East Elite Football Club won their 1st trophy in the Inner London Football League when they were victorious in the ILFL Winter League Cup Final that took place at Mile End Leisure and Sports Stadium on a chilly Wednesday 22nd March 2023 evening.
Charles Donker, the East Elite FC Manager was absolutely delighted with his team’s Cup Final Victory, the decisive moment coming when an ACE FC player brought down an attacker in the penalty area when there were only 15 seconds remaining of the match.
Looking at the reaction of the ACE FC defenders when this occurred it looked to all observers the referee Patrick Billong was correct to award the penalty.
Patrick and his Assistant Referees Liam Broome and Ibrahim Kose all had excellent matches and controlled the match brilliantly
East Elite scored the spot kick, and then saw out the remainder of the match to secure the trophy.
This match was the best chance for both teams to win something this season as they are unlikely to win the ILFL Premier League title race so East Elite were especially delighted to have come out as the successors.
The match itself was played with a lot of control by both teams however ACE FC had the better of an eventful final, with their outstanding Man of The Match Chaka Barnett missing two great chances early in the first half. Chaka continued to torment the East Elite FC defence however he as well as his team mates just could not find the net.
It was a devastating blow for ACE FC and their Manager Hassan Khan to lose the final in this manner as they had chances and Hassan wanted to hand over the reins of Management to his successor with a winning feeling. He mentioned post-match he “really wanted to win the match and should have done but this is what happens when you don’t take your chances. I felt the penalty was East Elites 1st shot on target”.
ACE FC had the better of the first half but could not prevail against a fiercely disciplined and determined East Elite FC defence who had both goalkeeper Nial Bennett and central defender Jordan Lema in great form.
Charles Donker referred to his players as “Winners” after the match and proceeded to grin from ear to ear.
Most players from both sides gave so much during the match that some were almost out on their feet at the final whistle.
It was not to be for ACE FC defender Dean Bouho who understandably looked utterly disconsolate as he walked away post-match knowing a loser’s medal is not enough for him.
There will now be a period of rebuilding for ACE as matters will be placed in new leadership hands, Hassan Khan has been a stalwart supporter of Inner London Football League Projects for eighteen seasons, and he will always have a valuable place in the minds of the committee members.
Thank you to both teams for playing the game in a heavily contested but fair manner and the final was a great example of how competitive grassroots football should be played out.
Article by Julius Allen
ILFL Winter League Co-ordinator
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