West Essex 4 St Panteleimon 2
Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Friday 6th August
West Essex started life at their new Wadham Lodge home with an intriguing FA Cup tie against St Panteleimon, who having risen up the Intermediate ranks, were now about to embark on their first ever FA Cup campaign. It had the hallmarks for being a classic – and that is exactly what the bumper crowd of 275 witnessed as both teams played fast, attacking football that was entertaining to watch.
The West didn’t take too long to settle into their new home as they took the lead in the 3rd minute. A cross into the box was hooked into the net by Demetris Frangeskides, who definitely scored West Essex’s first goal at their new home. It is quite possible he also scored the first goal in this season’s FA Cup campaign.
But in all honesty it didn’t look like the visitors were going to take long to get back into thee contest. After going a goal down they started to press and they also played the ball around nicely, looking to make opening for their forwards. On 13 minutes Guilherme Monti picked out Alexander Michaelides who drilled his shot beyond Jack Coker and into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
The Saints continued putting their hosts under pressure and Courtney Massay almost gave the Cherry Red Combined Counties League outfit the lead after he found himself some space to rifle off a shot that skimmed the top of West Essex’s crossbar. A lucky escape for the hosts.
But then a moment later the hosts were again on the front foot, winning a free kick which was then sublimely curled into the top corner by Callum Bloss.
Just like the previous time they conceded, St Panteleimon just picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and then tore back into their hosts. Brad Gilmaney sped down the right wing, cut inside and put in a dangerous cross that went into the side-netting, with several visiting players claiming the ball had been handled in the box. The referee didn’t entertain any of that, so the visitors retaliated by setting off on another dangerous move that ended with Massay delivering a fine cross to the back post, however while Jayden Silcott Brown may have been handily placed, his final shot was blazed over the bar; a glorious chance wasted, much to the relief of the West Essex fans.
The home fans didn’t have to wait too long to see their club on the front foot. A string of crosses found their way whistling across the visiting goalmouth, however Bloss could only cannon a free kick into the wall on 33 minutes.
St Panteleimon went on to win a succession of corners, the best of which was played short to Monti who had a shot parried by Coker, then the ball bobbled about ominously around the West Essex box, finally falling to Monti who this time placed his shot wide.
The hosts had the final chance of a thoroughly entertaining first half when Manaj got down to tip away Moyo Ajibade’s low shot, with the rebound being drilled wide by Sanchez Hardy.
West were able to create a chance almost straight from the re-start as Michael Morris laid off Cameron Gray, but Manaj was equal to the shot and saved it.
However West Essex increased their lead in the 52nd minute when a ball over the top left the visiting defence exposed, and that allowed Ajibade to rush in, round the keeper and then slot the ball home.
The expected response from the Saints duly came two minutes later, resulting in Javonne Molloy being felled in the box, which brought no response from the referee and in fact triggered a bit of pushing and shoving which was soon contained, although amazingly no cards were produced.
With St Panteleimon miffed at not getting a penalty meant that they raised the tempo and they won a free kick in the 60th minute. From it they were able to pull one back as Michaelides delivered a low shot that squeezed past Coker and his left hand post.
Another heart in mouth moment was then experienced by the West Essex fans as Brad Gilmaney had a go from the right-hand side of the box which was only marginally too high, just failing to dip underneath Coker’s crossbar and landing on the roof of the net.
Then a West Essex counter-attack was unceremoniously ended when Molloy scythed Samraj Gill down. Free kick awarded, but the referee again decided not to take any further action on what had looked to this reporter to be a very cynical foul and worthy of at least a yellow.
The hosts closed the show in the 85 minute when Bloss turned and thumped a fierce shot past Manaj to send Wadham Lodge into raptures.
To their credit St Panteleimon again rallied but by now West Essex knew that victory was only minutes away and so tightened up at the back and that meant the visitors were unable to test Coker any further. However West Essex ended up finishing the game with only ten men after Ajibade was shown a yellow card for a foul, which resulted in the West Essex player having a few harsh words with the referee which resulted in the red card then being produced. That perhaps took a bit of shine away from the game, which had been frantic, full of action and saw both teams score some pretty amazing goals. All in all a classic Cup game, which now sees West Essex move on to meet Barton Rovers in the Preliminary Round in two weeks time.
West Essex: Jack Coker, Sam McNally (Joel Lamb 36′), Emmanuel Oluwole (Nick Walk 70′), Olisheh Okugano, Demetris Frangeskides (Symeon Taylor 65′), Callum Bloss, Cameron Gray, Reece Clarke (Capt), Moyo Ajibade, Samraj Gill.
Scorers – Demetris Frangeskides (3′), Callum Bloss (23′, 85′), Moyo Ajibade (52′).
St. Panteleimon: Donald Manaj, Nico Campbell (Capt), Michael Frangeskou (Ahmed Doukhi 55′), Addison Garnett, Guilherme Monti (Youssef Bouimane 78′), Javonne Malloy, Brad Gilmaney, Alexander Michaelides, Noyan Tajbakhsh, Courtney Massay, Jayden Silcott Brown (Roberto Katsikas 55′).
Scorer – Alexander Michaelides (13′, 60′).