The Essex Bhoys found themselves on the road for the sixth consecutive match, with the 3-3 draw at home to Kelvedon Hatch a lifetime away back in early November. At Basildon's Sporting Village in the EOFL Senior Cup 2nd round, they faced a Pitsea Athletic who had beaten Emerson & Upminster FC 6-0 in the first round.
Manager Simon Thomas named a strong squad which included the Kearney brothers, Thomas and Patrick, in defence, with both players taking another step toward their 250th appearance. Captain Mike Sammut was joined in the middle of the park by Callum Matthews and Tom Elliot, with the familiar James Warder, Frank Craik and Aaron Baldwin up front.
Both teams started with some good early possession, acclimatising to the conditions under foot. First shot of the day fell to Craik, but his effort flew over the bar. Baldwin was put through in on goal with 15 minutes on the clock but an outstanding last gasp challenge put paid to any shot coming from the good build up. Just three minutes later however, Catholic worked the ball well from the back, eventually falling to Frank Craik down the left who made his way to the by-line, and his near post cross fell to James Warder who tapped home from close range.
Craik found himself free on the edge of the area shortly after but his shot was well saved by the keeper, who managed to secure the ball at the second attempt as Warder came sniffing for the rebound.
Pitsea were trying to play the ball out but were being penned in by Catholic who kept the pressure on high up the pitch, with the Pitsea players being harassed continuously.
Baldwin had a guilt-edged chance to double the lead on the half hour but his one-on-one chance was snatched from the air as he tried to lift the ball over the keeper.
Catholic did double their lead from the penalty spot as Joe Burton muscled his way into the box past two players only to be bundled to the floor with a lazy challenge. Baldwin stepped up to side foot the ball in off the post to secure a two-nil half time lead, a half in which Catholic keeper Woody Wells didn't have a save to make, such was the level of performance from his outfield teammates.
The second half started, unfortunately, in the same way as the first had ended. Catholic enjoyed a lot of possession and were getting forward regularly and creating chances. Pitsea, to their credit, were defending very well and crowding out the box preventing space and time, snuffing out any early chances Catholic had.
But it was inevitable a chance would come to fruition and it came, Lucas Polyblank's cross which found an unmarked Aaron Baldwin in the box and his header looped into the net. The goal was a major blow to Pitsea and the chances kept on coming. The ball was in the net once again, this time a deep cross found Mike Sammut who's header across the goal found Warder to touch home.
Warder would seal his hattrick, making space and time to hit a rocket past the despairing keeper.
Pitsea chalked up a goal, a corner deep to the back post wasn't dealt with by the Catholic defence who reacted too late as the Athletic player snuck the ball in to the disappointment of keeper Wells.
Polyblank was next on the scoresheet, the young forward doing well since coming on close to half time. Louie Hay's persistence allowed him to toe-poke the ball to Polyblank who's jinking run gave him space in the box to find the net.
Catholic's final goal of the game came from a good turn and shot by Joe Burton which cannoned off the post, with Callum Matthews pouncing the fastest to side foot the ball past the grounded keeper.
Pitsea weren't done, a great drive allowed Wells to warm his hands to tip the ball over the bar.
The final whistle was blown with the Essex Bhoys in the next round, with a possible tie against Corinthians or Sungate, in yet another away game!!