Barkingside (Blues) claimed the Essex Under 12s Cup for the second time in just three years as Great Danes (Lions) were defeated in the final at Burnham Ramblers FC’s Leslie Field home.
Barkingside led early through Christian Munganga before adding second-half Freddie Thorn and Freddie Francis goals to seal the win over their divisional rivals who had inflicted ‘Side’s only defeat of the season earlier in the league campaign. “They played quite well and we didn’t give them a sniff really today,” reflected Barkingside boss Steve Thorn after the game. “It was well-deserved really, but they’re [Great Danes] a great team.”
Thorn’s side won the match thanks to three excellent finishes, with perhaps the crucial second goal, a fine header into the top corner from the boss’ son, the pick of them: “That was my Freddie who scored that header. He’s not bad with his head so he’ll be pleased with that one! I’m pleased for him because he’s done what his brother did three years ago.”
That success three years ago was ‘Side’s previous Under 12s Cup win. For a competition which consistently has over 100 entrants, two successes from one club is a fine achievement, as Steve acknowledges: “It’s fantastic! We’ve still got Nicky Potts here and it’s partly down to him. He’s put us in the right direction, so it’s great.”
Barkingside remain unbeaten in the Echo Junior League and can now add County Cup success to an exhilarating campaign. But while the team will move forward, most likely into the Eastern Junior Alliance next season, Steve may not join them: “It’s been a good team effort from everyone - capped off a good season. You may see the team next season, but you might not see me. You’ve got to go out when you’re on top haven’t you? And I don’t think I could cap this!”
They rarely looked back after grabbing the lead on 6 minutes as Munganga capitalised on a loose ball inside the penalty area and fired home. Great Danes had a chance when Jake Smith’s corner caused problems in the box and the ball had to be cleared off the goal line. ‘Side goalkeeper Casey Clark then raced off his line to smother the ball ahead of Danes’ Ronnie Fry.
Chances did go the way of Barkingside as Jesse Friend’s header was well saved by Danes ‘keeper Samuel Luis following Joe Davis’ dipping cross and, moments later, a corner fell to George Scales, who volleyed over the top. A curling effort from Barkingside’s Davis brought an excellent stop from Luis before Aston Watson Weaver fired inches wide from range.
Into the second period, Freddie Thorn headed wide from Munganga’s corner before Danes skipper Max Porteous made a fine tackle to deny Francis. Barkingside doubled their lead on 40 minutes when another Munganga flag kick found Thorn again, who directed a brilliant angled header into the far top corner.
The result was then put beyond doubt with a third ten minutes later. Francis slipped a low shot beyond ‘keeper Luis. Danes unfortunately went a player down due to a red card, then an excellent save from their ‘keeper Luis saw him grasp onto Francis’ free kick at the second attempt. The last chance of the game arrived through a curling effort from Danes, Aaron Brown’s effort dropping just wide as his side looked for a late consolation.
Barkingside (Blues): Casey Clark, George Scales, Joe Davis, Mason Lloyd, Freddie Thorn, Jesse Friend, Aston Watson Weaver, Dennis Afolabi, Christian Munganga. Substitutes (repeated): James Stevens, Austin Cooper, Freddie Francis.
Great Danes (Lions): Samuel Luis, Ronnie Fry, Harrison Bradbury, Max Porteous, Stan McGarry, Jack McKinnon, Brandan Johns, Jake Smith, Charlie Rich. Substitutes (repeated): Finlay Pounder, Harry Lynn, Daniel Miller, Aaron Brown.
Referee: Callum Townsend (Chelmsford).
Assistant Referees: Alfie Treacher (Southend-on-Sea) and Leon Randall (Redbridge).
Fourth Official: Amy Purser (Braintree).