Substitute Frankie Merrifield scores late winner as Bishop's Stortford come from two goals down to beat Brentwood Town in Buildbase FA Trophy, third qualifying round
Substitute Frankie Merrifield scored an 86th-minute winner as Bishop's Stortford came from two goals down to beat Brentwood Town 3-2 in the Buildbase FA Trophy on Wednesday night (November 4).
Tom Richardson and Archie Jones – the latter coming off the bench to open his account for the club – were also on target for the Blues in the rearranged third qualifying-round tie at the R&D Advisors UK Stadium following postponements on Saturday and Tuesday.
They are now 11 games unbeaten in all competitions and on a five-match winning streak.
Steve Smith's men will visit Pitching In Isthmian League, Premier Division rivals Haringey Borough in the first round proper, but no date has yet been set for that contest due to the suspension of non-elite football during the national lockdown.
Stortford do have one more game before the enforced shutdown, however, as they visit Brackley Town for their huge Emirates FA Cup, first-round clash on Saturday (November 7) after non-elite clubs were given permission to play. The game is being live streamed by the hosts .
Isthmian North side Brentwood, who lost 1-0 when they visited Stortford earlier in the season in the FA Cup second qualifying round, made a fast start as Andrew Freeman continued his fine form in front of goal with a near-post flick from Robbie Rees' low cross from the left to score his sixth goal in five games.
The Blues were forced into two early substitutions with injuries to Michael Mullings, who was making his first start for the club, and James Baker. Sam Robbins and Jones replaced them respectively.
Stortford goalkeeper Jack Giddens denied Robert Harvey before Sam Mvemba cleared the danger while, at the other end, Richardson went down in the box after a tackle. Referee Paul Stratton decided against giving a penalty.
Richardson then went close when he turned smartly and shot wide from a tight angle having been found by Darren Foxley.
Harvey skied a close-range tap-in off the crossbar from Rees' low cross, but the visitors did double their lead when Rees dribbled past Ryan Henshaw and picked out the top-left corner with a powerful strike from the edge of the box.
Stortford finished the first half well and reduced the arrears when Ben Marlow's cross was not cleared properly and Richardson smashed home from close range.
After the break, Rees skipped over a challenge from Robbins and saw his low cross cleared by Mark Haines before Richardson's half-volley was blocked by Joseph Heath and both Foxley and Jack Thomas fired over the bar.
Jones scored his first goal for the Blues to make it all square in the 63rd minute with a great right-footed effort that he curled into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Marlow put a half-volley attempt wide from Correy Davidson's cross before the Blues felt they should have had a penalty for a foul by Robert Swaine on Merrifield.
But the hosts did get the game's decisive fifth goal four minutes from time when Merrifield netted his eighth goal of the campaign with a diving header from Foxley's corner.
And Merrifield would have maintained his record of scoring only braces or hat-tricks this season but for a brilliant save by Oliver Bowles.
Blues: Giddens, Mullings (Robbins 20), Mvemba, Thomas, Henshaw, Davidson, Marlow, Richardson (Merrifield 62), Foxley, Baker (Jones 13), Haines. Not used: Johnson, Brown.
Brentwood: Bowles, Gray, Gould, Swaine, Heath, Reid (Love 68), Ngandu, Harvey, Freeman, Rees, Dickinson (Ogunleye 79). Not used: Bacon, Hogan.