Chelmsford City Academy progressed to the National League U19 Alliance Champion of Champions Final last night.

Chelmsford City Academy have progressed to the Champion of Champions Final with a penalty shootout victory over North Leigh last night at Tilsley Park in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

City having already won their regional academy league progressed into the Champion of Champions tournament and defeated in previous rounds Worthing and Enfield, the latter in a thrilling fashion having been 4-3 down with 4 minutes to play.

Chelmsford City academy assistant manager and former West Ham player Elliott Ward took the game due to manager Mickey Spillane being absent but Ward had a good assistant for the day as current Chelmsford City striker Simeon Jackson was also on the touchline.

Thus the semi-final took the academy side on a journey to Oxfordshire to face North Leigh who had progressed to final of the League Cup as well before being defeated by Gateshead. They had also knocked out Eastleigh in the quarter-finals of the Champion of Champions tournament.

The game had an even start with North Leigh comfortable in possession on the artificial surface. However with one of the first set-pieces of the game, Chelmsford took the lead. A short corner found Kennedy Mupomba whose low cross was fumbled by the home keeper which allowed central defender Matijus Mikalickas to slam home the opener.

For the majority of the half North Leigh monopolised possession and eventually had a chance to get back into the game when Finn Wilkes was adjudged to have made a foul in the area. However North Leigh’s midfielder was denied from 12 yards by City keeper Aaron Cassie who only came into the starting XI at late notice due to an injury to Josh Woodrow.

North Leigh then pushed for the equaliser and forced 5 corners in the first 5 minutes of the second half. The goal eventually came with a bit of controversy as the ball had looked to have gone out of play before City cleared it. The ball was then put back into the area and home captain Taylor Bedwell headed in off the inside of the far post.

Both City and the home side had chances to win the game in normal time. For City Freddie Hockey hit the side netting, Dominic Forbes headed wide from a deep Liam Morritt free-kick but the closest City came was in the 90th minute. Substitute Leandro Sain picked the ball up on the left hand edge of the area but his shot curled just wide of the far post.

So the game went to the drama of penalty kicks. Freddie Hockey’s opening kick of the shootout just went under the arm of home keeper Timmy Mungall but then Cassie saved his second spot-kick of the day by saving North Leigh’s first penalty.

The next 5 penalties were scored between the two teams with Mikalickas, Nathaniel Konde, and Samuel Tshmiala all successful for City. North Leigh’s 4th penalty taker needed to score and he failed to do so as his kick smashed off the bar and down and away from goal.

Cue wild celebrations for the academy side and credit must go to the City youngsters having to travel over 2 hours for the game during their school exam period and then battling through difficult conditions with heavy rain, thunder and lightning around in the air. Therefore the Clarets progress to the Champion of Champions Final against either Gateshead or Solihull Moors who play tomorrow (20th May). The date and venue of the final is to be confirmed.

Chelmsford City Academy:: Cassie, Wilkes (Tshmiala 90+1′), Brewer, Lloyd (Attwood 64′), Forbes (C), Mikalickas, Hockey, Lang (Sain 74′), Adigun, Morritt (Konde 85′), Mupomba

Unused Sub: Tokley

Photo courtesy of Trevor Hockey (Freddie’s grandad!)

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