Published: 10:00, 16 May 2022
| Updated: 12:07, 16 May 2022
Goalkeeper Olly Dewey was the penalty shoot-out hero as Range Rovers Sports beat league rivals Park Regis Neo to clinch the Kent Sunday Junior Cup.
A thrilling contest at Chatham Town between the top two sides in the Sheppey Sunday League ended 2-2 after extra-time and was settled on penalties, with Sports winning it 3-2.
Sunday's match was always likely to be a close contest between two sides who had already met in three cup finals domestically and must meet again at the end of this month to decide the league winners.
It was the first time in the Sheppey Sunday league’s history that two of their clubs had met in a Kent Cup final.
Manager Fred Fayers had previously taken the side to a semi-final but Covid denied them a chance of glory.
“We were really good on the day,” he said. “Every game has been close and to win it on penalties makes it a bit more special.
“We always want to win the Kent Cup, this is the third time (as a club) we have won it, obviously because of our league we can’t play in the senior one, but the county cup is the pinnacle for all of Sunday League football and we are really happy to have won it.”
Two goals from striker Harry Goodger turned around a one-goal deficit before Neo hit back to take it to penalties, where Dewey made two saves to win it.
On striker Goodger, Fayers said: “He has been outstanding for us, he shows his experience doesn’t he? He is so good in the air, he is massive for us, but all of them buy into it, they are a special bunch of boys in the dressing room.
“We have two outstanding keepers and Olly was in goal (on Sunday) and he was brilliant. The last save was unbelievable, I don’t know how he saved that. He got the man-of-the-match and deserved it for that, he was outstanding.
“It was a good final. They (Neo) are a young team, they have a very good team, they want to play football in the right way and so do we and it always makes for a good game. I am sure we will have many more fights with them in the future.”
Sports are three points clear of Neo in Division 1 of the Sheppey Sunday League with one game to go when the two sides meet on May 29. Neo’s superior goal difference means that if they win they take the title.
Fayers said: “As long as we don’t lose we will win the league but as you can see we will be in for another hard game and it could go either way. Hopefully we can get the better of them.”
Since Neo’s promotion to the top division of the Sheppey Sunday League last year, the two teams have become rivals for cup and league honours.
Prior to the county final, they had met the week before in the League Cup final, with a goal from Goodger settling that tie in favour of Sports, winning 1-0.
Neo had claimed the Senior Charity Cup with a 5-4 win over Sports and also the Senior Cup courtesy of a 4-3 victory. Their earlier league game ended 3-3.
Once again this was a close-fought encounter and it wasn’t short of incident.
Range Rovers had the better of the early chances but energetic midfield-man Frank Phipps picked his spot with a 20th minute free-kick to give Neo the lead.
Dan Organ might have made it two after beating the offside trap but Dewey saved well.
Rovers’ Danny Walder hit the woodwork from the edge of the box midway through the half and with 33 minutes played Goodger levelled it up as he converted from Walder’s corner.
Neo threatened again before the break with Organ firing just over the bar and an overhead kick from Harry Taylor going close. Dylan Riches put an effort into the side netting at the other end as the half came to an end.
Both teams had played some decent stuff and the chances continued after the break. Goodger was happy to help out at the back for his team while Walder always remained a threat, clattering the frame of the goal with an hour gone from a deep free-kick.
There were some robust challenges throughout which kept referee Gavin Farrington on his toes and he wasn’t afraid to use his yellow card to stamp his authority. It was only at the very end of the match when tempers really boiled over.
On 63 minutes Goodger grabbed his second, converting a cross from Tom Mills to score from close-range.
Neo responded and were back level 15 minutes later when their captain Shane Sandy glanced a header home from Taylor’s flag-kick.
Neither side appeared happy about extra-time looming as both went for a winner.
Phipps had a header turned over the bar by Dewey while Organ fired wide.
In stoppage-time Range Rovers’ Dano Cummins had the chance for glory, with Joe Sands teeing him up, but he delayed the shot and Reece Heasman saved well.
The roll-on roll-off substitute rule was used by both teams as the game went into extra-time, allowing the likes of Goodger and Tom Carlton to take a well-earned break.
In the first half of extra-time Phipps put a good chance wide for Neo while their defenders got bodies behind the ball to deny Sports’ Cummins.
Right at the end of extra-time a coming together between Goodger and Charlie Taylor led to an altercation involving players, substitutes and coaching staff, resulting in one of Neo’s management being sent off. Both teams managed to get to the end with 11 players and penalties were needed to settle what had been an enthralling contest.
Dewey couldn’t keep out the first two Neo penalties but watched the third sail over the bar and he then saved well from Organ and superbly denied James Rogers to win the contest, despite Heasman making a good save to keep out Goodger’s penalty prior to that.
Range Rovers Sports: Dewey, Cunningham, Montgomery, Cain, Abbott (Collins 70mins (Abbott 121mins)), Mills, Carlton (Sands 84mins), Huggins (Pearce 84mins (Goodger 106mins)), Riches (Cummins 63mins (Carlton 116mins)), Walder, Goodger (McCrory 71mins).
Park Regis Neo: Heasman, Horn (Turner 114mins (Rogers 120mins)), Baacke, Turner (Tewksbury 65mins), Murphy, Sandy, Phipps, Rogers (Attenborough 105mins), Attenborough (C Taylor 70mins), H Taylor, Organ. Subs not used: Bodkin, Kuszynski, Hudson.
Referee: Gavin Farrington