Essex Spartans vs. Wembley Stallions

The Essex Spartans’ senior season ended with a disappointment as league first-timers Wembley Stallions snatched a late 14 – 20 win in Billericay, to secure their place in the playoffs.

Reeling from their narrow defeat away at Ipswich Cardinals in July, the Spartans started with immense speed and strength as #11 CB Norris Owusu ran the touchdown on the first play, which was disallowed due to undue early celebration and the Spartans returned to the 30 yard line.

Unable to make an additional first down, it was left to the Spartans’ defence to repeatedly see off an advancing Stallions O-line for the rest of the quarter, ending the quarter still 0 – 0.

Following a fumble recovery and solid yardage from Spartans #24 Dwayne Ferdinand, the Spartans once again lost possession and as Spartans #99 Eugene Tangney went for a tackle, several players from both sides became involved in an on-field aggressive incident. Spartans #89 Paul Cossu was ejected for unsportsmanlike behaviour, along with one Stallions player and one Stallions player-coach.

The first half tailed off significantly following the incident, finishing the half still 0 – 0.

The Wembley Stallions opened scoring on their first drive of the second half but missed the conversion. Following a collision with Spartans #13 Felix Olu, the Stallions #67 was the fourth individual to be ejected from the game late in the third quarter for unsportsmanlike behaviour.

The fourth quarter was all action as the Stallions extended their lead with another touchdown and successful kick conversion. The Spartans were able to overturn the Stallions’ long-held lead in a few short plays however, when Spartans #86 Jordan Horvath ran the ball in for the TD and #13 Olu converted the extra two points.

Several minutes later, Spartans QB Jimmy Dawson pitched long to #87 Joe Simson-Parsons who was hinged in on the end-zone. The blocked conversion put the score at 14 – 13 in the favour of Essex with just seven minutes left on the clock.

The victory was short-lived however, as the Stallions ran for a third touchdown in the dying seconds of the game and the successful kick conversion sealed the Spartans’ fate as a 3-6-1 season.

The Essex Spartans senior team will break now until November and would like to thank their sponsors, supporters, players and stakeholders for their time and dedication this season.

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Essex Spartans vs. London Blitz B

In an emotionally-charged evening held up in honour of the late Tony Palmer, the Essex Spartans returned to winning ways on Saturday night against the London Blitz B team.

A thrilling first half saw wide receiver #19 Ashton Lord receive a catch in the fourth down and run 30 yards into the end zone to put the Spartans ahead early.

An on-field altercation between several players on both sides led to the early ejection of Blitz #8 for unnecessary roughness at the end of the first quarter.

#22 Ray Shaahu converted a retrieved fumble into the second touchdown of the game, and his first of three throughout the game. O-Lineman Rob Downes suffered a collision and was attended to on the pitch, but walked off unaided following brief treatment.

Spartans Linebacker Jamie Wass was also affected shortly after following a heavy tackle and was attended on the pitch for a suspected arm injury. Both Downes and Wass were eventually able to play in the second half and were not seriously hurt.

It was Ray Shaahu to the rescue again just before the break after battling off several Blitz defenders to run 40 yards to bring it home, ending the first half 18 – 0 to the home side.

Wide Receiver Joe Parsons #87 made the catch of the season 5 yards from the end zone shortly after kick-off into the second half, scoring his fourth touchdown in as many games. A successful conversion from rookie RB Ben Brown put the Spartans in front 26 – 0.

The Blitz tailed off considerably and tailback Nick Walter #21 took advantage of superb blocking at the 10 to run home another touchdown, extending the lead to 32 – 0.

London Blitz finally came out of the gate in the dying moments of the 3rd quarter, when Blitz #5 charged through regrettable gaps in the Spartan defence to blot the whitewash.

On the first play of the 4th quarter a fumbled hand off saw Ray Shaahu recover the ball and somehow avoided multiple tacklers to run the ball in for a TD and make his hat-trick for the night.

Spartans #16 Joe Trigg knocked down a pass and suffered a collision with Blitz #23, but both seemed well following brief treatment. Another altercation saw Spartans scorer Walter ejected from the game for a late hit out of bounds.

Determined not to go down without a fight, the Blitz ran home one last touchdown before the final whistle to end the Tony Palmer Memorial Game 38 – 14 in favour of the home side.

The Spartans return to training this week and will take on the London Hornets in Regents Park on Sunday 5th July.

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Essex Spartans U17 vs. Norwich Devils U17

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Essex Spartans U17 vs. Kent Exiles U17

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Essex Spartans U17 vs. London Blitz U17

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Essex Spartans vs. London Hornets

A third hard-fought battle for victory ended fruitless for the Essex Spartans on Sunday as they suffered narrow defeat 22 – 12 at home to the London Hornets.

Lining up missing four D-line players missing due to injury, and a further seven O-line players out injured also, a shaky start from the Spartans defence meant a 2-point safety was conceded after only a few minutes.

It was only for a fumble from the Hornets #36 desperately close to the end zone that stopped an early touchdown from the visitors.

