Tuesday 23 April 2024

Southend Manor 3 Hoddesdon Town 1 - Goals from Louie Rodmell, Reece Latimer & Alessandro Almeida hand Manor win over Hoddesdon Town that all but confirms survival and Senior status for next season

Thurlow Nunn First Division South, Tuesday 23rd April

Tuesday saw me pop over to The Southchurch Park Arena for the very first time this season (yes I know very poor considering they are my closest club and only a ten minute walk away, if that!!!) to see if Southend Manor could grab a positive result against Hoddesdon Town and all but secure their Senior Football status for next season.

It's been a very poor second half of the season for the hosts, after a 7-2 home win over Tower Hamlets in mid December they have lost fifteen of their sixteen games since then, the only positive a unbelievable 2-1 home win over Cannons Wood which saw them end a ten game losing streak, but since then it's been five straight losses and it has left them in a predicament and in big danger of dropping out of Senior football altogether.

They sat second bottom and only on goal difference, three points from safety, and needing one win from their final two matches to pretty much guarantee survival from relegation to the Essex Olympian Premier, their goal difference is far better than fourth bottom Park View, who have finished their season, so three points tonight would see them out of the bottom three, relegating Park View as a result, but they were up against a Hoddesdon side who are now in the top then after a fantastic run recently.

One defeat in ten in all competitions since the start of February has helped them pull well clear of the drop zone, somewhere they occupied earlier in the campaign and looked in danger of falling out of Senior football themselves, but they sat in tenth spot having amassed fifty five points and are miles clear of danger now, so this for them was just a run out with nothing play for, but no doubt the visitors had no intentions of giving this one up, and wanted to finish the season on a high. A ninth place finish was still possible.

So, could Manor, who only dropped out of the Essex Senior League last season after they joined that league back in the mid 80s, prevent a disastrous relegation for the second successive campaign, ok three sides may not be relegated from the division and their maybe reprieves after the season is done, but they did not want to chance that and desperately needed a win to all but seal their Senior status, a point would take them above St Margaretsbury, who occupied the last relegation spot and have finished their season, that may be important too but for now three were going down so it was important to just get out of those spots.

Ironically Hoddesdon finish their season at the weekend away to bottom side Burnham Ramblers who simply needed to win their final game to have any chance of escaping the bottom three, but they needed help from Hoddy this evening as a Manor win would give them almost no chance of doing this as Manor's goal difference was better than theirs, so Hoddesdon certainly had a big say in who would finish in the bottom three, that's for sure, it certainly made it an intriguing spectacle for the next few days. Lots at steak you could say with a lot riding on this result tonight at Southchurch Park.

I have probably waffled on a bit too much about what could happen and what needed to happen, let's actually see how this evenings contest went, well Manor started the contest well and could easily have been a couple of goals to the good early on, Hoddesdon did then see a powerful effort tipped onto the post at the other end, but apart from that moment Manor were the ones looking likelier to score, and just before the half hour mark they grabbed a deserved lead.

This came towards the end of a sin bin handed out to the hosts a few minutes before, but it failed to halt a Manor side who were getting on top, Louie Rodmell swivelling before firing a left footed effort from outside the box which the keeper could only get a hand to but fail to keep it out, and with Manor on a crest of a wave they doubled that lead five minutes later when a cross into the box saw Reece Latimer power home a superb header, and the hosts were now in dreamland.

The hosts could and should have added more before the break too, one such moment saw the brilliant Alessandro Almeida fly down the right hand side before his cutback found a teammate who saw his effort saved, but Manor did go into the break two goals to the good and half way to the result they needed to all but confirm their survival.

Hoddesdon had not been at the races if truth be told, they looked like a team who had nothing to play for, but they improved after the break as the hosts began to look a little nervy, although the hosts keeper didn't have too much to do despite the a lot more pressure from the visitors, but Manor stood firm as they had done all game, battling hard for each other as expected from a side who knew a win was paramount.

Almeida did have a decent chance to ease those nerves when a lovely ball released him down the right, but his effort was beaten away by the keeper, but with just over fifteen minutes of the ninety to go Manor did add a third to all but seal this one when after the keeper had saved a decent effort, the ball fell into the path of Almeida who made no mistake, he certainly deserved a goal to cap his performance, and Manor were almost there.

