SOUTH Essex College were crowned British National Colleges champions after beating Manchester College 4-3 in a thrilling final at Burton Albion FC.
Tyriquee Soloman, Ash Webb, Sean Ashman and Steve Watts netted the goals for South Essex College.
Manchester settled the better of the sides, but South Essex took the lead after five minutes when Soloman raced on to a Ben Sartain through ball and blasted past the Manchester custodian to make it 1-0.
Proceedings continued in a similar fashion and Manchester kept the ball well in midfield, breaking down the sides of South Essex.
However, the Essex outfit went two up when a deep cross was superbly controlled by Webb just inside the penalty area. He neatly shifted the ball on to his left foot and hammered past the Manchester shot-stopper.
Manchester, to their credit, continued to cause problems and got themselves back in contention when a deflected free kick flew past George Watts in the South Essex College goal.
They got their equaliser on 34 minutes as a neat move down the left-hand side ended with a low, cross which was neatly finished.
At 2-2, the game started to settle slightly and South Essex started to press higher up the pitch. They were unlucky not to get a third when Webb had a goal ruled out for offside.
South Essex were quick out of the blocks in the second half and were pressing with much more tenacity and organisation.
The score changed mid-way through the period when a neat pass from Webb to Luke Winter just inside the box was well set for Ashman who curled the ball with his left foot into the far corner.
They continued to dominate and were by far the stronger side in the second half. Solomon made way for Lewis Allen on the hour mark and the substitute got straight into the thick of it. He raced on to a through ball and bravely challenged the goalkeeper and the rebounding ball fell to Watts, who neatly finished from all of 25 yards.
Manchester got a goal back after 82 minutes, to set up a nervous finale, but South Essex hung on for an astonishing eight minutes of additional time to be crowned British College National champions – a massive achievement for a team who have been beaten twice all year.