Eastbury’s Massala nets a brace in Essex win
PUBLISHED: 10:23 06 March 2014 | UPDATED: 10:26 06 March 2014
Essex win sets up title chance
Two goals apiece from Eastbury’s John Massala and Connor Sutton from Chelmsford saw Essex set-up a shot at the East Anglian Counties Under 16s Championship title with a 4-1 win over Cambridgeshire at the Harlow Arena.
The comfortable success means victory over Bedfordshire in the county’s final fixture seven days later would earn Essex a first Under 16s crown in eight years. Anything other than the full three points will see Suffolk retain the trophy. This triumph was a richly deserved one, with the hosts having dominated for the most part on a blustery afternoon in north-west Essex.
Strong forward Massala was central to the majority of Essex’s early chances as he failed to make the most of three opportunities inside the opening half an hour and, as a result, it wasn’t until the third minute of first-half stoppage time that the deadlock was broken.
The hosts finally managed to stamp their authority on the game thanks to Massala’s stabbed through ball and a fine piece of control and finishing by Chelmsford City’s Sutton, which earned an interval lead. Sutton was one of six Clarets youngsters on show in the fixture. The lead was promptly doubled just three minutes after the restart as Eastbury schoolboy Massala burst into the penalty area before firing a low shot beneath Cambridgeshire goalkeeper Jamie Philips.
The visitors certainly weren’t out of the contest at that stage, and they halved the deficit on the hour mark when Soloman Orieji fired home from close range after the ball had wriggled out of the grasp of Essex custodian Connor Pearce.
In response, another strong Massala run brought a fine block by Philips in the visiting goal before it was the turn of counterpart Pearce to perform heroics. He tipped Benitto Castiglione’s free kick over the top to maintain the home side’s lead.
With 72 minutes played, Essex all but sealed the game by adding a third as Massala used his strength and pace to break though on goal before beating Philips with a crisp drive. And the fourth arrived a minute after the regulation 80 when Sutton grabbed his second courtesy of another assured finish having found space inside the penalty area.
Essex: Connor Pearce (Gateway Academy), Godwin Agbotro (Ryan), Matt Koczan (Chelmsford City), Charlie Spalding (Tilbury), Lee Green (Braintree Town), Fred Mastin (Chelmsford City), James Norris (Chelmsford City), Khalil Felix (London APSA), John Massala (Eastbury School), Callum Hubble (Chelmsford City), Tom Colville (Chelmsford City). Substitutes (repeated): Tom Howe (Billericay School), Claude Mukaz (Eastbury School), Connor Sutton (Chelmsford City), Flynn Tarman (Braintree Town).
Cambridgeshire: James Philips (Sawston United), Alfie Ball (St Neots Town), Joe Warwick (Cambridge Celts), Charlie Lewis (St Neots Town), Venkus Dominykas (Wisbech St Mary), Ben Goddard (Cambridge Celts), Christopher Lewis (St Bede’s School), Jakub Ziabka (Wisbech St Mary), Jesse Luff (West Wratting Youth), Charlie Woolf (Histon), Keaton Smith (March Rangers). Substitutes (repeated): Adam Conyard (March Rangers), Alistair Morgan (Wisbech St Mary), Stamford Kembwa (Ely City), Benitto Castiglione (Cambridge Celts), Soloman Orieji (March Rangers).