Massala helps Essex to title
09:00 11 March 2014
Eastbury pupil on target in decisive win
A superb John Massala equaliser, followed by strikes from Connor Sutton and Tom Colville, helped Essex under-16s claim their first East Anglian Counties Championship title in eight years at Bedfordshire.
Essex fell behind at Kempston Rovers as Ryan Spencer gave the hosts an early lead.
And the visitors were then reduced to 10 men when Fred Mastin was sent off for denying a goalscoring opportunity.
But captain Massala got them back on terms on 40 minutes and Dan Rose’s squad eventually ran out 3-1 winners.
Essex, managed on the day by Matt Double, looked the quicker of the two sides out of the blocks and created two early openings as Connor Hubble curled over from the edge of the area before Massala found himself through on goal only to be denied by home goalkeeper George Norton.
Sutton’s rebound was deflected inches wide before the hosts struck on nine minutes.
Spencer’s cross was mishandled by Essex goalie Connor Pearce and the ball dropped just over the line to hand Bedfordshire a rather fortuitous lead.
At the other end, Norton was equal to Massala’s low effort, and the visitors looked to be dealt a further blow when defender Mastin was dismissed for tugging back McCafferty just outside the area.
But it only seemed to galvanise the visitors and, on the stroke of half time, they were level as a James Norris cross was met by a superb bicycle kick from Massala which left Norton helpless.
Ethan Potts threatened to upset Essex’s resurgence with chances either side of half time, as an angled shot then a firm header both brought decent stops from Pearce.
The visitors edged ahead on 58 minutes when Massala cut the ball back for Sutton to fire in off the underside of the bar at the far post.
And the clincher arrived with nine minutes remaining as Colville’s in-swinging, right-flank corner found the top of the net via a wicked deflection.
It was the least a hugely spirited Essex side deserved and they were visibly delighted to lift the Boardman Cup at the end of the match.
Essex: Connor Pearce (Gateway Academy), Charlie Seaden (Hullbridge), Matt Koczan (Chelmsford), Khalil Felix (London APSA), Lee Green (Braintree), Fred Mastin (Chelmsford), James Norris (Chelmsford), Connor Sutton (Chelmsford), John Massala (Eastbury School), Callum Hubble (Chelmsford), Tom Colville (Chelmsford). Substitutes (repeated): Claude Mukaz (Eastbury School), Flynn Tarman (Braintree Town).