BBC Essex Premier Cup – Quarter-Final
Venue: John Burrows Recreation Ground
2019 – 20 Season: Match 55
Saturday 1st February 2020 – 1.40pm KO
Leigh Town: Black & White Striped Shirts, Black Shorts, Black Socks
Corinthians: Navy Blue Shirts, Navy Blue Shorts, White Socks
Unbeaten Leigh continue their fine season with hard-fought triumph
Leigh Town 2 – 0 Corinthians
Match Report & Photos by Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]
This weekend’s match was a first visit to the John Burrows Recreation Ground (for Football), to see a hotly-anticipated Essex Premier Cup Quarter-Final tie between two Essex Olympian League Division Two sides in unbeaten Leigh Town and mid-table Corinthians. The hosts fielded Matt Riley in goal, with a back three of Zac Mashford, skipper James Roberts and Harry Payne. The attack was led by Max Jones, Sam Irivine and Daniel Driscoll, with Shane Cooper and Sam Gillmore among the substitutes for Jack Pearman’s side. Corinthians are in the midst of a rare lean spell and had John Eckett between the sticks, with Sammy Ayres and Alfie Knight in central defence and at the top of the pitch, the front three of Nathan Dewberry, Leo Clarke and John Bolton-Smith. Bill Wilton, Ollie Brickwood, Dan Cooksley and Theodore Cannon were among the options on the sidelines.
This encounter didn’t take long to really heat up, with strong but fair tackles being made by both sides early-doors, as both sides looked to gain the early ascendancy. The first major chance came after eight minutes as a fierce effort by Town forward Daniel Driscoll cannoned back off the far-side post before the rebound was fizzed over seconds later. Minutes later, Corinthians forward Nathan Dewberry had a glimpse of goal from twenty yards out though it lacked the power to defeat home custodian Matt Riley. Leigh were looking purposeful and rapid going forward and on 18 minutes, a good move led by Driscoll ended with strike partner Sam Irvine’s powerful strike rebounding off the goal frame.
The visitors had a goal chalked off as midfielder Matt Burrell’s free-kick somehow managed to evade everyone and trickle in though referee David Tregaskes spotted an infringement and promptly ruled it out. Both teams were showing a huge amount of passion, energy and determination which exuded outward with Leigh having more ball retention. Just past the half-hour, home forward Irvine was only denied a one-on-one chance with visiting stopper John Eckett by a well-timed crucial interception by tigerish centre-back Sammy Ayres. And then with half-time looming large, Driscoll had a tap-in ruled out for the home side though it was hard to be critical of either side, even if the visitors didn’t quite test Riley on enough occasions at this point.
Half-Time: Leigh Town 0 – 0 Corinthians
Five minutes after the restart, Corinthians came out with renewed purpose and after good play by support forward Jake Hodder, forward John Bolton-Smith effort was off-target. Moments later, Town forward Max Jones drifted an effort wide of the left-side post and although Corinthians had their share of the play at this point, they still had to negotiate some near-misses by Town. On the hour, centre-back Zac Mashford’s free-kick only just evaded Jones at the back stick as the hosts started to get the odds back in their favour.
That being said, the visitors were still quick on the counter-attack as another Burrell free-kick found Bolton-Smith whose header was not lacking in power, though it was in direction as Riley saw it whistle over the crossbar. Leigh did break the deadlock midway into the second half as in a congested penalty area, substitute Sam Gillmore stroked in from close range three minutes after coming onto the field. As we entered the last twenty minutes of this enthralling contest, a fine run by winger Leo Clarke who jostled past two oncoming defenders before feeding Dewberry though unfortunately his strike wasn’t powerful enough to get past Riley, who gathered calmly.
Leigh got that crucial second goal ten minutes from time, as another replacement struck moments after coming on. Forward Shane Cooper peeled away from his marker to tap home from mere yards, despite fierce opposition from the visitors who wanted it chalked off for a foul. In added-time, midfielder Luke Owen’s 25-yard drive was saved by Riley as he secured another clean sheet. Kudos also to the hosts who defended very well and didn’t give Chris Stoneham’s side time to settle and launch their fine attacking style of play in large parts of the game.
Full-Time: Leigh Town 2 – 0 Corinthians
So at the much-sought after Final whistle for them, the hosts secured their passage to the last four of the Essex Premier Cup, with the Final again taking place at Billericay Town’s New Lodge in April. In terms of stand-out showings, there were many candidates for the home side though I have to start with forward Daniel Driscoll who harried the opposition backline all afternoon and was a big threat as well, alongside fellow forward Sam Irvine. Centre-back pair James Roberts and Harry Payne were robust and miserly in defence plus ‘keeper Matt Riley started their attacks from the back well & was an assured presence.
Despite the result, Corinthians put in a spirited showing, full of running and determination themselves, with winger Leo Clarke standing out with his pace and movement. Centre-back Sammy Ayres stuck to a tough task well at the back for Chris Stoneham’s team while Jake Hodder and John Bolton-Smith also shone and concentrated the home defence’s minds with their passing, pace and energy.
Finally, credit to both teams for providing such an absorbing tie which may not have overloaded the goal charts, but made up for it in terms of dedication, commitment and twists & turns too. Best wishes to both sides for the rest of their respective campaigns.
Leigh Town | Manager: Jack Pearman
Starting XI: 1 Matt Riley (GK), 4 Zac Mashford, 25 James Roberts (Capt), 16 Harry Payne, 6 Adam Smith, 8 Rhys Mosedale, 14 Jamie Yorwarth, 18 Dan Steerwood, 9 Sam Irvine, 10 Max Jones, 20 Daniel Driscoll
Goal-scorers: Sam Gillmore [68’], Shane Cooper [80’]
Subs On: 11 Sam Gillmore (65’), 7 Shane Cooper (78’), 2 Tom Byford (85’)
Sub Unused: Craine
Corinthians | Manager: Chris Stoneham
Starting XI: 1 John Eckett (GK), 2 Jordan Stoneham, 3 Brad Smith, 16 Sammy Ayres, 6 Alfie Knight (Capt), 5 Luke Owen, 8 Matt Burrell, 7 Leo Clarke, 10 Jake Hodder, 9 John Bolton-Smith, 17 Nathan Dewberry
Subs On: 15 Bill Wilton (82’), 11 Dan Cooksley (84’), 14 Ollie Brickwood (84’)
Booked: Burrell, Owen, Cooksley | Subs Unused: Fulcher, Cannon
Referee: David Tregaskes
Assistant Referees: Phil Clarke & Kenneth Goff