Essex Cup joy for Hornchurch under-16s
PUBLISHED: 13:53 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 13:54 20 April 2017
Hornchurch 1 Billericay 0
Hornchurch lifted the Essex Cassels Under-16s Cup for the first time with a slender victory against Billericay Town at New Lodge last night.
And it allowed Lee Benson’s talented squad to add to the Cordell Under-13s and Rosser Under-15s Cup silverware previously earned on their path through the age groups.
Charlie Munns was the goalscoring hero with a close-range finish deep into the second half and assistant manager John Guyton said: “It’s absolutely fantastic! I said I’d like to get our club’s name on the trophy. We’ve had a couple of years where the Under-16s have got into the final and, unfortunately, didn’t win it.
“I think it’s now only the Under-12s and the Under-18s trophies that don’t have the Hornchurch name on them. It’s our third time, which is brilliant, and these boys were fantastic.
“We had a couple go down with cramp and injuries, but I’m really, really pleased to have our name on the trophy because it means a lot. It goes back in history as well.”
The Urchins entered the big game having already been crowned Eastern Junior Alliance ‘Essex Blue’ Division champions.
And with their last competitive match taking place two weekends ago they arrived fresh from a friendly against Australian opposition.
Town had already knocked out four fellow Alliance clubs to reach their first final and Lee Felstead’s fourth-placed squad were keen to add to that list on their ‘home’ patch.
The two sides had already met at the start and the finish of their domestic campaigns, with one victory apiece.
And it initially appeared that if Hornchurch were to tip the balance, the creative Billy Jackson would be involved in some way.
In just the third minute, the ball was knocked forward to him and he wrapped his boot around a half-volley from the edge of the penalty area, forcing Town goalkeeper Harvey Wright to acrobatically push his strike away.
With a dozen minutes on the clock he then interchanged passes with speedy former Tottenham Hotspur winger Tyrone Baker during a swift counter-attack before shooting well over from around 20 yards.
Jackson saw a 24th-minute effort defected wide before his team-mates took their turn as the Urchins crafted the majority of the chances.
Just prior to the half-hour mark Bradley Rowland, scorer of the winning goal in last season’s Under-15s Cup final, dropped a left-wing cross beyond the far post to Tom Troubridge, who revived the attack and recycled it back to Rowland but the team’s player of the year lost control of his volley and his effort sailed well over.
And on 33 minutes, a low, controlled free kick from Munns flew a yard wide, before Billericay had their best chance four minutes into the second half when Callum Fitzer twisted and turned and watched as a strike hit a defender and found the side netting.
Hornchurch, cheered on from the terraces by a number of the club’s senior first-team squad, had to wait until the 64th minute for their crucial breakthrough. Custodian Wright couldn’t grasp Shadrach Ogie’s deep free kick and Munns was ideally placed to ram home the loose ball from a couple of yards.
Guyton, whose side weren’t even in a title race until three weeks ago, praised the players’ determination to get over the line, adding: “We were all excited and we were getting quite frustrated because we’d had a couple of chances before that in the first half.
“But it relieves the pressure and we scored quite late as well. We knew we could defend and hopefully defend a lead. We did say that to them at half time: ‘get your lead and the game will open up’. It finally did towards the end. I’m really, really pleased.”
Hornchurch: Jack O’Connor, George Harris, Shadrach Ogie, Charlie Munns, Tyrone Baker, Tom Troubridge, Billy Jackson, Bradley Rowland, Charlie Hawes, Tommy Tableporter, Callum Nightingill. Substitutes (repeated): Mitchell Mason, Tyrell Holder, George Ishmail, Harry Brown.
Billericay Town: Harvey Wright, Connor Duffy, Jai Felstead, Joe Quick, Cian White, Callum Fitzer, Max Shepherd, Ted Forbes, Lewis Arthur, Ben Garwood, Connor Keating. Substitutes (repeated): Ali Madhi, Danny Cook, Teddy Rumsby.