School Sport: More success for Shenfield High
15:34 27 May 2014
Essex U19 Cup: Shenfield High 2 Southend High 0
Shenfield High School recorded their third Essex Schools success of 2013/14 as second-half goals from Oli Bell and Steve Stone helped them beat Southend High School for Boys in the RH Pratt Under-19 Cup final.
Goalkeeper Sam Cole made a late penalty save from Southend High skipper George Harvey to ensure the silverware travelled back to Shenfield from Southend United’s Roots Hall Stadium, where it will join the John Edwards Under-13s Girls Trophy and the Alan Child Under-16s Trophy.
And having won a national title as year seven pupils at Wolverhampton’s Molineux ground, it capped a remarkable run of success, the group could finish with a 20th county title if successful in the Essex cricket finals.
Captain George Pratt said: “We won [the Ken Aston Under 12s Cup] in year seven, so it feels really good to round off Year 13 with another cup. I’m really happy.
“I was knackered all the way through the game, but once we got two goals clear it was easy for us, even when they got a penalty. I always back Sam, our ‘keeper. Our second goal was stunning, and the win feels even better with those fans there.”
Backed by a vociferous home support, allowed to leave school a period early to support the team, Southend High may have been expected to have come out of the blocks quickly.
Instead it was Shenfield who threatened first, in just the second minute, when Andy Freeman glanced a header against the top of the crossbar.
Southend’s Robbie Lewis responded in the 14th minute by wriggling free of a defender to fire over, and Mason Gillard Ellis almost nodded the Prittlewell Chase-based school in front when his diving header from a Charlie Crow free kick flew marginally off target.
However, it was Shenfield who assumed a level of control on proceedings, and Bell almost put them in front when he beat custodian Tommy Metcalfe to a through ball but chipped his shot narrowly wide in the 20th minute.
That was followed by Freeman setting-up Stone for a side-footed finish which Metcalfe did brilliantly to block with his legs, having covered a great deal of ground.
And the half ended with an opportunity at either end as Freeman fired wide from Greg Larkin’s cross then Tobias Gibbons cushioned a Crow centre into the path of Harvey, who half-volleyed wide from the edge of the penalty area.
Honours remained even at the break and Southend came out with renewed purpose after the interval as Cole was forced to gather a Crow set-piece by the base of his right-hand post.
The deadlock was finally broken at the other end in the 50th minute when Shenfield were awarded a free-kick on the left touchline.
Frank Fenton provided the delivery and Bell supplied the finish as he brilliantly converted past Metcalfe from 10 yards out, meeting the ball on the run at the near post.
Shenfield were celebrating again 60 seconds later as Stone doubled their lead with a sublime strike.
Larkin was the instigator, holding the ball up and protecting it from a defender to lay it off to the forward some 30 yards out, and Stone made no mistake by floating a precise shot into the top right-hand corner.
Shenfield could have added to their advantage, but Freeman’s well struck effort was deflected wide by John Nutman and Metcalfe made a good stop to thwart substitute Alex Rickenback.
Inbetween times Elliot Johnson’s cross just eluded the onrushing Southend High attackers and later the marauding defender shot wide after bringing the ball through midfield.
Southend continued to press into the final five minutes as Shenfield began to tire and Ronnie Dajani engineered some space for himself on the edge of the penalty area before shooting over.
Then, with 87 minutes played, Gillard Ellis nodded the ball against the crossbar and the referee spotted an infringement in the ensuing melee to award a penalty.
Harvey assumed responsibility for the spot-kick, but Cole guessed correctly to avoid any late nerves surfacing for Shenfield.
“This one particularly means a lot to us because these boys have been at the school for seven years and they have been unbelievable ambassadors,” said manager Lee Thomas of the school’s fourth success in 11 seasons in the competition.
“Their commitment to sport and everything around it has been superb and it’s a particularly amazing year group. To see them pick the trophy up today, I know it means a lot to them, and it means a lot to us as well.
“I have to say thank you to John Brandon from Southend High for organising this day; it’s been fantastic. Playing here has been an amazing experience that the boys will never forget.
“We knew it would be a bit of an away fixture for us and we would have to deal with that. We came here with a plan to get tight behind the ball and quieten down the crowd and then we showed our quality in the second half with two amazing goals.”
Shenfield High: Sam Cole, Robert Moreton, Frank Fenton, George Pratt, Tommy Oliver, Ben Matthews, Oli Bell, Jamie Hansen, Andy Freeman, Steve Stone, Greg Larkin, Alex Rickenback, Jamie Darkin. Manager: Lee Thomas.