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FA Cup with Budweiser First Round Qualifying Replay (Tuesday 17 September)
A display of style and panache for the ages heralded a glorious Cup Night on Tuesday as Chalfont laid waste to the dreams of their illustrious opponents in their FA Cup replay.
While there was a paucity of attacking intent in the original tie, both sides looked for every opportunity to shoot, in the knowledge that there had to be a winner. As early as the 8th minute an accurate cross from Remmel Clarke picked out John Carroll in front of goal and there ensued a melee on the Met goal line as shots rained in, some blocked by defenders, some inadvertently by Saints players before the ball was hacked clear.
On 14 minutes, with Met trying to push their backline higher upfield they were caught out by a sliderule through ball to Remmel Clarke and he was clear on goal at the edge of the area where he was scythed down by Gary MacDonald. Demands for a red card filled the air and it seemed to be the obvious outcome to all but the referee who preferred a yellow.
The momentum was clearly with Chalfont and with their opponents relying heavily on the strong clearing boot of their keeper, Chalfont had to be alert to the fast probings of the Met's wide men but the defence stood strong and resolute, with Gareth Paxton and Liam Fowler powerful in the centre and Kevin Ayodele and Ronanyne Marsh-Brown tenacious on the flanks.
Up front Danilson Vicente was a constant thorn to his much taller opponents and Romaine Walker was a constant handul down the left flank. The experienced Scott Fitzgerald bestrode the frontline with aplomb and was a constant threat and irritant to the home side.
Chalfont's growing dominance was knocked back on the half hour when Alex Paine, a terrier in midfield, went down with an injury and the holdup killed the momentum gained. He eventually had to make way for Luke Brooks-Smith.
Some sharp stops by Michael Power-Simpson meant he was the busier of the two keepers but Saints always looked the more likely and more confident side.
After some early substitutions following the restart by the Met, there was a frantic few minutes of yellow cards before substitute Josh Gallagher clattered into Scott Fitzgerald on 58 minutes and was shown a straight red card. Saints were unable to exploit their player advantage as Met continued to punt high balls trying to find Toby Alabi. On 78 minutes Met had their best chance but a sweeping shot by Charlie Collins was brilliantly saved with his feet by Power-Simpson.
Minutes later the breakthrough came after some good passing moves down the right saw the ball knocked back to Luke Brooks-Smith close to halfway and he delivered the perfect ball into the box for Scott Fitzgerald to rise above the defence to head magnificently past the helpless keeper.
The first goal in over 400 minutes for Chalfont but well worth the wait!
Games in the past have seen Saints wilt in the final minutes but this was a game in which the Saints were clearly the superior side and they more than deserved to hold out and celebrate their progression in the world's oldest cup tournament.
Their opponents in the next round, to be played on Saturday 28 September at Mill Meadow, are Lewes, currently unbeaten and 7th in the Ryman Premier.
Saints: Michael Power-Simpson, Kevin Ayodele, Ronayne Marsh-Brown, Gareth Paxton, Liam Fowler, John Carroll, Remmel Clarke, Alex Paine (Luke Brooks-Smith 37), Scott Fitzgerald, Danilson Vicente (Jordan Dowdican 88), Romaine Walker.
Attendance: 67 Star Player: Liam Fowler