09:08PM, Saturday 18 September 2021
Nnamdi Nwachuku. Photo credit: Alex Hockley
Abbey Rangers FC 0, Marlow 2
Marlow are through to the third qualifying round of the FA Cup after a 2-0 victory over FC Abbey Rangers, despite being reduced to 10-men on the stroke of half-time when Devontae Romeo was shown his second yellow card.
Despite playing all the second half with 10 men, the Blues continued their remarkable record of winning every game this season and they’re also yet to concede a goal in seven matches.
Despite playing a side from the level below, this was far from straightforward for the Blues, especially after Romeo’s controversial dismissal.
The home side began well, and Simon Grant was forced into a smart save in the 14th minute before Alex Salmon made a double block to keep the Blues on terms.
They took the lead through the prolific Nnamdi Nwachuku in the 33rd minute. Junaid Bell made a driving run at the Rangers defence before slipping the ball through to Nwachuku who slotted home with the confidence of a striker in form.
Romeo received his first caution in the 38th minute following a foul and failed to make it to the half-time interval after he was yellow carded again in injury-time.
The red card changed the complexion of the game and Chris Ovenden was subbed on for Jordan Brown as Marlow looked to preserve their lead. They rode their luck at times, with Rangers’ Diakite smashing the ball against the post in the 64th minute. However, the Blues had their moments too, with Nwachuku coming close to a second with a shot that flew just over the bar.
The home side forced a few corners but were generally held at arms’ length, despite their man advantage, until the 87th minute when the referee awarded them am indirect free-kick just six yards out. Desperate to preserve their perfect record and clean sheet, the Blues players put their bodies on the line to block and clear the danger.
Grant then pulled off an outstanding save as the Blues tired in the final minute, and heads must have dropped when the fourth official indicated there would be eight additional minutes of stoppage time.
However, not only did the visitors show tremendous spirit and resilience not to concede, but they also found the energy to break up field and when Marcus Mealing whipped in a cross, second half substitute Curtis Chapple was there to fire home and put the tie firmly to bed.
Afterwards manager Mark Bartley tweeted: “Not at our best first half, and our opponents were quicker out of the blocks.
“Still, we got ourselves in front through a great pass and finish.
“I said at half-time we had to show how much we wanted it and second half we did just that.
“Our seventh win and seventh clean sheet in a row.”
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