The Sports took a break from league competition with a trip to Waltham Abbey in the 2nd QR of the FA Cup, a competition that has been harsh on Boro.
When asked post match on the relative importance of performance and result, "It's always the result" was the response from Boro manager Tommy Widdrington following the 4-2 victory that sees the club through to the 3rd QR. Anwar Uddin returned to the starting line up, partnering Sam Cole at the heart of the back four, Ollie Rowe dropping to the bench. The pack was also shuffled to have a very attack minded selection and formation, Ademeno, Hart, Knight, and Shephard all starting the cup tie.
As per the preview the hosts have had a fine season so far and were in no mood to allow Boro to stroll into the next round. Their approach to hit big target man Loren Maxwell early, the hard pitch not contributing to a slick passing game, working well with early and excellent deliveries into the box.
Michael Noone made a great covering tackle to protect Nick Jordan from a clear 1 on 1 in only the second minute before Boro began to get on top, half chances for Hart and Ben Adelsbury created in the opening 10 minutes. However, on 15 minutes the home side took the lead when a delivery from wide right saw Louis Bristow get across the Boro defence at the back post and nod home for 1-0.
This 'shock' kick started the visitors and The Sports dominated the next phase of the game with Charlie Gorman incredibly unlucky to see a fantastic drive cannon off the bar on 20 minutes and a great run and shot across James Bransgrove in the home goal strike the base of the far post and come out across the 6 yard box. The equaliser came on 32 minutes when Ademeno showed great skill to swivel and rifle past the 'Abbey' goalkeeper from the edge of the box.
The second 45 was dominated by Chris Shephard, Darren Lok, and the personnel and tactical changes implemented by the Boro Mangement. After an even, if disappointing, opening 15 minutes the hosts again took the lead. Clark Akers drove another decent delivery into the Boro box from a wide left free kick. Nick Jordan looked to be distracted by the possibility of a flick header in the crowded box, the ball flying straight into the far corner for 2-1 Waltham Abbey.
Within minutes Widdrington rang the changes, Ollie Rowe and Darren Lok replacing Sam Cole and David Knight. As Boro began to build the pressure Hart had a shot blocked. The hosts had a 'goal' chalked off for a foul on Jordan and Boro struck the woodwork with a thunderous header striking the bar from a corner on 68 minutes.
The equaliser, when it came, was a combination of great strike and goalkeeper error. From a full 25 yards plus Shephard drove a fierce free kick towards the bottom left hand corner of the Abbey goal. The angle and pace were spot on, and a cruel dip just in front of Bransgrove saw the ball beat him and nestle in the net for 2-2.
With the changes working, and a new belief Boro were soon in front. The Sports 3rd was very different from Lok's strike the previous week. Hart did well to protect the ball in midfield and thread a pass into Lok's path. The young striker showed strength to shrug off the last defender and race clear for a 1 on 1 with Bransgrove, the result never in doubt as he fired past the 'keeper confidently for 2-3, the hosts starting to wilt.
With 9 minutes left, and Shephard tormenting Waltham Abbey, Boro were awarded a penalty for a tackle from behind in the 18 yard box, 'Shep' struck home for 2-4 and the club were in the hat for the next round.
In truth although Waltham Abbey fought for every ball, after the opening 20 minutes they offered little in the way of goal threat, and Boro always looked to have goals in them if they could weather the home storm. "We want to be entertaining, play good football, but ultimately we want to win matches. The pitch was a leveller and we tried to play football, to dominate the ball, but we did not do it well enough in the opening half," said Widdrington as Boro prepared to travel homeward, "I honestly never thought we would lose. I was frustrated that the players charged with winning the game from the start did not do enough of what I asked of them. There is a mentality that is needed at clubs from a lower division in a cup tie, we need to be mentally stronger and braver."
When asked about the substitutions that made all the difference in the final 3rd of the game, Widdrington continues, "Ollie Rowe responded how I would expect a captain to do so, and Darren Lok is great example of honesty. His effort and willingness to try his heart out ..... I want 11 of him really."
On a cup run ....... "I wanted to be in the hat at the end of the day, we are, and I don't think Waltham Abbey can object too much to that ......"
Waltham Abbey: Bransgrove, Daveney (Llewelin 67), Bedford, Attard, Sargent, Akers, Bristow (Aboiye 85), Bruno, Maxwell, Elmes (James 51), Peagram
Unused Subs: Wheeler, Llewelin, Laxton, Mann
Cards: Akers Y, Sargent Y
Goals: Bristow (15), Akers (58)
Borough: Jordan, Hamilton, Noone, Uddin, Cole (Rowe 62), Gorman (Johnson 71), Adelsbury, Knight (Lok 62), Hart, Ademeno, Shephard
Unused Subs: Morgan, Gilbert, MacFarlane, Baker
Goals: Ademeno (32), Shephard (74, 82 pen), Lok (76)
Website MOM: Darren Lok