The sides drew 1-1 at Wadham Lodge last Saturday. Marcus Cousins put Rangers in front with a header before Billy Jones equalised early in the second-half. Abbey captain Tom Bentley was then dismissed after picking up a 2nd yellow, but Abbey held on for the replay.
Abbey's Addlestone Moor ground is situated on the South Eastern edge of Chertsey, adjacent to Chertsey High School. There is a reasonably large car park and off road parking nearby. Access into the stadium is via a gate alongside the main facilities building, which houses changing rooms, clubhouse and snack bar. The front of the bar has a covered patio area directly behind one of the goals. There are two small stands to the left, on the High School side of the ground, both are seating areas. There is also a small lean-to, for covered standing, at the far end of this side of the ground. The far end of the ground backs onto a 3G pitch and the opposite side of the pitch is fenced off from another school playing field.
With a decent PA system in full flow and a good crowd already building, the lights on and a pitch made slick from the day's rain, it felt like a proper FA Cup venue.
This season is only Abbey's fourth time of entering the FA Cup. In fact, their replay win against Loxwood in the Extra Preliminary Round was their first ever victory in the competition, making this the furthest they had ever been. Two Step 4 sides have already been disposed of this season too. Both East Grinstead Town and Whitehawk have been beaten 1-0 on their own grounds.
For Walthamstow it was just their second season in the competition, reaching the 1st Qualifying Round last season and already beating that record this term. In a previous incarnation, as Waltham Forest, the club has reached the 2nd Qualifying Round three times before, the latest being in 2016-17. If you go back even further, to when the club was Leyton FC, they made a 3rd Round appearance in the 1909-10 season, going down 1-0 to Leicester Fosse.
Walthamstow started the game very quickly, easing into their stride from the kick-off and looking very sharp as they pressed forward. The approach paid off as early as the 7th minute when Callum Ibe latched onto a neat Dwade James flick, catching the Abbey keeper in two minds before deftly lobbing the ball lover him into the net. 0-1. Cue celebrations from the Waltham Rabble behind the goal, including a sparkly party popper. Fantastic.
Shortly after the goal the Walthamstow Twitter feed posted this 'We may be 1-0 up, but an Abbey Rangers fan has just reminded us we've not got a dog track anymore. Very somber mood.' Note the use of the singular, fan. Although there were plenty of Abbey supporters around, only one of their fans was trying to match the noise made by the Stow supporters. It was the beginning of an evening of friendly banter between the 'Rabble' and the fan.
Walthamstow, with their direct style, were still putting pressure onto the Abbey back-line and went very close to making it 2-0 when only a good save from Rangers stopper Liam Stone prevented Jack Folan from scoring. The follow-up was then sliced out for a corner by Tim Pitt.
Abbey's most dangerous moments had come from set pieces, which Walthamstow appeared to be very shaky when defending. So, after 39 minutes, it was no surprise when Marcus Cousins was left unmarked to power home an equalising header from a right-wing free-kick. 1-1.
HT Abbey Rangers 1 Walthamstow 1. The away side had more of the ball and played with the greater intensity. However, Rangers always carried a threat and will be happy to go in level at the break. On cue, the rain starts to come down.
Despite their quick start and continued advantage in terms of possession, Walthamstow found themselves behind just before the hour mark and again it was the result of a set-piece. This time a left-wing corner caused some trouble in the Stow box and, when an attempt was made to clear the ball at the same time as an Abbey head tried to get a touch, the referee, after a brief glimpse at his assistant, pointed to the spot, awarding the penalty for a high boot. It looked harsh from the other end of the pitch, but the referee and assistant had a much better view than I did.
Bradley Sweeney stepped up and lashed the ball past Bransgrove to make it 2-1.
The banter with the Abbey 'fan' continued in the second-half, with the Rangers supporter joining the Stow Rabble behind the Abbey goal for a while. Good to see plenty of smiling faces and lighthearted comments from both sides.
Walthamstow piled on the pressure after going 2-1 down. They play a very direct style of football, getting the ball up to the front players as quickly as they can. It's certainly not hoofball though and is entertaining to watch as a neutral.
However, the more they pushed forward, the more they left gaps at the back and Abbey were quick to exploit them on a couple of occasions, one of which almost led to a third goal but, incredibly, the ball stayed out when it looked easier to have scored.
There was still time, in the dying minutes, for Walthamstow to have the ball hacked off the Abbey line but it was not to be for the E17ers and, after a fairly long spell of added time, the referee drew proceedings to a close.
FT Abbey Rangers 2 Walthamstow 1. A history making victory for Rangers as they reach the 3rd Qualifying Round for the first time in their history. Walthamstow will be disappointed with the result after taking the lead and looking the more likely side for most of the game. Rangers, however, were always dangerous and took the chances that came their way.
Abbey Rangers: Stone, Pitt, ?, Collins, ?, Bentley(c), Frith, ?, Cousins, ?, Hoppitt. Subs: Kersley, ?
Walthamstow: Bransgrove, Crilley, Gulliver, Folan, Murphy(c), Douglas, McCullock, Jones, James, Ibe, Gebral. Subs: Bennett, Fortune, Yexley, Aiken, Symons, Ramos
Ground Number: 213