Enfield FC v Sporting Bengal United – 15 January 2019

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Enfield FC v Sporting Bengal United

As the cold spread to my unmentionables I looked around to see how the rest of the crowd were coping with the January chill. To my surprise, I was the only person watching the game on the far side of Harlow Town’s modern ground – the side that on another night would be filled with Hawks fans singing about Poundland or the Woodford Towners. For this evening at least I was a groundhopping nomad wandering the terraces alone.

It was a fairly appropriate feeling considering I was finally watching the third team that call The Harlow Arena home, although technically they are the second as they were there before Woodford. Enfield FC, like Woodford, are using the ground as a safe haven while they explore other options in the hope to one day return to London and their home boroughs. Enfield’s opponents tonight were Sporting Bengal United, the surprising promotion challengers who were just experiencing a dip in form.

Score: 2-2
Competition: Essex Senior Leagu
Ground: The Harlow Arena
Attendance: 30ish
Ticket: £6
Programme: £1.50
Refreshments: £2 (two teas)
Dogs spotted: none

Who are ya, Enfield FC?

Enfield 1893 FC, to give them their full name, or the E’s as they are also know, are the the phoenix club that rose from the flames of the famous old Enfield FC. The club was founded in 2007 following the creation of the supporters owned Enfield Town, and then the demise of the original club. After a long struggle to remove the club from the financial burden of the former owner’s businesses the new club entered the Essex Senior League where they remain today.

The E’s played in Hertfordshire for their first three seasons at Ware and then Broxbourne. They performed well early on finishing as runners up in both of their first two seasons followed by a fourth place finish. In 2010 they merged with Brimsdown Rovers and moved into their ground. Back in their home borough they immediately won the Essex Senior League. Sadly, they were unable to move up into the Isthmian League due to ground grading requirements.

The missed promotion was a big blow for the club. Many members of that side left and the E’s began to mutate into a midtable side. They went close again in 2014, the same year they moved to Harlow, with a third-place finish, but recent seasons have seen them finish 16th, 20th, 18th and 9th.

Enfield FC v Sporting Bengal United
Enfield pressure the Sporting Bengal defence

Enfield Revival?

This season has been another campaign of consolidation for the E’s. The team photo from the start of the season only contained 13 players but they are safely in mid-table once more, comfortably ahead of the unpredictable relegation battle. During November and December when the cup competitions kicked in they went on a run of nine defeats in 11 games. They have, however, appeared to have turned a corner recently. They won both games either side of the Christmas break and beat Stanway Rovers in their last outing. A 3-2 defeat to St Margaretsbury was the only loss during that run.

This evening’s visitors Sporting Bengal United, however, have seen their form head in the opposite direction.They’ve lost three of their last four games as well as falling behind in the very competitive race for promotion at the top of the Essex Senior League table. They’re currently eighth but have played a couple of games more than the teams around them.

Sporting’s dip in form has largely coincided with the loss of forward players Steven Carvell and Jay Knight. Both left the club for Basildon United who were looking to revive their Isthmian North Division season. It didn’t work out for the pair as Basildon continued to lose and bot declared themselves as free-agents in the New Year. Carvell has returned to the club while Knight has now joined Redbridge.

Enfield FC v Sporting Bengal United
Sporting Bengal try and find an equaliser

Sporting recover to share points

It was quite a relief to head up to this sleepy corner of Harlow following a peculiar day of one non-league club publishing a 1,400-word essay on Brexit and another trying to help their manager recoup 2,000 lost contacts from his phone. Midweek football is largely the province of cup matches at the moment meaning this league meeting with the potential to move either side a few places up the table had partially faded into the background.

There was quite a lively start to the game despite it feeling a little like a friendly. The crowd was fairly low. Maybe because of the cold or maybe everyone was staying in the enjoy the Brexit [second and final mention] vote. Both sides looked like they had plenty going forward. The hosts came the closest in the opening exchanges as Jordan Williams fired a shot from distance against the crossbar

It was then a fairly equal game with neither side able to find enough quality in the final third to take the lead. Alone on the far side of the pitch, I began to wonder if this might be my first 0-0 of the season. I thought too soon as Enfield put together a great move down the left and Reece Barrett tucked it away.

We went from a potential stalemate to possible goal fest in a couple of minutes. Barrett then raced onto the end of a through ball and lifted the ball over the Sporting keeper for a 2-0 lead. Shortly after, Sporting pulled one back as Codey Cameron’s bicycle kick plus deflection looped over the Enfield keeper.

Sporting took the momentum of the late goal into the second half. The last 45 minutes were largely a question of wether or not the visitors could salvage a point. Enfield still looked dangerous going forward but both defesnses were proving to be very stubborn. We all waited with baited breath and Sporting finally levelled the scores in the 84th minute, Kamarl Duncan finding the finish.

My second Essex Senior League game in a row that has finished 2-2. It doesn’t do too much for either side’s league positions, but it was another entertaining game. I welcome Enfield FC into the Got Seats #localfootball fold and look forward to seeing them again.