Kent Youth League – U13s Central Division – Title Playoff
Cray Wanderers U13s 1
Kent Football United U13s 2 After Extra Time
The Cray Wanderers U13s suffered late heartbreak as their bid to become Kent Youth League Central Division champions ended after a dramatic extra time winner gave the title to Kent Football United after a titanic struggle at Queen Marys University Sports Ground in Chislehurst.
With both sides level on points at the end of the regular season a playoff game was arranged to decide the champions after the two sides drew 2-2 in the title decider on Sunday. Both teams are highly talented and there was always going to be little to separate the sides and the game proved to be as tight as expected.
Cray Wanderers who drew the game on Sunday courtesy of a stoppage time equaliser from Khamani Aiyanyo to take the two sides to a playoff had the better of the first half and led through Tommy Franklen’s eighth minute opener but right on the stroke of half time, KFU equalised through a tremendous strike from the no 18.
Both sides had opportunities to win the game in the second half but two good defences stood firm and the match went to a period of ten minutes extra time. With the light getting dimmer both sides went for it in extra-time to save the possibility of penalties and it was KFU who grabbed the winner when three minutes into the second period of extra-time the no 10 was played through down the left and slotted very coolly into the net to win the title for the Dartford based side.
Whereas Sunday’s game was played on a warm and sunny morning tonight’s match was played on a grey, murky and drizzly evening. What was the same as Sunday was the relentless pace of the match and the first half seemed to fly by in a flash.
Both sides searched each other out in the opening minutes. Cray had a couple of free kicks which caused problems. Firstly, Frankie Macioca fired wide and then from a long way out, Ruari Woodcock’s shot went through to the keeper.
Kent Football United though came closest early on when from a throw in down the left the ball came to the no 3 who curled in a shot from 25 yards which crashed back off the right post.
Cray though on 8 minutes made the early breahthrough they were looking for when from a corner down the left, Woodcocks ball to the near post was glanced into the bottom right corner of the net by Tommy Franklen who also scored on Sunday and the Wands were off and running.
Andy McPherson and Scott Butler’s side from here played extremely well and with good composure despite the pace of the match and the nearest KFU came to scoring was when the no 20 down the right did well to break into the box and his ball across was pushed away well by Connor Cooper.
For Cray, Macioca won a corner down the left and Aiyanyo’s cross was cleared out to Henry Phillips but his ball into the box was claimed by the keeper.
Then Aiyanyo saw an effort inside the area blocked by a defender and then was unlucky when he broke down the left and following hesitation by the keeper looked to take the ball round the keeper but the angle was very tight and his ball across couldn’t find a Cray player.
It was a game of few chances but the quality of the game was superb but there was a twist to the captivating plot when with the last attack of the half KFU equalised when down the left the no 9 and 10 combined to set up the no 18 who let fly with a great shot from 25 yards and the ball hit the bottom left corner of the net to tie up the game at half time.
The second half continued at the same pace and Cray came closest early on to going back in front when Franklen found Macioca who turned well outside the area and shot just over.
KFU though were looking a different side since the leveller and Cray were beginning to concede one or two free kicks in dangerous positions and from one the no 4’s put a ball into the box which was cleared out to the no 10 whose shot was deflected through to Cooper.
For Cray, Macioca saw another shot from distance claimed by the keeper while for KFU a free kick in a fairly central position 20 yards from goal, the no 10 fired the ball over the wall and was claimed at the second attempt on his line by Cooper.
The game just began to get understandably rather tense for a spell with the realisation that the next goal would in all likelihood win the game.
For KFU another free kick from the no 4 was hoisted towards goal and Cooper had to push the ball behind for a corner. Then for Cray Charlie McPherson and Franklen combined to set up Aiyanyo for a half volley which the keeper had to save.
The last few minutes of the match, Cray were starting to look the most likely to win the game and good play down the left by Ashley Koroma saw him hit a curling shot which was pushed away well by the KFU keeper.
Then from a free kick from 35 yards out, Woodcock played a superb ball into the area and was headed over from eight yards by Franklen.
This was soon followed by Koroma and Franklen linking up to set up Macioca who hooked an effort just over the bar but there was no further scoring and an extra ten minutes of extra time was needed to separate these two well matched teams.
Extra time saw both teams going all out to win the game and not go to penalties as the grey skies were beginning to get darker and Kent Football United had the better of the first period. Firstly from a throw in from the no 10 the ball came to the no 11 who had been kept fairly quiet by the Wands defence after having a great game on Sunday and his snap shot was gathered by Cooper. Then from a corner down the right, the cross from the no 7 flicked to the far post and the ball was turned wide by the no 18. This was followed by the no 10 hitting a volley from distance which Copper claimed.
The nearest Cray came in the first five minutes was when Koroma and Macioca combined to set up Phillips whose shot from outside the area was gathered by the keeper.
The second period started with Cray on the front foot and down the right Aiyianyo ball into the area found Jordan Adeje but the keeper did well to come out and block.
Three minutes into the second period though came the decisive moment when the no 22 put a superb ball from midfield through to the no 10 down the left who showed good pace to reach the edge of the area and calmly slotted the ball wide of Cooper and into the bottom right corner of the net.
Cray to their credit kept on going as they always do and from corner the ball was played into the box and headed wide by Aiyanyo. The final onslaught from Cray almost brought about a leveller when Aiyanyo’ ball into the box was glanced towards goal by Adeje and the keeper held on to the ball and KFU had won the game and the Kent Youth League Central Division title. Cray though had nothing to be ashamed of despite the obvious disappointment and tears at the end of the match and after three superb games against the eventual champions. They have big days ahead of them and can go into next season’s U14s campaign with great confidence and are an outstanding team.
Team: Connor Cooper, Teddy Gatsell, Henry Phillips, Riley Butler, Tommy Brown, Tommy Franklen, Charlie McPherson, Harmony Okwumo, Frankie Macioca, Ruairi Woodcock, Khemani Aiyanyo; Ashley Koroma, Jordan Adeje, Jameel Buhari, Archie Washington