The Magpies were back in cup action for their only scheduled midweek match of the month when they welcomed Lingfield to Plaistow Road on Tuesday night in the SCFL Peter Bentley League Cup. Manager Mark Beard shuffled his pack with Harvey Enticknap, Eddie French, Sam Smith and Tom Summerfield replacing Joel Colbran, Harrison Hilfiker, Jay Lovett and Michael Wood, demonstrating a pleasing strength in depth.
Keen to start better than they had done in previous matches, the Magpies nearly failed in that endeavour in the very first minute when a driven cross by Sam Bell was expertly cleared by Eddie French with strikers ready to pounce. This served as a very early warning that despite being in the division below the hosts Lingfield could not be underestimated. The reaction was immediate as Mark Cave slipped Toby House in the left channel but his cross-cum-shot evaded the far post. The Magpies went closer still just 4 minutes later as Byron Napper did well to switch play out to Sam Beard on the left who duly drove the by-line and cut the ball back to Cave, but his first time effort was blocked by Olly Moore in the visitor's goal. This miss was nearly costly too as the Lingers went straight down the other end where Bell shot from a tight angle and Sam Smith was forced to turn the ball behind for a corner.
Ten minutes passed with little incident until Beard did exceptionally well to beat two men on the right flank and deliver a ball into the waiting House. The striker's first touch was slightly behind him and as such his swivel and shot saw the ball balloon over the bar. The target was soon missed again from a promising position when Enticknap fed Cave and his drive went just wide of the far post with Moore beaten. Cave nearly made amends in the 27th minute when House peeled off the back post to receive a ball from Beard and found his striker partner of the night, but this time his effort was blocked on the line. Not for the first time the visitors went on the counter-attack as Matt Burroughs got away down the right before delivering a well flighted ball, however Bell's header lacked purchase and was comfortable for Smith.
Bell caused trouble again 2 minutes later when he dispossessed French high up the pitch and looked to find a team-mate but his cross was unintentionally sliced, deceiving Smith and brushing along the crossbar before heading out for a throw. This was one such example of Lingfield more than holding their own in this tie, but when the ball was moved swiftly by the hosts, it was difficult to contain. And so it proved in the 39th minute, when French, Cave and Napper combined beautifully to switch the play out to Rhyan Ramsey just inside the area on the right, but his drive went disappointingly over the bar. At the end of the half Toby House fell victim to a late challenge from behind and duly made way for precautionary reasons.
The Magpies came out for second half keen for a swift start and they got it when Sam Beard's 47th minute corner was met by Clyde Jacques (above) just head of Moore and the tall centre back did just enough with his header to see the ball cross the line and give the hosts the lead and Jacques his 5th goal of the season. The visitors weren't to be disheartened by this though and very nearly equalised 3 minutes later but French did superbly to block a fierce drive from Jake Horn that looked destined for the net.
The match descended into a period of petty challenges and broken play and amongst it all a further injury was suffered by the hosts, this time to goal-scorer Jacques who twisted his knee amidst another late challenge and had to be carried from the pitch, [romptong Yassin Rahman's arrival from the bench.
The two injuries inside 15 minutes certainly unsettled the hosts and Lingfield very nearly took advantage in the 72nd minute when Napper was challenged off the ball and Kieron Curtis was able to get away down the left. He crossed with purpose and picked out Bell just 5 yards out in the centre of the goal, but somehow the big striker blazed his effort well over the bar when it appeared easier to score. It was the Magpies' turn toy go straight up the other end this time where Beard and Ramsey linked up for the former to unleash an effort at goal from 18 yards but Moore did very well to tip the ball onto the bar.
The match was descending into an end-to-end affair as the men in yellow and red desperately sought an equaliser and they nearly got it with 12 minutes to go when TJ Steed did well to deliver a cross from the left which picked out substitute Joe Kensett who rose well to meet it but could only loop his header into the grateful arms of Smith. The Loxwood 'keeper duly set off another counter-attack where Raman's cross was well blocked by the recovering Curtis at the expense of a corner. This was duly delivered by Beard and after only being partially cleared Raman found himself with the ball at his feet again and did well to get a shot off, but once again a goal-bound effort was blocked at the last opportunity.
It was the visitors that had the last two opportunities of the game when firstly Bell got on the end of a deep free kick but his downward header was well held by Smith and then in the third minute of added-on time Marc McGuilly rose highest to meet a last-ditch corner but he couldn't keep his header down and it glanced over the bar and the Magpies had held out to advance to the quarter finals where they will now host Broadbridge Heath, currently scheduled for Tuesday 15 November. Team: S Beard, Cave, Enticknap (Haulkham 82), French, House (Colbran 44), Jacques (Raman 57), Napper, Ramsey, Scally, Smith & Summerfield Subs unused: Atkinson & Hilfiker