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Crowborough Athletic 2-5 Sheppey United
Crowborough Athletic 2-5 Sheppey United

Sheppey United completed the domestic treble as they eventually cruised past Crowborough Athletic in the Final of the SCEFL League Cup.

The League Champions completed the Cup double with a 5-2 triumph as they powered to their fourth trophy of 2022 as they said goodbye to SCEFL in front of over seven hundred at the Bauvill Stadium in Chatham on Bank Holiday Monday.

The underdog Crows started well and indeed had the better of the early chances, but as soon as skipper Billy Bennett put Sheppey in front six minutes before the break, the Ites really didn’t look back. Dean Grant then added a brace at the start of the second half to all but seal the trophy, only for Lucas Murrain to take advantage of a defensive slip to give the Crows a window… a window that was firmly slammed shut by Jefferson Aibangbee ten minutes from time. Murrain pulled a second back, but Warren Mfula’s stoppage time strike really was the icing on top of what has been a truly remarkable season for Sheppey United.

The League Champions were slow to get going and keeper Adam Molloy was fortunate early on when Murrain beat him to a free kick to flash a header just wide.

Mfula created Sheppey’s first chance as his strong run and cross down the left was met by the flying Bennett, whose header beat Martin Grant in the Crowborough goal and the left post. Aibangbee then flashed a ball across the face of the Crows goal but there wasn’t a red shirt to turn the ball home as the opening half hour passed as tight and close as had been expected.

The game turned Sheppey’s way in the final six minutes of the half. Mfula did brilliantly down the left outpacing the defence and as he squared, Bennett drilled the ball home – advantage Sheppey at the break – an advantage they wouldn’t lose, as within ninety seconds of the restart, a great ball into the box found Bennett who gave Grant no chance as he thumped the ball home.

Sheppey were rampant and Mfula was denied a deserved goal after the move of the match which saw some super football on the edge of the box before Mfula let fly into the side netting. It only delayed the inevitable as at the half’s midway point, a Sheppey free kick caused chaos in the box, Grant did really well to keep out the first effort, but Grant reacted quickest to make it three nothing.

Sheppey were so much on top that when Murrain took advantage of a lapse by Molloy and his defenders to pull a goal back it came as a surprise as it gave the neutrals in the crowd the prospect of a cracking finish. That hope lasted for all of four minutes as Aibangee scored the goal of the game as he gloriously curled the ball round a diving Grant from the edge of the box.

Murrain pulled another goal back for Crowborough as the Sheppey defence switched off again – something that could well concern the management team as they build a squad for the Isthmian League next season – but Mfula finally got the goal that his performance fully deserved.

Shortly after Grant made a great save to deny the Sheppey winger with his right boot, Mfula was given too much time and room on the edge of the box as he drove the ball past a despairing keeper into the bottom corner – a simply brilliant finish to a truly remarkable season for Sheppey United Football Club.

CROWBOROUGH ATHLETIC – Grant, Funnell, Mayhew, Tyrie, Boddy, Watkins (Styles 66), Osborne (Anson 65), Hyland (Emery 81), Murrain, Lambert, Duncan.

Subs not used – Hall, Anderson.

SHEPPEY UNITED – Molloy, Howlett-Mundle, Sains, Hamill (Orome 59), Gillies, Bennett (Wilkins 70), Grant (Hagan 88), Birch, Aibangbee, Tenyue, Mfula.

Subs not used – Oldham, Northwood.

REFEREE – Mr Dan Blades

Attendance: 724