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Aaron Russell’s close-range strike mid-way through the first half proved decisive as his Concord Rangers side sealed a single-goal victory over Castlemayne to lift the Essex Sunday Junior Cup.
Russell fired into the roof of the net from inside the six-yard box from Jamie Brown’s assist, with the Beachboys hanging on for the remainder of the game to win the trophy. The win followed a fine semi-final display which saw Concord oust two-time finalists Belfry and boss Mark Dove laid down his side’s performance that day as the benchmark going into the final.
“I thought it was the right result,” reflected the boss after his side backed-up that display when it mattered. “The lads played well and I said, if we played like we did at Belfry, we’d get the result. That’s exactly what happened.”
“Over the 90 minutes I think they [Castlemayne] only troubled us once. I think we could’ve scored a couple more but, fair play to the lads, they knuckled down and were under pressure in the last few bits. But we held on and we got there!”
“It’ll definitely be a day they remember. Hopefully the Concord Rangers club itself will be over the moon, but so am I… I’m elated! This was my third final and, having lost them before, we’ve actually got past the post this time!”
The game was a close affair for the large part, but Concord’s Ellis Park had sent a half-volley inches over the top before Brown pulled a low ball across goal for Russell to fire in the first-half winner. Another chance before the break saw Rangers’ Alfie Phillips head just wide of the far post and, after the interval, Concord’s Tyler Hubbard hit a firm shot inches wide.
Castlemayne’s Daniel Martin brought a fine save from Concord goalkeeper Paul Frensham before Dylan Jones was slipped through, shooting just past the far post. Another opportunity then went the way of Castlemayne’s Jones, but Frensham rushed off his line to deny him.
In the final minute, Concord’s Brown stung the gloves of Castlemayne’s own ‘keeper, Ryan Shaw, but his side had already done enough to seal their win.
Castlemayne: Ryan Shaw, Declan Clarke, Bobby Hunt, Jack Whalley, Daniel Martin, Lewis Bazely, Sam Cross, Shay Kelly, Dylan Jones, Lewis Brown, Connor Mead. Substitutes (repeated): Luke Winter, Lewis Bartrip, Dan Heywood, Christopher Reed, Jack Allen.
Concord Rangers: Jake Leonard, Jamie Brown, Sonny Hartman, Alfie MacDonald, Tyler Hubbard, Aaron Russell, Taylor Lawrence, Ellis Park, Alfie Phillips, Ricky Sisley, Aaron Tatham. Substitutes (repeated): Paul Frensham, George Woods, John Bailey, Jack Dullee, Ashley Blackburn.
Referee: Michael Iddenden-Smith (Thurrock).
Assistant Referees: Gavin Bailey (Barking & Dagenham) and Oliver Walker (Barking & Dagenham).
Fourth Official: Mark Keeling (Braintree).