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West Kent Sunday League Report – Sunday 14th May 2017
The 2016 - 2017 50th Anniversary season of the West Kent Sunday Football
League came to a close last Sunday with the two Spring Cup Finals being
played at Tunbridge Wells FC. A few days earlier, Dormansland Rockets played their Surrey Lower Sunday Junior Cup Final.
Surrey Lower Junior Sunday Cup
AFC Thornton 5 Dormansland Rockets 3
Dormansland Rockets adventure in the Surrey Cup ended at the final
hurdle as they lost 5-3 to AFC Thornton. This was the first time the
Sunday team had reached a county cup final since 1972 so you could say
it was overdue! But with over 80 teams entering, it was no small feat
even getting to the final.
On a fine evening at Carshalton FC, on one of the better 3g pitches,
Rockets' were soon under the cosh from the quick AFC Thornton forwards.
This pressure soon resulted in a goal, when they were unable to clear a
corner. The game then settled down and Rockets equalised from a Jake Dodgson header.
AFC were next to strike when their forward went down in the box after
what looked like a fair challenge. Despite the protests, AFC dispatched
the penalty to put them 2-1 up.Further defensive slackness saw them
score the third goal when one of their players was allowed to much space
on the edge of the area. An already weakened back line (due to enforced
absentees) was further weakened when Ross Waghorn had to come off with
3-1 down at the break, Rockets had it all to do.
For the second half Rockets came out fighting. Consistent and prolonged
pressure resulted in further goals from Jake Dodgson again and
Andy Smith and the scores were back level at 3-3.
Just when one thought the tide had turned, Rockets conceded another goal
from a corner due to slack marking. The game at this point was very
open and it was felt the next goal would be crucial. Unfortunately it
was AFC Thornton who scored it, making Rockets task that much harder.
The game ended with no more goals. It just wasn't to be, but they gave
it their all. Numerous West Kent League Management Committee members
made the long journey to watch the final, for which Rockets are
Spring Cup Senior Final
No goals were scored in the regulation 90 minutes nor during extra time,
so the Artois United v Simla match went to penalties. Simla won the
shoot-out 4-2 and added the Spring Cup (Senior) Trophy to their
Spring Cup Junior Final
Green Street Blues capped a fine season with a 3-1 win over St John's Yard.
The Green Street Blues got off to a dream start with an early goal from a
set piece, a free kick swung in from the left taken by Tom Wilken,
headed superbly into the back of the net by Steve McGinn. Further
chances were created by Green Street Blues, and they were unlucky not to
extend their advantage when James Phillips got through on goal and
lobbed both the keeper and the cross bar.
St Johns Yard started to get back into the game and managed to equalise
via a penalty awarded when their forward went over in the box, the
penalty was coolly converted sending the goal keeper the wrong way, all
square at 1-1 and it remained that way until half time.
The second half commenced with both teams showing determination and
passion to win the game. Green Street Blues put on some early pressure
which was rewarded by a classy strike from the outside of the box from
their midfielder Tom Wilken on the outside of his weaker left foot
landing in the top corner, making the scoreline 2-1.
Green Street Blues had the upper hand and were unfortunate to have a
goal disallowed when Jonathon Simms converted from a cross in, the
referee adjudged a foul and awarded St Johns Yard a free kick.
As the game wore on St Johns Yard started to commit more players forward
and looked to add more pressure to their opponents, but Green Street
Blues defended well led by their captain Matt Heathcote and a rarely
troubled goalkeeper Nick Edwards who commanded his area superbly.
Some late drama at the end of the game where St Johns Yard were awarded a
free kick in a dangerous position, their players including the goal
keeper flooded the box in search of an equaliser. Green Street Blues
managed to clear and find striker Sean 'Boycie' Boyle. Sean ran
the length of the pitch slotting home in the penalty area, he was mobbed
by his team mates, taking the game out of site at 3-1.
The referee proceeded to blow the full time whistle straight after the
goal and celebrations from Green Street Blues were underway, in the full
knowledge they had been given a really good game and test from St Johns
Kudos to manger Chris Pope who, in his first season managing the side,
got Green Street Blues promoted and silverware from the Spring Cup.
Chris did a fantastic job, moulding some fantastic individuals into a winning team.
Pictures below from Tony Vanns
|The teams line up
|St John's Yard FC
|Green Street Blues FC
|WKSFL Chairman presents the trophy to GSB captain Matt Heathcote
|and a few more thanks to Green Street Blues
some are available at larger size - click or tap
A quick look back at the season.
The season began with forty-one teams in four Divisions. That itself was
the lowest number playing Sunday Football for many, many, years, but by
the end several had fallen by the wayside. The season ended with six
fewer than that already low number. There has been a 50% fall in the
numbers within the last ten years. Not since the second season of 1968 -
1969 have been been only three divisions, a prospect that the League
faces for next time around.
On the bright side, competition was good in all four Divisions. The
driest winter 'in decades' meant that there were very few postponements,
only a couple of evening games and no double headers, all of which have
been the curse of Sunday football for many years. The leagues were more or less wrapped up by the end of March!
Had it not been for the deduction of three points for using an
ineligible player, Simla would have had every chance to gain their sixth
league title in ten seasons. They still had the opportunity, needing to
win their final game at Dormansland Rockets, but lost 2-1, so it was
Artois United who pipped Tonbridge Origin on goal difference to claim
the Division One and league honours. That was their first title since
the 1999 - 2000 season. There has been only other such close finish in
recent times. Back in 2012 - 2013 It was Simla who won the league on
goal difference over Artois United.
Gardener's Arms won Division Two by a clear seven points, ending the
League season unbeaten. Their goalkeeper Ben Carter took the award
for the most clean sheets through the season. They will provide stiff
competition next season for those already at the higher level.and will
hope to emulate their successes of a few years ago, when they claimed
the WKSFL championship three times. Likewise Pembury Sunday, on the way
back up and who also have previous recent successes to follow.
Division Three was closely fought to the end, with only five points
separating the top four sides. Crowborough Town were in with a chance
right until the last but lost their final two matches. Rusthall Club
never quite made up for a poor start to the season, always playing
catch-up and hoping eventual winners Bricklayer's Arms and runners-up Green Street Blues would drop points.
Tunbridge Wells Foresters Reserves won Division Four by just three
points over FC Grinstead. Grinstead also started the season badly but
quickly gained momentum, which was to see them rise swiftly up the table
only to be held to a unexpected draw by the young men of TW Ridgewaye.
Those two dropped points made their task almost impossible unless TW
Foresters themselves dropped points, which they did not.
Statistic of the season was the 132 goals recorded in the sixteen league
games involving AFC Six in One. Their top scorer, Ryan Smith, was also the League's top scorer.
Simla claimed their third successive Senior Cup and their fifth in six
seasons, Tonbridge Origin were the beaten finalists. Gardener's Arms and
Pembury Sunday, first and second in Division Two, played the
Intermediate Cup final with Gardener's coming off the winners and in the
Junior Cup FC Grinstead avenged their defeat of two seasons ago the
final of the same competition by Bricklayer's Arms, winning narrowly.
In the County Cups, Dormansland Rockets reached the final of the Surrey
Sunday Lower Junior Cup after a series of big wins (and one win on
penalties) but lost at the end. In the Kent County competitions,
Tonbridge Origin had the best run. They reached the county wide stage of
the Sunday Premier Cup in January but lost to the powerful Quested
outfit from Chatham, the eventual winners.
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