Goalkeeper Olly Dewey was the penalty shootout hero as Range Rovers Sports beat league rivals Park Regis Neo to win the Kent Sunday Junior Cup.
A thrilling game in Chatham Town between the two top teams in the Sheppey Sunday League ended 2-2 after extra time and ended in a penalty shootout, with Sports winning 3-2.
Sunday’s game was still likely to be a close contest between two sides who have met in three cup finals domestically and are due to meet again at the end of this month to decide the league winners .
It was the first time in Sheppey Sunday league history that two of their clubs had met in the Kent Cup final.
Manager Fred Fayers had previously taken the team to the semi-finals but Covid denied them a chance at glory.
“We were really good that day,” he said. “Every game was close and winning it on penalties makes it that little bit more special.
“We still want to win the Kent Cup, it’s the third time (as a club) we’ve won it, obviously because of our league we can’t play as a senior, but the county cup is the pinnacle for all. Sunday League football and we are really happy to have won it.
Two goals from striker Harry Goodger overturned a one-goal deficit before Neo fought back to lead it on penalties, where Dewey made two saves to win it.
Of striker Goodger, Fayers said: “He’s been exceptional for us, he’s showing his experience, isn’t he? He’s so good in the air, he’s huge for us, but they all buy into it, they’re a special group of boys in the locker room.
“We have two exceptional goalkeepers and Olly was in goal (on Sunday) and he was brilliant. The last stop was amazing, I don’t know how he saved that. He got the man of the match and deserved it for that, he was exceptional.
“It was a good final. They (Neo) are a young team, they have a very good team, they want to play football in the right way and so do we and it always makes for a good game. I’m sure we will have many more fights with them in the future.
Sports are three points clear of Neo in Division 1 of the Sheppey Sunday League with one game to play when the two sides meet on May 29. Neo’s superior goal difference means if they win, they take the title.
Fayers said: “As long as we don’t lose we will win the league but as you can see we will have another tough game and it could go either way. Hopefully we can get the better of them.
Since Neo’s promotion to the Sheppey Sunday League Premier Division last year, the two teams have become rivals for cup and league honours.
Ahead of the County final, they had met the previous week in the League Cup final, with a Goodger goal breaking that tie in favor of Sports, winning 1-0.
Neo had won the Senior Charity Cup with a 5-4 win over Sports as well as the Senior Cup with a 4-3 win. Their previous league match ended 3-3.
Once again, it was a tight encounter and it was not short of incidents.
Range Rovers had the best of early chances, but energetic midfielder Frank Phipps took his place with a 20th-minute free-kick to put Neo ahead.
Dan Organ could have made it two after beating the offside trap but Dewey saved well.
Rovers’ Danny Walder hit the woodwork from the edge of the box midway through half and with 33 minutes left Goodger equalized as he converted from Walder’s corner.
Neo threatened again before the break with Organ shooting just over the bar and an overhead kick from Harry Taylor coming close. Dylan Riches put an effort into the side netting at the other end as half time drew to a close.
Both teams had played some decent stuff and the chances continued after the break. Goodger was happy to help his side at the back while Walder still remained a threat, slamming the goal frame one o’clock from a deep free kick.
There were some robust challenges throughout that kept referee Gavin Farrington on his toes and he wasn’t afraid to use his yellow card to mark his authority. It was only at the very end of the match that the spirits really overflowed.
In the 63rd minute, Goodger grabbed his second, converting a Tom Mills cross to score from close range.
Neo responded and was back level 15 minutes later when their captain Shane Sandy peeked home on Taylor’s flag shot.
Neither team seemed happy with the looming extra time as both aimed for a winner.
Phipps had a header spun over the bar by Dewey while Organ fired wide.
In stoppage time, Range Rovers’ Dano Cummins had a chance for glory, with Joe Sands on the start, but he delayed the shot and Reece Heasman saved well.
The roll-on roll-off substitution rule was used by both teams as the game went into extra time, allowing Goodger and Tom Carlton to take a well-deserved break.
In the first half of extra time, Phipps put up a good chance for Neo while their defenders put bodies behind the ball to keep Sports’ Cummins out.
Just at the end of extra time, a rapprochement between Goodger and Charlie Taylor led to an altercation involving players, substitutes and coaches, resulting in the expulsion of one of Neo’s executives. Both teams managed to go to the end with 11 players and penalties were needed to settle what had been a thrilling contest.
Dewey couldn’t prevent the first two Neo penalties but watched the third sail over the bar and he then saved well from Organe and superbly denied James Rogers to win the contest, despite Heasman doing a good save to avoid Goodger’s penalty before that. .
Sport Range Rover: Dewey, Cunningham, Montgomery, Cain, Abbott (Collins 70 mins (Abbott 121 mins)), Mills, Carlton (Sands 84 mins), Huggins (Pearce 84 mins (Goodger 106 mins)), Riches (Cummins 63 mins (Carlton 116 mins) )), Walder, Goodger (McCrory 71 mins).
Regis Neo Park: Heasman, Horn (Turner 114min (Rogers 120min)), Baacke, Turner (Tewksbury 65min), Murphy, Sandy, Phipps, Rogers (Attenborough 105min), Attenborough (C Taylor 70min), H Taylor, Organ. Unused submarines: Bodkin, Kuszynski, Hudson.
Arbitrator: Gavin Farrington