Hoddesdon weren't going away though and finally pulled one back with 83 minutes on the clock as a ball into the box was flicked to the back post where Dion Laughton was on hand to turn home, and those nerves returned for the hosts and their supporters as they feared a late comeback from the visitors, and they did see an effort thump back off the post, a second goal would have made things very interesting indeed.

It was a rather frantic end to the game and in stoppage time both sides received red cards after an altercation, but after eight minutes or so of added on time, the referee brought proceedings to an end and Manor had grabbed that win to take them out of the bottom three and pretty much guarantee their senior status for another year, which for the club was massive and so important.

It also means that Park View & St Margaretsbury will finish in the bottom three, and Burnham Ramblers will almost certainly finish in the bottom three too and all three are now in danger of dropping out of Senior Football if those three positions are to be relegated, although that may not happen due to reprieves etc, so watch this space. The only way Ramblers can get out of the bottom three and deny Manor is if they beat Hoddesdon on the final day and Manor lose at Clapton and in the process overturn their thirteen goal deficit to Manor in their goal difference, which does seem unlikely. I guess it's never over till it's over, but it's all but over.....

Full time Southend Manor 3 Hoddesdon Town 1












 


 



Stanway Rovers 4 Woodford Town 1 - A brace from Harry Thomas helps Rovers cruise past Woodford Town to set up meeting with Romford in the Essex Senior's Errington Challenge Cup final in May

Essex Senior League Errington Challenge Cup Semi Final, Monday 22nd April

The start of a new week saw me over at one of the Essex Senior League's flagship cup semi finals as their league cup, which these days of course is named after league president Robert & his late wife, the wonderful Margaret Errington, had reached the last four stage and saw both semi finals being played on the same evening as four sides did battle to reach the Bank Holiday Monday finale.

I was privileged to join Robert in travelling with him to The Hawthorns, home of Stanway Rovers, as they took on Woodford Town, the other semi final was taking place at Catons Lane as Saffron Walden Town hosted Romford, two good ties to come for sure, all four semi finalists were in the top seven of the league with a week or so remaining of the regular season, and Woodford Town & Romford had home semi final play off ties to come too once the season was done.

For this night though it was all about League Cup success, shall we see how the competition has panned out so far:-

First Round 

FC Clacton 5 (Collins x2, Cowler, Harms, Baker-Williams) Coggeshall Town 1 (Oseyemi 90+1)

Hullbridge Sports 0 Woodford Town 2 (Protic 64,90)

Takeley 2 (McGettigan 61,Arshakian 87) Sporting Bengal United 3 (Artmeladze 60, Ball 80, Juwara 90)

White Ensign 0 Barking 4 (Hirst 13, Martin 67,80,90+3)


Second Round

Buckhurst Hill 0 West Essex 1 (Bartlett-Antwi 25)

Great Wakering Rovers 2 (MacDonald 38, Gnandi 43) Woodford Town 3 (Christou 3, Protic 75,87)

Halstead Town 2 (Adeyemi, Pinkney) Frenford 1 (Johnston)

Romford 2 (Elegushi 48, Morris 52) Little Oakley 0 

Saffron Walden Town Vs FC Clacton (Home Walkover for Saffron Walden Town)

Sporting Bengal United 2 (Pepple 17, Wilson 84) Athletic Newham 3 (Aminu, Spencer x2)

Stanway Rovers 2 (Okoye 6, Grimes 43) Ilford 1 (Warner)

Tilbury 0 Barking 2 (Bademosi 36, Dairi 49)


Quarter Finals

Halstead Town 2 (Bennett, Older) Romford 5

Saffron Walden Town 1 (Ofori 90) Barking 0

Stanway Rovers 3 (Conway 8, Thomas 46, Cooper 90) Athletic Newham 0

West Essex 0 Woodford Town 3 (Protic 20, Okoh 65,76)


Semi Finals

Saffron Walden Town Vs Romford

Stanway Rovers Vs Woodford Town


So, that's the entire competition so far, sixteen games over three rounds, for the semi finalists only Woodford Town had to battle through every round to reach this stage, all away from home too including the semi final tonight as well, whereas Stanway Rovers, Saffron Walden Town & Romford all received byes through to Round Two. Walden in fact only had to win their Quarter Final against Barking to reach this stage after their Second Round tie saw FC Clacton pull out, Stanway netted two home wins to reach this stage where they have another home tie, and finally Romford saw a home win followed by a big away win to set up another away tie in the semis, that brings you all up to date with how this competition panned out over the last three months.

