Two local derbies were generated when the BBC Essex Saturday Premier Cup Semi-Final Draw was broadcast live on Wednesday (7th February), with Old Southendian hosting Catholic United and Waltham Abbey Reserves entertaining Buckhurst Hill in a bid to reach the final at Billericay Town FC on Wednesday 11th April.
With four teams left aiming to clear the final hurdle before the showpiece at the AGP Arena, three sides remain from the ProKit Essex Olympian League plus Abbey, who are flying the flag for the Essex Senior Reserve League. All four Quarter-Finals resulted in home wins, and management from two of those triumphant clubs assisted with the draw.
Southendian, looking for Olympian Division One promotion, won 2-1 against Manford Way and their reward is a home tie against Premier Division title contenders Catholic, who defeated Shenfield Association 5-1. Abbey Reserves were 5-2 winners against Olympian Premier leaders May & Baker Eastbrook Community and their next test will be against Buckhurst Hill. They’re top of Division One and were comfortable 5-0 victors against Kelvedon Hatch.
Buckhurst Hill boss Mark Williams pulled out the home clubs while Martin Haywood and Lee Mackman represented Waltham Abbey at BBC Essex’s Chelmsford studios, with Lee responsible for the away sides. Williams claimed their Premier Cup run is helping to keep his squad motivated, explaining: “Priority One is promotion and to keep the players we’ve got.”
“To keep them hungry and keep them interested we want to get promotion, get into the top division and see how we take it from there. But, now we’re in the Semi-Final, obviously that’s going to overtake everything and we’d love to get in the final. It’d be fantastic for us. We’ve never got in the final as a club, so that would be really great for us if we could.”
On the draw, he commented: “You’re going to get a good side in the Semi-Finals. If I had to pick someone to play it would have been at home. But, if it had to be away, then Waltham Abbey’s just down the road from us and it’s a great ground. They’ve done a lot of work on their pitches so we’re pleased with the draw.”
From an Abbey perspective, Martin offered: “It’s going to be a pretty difficult game. One good thing about it is the playing surface - both teams will be able to play a bit of football. Listening to Mark in the studio it looks like we’re pretty similar teams age-wise and playing football-wise, so it’s going to be a pretty even game and I’m really looking forward to it.”
And Lee claimed the competition has generated excitement in the changing room, adding: “Definitely. The players will constantly say to Martin and myself that we need to be tested as we progress. The competition gets tougher and the lads are all definitely up for it. We’re quietly confident. We’ve drawn Mark and his Buckhurst Hill team and we would have fancied them in the final, but there you go!”
Those ties are scheduled to take place on Saturday 3rd March, and all the BBC Essex Saturday Premier Cup information you need to know can be found here, on Twitter by following @EssexCountyFA and by searching for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.
BBC Essex Saturday Premier Cup Semi-Finals (Saturday 3rd March)
Old Southendian vs Catholic United
Waltham Abbey Reserves vs Buckhurst Hill