Essex Alliance League – Finals Day #2
Venue: Victoria Road, Dagenham
2022-23 Season: Matches 65 & 66
Match Summaries & Photos by Scott W [@TwitterMHC14]
Double Issue: Goals reign on EAL Finals Day at a sunny Victoria Road
Part 1: Renegade’s goal glut sees them claim the D1 Cup
Atholl 1 – 6 Renegade
Saturday 20 May 2023 – 2pm KO | Att: 130 (Est) | EAL Division One Cup Final
Welcome to this special ‘double issue’ blog looking at the Essex Alliance League Finals Day, taking in both the Division One Cup & Senior Division Cup Finals, held at Victoria Road. First up was the afternoon match, interestingly between two of the bottom three sides in the league: Atholl and Renegade.
This match began with a rather open-ended foray, which the Renegade side edged. However, it was Atholl who took the lead after just eight minutes thanks to a neat low strike by Charlie Thompson. The team in orange were finding it increasingly difficult to rebuff the directness and pace of player-boss Okwute Izuchukwu’s side, as the likes of forward Deimar Cardoso and Nana Baah were loading the channels and getting round the Atholl defence. Wellington Ismael fired off-target early on after getting past his marker well. It was little surprise on the quarter-hour when Renegade levelled the tie, as Nigel Seidu’s fine free-kick found the top corner of the net. That goal emboldened them and Renegade continued to be rapid going forward, and before Atholl could settle from conceding, they were behind four minutes later. From a set-piece, Cardoso made the most of stuttering marking to nip in and guide his header into the net, past goalkeeper James Gibson.
To their credit, Atholl were battling hard defensively & were led well by skipper Frankie Williams. Renegade did get a third goal before the break, but this one had a degree of fortune about it. Thompson had the unfortunate statistic of scoring at both ends after his attempted defensive clearance only dribbled into the net. Scoring goals in clusters is often the mark of a good side and Renegade made it four, two minutes before the break. The impressive Cardoso utilised his pace again to good effect before his good, low strike found the net. Atholl were finding it hard to retain the ball at times and that inhibited their efforts to push forward and test a decent opposition backline.
Half-Time: Atholl 1 – 4 Renegade
After the break, Renegade were quite unrelenting in putting pressure on an over-worked Atholl backline. Atholl goalkeeper Gibson did made a fine double save just before the hour, first denying a decent effort by Nana Baah before also doing well to save a follow-up effort by Ismael seconds later. Just as Atholl were starting to build some impetus, Renegade netted another goal with twenty minutes left as Seidu netted with another low strike to make five-one. You had to respect the spirit of the Atholl side as forward Ralph Vincent’s header came off the crossbar with fourteen minutes to play. In fairness though, Renegade were the stronger team here and scored a late sixth goal, thanks to substitute Aamir Salah.
Full-Time: Atholl 1 – 6 Renegade
Renegade deserved their Cup triumph here as they were more than useful going forward & retained the ball better as well, making it tough for their opponents. There were some stand-out performers for Renegade , beginning with forward Deimar Cardoso who really led the attack well, making good runs down the channels, and some neat passes & generally gave the Atholl backline little respite. Centre-back Okwute Izuchukwu led his defence well, and also kept his team going as well. Lastly, midfielder Shivaan Naido put in a hard-working shift as well to link the midfield and attack too. For Atholl, skipper Frankie Williams made a number of good interceptions to keep his team in the tie, particularly in the first half. Charlie Thompson & Ralph Vincent also put in hard-working performances as well, with Thompson showihg good composure in taking his oppurtunity to score.
Atholl Goal-Scorer: Charlie Thompson [8′]
Renegade Goal-scorers: Nigel Seidu [15′ & 70′], Deimar Cardoso [19′ & 43′], OG [40′], Aamir Salah [88′]
Part 2: Petrocub’s pace & clinical finishing seals impressive win over Woodford East
FC Petrocub 4 – 1 Woodford East
Saturday 20 May 2023 – 6pm KO | Att: 450 (Est) | EAL Senior Division Cup Final
The second match saw two top-five sides in the Senior Division contest the divisional Cup in the early evening kick-off at Victoria Road, as FC Petrocub took on Woodford East. This match got underway in a spirited way with Woodford edging it in the early moments, as forward Callum Maltese’s effort came off the crossbar, before Petrocub custodian Alexandru Daraban parried the ball away well following a good searing run by Lucio uare down the left side. Petrocub did respond strongly as East found it tough to retain the ball as the Moldovan side made the most of a defensive error by East to open the scoring on eleven minutes. A good run by Ion Spinu ended with a fierce drive which bypassed East goalkeeper Jozsef Kuzsef & found the net, much to the delight of the Petrocub contingent behind the goal.
