Published: 12:00, 27 May 2022
| Updated: 12:32, 27 May 2022
Herne Bay Women Reserves scored a late winner to clinch the Kent Women’s Plate on Thursday night.
With four minutes of normal time remaining Emily Brown rounded the keeper to slip the ball home after great work in the build-up from player-of-the-match Effie Dodds.
Just one goal separated the sides but it was a game full of chances, with both goalkeepers pulling off some great saves.
Brown’s goal won it for a Herne Bay side who play a level below their Plate final opponents.
The match at the Gallagher Stadium, Maidstone was a clash between two sides who had won their respective divisions. Bay were looking to test themselves against an opposition from the level above and they proved more than a match.
Bay manager Mark Kerr, completing his first full season in charge, said: “We waltzed our league but Cray Valley are top of the league we have just been promoted to so we knew that would be the standard that we would have to reach.
“I thought we controlled most of the game, our keeper made a good couple of saves but I thought we had most possession, controlled the game well and showed game-management at the end as well.”
There were some walking wounded at the end after a physical battle.
But Kerr said: “You have to be prepared to take the tackles and put yourselves on the line, you don’t win anything unless you do that. The girls did it.”
It was match-winner Brown who had the game’s first proper chance, striking well from an angle but finding Cray goalkeeper Sam Sharp equal to it.
On several occasions Herne Bay keeper Amy Coster came out to challenge for the ball, thwarting Cray Valley’s captain Annemarie Blanche twice in the match with crucial tackles. Sweeping up at the back was something she had been working on and it showed.
Bay midfielder Maddy Chapman broke up play well from midfield and had a decent shot on her too, forcing Sharp into turning an effort over the bar.
A brave challenge from Bay captain Katie Reeves forced her off the field midway through the half, ensuring Katie Jackson couldn’t make a proper contact on her shot from the edge of the box.
The goalkeepers remained on top towards the end of the half, with Cray’s goalie Sharp making a superb double save to firstly deny Lucy Page and then Brown.
Another good stop early in the second half from Coster denied Cray Valley's Lucy Robertson as she had a pop from distance.
Brown went close on a couple more occasions for Bay, as did Charlotte McColvin, but as fatigue began to show in both teams, it appeared that the match would be heading for extra-time.
Katie Jackson fired over the bar for Cray Valley but with 86 minutes played the decisive moment arrived.
Effie Dodds won the ball for Bay and put a super ball through to Brown who still had plenty to do, but the no.9 rounded the keeper and rolled the ball over the line to win it for the Blues.
“Effie had a fantastic game, she is a great player,” said Kerr. “This game was made for her, she controlled it really well and that final touch and then the striker was fantastic. I was thinking will it go, will it go over the line, then when it went in I was off!”
Both teams have plenty to celebrate after winning their leagues.
Kerr added: “Cray Valley are a fantastic team and I am really chuffed for our ladies to get a result against them, they put everything in and that is all I can ask.
“We’ve had an undefeated season, an invincible season in the league, never lost a game and then to cap it all with a Plate win, which I lost seven years ago when I was coaching another team, so to win it was extra special.”
Herne Bay: Coster, McColvin (Page 72mins), Aitchison, Reid-Ward, Shipton, Turner, Reeves (Phillips 34mins), Chapman, Page (Bubb 64mins), Dodds, Brown (F Jones 90mins). Subs not used: Proctor, S Jones.
Cray Valley: Sharp, Henry, D’Urso, Chenery, Robertson, Jackson, Goldsmith, Llewelyn (Wilcox 90mins), Blanche, Dodds (Sales 63mins), De Souza (Elliott 46mins). Subs not used: Hicks, Morphitis.