Frankie Merrifield and Jake Cass score as Bishop's Stortford draw with Bowers & Pitsea in Pitching In Isthmian League, Premier Division
Bishop's Stortford still await their first league win of the season after being held to a frustrating 2-2 home draw by Bowers & Pitsea on bank holiday Monday, writes Mike Plume.
Steve Smith's men dominated for long periods against the Pitching In Isthmian League, Premier Division's bottom side at the R&D Advisors UK Stadium, but were unable to grab a winner despite a late onslaught and had to settle for a share of the spoils.
The home side got off to the best possible start, taking the lead in the fifth minute when Jake Cass rose on the edge of the area to flick into the path of Frankie Merrifield, who beat the opposition keeper to the ball and calmly fired home from 15 yards.
Jack Giddens was called into action to bravely claw away at the feet of the pacey Quentin Monville when well positioned in the area, but the Blues remained firmly in control and went close to a second when Aaron Greene stole the ball down the left-hand side and smartly centred to Cass, whose turn and shot forced a good near-post save from R'avan Constable.
The Blues suffered a major blow in the 38th minute when Greene, in possession of the ball, collapsed to the turf having snapped his Achilles tendon. The visitors, unaware of the serious nature of the injury, collected the loose ball and moments later drew level with Lewis Manor curling home via the inside of the post from 18 yards.
Stortford were reeling from the shock of Greene's injury and almost fell behind before half time with Jamie Dicks' fizzing 30-yard effort rattling the crossbar, with Mark Haines doing well to clear the danger from the rebound.
It was a largely quiet start to the second period, though Thomas Stephen did well to head away at the back post with Anthony Church looking set to head home a cross from substitute Bobby Unwin.
Bowers took the lead in the 63rd minute when a fine cross from Dan Trendall was met by the head of imposing striker Manor for his second of the afternoon.
Blues were back on level terms immediately from the kick off, however, with Haines hammering a long ball forward towards Merrifield who was flattened by a mistimed leap from keeper Constable and referee Karl Sear immediately pointed to the spot.
After Merrifield received treatment, Cass took responsibility for the spot kick and drilled home a confident 66th-minute penalty which went in off the right-hand upright to restore parity.
Only one team looked likely to win the game as the Blues went on the offensive, with Constable in action again in the 72nd minute to brilliantly deny Church after a smart cut-back from Merrifield.
Southend Utd loanee Unwin was causing all kinds of trouble down the left-hand side, firing in a low cross that the Bowers stopper spilled, but the ball was scrambled clear before Cass could pounce.
Jonny Giles sent a number of testing late deliveries into the box, with the Blues even adding the returning Ryan Henshaw into the attacking fray to try to grab a late winner, but the visitors clung on.
Blues: Giddens, Church, Robbins, Giles, Wallace (Henshaw 90min), Cass, Merrifield, Greene (Unwin 41), Thomas (Jones 76), Haines, Chandler. Not used: Allum, Gardner.
Bowers & Pitsea: Constable, Bentley, Stephen, Norton, Leahy, Monville, Manor, Dicks, Trendall (Peart 90), Ademiluyi (Albon 90), White. Not used: Guest, Millar, Braney.