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Sheppey United 5 Crowborough Athletic 2: SCEFL Challenge Cup final


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Sheppey United added the SCEFL Challenge Cup to their trophy haul for the season after beating Crowborough Athletic in Monday’s final.

Billy Bennett scored the opener for Sheppey late in the first half and Dean Grant struck twice early in the second to put the game beyond Crowborough, although they kept it interesting with two goals from Lucas Murrain inbetween Jefferson Aibangbee’s fine effort. Warren Mfula completed the 5-2 scoreline in the last minute.

The match at Chatham Town’s Bauvill Stadium was played infront of over 700 fans.

Sheppey went into the game with the SCEFL league title in the bag along with wins in both the delayed 2019/20 Kent Senior Trophy and the 2021/22 competition, both of which were played this season.

East Sussex opponents Crowborough were determined to end Sheppey’s monopoly of the cups this season and made a positive start, with Elliott Duncan shooting off target with keeper Adam Molloy out of position and moments later Murrain headed wide.

Sheppey should have taken a 15th lead when Warren Mfula picked out Bennett with a low cross but the captain couldn’t get his effort on target. A minute later he did test the keeper but Martin Grant was equal to it.

Crowborough continued to threaten, with the height of Murrain and the pace of Jacob Lambert giving the Ites something to think about. Renford Tenyue was well placed to block a shot from Murrain.

Sheppey United captain Billy Bennett and assistant manager Marcel Nimani with the SCEFL Challenge Cup (56404666)
Sheppey United captain Billy Bennett and assistant manager Marcel Nimani with the SCEFL Challenge Cup (56404666)

The best chances continued to fall to Sheppey, however. Mfula came close to converting from close range and Aibangbee did well to avoid a flying challenge from Harrison Mayhew, dancing past another defender before his low ball in managed to avoid everyone in red.

Inbetween the chances there was a flurry of yellow cards issued by referee Dan Blades. Liam Gillies was one of those booked for a foul and was then on thin ice after a shoving match with Charlie Watkins.

The deadlock was broken five minutes before the interval, and it was the Mfula-Bennett combination that once again paid off, as it has so often this season. Mfula turned, picked out his skipper to put a chance on a plate, which was gratefully taken.

Half chances at either end concluded the half, with Aibangbee firing over for Sheppey and Lambert putting a free-kick well over for the Crows.

With just over a minute of the second half played Sheppey had a second goal, Mfula once again the provider, this time assisting Grant to double the advantage with a shot inside the box.

Mfula came close to a goal himself soon after but the keeper denied him at his near post.

Sheppey United celebrate their SCEFL Challenge Cup win their fans (56404662)
Sheppey United celebrate their SCEFL Challenge Cup win their fans (56404662)

Crows’ Ollie Hyland created a golden chance for Watkins to halve the deficit, beating his man before putting in a spot-on low cross, but his team-mate stabbed the shot wide of the mark.

A third goal came for Sheppey on 64 minutes when keeper Grant parried Helge Orome’s free-kick and it bounced kindly for Grant to nod home.

Crowborough’s Reece Anderson forced Molloy into a save low down and fellow substitute Ollie Styles fired wide before a mix-up at the back led to Sheppey conceding, defender and goalkeeper running into each other as the ball ran loose for Murrain to score.

Sheppey made it 4-1 almost immediately, Aibangbee firing home from the edge of the box to put any doubts to bed.

Mfula had a shot blocked as Sheppey looked for a fifth and Jack Funnell cleared Aibangbee’s chance off the line.

Crowborough still had time to add a second, Murrain claiming it as Dan Birch was unable to get a header back to his keeper and the striker nipped in to score with five minutes remaining.

Mfula was determined to end a fine season with a goal and he got it in the final minute, shooting home low from 18 yards.

Sheppey United take on Crowborough Athletic in the SCEFL Challenge Cup final at Chatham Town (56402203)
Sheppey United take on Crowborough Athletic in the SCEFL Challenge Cup final at Chatham Town (56402203)

Sheppey: Molloy, Howlett-Mundle, Sains, Hamill (Orome 59mins), Gillies, Bennett (Wilkins 70mins), Grant (Hagan 88mins), Birch, Aibangbee, Tenyue, Mfula. Subs not used: Oldham, Northwood.

Crowborough: Grant, Funnell, Mayhew, Tyrie, Boddy, Watkins (Styles 66mins), Osborne (Anson 65mins), Hyland (Emery 81mins), Murrain, Lambert, Duncan. Subs not used: Hall, Anderson.

Referee: Dan Blades

Attendance: 724

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