Click here to view all the PM Baxter Photography action images from this match.
Sungate Manager, Bobbie Port, highlighted the opportunity his players have to “build for the future” as second-half goals from George Johnson and Arif Mustapha sealed a BBC Essex Saturday Premier Cup Final victory for his side against Woodford East.
Woodford were able to hold out until the 63rd minute before conceding, even saving a penalty, but Sungate eventually prevailed. A delighted Port reacted: “It’s been a tough two years, with Covid and seasons being stop-start. To be able to build momentum and finally finish a season was a tremendous effort from the boys.”
“It was a very proud moment for me as their manager. Sungate is a family-run club, and to be given the autonomy to allow us to produce both young and experienced players has given us the opportunity to build for the future. Winning the cup increases the club’s profile, but it is also a great reward for everyone associated with the club and a testament to everyone’s hard work.”
Woodford started strongly as a corner was swung in, with Matt Stacey managing to get a shot away and the Sungate goalkeeper saved with his foot, the defenders clearing any potential danger from the rebound. They had another chance as a Callum Maltese through ball found Will Letchford, who managed to shoot left-footed, but the gloveman was there again to stop the shot.
Sungate had their first real chance of the game 14 minutes in as Lee Samways put in a cross aimed towards Daniel Callaway, but it hit the crossbar and the Woodford ‘keeper caught the ball with ease. They came close again when Sam Elwood delivered into a dangerous area but there was no one in the box to get onto the end of it.
On 30 minutes, Sungate were awarded a penalty. A forward ball was played to Samways from James Smith and Samways was then fouled in the box. Smith stepped up to take it, but missed wide to the left-hand side of the goal.
Sungate controlled the remainder of the first half, as a Samways cross led to the Woodford ‘keeper fumbling the ball and then regaining it, with Smith close by and sniffing around for a tap-in. Just before half time, Sungate had another chance, Jake Willis being played through by Smith on the right side of the box and managing to get his shot away, but into the side netting.
The first real opportunity in the second half came nine minutes in as the ball was played from midfield to Woodford’s Conner Braithwaite, who beat his defender and chipped the goalkeeper, but the ball ended up on the roof of the net. Sungate did break the deadlock in the 63rd minute.
Elwood cut through the midfield with tricky footwork, laying the ball off to Samways, who passed into the path of Johnson. He took a touch, shifted it onto his right foot and curled over the despairing ‘keeper. Port said: “Taking into consideration the penalty miss, I think we showed strong character to not let that affect us and, when the chance finally came to take the lead, we took it!”
They had another opening ten minutes later as skipper Scott Truman played the ball to Willis, who struck a superb shot from 25 yards out, flying just wide. Maintaining their pressure six minutes later, Mustapha picked the ball up on the left wing and passed into the area, where Willis was there to shoot on-target, but the Woodford ‘keeper managed to save with his foot.
Sungate scored their second in the 83rd minute when the ball arrived from the right-hand side and fell to Mustapha, who played a short one-two with Thomas Drayton before hitting a left-footed strike past the goalkeeper from inside the box.
Woodford didn’t back down, though, as they came close just before full time. A free kick, taken by skipper Frank Glock, beat everybody and bounced out close to the right-hand side of the goal. But it was Sungate who did enough, and they managed to claim the silverware. “Overall, I think it’s fair to say we were deserving of the win,” Port reflected.
“We had a decent amount of possession and created various chances. Winning the cup is a special moment for me. It’s the first of my managerial career… and hopefully not the last. This group of players deserve all the accolades. After all, all I really do is pick the team!”
Sungate: Stefan Lamacq, Ryan Bussey, Sam Elwood, Will Halford, Daniel Callaway, Billy Wells, James Ishmail, Scott Truman, Lee Samways, James Smith, Josh Addinall, Liam Burgess, Josh Steel, Jake Willis, Arif Mustapha, Thomas Drayton, George Johnson, Kyran Chiedozie, Ciaran Kelly, Pat Elbi.
Woodford East: Alfie Watts, Joe Kemp, Kai Law, Sonny Feltwell, Matt Stacey, Frank Glock, William Letchford, Eren Mehmet, Ben Smith, Frankie Lane, Cuney Hassan, John Gilley, Keiran Bruns, Callum Drummond, Callum Maltese, Billy Barr, Connor Braithwaite, Liam Adams, Maxwell Marshall, Adam Tabbani, Reece Beaumont, Jack Smith.
Referee: Alexander Kyriacou.
Assistant Referees: Craig Wood and Benjamin Ridge.
Fourth Official: Ryan Smith.