All four sides are in good form of late too, Walden are unbeaten in April (five games) and were leading champions Tilbury 2-0 in midweek before that game was abandoned, Romford of course reached the FA Vase Final a couple of weekends ago and take on fellow ESL side Great Wakering Rovers at Wembley which will be a momentous day for the league and clubs too, and they were on a twelve match unbeaten run until they lost at Buckhurst Hill at the weekend to see their faint title hopes ended.

Stanway have been on a marvellous run since losing to Isthmian North side Witham Town narrowly at home in late Feb, losing only two out of eleven since then, and those losses were against champions Tilbury second placed Romford, and Woodford Town have only lost twice in the last eighteen games they have played too, so as said all four sides were full of confidence for sure.

And what of the head to heads between the semi finalists, well Romford thrashed Walden on the opening day of the season 5-1 before the return game at Catons Lane was much tighter but saw Romford earn a 1-0 win, Stanway netted a thumping 5-2 home win over Woodford before they netted a 2-1 win at Ashton's in the return fixture, so on that basis the final will be Romford Vs Stanway Rovers, but it's not an simple as that is it.

Let's concentrate on matters at The Hawthorns then, the game I attended of course, and after the visitors initially had started the game on the front foot, Rovers soon began to take over the contest and were creating any openings that were forthcoming, Tom Maycock struck the bar with a free kick in the games best chance until Rovers took the lead ten minutes before the break when Harry Thomas got in to slot beyond Eddie Allan.

Rovers then saw Maycock once again strike the bar from another free kick and then the hosts thought they had doubled their lead just before the break when a corner was headed back across goal and touched in from close range, but after the referee consulted the assistant, the goal was then ruled out for offside, much to the annoyance of Rovers, and it annoyed skipper Reece Conway so much he was sin binned as the players walked off for half time.

This meant the hosts would have to play the first ten minutes of the second period with ten men, but this didn't affect them as six minutes after the break they doubled their lead when Thomas again was played in and he produced another faultless finish for his second of the game as Rovers stamped their authority on the contest.

Woodford looked out of it, that was until they were given a route back into the contest when they were awarded a spot kick after a foul inside the box, and Ernest Okoh duly converted the spot kick, and for a period after the goal you felt maybe they would get back into the tie, but that hope only lasted for about ten minutes as Rovers restored their two goal cushion with just under twenty minutes remaining when a cross from the right was converted first time by Jamie Bennett.

Rovers were back in full flow by now and they were handed a fourth goal when after Woodford keeper Allan had tried to dribble out of his own box surrounded by opponents, he eventually lost the ball to George Okoye who had the simple task of slotting the ball into the empty net, and at that point the tie was well and truly over, and Rovers had cruised into the final of the Errington Challenge Cup.

Full time Stanway Rovers 4 Woodford Town 1









So, Stanway Rovers were though to the final, what happened in the other semi final tie? Let's find out:-

Saffron Walden Town 2 Romford 4

FA Vase finalist Romford are into another final after they netted four at Catons Lane to defeat Saffron Walden Town, eleven minutes had elapsed when Boro took the lead, Finlay Dorrell ran onto a pass from Amaree Robinson-Jones to fire an effort past Jarvis Monk, and nine minutes later Boro doubled their advantage when Ash Siddik found Luke Foster who was brought down inside the box, and Kris Newby fired home the resulting spot kick. Dorrell then netted his second of the game, sadly for him and Boro it was at the wrong end though as Walden reduced the arrears twelve minutes before the break when Dorrell deflected the ball past his own keeper, but twelve minutes after the break Boro restored their two goal lead when after Dorrell's cross wasn't dealt with, Darren Phillips low effort found the net.

