Giles and Cass double up as Bishop's Stortford kick off pre-season friendlies with 5-0 win over Woodford Town
Bishop’s Stortford’s first pre-season friendly of the new season – their first match in seven months – ended in an emphatic 5-0 win over Woodford Town on Tuesday evening.
Playing at Ware's Wodson Park ground due to pitch preparation issues at their R&D Advisors UK Stadium, the Blues opened the scoring on the stroke of half time through Frankie Merrifield, before Jonny Giles and Jake Cass both scored braces in the second half against the Essex Senior League side.
Steve Smith's Isthmian League Premier Division side made a fast start, with Merrifield and Jack Thomas both getting to the touchline on the left wing, but they could not produce a cross to find a team-mate. Merrifield’s cross a few minutes later from the right wing did find Chris Gregan’s head, but his effort bounced over the bar.
A high-energy, high-pressing style of play early on was epitomised by former Braintree Town and Leyton Orient midfielder Charley Barker nicking the ball from a Woodford defender, but his low effort was blocked behind for a corner, from which Anthony Church headed over.
Ryan Charles laid the ball off to Gregan on the edge of the box, but his shot was high and wide, before goalkeeper Jack Giddens was quick off his line to smother a through ball on the edge of the box. He quickly released Giles on the right wing with a long kick and the former Oxford United midfielder cut in onto his left foot and forced the keeper into a near-post save.
Merrifield slipped Barker in behind the defence with a perfect through ball, but his left-footed effort was off target, and Thomas headed inches wide from Giles’s corner.
As half-time neared, it seemed the Blues would have nothing to show for the numerous chances produced. But Merrifield found himself unmarked in the middle of the six-yard box from Giles’s corner and side-footed home in the last minute of the half.
Four changes were made to the Blues side at half-time, with club captain Ryan Henshaw, Jake Cass and two trialists taking to the field. In addition, chairman Ian Kettridge was tasked with running the line, with a Woodford Town member of staff doing so in the first period.
Having won a free kick in a good position, Giles struck it just wide from 25 yards, but from the next attack he did find the back of the net. After a smart turn to beat the defender, he curled it beautifully into the top left corner from the edge of the box in the 55th minute to spark a Blues three-goal blitz in the space of eight minutes.
Straight from the kick-off Cass rifled past the keeper from a tight angle after a mix-up in the Woodford defence to make it 3-0.
Giles’s second, in the 63rd minute, might have been better than his first, hitting with power into the roof of the net from 20 yards, and he could have had a hat-trick but for a full-length dive by the keeper to tip the next effort round the post.
Three academy players came on in the second half, with goalkeeper Connor Lee making a couple of great saves to preserve a clean sheet, tipping a powerful strike behind for a corner and getting a fingertip on an overhead kick effort to see the ball onto the crossbar, bounce on the line and Thomas clear the danger.
Cass found himself in space at the back post from Giles’s corner, only to see his header cannon back off the post, before the striker tried to go round the keeper to score but a poor touch allowed the keeper to recover. He had no such luck from the next attack though, as the keeper misjudged the speed of the ball, Cass caught him out and rifled it home into the empty net to wrap up the 5-0 victory.
The Blues’ next friendly promises to be a tougher test, travelling to National League South Braintree Town on Saturday.
1 Jack Giddens (Lee 70) 2 Trialist 4 Anthony Church (Wardle 62) 5 Mark Haines (c) (Sankey 62) 7 Ryan Charles (Trialist #15 46) 8 Charley Barker (Gardner 56) 10 Frankie Merrifield (Cass 46) 11 Jonny Giles 14 Jack Thomas 17 Chris Gregan (Trialist #6 46) 19 Trialist (Henshaw 46)
3 Ryan Henshaw 6 Trialist 9 Joe Gardner 12 Jake Cass 13 Connor Lee 15 Trialist 18 Charlie Wardle 20 Pat Sankey