Written by Scott W [@ScottMHC14] – Non-League & EOFL Writer
Hello & welcome to the latest Essex Olympian League column, tracking the action in all divisions & Cups from Saturday 25 March, as the fixture programme made it through well despite ongoing unfavourable weather.
The two EOFL Senior Cup Semi-Final ties did take place this weekend. First, Catholic Utd made yet another final after an excellent 3 – 1 triumph at promotion-chasing Hutton. The trio of Aaron Baldwin, Liam Oliver & James Warder all netted here at Chadfields to send Simon Thomas’ side through. They will face Toby after they came through 4 – 2 on penalties after a 1 – 1 draw at home to Sungate. Harry Barham scored for the Brewers, but substitute Petrit Elbi levelled for the ‘Gate to force the lottery of a penalty shoot-out.
One other Cup tie to note this week, which saw ACD Utd progess with a 4 – 2 win over Ongar Town in the Denny King Cup. Jacob Dingli struck a fine treble, along with a goal for Scott Perkins saw Michael Wade’s win. Finlay Cook got both goals for Town but their focus in back on Division Four which is approaching its final weeks.
EOFL Premier Division & Division One
The top-tier saw the focus move to the chasing pack this weekend. Rayleigh Town reduced the gap to leaders Hutton to ten points after a 4 – 1 victory over Galleywood at Thames Road. Harry Talbot, William Vile, Charlie Seaden & substitute Philip Anunwa all scored for the Town side, with Ben Smith getting the visitors’ reply, but they are now five points adrift at the bottom of the table, with nine matches left. Springfield leapt out of the bottom three after a superb 4 – 2 success at Shenfield AFC. Finlay Dorrell’s goal tally got even better, scoring a treble here which was added to by recent signing Harry Kateley. Matt Cardy’s side have 18 points now, rising above Kelvedon Hatch, who drew 1 – 1 at rivals Bishop’s Stortford Swifts. William Norris netted for Swifts, who slipped to second-bottom, two points adrift of Hatch – both teams have six matches left to avoid finishing in the bottom two.
Meanwhile, Runwell Sports continued their good form with a 3 – 0 victory at home to Old Southendian, which saw them reduce the gap to OS in fourth to a single point. Leigh Ramblers are also on 34 points in sixth, after a good 3 – 2 victory at Canning Town, who are now ninth.
In Division One, Beacon Hill Rovers ended leaders Harold Wood Athletic’s unbeaten league run, as Rovers won 2 – 0, with Bertie Whymark and replacement George Etheridge goals sealing the win that sees them stay eighth but are level on points with Herongate just above them.The loss for Harold Wood leaves them vulnerable to being caught in the title race by Old Chelmsfordians, Manford Way, Epping Town and Corinthians, who got a important tonic with a 2 – 1 win at Herongate Athletic to reduce the deficit to the leaders Harold Wood to only four points, with five matches left – the most to play in this very tightly packed top-five. Manford Way are also in the mix, as a 2 – 0 win over Harold Hill was achieved, with Joshua Owoaje notching twice to see them up to third spot, with two matches left.
EOFL Divisions Two, Three, Four & Five
In Division Two this week, promoted Shoebury Town maintained their four-point lead at the summit in the race for title, as they won 6 – 1 at AS Rawreth. Mechack-Kisoka Asuka took his tally to 24 league goals with another fine hat-trick for Town. Luke Jackson also got two goals & replacement Timi Tinubu got the other for Garry Johnson & John Galley’s side here. Rivals Wakering Sports Res also got a good win, 5 – 0 at Hashtag Utd Dev, with Connor Fardyga scoring all five goals for Jason Doyle’s team here, to also get to 24 league goals. Shoebury are in prime position for said title, and three more wins will be enough to be absolutely sure of silverware. Hashtag’s chances of a third-placed finish are also lessened by this result, as Harold Wood Athletic Res won 4 – 2 at Rayleigh Town Res, to go within four points of Utd, with four matches left. Max London, Jerry Nkoy, Cohen Hubbard & Matt Harris all scored to give Wood the points.
Finally in this division, Hutton Res won 2 – 1 against Catholic Utd Res at Polo Fields. Jake Smith & Lewis Hall scored for the Reds as they went four points clear in to sixth. Utd’s second side responded through John Nutman’s goal, they remain seventh.
Moving into Division Three, and Leigh Town Res gained ground on leaders Basildon Town Res as Leigh won 3 – 2 away at Hullbridge Res. Jay Knight & Harry Mole struck for the hosts, but a brace from substitute Callum Stone and one from Tommy Clayton meant that Leigh got the win and means that four points from their last two games will make ensure a top-two finish. Hullbridge remain fifth, ahead of Chingford Athletic Res on goal difference after Chingford won 2 – 1 at Springfield Res. Samuel May-Parrott & Bilel Benyoucef goals outdid replacement Henry Payne’s reply at Arun Park. Lastly, two of the bottom three sides faced each other at Lawford Lane, with Old Chelmsfordians Res conclusively defeating second-bottom Corinthians Res 11 – 0. There were trebles for Emmanuel Mukuka, George Prentice and Thomas Ellis, with returnee Martin Mixture grabbing a double as well.
In Division Four, Leigh Ramblers Res continued their good run with a 5 – 2 win over Bishop’s Stortford Swifts Res to send them top on goal difference. Jacob Mead scored twice with goals for Luis Bracci, Matthew Pooley & Stuart Greaves ensuring Terry Johnson’s side are in pole position for another promotion. Samuel Brown & Fraser Bush netted for Swifts but their own promotion aspirations took a dent here. Collier Row grabbed a 2 – 0 win at Galleywood Res, which gives them a chance of a top four finish but they have played more games than all their rivals. Lastly, Leytonstone Utd got another point in their relegation six-pointer as they held Wakering Sports A to a 3 – 3 draw at Forest Row. Carl Sutton, Charlie Cottrill & Jason Lewin all scored for Sports in that game.
Finally, in Division Five there was a big win for Basildon Town A as they defeated bottom side AS Rawreth Res 6 – 1. Donnel Kujinga grabbed another three goals, to add to strikes by Billy Falco, Alex Smith & Shaun Watkins and confirm the points which sees Town still well in with a shot at a top-three finish. Justin Burrell got the solitary goal for Rawreth there. Manford Way Res went back to the summit after a 5 – 0 success at Shoebury Town Res, which means they will be champions & promoted to Div Four with a match to spare. Many congrats to them.