Brentwood, 12.12pm: 1°C, mist

Essex Senior Cup Final: Billericay Town 2 Chelmsford City 1

Phoenix FM’s JOHN CHUBB reporting from the Weston Homes Community Stadium

(Photograph by kind permission of Nicky Hayes)

Billericay Town are the new holders of the Essex Senior Cup, after edging out last year’s winners Chelmsford City in what turned out to be a fiercely competitive final.

For Billericay Jack Giddens replaced Alan Julian in goal, and there were returns to the starting XI for Josh Urquhart and Adam Cunnington, whilst Nick Wheeler and Danny Waldren dropped to the bench.

Chelmsford welcomed back Lee Barnard, the former Southend United and Southampton striker returning to Rod Stringer’s squad after injury.

Missing from the Clarets squad were Scott Davies, who yesterday left the club to sign for Slough Town whilst Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, Scott Fenwick, Phil Roberts, George Lapslie and Cameron James were all ineligible having arrived at Melbourne Stadium after the Clarets’ semi-final win over East Thurrock in January.

There were few genuine chances in the somewhat scrappy opening 20 minutes of the match, Jake Robinson of Billericay probably going closest when a shot of his landed on the roof of Chelmsford goalkeeper Sam Beasant’s net.

But Glenn Tamplin’s men broke the deadlock in the 24th minute when Robbie Evans found the net to put the Blues ahead. The former Wrexham midfielder’s goal was allowed to stand in spite of claims by some of the City players of offside.

The goal made the game spring into life, and Clarets almost replied on the half hour mark, when Danny Green crossed a ball into the penalty box which found Michael Spillane, who struck the left hand post.

And on 35 minutes City, who had been pushing for an equaliser got their reward, when Danny Green’s effort from the edge of the penalty box found the net to make it 1-1.

Four minutes later Chelmsford weren’t far from taking the lead when forward Chris Dickson – Clarets’ matchwinner against East Thurrock United in last season’s final – cheekily lobbed the ball over Giddens’ head and wasn’t far away from putting his side in front.

In time added on at the end of the half Ricay’s top scorer Robinson almost made it 2-1, his close range effort being superbly being tipped over the bar by Beasant to ensure that the scores remained level at the break.

After the interval City were looking the side more likely to go in front, especially on 50 minutes when a great through ball from Dickson found Jonathan Giles, whose shot was blocked.

Tamplin and Billericay head coach Harry Wheeler decided just before the hour mark that a more attacking formation was the order of the day, so on came midfielder Danny Waldren and ex-Chelmsford striker Billy Bricknell for Matt Paine and defender Kevin Foley.

Almost immediately after this the Bostik Premier League men were back in front through Calum Butcher, the Mansfield Town loanee’s effort initially striking the post before rolling into the net to make it 2-1.

Chelmsford boss Stringer made an attacking change for the final quarter of an hour, Kudus Oyenuga replacing former Millwall and Leyton Orient forward Shaun Batt, after introducing Ebbsfleet United loanee Bagasan Graham in place of left back Craig Barham-Barrett a few minutes previously.

And the Clarets came agonisingly close to an equaliser with 8 minutes remaining, Taylor Miles firing in an effort from the edge of the box which smacked against Giddens’ crossbar before rebounding into play.

Dickson almost did the same in the 85th minute, the former Ghana international setting off on a pacy run into the area before his shot was gathered by Giddens.

With time running short Stringer introduced another Chelmsford forward as a final throw of the dice, with Green making way for Barnard.

But in spite of referee Dean Skipper adding on six minutes of injury time, the National League South side could not find a way through and Blues took the county crown to claim another scalp against a team from a higher league.

Billericay Town: Jack Giddens, Josh Urquhart, Kevin Foley (Billy Bricknell 58), Joe Kizzi, Rob Swaine, Sam Deering, Robbie Evans, Matt Paine (Danny Waldren 58), Calum Butcher (Jamie O’Hara 70), Jake Robinson, Adam Cunnington.

Chelmsford City: Sam Beasant, Elliot Omozusi, Craig Barham-Barrett (Bagasan Graham 72), Taylor Miles, Michael Spillane, Chris Smith, Danny Green (Lee Barnard 87), Anthony Church, Shaun Batt (Kudus Oyenuga 76), Chris Dickson, Jonathan Giles.

Attendance: 2528

“I’m absolutely over the moon for all those fantastic fans who turned up tonight.

“It’s our first piece of silverware this season – one of three, hopefully. I won this cup a few years ago with Canvey Island, nothing can take it away from you. Some footballers go through their careers without winning anything. We’ve got an opportunity to go and win three, plus we went a long way in the FA Trophy and FA Cup too, obviously we are very happy.
“If we can add the Bostik Premier League and League Cup it will have been a successful season for us, with the league being our main priority.

“But nights like this, if you could bottle them it would be fantastic.” – Billericay assistant manager/coach Danny Hazle

“I’m proud of my players. I’m proud to be the manager of Chelmsford City”.

“What a great spectacle of a game it was.

“If people don’t know what this level is all about, they have come here tonight they have come here tonight and witnessed two good sides.

“It was a fantastic crowd, and I thought it was a good game of football”. – Chelmsford manager Rod Stringer

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