Chelmsford City EJA U18 have reached the Essex Pelly Cup Final after defeating Stanway Rovers at the Semi-Final Stage. They have set up a mouth-watering final against Concord Rangers EJA U18 at Billericay Town’s New Lodge stadium, scheduled for Wednesday 3rd May 2023, 19:45 KO. Marc Holland’s side currently find themselves sat 3rd in the Eastern Junior Alliance League as they approach the end of what has been a tough season full of challenges that the squad have risen to.

The league campaign coupled with progression in the County Cup has offered the squad fresh opportunities for the players to learn and refine their craft and has provided the lads the platform to learn and develop their skills as they reach the end of their time in Youth Football.

Marc Holland reflected on the feelings of the management team and the squad on reaching a Cup Final

“I think on a personal note it’s something that I didn’t expect obviously being 26-year-old manager, I obviously took each game of the season and the cup run, one game at a time and just to  get the players tactically aware of what I want from them and what oppositions lie ahead. Each training session was related to the next game and/or how they played previously, and with that each week by which we got stronger as a squad. I really like how I’ve taken obviously a squad that has been together for a few years, but added a few and they’ve all bonded really well. There’s not an outsider, the boys of that group chat always talking. I’m a big thing on group dynamics and how relationships go in the team. And I’m glad that they’ve made it together and played well on the day [against Stanway Rovers] and making a cup final, I’m ecstatic  and I think they’ve got the communication, and togetherness to get through to the final and to get through the final.”

The City side had it tough in the Semi-Final playing against a Stanway Rovers side who sit just below them in the league in 4th place, meaning that there will have been ample learning opportunities to take from that game into the final. Marc Holland described their 3-1 win and spoke on what points the players will have taken away to add to their game.

“The game was quite end to end, there were lots of chances. Stanway aren’t by any chance a bad side. I believe we in the end had the better chances we went one nil down and at halftime, I told the players that and said ‘Don’t worry about what the score line is right now, obviously, things happen in football. Sometimes people score when they’re not supposed to or you go when they’re down. It’s about how you react to it’. And they went on to score three goals in the next 15 minutes. So they listened to the advice and it was just good decision-making throughout the game coupled with their talent anyway got us through into the final so ecstatic about how they’re performing. Obviously still got a league game as well which is hard to balance with some of the boys playing in the Chelmsford City Academy as well. They showed lots of character, which really such young side with only one Under 18 in the starting 11 so ten Under 17’s showed really good maturity and that’ll do us well in the final.”

Reflecting on the League season as a whole Marc Holland shared his thoughts on a positive campaign overall.

“On the whole of the season, I think it’s been good we’re 3rd in the league to a strong Billericay side and a strong Heybridge side above us. I do think on a different year, with a bit more experience, maybe we would have pushed here. But at the end of the day, each one of them is learning and has really improved and last year and I hope that was part of my coaching and that of my assistant Steve. With players understanding what they need and how they can improve. We’ve managed to get some big results as well, we’ve lost four games this whole year so in that I’m happy. I didn’t expect them to do this well and I thought that this year, it’ll be more about development and how they play as a team but overall, going forward, they seem to be happy to play for me and together. So overall Yeah, I’m excited for the future as well next year. And hopefully we can do all this again and better.”

Everyone at Chelmsford City FC wishes Mark, Steve and all of the squad the very best of luck in their Cup Final and hopes that the team are able to end the Season on a high note with some Silverware!

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