Congratulations to JK Silvertown on becoming the latest winner of our top cup competition. This year’s trophy was dedicated to the memory of “Mr Entertainment”, Ron Garard.
The game itself flowed, much as it should, with the best two teams in the Combination this season. Early exchanges proved to be a chess-like battle but just before halftime, Herve Zola swooped in to give the E16 lads a touch fortunate advantage at the break
Both dressing rooms at the break will have been a source of frenzied activity as they sought to extract more from the embattled teams but it was FC Leytonstone who emerged with the edge and set about recovering the situation. That happened almost immediately when a free-kick was correctly observed by the AR and indicated to the referee. From the resultant kick, a sublime delivery found the defence wanting and Salim Nassor converted the chance to equalise. Inspired substitution for the second half to say the least!
Just seven minutes later the intense pressure from the lads in yellow led to a deserved lead as Francis Kantanka stole in to put Leytonstone 2-1 up. The tide had turned and Silvertown was struggling to contain the relentless pressure.
The quality of the exchanges was evident all over the pitch and it would take a pivotal moment to change the destination of the trophy. That came courtesy of a challenge in midfield that was worthy of a straight red card for the defending Leytonstone midfielder. As the officials came together it became evident they had all seen the same thing and the inevitable sanction was issued. From then on it was backs-to-the-wall stuff as Silvetown literally threw the kitchen sink at getting back into it.
With 8 minutes to go, Darnell Kithambo got the match back on level pegging from a set piece. It was no more than their intense pressure had deserved and you could sense the tide had turned. Activity on the sidelines meant that game plans had to be remedied to get the best out of the situation. Leytonstone obviously had to stem the tide being a man down, but Silvertown knew they had to use the additional man to press it home. Injuries and the melee that surrounded the red card incident had prompted an additional 12 minutes of normal time. In that 12th minute of added-on time, a second successive corner saw substitute Chris Wright power home an unstoppable header that sealed the trophy for Jimmy Conteh, Ben Short & the lads (cue long celebrations that were still going on deep into the weekend!)
Although the way it happened will have upset FC Leytonstone, they will have to suck it up and regroup as they look to seal the Premier Division League trophy. A rash challenge certainly changed the course of the game, readily accepted by Ben on the pitch in the aftermath of such a titanic cup final. “It certainly changed the game”, he said, before adding, “I thought Leytonstone were excellent, we found it hard going when they were bringing it to us in the second half, but that challenge……all I can say is that our player is lucky. It made a difference though….being up against 10 men, it allowed us to press and give them problems”
The final corner kick was the last phase of the game and the game was headed to extra time when the winner was scored. Literally, no time to even kick-off. The final score was JK Silvertwon 3, FC Leytonstone 2
Equal congratulations & commiserations to the two combatants today. Such a quality event and an outcome that wasn’t obvious until the very last bit of action.
*Ron Garard served on the Committee of the Essex Sunday Football Combination for many decades, and in many different guises. When he left us he was our President, he’d served his last few years as Fixtures Secretary as well as finding the entertainment for our Presentation evenings. A few of us will remember evenings in the presence of Triple Cream, The Mad Hatters, Peter Osgood et al. Legendary nights because Ron knew what the crowd wanted. Aside from him doing the same for London Underground, most of whom were present for his funeral, Ron had a way that endeared him to referees and teams alike. You won’t see the likes of his character in many places now. A real champion of Sunday League and many would tip a hat at his expertise with just his notebook and pencil. “He just knew what to do, he was the best and we miss him,” said Bob Chesney in a recent chat. “That guy. Just the very reason we need to honour him the best way we can”.
I think the majority of supporters will agree, there was entertainment for everyone on show. It had drama, it had passion, it had everything. Shame there had to be a loser but cup football is all about taking your chances when they were presented. One team just had the edge today.