Grays Athletic 0, Ilford 4 Ilford manager Wayne Moore hailed his side’s “special achievement” in following up their 2008/09 Rosser Cup success with a comprehensive 4-0 defeat of gallant Grays Athletic in this season’s Cassells Cup U16s Final at The Hawthorns on Sunday.

Hot-shot striker Steven Carvell helped himself to the match-ball after scoring a hat-trick whilst Captain Mitchell Potton also got his name on the score sheet to leave Moore delighted. “It is fantastic! It all seemed to come together; the boys put in a really good performance and it really clicked on the day,” he reflected.

Ilford opened the scoring with their first meaningful attack in just the 4th minute. Carvell’s speculative shot from distance was misjudged by goalkeeper Shayn Scanlon and the ball sailed over his head.

“We scored two early goals within the first ten minutes, and that good start made it easier,” Moore said.

“Steven has scored 15 goals in 16 games now this season, including every round of this competition. His opener was a wonder goal struck from 25 yards out which dipped and swerved into the net.”

After six minutes, Ilford doubled their lead. Scanlon got a hand to another long-range effort but the custodian was not able to hold on to the ball and Potton stole in to sweep into the net. Grays then managed to stem the tide and pushed forward themselves, with Ben Sartain producing a 25-yarder which was tipped wide at full-stretch by Jack Smart. However, right on half-time, Daniel Jones almost added a third. The Foxes’ forward managed to get the ball past the ‘keeper, but his shot was cleared off of the goal line.

“From looking at their results this season, it seemed as though Grays had had it all their own way so far, so we set-up with three up-front and got our rewards early on,” added Moore. “In the second half, our objective was to remain solid and keep a clean sheet. We knew that they would have a spell, but if we kept it quiet for 20 minutes, then they would have to come at us and we would be able to pick them off.”

With no clear-cut opportunities for either team immediately after the break, Moore’s target was first met and then exceeded in the 53rd minute when Carvell collected possession on the corner of the penalty area and hit a bobbling shot across the ‘keeper into the corner of the goal. Then, as a little over 16 minutes remained, Carvell completed his hat-trick.

A Grays defender was dispossessed and the ensuing pass released Carvell on the edge of the area.

His shot was perfectly-placed out of the reach of Scanlon.

There was one sour note in an entertaining final when Athletic’s George Light was dismissed for offensive language towards Referee Ian Adlington, but that failed to dim Moore’s mood after the game: “This time around, it feels more special. The result was more comprehensive than last year but, having gone through the experience twelve months ago, it was good preparation for the team,” Moore reasoned.

“We handled the pressure a lot better, knowing about the occasion and the build-up involved.

"This year feels more special - I’m not sure how many teams win back-to-back County Cups. I said to the lads before the match that a lot of good players will win one in their career but it takes very good players, in a very good side, to win two.”

“It is a special achievement for the team; Essex is a hotbed for football and the older you get, the more difficult it is to win these trophies. If we win our remaining four league games this season then we will win it but we probably won’t be entering a Sunday league next year. This club is all about development and getting players signed to professional clubs so hopefully we’ll be able to compete regularly against Centres of Excellence and the best sides around as well as in a midweek league,” concluded Moore as he looked ahead to the future for a team first formed as a seven-a-side outfit ten years ago.

Grays Athletic: Shayn Scanlon, Jack Maleary, Aaron Cooper, Ben Sartain, James Smith, Alfie Smith, Ben Munday, George Light, Sam Wykes, Matt Thomer, Brandon Bevins. Substitutes (repeated): Tommy Judd, Luke Nickels, Kazem Elwazali, Josh Pridgeon.

Ilford: Jack Smart, Russell Goldstein, Joe Cox, Steven Carvell, Billy Norris, Daniel Jones, Taylor Young-Chambers, James Hollingsworth, Mitchell Potton, Jack Stone, Elliot Scott. Substitutes (repeated): Adam Samuel, Kashan Ryan-McCall, Connor Smith, Daniel Bondzie.

Sent Off: Light (70, use of offensive, insulting or abusive language or gestures towards match officials).

Referee: Ian Adlington (Southend-on-Sea).

Assistant Referees: Roger Brown (Chelmsford) and Trevor Greenwood (Chelmsford).

Fourth Official: Stuart Gillman (Colchester).

Attendance: 118.