Sawbridgeworth’s goalless start to the 2021/22 season continued as they were knockout of the FA Cup in the Extra Preliminary Round at the hands of fellow-ESL side Cockfosters.
The game could have gone either way in the first half, but a controlled second half from Fosters, along with their goals, saw them dominate play as they got a comfortable win.
The hosts had made a good start to the game as they looked to break the deadlock early. Tim Strike fired a shot towards goal from the edge of the box in the opening minutes, but his effort was just tipped round the post before Sawbo continued to applied good pressure in the opening minutes of the game, but Cockfosters defended well to keep it goalless.
The visitors had looked to bring the ball forward in the early moments of the game, but failed to get a shot off before their first real chance of the game saw a couple of free-kicks floated into the Sawbo box, but the set-pieces were well cleared. The pressure continued for the hosts as they looked to make the most of a fast start, but they couldn’t find the back of the net. Tim Strike fired a shot goal bound from the edge of the box again, but this time his effort rattled the crossbar before straight down the other end, Cockfosters had a shot deflected over the bar before the resulting corner was cleared.
Minutes later, it was Cockfosters who had taken the lead. The ball was lifted over to George Beattie on the left-hand side by Jack Hockney, with the latter firing a volley beyond the keeper. The goal had given the visitors confidence as they came forward again. They almost had a second immediately as Matt Thompson had two bites at a shot, but his second effort was fired just wide after his initial shot had been blocked.
Despite finding themselves a goal down, Sawbridgeworth looked to get on the front foot as they sought an equaliser. Strike tried his luck from distance, but his effort was safely into the hands of the keeper before Cory Rider lifted a free-kick into box, but it was well defended and an effort from Strike was, again, comfortably held by the keeper. The pressure Sawbo had applied wasn’t enough as Cockfosters found their second of the afternoon. The visitors took the ball straight down the other end and Reece Masanya finished of a good move to put the away side in control.
Again, the goal had given Cockfosters confidence as they looked to add more to their tally. Chancey Dash fired a free-kick towards goal, but his effort was just over the bar, before Beattie also had a shot at goal, but his effort was well blocked. There were brief shouts for a penalty as Morgan Arnold was crowded out in the box as he looked to squeeze between two players, but the referee ignored any calls.
Both sides had looked to come out of the block quickly in the second half. Arnold had the first chance, but he fired an effort wide before a good attack from the visitors saw Masanya’s shot saved and Dash’s half-volley fired just wide.
Despite both sides looking to make a good start to the second period, it was Cockfosters who grabbed control of the game. A cross slipped through the hands of the Sawbo keeper, but George Beattie’s volley was just wide before the away side wondered how they weren’t ahead as Dash played a ball over to Beattie, but the latter’s shot was blocked on the line by Toby Smith. Minutes later, the Fosters forward had another chance as he was played through on goal, but Smith saved brilliant to keep the score down.
Sawbo looked to ease the pressure by starting an attack of their own, but the shot at goal was comfortably held by the keeper before another wasted chance for the hosts saw a cross fired into box, but no one in the middle to meet it. The third goal was fired home in the 73rd-minute as gaffer Ryan Wade lined up a free-kick and fired it beyond the keeper.
The hosts looked to reduce the arrears as they came forward once again, but it just proved not to be there day. Morgan Arnold slide in at the back-post, but his effort was saved on the line by the keeper, before they had found the back of the net as Eric Koduah fired a shot off the post and in, but the whistle had already gone for offside.
As the game entered the final 10-minutes, Cockfosters looked to come forward, hoping to add more goals. Another dangerous free-kick was taken by Beattie, but the forward’s effort was well saved before Chancey Dash crossed a ball into the hands of Smith. The visitors tried to work a clever free-kick, but Dash’s low cross had too much pace and the ball ran out for a Sawbo throw. The hosts had a chance in the 87th-minute, but again no luck, as Kieran Amos fired wide after receiving a set-piece ball at the near post.
Despite both sides coming forward in injury-time, the referee brought the game to an end to confirm Cockfoster’s passage to the Preliminary Round and a tie with AFC Sudbury at Chalk Lane.