Forbes pays tribute to Frenford hero Hughes
PUBLISHED: 17:15 01 April 2016
Premier Cup: Frenford 4 Little Oakley 1
Frenford manager David Forbes paid tribute to the character of two-goal Nick Hughes as the midfielder came off the bench at Ship Lane to help complete a fight back against Little Oakley and clinch the BBC Essex Saturday Premier Cup for the third time.
Hughes converted in the 81st and 90th minutes, adding to second-half goals from Luke Woodward (56) and Damon O’Neill (70), after Oakley had moved in front on 51 minutes through Rory Hamon.
But Forbes felt his side were worthy winnersm saying: “We rode our luck in the first half and Little Oakley definitely deserved to go in front.
“Once we equalised, I felt we got a grip of the game. When we used the width of the pitch I felt we dominated the last 25 minutes and were certainly clinical in our finishing.
“Nick has got some crucial goals this season. When he started away to Thurrock Reserves he scored, so it’s certainly fitting that he gets two goals in the final game at Thurrock to make sure of the win.
“He was naturally disappointed at not starting the game, but it’s testament to his attitude that he did everything professionally, came off the bench and made himself the hero.
“Without a doubt, the Essex Cup is the biggest to win at this level. The way the Essex FA run the final is professional and it makes it a great occasion, especially when you win it. It’s a proud moment for the club to be able to win it for the third time.”
Frenford, sitting in mid-table in the ProKit UK Essex Olympian League Premier Division, had won four of their last five games, including the quarter-final and semi-final ties.
Forbes agreed that run had generated momentum, adding: “Playing them back-to-back definitely had an advantage for us as it didn’t give us too long to dwell on the next game. It certainly helped. After beating West Essex, the players started to believe they could win it.”
He was also full of praise for Frenford’s opposition, who are towards the middle of the Essex Suffolk Border League Premier Division.
“Overall I felt we deserved the victory and the result sounds very one-sided, but Little Oakley have to take credit as it was a good game and they had a real go at us,” he added.
“Our clinical finishing at key times enabled us to finish the job.”
Chances in the first half were limited, although it was Oakley who enjoyed the better of them.
On 18 minutes there was a near miss as Michael Palmer rounded former Bowers & Pitsea goalkeeper Sean Hinton, but the ball wouldn’t sit for him to put it into the net and Frenford cleared.
Then, in injury time, Shaun Kioussis, scorer of the winner in Oakley’s semi-final with Springfield, watched his 30-yarder zip just over the crossbar.
Forbes felt his side had to soak up a large amount of territorial pressure in the opening period, adding: “We looked nervous in the first half and Little Oakley certainly started the game well and were unlucky not to score. But credit to our lads for digging in and getting to the break with a clean sheet, which allowed us to settle them down and change a few things.”
Oakley were also quickest out of the blocks in the second period as another chance fell their way within three minutes as former Essex under-18 Sam Eldridge, the team’s top scorer and a product of the Oakley youth system, muscled his way past a defender and nearly beat Hinton with his effort.
But Oakley broke the deadlock soon after through loyal servant Harmon, who calmly slotted home from the edge of the box.
That was as good as it got for the Harwich-based side, though, as Frenford began their recovery.
It was from a set-piece that they restored parity when a corner on 56 minutes picked out youngster Woodward, who headed home to mark his first season at the club.
With 20 minutes remaining they took the lead from another corner, this one falling to substitute O’Neill for him to stab home and end his injury-plagued season on a high.
Oakley attempted to respond, but the introduction of Hughes from the bench proved decisive as he netted from close range following a slick move with nine minutes left to effectively kill the game off.
Hughes then slid the ball under advancing ‘keeper Luke Tynan following another well-worked move in the final minute.
“We knew that we had to keep it tight early in the game and felt that we would settle into the game,” said Forbes.
“We wanted to play on the front foot and have a go at them. For a while it looked like both teams were going to struggle to finish their chances and a low-scoring game would be on the cards. But I felt, with the couple of subs we made, the extra energy and pace opened the game up to our advantage.”
Frenford: Sean Hinton, Nick Pegg, Matty Chibambo, Carl Conway, Lewis Bartrip, Adam Collins, Daniel Clouth (Damon O’Neill), Charlie Fairhead (Danny Lock), Jake Marsh (Nick Hughes), Billy Whatling, Luke Woodward. Unused subs: Christiaan Beaupierre, Anthony Cook.
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