South East Athletic Lift the Kent Intermediate Challenge Shield!
South East Athletic FC 2-0 Staplehurst Monarchs FC
Underdogs South East Athletic scored a convincing win in the Intermediate Challenge Shield Final with two second half goals from Padraig Biggane and Darren Wynne saw off the new Kent County League Champions Staplehurst Monarchs at the Maidstone Road Sports Ground in Chatham.
For the Monarchs it really did appear to be a game too far as they couldn’t repeat the League form that saw them crowned Champions after Saturday’s win against Farnborough OB Guild. But on the night, it was the side from Division One West who ran out worthy winners as coach Tony Alliband admitted when he spoke to KSN after the game. “I went and saw them a couple of weeks ago but I think I saw enough that day to see where we could win today, but still I saw some things that gave me hope that we could win tonight if everything went right and we performed and we did both. I think we edged the first half and then we took our chances in the second. They’ve beaten team’s week in week out and for us to do what we’ve done tonight – its going to take a couple of days I think for this to sink in properly what we’ve actually achieved tonight!”
For Monarchs coach Ada Lacey the evening was doubly disappointing as he told KSN. “Disappointed with tonight especially as I missed Saturday’s celebrations as I was working in Jersey!” he grimaced! “We’ve been phenomenal all see long and so today may have been that game too far! Very proud of them all and in the twenty odd years that I’ve been involved this is obviously the highest we’ve finished as it is in the clubs 126 year of history – tonight unfortunate that we met a side that played well, but I’m so, so proud of what the boys have achieved!”
In the early squirmish’s, both sides had their respective opposition defences scrambling as first Athletics’ keeper Andrew Cooper was forced to the edge of his box to repel the Monarchs early attacks before at the other end a free kick fizzed over just too high!
The underdogs then enjoyed a spell of pressure that saw Luke Alliband fire over before Wynne forced keeper Steve Lawrence into a scrambling save whilst the Monarchs then had the first half’s best chance. A free kick from Ryan Parks was fumbled by Cooper and Luke Wallond following up couldn’t keep the ball down and it flew high over the bar.
Then in stoppage time Wynne flashed a header wide of the Monarch’s goal which seemed to set the tone for the second half, for within minutes of the restart, Athletic had the lead through an unlucky source. Alliband caught a seeming lost cause down the right and although his ball into the box was too far in front of Wynne, left back Biggane kept the ball in play at the back post and although his first effort was blocked he managed to squeeze a second effort between the keeper and the post to open the scoring. The goal as often happened succeeded in stretching the game, and Staplehurst went close through Josh Brown and Nathan Bertrand – both having shots blocked by the Athletic defence who had placed a dark blue wall across the Maidstone Road pitch superbly marshalled by Dan Ashton and Man of the Match Matt Faithhorn which was to really the limit the League Champions chances, whilst Athletic were content to create chances on the break.
Billy Rutherford had a lung busting charge from the half way line before shooting straight at the keeper; Wynne did brilliantly to find Alliband, only for Lawrence to pull off a fine save. The Staplehurst keeper wasn’t as fortunate however in Athletics’ next attack as Wynne got in behind the Monarch’s defence to coolly lift the ball over the advancing Lawrence to score the goal that all but sealed the tie for South East.
A game that always had your attention which proved a game to far for the League Champions against an “underdog” who on the night was simply hungrier!
SOUTH EAST ATHLETIC FC – Andrew Cooper, Matt Vosper, Padraig Biggane, Sam Hussey, Tom O’Reilly, Matt Faithhorn, Luke Alliband, Tom Mayfield, Darren Wynne, Billy Rutherford, Fiachra McArdle
Subs – Barry Ryan, Aaron Kenton, Shane Exley, Owen Rice, Harry Aldridge
STAPLEHURST MONACHS FC – Steve Lawrence, Dan Ashton, William Phillips-Reid, Nathan Bertrand, Carl West, Steve Elliott, Teo Rosetti, Ryan Parks, Luke Wallond, Paul Atkins
Subs – Max Ciano, Pete West, Harry Sheradin, Peter Matthews, James West
REFEREE – Dan Blades
MATCH ASSISTANTS – Andrew Wheaton & Wayne Horsfall
FOURTH OFFICIAL – Chris Cannon