AFC Hornchurch 1-0 Billericay Town, Wednesday 19th April 2017, Kick-Off 7:45pm, New Lodge, Essex Cassels Under 16s Cup Final.
Click here to view the Ponderosa Pix images from this match, or here to listen to John Guyton's interview.
AFC Hornchurch lifted the Essex Cassels Under 16s Cup for the first ever time with a slender victory against Billericay Town as Lee Benson’s talented squad added to the Cordell Under 13s and Rosser Under 15s Cup silverware they’d previously earned on their path through the age groups.
This time it was Charlie Munns who was the goal-scoring hero with a close-range finish deep into the second half, which settled a tight encounter. Assistant Manager, John Guyton, was beaming after the trophy presentation, explaining: “It’s absolutely fantastic! I said I’d like to get our club’s name on the trophy. We’ve had a couple of years where the 16s have got into the final and, unfortunately, didn’t win it.”
“I think it’s now only the Under 12s and the Under 18s trophies that don’t have the AFC Hornchurch name on them. It’s our third time, which is brilliant, and these boys were fantastic tonight. We had a couple go down with cramp and injuries, but I’m really, really pleased to have our name on the trophy because it means a lot. It goes back in history as well.”
The Urchins entered the big game having already been crowned Eastern Junior Alliance ‘Essex Blue’ Division champions. With their last competitive match taking place two weekends ago they arrived fresh from a friendly against Australian opposition. Town, competing in their first final, knew they’d already knocked out four fellow Alliance clubs to reach this one, and Lee Felstead’s fourth-placed squad were keen to add to that list on their ‘home’ patch.
The two sides had already met at the start and the finish of their domestic campaigns, with one victory apiece. It initially appeared, if Hornchurch were to tip the balance, then the creative Billy Jackson would be involved in some way. Firstly, in just the 3rd minute, the ball was knocked forward to him and he wrapped his boot around a half-volley from the edge of the penalty area, forcing Town goalkeeper Harvey Wright to acrobatically push his strike away.
With a dozen minutes on the clock he then interchanged passes with speedy former Tottenham Hotspur winger Tyrone Baker during a swift counter-attack before shooting well over from around 20 yards. He saw another 24th-minute effort defected wide before it was the turn of his team mates to take their turn as the Urchins crafted the majority of the chances.
Just prior to the half-hour mark Bradley Rowland, scorer of the winning goal in last season’s Under 15s Cup Final, dropped a left-wing cross beyond the far post to Tom Troubridge, who revived the attack and recycled it back to Rowland but the reigning Player of the Year lost control of his volley and his effort sailed well over.
On 33 minutes Munns’ low, controlled free kick flew a yard wide to wrap-up the attacking in the first half. After the break chances were still at a premium but Billericay came as close as they would all night in the 49th minute, Callum Fitzer getting involved as he twisted and turned and watched as a strike hit a defender and found the side netting.
Hornchurch, being cheered on from the terraces by a number of the club’s adult First Team squad, had to wait until the 64th minute for their crucial breakthrough. Custodian Wright couldn’t grasp Shadrach Ogie’s deep free kick and Munns was ideally placed to ram home the loose ball from a couple of yards. Guyton, whose side weren’t even in a title race until three weeks ago, praised the players’ determination to get over the line.
He said: “We were all excited, as you will have heard from the sideline, and we were getting quite frustrated because we’d had a couple of chances before that in the first half, but it relieves the pressure and we scored quite late as well. We knew we could defend, and hopefully defend a lead. We did say that to them at half time: get your lead and the game will open up. I thought it finally did towards the end. I’m really, really pleased.”
AFC Hornchurch: Jack O’Connor, George Harris, Shadrach Ogie, Charlie Munns, Tyrone Baker, Tom Troubridge, Billy Jackson, Bradley Rowland, Charlie Hawes, Tommy Tableporter, Callum Nightingill. Substitutes (repeated): Mitchell Mason, Tyrell Holder, George Ishmail, Harry Brown.
Billericay Town: Harvey Wright, Connor Duffy, Jai Felstead, Joe Quick, Cian White, Callum Fitzer, Max Shepherd, Ted Forbes, Lewis Arthur, Ben Garwood, Connor Keating. Substitutes (repeated): Ali Madhi, Danny Cook, Teddy Rumsby.
Bookings: Hornchurch: Rowland (80+6, unsporting behaviour). Billericay: White (26, foul), Forbes (80+6, unsporting behaviour).
Referee: Ryan Smith (Silver End).
Assistant Referees: Taylor Reece (Romford) and Charlie Roberts (Romford).
Fourth Official: Ryan Fox (Hadleigh).