07:29PM, Saturday 13 April 2019
Burnham captain Ashley James lifts the Hellenic League Division 1 East title shield with manager Paul Shone looking on
Burnham 4, Chinnor 0
Lucas Sinclair netted a couple of crackers as Burnham wrapped up the league title - and promotion to the Hellenic Premier Division - in some style at The Gore this afternoon.
Paul Shone's men needed only a point to be sure of becoming champions and, after a nervy opening 20 minutes, they quickly settled to their task against the league's bottom side. Thame Rangers, the only team who could have caught the Blues before kick-off, beat Wokingham & Emmbrook 3-1 this afternoon but they'll have to settle for second place at best.
Having been in the Southern Premier Division as recently as 2015, the Blues have tumbled down the divisions in recent seasons, but this title win - and the the professional job they've done both on and off the field in recent months - represents a renaissance for the club.
It was the lively Lucas Sinclair - a player who will surely play at a much higher level given time - who slammed Burnham ahead, running onto a Dean Allen pass before bursting past his marker to drill home left-footed on 24 minutes. Chinnor, by hook or by crook, managed to get through to half-time without conceding any further goals.
But the game - and the league title - was clinched on the hour mark by Ryan Tackley, the defender getting forward to side foot home after some brilliant skill and a lovely low cross from the impressive Aiden Higgs.
Higgs got his own name on the scoresheet a couple of minutes later, touching home on the goal line after Adam Davis' shot looped over the Chinnor keeper and captain Ben Taunton.
The Blues now had their tails up and the party pieces were starting to come out. Davies saw an effort cleared off the line as he attempted to slide in a fourth at the far post, while Higgs drilled just wide with only the keeper to beat.
But it was Sinclair who book-ended the goalscoring, running onto Higgs' flicked header before showing his composure to take the ball round Taunton and slot home.
The club's chairmen walked in the league trophy and two big slabs of beer before the final whistle, knowing it was no longer tempting fate to do so.
Allen then missed a fantastic chance to cap off a thoroughly convincing display with the side's fifth, blazing over the bar in stoppage time but in truth the game was done, Chinnor had been dead and buried a long time before.
Burnham scored four but in truth it could have been many more. They meant business from the opening whistle. Sinclair lashed a second minute volley wide, Higgs' was denied by the keeper's knees and Tackley failed to get enough contact on his shot after a wonderful cross in from George Weller. Ashley James gave a captain's performance throughout, and might have scored in the first half, his powerful close range header rattling back off the woodwork.
Chinnor offered very little as an attacking outfit. Jack Baldwin reacted well to keep out a deflected cross in the first half and Alfie Matthews headed against the bar from a counter as Burnham pressed players forward looking for more glory.
After the game a delighted Shone said: "I'm pleased for everyone involved, the boys, everyone behind the scenes at the club. From day one the remit was to go and win the league and get back to the Premier Division, and we've done it at the first attempt. I'm pleased for everyone and it's a great way to cap it off.
"The resources we have at the club, we should be (champions), but the boys still have to go over the white line and deliver. The youngsters have delivered as well and they've got a big future ahead of them, whatever level they play at.
"All in all it's been brilliant. I think we've scored 160/170 in all competitions which is amazing at any level. Defensively we've been good. The style of football we've played has been very good. We'll enjoy tonight and celebrate long into the evening."
Captain James added: "From the start we set out to win the league and the boys have been tremendous.
"It's a new team that's been put together. We were a bit shaky in the first games but we pulled it together, had a good FA Cup run and it's been a great season. We thoroughly deserve it.
"We were quietly confident today, but it's football, anything can happen. We did a professional job.
"100 per cent we can compete at the level above. We'll add a couple and look to go on and do the same thing next season, or if not have a good crack at it. It will be a good test, especially for some of the youngsters who haven't played at that level before, but they're more than good enough to do it."
Burnham could still do the double this season. They're set to play Malmesbury Victoria in the final of the Subsidiary Cup on Saturday, May 4. The final will be played at Newent Town's ground.
Burnham team: Baldwin (Bunting 88'), Woodward, Tackley (Mifsud 75'), Davis, Tripp, Holland, Higgs, James, Allen, Weller (Molloy 65'), Sinclair. Subs not used: Duncan, Fosu.
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