Two minutes of normal time remained when Walden gave themselves hope of a late comeback when they reduced the arrears once again, Scott Doe headed the ball back to his keeper Wayne Baker whose clearance cannoned off Stan Leech who then ran the ball into the net, but any thoughts of possible extra time were extinguished when Romford sealed the contest four minutes into stoppage time when Toheeb Elegushi cut inside before firing a low effort beyond Monk and make sure Boro reached the final.


It all means then that the final, which takes place at Halstead Town's Rosemary Lane, will be contested between Romford & Stanway Rovers on Sunday 19th May. It promises to be a decent final.....




Saturday 20 April 2024

Tilbury 2 Frenford 0 - Second half goals from Oli Spooner & Alex Clark help hosts to hard fought win over Frenford to seal Essex Senior League title & promotion back to the Isthmian North at first time of asking

Essex Senior League, Saturday 20th April

The penultimate weekend in April brought the penultimate weekend of the Essex Senior League regular season and I was over at Chadfields to see if runaway leaders Tilbury could finally seal the title and promotion back to the Isthmian North Division and Step Four football at the first time of asking following their relegation last season.

It's been a incredible season for the Dockers, they made a slow start to their campaign and the management were called into question by some after losing three of their first six league games, but once they got into their stride they went on a long unbeaten run of twenty three league games until they were finally beaten again at Buckhurst Hill, a run of over six months without defeat in the league.

They have only lost once more since then, a home loss to Woodford Town, but with such a big lead at the top they could afford the odd slip up for sure, and they also had a marvellous run in the FA Vase, reaching the Last Eight of the competition before bowing out on penalties at home to North Greenford United, so an amazing season for sure, and now they had the chance to finish it with silverware and the chance to call themselves champions of the Essex Senior League, which would have been a more than deserved accolade.

They had the chance to claim the title on a couple of occasions in the week leading up to this one, a win at Saffron Walden Town on Tuesday would have sealed the title, but they found themselves 2-0 down in that one before some unsavoury scenes ended with that game being abandoned, and then if Romford had lost on Wednesday at Athletic Newham then Tilbury would have claimed the title, however Romford had other ideas and romped to a 4-1 win, to at least keep the title race going for a few more days.

Tilbury's opponents today were Frenford, a side they had beaten 3-0 at The Drive in last September as The Dockers juggernaut was getting into full flow, this game would be different though for sure in terms of pressure and atmosphere and how much was a stake for the hosts, Frenford themselves had endured a tough season in their first foray into Step Five football, and were sat in third bottom in the division.

They were pretty much guaranteed not to finish in the bottom two though unless Ilford, who were three points behind Frenford, overturned a twenty four goal swing goal difference wise, which was extremely unlikely, especially as The Foxes last game of the season was next weekend against third placed and play off bound Woodford Town, so the visitors could end their season playing with freedom, which can sometimes be a hindrance to the ones going for victory.

Frenford have had some decent wins this season so can not be taken lightly, and have been in a lot of games that they have ended up losing, so Tilbury would have to be wary of them for sure, but on paper at least this only looked like a home win, but as said pressure does funny things to sides sometimes when they get so close to the line, something that Frenford didn't have to worry about, although Tilbury knew how to win games on the whole, so if they played well they would win.

You felt that if The Dockers could get in front early then that would certainly settle some nerves and maybe set the tone for the afternoon, however this did not materialise as a rather nervy performance from the hosts saw a rather nervy atmosphere inside Chadfields amongst a decent 425 crowd, the hosts certainly had a lot of the ball but could not really create much in terms of chances to grab that elusive goal that would settle them and the crowd down.

Frenford rarely threatened in the opening forty five minutes but had the two best chances of the half at the end of it, both of them falling to Nick Reynolds, firstly seeing a close range downward header somehow saved brilliantly by Christian North, and then with the final kick of the half Reynolds sliced wide when in a great position, and the game remained goalless heading into the break, to say the hosts were worried and nervy was an understatement.

The early exchanges of the second period didn't help the hosts in terms of easing those nerves and anxiety, the only thing that was in their favour perhaps was that Romford, who needed to better Tilbury's result to keep the title race alive , and with them drawing at Buckhurst Hill, they would still be champions if it stayed as it was, however The Dockers really wanted to win the league with a win and grab a goal to ease the pressure which had been building.

