Published: 16:50, 09 April 2017
Shaun Welford scored twice as Ashford United came from behind to win the Kent Reliance Senior Trophy at Maidstone on Sunday.
Danny Lye's side were trailing to a Laurence Collins goal inside two minutes against Cray Valley but top scorer Welford fired them level before half-time and then headed the winner with 11 minutes remaining.
United's win came at the third attempt, having lost 4-0 to Beckenham in 2013/14 and on penalties to Sheppey in last year's final, also at the Gallagher Stadium.
Only six players survived from the United squad which was on duty that day - George Kamurasi, Pat Kingwell, George Savage Ryan Palmer, Welford and Ben Davisson, though he missed out on this occasion through suspension.
Player-boss Lye was forced into three changes to the side which won 2-0 in the league at Whitstable on Tuesday with Richard Avery, Joe Vines and Matt Day cup all tied.
That led to starts for Savage and Palmer while Lye himself was named on the bench.
Cray made just one change from their last time out with Enoch Adjei replacing Jamie Miller.
United went into the game as favourites having beaten Cray three times already this season but they were behind inside two minutes 20 seconds after keeper George Kamurasi came for but did not claim Jason Thompson's free-kick from the left.
The ball broke to Valley skipper Jamie Wood whose miscued shot fell to Laurence Collins who swept home from 12 yards.
Welford threatened a swift equaliser heading against the post and the United top scorer was then picked out by Dave Botterill but stabbed his shot wide from close range.
Cray Valley's Aaron Rhule got in behind the United defence on 20 minutes but was unable to keep his feet and the chance went begging.
Six minutes later United were level. While Cray's defence hesitated expecting referee Ben Bowles to blow for a high challenge, Welford didn't, running on before drilling a low shot into the bottom corner from 15 yards.
A mistake by Valley scorer Collins then let Welford in moments later but having cleverly lobbed the ball over keeper Jordan Carey his shot was deflected wide.
Another defensive slip, this time by Ashley Sains, gave Welford another sight of goal in the 33rd minute but he fired into the side netting.
As United began to dominate Jason Goodchild fired wide from the edge of the box and Rory Hill should have given them a half-time lead when he broke clear only to pull his shot wide of the far post.
Rhule had Cray's only other chance of the half but was denied by Kamurasi who made a smart save but the Valley front man gave way to Ryan Fowler at half-time.
The break gave Valley time to regroup and they came out positively in the second half with United skipper Stuart West doing well to block from Adjei.
Adjei then sent over a terrific cross which was turned back across goal by Denzel Gayle with Ben Francis unable to get a touch.
Ashford's first chance of the half came just before the hour when Rory Hill's crisp low drive was well palmed away by Carey who then denied the same player with an equally smart save.
Moments later Valley scorer Collins had Kamurasi scampering across his goal with a well-struck effort which drifted just wide and on 64 minutes United defender Pat Kingwell got a vital block in to keep out Gayle's goalbound effort.
There was a real cut and thrust feel to the game at this stage but as the minutes ticked away so the contest became more cagey and extra time looked likely until Welford struck.
Savage's superb deep cross always had Cray keeper Carey struggling and when he failed to get there it gave Welford the chance to head into an empty net.
Hill almost made it 3-1 two minutes from time when his snap shot from 15 yards hit Carey in the chest without the keeper knowing too much about it.
Ashford: Kamurasi, Savage, Walker, Botterill, West, Kingwell, Palmer, Stubbs (Stone 69mins), Welford, Goodchild, Hill; Subs: Eldridge, Williams, Lavender, Lye.
Cray Valley: Carey, McDonagh, Smith, Wood(Gordon 69mins), Sains, Collins, Gayle, Thompson, Francis (Springett 82mins), Adjei, Rhule (Fowler, half-time); Subs: Fitzgerald, Young.
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