What are the ingredients required for a proper cup upset, or #cupset as the kids call it? A small, but not insurmountable gap in leagues, home advantage for the so-called smaller team, a recent drop in form for the bigger team? We had all of that in the last round when Haringey summoned up two goals in the final five minutes to rob Brentwood of a potential cupset. Erith Town were not afforded the same set of circumstances as Brentwood had been two weeks earlier. They would need to bridge a gap of two levels and defeat an in-form side on their home patch if they were to derail the Haringey Borough FA Cup journey.
Competition: FA Cup Second Qualifying Round
Ground: Coles Park
Refreshments: £1 (tea)
Dogs spotted: 1
The Dockers had a few things in their favour, however. They have been making a name for themselves this season as ‘cup specialists’ having played, and won, four cup ties already this month. Boro would be a step up, for the South East Londoners, from the step five and six clubs they’d faced in that run. Even the sudden arrival of Autumn in all it’s chilly, damp glory could not tilt things into Erith’s favour. Haringey play on plastic and they’re very comfortable on it.
Haringey Borough FA Cup history lesson
Interestingly, these two clubs adopted their current names around the same time. Haringey Borough in 1996 and Erith Town in 1997. Neither have particularly esteemed FA Cup records since then. Boro’s run to the Fourth, and final, Qualifying Round last season was only the second time they’d ever made it past the second round. This game was Erith’s fifth attempt at making it past this stage. All three of their scalps so far were fellow step five sides. They’d seen off Hassocks and Loxwood of the Southern Combination League, the latter after a replay, as well as Spelthorne Sports of the Combined Counties League.
Haringey, who’d entered the competition a round later than Erith, had beaten step five Stanway Rovers of the Essex Senior League before the scare in Brentwood. That win was followed by the first of many league trips to the South Coast. Boro put in an excellent display to defeat Whitehawk 3-1 and returned to London with three points. Dockers fans may have been rueing Haringey’s recent renaissance as they made the trip through the Blackwall Tunnel.
On the face of it, there were only two things that could prevent the Haringey Borough FA Cup adventure from progressing into the Third Qualifying Round and pocketing a cool £9k; complacency and the fabled magic of the cup. Complacency is not an affliction that seems particularly prevalent around Coles Park, apart perhaps from when Hashtag United are totting up their YouTube subscribers. It looked as though Erith would be relying on the magic then. They didn’t have to look too far for a paranormal precedent. Their local league rivals Cray Valley defeated Merstham, who are currently just one point behind Boro in the Bostik Premier Division, on penalties after a replay in the last round. Haringey might also look at local league rivals Enfield Town and Wingate & Finchley’s defeats to lower ranked clubs as a source of unease.
Their keeper definitely wasn’t hit by a broken cowbell
You know the football season is getting serious when you have to pack away your shorts and dig out your coat and scarf. Autumn was triumphantly marking its territory all over North London. Fortunately, for the crowd who’d made their way to the game the covered stand at Coles Park is where all the action happens. They were also lucky both clubs had made it. While catching up with their admin on Friday night the FA had kicked out two clubs for fielding ineligible players in previous rounds. As the severity of the punishments were discussed the Bell End kept everyone in high spirits. Teas and Chips kept everyone warm.
There was a sense of excitement in the stand but on the pitch, the Boro players looked relaxed during their warm up. The laughter from their small sided drills filled the crisp September air. The main change to a settled Haringey lineup was that Joe Staunton was back while ‘Mikey’ Ademiluyi was on the bench. I’d also discovered during the week that striker Joel Nouble was, in fact, the younger brother of Colchester forward Frank who I once saw play for West Ham against Millwall.
Haringey started the game with a reassuring confidence. They took control of the contest from the outset. Erith looked well organised and tough to break down but they struggled to get hold of the ball for periods of the game. Boro’s attacking triumvirate of Mckenzie, Nouble, and Akinwande all had opportunities with the latter hitting the outside of the post.
Boro broke the deadlock shortly before half-time following a slightly bizarre set of circumstances. Mckenzie raced through on goal. While attempting to round the keeper he inadvertently caught the Erith goalie who went down injured. Akinwande got on the loose ball and before anyone quite worked out what was wrong with the keeper the referee had awarded a penalty to the hosts. The keeper recovered after some treatment, but his first act post-recovery was to pick Nouble’s well-taken penalty out of his net.
Boro continued to control the game after the break. They soon had a second. Nouble’s cross found Mckenzie who displayed a Zlatan level of dexterity, to poke the ball home. The goal effectively sealed the game. Boro continued to create chances, Akinwande came the closest as his header hit the woodwork again. Erith showed flashes of what they were capable of but couldn’t get going. Towards the end frustration began to get the better of them. Clearly saddened by the destruction of another cowbell in the stand their midfielder had one too many choice words for the referee and was sent for an early bath.
Haringey secured the win to progress into the Third Qualifying Round. Don’t mention it, but they are potentially just two games away from the First Round Proper. As I’ve been writing this they’ve been drawn at home against Bognor Regis Town, who they have already drawn with in the league or AFC Sudbury from the Bostik North. They will fancy their chances either way and their final opponent will be known following the replay on Tuesday 25 September.