Enfield Borough 1 Hackney Wick 3

Enfield Borough must hope they are getting the majority of their problems out of the way in pre-season as selection issues played a major part in their defeat at the hands of Hackney Wick from the Thurlow Nunn First Division South. Deprived of five recognised midfield players for a variety of reasons, the makeshift combination failed to click as Borough fell behind early in the match and never managed to get back on level terms with their opponents.

There was some good news with the long-awaited returns of Guy Kiangebeni and Bruno Tavares who have been side-lined through injury since last September and December respectively. The signs looked hopeful as in the first minute Tavares collected the ball on the right wing and fired in a cross-shot that the visitor’s keeper was forced to palm behind. From the resulting corner Eliandro Soque’s shot went narrowly wide of the far post.

There were only three minutes on the clock when home keeper Dragos Steianoaica attempted a quick restart by bowled the ball out to Brodie Cousins. Unfortunately the wing back was caught in possession by Oyo and the Hackney striker calmly slotted the ball past Steianoaica to open the scoring. The match settled down into a stalemate with neither side creating any meaningful chances.

Borough were certainly struggling to string a significant number of passes together due partly to their unfamiliar line-up and over hitting the ball on the artificial surface. Just before the half hour Steianoaica leapt high to palm away a cross but the ball fell to Lynch whose shot was blocked by Huseyin Ombasi. Borough failed to clear their lines properly and the ball was returned to Oyo, who on the edge of the penalty box. With Steianoaica bearing down on him, Oyo calmly lobbed the keeper and the ball dropped agonisingly over the head of the retreating Gideon Sarpong and into the net off the inside of the post.

Immediately after the goal the teams took a drinks break and the rest appeared to benefit Enfield as they took control in the immediate aftermath. A left wing throw in was worked across the pitch until the ball reached Frank Chandler who hit a drive from twenty five yards that had the Hackney keeper at full stretch to keep out. The corner was played short to Sarpong whose goalbound effort was touched by a combination of Kiangebeni and a Hackney defender before it entered the net. Three minutes later it appeared that Borough had drawn level as Cousins threaded a pass through to Blessing Tshibikubla who prodded the ball past the keeper only to find that the assistant referee had his flag raised for offside. Hackney replied when a long throw was back headed by Martins but it lacked power and Steianoaica collected easily. But he Steianoaica could do nothing on the stroke of half time when Oyo drove a powerful right wing centre across the face of goal and the ball struck Kiangebeni as he raced back and flew into the Borough net.

The second half saw a succession of substitutions for both sides with Borough introducing six fresh players in the opening half hour. During this period neither side looked likely to increase the goal tally, and it was somewhat of a shock when two of Borough’s replacements, Ayim Ohemeng and Richard Worrell, combined with the latter shooting from twenty yards to draw an excellent save from Hackney’s substitute keeper. Worrell returned the compliment by playing in Ohemeng who had rounded the keeper before he became aware that he had been flagged offside. But Ohemeng wasted a glorious opportunity when Tshibikubla picked up the ball on halfway and advanced down the right before providing the striker with a pinpoint cross only for Ohemeng to completely miss his kick in front of an open goal. Hackney barely threatened the Enfield goal during the second half, but their lead was never in serious peril.

Joint manager Mani Asare said: “There were some good things out there today, but we play a distinctive style of football and being able to play basic five and ten yard passes is a minimum requirement. To lose one whole section of your team in a matter of days is a major setback, but we have to get on with it and use our resources as best as we can so that when we play our first league game on September 5th, we are competitive, solid at the back and with a cutting edge up front. We had a match planned for next weekend, but this has now been cancelled. Hopefully we can arrange another match in its place and, whoever the opposition, I will be hoping to see an improvement on today’s performance.”

Team; Steianoaica, Cousins (Folly), Kiangebeni, Harrison (Baiden), Sarpong, Antwi (Peters), Chandler (Ali), Soque (Ohemeng), Ombasi, Tavares (Worrell), Tshibikubla