Stamford Strollers 3 v 2 Erpingham (Half Time 1-1)
Strollers went into this second round tie against what seems to be a familiar backdrop of late changes to the match day squad.
On this occasion two players were to be lost to the squad; Richard Batty withdrew on Friday through illness and we all wish Richard a speedy recovery.
Then, on Saturday Paul Beard reported a hamstring injury which ultimately resulted in him being unable to take part in the game on the pitch.
This left just seven players to step onto the pitch to take on a fully loaded squad from Erpingham, Norfolk, a club that had previously had success in reaching finals day in the National Cup. A tough game was expected.
Early in the first half Strollers found it hard to find their feet against an Erpingham team who started well and had the better of the early exchanges.
As the half progressed Strollers started to gain the advantage and were rewarded when Colin B-T moved on to a through ball to score with a first time effort to give Strollers the lead.
By this point in the match, Strollers midfield trio of Tim Marsden, Paul Archer and Lee Tillen were stopping most Erpingham attacks at source by starving the opposition of all but the minimum of meaningful ball, and when they did manage to breach our first line of defence, Will Barrett was having a commanding performance at the back.
It was perhaps a surprise then, and certainly against the run of play, when Erpingham managed to score an equaliser in the closing minutes of the half to make honours even at half time following a Strollers defensive error.
The second half started in similar fashion to the latter stages of the first, with Strollers enjoying the majority of possession and just having the sharper edge in a tight game.
Midway through the half Strollers regained the lead when Colin B-T received a ball to feet and was able to turn and move past the Erpingham defender to slot the ball past the keeper for his second of the game.
At this point it looked as if Strollers might go on to a hard earned victory but with little more than five minutes to go, Strollers seemed to go into a temporary lull and Erpingham equalised due to another defensive lapse and by courtesy of an excellent shot from distance that keeper Trevor Oliver, who was having an excellent game, could do nothing about as the ball soared into the top right hand corner of the net.
As the match reached its closing moments it looked as if we might be heading for extra time, but Strollers kept up the pressure. With less than two minutes left on the clock Will Barrett found Colin B-T with a cross field ball deep in the Erpingham half. Some great movement and a call by Stephen Gates, who had replaced Lee Tillen earlier in the half, put him in the perfect position for Colin to slide a pass into his path from which he drilled his shot into the corner of the Erpingham net for Strollers deserved winner.
A fine all around performance which sees Strollers in the third round draw for the WFA National Cup for the first time since the competition became a knockout format.
Squad: Colin Barrett-Treen (capt), Steve Gates, Paul Beard, Tim Marsden, Lee Tillen, Trevor Oliver (GK), Will Barrett, Paul Archer
Strollers Goals Barrett-Treen (2), Gate