School Sport: Emerson Park win Havering Cup
PUBLISHED: 08:10 10 May 2017
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Emerson Park 2 Royal Liberty 1
Two goals in the first half from Ryan Lowe ensured Emerson Park’s year eight squad retained their Havering Cup title with against Royal Liberty at Hornchurch Stadium on Tuesday.
Despite beating their opponents 5-0 in the group stage, as well as winning their semi-final 6-1, the final proved to be a much cagier affair than what was expected, with Luke Pennington’s goal for Royal Liberty proving this was not the same team that was wiped away earlier in the year.
The first chance of the game fell to Nick Reynolds’ Emerson Park side as a corner whipped in by Joe Butcher fell to Charlie Flower, whose header was powered into the ground, forcing a strong hand from Liberty goalkeeper Alfie Bacon.
The follow-up attempt was drilled high and wide of the goal from the onrushing Butcher, but Lowe broke the deadlock on 15 minutes, when he drilled a deep free-kick over the top of the Liberty back four and his own attackers, and the innocuous-looking delivery bounced in the dust in front of Liberty ‘keeper Bacon and squirmed through his legs to trickle into the back of the net.
Despite the goal, Liberty would not be behind for long, as straight from kick off, captain Pennington found himself in space out on the right and his excellent cross-cum-shot from his left foot bent and dipped over the Emerson goalkeeper who was caught off his line and crept under the bar.
It was a fine goal which was met with delight from the Liberty parents in the Colin McBride stand, but Lowe restored his side’s lead just before the break, again from a dead ball.
Brought down just outside the box, Lowe whistled the free-kick into the top corner of the net as the Liberty goalkeeper could only stand and watch.
The opening 10 minutes of the second half was littered with free-kicks for either side, both deep in their own halves with no clear cut opportunities being created.
But as the game entered it’s final 15 minutes, Emerson began to sit off as their opponents chased an equaliser and Liberty began to find more space on the edge of their attacking third.
Trying to preserve their lead, Emerson continued to look for the counter-attack as Ryan Sammons’ side pressed, and despite being on the back foot, Park’s defence held its own to keep out a header from goalscorer Pennington and a goalmouth scramble.
On top of their defensive solidarity, Emerson didn’t go without chances of their own in the second half, firstly with a strike from distance from Jerry Reynolds sailing just over the bar.
And from a corner, their imposing centre-half Segun Famakin powered a header on to the post and saw his rebound smartly palmed away by Bacon.
After hitting the upright, it was Emerson who began to reaffirm their authority on proceedings, with Ethan Branch-Blasse having a golden opportunity to put the game beyond Liberty, but blasting his chance from six yards over the bar on the volley.
Despite the miss, it wouldn’t have mattered as just a minute later, the referee blew the whistle to confirm that Emerson Park’s squad would have back-to-back Havering Cups in years seven and eight, highlighting the possibility of going on to equal that of their current year 11 counterparts who won the title four times in a row.
Emerson Park: Jack Trowbridge, Will Osbourne, Joe Butcher, Jerry Reynolds, Segun Famakin, Jamie Philbrick, Ryan Lowe, Charlie Sullivan, Ethan Branch-Blasse, Charlie Flower, Harry Hinton. Subs: Kian Herbert, Tisore Ogungbayi, Jaiden Bunting, Ryleigh Mora-Pita, Louie Ling.
Royal Liberty: Alfie Bacon, Ashley Anim, Callum Sarfas, Jack Lacey, Raulnelle Skeete-Anglin, Caleb Ayanbadejo, Cameron Creek, Luke Pennington, James Barham, Prince Ofori-Duodu, William Peaper. Subs: Robert Bennigsen, Alfie Chapman, Louie Reece, Toby Vincent.