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Kingstonian 1
Haigh (17')
3 South Park
Simpson (25'), Date (41'), Hyseni (67')
South Park FC

Surrey U18s Midweek Cup Final Report

Kingstonian's quest for a first Surrey U18s Midweek Cup since 2012 fell at the final hurdle at the Meadowbank in Dorking as, despite taking an early lead, they were undone by a South Park team who refused to allow their opponents to settle at any time and, even though the possession statistics would have wildly gone against them, the Sparks were able to make their vital moments count and deserved to take the trophy home with them.

The K's seemed to be more nervous at the start of the game as South Park began as they would continue for the entire evening, pressing their opponents, not giving them time for a comfortable second touch on the ball and basically denying them any opportunity to calm down and play.

Despite the uncomfortable start, it was the K's that took the lead in the 17th minute as a long cross from the left halfway inside the South Park half by Rivah Bailey was outstanding, Marco Haigh lost his marker inside the penalty area and he headed home. At last the K's began to settle into the game and spent the next few minutes besieging the South Park goal but lost composure in front of goal, often took one too many touches, sometimes decided not to shoot and make one too many pass, and several chances went begging.

South Park made sure that the K's paid dearly for not extending the lead as in the 25th minute they went on a fine counter attack, found the left winger in acres of space, his cross was parried away by Joshua Lohmeier but the ball rebounded nicely to Lakai Simpson who quickly tapped home. The course of the game changed, South Park enjoyed their best spell of the game going forward, forcing the Kingstonian keeper into one fine save from a long-range free-kick, forcing the K's defenders into making errors and generally causing havoc.

It was this determination that directly led to South Park's second goal in the 41st minute, though K's will be very disappointed at the manner of the goal. Deondre Date received the ball on the edge of the area, and embarked on a charge right at goal. He shook off four or five attempts at clearing the ball, arguably all of them should have snuffed out the danger, but the young Spark never gave up, finally muscled past the last defender, kept his cool and slammed the ball home. Cue celebrations and recriminations in equal measure.

The break came at a good time for the K's, and they started the second half quickly and pressed for an equaliser. The first big chance came in the 53rd minute when some nice link play between Rivah Bailey and Deniz Ozer on the edge of the penalty area ended with a Rivah Bailey shot that flashed just wide. This writer made a twit of himself thinking the ball was in the back of the net. I thought we had scored, I was wrong, I was wrong...

K's continued the pressure and on several occasions came extremely close to getting that vital second goal, but an inspired South Park defence and goalkeeper got in the way every single time. The hammer blow could almost be predicted and it arrived in the 67th minute. Another quick break after a period of Kingstonian pressure, Josh Lohmeier was forced into another good save from a blast by Deondre Date, but the ball landed nicely for Brooklyn Hyseni, who rifled a shot in at the near post. It might have taken a deflection but it was a lesson in how to be clinical and how to take your chances.

Time ticked down very quickly after this goal, K's kept coming forward, but South Park's energy levels hardly ever waned, and when the K's did manage to get past the defence, they were always denied by what was usually a brilliant save by Kamil Oke, including a spectacular double save in the fourth minute of added time from point blank range efforts by Beau Walters. It could have been a grandstand finish, but it wasn't to be, South Park saw the game out and deserved their celebrations as they lifted the trophy at the end of the evening.

K's don't have too much time to mope around as there is still plenty to play for, beginning on Thursday 18th and a visit to Stag Meadow to play Windsor in the semi-final of the Grant McLellan Cup.

Published Wednesday 17th May 2023