Match report by Dwayne Ellis, photos by Tony Fowles
The under 18s' opponents AFA had a 100% league record same as Kent so it was a winner takes all affair at Corinthian but were defeated 3-1 where as the under 16’s just needed to not lose by more than 8 goals to bottom of the table Sussex to reclaim their crown and despite a 1-0 defeat were able to celebrate down on the south coast.
Click here for photos of the u16s league title win
It also represents a good season for Kent’s sides; with the ladies winning their first ever league title in the Southern Counties cup last month meaning that the double was achieved, and in fact only 1 game away from a historic treble.
The under 18s took on AFA in the final league game of the season at Corinthian also looking for revenge as well as the league as they inflicted their only competitive defeat of the season in the County Youth Cup so this game was always going to be a hotly contested affair. The first goal came after just 7 minutes and it was from the visitors and it was a cracking 30 yard strike which found the top corner to give Tom Hadler in the Kent goal no chance. Kent levelled the scores 11 minutes later when a cross field ball found left back Sam Oloufe who confidently tucked it under the keeper into the net.
Click here for photos of the 18s v AFA
Kent had a couple half changes later on but it was the visitors that got the crucial next goal on the half hour. The Kent keeper couldn’t hold on to a free kick and in trying to make amends conceded a penalty which was calmly converted. AFA then doubled their advantage 5 minutes later when the hosts didn’t deal with a corner and when the ball dropped 6 yards out it was smashed into the roof of the net to double Kent woes. AFA grew in confidence and threatened to run away with the game before half time but Kent held on to go in 3-1 down after the break.
The second half Kent’s performance improved slightly but was struggling to create clear opportunities while at the other end uncharacteristic mistakes at the back were allowing AFA to be a constant threat. The keeper was to thank midway through the half, making 3 important saves to keep Kent in the game. Kent then had 2 big opportunities which ended up going begging. First a weak punch from the keeper gave Gary Smith a chance but his effort was cleared off the line, then minutes later a quick free kick put Smith through and was fouled but Connor Taylor’s penalty was excellently saved by the host goalkeeper. AFA late on had a second penalty, which was also well saved by the keeper but it didn’t matter as AFA won the game and the league title.
The under 16s went into the game knowing that if they could avoid defeat by more than 7 goals then they would be champions where as Sussex were looking for their first win of the campaign and to get off the foot of the table. A quarter of an hour in Umoh Ufot almost opened the scoring; lobbing the keeper from an acute angle but it was cleared off the line by the Sussex defence. That was the biggest moment in the first half as a few half chances for Kent amounted to nothing. Sussex’s only attempt in the first half was a volley over the bar.
The second half was similar to the first, relatively uneventful, with the dusty pitch playing a part. Sussex took the lead 8 minutes from time as a deep free kick was flicked in by a Kent player for a own goal. Kent looked to respond quickly and almost levelled with 4 minutes to go when a blacked found Liam King whose effort hit the side netting. In the dying minutes the visitors put together a good passing move which presented George Mitchell with an opening but his effort was well blocked by Sussex. Sussex held on to get their first win of the campaign but Kent regained their league title.