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Essex Under 16s grabbed their first South East Counties Championship win as they came from behind to seal a fine 3-1 win against reigning champions Amateur Football Alliance at Wadham Lodge Sports Ground.
Essex trailed through Avonia Brown’s 17th-minute strike, but weathered some pressure before levelling through Reggie Hubbard. Then two goals from Owen Young won the tie for the side coached by Carl Papworth and Liam Saxton.
There was an edgy start to the contest, but an early half-chance for Essex’s Hubbard, who scored both his county’s goals in their 2-2 draw with Kent a fortnight earlier, saw the Billericay Town front man fire just wide on the turn. But the deadlock was broken by the Amateur Alliance as Brown worked himself into space inside the penalty area and fired past Essex goalkeeper Kaya Ali from twelve yards.
The hosts went on to enjoy a positive spell, with Rigbert Rama heading just wide at the far post from a fine, swinging, right-flank cross before Bailey Stevenson lifted the ball over Ali, but Essex’s Young hacked the ball off the goal line, scuppering the hosts as they probed for a second goal. Essex took advantage and levelled on 35 minutes. Hubbard used his strength to shrug off a defender and hammer home to level the contest.
Eight minutes after the restart, Essex were ahead. Defender Young’s free kick on the left wing curled into the area, evaded everyone and dropped into the far bottom corner. The win was then wrapped up on 55 minutes as the visitors added a third. Young nodded home his second following Jack Martin’s set-piece.
The Amateur Alliance fought hard to find a way back into the contest but, as Essex stood firm, the only opening the hosts could muster was through Stevenson, who slid a drive inches past the post as the visitors sealed their first three points of the campaign.
Essex: Kaya Ali (Harlow Town), Donnell Ofori (Palmer Catholic Academy), Jack Martin (Braintree Town/Maldon & Tiptree), Jack Renwick (Brentwood Town), Owen Young (Concord Rangers), Bailey Hossack (AFC Hornchurch), Toki Hassan (Chelmsford City), Byron Humbles (Billericay Town), Reggie Hubbard (Billericay Town), Frederick King (Maldon & Tiptree), Kakha Gogshelidze (Brentwood Town). Substitutes (repeated): Jack Hauser (Billericay Town), Josh Okpa (Kingsford School), Tayeeb Elugushi (St Edward’s School), Thomas Duffy (Billericay Town), Tyler Caverner (Billericay Town).
Amateur Football Alliance: Harry Hauserman (Wingate & Finchley), Ryan Murphy (Cockfosters), Ben Bellman (Cockfosters), Bradav Badjenga (Enfield Town), David Ola (Wingate & Finchley), Avonia Brown (Wingate & Finchley), Rigbert Rama (Wingate & Finchley), Billy Norton (Norseman), Bailey Stevenson (Cockfosters), Liam Mulligan (Wingate & Finchley), Justin Dumfeh (Wingate & Finchley). Substitutes (repeated): Kaan Onay (Bishop’s Stortford), Giorgi Kereneski (Enfield Town), Ahmed Sharif (Norseman), Ylli Elei (Cockfosters), Dario Sesay de Luca (Clapton).
Referee: Christopher Beament (Loughton).
Assistant Referees: Jason Kilby (Loughton) and Terry Dawkins (London).