When this tie was drawn, the prospect of a trip to 16th placed Southern League side Chesham looked a promising one, but in the intervening time, Staines had suffered something of an injury crisis, while Chesham had climbed up to 6th in their league, which is on the equivalent level to Staines’. It was the first time these clubs had met in a little over 20 years, and the last seven meetings had produced six Chesham wins and a draw. Staines went into the tie with several players absent through injury – Miller-Rodney (groin), Tison-Lascaris (hamstring from Wednesday night’s game), plus three longer term injuries – Dan Brown, Gough, and Okuleye, and loanee Day who was ineligible. On the plus side, Ahmidi was welcomed back after a foot problem, skipper Brewer was available again although a niggling injury relegated him to the bench, and Bettamer was selected, although still feeling unwell, and eventually having to come off. Chesham, who reached the 2nd Round Proper last season, were marshalled by a revitalised Darren Purse in defence – the scorer of Staines 1st Round goal at Leyton Orient a year ago, and he was one of two players in the home line-up who were older than Staines’ most senior players, Behzadi (35) and Louis (37). Chesham’s other two ex-Swans (Toby Little and Nick Beasant) were not involved. Staines played down the slope towards the entrance end of a very good playing surface, on a day that ranged from very bright at the start to a rainstorm in the final moments.
The visitors made an excellent start, with both Ahmidi and Clifton having decent efforts in the opening 10 minutes However, Chesham’s first serious attack, on 14 minutes, saw Turner having to make a diving save from Pearce’s goalbound header. United gradually gained the upper hand, with Wilson seeing a shot blocked, Roberts firing one right across the face of goal, and, on 32 minutes, their closest yet as Pearce’s swerving shot forced Cole into a headed goal-line clearance. But Staines were not without threats of their own: twice Worsfold got away on the left flank and fired in low crosses that deceived ‘keeper Jones, who had the sun straight in his eyes, but in neither case could a team-mate get good contact to find the net.
Staines have made the breakthrough in the opening minutes of the second half in each of their last two games, helping them to extend their unbeaten run to eight unbeaten games. However, this time the boot was on the other foot, as they fell behind in the 48th minute when Hayles cleverly switched the ball from right to left, and Drew Roberts arrived to force the ball just inside the post. For a while that seemed to spur Staines into their best period since the opening phase, and Louis was unlucky not to force in another super cross from Worsfold just 4 minutes later. The game was played in a good spirit throughout, but referee Bates did resort to three yellow cards in quick succession, all for fouls, by McKain (55 minutes) and Cole (62) of Staines, and Chesham’s Roberts (59), with Bettamer’s powerful free-kick from the latter forcing Jones into a diving save. There was a let-off for Staines when Pearce crashed a volleyed shot against the post on 61 mins, but the killer came 9 minutes later from the penalty spot. Whether Roberts got lucky or made an expert touch is debatable, but his darted into the box and was dangerously placed, before Turner challenged him unfairly and received a yellow card and the award of a penalty. Johnson Hippolyte took the opportunity to bring on Academy striker Dalling for his first senior action, with Ahmidi worryingly having to be ‘chaired’ off the pitch following a jarring tackle earlier in the move, before Roberts stepped up to slot the spot-kick into the corner. Dalling in fact showed a couple of excellent touched in the closing minutes, but Chesham came closest to scoring again in the 83rd minute when excellent skills by Pearce created space for him to shoot against the upright.
On the Monday, Chesham were drawn to play Bath or Potters Bar in the final qualifying round.
Staines: Turner, Behzadi, Cole, Ahmidi (Dalling 69+), McKain ©, Vanderhyde, B Brown, Clifton, Louis (Hippolyte 77), Bettamer (Haysman 61), Worsfold; unused Whatman (g), Brewer, Bradley Wilson, Chong.
Chesham: Jones, Crilley, Youngs, Mitchel-King, Purse, Martin, Pearce, Taylor (Wadkins 77), Hayles, Roberts (Blake 80), Bruce Wilson ©; unused Nolan (g), Reece, Dennis, McKenzie, Woodcock.
Ref: Stephen Bates (St Albans); ARs Chris Bodell & Mario Stetakovic (both Enfield); att 354.