BLUES’ play-off chances are hanging by a thread after a Potter Bar completed the double against them, on Saturday.
Level at the break Bar’s striker Josh Hutchinson scored seven minutes after the restart for the decisive moment of the contest, and the home side never looked like picking up the three points needed to keep their promotion hopes alive.
Stortford are now eight points behind fifth placed Worthing with seven clubs between then and the south coast side.
The Blues weren’t helped by a number of changes in the squad. Virtually ever-present this season, Chris Gregan was called back by Chelmsford City to play for them against Concord Rangers. Sam Robbins was serving his one match suspension following his red card at Wingate & Finchley while Mark Haines remained absent injured.
Hector Kyprianou played alongside Ryan Henshaw at the back and Johnville Renee filled in at right back. On the plus side Jamie Cureton returned after injury as did Ryan Charles who was on the bench but entered the action before the half-hour when Alfie Mason was studded on his knee and had to be replaced.
Stortford started the better of the two sides with George Craddock firing a low 20 yard drive narrowly past an upright in the sixth minute and shortly afterwards Luke Callander hustled central defender James Budden into conceding a corner.
Ben Worman had a shot saved by Town keeper Nikola Tzanev but it was the visitors who went ahead in the 11th minute. Sean Bonnett-Johnson’s corner on the left was headed home by skipper Sean Grace via the underside of the bar with Ben Sampayo almost heading the ball off the line.
The Scholars enjoyed a good spell of play as a shot near the back-post from Lee O’Leary was parried away by Arthur Janata and Ben Ward-Cochrane was causing a few problems on the left.
Stortford were not creating a lot but they levelled in the 27th minute when Worman, receiving a pass from Johnville Renee on the right, drove a low effort from the edge of the box past the stopper’s dive to his left and inside a post.
Charles quickly made an impression and Blues began to have an edge on proceedings, with Jamie Cureton cutting in from the left, saw an angled low shot held by the diving Tzanev.
In windy conditions on the resumption, Worman, after collecting a loose ball, had a deflected shot held by the visiting keeper.
The Scholars retook the lead in the 52nd minute following a quick break upfield that ended with Bonnett-Johnson slipping the ball forward for Josh Hutchinson to slot past the advancing Janata.
The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Blues but Tzanev had to be alert just before the hour mark to come out to the edge of his box to get the ball away from Charles after a promising move.
Three minutes later Cureton, after receiving a pass from Jack Thomas, was close again with an angled shot, this time from the right, which skidded away close past the far post.
The nearest Stortford came to notching another equaliser was in the 69th minute as Cureton cleverly put Worman through on goal but the Cambridge United loanee saw his shot go narrowly past the keeper’s left-hand upright.
Callander headed across the six-yard box soon afterwards but at the other end Keegan Cole threatened the Blues goal.
There was a flare-up near the halfway line in the 75th minute that resulted in Jack Thomas and Bar’s Sean Grace being shown yellow cards.
With the match drawing to a close Stortford pushed forward in search of an equaliser with Ryan Henshaw going up into a striking role. Charles had a shot blocked by a defender after good work on the right by Renee and they were unable to find their way through in the remaining time that included three added minutes.
STORTFORD: Arthur Janata; Johnville Renee; Ben Sampayo; Jack Thomas; Ryan Henshaw; Hector Kyprianou; Ben Worman; George Craddock (Alex Warman 77); Jamie Cureton (Olly Miles 84); Luke Callander; Alfie Mason (Ryan Charles 29).
Unused substitutes: Jerry Amoo.
POTTERS BAR TOWN: Nikola Tzanev; Stefan Powell; Andrew Lomas; Lee O’Leary; James Budden; Sean Grace; Dernell Wynter (Bradley Sach 70); Sean Bonnett-Johnson; Josh Hutchinson; Keegan Cole; Ben Ward-Cochrane.
Unused substitutes: Tyrese Owen, Aaron Morgan-Cummings and Berkley Laurencin.
Referee: Stephen Bates
Updated 11:58 - 3 Mar 2019 by Jeff Barnes