Frenford to their credit had been making it a very hard fought contest, and were giving nothing to their opponents, but the more the second period went on, the closer Tilbury were coming to opening the scoring, they thought they had taken the lead when a lovely run from Shea Hutchinson ended with his effort being deflected to the back post where David Knight was on hand to turn the ball home, however the assistants flag had gone up, meaning it would not count.

This only added to the frustration and anxiousness amongst the hosts, but midway through the second period came the moment they craved, as they finally grabbed the lead, as after they somehow headed against the inside of the post from point blank range, the ball went across the box and perfectly into the path of Oli Spooner who managed to fire home via keeper Jimmy Parker's hand and into the net to bring utter joy and relief amongst the home fans and players/management.

It certainly was a release of pressure, however they still had around half an hour to go, so it wasn't done yet, and as the game got closer and closer to the end, it was tense inside the ground to say the least, but, two minutes into six added on, Tilbury sealed the contest and the title when they countered on Frenford who were trying to find a leveller, and the ball was eventually squared to Alex Clark who fired home to send the hosts wild with delight, and bring utter relief that they had managed to get over the line after a very tough contest.

And with the news that Romford had fallen behind to a stoppage time goal at Roding Lane, celebrations had already begun the stands and almost on the pitch too, they knew they were going up as champions now and could enjoy the final few moments before the whistle sparked great scenes on the pitch and the fans also came on to celebrate with them, ESL champions for 2023/24 and promotion back to the Isthmian North at the first time of asking, well done to everyone at the club for achieving this feat, it was well deserved.

Full time Tilbury 2 Frenford 0











So, we know that Tilbury are champions, let's see what else happened in the division and see how the table looks with one week of the regular season remaining:-

Athletic Newham 0 

Barking 0 

Att-45


Buckhurst Hill 1 (Youcef Tacine 90+3) 

Romford 0

Att-125


Saffron Walden Town 4 (Olly Miles 64,77,80; Jacob Noble 67) 

Great Wakering Rovers 3 (Max Gnandi 10,74; Jake Gordon 22)

Att-223


Stanway Rovers 4 (Harry Thomas 51, 58; Tom Maycock 55; Nathaniel Mardell 90+1)

West Essex 0

Att 80


White Ensign 2 (Ethan Evison 65,88)

Little Oakley 3 (Jordi Papple 22; Daniel Rowe 35; Harry Mann 90)

Att-62


So, today's results mean pretty much all has been decided title/automatic promotion/play off wise now, Tilbury are of course champions now and will be back in Step Four football next season, Romford, Woodford Town, Barking & Sporting Bengal United will most likely be the four sides competing for a place in Step Four in the post season, Romford and Woodford will have home advantage regardless of where they finish now, all that needs to be decided is who they face at home. GWR cans till make the play offs mathematically but they need to make up thirteen points in their final five games which is pretty unlikely as those games have to be played in the next couple of weeks or so.

Down at the bottom and it's almost certain that Ilford will finish in the bottom two along with already relegated Coggeshall Town, whether Ilford go down with them is still a matter for discussion and really depends on reprieves from elsewhere, the league did say two were going down a couple of months or so ago but Ilford seemed to think they had survived a few weeks ago when they knew they would definitely not finish bottom, so who knows how that's going to pan out!!!

Anyway congratulations again to Tilbury for their success today, it was a pleasure to share the day with you and also be part of the presentation at the end too, handing the tankards to ESL president Robert Errington to pass onto the players of the winning side, no doubt their celebrations will go long into the night and quite frankly who could blame them, they deserve it 100% after a long tough season and especially after the disappointment of relegation last season.


Sunday 14 April 2024

Erith & Belvedere 0 Three Bridges 2 - Goals from Noel Leighton & Ibrahim Jalloh hand visitors hard fought win to clinch play off spot in Isthmian South East & in turn hammer another nail into the hosts relegation coffin

Isthmian League South East Division, Sunday 14th April

As I did not do any football on Saturday (was off playing golf in Kent) I woke up this morning and decided to head over to Park View Road, Welling, for an important match in the Isthmian South East as hosts Erith & Belvedere were looking for a result and keep up their slim hopes of avoiding the drop, whereas visitors Three Bridges were looking for three points to confirm there play off spot in the post season.

