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Goals from Blessing Ekofo Bassa, Jessie Olukolu and a Danny Imray penalty saw Billericay Town come from behind to beat Brentwood Town 3-2 and lift the Essex Cassels Under 16s Cup.
Billericay had trailed to Brad Greene’s unfortunate early own goal, but a dramatic end to the first half saw Ekofo Bassa level and Brentwood edge back ahead through Max Gnandi before Olukolu levelled the tie again. Imray then smashed home the crucial match-winning spot kick on 55 minutes after Olukolu had been fouled in the box.
“We started very slow, extremely slow,” reflected Billericay boss Darren Banks after the game. “We weren’t in the game in the first 15 to 20 minutes, but we just grew and grew and, to be fair, I had no doubt that we weren’t going to win the game.”
“We needed to go in equal at half time otherwise we’d be down in the dumps in the changing room, so I think going in at 2-2 gave them some confidence. But it could’ve gone either way and, at 2-2, we’re both good teams and both done really well this year. We took our chances, so we’re the winners on the day!”
Brentwood led on 5 minutes as a long free kick was diverted past his own goalkeeper by Billericay’s Greene. Another chance for Brentwood saw Joel Bevan’s cross headed just wide by Ethan Dowman before a shot from Billericay’s Olukolu was saved by Brentwood’s ‘keeper Tom Ballard.
Brentwood’s Louie Kerley had an effort pushed wide by Billericay’s Luis Shamshoum before Billericay levelled on 37 minutes. Ekofo Bassa’s persistence paid off as he forced his way through and fired home. Within two minutes, Brentwood led again.
Gnandi sprinted through and hit a firm shot beneath Shamshoum. However, within moments, the sides were on terms again as Olukolu curled a brilliant finish inside the right-hand corner. The all-important penalty was the first real chance of the second period when Imray hammered the ball home for what would prove to be the winner.
Billericay’s Ekofo Bassa brought a good save from Brentwood’s Ballard, with the ‘keeper also on hand to hold onto Imray’s low drive. Ballard was at it again in stoppage time as he blocked from Enoch Mpoyi Mukeba’s shot, but it was still Billericay who held out for the win.
“It’s absolutely a good way to end the season,” beamed boss Banks afterwards. “We’ve had an up and down season and this is the cherry on the cake for us. It’s picked us up and it’s a brilliant day. Hopefully they’ll remember it for a long time and hopefully they’ll take it into under 18s football next year and take something from it.”
Billericay Town: Luis Shamshoum, Josh Banks, Billy Chilcott, Archie Tamplin, Danny Imray, Blessing Ekofo Bassa, Bradley Greene, Joe Burns, Gabriel Ipanga, Kelvin Newbuebo, Matheous Manelli. Substitutes (repeated): Antoh Boateng, Devarne Cuffy, Niyazi Sahan, Jessie Olukolu, Enoch Mpoyi Mukeba.
Brentwood Town: Tom Ballard, Ethan Dowman, Ben Phoi Onta, Ethan Deller, Lewis Eaton, Billy Thurston, Joel Bevan, Louie Kerley, Max Gnandi, Rgee Manyewe, Josh Wright. Substitutes (repeated): Ted Turnham, Tom Salter, Safwan Ali, Emmanuel Abudiore.
Referee: Liam Giles (Havering).
Assistant Referees: Max Di Lieto (Havering) and Daniel Mann (Southend-on-Sea).
Fourth Official: Daniel Charlwood (Chelmsford).