London Senior Trophy Quarter Final
FC Elmstead 3-2 Balham B
Tuesday 18th May 2021, 7:45 PM @ Lower Road, Sutton Athletic FC
Charlie Bradford reports for Non League Chronicles
After losing their manager Ennio Gonnella around 10 days prior to the fixture and with FC Elmstead not having played a home game for nearly six months, it was no surprise that Balham B created the first chance of the game when their number 5 came up with a header at the back post following a free kick from the right which was straight at Elmstead’s goalkeeper.
Elmstead went even closer five minutes later when a corner from the left-hand side found the head of their number 11 at the front post. With his header goal bound, Balham B somehow managed to keep the ball out following a goal line clearance and scrambled the ball away from danger in the process.
Ten minutes later however and FC Elmstead did manage to take the lead when a cross from the right was chested down by Elmstead’s number 5 (Briggs Ojemen) in the box, with the ball cushioned nicely for him to slot the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.
Balham’s number 7 impressed all game and he went close to getting an instant equaliser three minutes later when a jinking run down the right wing eventually saw him make his way to the edge of Elmstead’s box and his left footed effort curled high and wide.
Elmstead had a guilt edge chance to double their lead in the 31st minute when their number 9 got slipped through but he somehow missed the target with his effort with the goal at his mercy. Geed up by this, Balham went close themselves when their number 11 fired a shot just past the left post from the edge of the box and their number 17 shooting from around 15 yards out which forced Elmstead’s goalkeeper into making a good save.
Elmstead doubled their lead in the 41st minute when their number 8 (Bethel Gboda) went on a mazy run which saw him take the ball past two Balham defenders to leave him one on one with Balham’s custodian, and he coolly rounded him before slotting the ball into the bottom left of the unguarded net in a well taken goal.
Balham took just seven minutes of the second half to grab themselves a lifeline in the game when their number 7 turned Elmstead’s left back inside out before producing a shot from the left edge of the box which rocketed into the top right hand corner. Was the comeback on?!
Three minutes after having their deficit cut in half, Elmstead’s number 9 was played through over the top. Realising that Balham’s goalkeeper was off his line, he went for a lobbed finish from 25 yards out and, with his effort goal bound, Balham’s number 3 came up with a miraculous clearance to stop the ball from going in from his own goal line, volleying the ball away and to safety.
Two minutes later still and Elmstead did have the ball in the back of the net when Elmstead’s number 7 had a shot from the edge of the box which Balham’s goalkeeper saved but only into the path of Elmstead’s 7 for an easy tap-in. However, the eagle eyed assistant referee judged Elmstead’s number 7 to be offside and the goal was therefore chalked off.
Following Balham B’s number 12 stabbing a cross at Elmstead’s goalkeeper from six yards out and Balham’s number 7 having a shot under pressure saved wide for a corner, they equalised in the 72nd minute when a shot from the edge of the box by Balham’s number 7 found the bottom left-hand corner despite Elmstead’s goalkeeper getting finger tips to the ball to set up a grandstand last 20 or so minutes!
Balham B went close to taking the lead in the 75th minute when neat work from their number 11 saw him cut in off the left and his shot was well saved by Elmstead’s goalkeeper round the post.
With the game seemingly heading to a penalty shootout, Elmstead should have won the game in the fifth minute of stoppage time when their number 9 had the ball come his way following a low cross from the right. He then proceeded to jink inside Balham’s covering defender to leave himself a shot with just the goalkeeper to beat but he somehow ballooned the ball over the bar, missing a sitter in the process.
However, a minute later still and Elmstead got the winner in the game when the ball was played out to the right wing and Elmstead’s number 11 (Kyle Beckford) and he took aim from the right side of the box which went underneath the Balham goalkeeper’s dive and into the back of the net. A 96th minute winner – cue celebrations amongst players and management team alike!
FC Elmstead go on to play last year’s runners up AFC Cubo in the semi finals whereas the other semi final is an all Southern Counties East Football League Division 1 affair between Forest Hill Park and Bridon Ropes, meaning three of the four sides left are from the SCEFL Division 1.
MOTM: Balham B’s number 7 for a brace of goals and a good all round display.