Hello and welcome to the latest action from the Essex Alliance League, which continues on this blog this season under the “Guest Blog” strand. This edition looks at the action across the League divisions and action in the respective Divisional Cups on Saturday 2 April. My thanks to the EAL’s Rob Parker. This round-up is posted with the author’s permission. Thanks for reading. Image used is thanks to CH Spartans / @ABridgeTooFar16, Used with thanks.
Guest Blog written by Rob Parker for EAL [EAL Twitter: @EssexAllianceFL]
With additional reporting by Scott W
Essex Alliance League Round-up- Saturday 2 April
COUNTY CUP FINAL
The Essex Saturday Junior Trophy reached its conclusion on Friday evening at Heybridge Swifts where Cowley Community represented the league against Mid Essex side, Haver Town Reserves. Cowley started strongly but failed to convert early chances, enabling Haver to get a foothold in the game and took a solid 3 – 0 lead into the break, thanks to goals from Harry Andreetti (2) and Luke Dallison’s opener. Cowley started strongly again in the second half and cut the deficit down to just one with efforts from Wright and Taylor, leaving around twenty minutes to go. But Haver responded well to those setbacks and comfortably held on to win the game 3 – 2, despite the valiant efforts of Cowley.
DIVISION TWO CUP
The line-up for the Division Two Cup semi-finals was completed on Saturday afternoon as Emerson & Upminster Reserves took their place in the last four after winning 4 – 1 at Old Esthameians. Billy Biggs was in great form, netting a hat-trick for his side, while Tobi Onafeko also struck to put the Upminster side just ninety minutes away from a possible final. They now face Unitey in the semi-final.
DIVISION THREE CUP
There were two ties in the Division Three Cup where a shock was seen in the first round game between hosts Melbourne Sports and Buckhurst Way in Hainault. Despite an eight point gap in between the sides in the table, it was Way who progressed on to the quarter-finals, winning 6 – 1 to book a trip to Old Barkabbeyans Reserves in the last eight. There was also a big shock in the quarter-final tie completed over the weekend as sixth placed Together United were eliminated from the competition on the back of a defeat to ninth placed ASA, despite the latter being fourteen points and three places behind their opponents. A 0 – 0 draw saw the sides finish level at ninety minutes before ASA held their nerve to win the shootout 7-6.
There were big wins for all of the top ranked Senior clubs ahead of a crucial run of games for all sides, Chadwell Heath Spartans remaining top of the standings by two points as they put seven goals past FC Petrocub in Chigwell. Elie Fanga scored twice coupled with further strikes from Tom Callagher, Harry Payne, Samir Aboulainaf and manager Aaron Hunwicks to complete that 7 – 0 success. DT FC sit just behind Spartans with a game in hand as they completed a solid victory of their own with a 5 – 0 home win against Chigwell Town at the Harlow Arena. Billy Jones, Cory Ugbomah, Alex Paraskeva, Izaih Antoine and Jacob Melford all found the back of the net for the hosts to ensure they remain the side with everything in their hands.
Third placed Lymore Gardens also racked up another win, making it twelve for the season with a 3 – 0 home success at the County Ground against CSM London. Dylan Roberts, Andre Rashford and Gracia Muhemba were the men to notch for Garden to keep them well in the mix at the business end of the league table. Sitting just a point further back from Garden are Woodford East who can still make a major impact on the title race with a busy April ahead and they started their month with a 5 – 0 win against Rapid Chingford at Lakeside. Two Connor Brathwaite goals plus one each from Matthew Stacey, Adam Tabbani and Jack Smith helped East to a comfortable winning scoreline with seven league games still to go.
Jolof Sports still sit fifth and made it ten league wins for the season on Saturday as they ran out 3 – 1 home winners against bottom of the table Tower United at Flanders. A goal apiece from Joshua Kweifio-Okai, Khadim Mbacke and Papa Ndiaye were enough for the hosts to take the points home with them and keep Tower trailing safety by three points. A huge game in the context of the relegation fight took place at Fairlop Oak where eleventh placed Blue Marlin were in home action against eighth placed Kit Out London knowing how vital points are for both clubs. A five goal thriller saw Kit Out edge the game 3 – 2, Lewis Jacobs scoring twice and Yasin Zougui once to all but seal their place in the top flight one again while Marlin’s place remains in the balance.
