"A fantastic game played in great spirit both on and off the pitch - your boys are a credit to your club."
A heartwarming quote from the opposition coach this weekend who having seen his side take a 3-0 lead was magnanimous in defeat recognising that, despite the result, we had all witnessed one of those games that showed us everything that is good in youth football.
Sevenoaks having started brightly for the first ten minutes and looking comfortable on the ball, suddenly imploded in ten mad minutes that followed and were three down, visibly shocked by the clinical nature of successive incisive counter attacks. Put to the sword, and in theory all but over-with pride now the only motivator.
To a player however Sevenoaks re-grouped, captained by Tancrede Ollivier, and our boys began to shift the ball from left and right to forge an opening, confident in the belief that this team do find goals. Caterham, defensively very strong and a real threat on the counter, with a missile of a throw-in, had other ideas.
Sure enough though the Sevenoaks pressure told and lucky though it was, we managed to force an own goal and the game was still alive. On 28 minutes David La Trobe continued to add to his impressive tally and we were right back in it at 3-2.
However, we were now down to bare bones as injury and knocks began to take their toll and we simply needed to see out the last ten minutes to half time to patch up and take stock of a thrilling first half.
The boys had fought tooth and nail to claw their way back into the match but crucially now had the momentum.
Sensing a turn around, the re-start was pivotal and within five minutes we got the equaliser through our poacher, Jake Robinson, to make it 3-3.
Game on, and another scintillating half of football followed with both sides desperately trying to gain the upper hand, both refusing to concede ground: tackles flew, boys down, apologetic handshakes – what a cup tie and great spirit and determination from both sides.
At the final whistle – all square and 20 mins of extra time loomed. Tension was now palpable on both sides but an acceptance among coaches and parents that football was the winner today whatever the result. On balance we felt the game, despite our terrible start, should have been ours - but we just couldn’t forge a final opening against a resolute defence.
For either side to lose now after all the effort would have been a painful blow but penalties would have been a harsher conclusion that neither side wanted.
Nonetheless with seconds to spare in extra time and the penalty order set, another break down our right wing, an awkward touch by the Caterham defender, the game almost seemed to play out in slow motion: bated breaths, a couple of touches took it away from the defender, surely this was the last kick of the game, a tight angle – surely not, could he…it was a long way out but with all his last reserves of energy, Ollie O’Leary fired a rocket of a shot which rifled into the back of the net.
Despite the feeling of elation you could only feel sorry for the opposition - literally the last kick of the game and a thrilling comeback was complete. An utterly exhausting but ultimately compelling and rewarding watch.
Well done to both teams and extremely proud of our Sevenoaks boys and their team ethic.