Ryan Charles hits late winner as Bishop's Stortford beat Histon to complete unbeaten pre-season
Ryan Charles struck an 83rd-minute winner as Bishop's Stortford completed an unbeaten pre-season campaign by defeating Histon 3-2 on Saturday.
The man nicknamed Spider added to Jamie Cureton's brace as Blues saw off their former Conference rivals at the ProKit UK Stadium.
It was a fourth victory in seven friendly outings for Stortford, who begin the new BetVictor Isthmian League, Premier Division campaign at home to Bognor Regis Town on Saturday (August 10).
With the scheduled referee ill and unable to make the game, one of the assistant referees took his place and Stortford chairman Ian Kettridge ran the line.
Kettridge is a vastly experienced referee himself and picked up a prize for 20 years of exemplary service at last week's Essex FA Awards Evening.
It took just 116 seconds for Cureton to open the scoring for Blues as he coolly knocked the ball home at the back post after a superb cross from Aaron Greene.
Within five minutes Histon were level, as Evan Key – the son of Stutes manager Lance – rose above the home defence to head home.
Barely a minute later, in a frantic first part of the match, Stortford restored their lead as an unmarked Cureton latched onto a loose ball to fire into the top of the net.
The impressive Greene was forced to leave the action shortly afterwards with a knee injury as he twisted to put another teasing cross into the box.
The visitors levelled again in the 21st minute as Blues' defence was static, allowing Buster Harradine to fire past Fred Burbidge from close range.
Stortford skipper Sam Robbins went close and Cureton was agonisingly denied a first-half hat-trick as he fired Johnville Renee's cross over the bar before also seeing an effort cleared off the line.
Luke Callander was unlucky not to put the hosts back in front just before the break as he broke free in the box before firing wide. The striker became the second Stortford player to leave the action as he was replaced by Olly Miles.
Renee twice went close for Blues early in the second half, seeing one effort flash wide and another blocked.
As the game looked set to peter out for a draw, the hosts snatched the win seven minutes from time.
Ben Sampayo's superb through ball split the Stutes' defence and Charles perfectly chipped Dylan Pierce to earn the victory.
Blues: Burbidge, Sampayo, Renee, Thomas, Robbins, Henshaw, Charles, Warman, Cureton (Nazor 57), Callander (Miles 46), Greene (Lowe 14). Attendance: 128.