A strong performance from Kent Under 16s saw the visitors return over the Dartford Crossing with a fine 3-0 win over hosts Essex in the South-East Counties Championship.
Both Essex and Kent enjoyed opening-fixture wins over Guernsey, but it was Kent who grabbed top spot thanks to goals from Ronald Sithole, Alfie Prior and Jeremiah Bamgbose at Aveley FC’s Parkside stadium.
Essex made a bright start as Kyrell Lisbie showed terrific skill to make space before bringing a good save from Kent’s goalkeeper Roman Hall. However, the next opportunity went to the visitors when Prior forced an impressive, low save from Essex’s Billy Lawlor.
Kyrell’s twin brother, Kyrecce Lisbie, then volleyed just over the top for the home side, with Kent’s Sithole initiating a decent stop from Lawlor at the other end. An over-zealous back pass left Essex ‘keeper Lawlor scrambling later on, but the custodian managed to get back and clear off the goal line.
However, on the stroke of half time, Kent took the lead. Sithole showed good feet inside the penalty area before finishing well into the far corner. Then Essex found themselves with a mountain to climb when Kent doubled their lead nine minutes after the re-start. Prior completed a tidy move with an accurate finish clipped inside the far post.
The home side did press, though, and Charlie Sayers pulled a low centre across goal, but Will Broadrick couldn’t quite convert at the far post. Kyrell Lisbie also twisted and turned before striking inches past the far post.
Essex’s comeback hopes were dealt a blow with seven minutes remaining as Josh Spink was sent off, Kent compounding matters with a third goal a minute from time as Bamgbose powered through before bundling the ball home from close range.
Essex: Billy Lawlor (Grays Athletic), Josh Spink (Grays Athletic), George Oakley (Bowers & Pitsea), Tyreece Cyrus (Buckhurst Hill), Alfie Smith (Grays Athletic), Stan Hooker (Bowers & Pitsea), Charlie Sayers (Bowers & Pitsea), Bishop Pempeh (Hornchurch), Kofi Goodrum (Bowers & Pitsea), Kyrell Lisbie (Shield Academy), Kyreece Lisbie (Shield Academy). Substitutes (repeated): Albert James (Grays Athletic), Callum McEvoy (Shield Academy), Will Broadrick (Heybridge Swifts).
Kent: Roman Hall (Holmesdale), Harry Lawrence (Phoenix Sports), Callum Hudson (Sevenoaks Town), Reiss Skeen (Sevenoaks Town), Michael Peate (Sevenoaks Town), Adam Potten (Ashford United), Harrison Corns (Maidstone United), Alfie Prior (Ashford United), George Wilkinson (Margate), Sam Archibald (Maidstone United), Ronald Sithole (Ashford United). Substitutes (repeated): Jayden Wilson (Ashford United), Harry Sikirwayi (Ashford United), Atrin Almassi (Holmesdale), Jeremiah Bamgbose (Ashford United).
Referee: George Lowe.
Assistant Referees: Daniel Mann and Billy Stevens.