A second half penalty from teenager Ryan Worrall saw Eastbourne Borough avoid an FA Cup upset against Enfield Town at Priory Lane on Saturday afternoon.
Tommy Widdrington’s side were also grateful to a second half penalty save from Lewis Carey who prevented the visitors from taking a 2-0 lead on 62 minutes. It proved a real turning point in the match as Ian Simpemba was extremely fortunate not to be sent off for the foul on Corey Whitely.
It was a tough afternoon for Borough in the FA Cup second Qualifying Round against an Enfield side who compete Ryman Premier.
Widdrington opted for a 3-5-2 formation as they were missing the attacking options of the suspended Richard Pacquette and the injured Elliott Charles and James Walker.
Borough had lost their last three league games but came so close to finding the early goal that would have settled the nerves at Priory Lane.
In the very first minute Simon Johnson hoisted a long ball into the box. Defender Simpemba rose the highest and his header beat keeper Nathan McDonald but crashed against the post.
On six minutes Enfield very nearly took the lead. Borough half cleared a set piece, the ball was fired back into the box and fell kindly for Neil Cousins but Lewis Carey was quick off his line to block the shot.
Darren Lok had a goal chalked off for offside as Gavin McCallum handled the ball in the build up while Johnson blazed a good opportunity over the bar following an excellent surging run and cross from Marvin Hamilton.
Lok, in for the suspended Richard Pacquette, was a lively presence up front. On 36 minutes he did well to regain possession and set Johnson racing forward on the right. Johnson’s cross was a peach but McCallum’s header from six yards lacked power and keeper McDonald easily gathered.
Borough started the second half poorly and Enfield punished them on 52 minutes. Michael Kalu delivered a fine cross from the left and Cousins bravely beat Carey to ball and headed well into the top corner. Cousins took a hefty whack in the process but he was soon back on his feet and taking deserved plaudits from his teammates.
A groggy Cousins was replaced by Phil Kane and it was Enfield who continued to attack. Corey Whitely wriggled the wrong side of the defence and Simpemba clumsily upended the striker.
The referee awarded a spot, Simpemba escaped any further action and Whitley stepped forward to take the kick. He went low to his left but Carey, who recently saved a penalty against Maidenhead, guessed correctly and gathered low to his right.
Borough needed some inspiration and it came from two 17 year-olds as academy lads Dean Bown and Ryan Worrell replaced the experienced Gavin McCallum and Dean Sinclair .
Bown was instantly involved as he made good progress down the left. His pull back found Lok who had his legs taken from underneath him by Theo Jones. Referee Lee Vanamore gave another penalty and up stepped Worrall to cooly convert the spot kick with his very first touch of the match.
Both teams pressed forward in an entertaining finale to the match. Borough obviously didn’t fancy a midweek trip to North London while Enfield liked their chances of nicking a result.
Johnson was forced to clear off the line from Phil Kane’s header while Matt Aldred had Borough’s best chance of a winner but he skied his first time effort over the bar from 10 yards.
A surprising nine additional minutes were added on but neither side could force a winner and they will do battle once again at the Queen Elizabeth II Stadium on Tuesday night.
Widdrington said, “We have no god given right just because we are a league higher than Enfield Town to progress. Anybody here today would have seen they were fighting as hard and at times harder than us.
“We are in the hat and we go up there on Tuesday night and we know what the prize will be. We dominated for the first 25 minutes but if you don’t get your noses in front it hits you and knocks you back.
“I thought Ian Simpemba was lucky to stay on the pitch. I can’t see for the life of me why he wasn’t sent off. That was a massive turning point in our favour.
Of the penalty for Borough, the boss added, “Young Ryan Worrall came knocking on my door and says gaffer I want to play. I know if he came on to the pitch he would give us a different dimension. Having the confidence to pick the ball up, having not touched the ball and take the penalty, he deserves a huge pat of on the back.”
Eastbourne Borough: Carey, Hamilton, Beale, Aldred, Simpemba, Watts, McCallum (Bown 65), Sinclair (Worrall 65), Khinda-John, Johnson, Lok. Subs not used: Lovett, Foot. Booked: Beale, Watts
Enfield Town: McDonald, Jones, Stevens, Doyle, Kirby, Muguo, Quinton (Campbell 90), Hamilton-Forbes, Cousins (Kane 60), Whitley, Kalu Subs not used: Smyth, Hastings, Richards, Cole, Page Booked: Jones, Hamilton Forbes, Whitley