Cray Wanderers U13s KYL vs Maidstone United U13s

Colour N Cover Kent League Cup Semi-Final: 13/2/22 – Foots Cray Rugby Club


Cray Wanderers                                2

Denton 40, Bangs 58

Maidstone United                             3


Cray Wanderers U13s hopes of reaching the Kent League Cup Final in their first season as a Kent Youth League side came to an end at the semi-final stage but only after a tremendous gutsy effort against Maidstone United at Foots Cray Rugby Club.

On an exceptionally chilly morning it looked like Maidstone had taken a grip on the game with two goals in the latter stages of the first half to lead 2-0 at the break.  Cray though showed great character and resolve to come back into it firstly with an exceptional free kick strike from Jack Denton early in the second half.  This gave Cray time to get back into it and did so with close to ten minutes to go with a classy lobbed goal from George Bangs.  There were no further goals so ten minutes extra-time was required to decide the winners and it was Maidstone that forged ahead with a far post header from a right wing free kick three minutes into the first period. Cray kept going into the final five minutes but couldn’t get another goal to take the game to penalties. In the end Maidstone advanced to a final vs Parkwood Rangers.

Cray Wanderers have had a settling in season in the Kent Youth League North and Brett Cheesman and Nick Bunclark’s team lie 7th in the league table and have beaten Bromley this season.  To get to the Semi-Finals Cray advanced past Rising Stars Youth (5-1), Metrogas (2-1), Ramsgate (3-1) and Phoenix Sports (4-2) in the Quarter Final.  Maidstone are second in the Central Division and beat Cray Valley PM (3-1), Tunbridge Wells (18-0) and Welling United (3-2) in the Quarter-Finals.

Although last Sunday’s semi-final in the U14s Kent County Cup was played in windy conditions there was much more chill factor to accompany the wind on this occasion and it is credit to the players for adapting and playing such a great game and also the referee who quietly and efficiently went about his business and there were no major flashpoints or incidents thankfully and the game was played in a great spirit.

It took the teams a little while to get into their stride and the first real shooting chance fell to Maidstone in the 8th minute when a free kick from the no 7 out on the right hit the top of the crossbar.  For Cray, the Wands won a corner down the right and Jack Denton’ ball to the far post was touched wide by George Bunclark.

The best opening of the half for Cray came in the 24th minute when a fine ball from George Bangs put David Odebayjo through after he outpaced a defender but was unlucky to roll the ball past the right post.  Then from a cross from the right the ball fell to Odebayajo who on the half volley shot wide of the left post.

From what looked like a tight encounter it was Maidstone who struck first in the 27th minute when the no 15 down the right exchanged passes with a midfielder to break into the area and calmly placed the ball wide of Jamie Chandler and into the net.

Maidstone were enjoying the better of the conditions in the first half and in the last minute of the half scored a second goal that was well worked and the no 10 down the left swung over a cross and from the edge of the six yard box the no 9 guided a textbook header into the net to make it 2-0 at half time.

Cray needed to get back in the game quickly and Maidstone almost scored a third goal when the no 10 hit a shot which perhaps was affected by the wind and went just past the right hand post.

However, four minutes into the second half Cray got themselves back in the game when after Jack Denton was fouled 20 yards from goal to the left of the area he curled a great strike over the wall and into the top right corner.

Maidstone threatened down the right and the no 15 saw a shot parried at the near post by Chandler and the follow up turned wide.  Then the no 18 also had a shot from distance well saved by Chandler.

Cray though finished the game strongly and the pace of Kayden Robinson down the left was causing problems for Maidstone and Bangs was unlucky to see a volley down the right go over the top.  Then from a corner down the left, Denton’s ball into the box looked to have got a touch from Bangs and clipped the right hand post and away from goal.

Cray were looking the more likely scorers going into the last ten minutes and did get back on level terms with a quality piece of finishing from Bangs who from outside the area saw the keeper slightly off his line and lobbed the ball expertly over him and into the net.

In the final few minutes the game opened up completely with both sides looking to win the game before extra-time but Cray came closest with Odebayjo down the right shooting over and then a free kick from just inside his own half from Ashton Bignall was v forward and came to George Bunclark who hit a sweet volley but was held by the keeper.  There was to be no winner after the first 70 minutes and extra-time was required to decide the winners.

Three minutes into the first period of extra-time Maidstone went back in front when from a free kick out on the right, the no 7 floated over a very good cross to the far post where the no 12 nipped in to head into the net.

Cray battled hard in the final five minutes and Bangs saw a shot held by the keeper and then from a free kick in a similar position to his earlier goal Denton curled a shot over the bar.

Maidstone saw out the remaining minutes to advance to the Final and they showed their qualities to regroup in extra-time but Cray had played extremely well and had deserved their place in the last 4 and can go into their final league games with confidence and bounce back next season as U14s.  This was my first look at this side and they have some real quality with Denton and Bangs look impressive and Robinson and Odebayajo have great pace up front. I was also impressed with the captain Bignall and look to play the game in the right way and very respectful of the referee and the laws of the game.  All in all a very good game despite it being freezing and a good advert for the Kent Youth League and the competition.

Team:  Jamie Chandler, Albie Atkins, Ashton Bignall, George Bunclark, Frankie Chipping, Max Bunclark, Jack Denton, David Odebayajo, George Bangs, Sam Trim, Tate Frost; Frankie Cheesman, Kayden Robinson, Harry Powell, Ronnie Baldini.

Meanwhile here are a couple of cup final dates for your diaries for Cray Wanderers Youth sides in March.

London Cup Final:  Sunday 6th March, Cray Wanderers U17s vs Balham U17 at Charlton Athletic FC, 12.30pm

Kent County Cup Final:  Sunday 27th March, Cray Wanderers U15s Lions vs Bromley U15s at Sheppey United FC. KO to TBC