Two late goals from John Sasere sealed the Essex Rosser Under 15s Cup Final as Concord Rangers were defeated 3-1 on a hot afternoon at the Aspect Arena.
Sasere struck on 78 minutes and again 15 minutes into added time to clinch the trophy after Concord’s Ben Baxter cancelled out Lukas Zadulionis’ first-half penalty in a tight contest. The temperature took its toll in a stop-start game, resulting in almost 30 minutes of added time over the two halves. Urchins boss Glenn Robson was delighted his side came out on top. “It was a long game - I feel like I’ve been here all afternoon!” he reflected.
“I knew it was going to be a different type of game today and both teams had to dig in and fight and I thought perhaps they were a little better than us and, perhaps, we were a little fortunate. But, after a disappointing Friday night, losing in the Eastern Junior Alliance Midweek Cup, I think we showed our determination to keep going all the way to the end.”
“The referee had to stop the game quite often and we’ve lost another player due to injury and that makes seven on my treatment table. We’re fortunate enough that we’ve only got one league game left this season, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to put out a side.”
And, with that one game left, Glenn can look back on a season which has now brought Eastern Junior Alliance and Essex Rosser Cup titles: “Winning the double has been fantastic for us and we’re delighted. Maybe we’ve over achieved this year,” said Glenn. “Next year will show us how good we actually are. We’re now going for hopefully two games [in the EJA play-offs], challenging ourselves against the league winners from other divisions.”
The interruptions to the game at Concord’s Aspect Arena home led to a match of few opportunities, with the first of the afternoon mid-way through the first half seeing Concord’s Alex Hernandez curl a free kick just wide. Shortly afterwards, Hornchurch earned a 20th-minute lead as Zabulionis was brought down by goalkeeper Ben Leslie inside the box and Zabulionis himself stepped up to convert from twelve yards.
A chance for Concord just before half time saw Matthew Bumpus nod just wide from a corner and, just after the break, a free kick from Rangers’ Archie McFadden forced Hornchurch ‘keeper Joseph Fenn to make a good tip over the bar under pressure. Hornchurch’s Oliver Moore then stabbed just wide prior to Concord levelling on 70 minutes. A free kick bounced around the box and Baxter headed in.
Eight minutes later, with two minutes of regulation time remaining, Hornchurch re-gained the lead thanks to a crisp, angled shot from Sasere. A scare for Hornchurch then saw their crossbar struck when a dipping ball forward bounced against the woodwork and was scrambled clear. Then, 15 minutes into added time, the tie was sealed. Hornchurch broke from a Concord attack and Sasere slotted into an open net.
AFC Hornchurch: Joseph Fenn, Tyron Denton, John Sasere, Jacob Turk, Charles Jeans, Oliver Moore, Adrian Hoxhal, Kenneth Amaning, Joseph Abiodun, Lukas Zabulionis, George Hatcher. Substitutes (repeated): Joe Burns, Kacper Gruszliynski.
Concord Rangers: Ben Leslie, Archie McFadden, Alex Hernandez, James Sweetman, Ben Search, Ben Baxter, Ben Sargent, Matthew Bumpus, Alfie Larkin, Thomas Roser, Harrison Topliss. Substitutes (repeated): Tristian Ogunfuwa, Max Franzosi.
Referee: Christopher Fountain (Tendring).
Assistant Referees: Rhys Collins (Tendring) and Andrew Jenkins (Maldon).
Fourth Official: Matthew Jarvis (Maldon).