Undoubtedly the strangest of all the delayed Kent FA 2019/2020 Finals saw the Under 18s Boys Cup leave the county and head to Jersey, courtesy of a fine second-half goal from St Peter skipper Toby Ritzema as they completed a come-from-behind triumph against Bexley.
Played under sun-kissed skies at the Bauvil Stadium in Chatham, this was the final that had literally suffered the most through the COVID pandemic as it meant that because of the vagaries of the various restrictions across the country, the Jersey side had only qualified for this delayed final two weeks beforehand.
For Bexley – who had themselves qualified for the final after their semi-final opponents withdrew – this game probably represented the team’s last-ever game as they had folded just after the truncated 2020/2021 season began.
And after only flying over to Kent on the morning of the final, St Peter were naturally slow out of the blocks, and they were punished as Bexley got the dream start. David Ikumobasin thought he’d opened the scoring with a low drive only for ‘keeper Pierce Roche to pull off a brilliant low save. The ball rebounded back to the big Bexley striker though, who made no mistake at the second attempt.
St Peter rallied at the start of the second half and Charlie Martin had to be alert to tip over Rhys Thomas’ angled free kick. Noah Risby then went even closer as he got on the end of a great move, but his shot came back off the Bexley bar.
Another Ikumobasin rampaging run into the box seemed to end when he was brought down in the box, but referee Hewson waved away the penalty claims.
St Peter then got their deserve leveller as Marcinko swept home brilliantly as the assistant’s flag stayed down and the striker netted from the edge of the box as the Bexley back-line waited for a flag that didn’t come.
Toby Ritzema then found the captain’s touch as he put St Peter in front – a flowing move down the right fell to the skipper who buried the ball beyond the despairing ‘keeper and into the bottom corner.
Bexley sub Drey Mensal then had a shot whistle narrowly past Roche’s right post with the ‘keeper floundering, before they were reduced ten men as Alfie Leech and Jan Bentley clashed on the edge of the box as the St Peter man sprinted through, leaving the official with little choice but to brandish the red card.
To their credit, Bexley rallied well as they attempted the sensational comeback and even ‘keeper Martin raced forward for a last-gasp free kick that saw Roche punch clear for St Peter, who will return to Jersey with an additional piece of hand baggage – the Kent U18 boys’ trophy.
FULL TIME: Bexley 1-2 St Peter
BEXLEY – Charlie Martin, Warren Beattie, Emilio Regini Morgan, Alfie Leach, Callum Ferris, Tom Bryant, Ben Twist, George Martin, Aiden Murphy, Mo Jallow, David Ikumobasin
Subs – Liam Morgan, Drey Mensal, Gabby Thiele
ST PETER – Pierce Roche, Tommy Boarer, Rhys Thomas, Noah Risby, Jan Bentley, Jamie Ritzema, Toby Ritzema, Ben Hamilton, Kacper Smilek, Ryan Marcinko, James Carr
Subs – Dougie McDermott, Harry Scott, Tom Proffitt, Andre Dias, Luke Lister
REFEREE – Mr Hewson
ASSISTANTS – Mr Fuller & Mr Lambert
FOURTH OFFICIAL – Mr Monkman