On a deceptively bright but chilly Saturday afternoon, Stanmore FC headed up North towards Hoddesdon where they would clash with 4th placed Hertford Heath Reserves. Having been greeted with the sound of Roosters from the neighbouring houses, Stanmore were well up for this game and were eager to get the win following the massive blunder from the referee in their previous game (15 mins added time!).
Hertford Heath started strongly, and with their average player being above 6ft, did well to block Stanmore from playing their football. However Stanmore were defending resolutely, and MZ was forced into a few early saves which kept Stanmore in the game. Around the 7th minute, Stanmore had their first sight of goal, Amirali holding the ball up well and slotting it through the Yaseen, who did well to make it to the ball and shooting just wide of the target. Then Abbasali Blue, starting his first game since returning from injury, hit a beautiful shot just over the bar.
Stanmore were growing into the game, and there was a spell of 5 minutes where Hertford Heath were camped in their half. Stanmore were playing some lovely two touch football, but they were yet to experience Hertford Heath’s goalkeeper kick. I think every Stanmore player will testify to those kicks being one of the longest kicks they have ever faced. And that is how Hertford first broke through Stanmore’s defence. An almighty kick from the keeper, a flick on from midfield and their left winger was through on goal who managed to just about squeeze it under an unlucky MZ. 1-0. But Stanmore’s heads didn’t drop, they continued to fight and try to play their football. The next 10 minutes were a tightly contested, but in the 20th minute, Hertfords left winger passed it across the 18 yard box where a midfielder stroked it into the bottom left corner. 2-0 – Stanmore had to recover.
Stanmore regrouped well after the second goal, getting the ball down and utilising their wingers – both Maisum and Mehdi enjoying a few runs down their wings. And it was in the 40th minute that Stanmore’s resilience finally paid off, the ball dropping to Abbasali who had a quick glance up, and played a sumptuous through ball for Abbas Rattansi, who had timed his run to perfection, before rounding the keeper and slotting the ball into an empty net. Stanmore went into half time knowing they only needed 1 goal to equalise – and they were confident they could get it done.
The second half was dominated by Stanmore, and Hertford had to resort to a number of filthy challenges to break up Stanmore’s flow. Stanmore were having great joy down the right, with Mehdi Hemraj getting in behind the defence numerous times, but despite the chances, Stanmore couldn’t make Hertford pay. In the 80th minute, Yaseen was played in by a great through ball from Mehdi, who rounded the keeper but the angle proved to be just too tight to squeeze it into the net – still 2-1. Despite a brave and valiant performance from Stanmore, the game ended 2-1, but there were plenty of positives to take away.
Stanmore’s next game comes against top of the league Bushey Rangers, will Stanmore cause an upset? Tune in next week to find out