Stow progressed to the fourth round of this season’s Essex Senior Cup thanks to a penalty shoot-out win over Isthmian Premier side Billericay Town. Stow scored early and late to take the game to a penalty shootout, with Nicky Ironton’s side progressing from the spot thanks to four successful penalties and two Ashlee Jones saves.
Ironton named a strong side, which included a return for Jason Beck, a little more than a year after departing the club.
Stow started brightly and were rewarded eight minutes in. Billericay – perhaps more accustomed to their 3G surface – were content with playing the ball out from extremely deep, but this caught them out when Bilal Sayoud charged down Porter, won the ball back, cut inside and slotted home from eight yards.
The goal spurred Ricay into action, and Jones had to be fully stretched to turn a header from a deep cross around the post. With 20 minutes played the visitors were rewarded for their pressure. Jarred Small brought down a Ricay forward on the byline, and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Ade Azeez made no mistake, sending Jones the wrong way.
Stow still enjoyed more of the chances in the first half though, with many of them coming through Jordon Watson. Stow’s skipper fired straight at Stefan Lemaq in the Ricay goal, before having a big appeal for a penalty turned down. He then had the ball in the back of the net, but was called offside. Two of these three chances came from Beck winning headers in the Ricay box; the returning Stow favourite already making a big impact.
Half time came and went with little change in proceedings. Watson and Ollie Sotoyinbo both went close with second half headers, but it seemed like Stow would again be ruing a late goal when Richard Asamoah was left unmarked at the back post to tap in a deflected, lopping cross which evaded the Stow defence.
But the blues kept plugging away, and with three minutes of normal time to go were level again. Beck nodded down a corner into the six yard box where Watson was perfectly placed to poke home. Ricay managed to weather the Stow storm in the final three minutes and seven minutes of time added on.
The game went straight to penalties, which had been Stow’s downfall in two cup ties already this season. But this time around the result was never in any danger. Matt Ball, Jay Rolfe, Beck and Sotoyinbo were all clinical from the spot, giving Lemaq no chance. And on the other side, Jones guessed correctly twice, saving two tame Ricay penalties.
The victory takes Stow to the fourth round of the Essex Senior Cup for the first time since 2012.