A second-half penalty from Sonny Dutton helped Essex Under 18s move up to second place in the South-East Counties Championship standings as they completed their league campaign with a 1-0 win over Jersey.
Dutton’s spot kick winner arrived on 61 minutes but a spirited, organised Jersey side pushed Essex all the way in the very first meeting between the two associations at Aveley FC’s Parkside home. Dutton could’ve made the scoreline a little more convincing but, two minutes into stoppage time, he saw a second penalty excellently saved by visiting goalkeeper Tyler Quinn.
Substitute custodian Quinn had conceded the spot kick which led to the winner, but he went on to make a fine string of saves, keeping the Channel Islanders in the contest during the second half.
While the win lifts Essex into second spot, unfortunately leaders Sussex cannot be caught but the game will have given Graham Hall and Andy Tickner’s side plenty of spirit ahead of February’s FA County Youth Cup Semi-Final in Norfolk.
An early chance for the hosts saw Obi Molefi’s shot well held by Jersey’s Adam le Lere between the posts. Then an opportunity for the away side fell to Kushal Frankson, who stabbed just wide from close range. Moments later, Jersey’s Luke Appleton tested Essex ‘keeper Jack Allen from long range.
Mid-way through the first half, Molefi burst into the area and brought a good save from le Lere at the near post. In a similar opening, Dutton hit a low, hard drive into the side netting and the first half finished goalless.
For the first real opportunity of the second period, Jersey’s Toby Ritzema created space and shot just over, but Essex’s winner arrived soon afterwards. Shortly after coming on, ‘keeper Quinn up-ended Molefi in the area and Dutton tucked the penalty into the bottom left-hand corner, despite Quinn choosing to dive the right way.
Essex were denied a second as Appleton headed off the goal line following a Jimi Reynolds corner, and then again when Molefi cut a low cross into the area and Teejay Chiororo’s shot was well blocked.
Visiting goalkeeper Quinn did well to hold onto Dutton’s stinging shot at the second attempt before Essex’s Allen firstly reacted well to stop Frankson’s shot and then rushed off his line to deny Ryan Marcinko. The last action in stoppage time saw Quinn, diving again to his right, keep out Dutton’s effort from twelve yards following a foul by Sammy Sutcliffe.
Essex: Jack Allen (Great Wakering Rovers), Ben Steward (Bowers & Pitsea), Jimi Reynolds (Aveley), James Hegarty (Hornchurch), Sam Richardson (Bowers & Pitsea), Jess Norey (Maldon & Tiptree), Rashaad Ogun (Romford), Dan Hawkes (Barking), Callum Newson (Barking Abbey School), Sonny Dutton (Hornchurch), Obi Molefi (Hornchurch). Substitutes (repeated): Liam Oliver (Witham Town), Ben Search (Concord Rangers), Teejay Chiororo (Bowers & Pitsea).
Jersey: Adam le Lere (St Paul’s), Luke Appleton (St Paul’s), Jamie Watling (St Paul’s), Thomas Harris (St Clement), Sammy Sutcliffe (St Paul’s), Daniel Burton (St Paul’s), Kushal Frankson (St Clement), Toby Ritzema (St Peter), Ryan Marcinko (St Peter), Thomas Boarer (St Paul’s), Jan Bentley (St Peter). Substitutes (repeated): Tyler Quinn (JTC Jersey Wanderers), Max Corbett (JTC Jersey Wanderers), Jay Dos Santos (St Clement).
Referee: Michael Iddenden-Smith.
Assistant Referees: Andrew Crossley and George Barker.
: ESA Photos