Range Rover Sports FC 2 - 1 Craven Park FC
Range Rover Sports won the Kent Reliance Sunday Junior Cup with a battling performance against Craven Park in a game that tested both sides resolve in energy sapping conditions at high noon at the Gallagher Stadium.
Goals in each half from Dan Cummins and Jay Law were enough to give Range Rover Sports the victory although a late strike from Joe Keable ensured a nervier finish to the game than Range Rover’s would have liked.
But at the final whistle players from both sides sank to their knees after giving it their all, in temperatures that must have been touching ninety degrees at pitch-side.
Indeed, as he admitted to KSN after the game, the experience that Ranger Rover Sports boss Glenn Conlon had got from a losing Final on Saturday with Borden Village FC had proved invaluable. “We weren’t successful yesterday, but to manage these boys and come out as winners is a wonderful feeling – we definitely deserve the beers tonight! I’ve played Saturday’s all year and managed Sunday’s and it’s a lot harder but a much better feeling. We weren’t as good on the ball second half, but I didn’t think they caused us too many problems. The second goal was massive to the game and I’m so pleased we got it… I think yesterday helped as a lot of the boys experienced the conditions and the stadium and we’re all obviously delighted that it’s a different result…”
For Craven Park boss, Mark Prior, it was a hot afternoon of frustrations… “We came too good too late as the heat affected us more than them. As a footballing side, I think we played the better football, but they were much fitter than us – we just didn’t have the legs! It’s a massive achievement to reach the last two out of 262 teams who entered – not bad for a team who are all the wrong side of 30!”
The games first chance fell to Joe Sands who only denied by the feet of keeper Reece Taylor. Taylor then went full length to deny John Ralph as the Sheppey side began to get a grip on proceedings as the mercury in the thermometer continued to climb!
If ever you didn’t want a cagey, probing, attritional Final this day was surely it. But what were we getting – a Final between two very matched sides who were forced to battle the conditions as well as their opposition!
Then out of absolutely nothing Cummins was through on keeper Taylor and he brilliantly skipped round him to slide the ball into the Craven Park net which sparked wild scenes of celebration from his bench!
Celebrations that were mirrored twenty minutes from time when after Ralph’s probing run down the left the ball found its way to Law who brilliantly cut back inside to beat keeper Taylor at his near post.
Taylor then made a fine one handed save to keep Craven in the contest to deny Cummins a second that would have surely sealed the Cup for the side from Sheppey.
To their credit they did rally in the closing stages as Christian Howell went close with a free kick which had keeper Dewey full length to his left to palm aside, And when Keable headed home Jack Walder’s cross as the clock showed ninety, it left a nervy period of time added on to be endured by Sports and their supporters, before the victory party to well and truly begin.
RANGE ROVER SPORTS FC – Olly Dewey, Alfie Duggan, Ross Frost, Aidan Cain, Ben O’Neill, Joe Sands, Dan Cummins, George Blake, Lewis McCrory, Jake Jackson, John Ralph
Subs – Kev Mutton, Dan Bryant, Michael Cannon, Dan Calder, Jay Law
CRAVEN PARK FC – Reece Taylor, Ryan Blyth, Lee Rix, Mark Smith, Matt Brocking, Chris Charlton, Terry Poole, Michael Yianni, Jack Walder, Christian Howell, Charlie Nisbit
Subs – Adam Stewart, Kevin Woods, Joe Keable, Shawn Allen
REFEREE – Sean Overbury
ASSISTANTS – Nic Derrane & Ashley Bowles
FOURTH OFFICIAL – Matthew Boughton