EGHAM TOWN 2 ST IVES TOWN 2 AET (2-4 on penalties)
By Tempest Ward
SARNIES FALL JUST SHORT IN PLAY-OFF
EVO-STIK SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL
TUESDAY 29 APRIL 2016
EGHAM TOWN 2 (1)
BAJRAM PASHAJ (9) CHRIS MOORE (52)
ST IVES TOWN 2 (1)
OWN GOAL (29) BEN SEYMOUR-SHOVE (54)
SCORE AFTER EXTRA TIME 2-2 : PENALTIES – ST IVES WON 4-2
Egham Town will not be promoted this season. That is the harsh aftermath of this loss on penalties to a dogged St Ives Town team who levelled twice but who were, I am sure most observers would agree, second best for the majority of this highly entertaining encounter.
The victors will face AFC Rushden & Diamonds at home on Bank Holiday Monday after the phoenix club won 2-1 at Royston Town. Egham had finished the season in third place to Royston’s second and the pair had shared a 1-1 draw at Royston’s Garden Walk ground on Saturday. Perhaps that eventful match took more than was realised out of them after a very tense and close-run season finale.
With the lively and skilful Goldy Capela fit again he started up front alongside the experienced Chris Moore, while Bajram Pashaj did what he does, superbly, down the left. After only 8 minutes he gave the Sarnies the lead as he took Callum Webb’s crossfield pass in his stride, skipped past a challenge and rifled the ball beyond Saints keeper Tim Trebes. Capela had a shot blocked by Charlie Beath and Kurtney Brooks and Elliott Carey had efforts that looped over the bar. Egham were lively, playing well and looked to be in charge, then Moore mishit a pass meant for Pashaj, Saints surged upfield and from a low cross the ball was diverted past keeper Jamie Norris by centre back Reece Yorke. After 36 minutes a driven cross by Pashaj was just too strong for Moore to head in at the near post. Home sentiment was largely along the lines of us needing to have done more with our possession.
Seconds after the restart Norris made a decent save from Phil Draycott, and had to do so again from Danny Watson as the Saints made a strong start. Five minutes later Egham were ahead. Pashaj took a free kick that bamboozled keeper Trebes, who could not hold the ball, which ran loose. It seemed as if everyone stopped. Yours truly shouted out something similar to “Bury the blessed thing” and Moore duly obliged, from close range, with the Saints’ defence static. There was nothing static about the reply. Two minutes later the Egham defence was pushed back and Ben Seymour-Shove fired an angled shot in for 2-2. Capela was replaced by Chris Henry, who looked considerably livelier than when he came on at Royston. Pashaj tried to fashion a goal identical to the one he scored at home against Royston, cutting in from the left and curling a shot in, but even though he beat the keeper, centre half Beath headed off the line. Half chances came and went for Henry, full back Hassan Sulaiman, and Brendan Matthew once he had replaced Webb. From Matthew’s first run he drew a foul, and Pashaj saw his dipping free kick punched over the bar by Trebes.
With nothing separating the sides in 90 minutes it went to extra time, which was just two minutes gone when Norris had to make a fine save from Steven Gentle’s low shot after a free kick. That was about it for the first period, and in the second Pashaj was denied again by Trebes.
Then came penalties. Two names were guaranteed to be takers, Pashaj and Matthew. Unfortunately Pashaj’s effort, after Andrew Phillips had beaten Norris with the first spot kick, was underhit and Trebes saved easily. Saints’ Draycott converted, Matthew made it 1-2 then Norris saved Luis Vieira’s kick. Chris Henry’s kick squirted over the line after being only partially blocked by Trebes, making it 2-2 then Gentle scored, Moore failed and Watson succeeded.
It is easy to say it is a hard way to lose any match, but had Egham won on penalties no Sarnie would have given a tinker’s cuss. [There might be a better way, perhaps a mini-league table of how sides in the places 2-5 did against each other, which would make every match against fellow promotion hopefuls even more important. The “winners” could be promoted as runners-up (it is not always going to be the side in second place after the end of the regulation season) or they could play against the runners-up in this mini-league. It is late, my team have just lost the most important game in their history and I am tired.] It has been an interesting, exciting, frustrating season. It is an historic one too; third at this level far exceeds any previous season’s end placing. We have seen some fabulous football from Egham Town, and some dross, and I have made no bones about saying so, good or bad, because that is what I do. I prefer to write nice things because it means we are winning. Under Gary Meakin the Sarnies firmly believe that with a good pre-season, shrewd recruitment where needed and his expertise allied with that of his management team we can do even better in season 2016 – 2017.
EGHAM TOWN: Jamie Norris, Hassan Sulaiman, Ryan Parsons, Reece Yorke, Luke Neville (Captain), Kurtney Brooks, Callum Webb, Elliott Carey, Chris Moore, Goldy Capela, Bajram Pashaj. Substitutes: Ryan Phillips, Ollie Jones (Carey, (ET 14), Chris Henry (Capela, 59), Brendan Matthew (Webb, 82) James Reading.