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Kingstonian 4
Sharpe (47' og), Haigh (63'), Noguera Leon (70'), Gould (75')
1 Raynes Park Vale
Ausling (84' pen)

CCL League Youth Cup SF Report

Kingstonian's remarkable Under 18s season continued as they qualified for their third final of the campaign, defeating East Division Champions Raynes Park Vale 4-1 at South Park FC.

A high quality match between the East winners and the West leaders was expected in this Tony Ford Combined Counties League Youth Cup match, and the two teams didn't disappoint.

The first half ended goalless, and it's not completely clear how that managed to happen. RPV got off to the slightly quicker start and carved out the first chance in minute four when a fine through ball from Roy Benbow found Coby Acquaye, but his shot was well stopped by Connor Wolfheimer.

K's then had their turn four minutes later when Pacey Bean stole the ball off the Vale defence on the edge of the D, tried to lob keeper Charlie Dawson, but Dawson was able to make a good catch on the run.

In the 21st minute some nice passing on the edge of the Raynes Park area finished up with a Marco Haigh shot, but Charlie Dawson made another fine save at the second attempt. K's were beginning to carve out several half chances and, in a worrying repeat of the Surrey Cup Final seven days earlier, were finding ways of not scoring, either through excellent defending, fine saves or sliced shots. The concern was that Raynes Park Vale would zoom down the other end and open the scoring.

And lo, in the 24th minute, it very nearly happened as a pass back from Niklas Manthey was short and intercepted by Coby Acquaye, but Manthey rescued the situation and forced Acquaye to shoot wide. A major let-off.

The 42nd minute saw what developed into a major turning point in the game, as one player from each side battled for the ball near the sideline and both players went to ground. Surprisingly, the referee awarded Kingstonian a free kick, the Raynes Park player Benbow must have verbally shown his discontent and was promptly sent to the sin-bin for ten minutes - the Combined Counties League and its competitions operate the sin-bin for dissent, so Raynes Park Vale would be a player light for a little bit.

With Raynes Park Vale still a man down, Kingstonian took the lead as they broke down the left wing, a cross from Pacey Bean was driven into the six yard box, where Charlie Sharpe diverted the ball into the net. The Raynes Park defender was blameless as there was a small queue of K's players behind him for a tap-in and he had to do something to try and make a clearance.

Back to eleven men, Raynes Park had a chance to equalise when Sharpe delivered a superb free kick from the sideline into the penalty area, where Roy Benbow rose highest but saw his header saved by Connor Wolfheimer.

K's then went on to blow the game wide open with three quick goals. In the 63rd minute, Marco Haigh received the ball on the edge of the D, started a smart 1-2 with Lewis Gould, which gave Haigh loads of time and space to shoot and he made no mistake.

Two minutes later K's were nearly three-up thanks to a fast break which concluded when Blake Mitchell's cross from the side found Lewis Gould ready to shoot, but Charlie Dawson came out to make a fine smothering save and even won himself a goal kick.

The third goal, however, came in the 70th minute when an outstanding long pass by Zac Jervis found Lewis Gould, who laid the ball perfectly to the on-rushing Iker Noguera Leon and the resulting shot was powerful and on target.

Amazingly, the fourth goal was soon forthcoming and it was an almost disrespectful finish from Lewis Gould - K's won possession in the midfield, the ball was played forward to Gould, who shrugged off his defender and lobbed the unfortunate Charlie Dawson from silly distance to give the K's an incredible four-goal lead.

Raynes Park Vale never gave up and got one goal back in the 86nd minute from the penalty spot as Freddie Ausling was dragged to the ground by Zac Jervis, with the Raynes Park player picking himself up to smash the kick home.

This was a game in which K's were top class and a pleasure to watch, and they had to be against what looked to be a very good Raynes Park Vale team. And so, into the Final they go, as they will play PFC Victoria on Wednesday 31st May. The game is to be played at the Green Lane Sports and Social Club in Hounslow.

Published Tuesday 23rd May 2023