Maidstone United Lift the Kent Senior Cup!
Bromley 1 – 1 Maidstone United - Maidstone win 3-2 on penalties
Another cup final and another penalty shoot-out defeat for Bromley. Whilst the scene may have been different, the Kent Senior Cup final being hosted within the familiar confines of Hayes Lane rather than an FA Trophy final under the famous Wembley arches. The end result was the same nevertheless as Chris Lewington proved Maidstone United’s penalty hero saving three Bromley penalties to ensure Maidstone retained the Kent Senior Cup.
The game had needed to be decided by penalties after Elliot Romain had cancelled out Frankie Sutherland’s first half penalty that gave Bromley the lead.
In truth the game was a poor spectacle that only really flickered into life in the final fifteen minutes when both teams tried to avoid the lottery of penalties.
In some respects Bromley could be forgiven for putting in a workmanlike performance as injuries and cup-tied rules robbed them of several of their attacking players. Top scorer JJ Hooper (groin strain), Reeco-Hackett Fairchild, Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu and Luke Coulson (all cup-tied) meant Bromley had to shuffle the pack leaving Richard Brindley to play in an unfamiliar right wing position.
Neil Smith was to suffer more poor fortune 27 minutes into the cup tie when his lone striker Omar Bugiel was unable to continue meaning substitute Marc-Anthony Okoye had to fill in as an emergency centre forward.
Okoye was to make an immediate impact when his flick-on from a long ball fell to Jordan Higgs who was subsequently fouled by Aaron Davies inside the penalty area.
Frankie Sutherland made no mistake from the spot with his 10th goal and penalty of the season.
On the balance of play Bromley deserved their first half lead with Maidstone to all intents and purposes going through the motions in a listless display.
However as poor as Maidstone were in the first half they were far more competitive after the restart and deservedly equalised on the hour mark.
Elliot Romain who had been a constant menace to the Bromley backline pounced on some pinball inside the Bromley penalty area to poke home and level the scores.
Buoyed by the goal Maidstone took the game to Bromley and but for some last ditch defending by Okoye they could have taken the lead with fifteen minutes remaining. The imposing defender made a crucial interception from a Jack Richards cross with substitute Blair Turgott waiting at the far post.
Despite the pressure it was Bromley who perhaps would have felt they should have won it in the final five minutes.
Zavon Hines who had been introduced as a late substitute produced a mazy run that saw him beat 4 defenders before his stinging drive forced a fine save from Lewington.
From the resultant corner Roger Johnson appeared to have won the tie when he headed in but referee Isaac Searle adjudged that Johnson had committed a handball much to the chagrin of the Bromley players.
With no further opportunities created in injury time the game was decided by a penalty shoot out. Despite Maidstone missing their first two, Jack Richards seeing his effort saved by David Gregory before Ollie Muldoon blasted his spot kick out of the ground. Bromley could not take advantage.
Sutherland missed Bromley’s first and despite Frankie Raymond and Brindley scoring the next two. Hines and George Porter fluffed their lines handing Maidstone the 130th Kent Senior Cup.
“I’m so pleased for the supporters they’ve had a hard hard season. They’ve travelled everywhere and they came again today in numbers. I just urge them all to follow the yellow brick road because the story hasn’t finished we’re just starting” was how Maidstone Head Coach Hakan Hayrettin reflected on the victory that brought a welcome silver lining to a season that has seen The Stones suffer relegation to the National League South.
Conceding that his side had been poor in the first half, Hayrettin felt his side did more than enough in the second to take the game to penalties, he said “I thought we were much better than Bromley in the second half after being poor in the first. We got the ball into their box a lot more and gave ourselves a chance to take it to the lottery of penalties. Lewy (Chris Lewington) was brilliant in the shoot out I just have to sign him now!”
Conversely Bromley manager Neil Smith rued what was yet more penalty heartbreak for his side, he said “We practice penalties a lot but sometimes it is what it is, I thought the goal we conceded was scruffy and very preventable. Roger’s goal was disallowed but I cannot see how it was. The Referee was behind the play so I’m not sure how he saw a handball”.
Bromley (4-2-3-1): Gregory; Dunne (Craske 61), Johnson, Holland, Wood; Sutherland (Higgs 83), Raymond; Brindley, Higgs (Hines 81), Porter; Bugiel (Okoye 27)Subs not used: Brefo, Ojemen
Maidstone United (4-3-3): Lewington; Davies, De Havilland, Swaine, Wishart; Muldoon, Taylor, Phillips; Richards, Romain, Amaluzor (Turgott 46)
Subs not used: Curtis-Henry, Williams, Gilbert, Dale
Goal scorers / Time of goal: Bromley: Sutherland 31 (pen) Maidstone: Romain 61
Referee: Mr Isaac Searle
Player of the Match: Rob Swaine