FA Cup: Sporting Bengal bow out in Suffolk
PUBLISHED: 18:04 05 August 2017
Hadleigh United 3 Sporting Bengal United 2
Sporting Bengal United saw their hopes of another FA Cup run end at the first hurdle as they lost their extra preliminary round tie to Thurlow Nunn League outfit Hadleigh.
Imrul Gazi’s men had progressed to the first qualifying round a year earlier, but were left up against it after a poor first half display in leafy Suffolk.
Less than a minute had been played when Kyron Andrews found space on the right to send in a deflected cross, which Denzel Kobia pushed unconvincingly on to his own crossbar, before Michael Barwick nodded in at the far post.
Oscar Mendes saw a speculative 20-yard effort spilled by Sam Mansfield at the other end soon after, with a heavy downpour less than an hour before the start having left the surface somewhat greasy.
And the home side were awarded a penalty on seven minutes when Josh Cheetham went down under the challenge of Kobia, as he looked to latch on to a pass into the box, and referee Chris Hastings pointed to the spot.
Hadleigh captain Ben Elliott stepped up to fire home from 12 yards and double his side’s lead, leaving Bengal with a mountain to climb in the remaining 83 minutes.
Andrews was spoken to by the official after a heavy challenge on Shiblu Miah on halfway, while the visitors were frustrated to see a promising move involving Codey Cameron and Mendes come to nothing.
Ash Veitch tried an audacious chip from fully 40 yards that dropped wide of the right post, but Bengal had a shout for a penalty when Moris Gelashvili went over the leg of Tom Driscoll, only to see their player booked for diving.
Hadleigh’s Brett Crisp escaped with just a warning after catching Mark Wheeler late and high on the edge of the visiting box, but there was no let-off for Bengal on 25 minutes as they conceded a third.
Wheeler was tackled when trying to dribble out of defence and Cheetham found Andrews in space in the inside-left channel to slot past Kobia.
Driscoll saw a low shot kept out by the legs of Kobia on 34 minutes, following another heavy rain shower, and Bengal were grateful to see Tino Tarawali tackle Barwick as he looked to fire home Veitch’s pass on a counter-attack.
The visitors were inches away from a reply, though, when Cameron bent a low cross into the box and a sliding Gelashvili got his studs on the ball at the far post.
But Bengal had to thank the woodwork on 40 minutes when Crisp played in Cheetham, after Freddy Tandon scuffed a clearance, and his effort, under pressure from Wheeler, hit the right post.
Mendes forced Mansfield to save with his legs moments later, with a well-struck low drive, but the visitors were struggling to impose themselves on the tie and Jack Lamb-Wilson’s booking for a tackle from behind on Andrews summed up their first half.
Rokib Choudhury replaced Gelashvili for the second half and Bengal went close to a goal on 50 minutes when Cameron’s curling free-kick was headed wide by an unmarked Wheeler at the far post, but Driscoll lifted a good chance over for Hadleigh, from Veitch’s lay-off on the edge of the box.
The visitors hit back just past the hour mark, though, as Miah’s persistence on the right created an opening for Ashaan Siddik to steer the ball under Mansfield from around eight yards.
But they were somewhat fortunate not to go down to 10 men when Lamb-Wilson was late into a tackle and was given a final warning by the referee, rather than a second yellow card.
Siddik was booked for a deliberate handball on halfway, before Mendes fired a free-kick straight into the wall and the rebound wide.
But Bengal were back within one goal when substitute Eaia Embalo sent a header from a right-wing free-kick inside the far post with 11 minutes remaining.
It set up a frantic finale, with the visitors suddenly showing a lot more belief and giving Hadleigh’s defence plenty to think about as a warm sun now shone in Suffolk.
But the hosts held on to bank the £1,500 prize money and book a trip to Hertford Town in the preliminary round in two weeks time, while Bengal was forced back to Mile End wondering what might have been.
Sporting Bengal: Kobia, Tarawali, Noble, Lamb-Wilson (Cowan 85), Tandon, Wheeler, Cameron (Embalo 70), Gelashvili (Rokib Choudhury 46), Mendes, Siddik, Miah. Unused subs: Carter, Chand, Rokun Choudhury.
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