Road to Wembley 17/18: Preliminary Round

Ilford 1-1 Haverhill Borough

Back on the local bus to Cricklefield Stadium for Ilford’s battle with the Thurlow Nunn Premier League side Haverhill Borough (I’ll save you looking it up, it’s an hour’s bus from Cambridge, and one of the top 30 towns in England without a train station).

Whatever football game in whichever league you’re watching, you can tell the difference between an opening game, and a few games down the line. You get to know each other’s game more, and it really showed here. Ilford had had Haverhill watched twice beforehand and it looked like Haverhill were going to have more luck breaking into the Bank of England than breaking Ilford’s offside trap. The linesman was in danger of getting cramp.

On 35 minutes, a kind of magic. The best goal I ever saw was Mick Walsh’s 1975 goal of the season past Jim Montgomery (it’s on youtube) and if you substitute left foot for right foot, that’s what Campbell conjured up here. A chase down the left wing, a stop, a transfer to the right foot, and a 20 yard curler to the top corner. Magnificent.

Haverhill never surrendered for a second, and Hawley finally breached the offside trap (either an outwards slice, or a fluke, only he knows) and we were level at the break.

To the second half, and with the wind at their backs, Haverhill sensed a winner. The Ilford keeper needing to be alert at all times with some fine parries. Ilford captain Szajewski was booked for swearing at the linesman, and for reasons only known to him, then decided to do it again. Off. Yet for all that, Ilford’s 10 men were reasonably comfortable for the last 20 minutes, bar the very last kick of the game from Haverhill missing the target by a lick of paint.

So it’s a Tuesday night replay for these two, and I wouldn’t like to predict a winner with any confidence.

Our thank to Joe Gibney. Follow him on Twitter.

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