U15s Kent County Cup – Quarter Final
Cray Wanderers 3
After Extra Time
The final Cray Wanderers representation in the Kent County Cup for 2017/18 came to and end as the U15s were beaten in a titanic struggle against Dartford’s Academy side on the 4G at Princes Park.
Sean Foley’ side were hoping to gain a level of revenge for a defeat to Dartford two seasons ago in the 3rd Round of the competition when the Wands perhaps didn’t do themselves justice on the day but that certainly wasn’t the case on this occasion as Cray took the game to Dartford in the first half. The Wands had taken the lead in the 15th minute with a tremendous strike from distance from Chris Al Hassan.
They led at the break and came close to adding to the scoresheet before Dartford levelled in the second half. However with 10 minutes to go Cray went back in front with Jessie Bonishel heading home from a corner but the lead lasted just a minute as Dartford drew level once again.
Into extra time and Dartford went in front for the first time with a superb piece of finishing but two minutes later Cray were level when Bonishel scored again. However, Dartford scored what proved to be the winner a minute after the start of the second period of extra-time and Cray couldn’t stage another fightback.
The game started at a fast pace and the Dartford no 11 was denied by a smart block from Bobby Pavoux in the first few minutes. Cray came into it and Akola Salami shot just wide and then from a free kick 20 yards out, Tion Cudjoe shot came back off the wall to Salami who shot wide.
Then Cray came close again when Chris Al-Hassan broke down the right of the area and his shot was well saved by the Dartford keeper, not the first he would make by any means and the follow up from Femi Abatan was claimed at the second attempt.
This was followed by Dartford going close when the no 17 who was going to have a huge impact on the game drove a cross shot just wide from the right of the area.
A minute later after quarter of an hour Cray took the lead with a stunning strike from 25 yards from Al Hassan which flew into the top left hand corner of the net to silence the fairly noisy Dartford supporters.
The Wands then proceeded to dominate the rest of the half playing some fine flowing football despite accusations from the home supporters of a long ball game. Firstly, Al Hassan worked his way into the area down the left and his effort was blocked well by the keeper and then was thwarted again a few minutes later by a strong one handed block.
This was followed by Abatan cutting to the right touchline and his cross was cleared out to Theo Foley who fired over the bar. Then Cray were awarded a free kick in a fairly central position and Cudjoe’s shot was pushed over the bar well by the keeper.
The chances kept coming and Cudjoe’s fine ball through found Al Hassan who was desperately unlucky as the keeper came out to see his shot agonisingly come back off the left post and Abatan couldn’t quite get to the rebound.
It looked like it was going to be one of those days when Salami down the right once again showed his blistering pace to get inside the box and his effort was blocked by the keeper and the loose ball came to Cudjoe whose shot was cleared off the line.
There was just a note of caution with the final action of the half when the Dartford no 11 drove a left wing shot into the side netting.
Half Time: 0-1
The second half began with Cray again looking good going forward and Abatan almost scored one of the great individual goals as he dispossessed the Dartford left back and strode past two challenges, turned and beat another defender before curling a shot which went fractionally wide. Then from a free kick out on the left the ball was floated into the area where Abatan hit a half volley which went through to the keeper.
Dartford were never out of the game and the no 17 hit a volley which went just wide before for Cray shortly after Cudjoe hit a shot from 30 yards which was comfortably held by the keeper.
In the 63rd minute the Darts levelled when from a left wing cross from the no 11 into the heart of the penalty area the no 17 got a touch to the ball and Pavoux did well to block the shot and the rebound was partially blocked and the no 17 lashed home from five yards out. Pavoux looked to be injured following the first save and was replaced for the later stages of the game by Kamar Tinibu.
The game went from end to end from here and from a free kick, Cudjoe fired wide and then for Dartford the no 11 fired in a shot which Tinibu saved. Then Bonishel shot wide for Cray.
The match then had a dramatic two minutes of action. In the 70th minute Cray went back in front when from an excellent left wing corner from Cudjoe the ball was met by the head of Bonishel who powered his header into the net to give Cray a deserved lead once again.
However, Cray hadn’t recovered their composure and a minute later it was all square again when a ball in from the right from the no 8 found the no 30 who came from nowhere to loop a header into the net from twelve yards to make it 2-2.
Before the end, the no 8 curled a shot just over for Dartford and then with the last action of the game from a right wing corner Bonishel turned the ball wide. We were now headed for 20 minutes of Extra Time.
The first period of extra time saw a continuation of the drama and this time Dartford took the lead four minutes into the half when a ball was played forward to the no 17 who took the ball on his chest and turned the Cray defender to blast a superb finish high into the net to send the home fans ecstatic.
They didn’t vouch though for the unquenchable Cray spirit and two minutes later from a ball out on the left which was hoisted into the area a Dartford clearance fell to Bonishel who fired home to make it 3-3.
The no 17 shot wide before the break but it remained 3-3 as the sides changed ends.
Two minutes into the second period, Dartford went in front once again when a ball in from the no 11 found the no 17 once again who broke into the area and cracked another great finish wide of the keeper and into the net.
Sadly for Cray the energy seemed to sap from them a bit and Dartford cleverly used the time and lead to see out the remaining minutes but not after Cray had given them such a tough game.
The Wands can certainly hold their heads high and can now concentrate on the task at hand of winning the Kent League North Division where they remain unbeaten.
Team: Bob Pavoux, Kasey Bekoe, Tobi Fashola, Jenyd Hoedofia, William Amis, Femi Abatan, Theo Foley, Jessie Bonishel, Tion Cudjoe, Akola Salami, Chris Al-Hassan: Josh Richmond, Taku Zhanghaza, Kamar Tinibu
Meanwhile in the Kent Youth League, U18 Division North, the U18s B team continued their good form with a 6-2 win at home to one of Cray Wanderers Youth bogey sides, Crayford Arrows at Foots Cray Rugby Club. Max Ash continued his excellent goal scoring form with four goals to add to the hat-trick in the Cray derby last week and making it nine in three matches with Zach Hallett scoring twice. Cray B moved into second place in the table on 18 points but are nine points behind leaders Dulwich Hamlet.