Top of the table Frenford A will be celebrating as they confirmed promotion to the Senior Division on Saturday with results going their way and their own success earning a 3 – 0 home win against local rivals London Park City. Isima Iguisi scored a brace and Joel Opara netted the other to confirm their ascent to the top flight while a win in their next game will ensure they go up as champions. Oakside are now the only side that can catch the leaders mathematically and they faced a tough London Cranes side at Fairlop Oak in the sunshine on Saturday knowing they had to win to keep up the pressure. And a win was what they walked away with, defeating Cranes 1 – 0 to make it nine victories for the season, with four games left to play in their chase for promotion.
An entertaining game at Peter May rounds off the Premier Division action where Athletic Newham Under 23s were the visitors to Walthamstow to take on a promotion chasing Crookz United side, the latter knowing that victory was vital if they were to challenge for top spot. But the sides had to settle for a point apiece as the game ended in a 3 – 3 draw.
It was a glorious afternoon for Belfry who took the Division One title in dramatic fashion on Saturday coming from 3-1 down in their first game against Newham Wanderers to win it 4 – 3 late on, sealing the title. Solomon Ogunwomoju struck twice with Lewis Warren and Kieran James scoring the others to seal the points they needed. In game two, a rather more sedate affair saw a narrow win once again as Ryan O’Connell scored the only goal of the game for Belfry to win 1 – 0.
The focus now turns to the race for promotion where Ilford Reserves saw their quest put in doubt, going down to a 2 – 1 away defeat against Something From Nothing at the Flats. The Foxes remain second with two games to go but games in hand for others may well cost them while SFN were able to move into the top half on the back of that result and others around them.RC XI have thrown themselves back into the promotion mix, moving up to third at the weekend as they defeated eighth placed Kwanzas London Sport over at Belhus Park. Tobi Alabi, Michael Temitayo and Tosin Blacky goals were enough to seal the points in a 3 – 0 win, the hosts’ eleventh success of their maiden season.
Wanstead have all but assured themselves of a top half finish in their first season as a club after they recorded a solid 2 – 0 home win in their game against Forest Green at the Flats on Saturday. Their ninth of the season while taking their points tally to thirty-one for the season. Eleventh placed Barkingside A have given themselves the best chance of avoid the drop this season as they took a vital three points against fellow relegation threatened Renegades in Wanstead. Side were 3 – 1 winners at Nutter Lane, recording win number four and moving to within six points of their opponents with five games in hand.
It’s Fairlop Rovers who remain top of the pile in Division Two entering the penultimate month of the season and they will have been pleased with their efforts on Saturday, defeating rivals Loughton Lions in a 5 – 1 scoreline in Hainault. Sam Beaman opened the scoring, setting the platform for Harry Oliver and Logan Simmonds to both score twice in a big victory. Second placed Unitey remain the closest to Rovers but with just two games to go, following a thumping 6 – 0 away win in Hainault on Saturday, defeating FHN Athletic. Unitey goals from Matthew Surry, Nathan Lupumba, Romario Christian, Matthew Pitchford, Mohammed Abaker and Ahmed Dousa were plenty enough to earn their side the points.
An incredible game at Wanstead Flats saw St Francis and Ryan Under 23s combined for an eleven-goal thriller with attacks certainly dominating an open game. It was the visitors who ultimately prevailed in this incredible game, Ryan winning it 6 – 5 to move into the top half of the table for the first time this season, in their penultimate game of the campaign. Michael Bryan and Kemar Bello both netted twice for Ryan here, with Mekhi Charles-Armstrong & Adam Sodimu also scoring. Skye Salmon got two goals for St Francis, with their other scorers being Omar Hafid, Peter Luvualu and Theo Jacobs-Aaron.
The goals were also flying in down at Roding Valley where hosts Royal Forest were in home action against Newbury East. While not yet mathematically certain of survival, Forest have all but done enough now you feel to stave off the drop as they won the game 4 – 0 to record win number eight for the season.
The penultimate game of the Division Four season took place over the weekend where Avondale Rangers were the hosts to a Dagenham United Reserves side in Loughton with Rangers holding a vital say in the title race. Chris Harper scored for Rangers with Josh Michaels netting for Dagenham in a 1 – 1 draw, with next week’s fixture between Rangers and Sporting Pillars deciding the destination of the league title.