Road to Wembley 17/18: 1st Qualifying Round


Colney Heath 3-0 Cockfosters

Things are getting very familiar at Colney Heath now. A third home draw in this year’s competition and this time it was against league rivals Cockfosters who are based only 10 miles away.

In the build-up to the game I was expecting a tighter affair than the previous encounter with Shortwood especially as the winner would be breaking the record for their best ever FA Cup run, and Colney Heath haven’t beaten Cockfosters at home in 10 years!

Slightly different rituals either side of the match this round as were staying in a hotel a few miles down the road due to rumours of some questionable Karaoke skills in the bar after the game. We still couldn’t miss out on a great lunch though at the Crooked Billet before the game, and sitting out in the beer garden as the weather started to look like the most promising we have had yet on our journey.

Before the game itself the Colney Heath team seemed confident that if they played to their capabilities, then they should have enough to get themselves through to the next round. They had a good start on just 7 minutes where Spencer Clarke-Mardel received a low cross near the penalty spot with his back to goal, got it under control, swivelled and sent the ball high into the Cockfosters net to score his second goal of this season competition and give the home team an encouraging start.

Only 6 more minutes passed when Colney Heath got their second goal after the Cockfosters goalkeeper, Dario Zavagno found himself in a sticky situation about 25 yards in front of his own goal. He received the ball with seemingly no issues before being well pressured by Lee Armitt who went on to steal the ball, gain control and then simply pass the ball into the open goal from the edge of the area.

Cockfosters did have a good chance to pull one back almost immediately after the restart with a shot from inside the area without much pressure but it went sailing over the bar and never had Harry Smart in the Colney goal troubled.

Just before half time Lee Armitt again found himself bearing down on goal after keeping off the last defender, he then went on to put a sublime chip over the goalkeeper to give him his second of the game.

A 3-0 lead at half time meant that it would take a dramatic change in fortunes on both sides for Colney Heath to miss out on the 2nd Qualifying round and I got the idea that both sides knew it. Having said that it did take a last ditch clearance on 70 minutes from Sam Doolan to stop Cockfosters pulling one back.

So the game went on to finish 3-0 to the Magpies and this would be the third time I have come away thinking the away side didn’t offer too much, but I can’t help but feel that this has to be down to the Colney Heath tactics which have led to 3 consecutive FA Cup clean sheets.

After the game it turned out that the Karaoke rumours were true with everyone joining in, the Chairman, manager, players and even us on the Road to Wembley got roped in. It went on to be a great night of celebration before the draw on Monday which has produced a 4th home tie! This time to step 3 Burgess Hill Town, where the pressure will be on after a 1-0 win in the 1st game, 2-0 in the 2nd game and 3-0 in the 3rd, surely a 4-0 win in the 4th may be too much. We’ll just have to wait and see but I’m looking forward to my return already!

Our thanks to Jack Debbage. Follow his Road to Wembley on Twitter!

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