Romford Elite edged out in Sunday Junior Cup final
PUBLISHED: 09:34 04 April 2017
Berry 2 Romford Elite 1
Romford Elite were edged out of the honours by Berry after an entertaining Essex Sunday Junior Cup final at Brightlingsea Regent.
Sceptre Sunday League Berry took the lead in the 18th minute through joint player-manager Marcus Bowers and extended their advantage four minutes into the second period thanks to an impressive Jamie Miller finish.
Elite halved the deficit through Chris Bird’s penalty a few minutes later, but Berry held firm to claim their first county silverware.
Co-boss Aron Peters said: “It feels really good. I’m really pleased that all our hard work has paid off. We took it to them in the first ten minutes and got on top in the game. I felt like we deserved that, and it was important to get the early goal. We never looked back.”
That mightily impressive opening began with Bowers smashing over despite being well placed inside the first minute, and it continued when Bowers set Marky Saunders away down the inside right channel within a further 60 seconds. The midfielder squared to Alex Smith, but his deflected effort was diverted wide.
From the resultant Keith King corner, Brett Deeming’s dominant header skimmed the top of the crossbar, and the hectic start continued with Elite’s first chance, Aaron Gill chipping a Charlie Desmond corner over at the far post in the 12th minute.
However, play quickly switched to the opposite end, where Bowers edged his team ahead with a superb solo goal as he dashed down the right-hand side. After reaching the byline, he looked around for supporting team mates but, when he noticed that no-one had kept up with his run, he cut back onto his left foot and drilled his finish inside the left-hand upright.
A spate of cautions followed as the match threatened to boil over, but referee Mark Pond controlled proceedings well and Elite went close to an equaliser as Daniel Daley met another Desmond corner and nodded inches over the bar.
The first half closed with Deeming’s aerial threat coming to the fore again in the opposite area as he glanced a long Bowers throw wide.
Berry had knocked out Essex Sunday Junior Trophy holders Fox & Fiddler and reigning Junior Cup champions Daen Ingas to reach the final, and they showcased their knockout pedigree on the biggest stage by doubling their lead shortly after the interval.
This time Miller was the goalscorer as he gambled on a team-mate winning a midfield tussle and raced onto the second ball. The attacking midfielder sprinted clear of the Elite defence and bore down one-on-one with Terry Peacham, before sliding the ball underneath the exposed custodian.
Any thoughts that Berry harboured of an easy morning were swiftly cut short when defender Darren Phillips was penalised for handball as he stopped Bird from bursting into the penalty area. Bird took responsibility for the spot-kick himself and sent Joe McIver the wrong way from 12 yards.
“The second goal gave us that little bit of a cushion to relax and play like we like to play, on the floor,” added Peters.
“All the boys put a shift in out there, and they had to because the ground was hard and that made it tough, but I can’t complain about any of them. Romford got back into the game with the penalty, so I’m really pleased to have won.”
Dagenham & District Sunday League side Elite attempted to get back on level terms quickly, and Antony Ryan teed-up Bird for a fierce shot that McIver clutched at his near post.
Romford also introduced the pace of Gabriel Ogunwomoju up-front, but they were unable to further pierce a resilient Berry back line.
That was no more evident than in the 83rd minute, Phillips blocking a Ryan attempt on the edge of the penalty area following a one-two with Ogunwomoju, and the Berry defence also managed to hack clear when Josh Thompson tried to recycle the ball into the six-yard box.
By that time Bowers had seen his volley from a deep King free kick deflected wide, and Berry went even closer to sealing the victory two minutes from time as King’s corner was cleared out to Joe Burgess and his drilled strike from 20 yards cannoned back off the inside of the right-hand post.
Deep into stoppage time Bowers brilliantly brought down a high pass, only for his shot to hit a defender, although Berry had already done enough to celebrate a hard-earned victory.
It’s always nervy when you’ve only got a one-goal cushion, but the boys performed well,” said Peters.
“I asked our goalkeeper after the game if he’d had anything to do, and that shows how well we played. It’s been impressive and I’m pleased about the whole setup, with the coach getting the crowd up here. It’s been a really good day, and it’s nice to finish it in style with a win.”
Berry: Joe McIver, Joe Burgess, Jamie Miller, Brett Deeming, Marky Saunders, Alex Smith, Marcus Bowers, Keith King, Ryan Morgan, Marc Cleall, Darren Phillips. Substitutes (repeated): Aron Peters, Simon Oliver, Robbie Deeming, Callum Saunders, Matt Parkin.
Romford Elite: Terry Peacham, Charlie Tricker, Aaron Gill, Daniel Daley, Craig Daley, Chris Bird, Antony Ryan, Charlie Desmond, Josh Thompson, Mike Desmond, Jamie Thomas. Substitutes (repeated): Liam Bicette, Ben Bickford, Gabriel Ogunwomoju, Pa Lette, Paul Scott.
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