Stow progressed to the second round of this season’s Errington Cup, thanks largely to a man of the match performance from Callum Ibe. But the game will be remembered for a fracas just before half time which saw both sides reduced to nine men, and Southend Manor picking up two bookings on top.
Stow started the game with real positive intent, and were almost ahead within a couple of minutes when Ibe broke through, only to see his half-saved effort cleared off the line. Harrison Carnegie then had a good effort saved, as did Connor Scully with the follow-up. In the same passage of play, Charlie Edwards fired narrowly over from the edge of the box.
The best chance of the half came when Carnegie broke through, but when one-on-one, cut the ball back to Jason Hallett who was caught somewhat unaware, and could only poke the ball wide.
The chances continued to come for Stow, and Scully was denied well again, before Hallett headed just wide and then saw another effort saved. Hallett did find the back of the net, but was then called back for offside.
After sustaining a period of pressure, the visitors came into the game a bit more, and almost went level twice within a couple of seconds. The first long-range effort cannoned off the bottom of the crossbar and out to the edge of the box, where the follow-up hit the far post and then Stow stopper Amarildo Cekrezi on the back, before he turned and caught the loose ball.
It had been a fairly clean game, until a Manor midfielder collided with Jason Hallett off the ball, and proceeded to hold Hallett around the neck, stopping him from getting up. This caused all 22 players to pile in, and after a lot of deliberating from the officials, the result was four red cards and two yellow.
With just 18 players on the pitch, the second half was an open affair, and Stow quickly made use of the extra space. Michael Osei was found in acres of room on the right wing, and the substitute cut inside, finding Ibe who turned his man and slotted the ball home. It was no less than Ibe deserved for a fantastic performance.
Stow were happy to sit back on their lead, and limited Manor to long-distance efforts and deep crosses, but Cekrezi was equal to everything thrown at him, to keep his 18th clean sheet of the season.
Stow will now be away to either White Ensign or Hoddesdon Town in the second round of the competition.