First Team, Match Report

17 Sep 2023

Match Report: Farnham Town 1-2 Chesham United

In what was one of the most anticipated Emirates FA Cup Second Qualifying Round ties in the country, Farnham Town played host to a tie between two sides that had won every single game they’ve played so far this season, totalling 17 wins in the process when they welcomed Southern League Premier South leaders Chesham United to The Memorial Ground.

On a memorable day for The Town, competing in the Second Qualifying Round for only the second time in their 117-year history, manager Paul Johnson was unfortunately dealing with a number of key injuries in the squad coming into the game.

Attacking midfielder Darryl Sanders remains sidelined with a nagging groin injury, while striker Lewis Flatman wasn’t quite ready to return to the side after suffering a calf injury in the win at Alton. Forward Owen Dean had to settle for a place on the bench are taking a knock on the shin during the win at Sheerwater last weekend, but defender Guy Hollis was fit enough to return to the bench having spent all of the season thus far out with a knee injury.

New signing Adam Liddle rushed back from holiday that morning to make the bench with a view to making his debut for The Town after arriving from Hayes & Yeading United at the start of the month.

With over 1,100 packed into The Memorial Ground for the game, Farnham Town started brightly and were asking questions of the resolute Chesham United defence, testing the ‘keeper early on when Harry Cooksley struck a low left-footed effort from the right side of the box in towards the near post which was well held.

Pressing well in a more advanced role, Cooksley then intercepted a wayward pass around the halfway line and strode forward with strikers Shamal Edwards and Charlie Postance making runs either side of him. As the space continued to open up, Cooksley decided to try his luck from range again but dragged his shot well wide.

As you would expect, Chesham United had great quality and composure when they were in possession, and were ruthless in front of goal when they had the chance to be. After 21 minutes, they had taken the lead when a hopeful long ball found Ricardo Allen. He held it up and played a smart back-heel to the left-back, Lesley Duru who turned away from Jack Dean to cross into the box and found Josh Allen unmarked in the six-yard area who headed home with ease.

It was down the Farnham right-hand side again where Chesham focused their next attack seven minute later and it lead to their second. Callum Adebiyi’s cross evaded everyone and made its way to the feet of Ricardo German who was able to swivel and finish into the bottom corner, and The Town had their work cut out for them.

After keeping things tight and holding the deficit to only two, Farnham Town came out for the second half with greater urgency after perhaps showing Chesham United too much respect in the first 45.

Five minutes into the second period, Jack Dean crossed the ball into the box intended for Cooksley. He missed his header and it bounced through to Postance who shot first time, only to see the ball slap off the hand of the Chesham United defender and cleared away. The referee waved away the Farnham appeals for a spotkick, potentially in part down to the close proximity of the defender to the strike, but if not for the intervention of the arm, the ball looked destined to find the net.

It led to a Farnham Town corner after a follow-up effort from Edwards was deflected behind. Cooksley whipped in the corner which took a glancing touch off Jack Dean before rebounding off of Ryan Kinnane and inches wide of the Chesham back post.

Johnson looked to change the game when he introduced Owen Dean and Adam Liddle from the bench to put a spark into the Farnham forward line, and it did the trick. Dean rose highest to head a Tom Smith cross back across goal towards Edwards who himself nodded it goalwards only to see Chesham ‘keeper Zaki Oualah claw it out off the line. The ball was then half-cleared to Liddle on the edge of the box who volleyed sweetly but straight at Oualah.

The game then became very stretched with Chesham looking dangerous on the counter in seek of the match-sealing goal, but it was Farnham who would score next and bring new life into this exciting Emirates FA Cup tie.

Shamal Edwards stood up a cross from the left wing, flighting it all the way to Owen Dean at the back post who took a touch to compose himself before drilling the ball home, sending the buoyant home fans into raptures. With 10 minutes to go, Farnham were suddenly back in the game and with belief that they could get back on level terms.

While Farnham definitely had the drive and impetus to go and find the elusive equaliser, they were unable really carve out a clear cut opportunity in the dying embers of the game. In fact it was Chesham who nearly grabbed the final goal of the game when they launched a counter attack as Farnham sent men forward, but were unable to find the finish.

It would end 2-1 to the visitors who extended their winning start to the season to nine straight games, but they were perhaps given the toughest test they’ve had this season by a team two tiers below them.

Farnham fell to their first defeat of the season, but there was a sense of pride and fulfilment after putting in such a performance against such a side on what was a huge day for the Club and the Town.

We wish Chesham United well in the next round of the Emirates FA Cup and in their league campaign, but for Farnham Town, attentions now shift back towards the Isuzu FA Vase and the Combined Counties Premier South.

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