West Kent Sunday League News Report Sunday 20th May 2018

The final medal position, Division Two runner-up, went to the final game. Crowborough Town needed to win their three remaining games, including a double header with FC Grinstead, to gain second place on goal difference but fell at the last. Royal Oak FC therefore finished second, two points ahead of them.

The season was yet anoher badly disrupted by the combination of wet weather and poorly kept pitches. Some teams went several weeks in a row without being able to play.

Division One

Insulators met Artois United, already confirmed as runner-up, in  the final game of the season. Artois started fast and got quicker. Insulators had to work hard to stay in the match early on. Most of the chances fell to the visitors but it was not until the 38th minute that they took the lead from a shot from 10 yards.

Surprisingly it was Insulators who started the second half more positively and Reece Beecroft scored a magnificent equaliser with a direct free kick from 35 yards after 48 minutes.  Soon after, home keeper Max Bridges made a fine save from an Artois free kick. In the 64th minute Glen Gostlow was brought down in the box and Cole Walsh confidently smashed home the spot kick for  a surprising 2-1 lead for the home side.

That lead only lasted three  minutes before Artois scored a fine goal of their own to equalise. It then continued with chances at both ends (maybe most to Artois) before a long ball over the top of the home defence saw the Artois player volley in a winner with three minutes remaining.

Perhaps a little harsh on Insulators but a fine game to end the season. Well done to the ref Dan Tombom.

Simla had taken the lead in Division One by early October and were to stay there, except for one week, until the end of the season. Green Lane held second spot for most of the season until two defeats in their final two games cost them in favour of Artois United. Artois finished the season with a run of four wins plus three points awarded, having also reached the semi-final of the Kent Sunday Premier Cup.

West Kent Sunday League Division One 2017 - 2018
Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Simla (C) 14 13 1 0 57 16 41 40
2 Artois United 14 10 1 3 46 20 26 31
3 Green Lane 14 8 2 4 40 29 11 26
4 Armada 14 7 2 5 31 32 -1 23
5 Tonbridge Origin 14 5 3 6 43 33 10 18
6 Paddock Wood 14 3 1 10 27 69 -42 10
7 Pembury Sunday 14 2 1 11 22 46 -24 7
8 Insulators 14 1 3 10 26 47 -21 6

Division Two

Crowborough Town's cruel season was largely caused by the weather. Unfit pitches meant that the played only two league games between the end of November and the beginning of April, essentially they played almost half their season in the space of six weeks. Still, they went into the final week knowing that three wins would be needed to grab second place from Royal Oak, whose own season had also been wrecked by the weather. Oak didn't play a single game for three months and had to play double headers from the middle of February. Green Street Blues had been top of the table since February, aided and abetted by being able to use a synthetic grass pitch. They won the title by a confortable margin, including the award of six points by virtue of their final two opponents not turning out.

So, on Thursday evening, Crowborough Town hosted Brenchley in the first of these vital games.

Both teams managed to start with a full team and substitutes, which for a Thursday evening was a surprise and a credit to both clubs.

With second place in Division Two in the balance, Town knew that a few more goals would help the goal difference column and they started well. A nicely put together attack after just two minutes saw Crowborough's Ollie Hyland in the right place to score that important first, early, goal. However Brenchley were not going to make it easy for the home team and it was another fifteen minutes before Luke Leppard made it 2 - 0. With visitors defence finding in difficult to contain Leppard's runs down either wing, he added two more in ten minutes to take the pressure off Town.  A Crowborough corner late in the half saw Connor Edmunds rise above the opposition to nod the ball into the net for just his second goal of the season.

Half Time :   Crowborough Town   5  -  0   Brenchley

The second half saw the visitors come out fighting and making it very difficult for their opponents to add to the score. The Brenchley defence held out until midway through the half when tired legs, and Crowborough making use of their five substitutes, saw them awarded a penalty. This was tucked away by Jay Choudhry for his first goal for the club. To their credit the visitors continued to make a game of it and it wasn't until the final minute of the game that Luke Leppard broke through to grab his fourth goal of the game.

Final Score : Crowborough Town   7  -  0   Brenchley

So, it was off to Turner's Hill for a double header with FC Grinstead. The two had met in April in the two legs of the Intermediate Cup semi-final, Crowborough had won both.

First Game

Kicking-off thirty minutes late, it was soon apparent that Crowborough were aware that nothing less than the full six points from the morning's football would do if they were to make the runners-up position in Division Two.

However a stronger than expected FC Grinstead side made them work for every ball and when Town put them under pressure they withstood every attack. The 'jewel in the visitors crown' was their keeper who pulled off a number of excellent saves that had Crowborough players and supporters shouting 'goal' before he saved his side. By half time, although the home team had most of the play, the game remained scoreless.

Half Time :   Crowborough Town FC   0  -  0   FC Grinstead

The pattern remained the same in the second half, although FC Grinstead did have a chance or two, until with ten minutes to go Luke Leppard, who had chased every ball in his opponents half, managed to, at last, beat the visitors keeper.

Full Time :   Crowborough Town   1  -  0  FC  Grinstead


Second Game

Although the Town manager made full use of his five substitutes the pattern remained the same as in the first game until mid-way through the half. Then it was that man again, Luke Leppard, this time turning provider as his cross from the left wing found Matt Pickett, who opened the scoring. The visitors 'keeper continued in inspired form and by half time, without him, Town would have been two or three ahead.

