Sawbridgeworth Town 0 Great Wakering Rovers 1
Errington Challenge Cup Final
Monday 7th May
Report by Scott Lanza / Photo by Steve Mahony
Great Wakering Rovers capped off a great 2017/18 season by landing the Errington Challenge Cup at a sun-drenched Capershotts on Bank Holiday Monday. Neil Richmond’s goal was enough to see Rovers complete the Essex Senior League double – emulating the feat they achieved back in 2013/14.
The game started at a frantic pace as both teams tried to get the ball down and play. But the first opportunity almost came via an error in the Sawbridgeworth defence that allowed Richmond to poke a shot wide. Rovers then chose to return the favour as Scott Pethers and Louis Hawes both went for the same ball and in the following confusion Aaron Thomas was able to gain possession of the ball and drill a shot just wide. The Robins certainly had the better of the early exchanges as Lewis Deamer got on the end of a Tom Jelliman free kick and nodded his effort just beyond the far post, and Matt Frew also got his head on a Robins corner that wasn’t too far away.
But Rovers then crafted an excellent opportunity as Jay Nash turned his marker and laid off a nice ball to Aaron Russell whose powerful shot was blocked by the Robins defence; Richmond then lashed the rebound goalwards requiring James Mays to show great skill to keep it out. But Sawbridgeworth went straight back on the attack with Toby Cleaver looking to get on the end of a ball over the top of the Rovers defence, but Hawes read the situation well and charged out of his box to hook the ball away from his area. And the Rovers ‘keeper was also off his line in the 25th minute to kick away a ball darting towards Zak Johnson. But Rovers crafted another good move when they put together a number of passes before Nash threaded a final ball through to Billy Johnson that again produced a quality save from Mays.
With neither side managing to break the deadlock meant as the half it started to get a bit niggly at times and Sawbridgeworth saw Mark Robinson and Cleaver both booked, one for kicking the ball away and one for a late challenge. Aaron Waters also had his name taken after a reckless challenge. The half ended goalless and both teams were starting to get frustrated due to not being able to break the deadlock.
The game needed a goal that was for sure and it wasn’t due to lack of effort but as is the case in a lot of finals with so much to lose meant that neither side was prepared to give their opponents a sniff. However Rovers had an early effort in the opening moments of the second half when Stephen Butterworth centred to Richmond but he scuffed his effort, which still struck the post and then bounced dangerously around Sawbridgeworth’s six-yard box before being cleared by Frew.
However Richmond found a way through in the 58th minute as he picked up a ball outside Sawbridgeworth’s box and then got himself into a good position to squeeze the ball past Mays to give his side the lead and a step closer to landing the double.
However Sawbridgeworth lifted themselves up to try and get back on level terms but found Pethers in no mood to allow that possibility as the Rovers Captain put in a solid challenge to dispossess Aaron Thomas inside his own box and then he hooked clear a dangerous looking cross from Monk. Hawes also had his gloves tested as he had to cut out a couple of Sawbridgeworth crosses. But eventually Rovers cut off the supply line meaning that the next meaningful Sawbridgeworth effort came in the 70th minute when Danny Wickenden unleashed a shot from distance that sailed high and wide of the target.
Rovers crafted a few opportunities to extend their lead as well. A defence-splitting pass from Butterworth reached Richmond but this time Mays was able to tip his low shot around the post. And Rovers went even closer when a Chris Bryan corner was headed inches over by Evans.
A Frew ball over the top of the Rovers defence bounced awkwardly in front of Hawes which nearly allowed Cleaver a sniff in the 74th minute, but it was Mays who kept his side in it by twice pulling off superb saves to prevent Rovers extending their lead. The first came in the 77th minute when Butterworth dinked a cute free kick over Sawbridgeworth’s wall that Richmond connected with but Mays dived at full-stretch to palm the ball away. Then the Sawbridgeworth ‘keeper spread himself and used his legs to block a Butterworth shot. It was no surprise that James Mays was made the man of the match and his saves meant that Sawbridgeworth still had an opportunity to draw themselves level when they next had a go in the 82nd minute. Jelliman’s free kick made its way into Great Wakering’s box and ended up with Oliver Cleaver unloading a powerful shot that Hawes tipped over.
Rovers had kept it tight at the back, meaning that they were able to tip the balance a bit more in their favour in the second half. But they still needed to get another goal to see Sawbridgeworth off and they nearly got it when Butterworth again acted as provider, this time knocking a ball out to the right-hand side of the box to Bryan whose shot was blocked by another good Mays save. And it was obvious why Rovers had continued chipping away at Sawbridgeworth as with only a goal in it meant that there was time for the Robins to land themselves an equaliser – especially as in the 89th minute the 4th official indicated a further five minutes stoppage time. There was little of note in that added time until the closing seconds when Daryl Doolan turned and drilled a low shot that Hawes saved.
That was the end of that – a tight game that saw plenty of effort from both teams, with the score line being kept to a single goal in part to both ‘keepers being on top of their game. And of course the game was won by a piece of individual brilliance from Neil Richmond who set up himself up by getting into a good scoring position and then making sure he did so. A year after being relegated they now return to the Bostik League having picked up two of the three ESL trophies on offer. No wonder Rovers manager Iain O’Connell was heard to say after the game that he was off to Magaluf!
Sawbridgeworth Town: James Mays, Mark Robinson (Oliver Cleaver 71’), Louis Monk, Lewis Deamer (Capt), Matt Frew, Tom Jelliman, Danny Wickenden, George Pullen (Jack Cousins 84’), Aaron Thomas, Toby Cleaver, Zak Johnson (Daryl Doolan 56’).
Great Wakering Rovers: Louis Hawes, Kiah Froud, Aaron Russell (Danny Hurford 46’), Scott Pethers (Capt), Aaron Waters, Sam Carter, Billy Johnson (Chris Bryan 59’), Ricky Evans, Neil Richmond, Jay Nash, Stephen Butterworth.
Scorer – Neil Richmond (58’)