Tom Ripley's hat-trick of headers helped Sevenoaks Town into the Quarter Finals of the Macron Southern Counties East Football League Cup with a 4-0 win over Division 1 side Gravesham Borough at Greatness Park on Wednesday night.
Ripley's achievement, all scored from corners, has almost certainly written him into the club's record books on his recall to the starting line-up.
A serious knee injury last season cost him his place - and with Jack Miles and skipper Corey Holder having nailed down both central defensive spots, Ripley has been forced to wait for his chance.
He said: "It was my first ever hat-trick although I did get two in games for Lydd Town a few seasons back. I was absolutely buzzing afterwards, it's been a year since my injury
but the chairman and gaffer have been great to me. I have had to wait for my turn as the boys have been doing the business on the pitch. It was great to get 90 minutes, get on the scoresheet, and into the next round."
Ripley's chance came with Miles resting a knee injury - facing a plucky Borough team, who had not turned up just to make up the numbers.
They suffered an early blow losing Charlie Onslow to injury in the opening five minutes, and it might have been even worse after conceding a penalty for handball by right back Toby Edwards who was also booked.
However Town's woes from 12-yards haunted them again - missing a fourth successive spot-kick - Billy Bennett's poor effort saved easily by Borough goalkeeper Ollie Dewey.
Ripley began his memorable night by putting Town in front after 28 minutes, rising highest to head in Greg Benbow's left footed corner. Harrison Carnegie headed wide after great build-up work by Keiron McCann, and then Bennett was off target with another header from Benbow's cross.
Borough's Billy Brown proved a willing runner all night, with fellow front-man Charlie Norcott having their first shot on target in stoppage-time.
Ripley got his second of the night five minutes after half-time getting the final touch on Chris Edwards' corner to the near post, and then Bennett made it 3-0 two minutes later, knocking the ball home to convert Carnegie's cross.
Micky Collins then made a double change, sending on Yacine Gnahore and loan signing Jack Richards.
The two substitutes immediately combined with Gnahore going close to getting a fourth from the youngster's cross.
Ripley wrapped things up eight minutes later, running to the near post to flick home unmarked from another Edwards delivery.
Ghanore might have got another in the closing stages, as Town confirmed their last eight spot, the only home winners so far - with one tie still outstanding.
Sevenoaks Town FC is delighted to welcome Alex Morgan and Pete Price to the match day reporting and photography efforts. Alex's match report can be found below:
In this third round cup tie against lower league Gravesham Borough, a hat-trick from central defender Tom Ripley steered Sevenoaks to a comfortable 4 – 0 win.
The bitter cold of the evening greeted the players as the game began, but this did nothing to dull the starting pace as both teams came out flying. After some early Gravesham pressure, the first chance came when Sevenoaks were awarded a penalty, but Billy Bennett’s effort from the spot was saved by Gravesham’s keeper. Despite this, Sevenoaks began to look more threatening and in the 28th minute Greg Benbow’s well-placed corner was met with a commanding header from Tom Ripley, putting them ahead. The rest of the half saw Sevenoaks take control and chances followed. Wide man Harrison Carnegie pulled a shot just wide and Bennett saw his strong header only just saved by the Gravesham keeper.
Sevenoaks carried their first half momentum into the second and dominated the remainder of the game. Five minutes in Ripley got his second with a near replica of his first goal, heading in from a corner. Before the dust had even settled, Sevenoaks claimed another; a cross from Carnegie fell neatly for Bennett, who sent an immaculate volley into the bottom right hand corner, making it 3-0. After a double substitution of Mickey Dalton and Harrison Carnegie for Yacine Gnahore and Jack Richards, Sevenoaks proceeded to see out the game in style. Richards made a piercing run down the wing and found his fellow sub Gnahore, who rattled the bar with a thunderous effort from close range, before Ripley completed the scoring with his third and Sevenoaks’ fourth twenty minutes from time.
A resounding 4-0 triumph sends Sevenoaks Town through to the quarter-finals of the SCEFL Challenge Cup, adding to their impressive run in the Kent Cup and their continuing push for promotion.