Jake Hutchinson scored in the 9th and 10th minutes during a clinical first-half performance which set an impressive Sussex side on their way to an eventual 5-1 win over Essex at Aveley FC’s Parkside stadium.
Hutchinson put the South Coast side well in the ascendency, before Liam Brady’s third moved the game virtually out of Essex’s sight with only 21 minutes played. A fourth five minutes into the second half from Leo Weedon sealed the win, albeit after Jack Renwick pulled a goal back for the hosts. Essex arguably enjoyed the better of the second half, but Jamie Buchanan added a superb fifth in injury time.
Following a defeat in Middlesex a fortnight earlier, this reverse sent Essex out of title contention after a tricky start to the afternoon. Brady had already seen a header blocked on the goal line from Brad Santos’ corner before Hutchinson’s deflected 20-yard shot nestled inside the near post to give the visitors the lead.
There may have been a touch of fortune about that finish, but not even a minute later Hutchinson powered home a header from Tom Collins’ left-flank cross. Despite an early mountain to climb, Essex soon responded, with Renwick arrowing an effort just wide after good work by Tayeeb Elegushi.
Sussex quickly put a further stamp on the contest, adding a third as Hutchinson’s low centre was slid in by Brady from close range. As the home side looked for a route back into the game, Elegushi tested Sussex goalkeeper Henry Lester but, at the other end, Essex stopper Ted Cattini had to make a good stop to deny Hutchinson his hat-trick.
On the stroke of half time, Essex carved another opening. Marlon Stratford brought a good stop from Lester from distance. Just five minutes into the second half, a fourth for Sussex put the outcome beyond doubt when a defensive slip-up conceded possession and Weedon was teed-up to bury the ball into the net.
Essex were keen to come out of the game with credit, though, and they subsequently enjoyed a good spell. With 56 minutes plated, Renwick chased down a long ball over the top and stabbed beyond visiting custodian Lester to reduce the arrears.
Debutant Joshua Junaid headed wide at the near post from an Elegushi cross, before the latter himself burst into the box and brought a good save from Sussex ‘keeper Lester. But, a minute into added time, Sussex added an emphatic look to the scoreline through Buchanan, who curled a fine shot into the top corner.
Essex: Ted Cattini (Thurrock), Thomas Duffy (Billericay Town), Byron Humbles (Billericay Town), Jack Renwick (Brentwood Town), Bailey Hossack (Thurrock), Toki Hassan (Chelmsford City), Tayeeb Elegushi (St Edward’s School), Eniola Oyunjimi (Essex Schools), Teejay Chioro (Great Wakering Rovers), Callum Owen (Barking), Marlon Stratford (Billericay Town). Substitutes (repeated): Donnell Ofori (Palmer Catholic Academy), Deolindo Lima (Chelmsford City), Joshua Junaid (Brampton Manor Academy), Jack Hauser (Billericay Town), Ollie Dosad (Thurrock).
Sussex: Henry Lester (East Grinstead Meads), Dylan Jelley (Barnham Trojans), Shane Harper (AFC Uckfield Town), Thomas Langford (Eastbourne United Association), Luca Cororacchio (Loxwood), Tom Collins (Eastbourne United Association), Brad Santos (Eastbourne United Association), Beau Langan (Whitehawk), Jake Hutchinson (Eastbourne United Association), George Bitton (Barnham Trojans), Liam Brady (Barnham Trojans). Substitutes (repeated): Jamie Buchanan (Three Bridges), Ethan Carrick (East Grinstead Meads), Tom Chalaye (Eastbourne United Association), Leo Weedon (Shoreham & Adur), Josh Neathy (Eastbourne United Association).
Referee: Anthony Abbs.
Assistant Referees: Matthew Bacon and Oliver Walker.