Sporting Bengal United continued their excellent start to the season by snatching victory from Waltham Forest at Wadham Lodge on Saturday. The first thing to say that it was a superb contest, one that neither deserved to lose.

In the opening nine minutes Sporting could and probably should have been three goals to the good. Shiblu Miah curled a 25-yard shot off the underside of the crossbar after three minutes; Oscar Mendes, arriving late at the far post, couldn’t make good connection on a right-wing Codey Cameron cross; and a Freddy Tandon header from a corner thudded off the middle of the bar from a right-side corner.

Gradually Forest began to assert themselves once they had achieved a degree of defensive stability, they showed they could be dangerous going forward. Abiola Tanimowo proved particularly tricky and he struck a post with a 20-yard curling shot.

The breakthrough came in the 34th minute. A simple pass from Mendes released Steven Carvell and he composed himself as he ran at Sam Hayward, before rolling the ball into the net.

Sporting’s second goal, in the 41st minute, came from the route of one of the earlier chances. Carvell started it with a clever pass to Cameron out on the right flank. Cameron got into a crossing position and his low ball into the danger area was despatched powerfully by the unmarked Mendes eight yards out.

The two-goal lead lasted barely sixty seconds. Forest produced the perfect response as Tanimowo worked the opening and his precise bending shot went beyond Ataaib Khan’s dive on its way into the far corner.

The second half ebbed and flowed with both teams failing to take good opportunities. In the 54th minute, Ashan Siddiq was denied by a sprawling save from Haywood. Forest substitute Mohammed Sagaf did well to create an opening for Azhad Masood, but he could not convert the chance.

Sporting then thought they should have been awarded a penalty when one of their replacements, Suli Udi-Ba was sent tumbling in the penalty but the referee waved away the claims. At the other end, Tandon produced a goal-line clearance to keep out a header from Juelmo Agebame.

But Forest’s best chance fell to Hafeez Sanusi in the 75th minute, when given a clear run at goal. After rounding Khan, however, he was hurried and harried off the ball by Tanden when all it needed was a sidefoot to level the game.
It allowed, instead for an equaliser of the very highest order. In the 80th minute, Sporting got themselves in a defensive muddle and the backpass to Khan forced him to clear from outside his penalty area wide on the right side. The kick did not go far enough and Chris Medina had time to control the ball before drilling a 45-yard shot into the net.

The game ebbed and flowed with both teams creating half-chances and better, but the final touch wasn’t there. Shahiful Choudhury fired wastefully over the bar from a good position before Mendes was unlucky when he saw his effort bounce off the top of the crossbar one minute into added time.

But the drama wasn’t over. In the fifth minute of stoppage time – there had been more than enough stoppages to justify the additional minutes – Forest failed to clear their lines and when the ball came to Carvell, he controlled and struck a shot which found its way past Hayward’s dive on its way into the bottom corner. Cue joy for the visitors and utter misery for the home team.

Report: David Ballheimer
Image: Scott Lanza