Shenfield High School
Having reached the last 32  (round 6) of the national cup for each of the last 4 years Shenfield High Schools U 16 boys are hoping to match or better this again this season.
Shenfield travelled to Haris Academy Falconwood in the 2Nd round having had a bye in the first. Shenfield came away convincing winners with an impressive 11-2 win with hat-tricks from Aaron Cosgrave and Harry Rawlins. Their reward for this excellent result was a draw against former national champions Whitgift School!
Whitgift, coached by ex-Crystal Palace boss Steve Kember, have enjoyed considerable success in the ESFA National cups over the last 10 years as there partnerships with Crystal Palace and Chelsea ensure a conveyor belt of Academy players. Despite this Shenfield matched their opponents and created more chances in the first 15 minutes.
From an attacking Shenfield free- kick however, Whitgift broke away and took the lead. Two minutes later it was 2-0 as Whitgift again scored on the counter. Shenfield were shell shocked but gradually regained the initiative before Harry Rawlins got on the end of a Rawlins flick on to lob the Whitgift and Chelsea goalkeeper. The half time whistle went shortly after and this goal had given Shenfield a life line.
The 2nd half saw chances come and go for both teams. Ben Hughes Shenfield's keeper pulled off one superb save to deny an excellent header. Whitgift hit the inside of the post with 10 minutes to go and moments later Rawlins equalised with a spectacular left footed curling free-kick which nestled in the top corner. Shortly after Cosgrave broke free and rounded the keeper before smashing home to put Shenfield 3-2 up. Whitgift pressed and created several half chances but resolute defending ensure Shenfield progressed. The excitement of the boys at this major cup upset was tempered by the fact that their outstanding centre back Clark Kelman suffered a bad knee injury in the dying minutes and was taken to hospital. Initial scans suggest a ruptured ACL so it is very unlikely he will feature in future games this season. Team coach Garry Sapsford remarked, "Having lost to Whitgift in the National cup quarter- final last season we were well aware of how strong they would be. The boys showed tremendous spirit and determination to get back into the game. Our thoughts after the game though were with Clark and we hope that he can make a speedy recovery. He was also due to play in the final Essex County Schools trial next week so we have every sympathy for him and are hoping that the diagnosis will not be as bad as suspected once the swelling dissipates and a clear MRI scan can be taken."