Essex Under 16s finished their South-East Counties Championship season in style as a last-gasp winner sealed a 3-2 triumph over Sussex at Aveley FC’s Parkside home.
Matt Hall’s Essex side had twice trailed, but they hit two late goals to seal the win and, with it, clinch the runners-up berth in Group B of the competition.
Sussex started brightly and Hayden Beaconsfield curled a 20-yard free kick just wide before they took a 10th-minute lead. Nicholas Lauteri fired in an angled finish along the ground from the left-hand side of the penalty area.
Chances then fell the way of the hosts as Kyrell Lisbie got in on goal and fired a shot at Sussex goalkeeper Leo Anderson before the same player curled inches over the top. Another Kyrell Lisbie opening saw his downward header well saved by away ‘keeper Anderson as the visitors held on to a slender half time lead.
Essex levelled three minutes after the re-start as Kyrell Lisbie turned the ball in from close range, but the advantage only lasted 12 minutes as Billie Clark rifled in a low free kick to put Sussex back into the lead. Kyrell Lisbie continued to be involved in much of Essex’s attacking intent and his shot at full-stretch brought a decent save from Sussex’s Anderson.
As they pressed for a leveller, a good corner from Essex’s Josh Spink saw Flynn Monk head inches over the crossbar. But, with four minutes remaining, they grabbed a second equaliser. Alex Traynor broke into the penalty area and finished well inside the bottom right-hand corner.
The winner arrived three minutes into added time when Tobias Braney’s long-range effort bounced off the far post and ricocheted into the net off of unfortunate defender Freddie Carter.
Essex: Callum McEvoy (Shield Academy), Josh Spink (Grays Athletic), George Oakley (Bowers & Pitsea), Alfie Smith (Grays Athletic), Stan Hooker (Bowers & Pitsea), Flynn Monk (Aveley), Andre Anderson (Buckhurst Hill), Bishop Pempeh (Hornchurch), Alex Traynor (Harlow Town), Kyreece Lisbie (Shield Academy), Kyrell Lisbie (Shield Academy). Substitutes (repeated): Tobias Braney (Bowers & Pitsea), Will Broadrick (Heybridge Swifts), Reggie Gregory (Chelmsford City).
Sussex: Leo Anderson (Chesworth Rovers), Samuel Andrews (Horsham), Hayden Beaconsfield (Eastbourne Borough), Freddie Carter (Eastbourne Borough), Billie Clark (Whitehawk), Billy Fuller (Eastbourne Borough), Alfie Hall (Worthing), Nicholas Lauteri (Worthing), Trammell Mthunzi (Worthing), Adam Nash (Eastbourne Borough), Kyle O’Brien (Eastbourne Borough). Substitutes: Benn Ward (Eastbourne Borough), Ethan Williams (Worthing), Charlie Yeates (Eastbourne Borough), Alfie Mitchell (Eastbourne Borough).
Referee: Abdul Wahid.
Assistant Referees: Daniel Ripton and James Perry.