Monday, 21 May 2018

Tonbridge Angels Ladies 3 Thamesview Ladies 1

Match 137/17/1587 - Thursday, 17th May 2018 - SECWL Kent Divisional Cup Final

Tonbridge Angels Ladies (1) 3 Akehurst 7,108 Janes 120+3
Thamesview Ladies (0) 1 Stilwell 86
Attendance: 305
After extra time, score at 90 minutes: 1-1
Played at Maidstone United FC

Admission: £3 Senior
Programme: £2 donation
Mileage: 20/8,721

There were moments in extra time when the unforgiving 3G surface at Maidstone’s Gallagher Stadium resembled a scene from the film Platoon as players from both sides fell to the ground, victims of the excruciating pain brought on by cramp. Tonbridge’s Alex Weston, who had suffered her own bout, aided friend and foe alike as the on-field physio. But, ultimately, it was how the cup was won. It took determination and a will-to-win attitude for the Angels to overcome their division’s champion side, Thamesview.

As has been Thamesview’s lot this season, despite their success, they came into the game with just one substitute and when they lost a player in the second half they had no more cards to play whilst the Tonbridge management were able to use the rolling substitutions to good effect.

The Angels were given a confidence boost with the opening goal after seven minutes. Becky Janes earned a foul after being the meat in a sandwich between two Thamesview defenders. Kelly Moran lofted the free kick to the far post where Megan Akehurst lost her marker to head home.

Thamesview responded with Tonbridge goalkeeper, Sam Wright plunging bravely at the feet of Lydia Wills and, after 13 minutes, saving low to her right to deny Kylie Yull.

Yull was looking a significant threat but pulled a shot wide whilst the division’s player of the season, Shannon Redhouse took advantage of a loose touch from Akehurst but fired wide. Redhouse had the odd opportunity but overall was supremely patrolled by Angels’ skipper Sharon Lyons.

Flo Anastasiou was lucky to be dealt with leniently when she committed a hand ball as Redhouse threatened to get behind the Tonbridge rearguard. The resultant free kick was delivered to the far post where the header from Wills was directed straight at the goalkeeper.

A good chance opened up for Janes just prior to the break but she took her shot a shade too early and Bronwyn Allen was able save with relative comfort.

The first real chances of the second period fell to Thamesview just past the hour mark when Rebecca Merritt shot narrowly past the far post and Redhouse wastefully fired wide and high when clear down the right hand side of the box.

Thamesview were being asked to throw caution to the wind and a shot from just outside of the box from Hannah Lorton was tipped over the bar by Wright, who was ultimately awarded player of the match for her fine display between the sticks (although personally, my award went to Lyons, who manager Dan Couldridge later described as the glue that holds everything together).

With just four minutes remaining, Tonbridge hearts were broken when a lofted ball into the area from Merritt found a hesitation between defender and goalkeeper that allowed Lucy Stillwell to get in between and steer the ball into an empty net to condemn the tired legs of both teams to an extra 30 minutes.

One little incidence of little note but telling in its commitment was a full throttle chase down the line between Janes and Thamesview’s Sian Cheedy, neither willing to give up a lost cause, a testament to both team’s fitness levels.

Extra-time though certainly took its toll as both sides struggled to gain momentum with fallen bodies strewn here, there and everywhere.

Three minutes into the second period, Akehurst (who had had a period of time substituted) chased down a long ball forward from Janes and as Cheedy tried to protect the ball for her goalkeeper to collect, under pressure, she only managed to touch it past her colleague for Akehurst to run the ball into the empty net.

With four minutes remaining, Tonbridge were offered the opportunity to put the game to bed when Akehurst was bundled over for a penalty. Janes’ shot came back off the cross bar and illegally took a second touch.

Janes’ despair was only to last until time-added when she latched onto a loose ball, created when the ball hit the face of Akehurst, to fire into the roof of the net from the right hand angle of the six yard box to seal a famous triumph that was greeted at the final whistle with tired limbs rejuvenated by the adrenaline of a first piece of silverware for the club.

All the good photographs are courtesy of David Couldridge, the blurry ones are not!

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