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Chatham Town boss James Collins on their Kent Senior Trophy win

By Steve Tervet

Manager James Collins dedicated Chatham's Kent Senior Trophy win to the club's long-suffering supporters and officials.

Chats hadn't reached a cup final for 20 years before walking out to play Beckenham at the Gallagher Stadium on Sunday.

But the Medway club, so often in the shadow of others, finally stepped into the limelight thanks to an extra-time strike from Michael Hagan.

Chatham captain Paul Vines gets his hands on the Kent Senior Trophy Picture: Steve Crispe
Chatham captain Paul Vines gets his hands on the Kent Senior Trophy Picture: Steve Crispe

"It's amazing," said Collins on the pitch afterwards. "I'm so pleased for our amazing following. I wanted us to all bring something back to the club.

"It's been a long season and we've won a lot of games but always seemed to go back into a changing-room and all the top four have won.

"I said to the boys this was a chance to put some silverware in the cabinet, which hasn't happened for a while and I'm over the moon for everyone associated with the club.

"Everyone was buzzing that we'd just got to a cup final but it wasn't going to be the perfect day unless we won it.

"It was nerve-wracking. It had everything in it as a cup final; we should have killed the game off early on and we didn't but that's just what we've done this season. We seem to make things hard for ourselves but we've come up trumps."

Paul Vines missed a penalty and Chatham spurned plenty more good chances but Collins was always confident they would score.

Byron Walker up against three Beckenham players Picture: Steve Crispe
Byron Walker up against three Beckenham players Picture: Steve Crispe

He said: "We've got well over 100 goals this season and probably should have had 200.

"We do miss a lot of chances and sometimes it comes back to bite us but people likes Vinesy, Matt Bodkin, Michael Hagan off the bench, Jon Pilbeam and Byron Walker, they've all got double-figures for us this season so we've got goals in our team. It was just a case of keep creating chances and I believe in our players.

"I've drilled these lot this year about mental strength. I've not made it easy for them but when you get to the business end of the season, you're going to need to have a bit of steel and you're going to need to be more than just a good footballer. Hopefully that's helped us a little bit.

"They dug deep. When Beckenham made their substitution in the 60th minute (bringing on Joe Healy) the tide of the game changed a little bit and then we countered them with the Michael Hagan substitution. They put it on us a little bit at the end but we managed to stay firm."

Hagan was in the right place at the right time to score Chatham's winner 10 minutes into the first period of extra time.

Collins said: "Apart from Reece Butler, if anyone deserves to score a goal in a final, it's him.

Chatham supporters get behind their team Picture: Steve Crispe
Chatham supporters get behind their team Picture: Steve Crispe

"He's got 12 or 13 goals this season and he's probably only started 15 games. He knows what he needs to do to start games but I'm so pleased for him.

"I've never had a word of trouble out of him, he sits on the bench, he never misses training, he comes on and does his thing, I'm so happy for him.

"I was sitting there watching the game and I kept thinking, with 10 minutes to go, how good is it going to be, what a good feeling it's going to be, if we manage to get over the line

"The supporters made it a special day as well. You can go to cup finals and maybe you don't get as many fans as you'd like but the boys have earned their day and the supporters have been absolutely brilliant. They've been like that at home all season. they're absolutely fantastic and we're very lucky.

"Hopefully we can keep attracting crowds."

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