CCL League Cup Final match report
The first of two Cup Finals this week for Kingstonian's Under 18s started out badly but ended very nicely indeed as Nigel James' team came from a goal down at half time to defeat Godalming Town 4-1 at Burnham FC to win the Tony Ford U18s Challenge Cup, the League Cup for the youth section of the Combined Counties League.
The G's had finished above the K's in the West Division table, finishing second to Kingstonian's fourth position, and having drawn 0-0 at Wey Court and then beating the hoops 4-1 at Molesey earlier in the season, so arguably were the favourites to win this contest. After a bit of pressure from the K's, it was Godalming Town who took the lead with their first chance of the game in the 9th minute when Ben Carpenter's turn and shot from just outside the area was placed impeccably and nestled in the top corner just out of the reach of Kingstonian keeper Shay Honey.
Kingstonian's best early chances came in the 16th minute when Rocco Ilhan's shot clipped the top of the bar and then three minutes later when Iker Noguera Leon's took advantage of a rebound off a defender to burst through, but his shot shaved the far post and went wide. Kwesi Ntim came close to giving the hoops parity in the 22nd minute with a fine burst of speed through the middle of the field took him into the area and this time the shot hit the post.
You would normally think reading this that Kingstonian were thoroughly dominating the first half, mainly because this writer isn't particularly talented and also is supremely biased, but Godalming posed a constant threat during the first half, with both goal scorer Ben Carpenter and Callum Lawrence looking especially dangerous when on the attack. In defence, the G's were well marshalled and hard working and performed extremely well to go into half time with a one goal lead.
The early minutes of the second half would be massively important, an early breakthrough for K's would be crucial otherwise it was going to become one of those games,,, Those early minutes of the second half saw the game not only turned on its head but piledriven into the ground.
In the 51st minute the K's bench decided to change things around a bit and Marco Haigh came on as substitute, and this proved to be one of those inspired substitutions when, with his first touch of the ball in the 52nd minute, Marco curled a beauty of a shot around the grasp of the fine Godalming keeper Ollie Ballam and into the net.
And then David Lopes happened to the shell-shocked Godalming team.
Two minutes after the equaliser, Iker Noguera Leon won a free-kick in a central position, and, after much discussion, it was decided that David Lopes would take the free kick. The sonic boom you may have heard just before 9pm was the ball screaming through the air, entering and returning from several different parallel universes defying all pulls of gravity and smashing into the net, still travelling upwards. It's been many a year since a football was hit that hard.
In the 59th minute, this time Marco Haigh was fouled in a central position. David Lopes would obviously step up to take the free-kick, everyone wondered which direction this would be blasted, how hard would it be hit? The ball sat on the ground, nervously perspiring out of sheer unadulterated angst. The K's man raced at the ball, the Godalming wall jumped in unison, the K's man rolled the ball under the jumping wall, no-one was on the near post, the ball (which may have fainted) quietly nestled into the net. The game had turned on its head absolutely completely.
Godalming never let their heads go down and went in search of a foothold into the game - Callum Lawrence forced Shay Honey into a fine save halfway through the second stanza but there was still time for the David Lopes clinic to take one final turn, as in the 76th minute an exquisite long pass (which turned out to be his last touch of the ball before being substituted) found Alex Body clear on goal, and he managed to walk the ball around the goalkeeper, had time to nearly lose possession, but he finished the scoring by tapping the ball into the empty net.
There were more chances at both ends as both teams continued to search for goals, but this writer frankly forgot to write any of them down as he was able to enjoy the last few minutes of the game mostly safe in the knowledge that K's were well on the way to winning a trophy. Two minutes of injury time later and the hoops could celebrate an excellent performance and victory in a cup final against a talented opponent. David Lopes was given the man of the match award before captain Lucas Clarke was handed the trophy by Combined Counties League secretary Alan Constable.
It's back to Burnham Football Club on Wednesday night for the final of the Grant-McLellan Cup - this time the opposition is Ascot United (who defeated Godalming Town in their semi-final) - kick-off again is 7.45pm.
Photos below by Simon Roe
Kingstonian: Shay Honey, Kylron Pierre, Rob McGowan, Freddie Bailey, Alex Andreou, Lucas Clarke, Iker Noguera Leon, Kwesi Ntim, Rocco Ilhan, David Lopes, Callum Stephens.
Subs: Omar Murad (for Lucas Clarke, 86m), Alex Body (for Rocco Ilhan, 67m), Tom Pendrich (for Freddie Bailey, 63m), Jordan Akono Bilongo (for David Lopes, 77m), Marco Haigh (for Callum Stephens, 51m).
Godalming Town: Ollie Ballam, Vinnie Martin, Josh Hill, Tobias Sims, Joseph Chalcraft, Jake Gadd, Thomas Crabb, Toby Swift, Jacob Stevenson, Ben Carpenter, Callum Lawrence.
Subs: Sam Gray (for Thomas Crabb, 60m), Freddie Long (for Vinnie Martin, 75m), Lochlan Doyle (for Toby Swift, 64m), Will Ab-Iorwerth (for Ben Carpenter, 57m), Remi Johnson (for Callum Lawrence, 79m).
Goal scorers: Ben Carpenter (9m, 0-1), Marco Haigh (52m, 1-1), David Lopes (54m, 2-1), David Lopes (59m, 3-1), Alex Body (76m, 4-1)