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Wednesday 9th April 2008
AFC Horndon 0
Debden Sports 3
Debden Sports Club boss George Sheptuha set his sights on the higher-ranked Saturday Premier Cup after watching his side romp to a 3-0 win over A.F.C. Horndon in the Junior Cup Final at Burroughs Park.
"Hopefully we'll get back into the Olympian League next season and then maybe, in three or four years' time, we can mount a challenge in the Premier Cup," Sheptuha claimed. "We have a young side, with most of the lads being only twenty-one or twenty-two and they have a lot to learn, but that is all for the future."
"We have a semi-final to play in twenty-four hours and, if we win our last six games, we will win the League," the Manager continued. "But this is the one trophy we really wanted. Over the past few weeks it has been playing on our minds that we had this final ahead of us, but we controlled the game this evening and did it playing attacking football."
After Horndon's Rob Norrington had nodded an early chance wide of the post, Debden launched wave after wave of attack and, by half-time, had built up a healthy 2-0 advantage. Daniel Pace drilled a shot across the face of goal and Adam Hines headed wide. But the Romford & District League club's best opportunity arrived mid-way through the first period when Hines' fierce shot struck a Horndon defender's hand in the penalty area and referee Steven Connor pointed to the spot. Midfielder Trevor Barcley stepped up but blasted his kick over the crossbar.
Debden continued to attack and, despite Pace and Barcley often being caught offside, on the occasions they did sprint clear of the defence they found themselves thwarted by goalkeeper Jamie Merralls. Pace chipped one effort over then saw the custodian turn his half-volley around the post from successive Ricky Andrews through balls.
On 31 minutes, Debden finally took the lead. An excellent passing move saw Pace win the ball thirty yards from goal and find Ian Mardon, who spread play wide to the onrushing Barcley, the wide-man smashing his shot into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
A brief scare led to Campbell's strong shot from the edge of the penalty area being headed off of the goal-line amongst first-half stoppage time but, during those nine minutes, Barcley was denied by Merralls' legs and Andrews slid his shot one-on-one with the 'keeper past the left-hand upright. However, in the 53rd minute of a mammoth opening period, Barcley's fantastic swinging cross from the left-hand side was headed into the net by Mardon, a goal that effectively settled the contest.
Horndon's task was made even tougher when Merralls had to be withdrawn with a dead leg at half-time, Sean Wood taking over between the sticks. He watched a Hines free-kick sail over the crossbar whilst the Southend & District League outfit briefly threatened when Norrington saw Danny Moody palm his shot out.
The final act of the evening was performed seven minutes from time with Hines and Barcley combining in another fine move, threading substitute Steve Porter into space to slot the ball in.
"I thought we killed them in the first half and, although the second was a bit scrappy, as a team we played really well," Sheptuha stated. "Dan Moody just had to make that one save at the end, so I couldn't have asked any more of the team. Maybe we could have shut up shop towards the end but I've told the lads that attack is the best form of defence, and that is the way we played tonight."
Jamie Merralls (David Smith, 46), Wayne Burgess, Steve Morris, Joe Giles, Jeff Warren, Rob Norrington, Lee Douglas, Jason Campbell, Ainsley Wood (Rob Chandler, 70), Luke Dennis (Danny Summerhayes, 64), Sean Wood. Unused Substitutes: David Smith and Rob Denton.
Debden Sports Club:
Danny Moody, Robert Patten, David Smith, Ricky Andrews, Olly Thomas, Simon Fifield, Ian Mardon (Steve Porter, 62), Adam Hines, David Perry (Gary Mardon, 76), Trevor Barcley (Alex Shaw, 84), Daniel Pace. Unused Substitute: Michael Lacey.