Walthamstow defied the odds to return from the east coast with the most heroic of wins, and secure a place in the hat for the next round of the FA Cup.
After earning promotion from the Eastern Senior League last season, Stow’s hosts had won on the opening day in front of a crowd of over 600, but had lost to Great Wakerking in mid week.
Felixstowe were expecting a physical contest, and they got just that. But the home side started on the front foot, and Stow were lucky to avoid behind early, when a cross flashed across the the front of Chris Clark’s goal, with no one at the back post to tap it in.
But Ryan Maxwell’s men were not phased by the occasion, nor the difference in levels of the two sides, and were soon on top.
Stow had two strong penalty shouts turned down – one for ‘keeper Jack Spurling manhandling Ryan Ramsay, and another for a tug on Jack Leachman, before Christian Owusu let fly from just inside the box, with Spurling saving the first effort and the rebound off a home defender.
Lee Flynn went closer still with a powerful effort, and with 15 minutes played, Stow got the goal their early play deserved.
Ryan Ramsay gave Darcy De’Ath a horrid time all half, and when the winger rode two physical challenges, all he needed to do was cut back to James Peagram who made no mistake, smashing the ball in from the edge of the box.
Two huge penalty shouts were waved away for Stow, one where Daniel Davis punched the ball out of play for a corner, and another where Jake Giddings’ legs were taken from him when about to pull the trigger.
De’Ath found the best way to stop Ramsay was to try and foul him, and somehow got away with another excessive use of force in the box. De’Ath then went on to forearm smash Owusu, escaping the referee’s book once more.
He was eventually booked for throwing the ball into Ramsay’s face, in an incident which saw Ramsay also shown a yellow card for dissent.
Just before the end of the half Peagram broke through, and saw his goal-bound effort almost caught by a home defender, but as was the norm by now, Stow’s penalty shouts were waved away.
Felixstowe did come out for the second half with a bit more urgency, but in truth, spent far too long playing the ball around midfield without any cutting edge.
With 68 minutes played, the home side were thrown a lifeline when Ramsay was shown a second yellow card after having been adjudged to have used more force than De’Ath when the two went for a 50/50 ball.
And two minutes later, things got even worse for Stow, as Junior Appiah was shown a straight red for a high-footed challenge on Spurling in the Felixstowe goal.
From then on, it was a simple game of attack v defence. With two banks of four, Stow were happy for the home side to keep the ball in their own half, as any time Felixstow came forward, the back five of Clark, Dasho, Pope, Leachman and Flynn were more than capable of dealing with it.
A somewhat frugal five minutes was added on, and it was in the fifth of these minutes that the home side finally got their chance. With the forward one on one, it looked like Clark was beaten, but the stopper’s trailing leg denied Felixstowe a replay as he somehow got enough on the shot to bring it back around into his arms.
Well into the 97th minute, the referee finally blew his whistle, and secure one of Stow’s most famous FA Cup victories.
Images with thanks to Felixstowe & Walton United FC.