FA Cup: Saffron Walden Town 3 Barking 4
A pulsating FA Cup tie at Saffron Walden’s Catons Lane ended with Bostik North Barking booking their place in the next round.
The two sides had battled to a 0-0 draw at Mayesbrook Park on Saturday, but their preliminary round replay made up for that lack of scoring with a seven-goal thriller on Tuesday night in front of a crowd of 343.
The visitors looked the better side early on and a ball across the box almost found Theo Ola, who was booked for a late tackle on Bloods captain James Ferguson.
The home side broke the deadlock through Charlie Portway, who bundled the ball home at the second attampt after Thomas Lakin had won the ball on the right of the box.
And Town looked livelier with their lead, but a Barking header dropped just wide before the match was all square once again as Akwasi Marfo’s cross reached Dan Gilchrist to slot home.
Billy Jones had almost beaten Neil O’Sullivan to the ball moments earlier, while Portway was denied by Ollie Bowles at the other end before Barking got their noses in front late in the first half as Abs Seymour fired home a free-kick, hotly disputed by Town.
Saffron Walden rallied after the restart and Graeme Turner headed just wide at the near post, before James Crane converted a Spike Bell cross for the equaliser at the far post.
O’Sullivan then produced a stunning save to keep out a point-blank header from Jones, with Ricky Tarbard’s follow-up blocked, and Jones headed another effort just wide.
Barking regained the lead with another Seymour free-kick, which dipped under the crossbar from 25 yards, but the Bloods were back on terms soon after as substitute Oliver Emsden flashed home a volley from the edge of the box.
The crowd were being treated to an outstanding spectacle and Portway sent a low effort just wide from long range, before an overhead kick landed on top of the Barking net.
But the visitors claimed the decisive goal when the Bloods struggled to clear and the ball was sent back into their box for Jones to fire home at the near post.
Barking were then reduced to 10 men eight minutes from time when captain Ben O’Brien was given his marching orders and Turner headed wide for the home side as they looked to make their numerical advantage count.
The hosts applied late pressure, forcing a succession of corners, and Jacob Noble shot wide from one of them, then saw another effort cleared off the line, before Portway headed Saffron Walden’s last notable chance off-target in stoppage time.
Barking’s reward for their win is a trip to Gorleston in the first qualifying round on September 2, while Saffron Walden return to Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties Premier Division action with a home match against Thetford Town on Saturday.
Saffron Walden: Neil O’Sullivan, Spike Bell, Ronnie Ledwith, Jacob Noble, James Ferguson, Ryan Fleming, Julian Simon-Parsons (Oliver Emsden 29mins) , Thomas Lakin (Connor Molloy 86mins), Graeme Turner, Charlie Portway, James Crane. Subs: Ashley Skeggs, Mason Naylor, Connor Molloy, Flynn Tarman, Stuart Wardley.
Barking: Ollie Bowles, Ricky Tarbard, Akwasi Marfo (Brian Okwera 46), Steve Willis, Danny Fitzsimons, Ben O’Brien, Abs Seymour, Theo Ola, Billy Jones (Timi Abiola 89), Dan Gilchrist (Goldy Capela 59), Alan Taylor. Unused subs: Will Putt, Max Watters, Jay Knight, Glen Golby.
Match report done by:
Group Sports Editor
Archant Essex & East London, North London , Herts & Cambs