Essex’s FA County Youth Cup Third Round hoodoo continued as they exited the competition at that stage for the sixth successive season following defeat to Durham at Maldon & Tiptree FC.
The home county had trailed to Bailey Prudhoe’s 5th-minute strike at the interval and had a mountain to climb just five minutes into the second period when Matthew Ridley doubled Durham’s lead.
Essex were dealt a blow 15 minutes from time when substitute Jamie Marsh was forced off with a head injury, leaving the side facing an uphill battle with ten men. Having used all three replacements, two goals inside the final minutes handed a 4-0 win to the visitors, with Kieron Parnaby and Aaron Thompson sealing the win.
Graham Hall’s side would’ve come into the game with confidence following a 5-1 Round Two win over Bedfordshire and a fine 4-2 South East Counties win in Kent a little over two weeks earlier. But Durham’s early goal proved a sucker punch on a chilly day on the Blackwater Estuary.
The first goal itself came courtesy of Prudhoe, a hat-trick hero in his side’s dramatic 6-4 win over Sheffield & Hallamshire in the previous round. He cut in from the left and rolled a shot inside the far post. Additional first-half opportunities were limited, but Essex did have a chance to respond quickly as good work from Kieran Southgate teed-up Albert Keith who fired just wide under pressure.
Shortly prior to the break, Durham’s Bradley Burns shot just over the top from a tight angle before his side did double their lead on 50 minutes. Ridley’s low shot slipped into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
After an hour had passed, Essex’s Brandon Wood found himself through on goal only for his run to be abruptly ended by Durham goalkeeper Jack Ramage. Ramage avoided punishment other than conceding a free kick, which he pushed onto the bar and into his gloves from Misha Djemaili.
The best chance of the game for Essex saw Southgate pull the ball back for Wood who couldn’t quite force it past Ramage from close range. Essex defender Marsh then unfortunately had to leave the action and, with repeated substitutions not permitted in the national competition, the home side had to seek a route back into the game a player short.
It proved a task too far in the end and, on 86 minutes, the result was put beyond doubt. Parnaby lobbed in from long range to add a third for the visitors. In the fifth minute of added time, Durham added another as Thompson skipped into the penalty area and poked in with virtually the last kick of the contest. His side now face a quarter-final trip to Gloucestershire.
Essex: James Scammell (Thurrock), Ryan Knight (Barking Abbey School) (Jamie Marsh [Brentwood Town], 71), Toby Barlow (AFC Hornchurch) (Callum Fitzer [Billericay Town], 46), Jack McQueen (Barking), Jake Jolliffe (Shenfield School), Wyan Reid (Thurrock), Tyler Richardson (AFC Hornchurch), Misha Djemaili (Barking Abbey School), Kieran Southgate (Aveley), Albert Keith (Tilbury), Afolabi Soyemi-Ololade (Grays Athletic) (Brandon Wood [Chelmsford City], 58).
Durham: Jack Ramage (South Shields), Aaron Thompson (Chester-le-Street Town), Joe McGill (Stockton Town), Matthew Ridley (Chester-le-Street Town), Ryan Kirby (Stockton Town), Shahban Mohammed (Stockton Town), Kieron Parnaby (Tow Law Town), Bradley Burns (Spennymoor Town), Aaron Duell (Jarrow Roofing BCA), Bailey Prudhoe (Spennymoor Town), Cieran Jackson (Spennymoor Town). Substitutes: Ellis Tait (Tow Law Town), Declan Sproston (South Shields), Ryan Hucks (New Hartley Juniors), Vinnie Steels (Darlington), Aidan Crooks (Spennymoor Town).
Bookings: Essex: Southgate (foul, 65). Durham: Jackson (dissent, 45), Mohammed (persistent foul play, 60), Ridley (68, foul).
Referee: Paul Forrester (Luton).
Assistant Referees: Ian Stewart (Kempston) and Jack Scott (Luton).