Walthamstow began their FA Cup campaign against fellow Essex Senior League side Sporting Bengal United and brushed them aside to reach the Preliminary round of the competition after recording a 5-nil victory in wet and windy conditions.
Both sides tried to start quickly and it was the away side who had the ball in the back of the net first but it was ruled out for offside. Despite the scare, Walthamstow began to dominate the play. Samrai Gebrai curled the ball towards the far post but failed to find Billy Jones’ head before Dwade James scored the first of the goals. After looking like he had been fouled, he managed to take the ball around the keeper and tap it in. There was a penalty shout for the home side when James was brought down but it wasn’t given.
The lead soon increased when Samrai Gebrai scored his first of the season. An individual effort saw him weave between two defenders before finding the back of the net. Not long after the goal, Sporting Bengal were reduced to 10-men when former Stow player Charlie Gregory had Benji Crilley in a headlock off teh ball.
With the extra man, Walthamstow’s Jamie Bennett scored his first and Stow’s third when he got his head to a corner ball and sent it into the goal. Despite having another penalty shout and a few more chances, the teams went into the break with Stow leading 3-0.
It was a quick start by the home side at the start of the second half when Ollie Fortune had his first opportunity of the game. He turned and got a shot off but dragged his shot just wide before a cross by Vinny Murphy was carried by the wind and nearly found the back of the net.
James dominated the chances but couldn’t find the back of the net. A miskick saw him send a shot just wide before he had two headers from corners, of which both were saved comfortably by the keeper. Sporting Bengal tried to find space and break down the Walthamstow defence but it held strong and they couldn’t get their shots off.
The game saw another two red cards when Stow’s Billy Jones and Bengal’s Rokib Choudhury duelled in a heated confrontation (the referee deeming it enough to dismiss both players). As the game edged closer to the 90th minutes, Walthamstow were awarded a penalty after Benji Crilley were brought down. Dwade stepped up to take it but his shot hit the post before it was cleared.
The scoring didn’t end there. Danny McCullock managed to find some space before smashing the ball into the goal for the 4th, minutes before Dwade got Stow’s 5th and his second of the game. Despite being challenged by a Sporting Bengal defender, he managed to poke the ball past the keeper. The game ended 5-0 to the Stow.
Speaking after the game, Stow midfielder Jack Folan said “It was a good performance and to win 5-0 is great for the boys. Being 3-nil up in the first half was good for us and obviously the red card helped but we came out quickly from the blocks. It was a little payback after losing 2-0 towards the end of last season but to knock them out of the FA Cup and get our redemption is great.”
[Looking ahead to Saturday’s league encounter with Stansted] “we are very confident because we are a strong group of boys. It will no doubt be a difficult game but we beat them last season here so hopefully we can do it again”