Now the hosts sat bottom of the division, eight points from safety but with a much inferior goal difference, to technically nine points if truth be told, they did have a game in hand too, which was today's game, but they would have to do something they hadn't done since February 6th, win, as since they had defeated Hythe Town away on that date, they had not won since, that's nine games, taking only three points from a possible twenty seven, and they were up against a side with much differing fortunes.

Three Bridges sat in fifth, the final play off spot, and ironically since they lost on February 6th against Cray Valley PM at home, they had not lost a single game since, that is eleven games and they had taken twenty seven points from a possible thirty three, so to say the sides could not be more far apart in terms of form since that date in early February was stating the obvious you could say.

Nerves do funny things to sides though, and with the visitors needing three points to confirm their place in the post season play offs, maybe their would be some nerves, if they could not do it here then their last two games were fairly tough, so they wanted to get the job done as soon as possible so they could at least enjoy the final two games knowing they were definitely in the play offs, but up against a side playing freely knowing they had nothing to lose here, the result could easily go in the hosts favour, who knows?

However, when the sides did meet back on November 25th, Three Bridges netted a substantial 6-1 win at their Jubilee Field ground, so the hosts were hoping that was not to repeat itself again, but after The Deres had seen an early header cleared off the line (some thought it might have been with the defenders hand too), Noel Leighton, who netted a brace in that thumping in the corresponding fixture, gave the visitors a ninth minute lead when powering home a close range header from a visiting corner.

Advantage Three Bridges then, the hosts should have been in front, but now trailed, again, so they would have to muster some kind of energy and spirit from somewhere to keep their slim survival hopes going, they certainly had a lot of the ball in the opening half and did create another decent opening but saw visiting keeper Jordan Perrin save with his legs, Three Bridges were definitely not at their best but did do enough to get to the break a goal ahead and half way to confirming that play off spot.

Could The Deres fight back in the second half, well just like the first half their was plenty of effort and endeavour from them, but they just lacked that cutting edge up front, maybe a reason why they had only netted twenty three league goals all season and why they sat where they did, obviously defensively had been a problem too, the Three Bridges goal was the eightieth they had let in this season, in contrast the visitors were one of the highest scorers in the division, goals really do win games of football and kind of summed up why the sides were where they were in the table.

The hosts defensively were not to bad in this contest though if truth be told, and they limited their free scoring opponents to only a few openings, but with twelve minutes of the ninety to go, Three Bridges netted their second of the contest and the ninety-fourth league goal of their campaign (only second to leaders Ramsgate) when a free kick swung into the box was headed back across goal, finding it's way to Ibrahim Jalloh who had the simple task of finding the net, and with that clinch the points they needed to confirm their play off spot.

It had been hard work for them, but they did enough to get over the line in this one, the hosts, who just could not find that cutting edge up front as said, put in a lot of effort in this one, but once again came up short and with them effectively now nine points from safety because of their awful goal difference with just three games to go, it's looking bleak now and it will take the miracles of all miracles for them to not drop down to Step Five next season.

Full time Erith & Belvedere 0 Three Bridges 2











 

Thursday 11 April 2024

Billericay Town 2 Hashtag United 7 - Tags add BBC Essex Women's Cup to their League Cup triumph after a hat-trick from Wiktoria Fronc helps them hammer Billericay Town in the County Cup finale at Victoria Road

BBC Essex Women's Cup Final, Thursday 11th April

The second Thursday in April saw me back over at Dagenham & Redbridge's Victoria Road ground for another County Cup final, and this time is what the turn of the Women as holders Billericay Town took on Hashtag United in an all FA Women's National League Southern Premier contest.

Now Billericay Town as said are the current holders of the Essex Women's Cup after they defeated Hashtag's Reserve side 1-0 in last years final, but they were up against the first team this time around and probably went into this final as underdogs after Hashtag's superb season this season, Billericay were a huge twenty nine points behind Hashtag in the league, Hashtag sat second behind champions Portsmouth whereas Town were third bottom although safe from relegation.

