Football: Harlow’s Rouge do the double as they win Essex Veterans Cup

Football / Sun 2nd Jun 2024 at 11:24am

MICHAEL Kennedy’s strike six minutes into injury time saw Rouge dramatically snatch the Essex Saturday Veterans Cup away from Blackmore, his goal proving crucial as Peter Lucia’s team lifted the silverware for the first time at Waltham Abbey FC.

Eddie Heart and Dave Collis twice gave Blackmore the lead on 14 and 51 minutes respectively, only for Tony Smith’s 49th-minute effort and Jason Hallett’s goal on 77 minutes levelling the final on each occasion. But Kennedy’s finish proved to be the slender dividing line on the night.

Blackmore went close courtesy of Collis in the 11th minute as he headed narrowly over the bar after a cross into the danger zone. But they only had to wait three more minutes to open the scoring as new signing Heart dribbled around a couple of opponents on the edge of the penalty area and drilled a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner.

On 22 minutes, Player-Assistant Barry Coldham almost made it two. Goalscorer Heart took the ball around goalkeeper Paddy O’Brien and squared it to Coldham, whose effort was blocked on the goal line. At the other end, just beyond the half-hour point, Rouge attempted to find a leveller through Ben Johnson, whose shot from outside the box frustratingly wrapped the crossbar.

Rouge, who beat last season’s winners, Rayleigh Town, 6-1 in the Third Round, came straight out after the interval with intent. Scott Poole saw his strike from distance fly narrowly high and wide, but their efforts would be rewarded on 49 minutes as they drew level. A delivery into the box was met by top scorer Smith, who flicked the ball past ‘keeper Rob Withers into the bottom left-hand corner.

Parity didn’t last long, however – just two minutes. A right-flank centre was headed low into the net by the predatory Collis to restore Blackmore’s advantage. The match was developing into quite a contest at this point and, sensing another equaliser, Rouge’s Kennedy watched as his 58th-minute shot was well saved by Withers at the other end. It looked like there would be more goals.

Just after the hour mark, Rouge attacker Hallett progressed past three Blackmore defenders, though his next touch was too heavy, and the ball ended up in the arms of Withers. However, the prolific Hallett wouldn’t be denied on 77 minutes. He received the ball before turning and hitting it into the top right-hand corner. At this moment, the final could have gone either way.

But it was league leaders Rouge, top of the Essex Veterans League Over 35s Division One West, who ultimately claimed the title in a thrilling end to the game. Rouge took their first lead at the perfect time as the ball was delivered into the area, where Kennedy met it and found the bottom corner, leaving Blackmore with no chance to reply.

Blackmore: Rob Withers, Matt Chimbambo, Neil Barrett, Andrew Sunnocks, Dave Gould, Ben Turner, Eddie Heart, Dave Collis, Barry Coldham, Daniel Mackin, Ricki Mackin. Substitutes: Brad Ross, Kevin Neville, Chris Barrett, Arron Watson, Scott Walsh. Player-Manager: Ben Turner.

Rouge: Paddy O’Brien, Chris Druce, Terry Foxe, Michael Kennedy, Ben Johnson, Tony Smith, Scott Poole, Dean McAteer, Carl Smith, Ryan Williams, Bradley Devonshire. Substitutes: Adam Williams, Dave Regan, Ricky Cook, Jason Hallett, Jack Knight. Manager: Peter Lucia.

Referee: Terry Murley (Rochford).

Assistant Referees: Simon Clarke (Chelmsford) and Dominic Green (Thurrock).

Fourth Official: Ryan Anderson (Havering).

Attendance: 251.

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