Chris Evans reports…
AFC Hornchurch 2-5 Maldon & Tiptree, Friday 4th May 2018, Kick-Off 7:45pm, Parkside, Essex Cassels Under 16s Cup Final.
Maldon & Tiptree recovered from going behind early on to defeat AFC Hornchurch and follow-up last season’s Essex Rosser Under 15s Cup success with Cassels Under 16s Cup victory at Aveley FC’s Parkside.
Sonny Leeks had fired Hornchurch into a 15th-minute lead, but Maldon were in front by half time through Tyler Whymark’s brace and Stef Stavrinos then struck twice after the break to give the Jammers an unassailable 4-1 lead. Hornchurch responded through Obi Molefi, but Ross Wright sealed a 5-2 win in stoppage time for Maldon.
“Second year in a row!” proclaimed Maldon boss Mark Carroll after the game, having also overseen his side’s Under 15s County Cup success the previous season. “I don’t think that’s been done for a long time and we’re proud of that. In the cup we just seem to be disciplined in what we do. We try and play some football. I think we’re quite organised and that helps in certain times.”
It was a particularly fitting occasion for the Maldon side, who were playing their final fixture together, as Mark explained: “What a fantastic way to come out of youth football. It’s a shame that this team is now folding and they’re at the stage in their lives where they’ve got to decide their own thing, whether that’s college, sixth form and some going on to football colleges.”
“This team has come to its natural end and we’ve had a great journey, from starting in Eastern Junior Alliance football four years ago, and they’ve gradually got better and better. To crown it all off, tonight is just fantastic. It’s great to see them grow and see what they’ve done and to see their parents, too. I’ll have some happy memories.”
“They’d known each through local leagues when they were younger and then everyone bit the bullet at Under 13s to come together, and we’ve achieved this. We’ve achieved great things and I’m a very proud person tonight.”
In what was a topsy-turvy affair, both sides shared chances, with the goal frame being hit no fewer than four times. “It was a proper cup final,” reflected the Maldon boss. “In the first 15-20 minutes it was sort of ‘hey it’s going to be a difficult one,’ but then we found our feet and got ourselves composed.”
“We didn’t play too much good football, but then we got the breaks, took our chances and then it was a case of ‘right let’s be organised and let’s be disciplined in our approach.’ And the chances came. The way the game panned out, we had the chances, we hit the bar probably three or four times and it could’ve been 5 or 6-1 if we took all our chances. But overall I cannot grumble.”
Hornchurch’s lead arrived as Leeks fired an excellent shot into the top far left-hand corner from 20 yards, but Maldon levelled the tie up eight minutes later when the ball dropped to Whymark in the area, who slotted in.
Maldon’s Jack Martin side-footed against the top of the bar just before the half-hour but, on 35 minutes, his side did gain the lead. Whymark neatly controlled inside the box and finished with aplomb beyond Hornchurch goalkeeper Jack Walker. In first-half stoppage time a terrific long-range free kick from Maldon’s King brought an equally fine save from Walker.
Early in the second period, Maldon came so close to extended their lead as they struck the upright twice, Whymark running into the area and seeing his angled shot bounce off the top of the far post before Brandon Driver hit the rebound against the same post.
Hornchurch’s Oliver Heath then twice came close, firstly seeing a shot well saved by Maldon ‘keeper Ben Porter before nudging the ball inches wide. But Maldon’s third arrived on 50 minutes. Stavrinos’ long range free kick found the back of the net via the inside of the far post. Five minutes later the ball slipped out to Stavrinos again, who slotted in his second from a tight angle.
As they looked for a route back into the game, Hornchurch’s Ben Allen rattled the crossbar and then hit the rebound just over the top. But it was Allen who set-up Molefi to side-foot home and reduce the arrears with 20 minutes remaining.
Hornchurch enjoyed a spell of pressure, and Harrison Sullivan brought an excellent save from ‘keeper Porter before Maldon sealed the tie in stoppage time. Wright latched onto a ball forward and finished calmly.
AFC Hornchurch: Jack Walker, Torgbor Torto-Tetteh, Oliver Heath, James Hegarty, Jeffrey Njuguna, Obi Molefi, Harrison Sullivan, Sonny Dutton, Sonny Dutton, Ben Allen, James Lickfold. Substitutes (repeated): Sebastian Towse, Jack Brown, Jalil Taiwo.
Maldon & Tiptree: Ben Porter, Jack Martin, Ed Bennett, Dylan Hunt, Fred King, Tyler Whymark, Joe Osborn, Jonathan Humphrey, Stef Stavrinos, Josh Carroll, Harry Simmonds. Substitutes (repeated): Rafe Dawes, Ross Wright, Brandon Driver, Albert Bishop.
Referee: Ike Agho (Harlow).
Assistant Referees: Gavin Bailey (Barking & Dagenham) and Stuart Henderson (Havering).
Fourth Official: Max Di-Lieto (Havering).