Football: Enfield spurred on by Roberts

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Enfield . . . . . .0

Cardiff City. . . .0

ENFIELD, the Diadora Premier Division club who usually persuade only about 700 people not to go down the road to White Hart Lane or Highbury, yesterday attracted 2,374 to their FA Cup first-round tie. For a change they had this corner of North London to themselves, and their football fully deserved the extra attention, except in Cardiff's penalty area.

Poor finishing on an increasingly sodden pitch and a gusty wind contrived to make non-League and Second Division football boil down to a similar level. Yet Enfield's play was always the more ambitious. Cardiff had a lot of young, inexperienced players and it showed. The wily Graham Roberts harangued his part-timers unmercifully and they responded well, lacking only a more deft touch in front of goal by the otherwise outstanding Darren Collins.

Only a handful of Welsh fans made the journey, and though that may have been a mercy, it did little to improve a flat atmosphere. Enfield like to think that, whatever the weather, they can deflate any opponents with their steady building in midfield and disdain for the long ball. That involved risks at the back, but they escaped and were unfortunate not to be ahead at half-time.

Although not often supported sufficiently from midfield players whose work tended to end at the half-way line, Collins achieved a great deal on his own. Twice in those first 45 minutes he might have taken advantage of Cardiff's sloppy, unproductive defending.

After 32 minutes Martin St Hilaire's centre fell kindly for him some 10 yards out, but though his shot evaded the fine 19-year-old Cardiff goalkeeper, Stephen Williams, Paul Millar cleared. Ten minutes later Collins hustled past Jason Perry only to shoot high and wide.

Cardiff's untidiness and lethargy turned to a more positive approach in the second half. Enfield were given several uneasy moments and had Gary McCann to thank for saving them when Phil Stant's centre was firmly headed by Millar.

Collins remained the Enfield player most likely to save them a journey to Wales, and the one to offer them most frustration. His ball control and pace were the best on either side, but making it tell was another matter.

While Cardiff applied as much pressure as they dared, they could never risk letting him escape. Had his finishing been as composed as his approach, and were it not for Perry's solid work for Cardiff, Enfield would surely have succeeded.