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An incredible five Sophie Hart goals, combined with further strikes from Phoebe Davison, Maisy Buckland, Georgia Eaton, Yasemin Hassan and Jessica Lee, earned Billericay Town the Essex Under 18s Girls Cup after a comfortable win over a spirited Hullbridge Sports side.
The second game of our #GirlsFinalsDay started with both sides creating opportunities, Hullbridge applying good pressure from the start. However, the first goal of the game didn’t come until the 25th minute as a cross from the right wing was deflected into the path of Davison, who put Billericay into the lead.
The next successful strike arrived ten minutes later through a Buckland penalty, given after a handball on the goal line by a Hullbridge player, who was subsequently sent off. Billericay further extended their lead after just three more minutes. A great run by league top scorer Hart from outside the box into the six-yard area allowed her to slot home.
Mark Watson’s Hullbridge came back from 3-0 down to win their semi-final 7-3 against Layer Colts in January, though there was no sense that history was going to repeat itself against Billericay. Town Manager, Stephen Hunt, explained: “There was a game-changing moment when one of their players got sent off which, obviously, changed the game hugely.”
“We were in control before that but, equally, going down by one player so early on made a huge difference. Unfortunately for Hullbridge, once a few goals had gone in, the game got harder. We kept the ball more, and the goals did start to flow after a while.”
In the 42nd minute, Eaton found herself in space on the right wing, her shot looping out of the reach of goalkeeper Chenelle Goodwin and putting Billericay four in front. The fifth came in the second minute of additional time through a fantastic free kick by the versatile Hassan from just outside the box, taking her team into half time with a very comfortable lead.
Billericay were top of the Essex County Girls’ League ‘A’ Division having dropped just two points all season, and it took just twelve second-half minutes for them to score again. An effort from Lee was superbly stopped by ‘keeper Goodwin and the ball fell to Hart, a real danger in and around the box. She placed it into the net with a side-footed strike, extending Billericay’s lead further.
On 63 minutes, Billericay got their seventh. Lacey’s pass from near the centre circle enabled Lee to run on to it and calmly slot to the left of the advancing Goodwin. The final ten minutes of the final resulted in a further three goals for Town, and Hart. She intercepted a through ball on the left-hand side of the penalty area and shot across the ‘keeper into the net in the 83rd minute.
In the 86th, an effort by the long-serving Hart from left-hand side of the area added Billericay’s ninth, despite Goodwin getting a foot to it. Town’s tenth came a minute before full time. Play was moved outside the box to returning Captain Lucy Ogden, playing in her second County Cup Final for the club, whose neat through pass was converted by Hart.
It was a fitting reward for Billericay Town, who have a clear player pathway through eleven girls’ sides, ranging from Under 10s to 18s, and then into women’s football, which pleases Hunt when assessing their bright futures: “The First Team, the Reserves and the Development Team have been very good to us this year.”
He continued: “A lot of my girls have played up for either the Reserves or the Development Team. The First Team Coach, Scott, has been involved in a few training sessions and been very helpful on the phone. The pathway is definitely there.”
Billericay Town: Grace Gordon, Jessica Lee, Dollie Hunt, Maisie Lewis, Abigail Townsend, Maisy Buckland, Poppy Hartwell, Phoebe Davison, Sophie Hart, Heidi Lacey, Yasemin Hassan. Substitutes (repeated): Georgia Eaton, Tatum Sadler, Lucy Ogden, Hannah Warner, Kelsey Lucas.
Hullbridge Sports: Chenelle Goodwin, Josie Hedger, Keira Johnson, Grace Vanderhyde, Chloe Meredith, Neve Harrison, Molly Watson, Jemma Watson, Izobel Gilbert, Isobel Jones, Hanna Dowdell. Substitutes (repeated): Sadie Smith.
Referee: Barry Tolhurst.
Assistant Referees: Ashley Diamond and Gary Telling.
Fourth Official: Jason Acott.