05:21PM, Wednesday 08 September 2021
A moment of quality from midfielder Junaid Bell proved to be the difference as Marlow survived a tricky trip to the Isle of Sheppey in the FA Cup.
Mark Bartley’s side travelled to Kent on Saturday fully aware their opponents from the Southern Counties East Football League would provide a tough test.
Urged on by a boisterous crowd of 389, Sheppey United matched their Step 4 opponents in a game which kept the referee busy throughout.
With the scores level at half-time, the visitors pounced on their opportunity to take control of the tie in the 52nd minute as Bell lashed home a sweet left-footed drive from the edge of the area.
It wasn't to be for us today, thank you for your support.— Sheppey United FC (@SheppeyUFC) September 4, 2021
Remember we have several youth games on tomorrow and our next 1st team game is away at Eastbourne Town next Saturday.
Next home game - Lordswood (Tuesday 14th September) pic.twitter.com/JNd2EJMRRj
A late sending off for forward Marcus Mealing over two contentious yellow cards threatened to send the game to a replay but Marlow held out, securing a spot in the competition’s second qualifying round.
Bartley said: “We knew it was going to be a tough place to go and you get a decent crowd there and they are quite vocal.
“They’re a decent side at the level, they’re a division below us but they’ve got a lot of players that have played at our level or above and they’re quite well-resourced financially so we knew it was going to be tough.
“We were very tight and didn’t give them too much and when the opportunity came and we needed that moment of quality thankfully we were able to create it.”
Bell’s goal was his third of the campaign and the Blues boss said the midfielder is now seeing the rewards of his tireless work-rate.
“He trains hard every single session and puts everything into every game and he’s just getting the rewards for that,” Bartley said.
“He’s got a lot of potential and could go on to play a lot higher and the biggest thing for us over the next year is going to be trying to keep hold of him.
“He’s had a good start but there’s more to come from him.”
An away trip to Combined Counties outfit Abbey Rangers awaits Marlow but their attention now turns to a home fixture with Westfield to try and keep their winning start to the season going.
Bartley added: “Its been a good start for us but I said to the players we need to try and build on this.
“We’ve got two home games coming up where we need to do all we can to get positive results.
“The FA Cup is a nice distraction in the opening rounds but the league is what we are really focused on.”