Walthamstow progressed to the second round of this season’s Gordon Brasted Trophy thanks to a blistering first half performance against Sporting Bengal United.
Ryan Maxwell rotated his squad from Saturday’s defeat to Beaconsfield Town, but there were welcome returns for Jack Leachman and Jake Giddings.
But for all of Stow’s first half dominance, it was the visitors who had the first chance of the match. Just a minute or two in, some space down the Forest right allowed the Bengal striker to find space, and it took a strong hand from Chris Clark to keep a goal-bound effort out.
From then on though, it was one way traffic.
Billy Jones had Stow’s first good chance, volleying over when a header from Reece Conway over the top sent him through. Ryan Ramsay then should have done better at the back post when Samrai Gebrai beat his man and cut back for his opposite winger.
Gebrai had two good chances before the deadlock before Craig Pope finally did, netting his first Stow goal. After a series of three corners from Ramsay, there was chaos in the Bengal box as Chris Lecointe and Jack Leachman both had goal-bound efforts blocked. Eventually, the ball fell to Pope who poked in from six yards.
Not long after Stow doubled their lead. A perfect ball out of defence from Giddings set Ramsay on his way, and the winger was given enough time to pick a cross perfectly onto the outside of Jones’ boot, with the ball ending up in the bottom corner.
The visitors were becoming increasingly frustrated with the refereeing decisions, which, it must be said, were going strongly in Stow’s favour.
Two became three just before half time as Leachman got on the end of another Ramsay corner and finished well with a looping header.
The second half was a far more drab affair, in front of goal at least.
Bengal did pull a goal when Kamarl Duncan got on the end of an in-swinging free kick, but constant handbags between the two sides broke up any momentum they may have been able to create.
Gebrai sealed the victory for Stow with ten minutes to go, finding the net from the edge of the area after a neat one-two with Rheo Josephs.
Stow now go into Saturday’s crunch match with Hullbridge Sports full of confidence.