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Kent Merit Under-18 boys cup final: Whitstable Town 2 Chatham Town 1


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Two goals in as many first-half minutes helped 10-man Whitstable defeat Chatham in the Kent Merit Under-18 boys cup final at Ashford’s Homelands stadium on Sunday.

After a quiet opening when neither team really settled, Whitstable took the lead on 18 minutes as player-of-the-match Paddy Underhill scored from close range after excellent work by Euan Sallis.

Dexter Lee puts Whitstable Town under-18s 2-0 ahead. Picture: PSP Images (56248512)
Dexter Lee puts Whitstable Town under-18s 2-0 ahead. Picture: PSP Images (56248512)

Whitstable were in dreamland within a minute as Dexter Lee rounded keeper Bobby Crabb and had just enough power on his shot to trickle over the line, despite the best efforts of a retreating defender.

Ryan Rai shot over for Whitstable with Sallis also denied before the break.

Chatham’s sole threat was expertly snuffed out by Oscar Hird as Mike Seki looked to capitalise on Kaylam Burgess’ through ball.

The Kent Merit Under-18 boys cup final saw Whitstable Town (red) face Chatham Town. Picture: PSP Images
The Kent Merit Under-18 boys cup final saw Whitstable Town (red) face Chatham Town. Picture: PSP Images

Sallis again went close straight after the restart but Chatham gradually got themselves back into the contest.

An excellent run by Jude Watts beat three defenders before Archie Hatcher’s shot was blocked by his own player.

But the complexion of the game changed with 20 minutes left when Blijaris Tambe burst through for Chatham and Whitstable keeper Henry Duley halted his progress just outside the penalty area.

Referee Tom Marshall showed a red card to the keeper, leaving Sallis to take over between the sticks.

His first job was to clear Hatcher’s free-kick, albeit with his feet rather than his hands.

Whitstable Town under-18s (red) hold off Chatham Town under-18s. Picture: PSP Images
Whitstable Town under-18s (red) hold off Chatham Town under-18s. Picture: PSP Images

Too many Chatham set-pieces hit the wall or the first man, although they ensured a frantic finale when stand-in keeper Sallis fouled Lewis Bain, who picked himself up to convert the spot-kick five minutes from time.

There was to be no extra-time, though, as the 10 men of Whitstable held firm despite eight minutes of stoppage time.

Whitstable joint-manager Adam Reveley said: “I know it’s a cliche but it was a game of two halves. The first half we were miles better.

Chatham Town under-18s (blue) pile on the pressure against Whitstable Town under-18s. Picture: PSP Images
Chatham Town under-18s (blue) pile on the pressure against Whitstable Town under-18s. Picture: PSP Images

“We knew they were going to play out at the back and force them into mistakes, and that worked for the second goal. The first one was a nice well-worked goal when we played through the thirds and got a cross in for Paddy to finish.

“The red card for the keeper made us defend for our lives just to see the game out. We were quite frustrated to give away the penalty.

“We defended well and the second half was a bit gritty but it was always going to be like that.

“Most of the players are second-year under-18s so next season they will be pushing towards the first team or the under-23s.”

Whitstable Town under-18s (red) challenge Chatham Town under-18s. Picture: PSP Images
Whitstable Town under-18s (red) challenge Chatham Town under-18s. Picture: PSP Images

Whitstable: Henry Duley, Cameron Chamberlain, Freddie Oliver, Oscar Hird, Oliver Halls, George McIlroy, Ryan Rai, Alfie Prior, Euan Sallis, Dexter Lee, Patrick Underhill, Adam Rickard, Riley Robertson, Callum Bryant, Barnaby Halls, Jeremiah Bamgbose.

Chatham: Bobby Crabb, Evan Readshaw, Kaylam Burgess, Kian Garlinge, Emmanuel Daramola, Calum Scovell, Mike Seki, YJ Ogundipe, Lewis Bain, Junior de Cruz, Joel Biring, Freddie Bull, Archie Hatcher, Blijaris Tambe, Jude Watts, Callum Kirwood Slack.

Referee: Tom Marshall.

Kent Merit Under-18 boys cup final winners Whitstable Town. Picture: PSP Images
Kent Merit Under-18 boys cup final winners Whitstable Town. Picture: PSP Images
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