Essex Under 18s responded to their opening fixture defeat in style as a dominant second-half performance brought a 6-1 South-East Counties triumph in Kent.
The game was locked goalless at Chatham Town FC’s recently-renovated home, but the second half sprung to life after just two minutes when Essex took the lead through Obi Molefi’s penalty. Despite the hosts briefly drawing level, the visitors from north of the Thames chalked-up a comprehensive victory.
There was even the luxury of Molefi missing a penalty for a hat-trick as Sonny Dutton, Rashaad Ogun, Callum Newson and Teejay Chiororo also found the target to ensure Graham Hall’s side earned the three points.
In a tightly-contested first half, the only half chance of the opening half-hour saw Ogun burst into the box before skidding a low centre across the face of goal. A firm effort from Ogun then forced a good stop from Kent goalkeeper Jack Scott before a Kent counter-attack ended with Pedro Iandolo firing just wide with the best chance of the opening period.
In the first exchange of the second half, Molefi was brought down in the penalty area and he stepped up himself to convert the spot kick. Kent levelled on 53 minutes. A fast attack saw a left-wing cross converted from close range by Malik Adekunle.
Essex’s reply was swift, and they were back ahead within a minute when Molefi teed-up Dutton, who drilled his side brilliantly back ahead from 15 yards. Within another 60 seconds, the away side were 3-1 ahead. Dutton was involved again, seeing his shot from an acute angle hit the near post, but the ball fell kindly for Ogun to stab in.
It was 4-1 on 63 minutes. Newson made a good, twisting run into the box and hit a low centre across goal for Molefi to fire in. The fifth arrived just two minutes later when Newson’s effort was too hot for Scott, with the ball wriggling through the custodian’s grasp and dropping inside the far post.
Essex were then awarded a second penalty of the evening as Molefi was again upended in the area but, this time, the forward squandered his chance, hitting his kick wide of the right-hand post. The sixth goal did arrive 12 minutes from time, however. Jess Norey laid the ball off for Chiororo, who side-footed in a fine finish from the edge of the area.
Having been reduced to ten men through injuries in the closing stages, Kent had to play the final couple with nine after Barney Halls was dismissed for a second caution. Essex, in contrast, were able to reflect on a brilliant result.
Essex: Jack Allan (Great Wakering Rovers), Archie McFadden (Concord Rangers), Billy Boag (Concord Rangers), Ben Search (Concord Rangers), James Hegarty (Hornchurch), Ben Steward (Bowers & Pitsea), Rashaad Ogun (Romford), Jess Norey (Barking Abbey School), Callum Newson (Barking Abbey School), Sonny Dutton (Hornchurch), Sultan Sarni (USP [Palmer’s Campus]). Substitutes (repeated): Louis Young (Basildon United), Teejay Chiororo (Bowers & Pitsea), Obi Molefi (Hornchurch).
Kent: Jack Scott (Whitstable Town), Craig Appleby (Faversham Strikeforce), Jayden Wilson (Ashford United), Malik Adekunle (Bromley), Cameron Williams (Maidstone United), Jamie Watson (Bromley), William Powell (Bridon Ropes), Jacob Gilbert (Maidstone United), Hamid Ishola (VCD Athletic), Alfie Prior (Ashford United), Perri Iandolo (Bearsted). Substitutes (repeated): Barney Halls (Ashford United), Ike Orji (Chatham Town).
Referee: Dan Blades.
Assistant Referees: Piotr Zachwieja and Graham Smart.
Fourth Official: Chandon Chapman.