Today the U16’s KYL team welcomed Thamesmead Town FC to Greatness Park, for the third round of the Kent County Cup. Our opponents were on a four game winning run and are currently placed fifth in the KYL North Division. The winners of today’s game would face a home fixture against either Maidstone United or Ashford United in the Quarter Finals.
Just before the kick off, both teams and supporters held a minute's silence in remembrance of former club coach Stephen Adams.
As soon as the game kicked off, we were to experience torrential rain that was to last for forty minutes. The Mead kept us pinned in our half for the first fifteen minutes as they had adapted quicker to the conditions and were playing some nice one touch football.
The Oaks were starting to settle into the game, but were guilty of giving away a succession of free-kicks just outside our penalty box. On the 18th minute Earls made a tremendous save by diving to his right to stop a free kick that was destined to break the deadlock.
Suddenly the Oaks were on the attack. Della Valle had bravely won the ball in midfield and passed it down the line to Strachan, whose cross field pass fell beautifully to Cooper. Cooper jinxed to his left and dispatched a shot over the goalkeeper and towards the goal. However, a recovering defender threw himself at the ball and cleared the ball from crossing over the line.
On the 25th minute the Oaks were awarded a free kick about forty yards from goal. Baillie floated the ball to the far post, where Watkins pounced with a fine header to make it 1-0. Then on the 32nd minute directly from a corner, the ball was passed to Strachan who was on the edge of the penalty area. He hit a stunning curling effort that had everyone beaten, but hit the cross bar and went out to safety.
Then on the 40th minute, the Oaks were awarded a penalty for an infringement that had occurred in the penalty area. Cooper stepped up and, without showing any nerves, dispatched the perfect penalty passed the Meads goalkeeper. The score was to remain 2-0 at half time.
The second half saw Callum Wilkins in between the sticks and we also had a change of linesman as Callum's dad was in need of some dry clothes and a cup of Horlics. The new referee's assistant was to be Eric Watkins who enjoyed an almost rain free second half!
Thamesmead Town battled strongly and they fought hard to get back into the game, but the Oaks stood firm with a back four of McMenimen, Travers, Wolfe and Baillie. The midfield worked tirelessly with Strachan, Watkins, Burden and Cooper supporting the front men of McCarthy and Della Valle.
However, the game was going to take an unusual turn of events, which would see two players leaving the field of play and a number of other players cautioned. On the 58th minute, Travers shielded the ball from the attacker in our penalty area to let the ball run out of play. He was given an immediate red card and a penalty was awarded.
Our opponents took full advantage of this situation and scored directly from the penalty. This set up a nervous and nail biting final 22 minutes. Toby, the tactician, then put Watkins into the back four and brought on Sullivan to give us some fresh legs in midfield. The Oaks had to endure attack after attack from Thamesmead Town, who could sense that this game was not lost yet. Wilkins also made some fine clearances from a wave of corners from our opponents.
The grass was slippery, the boys were soaked through and to the neutral supporter this was a game well worth the admission money. The referee administered a few yellow cards but this was not a dirty game; rather one played with passion and a desire from both teams to win. Suddenly our opponent’s striker was dismissed from the field of play after two conversations with the official.
The last ten minutes of play were played at a fast and furious pace with both defences remaining resolute. Toby made a number of strategic substitutions and the final score remained at 2-1 to Sevenoaks Town FC and sees them through to the last eight. This was a good game between two teams who played competitively and fairly and we wish Thamesmead Towns players, coaches and supporters a Happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year.
In conclusion, this was a tricky tie played against a good football side. However, Toby and the boys demonstrated a desire to win and to stay strong even when our backs were against the wall. As the record states: “there ain’t no stopping us now!!”