Rayleigh Town and Harold Wood couldn’t be separated in 120 minutes of football and needed penalties, which Rayleigh Town won to take the Essex Saturday Veterans Cup home.
The early sparring between the two sides was fairly even, with both sides having a fair share of possession without any real chances. In the 15th minute, an outstanding freekick from all of 35 yards plus from Patrick Duggan swerved and dipped into the top left-hand corner, giving Harold Wood an early lead.
The first notable chance of the game for Rayleigh Town was a curled effort from outside the box on the right-hand side from Scott Wheeler, but Harold Wood ‘keeper Robert Hatton held well. The first half was drawing to a close with Harold Wood hoping to go in one up, but just before halftime, a Rayleigh Town corner was headed home by Richard Halle which meant it was level at the break.
After halftime, the first two noteworthy chances fell to Rayleigh Town. Two more corners caused Harold Wood trouble, the first in the 48th minute saw Barker get on the end of the cross at the back post, but he saw his header go wide. The second in the 68th minute saw another deep corner headed wide, but this time by Wheatstone.
The next couple of chances fell Harold Wood’s way, first with Kingsley shooting straight at Rayleigh Town ‘keeper Keys from inside the right-hand side of the box. Harold Wood then had a huge chance to win the game in the 85th minute. Chisholm was played through on goal, but he lifted his shot over the bar from the left-hand side of the box, meaning the game went to extra time.
The two sides had one big chance each in extra time. Chisholm curled another effort towards goal, but it went just wide of the right-hand post. Another Rayleigh Town corner caused issues, with the initial ball headed up rather than out, but eventually Harold Wood managed to clear their lines. An extra 30 minutes couldn’t separate the teams, so penalties were needed to decide the winner.
Rayleigh Town took first and the penalty was coolly slotted home. Harold Wood’s first was saved well by Town ‘keeper Keys, giving Rayleigh the advantage. Both teams scored their second penalty, with Rayleigh also scoring their third. Harold Wood missed their third penalty, making it 3-1 on penalties after three had been taken by each side. Rayleigh stepped up for their fourth to win it, but it was missed giving Harold Wood a lifeline. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t take it and their fourth penalty was saved, making Rayleigh Town the Essex Saturday Veterans Cup Champions!
Harold Wood Athletic Squad: Robert Hatton, Lee Millar, Paul Shave, Sam Taylor, Paul Kavanagh, Reiss Kingsley, Bradley Ling, Patrick Duggan (15’), Lee Hodges, Stuart Williams, Bradley Foley, Kevin Gibson, Joe Pyne, John O’Brien, Michael Woodward, Matthew Chisholm.
Rayleigh Town Squad: Nick Keys, Andy Bourne, David Kreyling, John Wheatstone, Andrew Lilliker, Scott Wheeler, Richard Halle (44’), Paul Oakley, James Nolan, Chris Barker, Neil Richmond, Paul White, Chris Brown, Jack Tindale, Lewis Walker, James Braithwaite.
Congratulations once again to Rayleigh Town for winning the Essex Saturday Veterans Cup Final. To keep up to date with all this seasons County Cup Finals, follow @EssexCountyFA on Twitter and Essex County FA on Instagram.