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Two Kieran Stanley goals, plus a strike from Joe deBell, were enough to eventually register a comfortable Essex Sunday Junior Trophy Final victory for South Woodham Ferrers United Reserves at Heybridge Swifts FC.
Opponents, Valence United, had them locked at 0-0 at the interval, but Stanley’s opener just after the break ignited Woodham, whose Manager, Rob deBell, was delighted with the victory. He explained: “We were incredibly proud of the boys not only winning their first bit of silverware but also the manner in which they did it.”
“A county trophy is a bit special, which they are beginning to understand,” he continued. “I think we were the better side throughout, and thoroughly deserved the victory. The first half was quite close but, once we scored, we took over. Two more goals, and very few chances given away, showed how dominant we were.”
The game began very evenly, with South Woodham hitting the crossbar and Valence having a shot fly just over the crossbar. Woodham came close to scoring in the 12th minute as Jack French made a great turn, allowing him to get around his defender and send a shot just wide.
French then came close to scoring again when he received the ball in the middle of the area and shot with the outside of his foot, though his effort was parried away and out of danger by the Valence goalkeeper. Just after that, South Woodham went close again.
Stanley had a great chance as he managed to beat three players and hit a thunderous shot which was parried away by the Valence custodian. Woodham did manage to put the ball into the net in the 35th minute, but the goal was disallowed for a pull on a Valence player.
Just after half time, however, Woodham were finally able to open the scoring. The ball was passed to deBell, who found space on the edge of the box to shift it onto his left foot and curl stylishly into the top left-hand corner.
Valence came close to scoring in the 62nd minute as Burt Candy found space with the ball and had a shot from 35 yards out, which flew just over the crossbar. Immediately afterwards, Woodham extended their lead. The ball was played through by Cameron Gray to Stanley, who beat a Valence defender and slotted to the left of the ‘keeper.
Valence again had a chance through a great run by Sean Doyle as he fended off the challenges of two Woodham defenders, laying the ball off to his team mate. His strike was parried out for a corner by the ‘keeper, but it didn’t lead to anything.
They then maintained their pressure, and a cross from the left-hand side led to an attempted overhead kick, though the ball fell to George Ashley, who struck a powerful effort which was deflected for another unsuccessful corner.
Woodham landed a killer blow with their third just before full time. Play advanced forward to Stanley who moved to his left, beat a defender and took a shot which hit the left post and went in, ensuring victory. “The first key moment was our ‘keeper making a great save early in the match. That allowed us to settle and gain confidence and control of the game,” deBell recalled.
“We then scored 90 seconds into the second half, which I don’t think they recovered from. A pretty quick second goal killed the game in our favour. I’d like to thank Lee [Bull] and Dan [Kirkham] for all their work over the years as we have run the team together. More goes on behind the scenes than most people are aware of, and the team are truly grateful for their efforts.”
“I’m hoping this win gives the boys the confidence to go on and win many more trophies. To win such a prestigious cup shows how good the lads are, as we faced some very good sides in our cup run. The boys celebrated long and hard after the final whistle as this trophy meant more to them than anything they had previously won.”
South Woodham Ferrers United Reserves: Liam Kirkham, Sam Mears, Matt Barrett, Callum Newell, Dan Stone, Kian Draper, Dave Jones, Arthur Laver, Kai Gilbrook, George Ashley, Josh Ronchetti, Jack French, Ben Mears, Brandon Wray, Adam Webb, Max Day, Harry Banyard, Kieran Stanley, Cameron Gray, Joe deBell, Will Laver, Billy Colgate.
Valence United: James Jacobs, Scott Gillick, Josh Russell, David Dell, Aaron Legget, Sean Doyle, Callum Brown, Andrew Cruishank, Burt Candy, James Cook, Ryan Knight, Ben King, Michael O’Brian, Kyle Moran, Michael Cain, Jordan Cook, Tommy Abrams, Rowan Newland, Danny Cook.
Referee: John Watson.
Assistant Referees: Robert Walker and James Davies.
Fourth Official: Charlie Roberts.