An inspired performance from Sandgate Youth FC goalkeeper, Jayden St Paul, ensured his team walked away with just the third County Cup trophy in the club’s history after they defeated Ashford Town (Middlesex)in a dramatic penalty shootout.
The match, which was originally scheduled to be played back in April, was played last Sunday at Hanwell Town FC’s, Powerday Stadium. Both teams came into the match in fantastic league form and Ashford Town (Middlesex) had retained many of the team that had won the Middlesex FA Under 13 Cup just a year earlier.
In a first half bereft of goalmouth action, both teams battled for the ball in the middle of the pitch but lacked the cutting edge. George Sudderick, who was instrumental in Ashford’s Under 13 Cup win last season, was causing plenty of problems with his pace down the left-hand side but couldn’t forge a clear-cut chance for either himself or his teammates.
Mid-way through the half, Sandgate won a promising free-kick around 30 yards from goal, but Frankie Major’s shot drifted wide of the goalkeeper’s left-hand post.
Then, just eight minutes later, powerful Ashford Town midfielder, Brandon Sewell drove through the midfield and won a free-kick of his own 25 yards from goal. Sewell decided to take the kick himself but curled his effort just wide of the post with the goalkeeper scrambling across goal.
Half-time: Ashford Town (Middlesex) Juniors 0-0 Sandgate Youth
After the break, the game sprung into life.
Ashford’s Louie Muldowney found himself in space and applied the finish to fire Ashford into the lead. A few minutes later the Surrey Youth League side almost doubled their advantage. Dangerman, George Sudderick, beat the offside trap and found himself one-on-one with Jayden St Paul who had come off his line to close the angle, however, he failed to connect properly with his attempted chip and the ball sailed over the crossbar.
Just when it seemed as though Ashford may extend their lead, Sandgate struck back. Following a corner, the ball fell to Jack Brett on the edge of the box and with the help of a deflection, his goalbound shot found its way into the corner of the net. Sandgate were starting to grow into the game and Leo Sery went close with a header at the back post.
George Sudderick went close with another effort from the angle before Man of Match, Jayden St Paul, made the first of several outstanding saves to keep his team in the game. The imposing goalkeeper dived to make two fantastic stops in quick succession and prevent Ashford from adding a second.
With the clock ticking down, there was one final chance for Ashford but some excellent defending from Sandgate defender Reeon Cook-Hardy prevented George Sudderick from having another sight of goal.
Full-time: Ashford Town (Middlesex) Juniors 1-1 Sandgate Youth
As in the second half, Ashford Town made a quick start following the restart and it was that man Sudderick who once again found himself in the right place at the right time. This time the striker, who was on the stretch, failed to hit the target.
Then, the moment of the match. A free-kick from the right-hand side caused chaos in the Sandgate FC box and Jayden St Paul was forced into action again. St Paul made a split second reaction as the ball headed for the back of the net and clawed the ball away from danger when much of the ground thought the ball was in.
End of extra time: Ashford Town (Middlesex) Juniors 1-1 Sandgate Youth
Penalties ensued. First up, Sandgate’s Frankie Major slammed his effort against the crossbar but goalkeeper, Jayden St Paul came to his rescue to save Ashford’s first kick. Geoffrey Owusu then scored to put Sandgate one up and with Louie Muldowney blazing his penalty over the bar, it remained 1-0 to Sandgate. Deron Lorainey and Brandon Sewell both scored the next penalties to put the score up to 2-1 before, amazingly, Jayden St Paul stepped up and scored a penalty to put Sandgate ahead by 3 goals to 1. Ashford’s Alfie Gower remained composed to score his team’s second penalty of the shootout before Sandgate’s Leo Sery blasted the ball down the middle of the goal to win the cup for his team.
Final score: Ashford Town (Middlesex) Juniors 1-1 Sandgate Youth (Sandgate Youth win 4-2 on penalties)
ASHFORD TOWN (MIDDX) JUNIORS U14
Shay Honey; Alfie Gower, Ben Mash, James Armitage, Brandon Sewell, Charlie Hawkins, Louie Muldowney, George Sudderick, Joseph Neasmith, Ethan Hellyer, Olusegun Kusimo. Subs: Joshua Hodges and Adam Rabbitts.
Manager: Paul Gower Assistant Manager: Rob Mash
SANDGATE YOUTH U14
Jayden St Paul; Geoffrey Owusu, Deron Lorainey, Vinnie Osbourne, Leo Sery, Frankie Major, Jesse Nyarko, Archie Chapman, Sanchez Lopez, Rasharn Gordon, Reeon Cook-Hardy. Subs: Ben Cook, Jack Brett, Daniel Okolo and Pat El Feghali.
Manager: Stuart Riglin Assistant Manager: Brian Blackman
Referee: Stanimir Stoyanov Assistant Referees: Andrew Davies and Andrew Allen Fourth Official: Chakibe Azzouz