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A headed goal with nine minutes remaining from Adam Bailey-Dennis clinched the Essex Sunday Premier Cup for Fifteen Degrees after a seven-goal thriller against Rayleigh Town.
Town built a two-goal advantage through George Vile and Harry Talbot, but Lewis Blanchett’s hat-trick dramatically swung the game in Fifteen Degrees’ favour. Talbot’s second levelled the game up, though Bailey-Dennis’ late intervention proved crucial.
The game started fairly evenly between the sides, but it was Rayleigh who took the lead through a penalty in the 15th minute after a push in the back. Vile stepped up and hit a well-placed shot into the bottom left-hand corner. Town grabbed their second immediately from Degrees’ kick-off.
Talbot won the ball and fired a left-footed strike from the edge of the box, bouncing his effort into the right side of the goal. There followed a short break in play in the 23rd minute as the Degrees goalkeeper received treatment after a collision with a Rayleigh striker.
Fifteen Degrees were later awarded a penalty of their own in the 35th minute after a swinging leg in the box. Blanchett stepped up and side-footed into the left side of the goal, reducing the deficit as both teams went into half time.
And they equalised on 51 minutes when the ball was played forward from the centre circle to Blanchett again, who managed to dribble past the ‘keeper and slot into the right side of the goal. However, Rayleigh did not give up, and they came close to scoring again.
An accurate pass was played across the goal by skipper Jack Long which was put out for a corner by the gloveman, resulting in nothing on that occasion. Against the run of play, though, Fifteen Degrees then took the lead. In-form Blanchett took possession on the edge of the box, getting past his man and finishing the move off with a pleasing left-footed dink over the ‘keeper.
Though the match was still not over, and Rayleigh equalised five minutes later. A well-worked move by Talbot saw him finish with a fantastic strike from 20 yards. Nevertheless, Fifteen Degrees had the final say in the 81st minute. A corner was floated in which Bailey-Dennis headed in from close range, ensuring they claimed the Sunday Premier Cup.
Fifteen Degrees: Luke Adams, Elliott Aves, Adam Bailey-Dennis, Jack Balaam, Jay Barker, Kyle Bergin, Lewis Blanchett, Connor Davison, Josh Dillon, Asten Firkins, Shane Goodyear, Elliott Gosling, Jack McQuoid, Glen Morrison, Ryan Munson, Connor Pash, DJ Quinney, Callum Rogers, Tyler Rogers, Robbie Taylor, Rob Thorne, Luke Webb.
Rayleigh Town: Tommy Metcalfe, Mark Brown, James Buckley, Anthony Pegg, George Smith, Tom Malcolm, Jack Long, Sonny Coutts, Jono Pashley, Harry Higgins, Matt Seago, Tom Cole, Charlie Gardner, George Vile, Brad Tanton, Will Vile, Ryan Wallington, Etan Maffia, Jamie Chick, Sam Ashkuri, Harry Talbot, Taylor Swain.
Referee: Ashley Butler.
Assistant Referees: James Perry and Wayne Dearsley.
Fourth Official: Matthew Rowling.