There will be a repeat of 2017’s BBC Essex Senior Cup Final on Tuesday 9th April at the Jobserve Community Stadium as Chelmsford City and East Thurrock United both won through difficult Semi-Finals to seal an all-Vanarama National League South climax.
A Chris Dickson goal on the stroke of half time proved enough two years ago as Chelmsford edged a tight affair to lift the Senior Cup for a sixth time, defeating the Rocks in their first final. They now meet again after the Clarets came from behind to beat visitors AFC Hornchurch and, despite being pegged back twice, United came out on top in a five-goal thriller against holders, Billericay Town.
A crowd of 313 turned out on a misty Monday night on 4th February at Melbourne Stadium, with many anticipating in-form Chelmsford reaching a third successive County Cup Final. But, despite their position in the lower reaches of the Bostik Premier, Hornchurch pushed their higher-ranking opponents all the way.
The Urchins led on 14 minutes as Charlie Stimson latched onto a ball forward and went past City goalkeeper Nathan McDonald before coolly slotting in. They came close to a second just before half time as George Saunders’ dipping cross-shot appeared to bounce over via the top of the crossbar.
Chelmsford responded strongly in the second half, and some brave Hornchurch defending kept the hosts at bay. But it wasn’t until the 58th minute that they finally found a leveller as Max Porter’s ball into the box was only cleared as far as Rhys Murphy, who fired an excellent low shot through a crowd and into bottom left-hand corner.
Just four minutes later, Chelmsford had turned the game around. Jonny Giles’ cross was headed in by former Macedonian international defender Adrian Cascaval at the far post. City’s win, and final berth, was then sealed in stunning fashion 15 minutes from time. Giles picked the ball up on the edge of the area and fired a brilliant effort into the top right-hand corner.
24 hours later, National League South sides East Thurrock United and Billericay Town locked horns at The Rocks’ Rookery Hill looking to join their divisional adversaries in April’s showpiece. Holders Town enjoyed the better of the early exchanges, but without breaking through the home rearguard. It was East Thurrock who broke the deadlock as Alex Osborn fired an excellent shot low into the net.
By half time, Billericay were back on terms, but in a fortuitous manner. Full-back Lee Burns mishit a backpass which was also out of the reach of ‘keeper Jack Giddens, rolled in for an own goal. There may have been a quiet opening to the second period but, with 13 minutes to go, the Rocks forged back as a right-flank corner was headed in by Ryan Scott to edge them back in front.
Billericay levelled the tie again on 85 minutes when Jake Howells’ free kick cannoned off a post and across goal where Danny Waldren was on-hand to tap in. That looked to have been enough to take the game to penalties but, within a minute, East Thurrock won it. Leading goalscorer Sam Higgins cut inside his marker and fired a terrific shot into the bottom corner.
The 2018/19 BBC Essex Senior Cup Final between Chelmsford City and East Thurrock United will take place at Colchester United FC’s Jobserve Community Stadium on Tuesday 9th April, with a 7:45pm kick-off. Ticket details will be announced very soon.