Motormen Win ESL Reserve Shield
A Joe Gent brace saw our reserve side beat Heybridge Swifts reserves 2-0 to capture the ESL Reserve Shield
A Joe Gent brace helped Redbridge Reserves lift the Reserve Shield after a keenly contested encounter against Heybridge Swifts Reserves at Bishop’s Stortford’s Prokit UK Stadium.
Both teams had finished Runners-Up in the Reserve Division in recent years but had not been able to land any Reserve honours since the two teams entered the Essex Senior League’s Reserve section. It’s no wonder that both teams were up for the game and both teams were able to carve out early openings; with the Motormen having their first chance inside the opening minute when Jacob Dingli pulled off an overhead kick to lay off Darren Francis which forced Matthew Brand-Barker to make a brave dive at the onrushing Redbridge player’s feet to claim the ball. Swifts responded with Josh Perry’s deep cross just failing to reach the head of Connor Jones. Perry then forced Dean Richards to dive low to his right to tip away an effort. Liam Whitehead thumped a Swifts free kick into the side-netting before Brand-Barker was again speeding off hi s line to dispossess Francis once again after some good link-up play involving Dylan Bolister and Dingli.
After that lively start the game then started being played in midfield as both teams dug in with Redbridge having more of the possession but unable to penetrate the Swifts backline. The Motormen did scorn a good opportunity on the 25th minute when Ali Rajim received the ball inside the Swifts box but his shot lacked power and was hooked clear by Ben Dixon. Heybridge Swifts were also finding it hard to play the final ball to their forwards although George Smith was able to fire off a shot that Sam Bashua blocked; Smith also pounced on the rebound but that too was defended admirably by Ben McGill.
Bolister was able to fire a free kick goalward but Brand-Barker punched clear and Ross James blasted a Swifts effort over the bar in the 42nd minute. But the deadlock was finally broken right on the stroke of half time. A Redbridge ball over the top was met by Joe Gent’s timed run, which saw him first beat the offside trap and then blast the ball past the Swifts keeper. There was barely enough time for Swifts to re-start the game before Callum Dorling was blowing up for half time.
Heybridge started the second half with a cheeky lob from the boot of Gareth Hutchings lofting over the head of Richards and landing on the roof of the net. And a deep cross had to be punched clear by Richards before the Motormen were able to get the ball into the Swifts box. On that occasion Rajim picked up the ball in a good position but James put in a great tackle to dispossess him.
However Redbridge went on to extend their lead in the 54th minute with a carbon copy of their first goal. Again Gent was able to run onto a ball over the top before slamming beyond Brand-Barker to put his side in a commanding position.
Swifts needed to find a quick goal to get back into it – but that task was made harder when they were reduced to ten men in the 61st minute. A clumsy two-footed challenge by Liam Whitehead resulted in him being shown the red card and Swifts now had a mountain to climb. However Swifts were able to keep Richards busy as Josh Perry cut inside before rifling a grasscutter that the Redbridge stopper blocked. And the Redbridge defence had to swamp out Will Atwill a couple of times as he looked to get onto balls sent into the Redbridge danger zone. However the Motormen kept the Heybridge frontline starved of service and even were even able to scorn a couple of efforts themselves; but in the end they were able to lift the Reserve Shield after a solid team performance polished off by two well taken goals.
Redbridge: Dean Richards, Jordan Cornelius (Ince Ryan 82’), Shaquel Foweya, Sam Bashua, Ben McGill, Ore Odutola (Capt), Darren Francis (Olajide Yusuff 69’), Dylan Bolister, Jacob Dingli, Ali Rajim (Jack Porter 76’), Joe Gent.
Scorer – Joe Gent (45’, 54’).
report by Scott Lanza