Spending Christmas Eve verti-draining the main pitch and Boxing Day forking puddles, paid dividends for Cheshunt groundsman Darren Atkins when a one o’clock pitch inspection declared his pitch playable despite the 60mm of rain that had fallen on it in the three days prior to the eagerly awaited A10 Classico derby match with Enfield Town.
Both sides had enforced changes, Maja & Coker missing from the Enfield line up & Reece Beckles Richards & Chevron McLean joining Zack Newton in withdrawing from the Ambers squad. With a number of local matches falling to the weather a bumper crowd of Cheshunt & Enfield fans was swelled by a number of additional non league football fans seeking a festive football fix. The 966 gate is thought to be the largest recorded attendance at Theobalds Lane since 1969.
Town started brightly, going long to former Amber Adam Cunnington to hold up and bring midfielders into play, and it was not a surprise Enfield took the lead early when a long throw from full back Lee Chappell was cleared but only back to him, and his return cross flashed across the Cheshunt six yard box for Sam Youngs to get the last touch.
Cheshunt continued to build slowly and pick their passes, a slick team build up down the Cheshunt right culminated in Mo Camara stealing in at the back post to beat the diving Nathan MacDonald and equalise for Cheshunt five minutes later.
Despite the equaliser Enfield continued to be the stronger team, winning the 50/50 challenges and enjoying more possession, however with the exception of a fine run from Percy Kiangebeni producing a shot that ricocheted off a post, Enfield failed to capitalise on their dominance, not really testing George Marsh in the Ambers goal with anything more than tidying up weak efforts and going to ground too easily for the referee’s liking, and that of the Cheshunt faithful who wasted no time in advising the offenders from the sidelines. For Cheshunt, the defence worked hard and in unison to break up Enfield attacks, Ekongo & Ojo covered a lot of ground to support Cheshunt attacks, but get back quickly when moves broke down, Mo Camara was industrious always looking to release Rowan Liburd up front, and Amadou Kassarate battled hard in the middle.
The second half started with a similar pattern, the battle between Adam Crowther & Adam Cunnington was worth the entrance fee alone , and as the Ambers centre half started to get the better of his former team mate, then Enfield had to look for alternatives, they found them in top scorer Mo Faal whose speed & close control caused regular problems, it is easy to understand why teams from higher leagues are regularly watching the Town striker. His activities were countered with the introduction of Taylor MacKenzie joining Tom Gardiner & Crowther in defence, twice last ditch blocks diverted the ball clear of the Ambers goal, when Enfield did get the ball in the net, they were pulled back for a handball infringement in the build up, and then their rather desperate pleas for a penalty waved away.
On the hour mark Crowther starting to win the battle was a turning point for the match, the Ambers started to take control in the middle with Reynolds, Miles & skipper Re feeding off a supply from Kassarate and passing it around the visitors before they could engage. The introduction of Zubayr Boadi into the middle of the park gave the Ambers even more short pass options & the substitute didn’t disappoint, his ability to retain possession under pressure and use every pass saw the home side wrest control of the match. The Townies were visibly tiring, running out of ideas, and not closing down, when a clever chip forward to Jamie Reynolds saw him flick the ball inside the advancing Chappell putting Rowan Liburd through on a goal bound run in between the two centre halves, as the ball bounced the striker jumped into his shot to strike the ball over the advancing keeper & into the far corner for the winner.
The Ambers had opportunities to put the game safe but were thwarted by some good saves from Nathan MacDonald. Town made two late substitutions in an attempt to salvage a point but Cheshunt were now comfortable and saw out the latter stages of the match to move above Enfield in the league table. Stats may show Enfield had more possession, but when in possession chances have to be created & taken, in the reverse fixture at the QE2 earlier in the season the Ambers had played all the football and failed to take their chances, eventually losing to a Mo Faal goal, the tables were turned this time around.