Fairford Town First Team Manager Jody Bevan has spoke to Severn Sport about his relief after his side made it past the Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Cup for the first time in 8 years – despite being pegged back by a game Enfield side.
In our featured game on Saturday, two Connor Thompson strikes put Fairford Town 2-0 up at half time but by the hour mark Enfield had scored two quick fire goals of their own to level the tie up.
A calamitous bit of defending by Enfield centre back Josh Woodcock allowed Ben Lodge to nip in to score the winner. The hosts then had to see the tie out with 10 men after full back Kallum Thomas was issued his second yellow card.
After the game we spoke to former Gloucester City striker Bevan about how pleasing it was to see his side get over the line and into the next round.
“I’m absolutely delighted to get the win. I’d never won a FA cup game as a Manager before yesterday, so it felt good to get that monkey off my back.
I’m pretty sure I went through just about every emotion possible during the game. And after being pegged back there was definitely a sense of relief at the end,” Bevan said.
“I was fuming [at 2-2] in all honesty. We had played so well in the first half and I felt we should have been out of sight before half time.
We do have a bad habit of not starting the second half of games well and to suddenly find ourselves at 2-2 8 minutes into second half was ridiculous. It was panic stations for most of the second half but to be fair to us I can’t remember Enfield having an effort at goal after the equaliser,” added the Fairford manager.
In a pulsating first half, former Gloucester City and Swindon Supermarine man Connor Thompson showed his quality with two very well taken goals to put the hosts in front at a windy Cinder Lane.
His first came when Thompson found space on the edge of the Enfield box and his left footed shot trickled across keeper Lewis Hawley and into the bottom corner.
Thompson’s second was very impressive. After winning possession about 30 yards from goal, he skipped past two men before finding space in the box to drill a low effort across Hawley and into the net.
However both Connor and Mason Thompson were lost to injury at half time, allowing Enfield to take advantage as Fairford took a while to settle in the second half.
Inside the opening 90 seconds of the half a ball in from the right was bundled home by Joe Jones. Jones then had a chance for a second with a spot kick, which he duly obliged.
However Ben Lodge’s winner after a moment of madness at the back for Enfield gave the hosts the win they deserved. After substitute Jon Thomas’ header on, defender Woodcock was allowing the ball to roll back to his keeper before panicking as Ben Lodge was closing and proceeded to just touch the ball round his keeper, directly into the path of Lodge who finished from a tight angle.
After awarding Thompson the Man of The Match for his performance, we asked Bevan about Thompson and he praised his new forward, whilst reserving praise for Saturday’s winner.
“I’m over the moon to have Connor at the club, we all are. He adds quality and experience to the frontline. He took his goals very well yesterday and he’s still getting up to speed and I think there is more to come from him.
Having said that we have six very good forwards at the club so we are not just reliant on Connor to get us goals. Ben Lodge in particular has started the season very well and has now scored two very important goals for us already this season,” Bevan said.
Saturday’s win sets up a home tie with London-based Hanwell Town at Cinder Lane on Saturday 24th August and also means that Fairford have started the season with three wins from three in all competitions, but Bevan admits there is still a lot of work for his side to do.
“It’s a perfect start which is beyond what I could have hoped for. However it’s just a start and we cannot get carried away. We are miles away from being the finished article so there is lots of work still to be done, but we are showing some really positive signs that gives us optimism that we can have a good season.”
Before Fairford welcome Hanwell in the FA Cup Preliminary Round on Saturday 24th August, they welcome New College Swindon to Cinder Lane in the Hellenic League Bluefin Sports Challenge Cup next Saturday – followed by a trip to local rivals Brimscombe & Thrupp on Tuesday week.