A hat trick from Jack Nelson helped Kent to a 4-0 victory against Bedfordshire ensuring they retained the Tony Elsey U18 League Title.
On a wet and windy afternoon at Chatham Town, a thorough squad performance from start to finish meant the Cup stayed in the Garden of England for another twelve months.
Conditions dictated that the football on display may not have been as beautiful as it could’ve been but both Teams adapted very well and full credit to players from both Counties for attempting to play the ball on the floor whenever possible. The early exchanges were very even as both teams acclimatised to the conditions and were trying to win the midfield battle. Jack Nelson was linking up well with Sam Archibald and Jayden Wilson as Kent began to get on top, but it was Bedfordshire who went close to taking the lead with Matthew Larkin saving well in the Kent goal. This proved a pivotal moment as just two minutes later Kent opened the scoring, a ball over the top from Captain Michael Peate found Jayden Wilson who fed the overlapping Harry Lawrence, his shot was parried into the path of Jack Nelson who tapped home from close range. The lead was nearly doubled five minutes later but Bleu Landau’s effort sailed over the bar and then Reiss Skeen has his long-range effort well saved. The home team’s dominance paid off just after the half hour mark as they increased their lead, Reiss Skeen played in Jack Nelson who slipped a great ball through to Sam Archibald, he beat three players and his deflected effort fell kindly into the path of Jayden Wilson to fire home. The third goal arrived just before the halftime interval and again it was Reiss Skeen and Sam Archibald heavily involved, Reiss won the ball in midfield and passed to Sam who slid a great through ball right into the path of Jack Nelson who slotted past the onrushing goalkeeper for his second of the match.
The second half followed a similar pattern with Kent on the front foot but this time the cutting edge in front of goal deserted them. Jayden Wilson and Sam Archibald came close to increasing the lead whilst Jack Nelson was denied his hat trick just before the hour mark. Five minutes later though and Jack was not to be denied a second time, the chasing down of the ball by the Kent players saw them win possession just inside their own half, Sam Archibald twisted past three or four players and play a defence splitting pass to Jack Nelson who had done well to stay onside, Jack held off the defender and fired past the keeper to score his third of the match and claim the matchball.
Bedfordshire kept pushing forwards and thought they’d got a goal back, but it was ruled out by the Assistant Referee’s flag for offside. Kent utilised their substitutes bench including a debut for goalkeeper Tom Marshall whilst fellow substitute Jeremiah Bamgbose almost got his name on the scoresheet but was denied by a last-ditch tackle. Despite both teams creating further chances there was no change to the score as Kent produced some great game management to control play for the remainder of the match and secure the victory. Full credit to both teams for producing a great game of football in very testing conditions.
Having already defeated Essex in January, this victory secured the South East Counties Youth Championship U18 League title for Kent for the second season running and Captain Michael Peate gleefully received the Trophy after the match.
Speaking after the match, Manager Matt Dixon said “full credit to the boys, they listened to the game plan before the match and executed it perfectly. They fully deserve this success and have been a pleasure to Coach. They are a credit to themselves and their Clubs, they’ve done their County proud”.
Kent FA: Matthew Larkin (Tonbridge Angels FC), Harry Lawrence (Erith Town FC), Jensen Cromanty (Metrogas FC), Bleu Landau (Sheppey United FC), Michael Peate © (Sevenoaks Town FC), Thomas Wills (Dover Athletic FC), Sam Archibald (Bromley FC), Alfie Prior (Whitstable Town FC), Jack Nelson (Dover Athletic FC), Reiss Skeen (Sevenoaks Town FC), Jayden Wilson (Ashford United FC), Callum Hudson (Sevenoaks Town FC), Harry Sikirwayi (Dover Athletic FC), Jeremiah Bamgbose (Whitstable Town FC), Jamie Finlayson (Dover Athletic FC), Thomas Marshall (Maidstone United FC).