Report: West Essex 4-2 St Panteleimon

St Panteleimon’s debut FA Cup campaign came to an end in the Extra Preliminary Round as they were beaten by West Essex at Wadham Lodge on Friday Night. 

It took just two-minutes for West Essex to find themselves ahead as the ball fell to the feet of Demetris Frangeskides, who fired the ball beyond the keeper. The early pressure from the hosts continued as they looked to peg the opposition back, but that didn’t stop the visitors from trying to move the ball up the pitch.

St Panteleimon had their first chance of the game as Guilherme Monti fired a free-kick low and hard from distance, but the set-piece was well blocked. It didn’t take long for the away side to find themselves level though as in the 13th-minute, the Saints had their first ever FA Cup goal. Monti did well on the right-hand side as he got past a number of defenders before sliding the ball into the feet of Alexander Michaelides, who slotted well beyond the keeper from just inside the box. 

The game was fairly even, with neither side dominating possession and both sides struggling to get beyond the oppositions defensive line, until the visitors came close to taking the lead as Noyan Tajbakhsh struck a thunderous effort towards goal, but the shot was just over the bar. Despite finding themselves close to conceding, it was the host who retook the lead in 23rd-minute. Callum Bloss stood over a free-kick and fired the set-piece beyond the visiting keeper, who had found himself planted to the spot. 

The goal didn’t boost West Essex’s cause as they found themselves on the backfoot once again. Good play from the away side saw them pass it through the defensive lines, but the hosts were able to see it out of play, before the Saints almost had their second goal of the game as Courtney Massay crossed the ball to Jayden Brown, but the latter fired his shot over from close range. As the game approached half-time, Bloss stood over another free-kick, but his effort was fired into the wall before St Panteleimon continued to come forward.

A series of corners had to be dealt with by the hosts, which they did, before Monti had two bites at a shot from a tight angle and his second effort was fired just wide. Jack Coker was almost caught out as his kick was charged down, but a poor attempt to lob the West keeper saw him comfortably hold onto the ball. West had found themselves with the last chance of the half as the ball fell to Frangeskides, but the forwards effort was fired over. 

Both sides had looked to make a fast start to the second half and it was the visitors who had the first chance of the second period as Tajbakhsh looked to be through on goal, but Coker was out quickly to collect the loose ball. A couple of minutes later saw West have their first shot of the half as Frangeskides created some space on the edge of the box, but his shot was deflected through to the keeper. 

The hosts extended their lead 8-minutes into the second half as Moyo Ajirade ran through on goal and slotted underneath the on-rushing keeper. Again, it was St Panteleimon who came forward after they had conceded and they called for a penalty as they had a man-down in the box, but the referee wasn’t interested in the shouts. That didn’t matter though as they pulled one back in the 60th-minute. A free-kick was fired low into the box and flicked beyond the keeper by Brad Gilmaney.

As the game reached the final 15-minutes, both sides continued to battle well as the West Essex supporters called for their side to get on the ball and attack while the Saints sought an equaliser. It was the hosts who had upped the pressure as they looked to kill off the game, but they struggled to test the keeper. A dangerous ball was flicked across the face of goal, but no one was close enough to tap home before the pressure had paid off for West as they added a fourth with 5-minutes left to play. Callum Bloss received the ball on the edge of the box and fired the ball beyond the keeper to put the hosts all but through to the next round. 

The visitors continued to battle as the game reached the 90th-minute, but the scoreline wasn’t on their side. The hosts looked to hold the ball in the corner and were doing well to see out the time. The drama wasn’t over there as West were reduced to 10-men in the 95th-minute. The referee had awarded the Saints a free-kick and after several attempts to call over the offender to book him, the referee issued a second yellow and gave the player his marching orders.

The man-advantage came too late for the visitors as the referee brought the game to an end to confirm West’s passage to the Preliminary Round to face Barton Rovers away from home.