C & K Basildon (Under 15s) 3-2 West Ham United (Essex Under 16s Girls Cup Final)

Chris Evans reports…

C & K Basildon (Under 15s) 3-2 West Ham United, Sunday 29th April 2018, Kick-Off 11:00am, Aspect Arena, Essex Under 16s Girls Cup Final.

C & K Basildon Girls completed their inaugural season in style as their Under 15s side won an exciting Essex Under 16s Girls Cup Final, defeating West Ham United 3-2.

C & K’s girls’ setup was only established in the summer of 2017 and, in the club’s first County Girls’ Cup Final, Sean Eldridge’s squad led 2-0 early on with two goals from Louisa Rice. West Ham struck back as Emeilia Parsons also grabbed a brace, the second of which came from the penalty spot. The winner arrived on 54 minutes as C & K’s Amelie Johnson angled excellently into the far corner.

“It was an unbelievable game and I don’t think my heart’s going to slow down for some time after that!” exclaimed Manager Eldridge after the breathless affair. “We started really, really well and went 2-0 up, but West Ham were great coming back and showed real determination.”

The contest showcased some fine finishing and flowing football. That didn’t surprise Eldridge: “In the second half we nicked the third goal and then defended for our lives. It was always going to be a great game and it had all the ingredients to be quite a spectacle. I’m just so proud of the girls. They took the goals well and they’re bang in form.”

“Louisa up-front and Amelie have scored a lot of goals this season and they kept their cool. When their chances came, they took them. Both teams played some excellent football, especially under the pressure of a final and a big occasion. Sometimes you can get lost in nerves a bit, but both teams were excellent and it was a great advert for girls’ football.”

C & K’s ladies set-up is thriving at the moment. Only weeks earlier the club won its fifth, and fourth successive, Essex Women’s Cup whilst also challenging for FA Women’s Premier League honours and elevation to the Super League.

Their own youth structure has now followed suit, and Eldridge’s side can take pride in following in the footsteps of their elders. “It’s unbelievable” he said. “I’ve had so many messages from other managers. ‘Good lucks’ and the like. And I’m really pleased we’ve managed to get something on the board, get a trophy and hopefully there’s more to come.”

With the ladies’ side, managed by one-time Southend United boss Steve Tilson, playing a home fixture later that day only a mile down the road at Canvey Island, Tilson and many of his charges turned up to lend support to Eldridge’s youngsters.

“I could see him from a distance!” recalled Sean, adding: “It’s great to see their support and we’re going to go over now to watch the ladies and maybe have a bit of a parade on the pitch at half time with our trophy. We’re all really pleased.”

C & K led on 7 minutes as Katie Nuding teed-up Rice, who side-footed into the bottom left-hand corner and Rice then brought a good block from Hammers goalkeeper Beth Page before C & K’s Johnson fired just over.

West Ham’s Page made another good save, getting down low to keep out Johnson’s drive, before C & K doubled their lead on 22 minutes. Rice angled a run into the area and fired into the far corner. But, within three minutes, West Ham had hit back. Parsons sprinted onto a ball forward and rolled home a fine finish along the ground.

Abbie Ridgway cleared off the line from Ellice Catling to keep West Ham in the contest and her efforts were rewarded when the Hammers levelled in first-half stoppage time. A trip in the penalty area saw referee Zak Johnson point to the spot and Parsons converted from twelve yards.

But, on 54 minutes, C & K scored the winner through Johnson’s excellent finish. West Ham looked to come back, however the best chance in the closing stages saw C & K’s Megan Sutherland have her shot cleared off the line as her side went on to seal an exciting win.

C & K Basildon (Under 15s): Hana Fountain, Erin Barrett, Ellice Catling, Zoe Johnstone, Holly Ling, Amelie Johnson, Louisa Rice, Katie Nuding, Megan Sutherland, Emily Clogg, Charlotte Williams. Substitutes (repeated): Katie Burbridge, Ells Townsley.

West Ham United: Beth Page, Patsy Callaghan, Maya Swani, Abbie Ridgway, Zoe Toussaint, Grace Laverick, Jess Horn, Joyce Ekakoro, Emeilia Parsons, Sydney Graham, Kumni Adams. Substitutes (repeated): Sharnay Parker.

Referee: Zak Johnson (Southend).

Assistant Referees: Jack Racey (Southend) and Edward Smith (Basildon).

Fourth Official: Lewis Cobden (Colchester).

Attendance: 128.