Frankie Merrifield scores a hat-trick as Bishop's Stortford beat Enfield Town 4-1 in Isthmian League, Premier Division
Frankie Merrifield scored a hat-trick as Bishop's Stortford made it back-to-back Pitching In Isthmian League, Premier Division wins with a 4-1 home success against Enfield Town on Tuesday night (September 29).
Substitute Tom Richardson also scored for Blues, who had beaten Hornchurch 1-0 at home on Saturday to claim their first league win of 2020, as they continued their unbeaten start to the campaign. They are fourth in the table with seven points from three games, two behind leaders Bowers & Pitsea, Cray Wanderers and Worthing.
Steve Smith's team next host Brentwood Town in the Emirates FA Cup, second qualifying round on Saturday (October 3) before entertaining Folkestone Invicta in the league on Tuesday (October 6).
Straight from the kick-off Enfield were on the front foot, winning a corner with the first attack and Ryan Henshaw needed to clear a dangerous cross by Jonathan Muleba from the right. Correy Davidson got in down the left for the Blues and played the ball inside to Archie Jones who switched it to Darren Foxley, but the through ball was intercepted.
Muleba beat Sam Mvemba and was again allowed to cross, but this time Stortford goalkeeper Jack Giddens commanded his area and collected the loose ball.
Davidson whipped in a left-wing free kick towards Henshaw at the back post and his nod down found Ben Marlow, but it was cleared before he could shoot.
Cutting in from the right, Foxley tried a low effort which Nathan MacDonald got down well to save, before another teasing cross by Muleba from the right found Giddens' gloves at the other end.
Enfield captain Mark Weatherstone gave away a clumsy penalty when he and Merrifield were jumping for the ball, with referee Jack Willmore deciding Weatherstone had pushed the Blues striker to gain an advantage. Richardson, who scored twice from the spot to earn a draw against Bognor Regis Town earlier in the season, was on the bench so it was down to Merrifield to take the spot kick and he rifled it in straight down the middle.
There was almost an instant response from the visitors as Perry Kiangabeni connected well with a half-volley on the edge of the box, but Giddens was equal to it and got down well to save.
Merrifield's second goal came just minutes later. Weatherstone was involved again as his clearance from Marlow's cross fell to Jones in the box and he unselfishly found Merrifield in space for a tap-in.
Jones would have had another assist had Davidson's shot from the edge of the box been the other side of the woodwork.
And the Blues were punished for missing chances as Lyle Della-Verde caught Giddens out at his near post, curling the ball in from the right wing to halve the deficit.
With the wind in their sails, the away side would have equalised had Davidson not acrobatically cleared off the line before Giddens parried the rebound for a corner.
The Blues came out on the offensive after the interval. Davidson had a shot blocked before Henshaw tried to catch MacDonald off his line with a chip from the half-way line, but the keeper backtracked and tipped it over the bar.
From the resulting corner came Merrifield's third. Foxley whipped the ball in and the man in form did the rest, nodding home from a yard out.
He was soon replaced by Richardson, who was a different prospect for the visiting defence to deal with. He got his head on the first cross that came in from Marlow but could only put it wide, before Henshaw made a smart clearance at the other end with Weatherstone waiting to tap in behind him.
Good high pressure from Enfield saw Giddens make a mistake with a clearance, kicking it straight to Della-Verde, but Mvemba recovered brilliantly to get a tackle in.
A lot of Blues' chances also came from a high press, with Enfield happy to play it out from the back, and they were nearly the architects of their own downfall as Marlow won the ball high up and forced MacDonald into a diving save before Jones won a corner on the rebound.
And Stortford scored their fourth goal of the night when Marlow chased down a clearance by Henshaw into the right channel and crossed to Richardson for a tap-in.
A teasing wide free kick was claimed by Giddens before Stortford substitute Aaron Greene's attempted chip over MacDonald was saved. Another attempted chip was misjudged, this time by Richardson who was advancing on Marlow's through ball.
There was a late cameo for Michael Mullings, who came off the bench to make his competitive debut for the Blues. Slotting in at right-back he was calm on the ball, strong in tackles and did exactly what was required at that stage of the game.
It could, and possibly should, have been more than four for the Blues given the flurry of late chances they had.
Marlow missed an open goal from a similar position to where Richardson scored, with the striker turning provider. Greene then fired wide after Richardson's hold-up and through ball, before the final attack saw him shoot just wide of the far post from a tight angle.
Captain Henshaw had got the only goal of the game when Stortford overcame Hornchurch three days previously to end their run of 12 league matches without a win stretching back to December.
Blues: Giddens, Mvemba, Thomas, Robbins, Henshaw (Mullings 76), Davidson, Marlow, Merrifield (Richardson 53), Jones, Foxley (Greene 69), Haines. Not used: Boachie, Smith.
Enfield Town: MacDonald, Muleba (Mubiayi 69), McLeod-Urquhart, Thomas, Weatherstone, Gyebi, Small, Kiangabeni (Blackman 64), Bricknell, Youngs, Della-Verde (Asare-Beoiako 69). Not used: Pepera, Taaffe.