Braintree Town 2-0 Thurrock, Sunday 19th March 2017, Kick-Off 11:00am, Burroughs Park, Essex Cordell Under 13s Cup Final.
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Braintree Town claimed their first youth County Cup silverware for 27 years with a 2-0 victory over Thurrock in the Essex Cordell Under 13s Cup Final.
Second-half goals by Charlie Batten and Joe O’Brien secured the success at Great Wakering Rovers FC in an entertaining encounter, earning that first triumph since the Iron won the Butcher Under 18s Trophy in 1990. Manager Nicky Fitch was delighted with the win, claiming he was always confident of emerging victorious.
“I thought it was excellent,” Fitch reported. “The game plan was superb and the boys did really well, and it was probably the best they’ve played collectively all year. I’m really happy. I was really confident at half time. I thought we could dominate the game because we had done that in the first half, and I always thought that we would come out and win.”
Braintree had enjoyed the better of the opening stages, and could have taken the lead as early as the 2nd minute when Batten’s 15-yard attempt was pushed around the left-hand post by Thurrock shot-stopper Oliver Johnson.
Three minutes later, Batten went even closer to breaking the deadlock when he was put clear by a beautiful Jamie Williams reverse pass but, this time, his close-range effort was smashed against the woodwork. And, with the game still in its infancy, Williams hoisted over from a Daniel O’Brien pass as Braintree continued to impress.
Thurrock’s first opportunity arrived in the 13th minute when Oreoffoluwa Adepegba latched onto Iku Adarju’s through ball and his low shot was turned away by Jake Anderson in the Braintree goal. Adepegba also forced Anderson to palm away a long-range strike on the half-hour, by which time Johnson had impressively saved an Aaron Clements free kick.
In first-half injury time Anderson proved why he has been called up to the Eastern Junior Alliance (EJA) representative team for his age group with a magnificent collection of stops, having initially fumbled Frankie Pinion’s shot.
The gloveman recovered quickly to parry out Jason Tegbe’s follow-up, and then spread himself to deny Francis Omowanile from point-blank range. Thurrock had eased their way into the contest, and they began the second period on the front foot, with substitute Alex Hearn stabbing narrowly wide from Pinion’s right-wing cross. However, Braintree took the lead with the next attack in the 42nd minute.
Daniel O’Brien was the instigator, receiving the ball inside the penalty area and squaring to Batten, who managed to force his shot beyond Johnson. “The first goal was big, and whoever got it might’ve swung the game in their direction,” opined Fitch. “With the conditions, especially, the first goal was really important.”
Thurrock, who themselves were bidding for a first Cordell Cup crown having lost in the 2006 final, sought an immediate response, and Tegbe opened up his body to curl over from 25 yards before Pinion’s mesmerising run saw him beat three defenders, only for his shot to be brilliantly pushed around the post by Anderson.
That save proved to be crucial as Braintree doubled their advantage in the 52nd minute. Joe O’Brien had only just been introduced from the sidelines and, when he picked up possession 25 yards from goal, there appeared to be little danger. Instead, Johnson was beaten by a precise finish into the bottom right-hand corner that sealed the success.
“The second goal was class,” said Fitch. “Joe had literally only just come off the bench; he’d only been on five minutes and he scored straight away. I put in my programme notes that Jake is the best goalkeeper in the league, and he is. He made two or three world class saves and that made it comfortable for us. It was a really good performance from him.”
The Iron will be hoping that this is not the only county silverware that they claim this term. Whilst the Under 13s turn their attention to attempting to win the EJA ‘Suffolk’ Division, the Under 14s are preparing to face Dagenham & Redbridge in the final of the Essex Andrews Under 14s Cup at Concord Rangers FC on Sunday 23rd April.
Braintree Town: Jake Anderson, Sam Norton, Matt Brooks, Aaron Clements, Caleb Rad, Freddie Ambrose, Charlie Batten, Jamie McDonald, Daniel O’Brien, Jamie Williams, Reggie Gregory. Substitutes (repeated): Gianni Garofalo, Joe O’Brien, Charlie Bowes, David Bilegni.
Thurrock: Oliver Johnson, Stephane Wankoso-Ethambe, Josh Cavanagh, Ray Snares, Jonnie McKay, James Barham, Jason Tegbe, Iku Adarju, Francis Omowanile, Oreoffoluwa Adepegba, Frankie Pinion. Substitutes (repeated): Dwayne Ocran, Greatness Chuckwu, Alex Hearn, Flynn Monk, Feranmi Busari.
Referee: Luke Dupuy (Leigh-on-Sea).
Assistant Referees: George Payne (Colchester) and Josh Feltham (Wickford).
Fourth Official: Matthew Cavanagh (Brentwood).