Saffron Walden County High School football team underpin sporting excellent after Essex FA cup final result

Youth football COUNTY High’s football team underlined the sporting excellence at the school by lifting the Essex FA’s Alan Child Trophy – despite a goalless draw with Southend.

The stalemate, after extra time had been played, marked the first time in the competition’s 38 year history that teams had shared the spoils.

It also confirmed the school’s name on the trophy for the first ever time.

PE teacher and under-16 coach, Sandy Macfie, said: “The final was an anti climax – we were clearly the better team but we just couldn’t score.

“The Essex FA has a rule to say we couldn’t go to penalties so we had to share the trophy...but it felt like we lost because we deserved to win the game.”

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The draw was, in large, down to the roles of the two keepers, Southend’s Matthew Austin and Walden’s Dan Proctor, who between them contributed a number of outstanding saves during an absorbing contest.

Southend spent the majority of the opening period at Concord Rangers’ Aspect Arena on the front foot, although it was the potency of County High that carried the greater goal threat.

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James Kenyon planted a header just wide of the right-hand post in the 13th minute from a George Powell free kick, and Powell again delivered dangerously on the half-hour mark, with Terry Duck’s speculative effort from distance flying narrowly wide.

In-between, Procter made a smart stop when Robbie Lewis latched onto a high ball and drove a fierce shot goalwards, but it was Walden who ended the opening 40 minutes on top when Charlie Davies met Powell’s corner and Nick Hennessy had to clear on the goal line.

Saffron Walden began the second half in the ascendancy, and Hamish Ritchie immediately fired a deep free kick back across the face of goal. Austin then took centre stage, somehow managing to tip Ritchie’s shot on the turn onto the crossbar at his full extension.

Ritchie was involved for a third time 12 minutes from the end, driving Davies’ knock-down narrowly wide, but the sides could not be separated in normal time.

Southend High came out for the additional 20 minutes in spirited fashion, with Proctor having to be alert to block from Matt Scott.

On the stroke of the half, Austin produced another amazing save as Duck launched a shot from fully 35 yards towards the top left-hand corner, and Walden substitute Kieren Lock almost won it right at the end but his chipped shot went just over.

In the end neither goal could be breached and the trophy was shared.

“We have been in the competition before but we have never really seemed to want it - but we have a talented bunch of footballers this year and they had the bit between their teeth,” said Macfie.

“We have proved what we can do and there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to carry on performing. We have a lot of talent at the school and more coming through.”

Saffron Walden County High School squad: Dan Proctor, Dom Wilson, Joyal Gurung, Sean Kirk, Jack Mithison, Oli Bennett, George Powell, Charlie Davies, Joe Minter, Terry Duck, Hamish Ritchie, Kieren Lock, Max Clay, David Boyd, Theo Hutchison, James Kenyon.

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