Holders Chelmsford City are 90 minutes away from retaining the BBC Essex Senior Cup after defeating Vanarama National League South rivals East Thurrock United at Rookery Hill to reach a second successive final.
Goals in each half from Jonathan Giles and Shaun Batt earned the Clarets a 2-0 win in the repeat of last season’s final. On that occasion, City sealed a narrow 1-0 win thanks to Chris Dickson’s strike on the stroke of half time and Rod Stringer’s side will now return to the Weston Homes Community Stadium on 20th March.
They’ll take on either their former landlords, big-spending Billericay Town, or Romford, with those two meeting on Thursday 8th February at Billericay’s rebranded AGP Arena. Chelmsford arrived in South Essex with only their quarter-final win at Colchester United to show for their efforts in the last seven matches, while East Thurrock’s surprise 7-2 defeat at St Albans City three days earlier was perhaps the epitome of an inconsistent campaign.
But John Coventry’s Rocks have reached the last 16 of The FA Trophy by defeating two National League opponents and, as such, perhaps this contest required something special to open it up. That duly arrived with just 10 minutes played as Chelmsford’s Giles created space with a good run before firing a fine finish into the bottom corner.
It should’ve been two-nil to the away side shortly afterwards as Bagasan Graham sprinted fully 40 yards before taking the ball beyond Rocks’ goalkeeper Lukas Lidakevicius, but then he shot wide of the near post. East Thurrock nearly found a way through to punish him just after the half hour, with leading scorer Sam Higgins going around ‘keeper Jake Jessup only to be denied by a fine tackle from Mark Haines.
East Thurrock stopper Lidakevicius saw his crossbar rattled by a Rocks defender shortly before the interval, but that let-off was shortlived as Chelmsford doubled their lead on the hour. Graham’s cross found substitute Batt, who squeezed the ball over the line at the far post.
The home side did continue to look for a way back into the game, and Tom Richardson tested Jessup from range before Higgins smashed a half-volley against the crossbar. But, as Chelmsford scrambled clear, their place in the 2018 Senior Cup Final was confirmed.
East Thurrock United: Lukas Lidakevicius, Ryan Sammons, Michael Clark, Lee Burns, Marvin Ekpiteta, James White (Montel Agyemang, 84), Reece Harris, Max Cornhill, Sam Higgins, Lewis Smith, Harry Phipps (Tom Richardson, 58). Unused Substitutes: Calvin Ekpiteta, Simon Peddie, Harry Honesty.
Chelmsford City: Jake Jessup, Elliot Omozusi, Craig Braham-Barrett, Taylor Miles (Scott Davies, 77), Michael Spillane, Mark Haines, Jonathan Giles, Anthony Church, Lee Barnard (Shaun Batt, 46), Kudus Oyenuga (Matthew Johnson, 71), Bagasan Graham. Substitutes: Daniel Green, Christopher Dickson.
Bookings: East Thurrock: Smith (41, dissent). Chelmsford: Braham-Barrett (53, foul).
Referee: Lloyd Wood (Romford).
Assistant Referees: Daniel Cook (Colchester) and Sam Everitt (North Fambridge).
Fourth Official: Craig Barnett (Basildon).
Photo: Ponderosa Pix.