Walthamstow welcomed Abbey Rangers to the lodge on Saturday afternoon as the teams went to battle in the East London sunshine in the 2nd Qualifying round of the FA Cup.
It was a quick start for the visitors who had a couple of chances in the opening minutes but both efforts were dragged well wide. Stow’s first clear-cut chances came when Danny McCullock cut in and shot but Abbey’s keeper Liam Stone did well to get down and block the shot with legs before the ball was cleared.
It was Abbey Rangers who got the first goal as Marcus Cousins headed the ball in at the far post – the first goal Stow had conceded this FA Cup campaign.
Despite a dominate first half for Abbey Rangers up to the first 25 minutes, Stow had a few chances as they looked for an equaliser. Samrai Gebrai got his head to the ball but it was a comfortable save for the goalkeeper before a free-kick from Vinny Murphy was pushed just wide of the post by the keeper and a cross from Danny McCullock was just too far for the run of Emiel Aiken.
Abbey Rangers felt like they could’ve had another goal for half-time and a good move saw them get into a good shooting position but the shot was dragged just wide of the target. There was a couple of chances for Stow right towards the end of the first half but the teams went into the break with Rangers leading 1-0.
Walthamstow came out of the blocks quicker in the second half and had a chance seconds after the restart; A good run from Samrai Gebrai allowed Danny McCullock to have a shot but the ball was just wide of the target. Stow continued the pressure and had a number of shots before the pressure paid off and Stow had an equaliser. An initial one-on-one saw Callum Ibe’s saved and pushed out before Billy Jones smashed the ball into the net from the edge of the box.
The goal gave Stow confidence and minutes later they thought they had taken the lead when Samrai Gebrai chipped the goalkeeper but a last ditch clearance saw the cleared off the line.
There weren’t many clear chances for Abbey Rangers in the second half but their captain was dismissed after receiving a second yellow for a block on Callum Ibe.
As we approached the end of the game, both teams had a couple of have chances before Stow ended the game with a number of corners but they could find the winner and the game ended 1-1.
Speaking to Stow manager Ryan Maxwell after the game, he said “It wasn’t our best performance in the first half and we only turned up with 15 minutes to go, 1-0 down. The error that created their goal was that the ball wasn’t cleared and at half-time I made it clear we hadn’t shown them what we were all about. We upped the gears in the second half and represented Walthamstow the way we should have done in the first half and dominated, showing them what we could do. I think we could’ve definitely scored the winner but they rode their luck and the game was very much stop-start from their point of view with everyone going down injured. But we will take the positives from Today’s game.”
[When asked about Tuesday’s replay] “Nothing changes. Hopefully the lads with recognise that we can’t start flat like that and we need to start the replay the way that we started the second half. As long as we do that, I’m confident that we will get a result.”