A late winner from Brandon Aviero was enough to secure Bowers & Pitsea the Thames-Side Trophy.
Grays Athletic started the game brightly, Ronnie Winn being played in down the right side of the box, but his shot across goal was well saved by Bowers ‘keeper Joseph Osaghae. Unfortunately, that was Osaghae’s last action in the game, as he was forced off with an injury and replaced by stand in ‘keeper Oscar Shelvey-Negus.
Bowers did play their way into the game and their first chance came in the 18th minute after some neat play in the middle, Bioletti found himself through on goal, but his shot was straight down the throat of Grays ‘keeper Sambridge.
Two minutes later, Bowers took the lead. A freekick caused some confusion in the Grays box and the ball eventually fell Valckx Fernandes, who placed a well controlled finish into the bottom right corner.
Grays nearly fired back almost immediately, after Tom Stagg controlled well on the edge of the box, before twisting and turning and firing a shot just wide of the post. In the 29th minute, Grays levelled the scoring. Aron Gordon picked the ball up on the left and ran through to the centre, taking aim from 25 yards out and seeing his shot fly into the bottom left corner.
The game then slowed slightly as we approached half time, but Bowers did have a big chance to go into the break a goal up. Montrell Deslandes was played through one on one with Grays ‘keeper Sambridge, but he curled a shot wide of the post, taking us into half time with the score 1-1.
Five minutes into the second half, Bowers retook the lead. Funsho Sinai ran down the right before cutting inside and smashing a shot into the top corner at the near post. The game once again quietened down slightly for a period, with half chances for both side but nothing real of note.
In the 72nd minute, the game picked back up, with chances for both sides in quick succession. First Thistleton charged forward from right back before firing a shot wide of the post for Bowers & Pitsea. Grays fired back two minutes later, a corner causing confusion the Bowers box, before stand-in ‘keeper Shelvey-Negus made a miraculous save to keep the ball out.
Seconds later, a Grays shot from outside the box cannoned off the inside of the bar and was scrambled away by Bowers. In the 80th minute Grays once again levelled the game. George Winn picked the ball up level with the edge of the box on the left hand side and fired a looping shot towards goal that went in the top corner at the far post.
Both teams then had chances to win the game, but it looked destined for penalties, until Aveiro stepped up to win it for Bowers. Some great interplay down the left saw him through on goal and he kept his composure and lifted a shot into the roof of the net to spark celebrations from the Bowers players and crowd.
Despite some pressure in added time, Grays couldn’t level the game for the third time and the referee blew the full time whistle, crowing Bowers & Pitsea the Essex Thames-Side Trophy Champions!
Bowers & Pitsea Squad: Joseph Osaghae, Dylan Thistleton, Chevron McLean, Mobalaji Dawodu, Dexter Peter, Solomon Addy, Ben Williamson, Brandon Aviero (89’), Benedict Bioletti, Valckx Fernandes (20’), Anthony Morrison, Harrison Carnegie, Oscar Shelvey-Negus, Ayman El Mogharbel, Funsho Sinai (50’)
Grays Athletic Squad: Danny Sambridge, Courtney Homans, Macauley Joynes, Ronnie Winn, Lewis Clark, Callum Leahy, Aron Gordon (29’), Thomas Stagg, Mitchell Hahn, Joe Gardner, Marlon Agyakwa, Troy Osei-Bobi, Samuel Griek, Teddy Jones, George Winn (80’), Joe Dayrell
Referee: Craig Barnett
Assistant Referees: Leigh Ballinger and Michael Iddenden-Smith
Fourth Official: Adam Miller
Congratulations to Bowers & Pitsea on winning the Essex Thames-Side Trophy! If you want to stay up to date with all the County Cup Finals this season, follow Essex County FA on Twitter and Instagram.