A second-half header from Josh Crispin hampered Essex’s South-East Counties Championship hopes as London Under 18s secured a 1-0 victory at Aveley FC.
Having narrowly lost two of their opening three fixtures, even a win over Jersey in their final Group ‘B’ game will leave Essex with a mountain to climb to secure top spot, and qualification for the championship final.
The Essex side was little changed from the brilliant 6-1 win in Kent, but a well-organised London side proved difficult to break down, despite Manager Graham Hall’s Essex side enjoying good spells of possession.
After a bright start, Essex goalkeeper Jack Allen made a good couple of saves from London’s Palace Francis. But Essex chances then arrived to Sonny Dutton, whose free kick held by Ryan Coltress, then another set-piece saw Billy Boag’s curling effort bring another good save.
Later in the half, Essex’s Callum Newson skipped into the penalty area, but he clipped his shot inches past the far post. Essex knocked on the door again just before half time when Teejay Chiororo pulled the ball across goal, where Obi Molefi drilled just wide and Jess Norey forced an impressive save from Coltress.
The important goal arrived on 56 minutes. Francis’ free kick was firmly headed in by Crispin at the far post. Second-half chances then became limited after the goal but, inside the final ten minutes, London’s Rashmaar Samuel-Smikee turned and struck just over the top after grabbing possession in the penalty area.
There was late pressure from Essex. Newson cut a good ball back to the near post, but Sultan Sarni couldn’t quite convert and Tom Duffy’s header from a Norey corner was well gathered by Coltress. Right at the death, Coltress made a brilliant near-post stop to deny Jimi Reynolds following Boag’s free kick as the hosts couldn’t quite force a leveller.
Essex: Jack Allen (Great Wakering Rovers), Archie McFadden (Concord Rangers), Billy Boag (Concord Rangers), Jess Norey (Barking Abbey School), Tom Duffy (Hornchurch), Ben Steward (Bowers & Pitsea), Callum Newson (Barking Abbey School), Louis Young (Basildon United), Teejay Chiororo (Bowers & Pitsea), Sonny Dutton (Hornchurch), Obi Molefi (Hornchurch). Substitutes (repeated): James Hegarty (Hornchurch), Sultan Sarni (USP College [Palmer's Campus]), Jimi Reynolds (Aveley).
London: Ryan Coltress (Bromley), Josh Crispin (Glebe), Oscar Walton (Ballers Club), George Joyce (Bridon Ropes), Ben Marus (Chipstead), Max Leeves (Glebe), Oscar Powell (Glebe), Marcus Sablier (VCD Athletic), Tafari Jallim (Glebe), Palace Francis (Cray Wanderers), Rashmaar Samuel-Smikee (Unattached). Substitutes (repeated): Georgi Steeds (Carshalton Athletic), Kelvin Massango (Redhill), John Sesay (Bridon Ropes), Myles Bascombe (Ballers Club), Jonas Whitmore (Glebe).
Referee: Thomas Whay.
Assistant Referees: Calllum Dorling and Benjamin Horne.