Welwyn Garden City left heartbroken as FA Cup journey ends with penalty defeat to Bishop’s Stortford

PUBLISHED: 21:54 22 September 2020 | UPDATED: 23:24 22 September 2020

Welwyn Garden City hosted Bishop's Stortford in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup at Herns Lane.

Welwyn Garden City hosted Bishop's Stortford in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup at Herns Lane.


Welwyn Garden City had a heartbreaking exit from the FA Cup as they lost on penalties at home to Bishop’s Stortford.

George Ironton had fired them into the lead in the first half only for Darren Foxley to equalise after the break as the game finished 1-1.

This season the grand old competition has done away with extra-time and replays so the final whistle meant the drama was not yet over.

Welwyn’s big chance in the shoot-out came when Charlie Crowley got his hands to Louie Johnson’s shot. Unfortunately for the keeper it rolled in.

Moments later the luck was still with Stortford as Jack Bradshaw’s effort was pushed onto the post, then the crossbar and out by Jack Giddens.

The Stortford keeper then made another superb stop to deny Carl Mensah and send the Isthmian League Premier Division side through 4-3.

It was harsh on the home side who were more than a match for the side from a level above but they will have learned a lot and hopefully will give them confidence for the league season, and FA Trophy campaign, to come.

It was always a game that had the potential of being a cup upset from the moment the draw was made but it was never expected to be easy for the home team.

The opening minutes of the game proved that as Stortford, clearly boosted by the way they had finished their first Isthmian League game on Saturday, coming back late on to draw 2-2 with Bognor Regis Town.

Ben Marlow skewed a chance wide and Darren Foxley dragged a shot right across goal.

Welwyn almost gifted them a goal too but after Lee Close’s header was shot of Charlie Crowley, giving Frankie Merrifield a sight of goal, the defender got back to retrieve the situation.

The Citizens were defending well though, that instance and a few rushed clearances aside, but they were also slowly probing the visitors’ defence, finding space behind the full-backs.

And it was from roughly that position that they took the lead, with a truly wonderful goal.

Jack Vasey had played it back to Dave Keenleyside and the midfield talisman responded by playing it back to the striker with an inch-perfect through ball.

The first-time cross was just as good and Ironton timed his arrival to tuck it away at the back post.

It boosted the confidence of City and they defended solidly for the rest of the half. The only chance was a ball from the right wing that found its way to Corey Davidson but he sliced it into the side netting.

And Welwyn had a good chance too but this Keenleyside’s effort from the edge of the box was deflected up and over the bar.

City had actually started the second period on the front foot and there seemed to be dissention in the visiting team, as goalkeeper Jack Giddens and Thomas Richardson exchanged words.

However, a shot off the crossbar suddenly rejuvenated them and within a minute they were level.

Crowley had made a great save in the immediate aftermath of the woodwork strike and made another to deny the first Stortford chance a minute later.

The ball ran loose though and Foxley squeezed it inside the near post.

Both sides made two quick substitutions in this period, Welwyn bringing on Eusebio Da Silva and Robbie Buchanan, and the disruption took the sting out of the game for a good 10 minutes or so.

Da Silva almost got on the end of another glorious team move, one he started with a strong run from left-back.

It almost opened up for Ironton and he couldn’t slip in Keenleyside but he could find the substitute striker at the back post.

His rising shot though just curled up and over.

The popular forward was causing all sorts of problems to the Stortford defence. He wriggled himself into one shooting chance that went straight to Giddens, and when the keeper missed a deep cross, only a desperate foot pinched it off his head.

Welwyn were the ones who looked like they would get any winner although a late Stortford effort from distance did get deflected and did have some hearts in mouth.

It didn’t but there was still tension, pressure and heart-stopping moments to come.

And for Welwyn a heartbreaking one.

Welwyn Garden City: Crowley, Bradshaw, Sexton, Opoku (Akwasi 87), Close, Mensah, Tshikala (Buchanan 56), Keenleyside, Vasey (Da Silva 58), Walklin, Ironton.

Subs (not used): Payne, Podier, De Matos.

Goal: Ironton 19

Booked: Ironton 75

Bishop’s Stortford: Giddens, Mvemba, Thomas, Robbins, Henshaw, Davidson, Marlow (Gardner 56, Boachie 62), Richardson (Johnson 81), Merrifield, Foxley, Haines.

Subs (not used): Mullings, Jones, Smith.

Goal: Foxley 58

Booked: Mvemba 81

HT: Welwyn Garden City 1 Bishop’s Stortford 0

Attendance: 210

Referee: Mark Stevens (Leighton Buzzard)

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