A solitary Tony Finn strike midway through the second half earned Crayford One Bell the Kent Veterans Cup against a rugged and spirited VCD side in baking conditions at the Gallagher Stadium.
Finn’s goal – brilliantly curling the ball around a diving VCD keeper Danny Kemp from the edge of the box – sealed the victory on a day when the old legs rolled back the years and produced an enjoyable encounter on a glorious afternoon in the County town.
Crayford had the better of the early chances – Ramzi Bedge Bedge thundered a shot off the VCD crossbar before Marcos Perona was left holding his head in his hands as he dragged a shot wide of the left post when he should have tested keeper Kemp.
In increasingly stifling conditions, the pace of the game was understandably slower than some of the other Finals but made it no less fascinating as a tactical battle with so much experience on display from both sides.
Despite some teasing balls into the Crayford box, VCD didn’t really have too much to show going forward whilst at the other end a terrific through ball from Fred Fleming saw Tony Finn shot just past the right post. Crayford continued to create the half chances – Perona curled one just too high to trouble keeper Kemp; Finn then followed suit cutting in from the left – whilst at the other end, the industrious Chris Johnson was denied by the advancing Rob O’Hara in the Crayford goal when for once the VCD man got free in the box.
The best chances of the opening half fell in the closing stages as first Finn was denied by a terrific Kemp block after wriggling free before Johnson whistled a drive inches too high after Bobby George couldn’t reach a cross.
The second half began in a similar fashion as Crayford continued to carve out the chances – Finn prodded wide as the VCD appealed for a flag that didn’t come – before Crayford get the goal that on balance, they more than deserved. Bedge Bedge and Paul Scott neatly combined from a corner and as the ball was played into Finn who with time and space placed the ball beyond the diving Kemp and into the bottom corner of VCD’s net.
Finn was then the creator as Kemp produced a terrific low save to deny Ramzi Bedge Bedge’s side foot from the edge of the box before Matt Nuckey missed a golden chance to seal the win after a great ball from Chris Head – unfortunately Nuckey’s tired attempt went well wide. Finn then fired into the side netting as his personal duel with Ivan Daniels intensified – indeed on a sweltering afternoon the amount of ground striker and defender were covering in increasing heat was a real testament to both men’s fitness levels and was a joy to behold!
In stoppage time, Daniels could have saved his side but was inches away from converting Gary Ward’s delicately flighted free kick and as the ball drifted wide with it went VCD’s final chance and the Trophy was heading back to the mantel piece of the Crayford One Bells.
CRAYFORD ONE BELL – Rob O’Hara, Paul Scott, Ray Goodchild, Fred Fleming, Tom Dennington, Marcos Perona, Matt Nuckey, Chris Head, Tony Finn, Dean Warner, Ramzi Bedge Bedge
Subs – Danny Bezant, Oleksandr Geordy, Tom Osbourne, Gareth John, Sam Prett
VCD ATHLETIC – Danny Kemp, Sam Gregory, John Farley, Lee Loveridge, James Brown, Robbie Tarrant, Scott Mulholland, Gary Ward, Bobby George, Chris Johnson, Ivan Daniels
Subs – O’Neil Donovan, Tony Bishop, Darren Palmer, Wes Caine, Kieron Dalton
REFEREE – Mr Indyk
ASSISTANTS – Mr Bullock & Mr Middleton
FOURTH OFFICIAL – Mr Brown