Sunday League

Kenningwell 1-2 SE Dons – OBDSFL Paul Picard Cup Final

Just two weeks after claiming the Kent Sunday Cup, the SE Dons were back in final action, this time taking on formidable opposition in Kenningwell

It was always going to be the tightest of games, a real chess match, as these teams had met twice already this season with the the League game ending level and Kenningwell edging another Cup game by a single extra time goal.

SE Dons were to get revenge in this one, in an incredibly close contest that needed the extra 30 minutes to decide the winner. But it could easily have gone the other way had it not been for some super saves by the Dons goalkeeper throughout the match.

Official early numbers gave the crowd as 1,721 but with errors made at the turnstiles the number was no doubt over 2,500. Crazy figures really and almost double the amount Bromley pulled in for their National League game on the same pitch just 24 hours earlier. There were so many people trying to get in that the game got delayed, twice. Eventually it kicked off 40 minutes after the stated 3pm kick-off time.

This Cup Final started as a real sparring match with the sides alternating attacks. SE Dons forced the first big save of the game with Sheikh Ceesay denying Zak Ansah from close range after he had got on the end of a Nathan Palmer cross.

Tauren Roberts was looking dangerous down the Kenningwell left side, creating chances for himself and others. His early efforts wouldn’t test the keeper though, instead going wide of the target.

In the 34rd minute the Dons came closest to taking the lead when Zak Ansah got on the end of a ball into the box. His effort beat the keeper but clipped off the top of the bar and behind for safety. Straight down the other end and George Kamurasi made the first of many good saves when denying Zach Powell from close range. That was a pattern to be continued this afternoon.

Just before the break Kenningwell had chances to go in front and should really have took one of them. Firstly Roberts saw his effort blocked by a last ditch Nathan Palmer tackle before Kamarusi saved from Omari Hibbert when the big frontman should probably have done better.

The strong end to the half from Kenningwell certainly had most of us feeling that they shaded an entertaining but goalless first 45 minutes.

The second half started as the first did. Tauren Roberts forever twisting Nathan Palmer inside and out, yet not have the right end product while in front of the new stand at Hayes Lane Zak Ansah could not keep his shot on target when clean through.

In the 53rd minute we had a moment of real quality and it came from Kamurasi in the Dons goal. With Kennington pushing forward the ball fell nicely to Zach Powell, a good 35 yards from goal. His half-volley looked at first to have lobbed the tall Ugandan but George back-peddled and leapt through the air, just tipping the ball over to deny what would have been a stunning goal.

On the hour mark we finally got the first goal of the game and it went the way of the SE Dons. Once again Ansah was able to slip the defenders but this time he was clinical and was able to just poke the ball past the onrushing keeper to put his side ahead. The crowd went mad and we had ourselves a game!

Dons went looking for another to try and put this one to bed. Ansah shot over again before Ryan Palmer saw his shot saved by Ceesay.

With 20 left to play Kamurasi came to the rescue once more. A smart through ball put Powell in on goal but he could not believe his luck when George saved his shot yet again. Zach could not resist a playful punch to the side of the big man for denying him for the third time this game.

With just 5 minutes left of the game Kennington got their perfectly timed equaliser. Substitute Tayo Ajayi made his way down the left wing before looping a cross over Kamurasi’s head. Remarkably the ball somehow spun it’s way into the top corner giving us an unusual but probably deserved leveller.

There was just enough time for Ajayi to try a similar route to a winner but lightning doesn’t strike twice and this late effort missed the target, signalling the end of regulation time.

Kenningwell started the extra period on fire but could not find a way past the inspired Dons goalie. Kamurasi made 3 or 4 stunning saves in the first 10 minutes of this added time keeping his team in the game when really it should have now gone away from them.

Then against the run of play the Dons got the goal that ended up being the difference between the teams. With Kennington on the constant attack Roberts saw his effort come flying back off the base of the post. The rebound flew to Ryan Palmer who started an attack that involved Jack Sammoutis and Azz as the Dons charged down the other end of the pitch. Azz charged into the box and found Ansah who, with great composure, controlled the ball and slid it into the bottom corner. Cue celebrations from around the ground as the Dons were 20 minutes away from some more Silverware.

Kenningwell were not happy with the goal, especially Tauren Roberts. It was his shot against the post that led to it but he was adament that the ball had actually hit a wheel on the side of the goal and not the post so had gone out of play and should have resulted in a goal kick. It was hard to tell for most of us in the ground including the referee who grew impatient with Roberts and eventually gave him a 10 minute rest by awarding a rare Sin Bin against him.

Playing with a man down it was always going to be hard for the Tigers to get back into the game and SE Dons done well to run the clock while also having attempts on goal. Ryan Palmer and Sammoutis both went close but could not get their advantage increased any further.

As we entered the final minute the crowd started to edge onto the pitch to begin the celebrations with their heroes. They were warned to stay off the playing surface but with so many people ready to run on security never stood any chance at all.

The final whistle went, the Dons had won another Cup and a thousand fans descended onto the 3G surface to celebrate.

It had been a great and even game with Kenningwell very unlucky to end the match as runners-up.

Man of the match to George Kamurasi for some incredible saves that led him to be able to go on to lift the trophy in front of his adoring public.

Well done to the SE Dons. They have taken this excellent League to another level this season and with others improving constantly to try and stick with them we are sure to have some classic Sunday morning entertainment for years to come.

Starting Line-ups

Kenningwell – Ceesay, Powell, Baker, Baskerville, Rookwood, Robinson, Warren, Allen, Palmer, Roberts, Hibbert

SE Dons – Kamarusi, Palmer, Moore, Kisitu, Aziz, Nwitua, Agyemang, Sammoutis, Dolby, Palmer, Ansah

The SE Dons YouTube video will definitely be worth a watch on Sunday. Be sure to subscribe to them and catch the action this weekend.

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