As the half went on, Petrocub made several good forward runs which tested the morale & grit of the Woodford backline. Midfielder Gritcan Dumitru fired a decent effort off-target from eighteen yards out, just past the half-hour. East were finding it tough to recycle possession at this point to get into the opposition half & it was little surprise when they conceded again, ten minutes before the interval. Gheorghe Cucos did well to hold off his marker & slotted the ball calmly into the net.
Halil Hassan’s side did push back before the break, with forward Connor Brathwaite’s strike forcing a good save out of Daraban. East were starting to find their rhythm and the question was at the break was whether Petrocub could maintain their tempo and work rate, which was impressive in the first half.
Half-Time: FC Petrocub 2 – 0 Woodford East
After the break, the tension gradually rose. Three minutes after the restart, Woodford had a good chance from Maltese’s set-piece which found Lucio Uare & his header needed the intervention of Daraban to tip the ball over for another corner. Petrocub sensed the potential danger and should have been three goals ahead just short of the hour as another good run by Spinu ended with a neat ball through to Cucos who only had Kuzsel to beat but Cucos’strike was tame & Kuzsef was happy to gather.
The Petrocub fans were really adding to the atmosphere here, and it may well have lifted their side to maintain their levels. Woodford East are known for their guile and they stayed in the contest going into the latter stages, and halved their arrears with seven minutes left, through Uare’s good header which beat Daraban & went high into the net. Understandably, East pushed forward seeking that telling equaliser but Petrocub showed their quality on the counter-attack adding two late goals in added time.
Just into added time, Spinu was well-placed to score after Kuzsef’s initial save from Valentin Gurgurov’strike to grab his second before Gurgurov did find the net moments later with a cool finish to seal the trajectory of the Cup, with the joyous Petrocub fans ready to celebrate at the opposite end. Congratulations to FC Petrocub on a really good performance here, these two sides will face each other again in the Fenton Cup Final next weekend, at New Lodge.
Full-time: FC Petrocub 4 – 1 Woodford East
In fairness, Petrocub showed a lot of hunger & pace which was tough for East to defend against. Whilst it was true that Woodford’s defensive errors were costly, the incisive passing and good finishing were enough to see Adrian Pascanu’s side to their second Cup triumph this term, after winning the London Senior Cup. Woodford will be disappointed by their start to the game, they couldn’t test the rigid Petrocub defence enough during the course of this Final.
In terms of stand-out performers, Petrocub forwards Ion Spinu and Gheorghe Cucos were rapid, also showcasing good inter-link play and passing, as well as cool finishing in an impressive display. Centre-back Vitalii Chiriac was a calming presence as well, marshalling his defence well & stifling good runs by the East forwards down the channels. Finally, Valeriu Gurgurov also pushed down the flanks well & in the latter stages was a good threat down on the counter-attack, also taking his goal well.
For Woodford, credit has to go to forwards Callum Maltese & Lucio Uare. Maltese ran his heart out all game, being the consistent one making darting runs in the centre to give his team-mates an option, while Uare also made a number of superb runs down the channel, made good passes & took his goal well late on. Captain Frank Glock also did a good job defensively alongside Billy Barr, as they rebuffed a number of overloading runs by the fleet-footed Petrocub forwards. Finally, full-back Kai Law had a decent game as well, defensively and also made some good passes forward as well.
FC Petrocub | Manager: Adrian Pascanu
Starting XI (Subs): 88 Alexandru Daraban (GK), 33 Dorin Sirbu, 4 Gheorghe Hadirca, 5 Vitalii Chiriac (Capt), 34 Lilian Puscasu, 18 Gritcan Dumitru (87 Valentin Siciov 80′), 20 Gheorghe Belibov (17 Cristi Ilie 65′), 10 Nicolai Cotruta (89 Nicolae Gutu 61′), 16 Gheorghe Cucos (29 Sergiu Demcioglo 77′) , 15 Ion Spinu, 11 Valeriu Gurgurov
Goal-Scorers: Ion Spinu [11′ & 90’+1], Gheorghe Cucos [35′], Valeriu Gurgurov [90’+3]
Final Substitute: 23 Ion Bojii [90′]
Woodford East | Manager: Halil Hassan | Assistant: Gary Wotton
Starting XI: 20 Jozsef Kuzsef (GK), 2 Kai Law, 9 Billy Barr, 8 Frank Glock (Capt), 12 Ecclesiaste Kipa, 21 Sonny Feltwell, 14 William Letchford, 22 Harry Carter,, 18 Lucio Uare, 7 Connor Brathwaite, 11 Callum Maltese
Goal-Scorer: Lucio Uare [83′]
Subs ON (Time): 17 Andrew Rowe [46′], 3 Eren Mehmet [61′, replaced Law], 15 Tom Osmond [73′, replaced Braithwaite]
Referee: Craig Wood
Assistant: Lanray Alapafujah & Craig Herbert
Fourth Official: David Leeks
That closes out this ‘double’ issue blog article, I’d like to thank the Essex Alliance League for their welcome on this Finals day. Credit also to all four sides that gave it their all to make it a really good day’s action.