Half Time :   Crowborough Town FC   1  -  0   FC Grinstead

Grinstead started the second half strongly and looked to be getting back into the game but Crowborough, knowing that one goal may not be enough, kept up the pressure on the visitors defence. Then after five minutes Luke Leppard, yes that man again, at last beat the visitor's keeper to make it 2 - 0. This seemed to inspire Grinstead and maybe two and a half games in two and half days began to take its toll on Town's players and they began to look unsteady. Eventually it was the visitors star of the show who put a long, long clearance into the Crowborough half, the bounce beat the defenders, and Grinstead forward Joe Moulding snapped up the chance to score their first goal of the day. Now the home team, for the first time, were under pressure and desperate to hold on to their lead. But it was not to be, and their opponents repeated the medicine with another giant clearance that again beat the Town defence for Grinstead to draw level through top scorer Charly Harris. With time running out every player in the Crowborough side found renewed energy to give one last effort, but the visitors defence held out to keep the scores level.

Full Time :   Crowborough Town   2  -  2   FC Grinstead

West Kent Sunday League Division Two 2017 - 2018
Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Green Street Blues (C) 16 14 1 1 68 23 45 43
2 Royal Oak 16 12 0 4 56 31 25 36
3 Crowborough Town 16 11 1 4 65 34 31 34
4 Cassidy's Phoenix 16 7 3 6 45 32 13 24
5 Brenchley 16 7 1 8 21 41 -20 22
6 FC Grinstead 16 6 3 7 41 25 16 21
7 Goudhurst United 16 4 2 10 43 65 -22 14
8 Langton Green 16 2 2 12 25 72 -47 8
9 Tonbridge Invicta 16 2 1 13 24 65 -41 7

Division Three

Tonbridge Origin Reserves concluded their season wondering what could have been, after their seventh consecutive league victory, this time with a 6-3 win over Paddock Wood Reserves.

The match had an end of season feel, with both teams in good spirits and the sun shining. Both teams were treated to a good pitch at Putlands, a contrast to the previous league meeting in February which was played on a mud bath. Origin took an early lead through Ben Holder but Paddock Wood soon equalised after a defensive mix up.

Jonny Barber then beat the offside trap to put Origin back into the lead. A couple more Origin goals put them 4-1 up and looking comfortable, but Paddock Wood staged a fight back scoring two quick goals including a stunning 25 yard effort which left Origin keeper Jamie Holder rooted to the spot. The wood's scorers were Callum Goodell, Jake Smith and Lee Gower.

With Paddock Wood tiring, Origin were able to seal the victory with further goals from Ben Holder and captain Bobby Brown.

That effort took Ben Holder to 32 goals for the season and in the process became the club top goal scorer, beating Tom Cobb from the first team by one goal. This is despite him  missing several games over the winter with a broken ankle sustained against East Grinstead Mavericks. Holder had scored four in the Thursday evening 5-3 win over Insulators Reserves.

With not too much to play for Insulators Reserves gave all their squad a run against Origin Reserves and rotated the team throughout the midweek match, including changing keeper.

Despite Origin having the better of the early chances, it was the home side that took the lead on twenty minutes when Glen Gostlow fired home from outside the box. That seemed to annoy Origin who scored twice in the next five minutes. That became 3-1 in the 39th minute with a direct free kick from 30 yards. Just on half time Insulators were awarded a penalty which Greg Dodson converted. Despite being under pressure for much of the half this was a fine rearguard action.

The second half was even more of a struggle, as Origin used their pace to good effect. A fourth goal arrived in the 53rd minute and this was followed by sustained pressure. Although Insulators broke occasionally it was mainly one way traffic. It became 5-2 in the 79th minute but in a rare break away Jake Pingault scored a third for the home side in the final minute to make it 3-5.  Chris Gregory was Origin's other goalscorer-.

Origin finished the season with a comfortable third place in the league, but were left ruing dropped points early on in the season, which prevented a title challenge. Origin can be satisfied with a good season after reaching the Junior Cup final, losing on penalties to St Johns Yard and also reaching the Semi Final of the Intermediate Cup.

The Division Three campaign was mostly a two horse race between St John's Yard and Speldhurst Rangers. The Yard were ahead until the middle of February, when a draw with Paddock Wood Reserves swiftly followed by defeat at the hands of Tonbridge Origin Reserves allowed Speldhurst Rangers to take over. Rangers then completed their programme with a pair of 7-1 defeats. Thus the title chance slipped away.

West Kent Sunday League Division Three 2017 -2018
Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 St John's Yard (C) 16 12 2 2 70 27 43 38
2 Speldhurst Rangers 16 11 1 4 69 43 26 34
3 Tonbridge Origin Reserves 16 10 1 5 55 37 18 31
4 TW Ridgewaye # 16 8 4 4 53 32 21 25
5 Tonbridge Casuals 16 7 2 7 31 35 -4 23
6 Tonbridge United + 16 6 1 9 29 47 -18 22
7 East Grinstead Mavericks 16 4 1 11 18 64 -46 13
8 Insulators Reserves 16 4 0 12 24 42 -18 12
9 Paddock Wood Reserves 16 2 4 10 21 43 -22 10

# three points deducted  + three points awarded


Division One

Division Two         

Tom Cobb (Tonbridge Origin) 20 11 31
Ash Bell (Royal Oak) 29 5 34

Division 1 - Marc Yeung (Green Lane) 9
Tom Welch (Green Lane)

Will Mantle (Goudhurst United) 18

Division 2 - Nick Edwards (Green St Blues)   5
Harry Tampsett (Armada) 19

Ben Boodle (Cassidy's Phoenix)
11 13

Division 3 - Liam Baldwin (Speldhurst Rangers) 6

Division Three  League Cups Total

Ben Holder (Tonbridge Origin Res.) 22

Ash Bell (Royal Oak) 6

Jolyon Wheller (Speldhurst Rangers)

Ben Holder (Tonbridge Origin Res)

Jonny Barber (Tonbridge Origin Res.) 13

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