AFC Hornchurch 0

Tilbury 3

Essex Cassells Under 16s Cup Final: Two early goals from Ruben Duarte and Harry Pearson set Tilbury en route to a 3-0 Cassells Cup triumph, which was completed in the second half by Bradleigh Curtin, writes Mark Wallis.

Boss James Imber was pleased with his side’s start to the game as they gave AFC Hornchurch an early mountain to climb, explaining: “We started on the front foot and played with pace and power, which Hornchurch struggled to deal with. That was pretty much our aim and I’m delighted it paid off.”

A spirited second-half fight-back from Hornchurch could’ve brought the Urchins back into the tie, but Bradleigh Curtin’s sealed the match and made sure the silverware went to the Essex Docks. James continued: “We thought they’d come at us in the second half, but we were prepared for that. We thought it’d created a bit more space so we looked to go on the counter-attack and it got us the magical third goal.”

Having become Essex champions for their age group, James is now considering the future path of his side: “We’ll go into Under 18s next season and hopefully a few of the lads will push into the Reserves and then the First Team. There’s certainly enough ability in the squad.”

Goals on 9 and 11 minutes set Tilbury on-course. Reiss Curtin and Charlie Spalding had already fired warning shots before a good ball over the top saw Duarte beat the Hornchurch defence and clip a fine angled finish into the far corner. There was a similar build-up to the second, but this time Pearson was the recipient as he burst through and slipped a low shot beyond Urchins goalkeeper Connor McCann.

Further chances went the way of Spalding and Pearson, while Hornchurch’s best opening of the first period came in added time. Frankie Parlour’s dipping shot dropped just over the top. A lively start to the second period from Hornchurch saw George Booker flash a half-volley past the far post seconds after the restart before testing Dockers ‘keeper Alfie Cobden from range.

Tilbury settled the contest on 64 minutes as a left-flank cross evaded the Hornchurch defence and was side-footed home by Bradleigh Curtin at the far post. Duarte, and then Ryley Fuller squandered a fine chance to make it four though McCann made a fine stop with the Tilbury frontline clear of the defence. But the Dockers had every right to be satisfied with their work as the trophy went to Tilbury for the first time.

AFC Hornchurch: Connor McCann, Harry Gibbs, Fred Houseago, Daniel Boyce, Jack Hadley, Frankie Parlour, Hamza Lounis, George Farmer, George O’Connor, Harry Catherall, Charlie Mills-Baldock. Substitutes (repeated): Ross Dipple, Billy Page, Jack Edmonds, George Booker.

Tilbury: Alfie Cobden, Roche Bailey, Ollie Hanlon, Jake Chaplin, Jake Tansel, Will Baldry, Harry Pearson, Bradleigh Curtin, Ruben Duarte, Charlie Spalding, Reiss Curtin. Substitutes (repeated): Shane Willie, Ryley Fuller, Harry Higgins.

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