Canvey Island and Chipstead played out a thrilling 3-3 draw in the Buildbase FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round at The NRT Stadium on Saturday.
On a wet and windy afternoon in Surrey, a rollercoaster of a match swung one way and then the other before a last minute penalty save from Lamar Johnson secured a draw for the Gulls, and with is their fifth replay in FA competitions this season.
Left back Max Kent, and central midfielder Rob Lacey and attacker Kane Gilbert retained their places following Tuesday night’s Velocity Trophy defeat to Great Wakering Rovers. Jason Hallett returned to the starting XI in attack, with Lamar Johnson reclaiming his position between the sticks and Alex Stephenson coming back in to partner Michael Finneran in central defence.
There was a familiar face on the opposition bench in the shape of Allan Tait, the forward who made 35 appearances for us in the 2005/06 Conference season.
The hosts created an opportunity inside two minutes when winger Sam Bell swung over a good cross from the right. The cross found forward Kyen Nicholas, but his volley from 12 yards was partially blocked by Alex Stephenson and deflected over for a corner.
Canvey settled into the match after surviving this scare, having the lion’s share of possession but without managing to test Chips goalkeeper Oliver Pain.
Their first chance of note came on 20 minutes when a short corner on the left was crossed over to the back post, but Alex Stephenson’s header was a yard over the top corner.
Chipstead had an excellent headed chance of their own four minutes later when a ball in from the left found Sam Bell in a great position, but his downwards header was brilliantly kept out by Lamar Johnson diving low to his left.
The home side opened the scoring on 36 minutes when a low ball into the area from the right found Kyen Nicholas unmarked, and the forward fired across goal and into the top corner to put his side ahead.
Canvey played the last few of minutes of the first half with ten men after captain James White was forced off the pitch following a clash of heads. He was replaced at half time by Albert Levett, with Michael Finneran being given the armband.
The Gulls came out of the traps slowly in the second half, and after a couple of near misses fell further behind on 49 minutes. A simple through ball released Tom Collins in behind the defence, and the forward kept his composure to slot past Lamar Johnson from just inside the area.
It could have gotten worse on 56 minutes when a mistake from Lamar Johnson saw him drop the slippery ball inside the box. It fell perfectly for Tom Collins, although perhaps surprised to have received possession he snatched at his chance, smashing his shot onto the crossbar.
Up the other end Jason Hallett had a chance a minute later, but his looping header from a corner went narrowly over the bar.
Looking as though they were going to sink in the Chipstead rain without a trace, Canvey then staged a remarkable comeback in the final 20 minutes.
Tobi Joseph got Canvey back into the contest on 70 minuites when he got met Ryan Melaugh’s near post corner, stooping low to head across goal and home from close range.
Five minutes later an excellent through ball from Josh Hutchinson released Jason Hallett, and the striker notched his 11th goal of the campaign by stretching and poking the ball past goalkeeper Oliver Pain.
Tom Collins thought that he had restored Chipstead’s advantage moments later when his low shot went in via the post, but the assistant referee’s flag denied the forward.
Canvey had a couple of changes as the match headed into the closing stages, with Ryan Melaugh having a low shot saved from 20 yards following a swift counter-attack before Michael Finneran had a header from a corner saved on the line by the keeper.
What looked to be the winning goal came on 86 minutes with Hutchinson assisting Hallett once again. This time the winger squared the ball from the right which Hallett ran onto and curled home with precision.
Canvey had barely finished celebrating the goal when Chipstead drew themselves level. A long ball forwards was brought under control by Tom Collins whose shot from just inside the areas zipped off the skiddy surface and squirmed underneath Lamar Johnson.
It then looked as though Chipstead has snatched victory from the jaws of defeat when they were awarded a penalty for handball against Rob Lacey in the 94th minute. Samuel Clayton stepped up but saw his spot kick brilliantly tipped onto the post by Johnson, diving low to his right.
The danger wasn’t over however as the ball bounced back across the face of goal, but somehow the follow-up shot was fired over the bar from six-yards to ensure that the two sides would need to try again on Tuesday night.