Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Faversham Harlequins 2 v 1 Willesborough Athletic

Monday 25th May 2015
Weald of Kent Charity Cup Final Junior Section
Lindsey Field, Lydd
Admission including Programme: £4.00
Attendance: 48 (head count)
Match Rating: 3

For my Spring Bank Holiday football fix, I was quite fortunate that one of the very few games scheduled today was fairly close to home, albeit at a venue I had visited as recently as January, and at a very low level of football. But any kind of football is welcome this late in the season, and with the added attraction of being a cup final, and with a team's outstanding and scarcely believable 100% record at stake in league and cup competitions today.

It was Willesborough Athletic who have had the astonishing record of winning all 20 league games, scoring 154 goals in the process and conceding just 11 in the Ashford and District Saturday League Premier Division, and have won all five cups they have entered so far - the League Cup, Kent Junior Cup Group C, Ashford Charity Trophy and the Canterbury Charity Junior Cup - all in all, 40 competitive games unbeaten. A familiar face was in goal for them - Paul Hyde, with 150 Football League appearances at Wycombe Wanderers and Leyton Orient, now at the ripe old age of 52. So, a tough assignment for today's opponents, Faversham Harlequins, who play in the Canterbury and District Football League, finishing bottom with just nine points from their 18 league games. To reach today's final, Willesborough Athletic beat Smarden 11-0 at home, Borden Village Reserves 0-4 away, and Lenham Wanderers 6-1 in the semi-final, whereas Faversham Harlequin won 3-4 at The Wanderers, before requiring penalty shoot-out wins at home to see off New Romney Reserves, and then Wittersham.

On an occasionally sunny late morning, the first half went according to script, with Willesborough dominating and deservedly taking the lead on 22 minutes, when a free kick from 25 yards went low into the bottom right corner, and although the keeper may have been slightly unsighted, he perhaps should have had enough time to make the save. Despite going close on several occasions, their lead remained a narrow one at half time.

The second half started in much the same vein, although a sign of a shift in power came on 54 minutes when a powerful Faversham strike from well outside of the area skimmed the top of the cross bar. Three minutes later and their chances of getting back into the match greatly improved when Willesborough had a player sent off for swearing at the linesman. On 61 minutes, Faversham got back on level terms, when a low cross into the box was guided low just inside the far post. Three minutes and the game was turned on its head when Faversham took the lead. Following a cross which took a deflection, the ball was bundled in with what seemed to be the knee. Their momentum took a knock on 69 minutes though, when they had a player sent off for going in a little too hard on the keeper for a loose ball. It seemed very harsh, but the referee took a tough line on any infringements all game - a little disappointing for a cup final, but perhaps he had an assessor to think about. The game actually remained quite even for the next ten minutes or so, as it looked likely that Faversham would hold out for an unlikely victory, but in the last seven or eight minutes, Willesborough really threw the kitchen sink at Faversham's goal, forcing a succession of corners and seeing several shots blocked or go just wide of the goal, but it wasn't to be as they succumbed to their first defeat of the seasons in all competitions in their final game, with Faversham Harlequin lifting the trophy pitchside shortly after the final whistle.

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