Hashtag were also looking to add another trophy to their cabinet this season after picking up the FAWNL League Cup recently, and they were coming into this final on an unbeaten run of ten games in all competitions, winning nine of those contest in the process, one of them was against tonight's finalists too, a 2-0 win in mid march, so the signs certainly pointed towards a Hashtag win here.

Billericay's form wasn't great either, they had lost all four league games in March, although they can take some heart from winning some silverware nine days ago when they thrashed Ashford 5-0 in the Isthmian League Women's Cup Final, so they were at least going for some more silverware here too, maybe they were a cup side this season, so maybe this would be much tougher for Hashtag than people may have thought.

Saying that, the two games between the two sides in the league had been close, both won by Hashtag, but this being an Essex derby they were always likely to be tight and tense contests, so this one probably was not going to be any different, let's see how these two set up tonight's final:-

Billericay Town

Quarter Finals - Hashtag United Reserves (H) W1-0

Semi Finals - Billericay Town Reserves (H) W6-0

Hashtag United

Quarter Finals - Bowers & Pitsea (H) W4-1

Semi Finals - Chelmsford City (H) W11-0

As you can see, both sides began their campaigns in the Last Eight so only needed to win two games to reach the final, Town repeated last year's final result, again beating Hashtag's Reserves 1-0, before they thrashed their own reserve side 6-0 in the semi finals, Hashtag themselves had two relatively simple ties to reach the final, thrashing both Bowers & Pitsea and Chelmsford City with a combined fifteen goals in the two ties.

So, how would this final pan out? Well, the contest was as good as done inside the opening twenty minutes as The Tags totally dismantled their opponents with four goals in the opening eighteen minutes, opening their account for the evening after just six minutes when a great move ended with a ball being played in the path of Wiktoria Fronc for her to fire beyond Blues skipper and goal keeper Alex Baker before it was two only a couple of minutes later when Valentine Pursey rifled home brilliantly from an angle after cutting back onto her right foot.

And only a quarter of an hour was on the clock when The Tags made it three after Sammy Rowland found the bottom corner from range, and it was four on eighteen minutes when after Baker could only save a cross from the right across her own goal, Malika Apindia was in the right place to thump the loose ball over the line, and at this point you feared for the young Blues outfit as this final was threatening to become really embarrassing for them. 

The Tags though had been ruthless and maybe they took their foot of the gas slightly for the remainder of the half but credit to The Blues who improved after they had fallen four goals behind so early on, and they did manage to net the next goal of the contest to give them some cheer when a lovely move saw them get down the left, and after Tags keeper Frankie Angel had come out to try and thwart the attack, she was beaten to the ball and saw a square pass to Soraya Walsh allow her to find the empty net with the keeper stranded, all of this inside the opening half an hour.

No more goals were forthcoming in the remainder of the first period, and The Blues were hoping that if they could nab the next goal then maybe, just maybe they could put a bit of pressure on their opponents for the first time in the contest, however, these thoughts and hopes were totally banished inside the opening five minutes of the second half.

This is because The Tags saw Fronc get in to slot home her second of the contest barely two minutes after the break, and then a handball inside the Blues box gave The Tags the chance to add another in the 50th minute, and skipper Grace Gillard thumped home the resulting penalty and The Tags were cruising at 6-1 ahead and threatening to run riot once again.

Baker tipped a couple of efforts wide of her post to prevent further damage, and in fact it was the Blues who managed to add the next goal of the contest with ten minutes left when a lovely long pass was perfectly into the path of Ruby Sealey who lofted a lovely finish over Angel and into the corner of the net to make it 6-2, but The Tags were to have the final say when Fronc completed her hat-trick deep into added on time when flicking a lovely finish over Baker into the far corner, capping a marvellous evening for her and her side.

What a brilliant season Hashtag United have had then, the runners up spot in the FAWNL Southern Premier almost secured along with the League Cup and now BBC Essex Women's Cup triumph, it's certainly not been a bad season that is for sure, for the young Blues side it's a good learning lesson for these players who were well schooled this evening that was for sure, but they have managed to stay in the division this season and have a trophy in their cabinet so no doubt plenty of positives to take from what has been a pretty tough one on the whole.

