BBC Essex Premier Cup – Final
Venue: New Lodge 3G
2021-22 Season: Match 71
Wednesday 13th April 2022 – 7.45pm KO
Woodford East: Yellow Shirts, Black Shorts, Yellow Socks
Sungate: Blue Shirts, Navy Blue Shorts, Blue Socks
Sungate secure Cup glory with enterprising win over East at New Lodge
Woodford East 0 – 2 Sungate
Match Report & Photos by Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]
and additional photos by Essex County FA [Twitter: @EssexCountyFA) and Essex Alliance Lge/Rob P [@EssexAllianceFL] (used with thanks)
The main midweek match was a welcome return to New Lodge for this season’s Essex Premier Cup Final, which saw EAL Senior newcomers Woodford East take on established EOFL side Sungate in the Intermedicate competition. I’d like to note that the occasion was well-run by the Essex County FA and the match had a terrific attendance. Woodford East were looking to mark their first season as a Step 7 side with silverware and fielded Alfie Watts between the posts, with Ben Smith, captain Frank Glock and Will Letchford in midfield. Connor Brathwaite and Callum Maltese led the forward line, with support from Adam Tabbani. Their substitutes included defenders Kieran Bruns and John Gilley plus forward Billy Barr.
Sungate had Stefan Lemacq in goal and a back four of Sam Elwood, Will Halford plus experienced centre-backs Daniel Callaway and William Wells. Stalwart Scott Truman skippered the side, with a forward line comprised of Ciaran Kelly, Lee Samways and George Johnson. Options on the bench included the forward-minded Kyran Chiedozie, Thomas Drayton, Arif Mustapha and Jake Willis.
There was a well-held view that this game would be an entertaining match to watch and it certainly did not disappoint on that front. The first good chance arrived with only two minutes played, as the rapid James Smith made one of several excellent darting runs down right flank, his cross found the advancing Scott Truman who struck narrowly wide of Alfie Watts’ right-sided post. East responded at the other end with centre-back Matt Stacey’s well-directed header which was narrowly off-target two minutes later.
As the first half progressed, it was more evident that Sungate were the more cohesive passing side, with James Smith and Sam Elwood in particular joining up well down the right flank. East did have their moments, but were stifled by resolute defending by the Essex Olympian Premier side. That resoluteness was displayed as Bobby Port’s side made a fine last-ditch interception to deny Callum Maltese a big chance at Stefan Lemacq’s goal. The only thing that prevented the Olympian side taking the lead was a missed spot-kick by the impressive James Smith, as his penalty was skewed wide of the left-side post.
Frustratingly for the big contigent of supporters backing Woodford East, they couldn’t conjure up many chances, with forward Callum Maltese curling a fine strike from outside the penalty area narrowly wide of left-side post, much to Lemacq’s relief. Smith was again in the action for Sungate, as his good pass found substitute Jake Willis but his effort couldn’t find the target. We got to the break with the no goals perhaps, but plenty of intrigue with Sungate edging it due to their stronger passing and creating more chances.
Half-Time: Woodford East 0 – 0 Sungate
After the break, the match resumed at a searing pace. Centre-back William Wells sent a fine header narrowly off-target from a set-piece and you felt that the ‘Gate were the side more likely to open the scoring. That being said, Connor Brathwaite timed his run well and nearly lobbed Lemacq after getting in behind the Sungate backline.
As it turned out, Sungate did break the stalemate on 63 minutes with a superb team move. A fast passing exchange between Smith and Lee Samways ended with the latter finding George Johnson on the left edge of the penalty area before sending in a fine curling strike beyond Watts, much to the delight of their fans. Willis had fired a fierce drive wide of Watts’ goal but Sungate did get that crucial gsecond goal with seven minutes remaining. Substitute Thomas Drayton’s strike was well crowded out by two East defenders but the ball was recycled well and fellow replacement Arif Mustapha slotted home from close range.
The last few minutes saw both sides looking to add further goals, but two goals was enough to see Sungate to a fine win and take home the cherished Trophy, continuing the recent dominance of Olympian League sides in this competition.
Full-Time: Woodford East 0 – 2 Sungate
In summary, Sungate looked the more assured of the two sides, created more chances and played at an impressive tempo to claim their first-ever Essex Premier Cup. Bobby Port’s team also defended resolutely when needed while East couldn’t create enough chances to continually threaten the ‘Gate defence. They can be very proud of their run to the Final though and their league aspirations continue.
There were a number of excellent performances in this Final. For victors Sungate, winger James Smith had an outstanding display. Showcasing a huge array of pace, work rate, passing and crossing ability – Smith undoubtedly had a fine influence on his team’s attacks. Next, centre-back Daniel Callaway exuded his team’s attitude to resolute defending, making several important challenges. Lastly, full-back Sam Elwood showed good energy and linked up well with Smith on the right flank, plus forward George Johnson had good movement and took his goal really well.
For Woodford East, forward Connor Brathwaite did keep the opposition defence alert making good runs and utilising good passing. While he did spurn East’s best chance, Brathwaite was well stopped by the ‘Gate backline. Will Letchford also had a good game, making good runs from deep which were hard to track. Forward Callum Maltese also showcased his pace and trickery at times while centre-back Matt Stacey made a number of good interceptions to keep his side in the match.
Best wishes to both teams for the rest of the campaign.
Woodford East | Manager: Halil Hassan | Assistant: Gary Wotton
Starting XI (Subs): 1 Alfie Watts (GK), 3 Kai Law (2 John Gilley 88′), 21 Sonny Feltwell, 4 Matt Stacey, 7 Eren Mehmet (6 Kieran Bruns 66′), 10 Ben Smith (18 Frankie Lane 64′), 14 Will Letchford (20 Liam Evans 90′), 15 Frank Glock (Capt), 5 Adam Tabbani (9 Billy Barr 59′), 12 Callum Maltese, 23 Connor Brathwaite
Booked: Stacey, Brathwaite, Gilley, Bruns | Subs Not Used: None
Sungate | Manager: Bobby Port | Assistant: David Deller
Starting XI (Subs): 1 Stefan Lemacq (GK), 2 Sam Elwood, 3 Will Halford, 5 Daniel Callaway, 6 William Wells, 4 Scott Truman (Capt), 8 Josh Addinall, 7 James Smith (14 Arif Mustapha 75′), 15 Ciaran Kelly (9 Jake Willis 25′), 10 Lee Samways (16 Thomas Drayton 81′), 11 George Johnson (18 Josh Steel 87′)
Goal-scorers: George Johnson [63′], Arif Mustapha [83′]
Booked: Smith, Johnson, Wells, Elwood | Sub Not Used: Chiedozie
Referee: Alexander Kyriacou
Assistant: Craig Wood & Benjamin Ridge
Fourth Official: Ryan Smith