the ball was half-cleared.
Shomari Barnwell – who came into this tie with four goals in as many cup matches this season – beat the offside trap to run in behind the defence, but the astute Snedker was out quickly to smother the chance.
There was then a brief stoppage as a firework was launched onto the pitch, though it is unknown where from – fortunately it was in an area where no players were and no player or official was injured by it.
Fred Burbidge made a good save from Albert Adu’s shot from the edge of the box, before Barnwell shot over the bar at the other end.
St Albans ended the first half with the momentum, and may have taken the lead after a spell of crosses and corners, but an offside decision allowed the Blues to regroup.
Half time 1-1
A slow start to the second period followed in the driving rain, before David Noble forced Burbidge to parry his long range free kick, before the keeper held on to Lewis Knight’s follow-up effort.
Substitute Andronicos Georgiou shot high of the target with a speculative effort, before James Kaloczi slid home from close range from Adu’s low cross from the right.
The Blues were left stunned as from the next attack, Adu’s shot dribbled in to the bottom corner to further increase the lead.
Jamie Cureton’s men showed resilience to push for a goal to halve the deficit, with Ryan Charles shooting from a long range free kick, while Louie Johnson – making his first start for the club – worked some space well on the edge of the box but couldn’t find the target.
After Cureton had brought himself on for Barnwell, the 44-year-old had a chance that would have been ideal for the man he replaced, with Cureton not being able to reach a low cross right across the face of goal, while Barnwell’s height advantage would surely have seen that chance converted.
Not content with a goal and an assist, Adu tried an acrobatic volley towards goal in a late spell of pressure, but Burbidge was equal to it.
Ex-Blues Darren Foxley and Scott Shulton were brought off the bench, and after another good effort at goal by Georgiou, the match petered out to the conclusion
Full time 3-1
The Blues return home to host bottom-of-the-league Corinthian Casuals on Saturday 9 November, before travelling to Bowers and Pitsea on Tuesday 12 November.
St Albans City XI
1: Dean Snedker
2: Joe Howe (Yellow card 16’)
3: Joe Sprague (Goal 12’)
4: Tommy Brewer
6: James Kaloczi (Goal 65’)
7: Tom Bender (Yellow card 74’)
8: Albert Adu (Goal 67’) (Shulton 85’)
9: Josh Oyinsan (Georgiou 55’)
11: Zane Banton (Foxley 82’)
14: David Noble ©
18: Lewis Knight
10: Scott Shulton,
12: David Longe-King
15: Andronicos Georgiou,
16: Dave Diedhiou,
17: Darren Foxley
Bishop’s Stortford XI
1: Fred Burbidge
2: Ben Sampayo
4: Jack Thomas (Miles 46’)
5: Sam Robbins (Yellow card 57’)
6: Ryan Henshaw ©
7: Ryan Charles (Goal 4’)
8: Alex Warman
15: Alfie Mason (Greene 32’)
18: Chris Gregan
19: Louie Johnson
20: Shomari Barnwell (Cureton 70’)
9: Jamie Cureton
10: Olly Miles
11: Aaron Greene
12: Jack Johnson
17: Mark Haines