Sporting Bengal United moved up into the play-off places after sealing their third consecutive win, defeating Newbury Forest their latest league encounter on Tuesday evening.
With neither side wanting to lose the game, it produced a tight game right till the end but it was the former Essex Senior League side who took the three points against a side who had opened their 2022/23 campaign by going two unbeaten.
The visitors had looked to make a fast start, coming forward in the opening 20 seconds of the game as Alagi Juwara fed the ball into Joseph Diomande, but the latter’s shot was blocked before Artmeladze Shermandin followed up with a shot that went just wide. Bengal controlled the possession in the opening minutes, but the hosts had done well to limit their opponents to just possession. A corner from Sporting Bengal was well cleared by the defence before Newbury Forest had their first real chance of the game, but Anis Assoweh’s low driven free-kick from the edge of the box bounced inches wide.
There were little shouts from the away side for a penalty as a Bengal looked to be brought down, but the referee was unmoved before the Forest keeper caught a shot from distance comfortably. Chaka Barnett brought the ball forward for the hosts, skipping past the full-back, but the Bengal keeper managed to block the testing shot that came in. The visitors continued to push for an opener, but they couldn’t find the goal they sought as Diomande ran through on goal, but poked his effort wide before the hosts wondered how they hadn’t take the lead themselves with Barnett missing from a couple of yards out.
As the first-half drew to a close, both sides had chances to break the deadlock. Newbury’s Aron Meshi clipped the outside of the far post with a free-kick from a tight angle before an effort for Bengal went just over the bar and a header was caught by the keeper, with the sides went into the break with a stalemate.
Right from the off in the second period, it was Sporting Bengal who looked most like scoring. A free-kick was floated into the box by Steven Carvell with the set-piece being touched wide of the target before the visitors pressure paid off 10-minutes into the half as the deadlock was finally broken. Joseph Diomande poked the ball beyond two defenders as he ran through on goal before volleying the ball beyond the keeper.
The hosts looked for an immediately reply to going a goal down as they came forward themselves. A attack was halted by the linesman’s flag before there were huge shouts for a penalty for Newbury, but the referee was again unmoved by the calls. Bengal wondered how they hadn’t doubled their lead as Carvell delivered another ball towards the far post, but the resulting header was off the crossbar before the hosts had their equaliser. They had broken down the other end, following the scare, and poked the ball beyond the Bengal keeper.
Despite conceding with 15 minutes left to play, Bengal didn’t panic and found a foothold in the game as they sought to retake the lead. A header was just over the bar before Carvell looked to fire the away side back into the lead, but the linesman’s flag put a halt to his attempt. The pressure carried on from Sporting Bengal as the game reached the final 10-minutes and the visitors had their chance to go ahead with an 82nd minute penalty. Shermandin took the responsibility to fire Bengal back ahead, but Newbury’s keeper had other ideas, saving the initial spot-kick before the penalty-taker was quickest to the rebound, and put his side ahead.
With little time left in the game, Newbury pushed for an equaliser, but Bengal fought to keep the points. The hosts did everything they could to get the ball forward in the last few minutes of the game, but despite playing out an additional four minutes, they faced their first defeat of the season.