Full time Billericay Town 2 Hashtag United 7













 

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Great Wakering Rovers 4 Hullbridge Sports 1 - Goals from Locke, Gordon, Topliss & Martin see hosts come from behind to defeat Hullbridge at Burroughs Park to keep their Essex Senior League play off hopes alive

Essex Senior League, Tuesday 9th April

I decided to pop over to Burroughs Park and check out FA Vase Semi Finalists Great Wakering Rovers in their latest Essex Senior League match, and on this occasion they welcomed local South Essex rivals Hullbridge Sports in one of their many games in hand mainly due to their special Vase run they were still on as they looked to make it an all ESL final against Romford at Wembley Stadium.

This game came into between the two semi final legs against Worcester City, they had lost the first leg 1-0 at the weekend so was all to play for in the coming second leg at the weekend with a sell out crowd of around 1,400 expected at Burroughs Park for that one, tonight their was around 100 for the bread and butter of the league, and an expected tough assignment against a local rival.

Obviously GWR's Vase run had taken up a lot of the clubs efforts, and their league form had suffered somewhat as a result, March had seen three straight defeats in the league against Little Oakley, Romford & Stanway Rovers, before they netted back to back wins against Frenford to get back on track and get their play off charge back on track, they started this one in 12th spot, thirteen points off Sporting Bengal United in fifth, with no less than six games in hand.  

Their were two ex-Sporting staff amongst the Hullbridge side as well, winger/striker Sherri Artmeladze was in the visiting line up and assistant Matty G was on the side-line, both had moved to Bridge from Sporting a couple of months ago or so and could do their old club a favour here and take points off the hosts and make it harder for them to catch Sporting in that final play off spot.

Bridge themselves can no longer reach the play offs and are down in eleventh spot with just three games left in the season, this largely due to an awful run of form which has seen them lose their last four games without scoring a single goal, and too much inconsistency during the season has ultimately cost them a chance of making the post season play offs, it would be interesting to see what sort of GWR side they would be up against considering the hosts do have a rather big match coming up at the weekend.

Bridge had not actually scored in five games in all comps lately, but it took them less than two minutes to score in this one, as with their first real attack Artmeladze did well on the left hand side before sending a cross into the box and found Jon Evans who took a touch and volleyed a wonderful effort into the top corner, catching GWR cold.

The visitors though could only hold that lead for four minutes as GWR levelled with six minutes on the clock as Harry Talbot did well down the left, and he squared a ball to Dom Locke who applied a lovely finish and level the game up, it had been a decent start to the contest that was for sure!!!

The visitors created the better openings in the remainder of the half but could not capitalise on their openings, not for the first time this season it has to be said, and they were punished for this three minutes before the break when Jake Gordon, on for the injured Hafeez Elegushi, found himself with his back to goal on the far side, and he swivelled and fired a cross into the box, but saw it sail over keeper Bradley Davison and perfectly into the far corner, there is no way he meant to do that, but it didn't matter and it meant the hosts found themselves ahead at the break. 

And just like Hullbridge had caught GWR cold at the start of the game, the hosts returned the favour barely two minutes into the second period by making it 3-1 when centre half Harrison Topliss glanced a header into the far corner, not the start the visitors were looking for in the second period, and no doubt their half time team talk totally out of the window.

Thereafter Hullbridge continued to miss openings as they looked for a route back into the game, and the hosts were playing on the counter and trying to punish the visitors for pushing men forward in search of that route back into the game, had the visitors taken some of their chances then it could have been a different outcome, but the hosts were looking dangerous when they countered, and with twelve minutes left they did find a fourth to seal this one, substitute Tony Martin bursting through to round keeper Davison before slotting home and give the GWR fans behind the goal more to cheer.

The scoreline was probably a bit harsh on the visitors, it certainly wasn't a 4-1 game, but a combination of missed chances and lack of concentration at times at the back ended up costing them here, and the hosts were clinical too and showed why they still had a chance at reaching the play offs unlike their opponents this evening, GWR climb five places to seventh and are ten points off the top five with five games in hand. They will be hoping for a place at Wembley and Vase success plus a chance of promotion too, a pretty special season could be really special if things go to plan.

Full time Great Wakering Rovers 4 Hullbridge Sports 1