Chingford Athletic crowned Essex county champions
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The Essex Alliance League now has the county champions in their ranks following a terrific 2-0 win for Chingford Athletic over Iona in the Essex Junior Cup Final last night at Billericay Town FC.
The stage was set – a bright, sunny evening and a great crowd of just under 200 in the ground to oversee the biggest match in grassroots football, a county cup final.
The omens were good as almost ten years ago, the Ilford & District Football League saw it’s last county champions crowned here on this ground – that year it was Tim Gunning’s Baronsmere side who were victorious.
Once the formalities were all over with, the sides set out for battle and Chingford Athletic hit the ground running early on. Although the opening exchanges were scrappy, Chingford settled the faster after that with some good passing moves. It was Chingford Athletic who grabbed the opening goal inside ten minutes as Mike Mignot pounced upon a short headed back-pass to slot past the onrushing keeper and make it 1-0 (6 mins).
Iona came back into the game following the goal with some decent possession and moves of their own, playing the ball into the channels to bring their wide players into the game. Chingford held firm however and should have extended their lead towards the end of the half. First a free-kick was turned around the post superbly by the Iona keeper and then Mignot made a great run down the left, leaving three or four players in his wake but blazed his effort high and wide when clean through on the keeper. Indeed Iona will count themselves unlucky not to have then gone into the half time break level as a set piece was cleared off the Chingford Athletic line just seconds from the whistle.
After the break and with a terrific sunset in the background, Iona came out of the blocks much faster, creating a couple of half chances for themselves and forcing Jack Francis into some saves. You started to feel that Chingford needed the security of a second goal to put this game to bed. But on the whole, Chingford defended well and kept chances to minimum.
As the half wore on, and with legs tiring, Chingford started to become front-runners again and created some chances of their own, exposing the Iona backline with their pace. And it was that pace that eventually told as Mike Mignot once again got in behind following a swift counter attack and was brought down by the last defender inside the box with just a couple of minutes to go. The rest was left to David Livie as he powered home the penalty kick high into the net to bring home the cup (2-0, 88 mins).
The final whistle was blown a few moments later as the Chingford players embraced and celebrated a well deserved victory in front of the fans. Full credit to Iona who played their part in a good quality match but were just undone by two moments of Mignot magic.
Chingford Athletic now move on to a couple of crucial Premier Division clashes in the coming fortnight that will decide their destiny in the title race before defending their Fenton Cup crown at Dagenham & Redbridge FC on 9th May.
A mention to the hospitality of Billericay Town FC and Essex County FA last night which was simply brilliant and a credit to the competition. A wonderful experience for everybody involved.