Congratulations are deservedly due to the Cray Wanderers U14s who retained the Bearsted Youth cup won last year with victories against Ramsgate and a dramatic penalty shoot out win against Ebbsfleet last Saturday.
The Wands got through three tournament games each at 20 minute duration including using some trialists to get through to the semi-finals. They began with a 2-1 win against Ramsgate, a side Cray had never previously played.
This was followed by a 2-2 draw with Ebbsfleet United with Femi Abate’s tremendous 30 yard free kick grabbing a draw. Cray needed just a draw from their final game against Bearsted to advance to the semi-final and despite using a team of trialists came away with a 2-0 win with both goals coming from corners.
The Semi Final saw a return game with Ramsgate who are a very strong side. The Wands got off to a flyer with two early goals but had to withstand a nervy finish with Ramsgate pulling a goal back. However, in the last minute, Cray made it 3-1 with another towering header from a corner to advance the Wands through to the final.
The final against Ebbsfleet United was a nerve wracking encounter which saw Cray go two goals up and the Fleet staged a dramatic fightback to make it 2-2 and take the game to a penalty shoot-out.
Cray started well and after five minutes the impressive Tion Cudjoe crashed the Wands in front and then added a second to give Cray a degree of comfort.
However with three minutes to go, Ebbsfleet pulled a goal back from a header and then Cray switched off to allow a leveller and the game went to a tense five minutes extra time. There were no further goals in the extra period and so the game went to penalties.
Both side had three penalties each with Cray and Ebbsfleet scoring with their first kick. Ebbsfleet then saw the next kick saved by the Cray keeper whilst Abate chipped in a cool penalty to make it 2-1 for Cray. Ebbsfleet had to score with their final kick and again saw the Cray keeper making a great stop to help Cray win the competition.
The team will step up to U15s next season and the future looks extremely bright for this group of players and we thank Sean Foley and Lee Amis for getting such a talented group under the Cray Wanderers banner and we look forward to hearing about their progress next season.