Ilford edge past Benfleet in tight FA Vase encounter
PUBLISHED: 08:40 11 October 2020 | UPDATED: 08:40 11 October 2020
Ilford edged past Benfleet at Cricklefield stadium on Saturday courtesy of a penalty shootout in the FA vase, after a first half Benfleet goal was cancelled out due to a fine header from Ilford frontman Yemi Adelani.
Ilford have ‘keeper Josh Blackburn to thank after a string of top saves in normal time and two outstanding penalty saves ensured Ilford continue their march in the FA Vase as they were put to the sword by a spirited Benfleet outfit.
Ilford, keen to turn their fortunes around after a disappointing mid-week defeat to Southend Manor, almost made a nightmare start, after Jamie Brown latched on to a ball over the top, and his volley was met by a strong left hand from Josh Blackburn.
The hosts couldn’t find their rhythm and were being overrun by a well drilled Benfleet who almost broke the deadlock with a long-range effort. Brown took the ball from the left and drove into the heart of the pitch, after dancing his way around two Ilford players, he unleashed an effort from range that was smartly tipped over from Blackburn.
And soon after the Ilford stopper was forced into action again, getting down to his right to make a good double save as a corner floated to the back post wasn’t dealt with by the Ilford defence leaving two Benfleet players unmarked, who were both denied by the teenage shot stopper.
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Ilford’s recent defensive performances haven’t been great of late and their frailties were exposed again as Benfleet took the lead. Bailey Hossack gave away a clumsy foul on the edge of the Ilford area and the ball sent in evaded the entire foxes defence and was eventually bundled in at the back post to give the visitors a well-deserved lead.
The hosts managed to keep their counterparts at bay for the rest of the half and could have gone in all square but missed a guilt-edged chance as Dion Lewis-Kirwan drove down the right wing evading the Benfleet defence but his drilled cross to the back post was cleared off the line after an initial scramble.
Ilford began the second half in a way that didn’t resemble their first half performance and took the game to Benfleet and began to ask questions of their visitor’s defence. Their pressure finally paid off just shy of the hour mark as Steve Sylvester whipped in a fine ball that met the head of the unmarked Adelani whose header snuck in at the near post to haul his team level.
That goal seemed to spark Ilford into life and just three minutes after they should have taken the lead. Ope Musuro launched in a long throw that created chaos inside the Benfleet box and the ball eventually found an Ilford head, but the point-blank header was batted away by the Benfleet ‘keeper.
The pressure subsided as Benfleet began to grow back into the game, but a simple through ball saw Lewis-Kirwan one-on-one but his effort was fired straight down the throat of Benfleet’s number one who managed to parry it to safety.
And in the dying seconds, Adelani, who equalised earlier in the half missed a golden opportunity to wrap the game up for his side. Again, a simple ball forward wasn’t dealt with by the Benfleet defence and Adelani saw his effort from inside the 18-yard box flash wide of the near post.
Level after 90 minutes and it was penalties that were needed to decide the fate of the game and two wonderful saves from Josh Blackburn and some composed Ilford spot kicks ensured
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