A solid base helped Kings Hill to glory in the Kent Merit Under-15 girls cup final against Anchorians at Maidstone’s Gallagher Stadium on Sunday.
Nothing got past captain Emma Cowell at the heart of the Kings Hill defence and a goal in either half by Elma Smajlovic and Alice Marshall sealed their triumph.
“It was a great game,” said Kings Hill manager David Rodriguez. “Congratulations to Anchorians, they were awesome and really stretched us.
“We’re happy to come away with the victory, the girls are really happy and the fans have been great.
“We try to be solid, play the ball from the back in triangles and play good football.
“That’s what we’re here for - to develop the girls and make them better.
“It was the toughest match we’ve had all season. Their keeper made some fantastic saves and I just wished we’d score more goals earlier to make it less stressful for me!”
Behind Cowell, goalkeeper Maisie Duggan was competent both with her handling and kicking outside the area while the back four all knew their jobs and gave little away, as well as passing the ball out from the back.
Lyra Probert and Millie German both forced early saves from Anchorians keeper Sofia Basso before Freya Jones set up Marshall, who worked space on the edge of the box before firing against the inside of the post.
Anchorians were not just there to make up the numbers, either. In combative centre-back Brooke Driver, they had arguably the game’s stand-out player in the first half. Her reading of the game was outstanding, her tackling perfect and her distribution was excellent.
In midfield Maisy Rogers also impressed while Evie Northwood provided a good attacking outlet.
The opening goal came just seven minutes before half-time when German played in Smajlovic, who produced a clinical right-foot finish into the far corner.
There was nearly a swift second as Shaniyah Sood’s shot was parried away and Anchorians’ Sophie Ellson calmly cleared the danger.
Anchorians’ Northwood got behind the last defender and rounded keeper Duggan but just ran the ball out of play while Rogers’ early shot went narrowly wide of the upright.
In the second half, Isabel Rodriguez saw her left-foot shot beaten away and Marshall put a free-kick over the bar.
But the second goal duly arrived for Kings Hill on 66 minutes. Whether an injury break broke Anchorians’ concentration or not, after a slight delay a free-kick into the box fell for Marshall. Her first shot was well saved by Basso but Marshall reacted first to convert the rebound.
A stunning one-handed save by Basso denied Marshall a quickfire second just 60 seconds later and German’s excellent pass set up Rodriguez, who could only find the side netting.
Anchorians’ Northwood made a fine last-ditch tackle to thwart Sood as her team pushed bodies forward in a bid to get themselves back into the contest.
Anchorians: Sofia Basso, Sophie Ellson, Chloe Hopper, Maddie Restarick, Brooke Driver, Maisy Rogers, Grace Cornelius, Evie Northwood, Evie Sargent, Erin Farley, Kallie Restarick, Katie Simmons, Macy Wood.
Kings Hill: Maisie Duggan, Rosemary Dale, Eleanor Russell, Emma Cowell, Freya Jones, Shaniyah Sood, Millie German, Irede Adetunji, Alice Marshall, Lyra Probert, Isabel Rodriguez, Poppy McCahill, Carys Thomas, Elizabeth Chapman, Elma Smajlovic.
Referee: Sophie Nicholls.