In torrential rain, the Sevenoaks Charity Senior Cup Final took place on Good Friday afternoon at The Bourne Stadium between two Premier Division opponents Malgo FC and Ightham FC.
A below average crowd braved the conditions for this show piece cup final being the highlight of the local soccer scene, and the Ightham supporters were rewarded as their ecstatic team lifted the magnificent silver cup with a 3-2 victory in a keenly contested encounter. Ightham’s only other victory in the competition, which was formed in 1894, came in the 2012/13 season.
It was Malgo’s first appearance in the Competition and came after just one season in the Sevenoaks and District League.
It was the first time in the Competition’s 124 year history that a final tie had been played on a 3G pitch. The wonderful new pitch installed last summer along with other ground improvements was a fitting venue for such a historic Competition.
Maidstone Association of Local Government Officers (Malgo) were formed in 1921 and played all their early football in the Maidstone League at Penenden Heath. Much success was enjoyed in the 70’s and 80’s and in 1995 the League and Cup double were achieved. From 2004 they enjoyed 10 years in the Kent County League before reverting back to the Maidstone League.
Ightham made a positive opening to the proceedings commanding in the aerial exchanges, winning important tackles and advancing forward quickly with Josh Brown leading up front.
Early corners were followed by a quick break down the left flank where a ball inside the full back found Jason Parsons whose shot raced across the face of Malgo’s goalmouth.
It was of little surprise when Ightham took the lead after 12 minutes play. The local villagers won a corner on the right taken by Sam Smith. A deep cross found the head of Sam Carter who headed the ball down and over the goal line despite the desperate attempts of the Malgo defenders to keep the ball out.
Malgo were finding it difficult to adjust to the pace of the game and may have been somewhat overawed by the occasion. Jason Tharpe brought down the fast raiding Lewis Jones and was promptly shown the yellow card by referee Mr Mark Wilson. In a rare attack Malgo’s Alex Waugh worked the ball across the 18 yard area but his shot was blocked by a defender.
Tom Bray brought down Luke Redding near the left corner flag and was promptly cautioned. Waugh took the resultant free kick low towards the near post and the ball was cleared hurriedly for a corner which was wasted.
Ightham continued to dominate the proceedings employing five players in midfield with the flank players getting forward. After half an hour Malgo began to settle but the heavy rain meant the playing surface was beginning to collect water and at times the ball was difficult to control.
Ightham’s lone striker Brown was working well across the ‘line’ and had an excellent left foot shot which spun off the surface and brought out the best in keeper Brad Older with a diving save. From the resultant corner the ball fell to Brown who turned on the spot before striking a low shot into the net passed the helpless Older.
With the Ightham defence pushing up the hard working Waugh was caught offside. Soon afterwards the striker was again in action when he got on the end of a cross from Redding and his deft flick was deflected for a corner.
As half time beckoned there was increasing action at either end. Ightham’s keeper Josh Wells had a lucky escape when he misjudged a free kick, Parsons watched his shot clear the crossbar and then Malgo gained a free kick just outside the 18 yard area.
Waugh stepped up, took the free kick and watched the ball take a wicked deflection off of a defender and into the net sending the diving keeper the wrong way. Minutes later Malgo’s joy was short lived as Brown picked up a loose ball and struck a left foot shot into the net for a 3-1 half time lead.
In some ways the second half proved to be an anti climax although in fairness Malgo came more into the game reducing the deficit after just 8 minutes play when Kurtis Buckingham got the ball through to Waugh on the left whose shot went into the net inside the upright on the far side.
A corner on the right taken by Andy Parker saw Tharpe out jump the Ightham defence but his header went wide. Ightham then broke down the right and a cross found Brown whose shot went wide of the target. Malgo kept plugging away to find the all important equaliser but were always wary of their opponents thrusts forward.
Brown was again involved with a low cross, Parsons on the left turned his market with a clever flick but a shot cum cross went straight at keeper Older. Lewis Jones was pulled down unceremoniously and substitute Tom Johnson was injured in a hard tackle but was able to resume.
Malgo continued to push forward and their opponents appeared to lose some of their earlier possession. Parker had a good run down the left but poor finishing let him down. Tharpe opened up the Ightham defence as they pushed forward and Waugh sprung the offside trap but his shot was deflected off of a defender running back.
As full time beckoned and despite Malgo’s improved second half performance Ightham’s better all round display deserved the right to accept the magnificent trophy from Thomas Reddick, a League Management member of the Sevenoaks and District League with the rain still pouring down.
Squads and officials on the day:
Ightham FC: Aaron Parsons, James Barden, Josh Brown, Sam Carter, George Rose, Harry Goldsmith, Jason Parsons, Jason White, Josh Wells, Harry Killick, Lewis Jones, Perry Pointing, Sam Smith, Shaun Carr, Steve Baker, Tom Bray, Tom Johnson. Manager: James Barden
Malgo FC: Bradley Older, James Church, Daryl Parks, Andy Avison, Will Roffey, Ben Whitehead, Jason Tharpe, Martin Stapley, Barry Campbell, Alex Waugh, Rob Baldwin, Danny Walker, Adam Phillips, Andy Parker, Luke Redding, Kurtis Buckingham. Manager: Kevin Waugh
Referee: Mark Wilson
Assistant Referees: Phil Stevens and Nigel Eagelton
Fourth Official: Eamonn Moran