The spirit was resurrected somewhat when Spartans #22 Ray Shaahu made a catch and sprinted 35 yards before being tackled. His advantageous yardage was taken full advantage of by #13 Felix Olu, who opened scoring for the Spartans with a touchdown and put the home side in front 2- 6.

The second quarter deteriorated quickly for the home side as the Hornets made their first touchdown of the game; their conversion was discounted for a diagnosis of ‘illegal touching’.

Myles Peterson turned the tables again for the Spartans following a fumble from #13 Olu. A possession to-and-fro ensued but the Hornets but ultimately led to two great catches from the visitors, putting a dampener on the half for the Spartans with two further touchdowns in the last five minutes of the half.

The Spartans emerged refreshed despite the 22 – 12 scoreline, but the controversies of the second half and beyond far outweighed any potential for a comeback.

The Spartans were briefly awarded a 15-yard penalty for a Hornet player removing his helmet on the field, but this significant yardage was promptly lost in a pick by the Hornets.

An on-field incident ultimately led in the unnecessary dismissal of Hornets #31, after officials called jersey numbers the wrong way round after a spat and #31 was incorrectly attributed with a second warning and ejected from the field.

This issue and several others relating to officiating caused a great deal of high tension throughout the second half that embittered the competitive atmosphere. Many offsetting penalties were awarded and the remaining minutes of the game was little more than a defensive stalemate.

The Hornets took the victory with the same score as they had finished the first half, leaving the Essex Spartans still hungry for their first win of the season.

The Essex Spartans return to training next week, and will take on the Ipswich Cardinals at home on Sunday 17th May.

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Essex Spartans vs. Bury Saints

Essex Spartans fell painfully short of a Hollywood style comeback as they fought back from 19-0 down at the end of the first half, to lose 14-19 in their season opener against Bury Saints.

Spartans kicked off and spent the first quarter camped in Bury’s half due to good defence but struggled to make much headway on offense.

Bury established their running game and got a drive going at the start of the second half, helped by a personal foul penalty on the Spartans, culminating in an 8 yard run into the end-zone for the opening TD. The PAT was successful to give the visitors a 7-0 lead.

The visitors’ lead was quickly extended when, on the ensuing drive, a fumbled hand off of the ball resulted in the Saints recovering and running untouched into the end-zone for the second TD. Their two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful, maintaining their lead at 16-0.

The Spartans failed to move the ball on their next drive and Bury capitalised on good field position to run in for a third TD in the quarter making the lead 19-0.

The Spartans kick- off return team did provide a spark just before half time when Ernest Owusu had a 45 yard return, but the Spartans couldn’t capitalise and left the field with no score.

The second half started with line backer Lawrence Reid taking the kick off 40 yards but both teams continued to struggle to move the ball. The Spartans offence suddenly sprang into life when a trick running play saw receiver Felix Olusanya run clear and sprint 97 yards into the end zone to make the score 19-6.

Momentum continued to shift towards the Spartans when some hard tackling caused a Bury fumble and defensive lineman Ash Goring picked up the ball and ran 50 yards to the end zone. Dwayne Ferdinand scored the only successful 2-point run conversion of the day, to make the score 19-14.

The Spartans had another turnover when line backer Harry Shelton intercepted, but ran out of time and left the Spartans within inches of a mighty comeback.

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Essex Spartans vs. Bury Saints

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Essex Spartans vs. Kent Exiles

The Essex Spartans lost to cross- river rivals the Kent Exiles under floodlights in Billericay.

The Exiles, who qualified for last season’s play-offs and beat the Spartans earlier in the season, were expected to be tough opponents, and did not disappoint, leading 21-0 by half-time. However, as the natural light faded, both the floodlights and the Spartans got stronger, and the crowd were rewarded with a fourth-quarter touchdown for substitute running back Oli Huke.

As well as the Huke touchdown, there were also excellent individual performances, not least for Joe Parsons, who secured over half the Spartans’ yards on offense. On defence, linebacker Jackson Tiller and cornerback Ernest Owusu both had interceptions, as well as leading the team in tackles with 9 and 10 respectively – almost double the next best performance. Finally, the first of the Spartan junior players made the step up to senior football, defensive lineman Henry Quick making three tackles on his debut.

Head Coach Sean Benton said “I know I speak for everyone at the club when I say enormous thanks to everyone who came down to support us under the floodlights. Whilst we were disappointed to lose, we all know if we perform like this for the rest of the season we can end up with a 50% record, which will be a huge improvement on the last two seasons.”

The Spartans have just two games left this season, both winnable. On Sunday 27th July they travel to the Ipswich Cardinals, winless since 2012. The season concludes on Sunday 17th August at home to the Bury Saints, to whom they narrowly lost in their opening game.

Huke said “Whilst we’re all disappointed with the defeat, we played much better in this game than the when we played Kent earlier this season. The fact we’re improving gives us real confidence that we can beat Ipswich next week, before gaining revenge on Bury next month.”

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Essex Spartans U17 vs. Kent Exiles U17

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