ROMFORD 4 (2) - (1) 2 Maldon and Tiptree Attendance 105 - Ship Lane
Romford pulled off the great escape after beating Maldon in their final game at Ship Lane, while Cheshunt thrashed Norwich.
Knowing only a win from the boys in blue and gold would do, Manager Paul Martin brought back Stephen REYNOLDS in goal to replace the injured Rob Budd and his brother Nick REYNOLDS returned upfront. Romford started brightly but it was the visitors who surprisingly took the lead with their first attack when vastly experienced Lee Barnard scored with a header in the eighth minute after a cross from the right. Heads did not drop as urged on by supporters Romford continued to push forward and Ayo OLUKOGA slipped in Ernest OKOH, but his shot went agonisingly wide of the far post then moments later a right wing cross was met by Reynolds but his point blank header was somehow saved by the Maldon keeper. In the seventeenth minute Romford finally got an equaliser their bright attacking play deserved when Jonathan NZENGO won possession and passed to Nick REYNOLDS who cut the ball back to Carlos DJALO and the powerful front striker happily rounded the keeper and smashed the ball home. Two minutes later and Romford were ahead when Olukoga and Djalo linked up leaving the former racing through and reaching the ball a fraction of a second before the keeper as they both collided. Luckily the ball bounced towards goal and Olukoga scrambled off the floor to slide the ball home before despairing defenders got back, and the home fans went wild. Even better news was coming in from Cheshunt as they were beating Norwich three goals to nil and Romford were playing well but keeper Reynolds had to be alert to save a free kick just before half time.
Almost immediately after the break a poor kick from the Maldon keeper fell to the senior Reynolds brother who passed to Djalo and his shot was well saved, but the ball fell to Kris NEWBY who took a touch and then fired low into the bottom corner with a quality finish to give Boro some breathing space with a two goal lead. Unfortunately there was bad news from Cheshunt as Norwich had amazingly come back to three all in their game, but suddenly another twist and the terraces erupted as supporters with one eye on their phones saw confirmation of a fourth and then fifth goal for Cheshunt. Romford being Romford though had to make things hard and Barnard grabbed his second goal for the visitors with seven minutes left and then Boro substitute Greg AKPELE was clipped from behind when through, but no penalty was given. A sixth goal for Cheshunt meant Romford just had to hang on to pull off the unthinkable and Akpele made it safe in the last minute, slotting home after a quick free kick found him unmarked in the box.
At the final whistle everyone involved at this wonderful club went what only can be described as a bit mental on and off the pitch and the partying continued until the early hours at the end of season presentation evening where skipper Danny COSSINGTON was awarded the supporters player of the year trophy for his part in the story, but all the management and staff deserve the highest of praise for keeping the faith when everything looked lost.
ROMFORD (2) 4 Carlos DJALO 17, Carlos DJALO 19, Kris NEWBY 49, Greg AKPELE 89
MALDON & TIPTREE (1) 2 BARNARD 8, 83
ROMFORD: Stephen REYNOLDS, Jonathan NZENGO, Sam MVEMBA, Danny COSSINGTON, Nathan OKOYE, Ayo OLUKOGA, Kris NEWBY, Chris TAYLOR, Carlos DJALO, Nick REYNOLDS (Greg AKPELE 79), Ernest OKOH (Akwasi MARFO 69) SUBS NOT USED BEN CLARKE, ANDREW TIRANHU AND PAUL MARTIN