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A weekend at Wembley
A weekend at Wembley

Although there were no Kent clubs in the Isuzu F. A. Trophy and Vase finals there was still much interest for supporters of teams from the county as there were players who they will know from past exploits.

Southern Counties East Football League Champions, Deal Town, were the Kent team who got the furthest in the Vase with their run ending in the Quarter Finals when going out on penalties at Lincoln United. 

Vanarama National League play-off winners, Bromley, were Kent’s longest surviving team in the Isuzu Trophy. They reached the Semi Finals before being knocked out at home to Solihull Moors, the team that they defeated on penalties in the play-off decider. 

There was probably more of an interest for Kent football supporters in the first match, the Vase Final between Essex teams Great Wakering Rovers and Romford, both of whom won penalty shoot-outs in the semi-finals. Romford had several players with connections to the Garden of England and South East London.

Considering that a number of Romford players had previously played for Great Wakering it wasn’t surprising that there were some meaty challenges and the game was interrupted regularly with fouls.

There were few clear cut chances in the first half with Scott Doe, the former Dover Athletic, Welling United, Hythe Town and Whitstable Town centre back dominant in the air for Romford.

The only real chance of the opening period fell to Romford’s Finlay Dorrell however, he was thwarted by a brave save by Luis Shamshoum.

In the eighth minute of of the second forty-five, Romford went ahead. Charlie Morris sent Hassan Nalbant through and the striker who, has had spells at Lewisham Borough, Erith Town and Glebe, finished confidently.

Two minutes later, they scored again, virtually finishing the match as a contest. Morris’s shot was blocked as far as Sam Deering and the one time Ebbsfleet United favourite placed it inside the far post.  

Tony Martin, a former VCD Athletic striker, came on as a substitute for Great Wakering just after the hour mark and he came close when slotting it just past the post with fifteen minutes remaining.

They continued to push forward resulting in them leaving gaps at the back and Nalbant got clear down the inside left channel. He had no help so tried to be cute but could only poke it into the side netting.

As the game moved into seven minutes of stoppage time, Great Wakering missed a fantastic opportunity and Romford rubbed salt into the wounds by going straight up to the other end and scoring a third, courtesy of a stylish outside of the boot finish by Nalbant.

Kris Newby, another one time VCD player, lifted the silverware with Deering named as man of the match. Other former previous players from the other side of the Thames included Remi Sutton (Greenwich Borough), Darren Phillips (Faversham Town and Sittingbourne) and substitute Lee Hursit (Welling Town).

Unsurprisingly, there were fewer players with Kent connections playing in the Trophy final between North East England club Gateshead and West Midlands based Solihull Moors.

In fact there was only one starter, Regan Booty who Gateshead signed from Maidstone United. He did a major impact, not least when he opened the scoring in first half stoppage time when finishing Dajaune Brown’s inviting low cross.

Mark Beck, a real handful of a centre forward, levelled with an old fashioned diving header in the seventieth minute and the match went into extra time. Four minutes before the end of the first period, Beck put the Moors ahead from the penalty spot.

Gateshead manager Rob Elliott, responded at the break by introducing Marcus Dinanga, a prolific striker when on-loan at Steve King’s Dartford. 

They levelled with ten minutes remaining and Booty was again involved when clipping it to the far post. Tom Allan pulled it back and Brown bundled it home.

There was no further scoring and it went to penalties. After eight penalties each, Gateshead won five-four including a Dinanga success, to claim the spoils. Substitute goalkeeper Nathan Harness, who played for Welling United on loan when at Charlton Athletic, was not needed, and Kain Adom missed out having represented the Wings in the tournament earlier in the season, so was cup tied.

Even Sonny Fish was named in the Gateshead squad despite not making an appearance for them after his loan spell at Welling was ended.

Overall, it was a good afternoon for two teams with the most Kent connections as Romford and Gateshead were victorious.