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A 90th-minute goal from David Stubbs sealed the Essex Saturday Junior Cup for Old Southendian Reserves as Westhamians were edged out at Bowers & Pitsea FC.
Stubbs’ late intervention proved decisive as the only goal of the game separated two sides who were as evenly-matched as their league placings suggested, sitting just one point apart in Division Three of the ProKit UK Essex Olympian League.
“What a way to win it!” smiled Old Southendian boss Lee Warrington after the game. “It was very, very difficult for us in the first half and we were really under the cosh. Westhamians came out absolutely flying, but we grew into the game and, in the second half, we dominated most of the play. To win it with a couple of minutes to spare was brilliant.”
The two sides are also competing for the divisional title, facing one another in one of the two league fixtures they have remaining, so a close contest was always on the cards. But it was Westhamians who had more of the first half and Lee is grateful to his young custodian for keeping the tie level.
“They [Westhamians] had some cracking chances in the first half and George [Dugdale] is a great young goalkeeper,” said the boss, adding: “We have relied on him throughout the season and he’s pulled off some good saves again.”
But the flow changed after the interval as Lee’s Old Southendian side started to get a foothold in the contest. He recalled: “In the second half we stopped them playing a little bit and, when we start playing the ball, it makes it difficult for the other team. That’s what we started doing.”
“We brought some bigger guys on to challenge aerially as we weren’t competing in the air and Ben Franklin and Tommy Adams are big guys. They came on and made a difference. We started challenging for that ball, and to get over the line was just fantastic,” recalled the boss, citing his side’s second-half rethink.
The first chance of the match fell to Southendian as Olli Tatten-Bennett slid a low shot just past the far post, but further first half chances went the way of Westhamians. Notably, Tom Pennell strode forward and hit a low shot just wide and Lewis Lawrence pulled two good saves from Dugdale, with the second being pushed wide of the left-hand post.
The second period proved slightly cagey after Westhamians’ Lawrence had seen an angled chip drop just past the far post. The openings that there were went to Southendian. A Dave Manley corner saw Franklin’s header well saved by goalkeeper Wayne Baker before the Westhamians’ stopper did well again to tip another Franklin header over the top.
The winner arrived on 90 minutes when Stubbs, with his back to goal, sent an excellent lob just under the crossbar to the delight of his team mates and a healthy following in the stands. “We’ve won this cup once before [with their First Team in 2010] and that’s it in our history, so the fans loved it and they’re quite noisy on the side line, so we always appreciate their support,” praised Lee afterwards.
Acknowledging that this win can crown a fine send off, he revealed: “I’m stepping down at the end of the season. I’ve been Reserve Manager for five years and have got replacements lined-up already. But I’ll still be involved and I’ll try and play a little bit more while I can before I get too old.”
“Hopefully you’ll see me in and around the team and, if I can’t get in, then our club has four great teams so, wherever I get picked, that’s great.”
Old Southendian Reserves: George Dugdale, Thomas Margerison, Ben Manley, Greg Smith, Dave Manley, Tom Smith, Luke Stillwell, Tom Judge, David Stubbs, Andy Turner, Ollie Tatton-Bennett. Substitutes (repeated): Jack Paget, Ben Franklin, Ryan Kelly, Thomas Adams.
Westhamians: Wayne Baker, Steve Rowles, Ryan Creed, Ben O’Brien, Andy Hunter, Tom Pennells, Reece Baker, Lewis Lawrence, Danny Dobson, Max Holt, Kenny Liddiard. Substitutes (repeated): Peter Moore, Jamie Webster, Jamie Reddington, Jean Gomes.
Referee: Steve Tovey (Colchester).
Assistant Referees: Jack Luckman (Colchester) and Rhys Collins (Tendring).
Fourth Official: Carl Pearse (Colchester).