Cup finals season kicks off this weekend with Division 2 and 4 finals
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Cup final season officially kicks off this Saturday afternoon in the Essex Alliance League with a special Coronation Day double-header down at Dagenham & Redbridge FC as we look to crown the Division Two and Division Four Cup winners
DIVISION TWO CUP FINAL, 2PM
CHADWELL HEATH SPARTANS RESERVES VS RAINHAM PHOENIX
Saturday afternoon’s final kicks things off with the climax of the Division Two Cup competition, pitting league new boys this season, Chadwell Heath Spartans Reserves, against some more familiar faces from Rainham Phoenix, finalists again this year following their rebrand in the summer.
For Chadwell Heath Spartans Reserves, this game marks the end of their debut season as a team, the club having added a second side last summer with the view of providing a pathway to step seven football for younger players. With the experienced Thomas Chawner at the helm, Spartans’ maiden league campaign has seen them finish eighth in the table but it’s their cup exploits that they will certainly remember more so. In the quarter-finals, they knocked out FC Baresi Under 23s, a side sitting three places ahead of them, in a 2-1 scoreline, before repeating the same scoreline in the semi-final against an improved Barking Potters side to send the team to Dagenham & Redbridge FC.
In the opposite dugout on Saturday will be a Rainham Phoenix side who will be familiar faces to the cup final scene, the bulk of Paul Tormey’s side having made the same final last season before their split from that club. They will certainly want to banish the memories of twelve months ago, a penalty shootout defeat to Unitey, and they have been strong this year in all competitions, sitting top of the table, a county cup semi-final appearance and this final too. Their run to the final this term took in a hard fought 2-1 home win against Royal Forest in the quarter-finals to book a semi-final against an unbeaten Snaresbrook side in the last four. Going into that game perhaps as slight underdogs, they done what needed, winning 2-1 once again to book their place in the final this weekend.
The bookies will certainly have Rainham as favourites for this one given their loftier league position and big game experience but finals have often proven, it’s about how you perform on the day. Chadwell Heath do possess a few experienced players amongst their ranks who could make all the difference if they can make a strong start.
DIVISION FOUR CUP FINAL, 6PM KO
EMERSON & UPMINSTER RESERVES VS ROMFORD UNDER 19
The evening final on Saturday brings together one of Division Four’s stalwart sides up against one of the hottest prospect teams in the league with Emerson & Upminster Reserves in action against Romford Under 19s, the side already crowned league champions.
In the home dugout, Saturday’s cup final marks the first of two for Emerson & Upminster this season with their first team having also made a final in the Mid Essex League, a successful season for the club therefore you might say. It has been an up and down season for Paul Fields’ men in all competitions with the side having struggled for a little consistency in the league, finishing eighth in the standings. But the run to this weekend’s final will give the team something to build upon, receiving a walkover win against Old Esthameians Reserves in the quarter-finals of the competition before winning a five-goal thriller away at Avondale Rangers in the semi-final to send their side through to this weekend’s trophy showdown.
In the away dugout this weekend will be a new side to the league this season as Romford Under 19s look to round off an excellent first season in adult football with a possible double, having already secured the league crown. This young side, managed by Alan Smeraldi and Christos Mead, have played together as a group for a while and are certainly a side looking upwards. Their run to this final began in the first round with a 6-1 home success against West Essex Under 23s before a walkover in the quarter-final against London APSA Under 23s. The stage was set therefore for a semi-final showdown between first and second in the league, Romford scoring the game’s only goal against Fairlop Rovers Reserves to book their place at Dagenham.
As with the day’s first cup final, the league leaders, Romford, have to go into the game as favourites on paper given the respective outcomes in the league. But can the experience of the Emerson side get their game plan set out right and be the party poopers? We will certainly find out by dusk on Saturday night.