Stow 3-1 Leverstock Green

Stow progressed to the first qualifying round of the FA Cup for the fifth time in six seasons thanks to a 3-1 win over Spartan League side Leverstock Green.

In front of over 400 at the Lodge, Stow started on the front foot; the first real chance coming with a quarter of an hour played. Demaray Anyadike found plenty of room down the right and was able to cross to Carl Mensah, whose stretching header was just over.

But the deadlock was broken not long after. Mensah’s raking ball out to the left found Jared Small who beat his man, cut inside and squared to Ducan Culley who side-footed into the bottom corner.

Stow dominated the first half; Anyadike, Callum Ibe, Sharn Quinn and George Ironton all went close, while Ibe and Culley both had strong penalty appeals turned down.

There was, however, one moment for the away side, when Chris Blunden was given acres of space in the box. The Leverstock forward seemed surprised himself about the amount of space he had, and seemed to delay taking his shot, giving Matt Nolan in the Stow goal enough time to come out and smother the ball.

The visitors had won two out of three of their opening league games, and put five past White Ensign in the previous round of the cup, and showed how dangerous they could be with a strong spell after the break.

Leverstock were finding plenty of room down the Stow left, and they were soon level. Luke Beckwith’s cross was headed back towards goal by Radu Stefanoiaca to the unmarked Dan Pett who volleyed home from six yards.

Straight from the restart Jordon Watson chested down a long ball and fired just wide, and then had a dangerous cross just about intercepted by Byfield. From that though, Leverstock countered and it was left to J’Ardell Stirling to put in a superb last-ditch tackle to deny Blunden a one-on-one opportunity.

The game’s turning point came with a quarter of an hour to go. Blunden missed a superb chance to put his side ahead, only for Stow to go straight up the other end and take the lead themselves. Leverstock failed to clear a long clearance, and Watson picked the defender’s pocked and lashed the ball home.

The chances then continued to fall for Stow. Watson headed over when through one-on-one, and then Culley fired wide when well-placed from a Watson cross.

Watson made sure of Stow’s place in the hat for the next round when he closed down Byfield and blocked the Leverstock keeper’s clearance. The ball looped up, but landed at Watson’s feet at the Stow forward finished into an empty net.

Images: Bill Badger

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