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Bishop’s Stortford wind up pre-season programme with a win over Coggeshall Town

Frankie Merrifield scored his fifth goal in five appearances as Bishop's Stortford concluded pre-season with a 2-1 win at home to Coggeshall Town on Friday (August 6).

Merrifield converted the rebound after his first-half penalty was saved and captain Ryan Henshaw powered home a header early in the second half before the Isthmian League North Division visitors pulled one back.

The Blues gave a start at left back to new signing Archie Edwards, 24, a former England youth international who came through the ranks at Charlton Athletic, while Anthony Church deputised in central defence for Mark Haines.

They made only two substitutions, in the second half, signalling that Friday's starting XI will be very close to manager Steve Smith's preferred line-up when their Pitching In Isthmian League Premier Division campaign begins on Saturday (August 14) away to Bognor Regis Town, before they host Kingstonian at the R&D Advisors UK Stadium on August 21.

On Friday it was Coggeshall who went closest to opening the scoring when their No 10's volley from the edge of the box hit the angle of post and bar.

Blues' Jonny Giles was a threat from set-pieces throughout the match, and his first corner was a brilliant inswinger towards the keeper, but it was too close to him and he caught it.

Merrifield received the ball on the edge of the box in the next attack, after some clever wing play from Giles, but his shot was wide.

However, the in-form striker opened the scoring in the 26th minute when his penalty, awarded for a foul by the goalkeeper, was saved but he followed in quickly to convert the rebound.

Strike partner Jake Cass and Merrifield both missed from close range from Giles’ cross soon after, when it looked easier to score, before the visitors had their best chance to equalise, when their No 10 beat three defenders in the box but fired over from six yards.

Blues keeper Jack Giddens was called into action early in the second half, down quickly to his right to deny Coggeshall's No 4.

Henshaw doubled the lead in the 57th minute with a powerful header from Giles’ cross, with the keeper beaten to his right despite a full-length dive.

The Seed Growers’ goalkeeper let the ball slip through his gloves and behind from Giles’ long-range effort. From the corner, Merrifield flicked it on at the front post and Henshaw miscued wide.

Cass volleyed wide from Merrifield’s cross, before Coggeshall won a penalty when Church fouled the No 10, who stepped up and saw his spot kick saved by Giddens, but scored at the second time of asking.

Henshaw had two shots from the edge of the box blocked before Cass forced the Coggeshall keeper into two smart saves as the Blues pushed for a third. At the other end, Giddens produced a brilliant low save from close range to deny No 10 an equaliser.

Blues ended their six-match pre-season programme with three wins, a draw and two defeats, scoring 13 and conceding 11.

Blues: Giddens, Gardner, Edwards, Thomas, Church, Henshaw (c), Giles, Jones (Allum 73), Cass, Merrifield, Greene (Sankey 61).

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