Ryan Charles, Ryan Henshaw and Chris Harris score as Bishop's Stortford beat Cheshunt 3-1 to go second in Isthmian Premier
Bishop's Stortford avenged December's FA Trophy defeat by beating Cheshunt 3-1 at home on New Year's Day to go second in the Pitching In Isthmian League, Premier Division, writes Daniel Williamson.
The Blues, who are now 14 games unbeaten in the league, produced a magnificent first-half display to go into the break 3-0 up against the promotion rivals who had knocked them out of the Trophy on penalties.
And they survived a nervy final 10 minutes to claim the points as they climbed above their opponents in the standings as well as ending the Ambers' 16-game undefeated run in all competitions.
Steve Smith's men will look to continue their good form when they visit 16th-placed Potters Bar Town today (Monday January 3).
Stortford started energetically, with Ben Marlow pulling a shot just wide from the edge of the box after only 13 seconds.
The Blues dominated possession in the first 10 minutes and made the breakthrough with a beautiful goal in the 13th minute. The ball was played out wide to Jonny Giles, who cut inside and floated a cross to the unmarked Ryan Charles whose glancing header found the back of the net for his sixth goal of the season.
Giles was at the heart of every Stortford attack and bagged another assist as the Blues went 2-0 up after 25 minutes. He swung in a corner which found captain Ryan Henshaw, who towered above a defender to head in his first goal of the season and become the team's 13th different scorer of the campaign.
As the game progressed, Stortford grew in confidence, not giving Cheshunt any time on the ball and linking up exquisitely going forward. The Ambers were restricted to long-range efforts as Henshaw and his defence looked well-organised from the very start.
The Blues pulled further clear in the 38th minute. Goalkeeper Jack Giddens played a long ball forward, Charles flicked a header on and Chris Harris ran through on goal, used a great bit of skill to go around the keeper and rolled the ball into the empty net.
Cheshunt's only major first-half chance came just before the break. The ball fell nicely to Jamie Reynolds who looked certain to score, but Henshaw threw himself at the ball to deflect it over the bar with a heroic, goal-saving challenge.
Giles continued to lead Stortford's attacking moves in the second half, with his quick feet and high energy driving them up the pitch as the Ambers' backline was regularly cut open.
As the clock ticked on and the score remained the same, Cheshunt started to get frustrated and the substitutions made by both sides disrupted the flow of the game.
The Blues were reduced to 10 men when substitute James Thomas was forced to leave the pitch through injury and they had already made three changes.
The numerical advantage seemed to spur Cheshunt on and they pulled a goal back with five minutes to go. Taylor Miles, who had gone close with two long-range efforts in the first half, fired a thunderous 25-yard strike into the top right-hand corner.
The relentless Ambers caused problems in the closing stages, but the Blues held on to claim a deserved three points in front of their largest home crowd of the season of 606.
Blues (with player ratings): Giddens 7, Robbins 7, Henshaw 8, Giles 9*, Marlow 7 (James Thomas, 78min), Harris 8, Merrifield 7, Renee 7, Foxley 7 (Church, 69), Charles 8 (Allum, 81), Haines 7. Not used: Wallace, Baker.
Cheshunt: Marsh, Reynolds, McLean, Kassarate (booked, 70min), Gardiner, McKenzie, Beckles-Richards (Boadi, 65), Re (Ekongo, 54), Liburd, Miles, Newton (Camara, 65). Not used: Ojo, Taylor.