There was no shortage of goals, yellow cards or competitive challenges as Chatham defeated rivals Sheppey to take the honours at Whitstable on Sunday.
Persistent rain gave a slick touch to the excellent 3G surface at The Belmont and both teams didn’t shirk a challenge in a game that referee Thomas Amber did well to prevent boiling over.
There was no surprise that a red card eventually followed in the second half, Chatham eventually taking advantage of their numerical supremacy to run out winners.
“I’m absolutely delighted for the boys,” said Chatham manager Paul Scovell. “They’ve worked so hard throughout the year in all the different under-18 competitions.
“They really turned it on. We knew it was going to be a tough game against Sheppey who are a big rival in terms of football clubs.
“This journey started in September and goes all the way through to April, you have to stick to it and work hard.
“We knew it was going to be a tasty affair, it always is against Sheppey. The referee sometimes needs a bit more help in these games but I thought he conducted himself well. He had to dish out a few yellow cards to keep control but with it being a derby it was always going to be a feisty one.
“Even at 1-0 down I didn’t feel we had really got into the game and once the penalty went in I thought we were going to grow from there. We started the second half really well and it was a matter of time before we went ahead and then getting the third was a real clincher.”
Sheppey were quickest out of the blocks and led after six minutes, Jack Marsh feeding Kenzie Monahan whose left-foot finish found the far corner as the offside flag stayed down.
Chatham were handed a way back in the game midway through the half when the referee judged that a shot was handled in the box by Bleu Landau, when it may have hit only his chest. A penalty was awarded, as well as a yellow card which was to prove crucial later on. Chatham’s Harvey Broad stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way from the penalty spot to level the scores.
Sheppey’s Sam Wright twice went close from distance before Chatham’s Kian Garlinge hit the bar at the other end after keeper Alfie Irvine did well to keep out man-of-the-match Keanan Devline’s effort.
The yellow cards started to flow early in the second half and there was always the feeling that at least one player wasn’t going to last the distance. That proved the case on the hour mark when Landau’s challenge prevented a Chatham break and the referee’s patience was stretched far enough as he reached for a second yellow card.
It took Chatham until the 75th minute to go ahead, though. Ironically, Sheppey had probably just had their best spell of the game and started to play some decent football. But Joel Biring played an outstanding ball behind the full-back and Tobi Irefin ran through to finish.
The game was all but over as a contest with four minutes left when Devline’s delicious left-wing cross was headed in at close range by Connor Tilley.
But the eagled-eyed referee spotted a shirt pull in the penalty area in the 90th minute and pointed to the spot. Marsh fired home to give Sheppey hope.
The 10 men almost forced extra-time but, in the seventh minutes of stoppages, a header from a corner was cleared off the line.
Sheppey: Alfie Irvine, Joe Goodwin, George Richards, Alfie King, Jesse Wiles, Bleu Landau, Bailey Catherick, Kenzie Monahan, Oladipo Durowoju, Sam Wright, Jack Marsh, Jay Couzens, Thomas Beard, Aiden Clark, Shae Roberts.
Chatham: Rohan Jull, Freddie Bull, Harvey Broad, Kian Garlinge, Evan Readshaw, Johnny Harris, Tobi Irefin, Harry Beach, Callum Kirwood-Slack, Keanan Devline, YJ Ogunpipe, Calum Scovell, Joel Biring, Lenny O’Conner, Michael Paton, Connor Tilley.
Referee: Thomas Amber.