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Hollands & Blair 1-2 Sheppey United
Hollands & Blair 1-2 Sheppey United

Dean Grant’s late winner “re-won” the MERIT Kent Senior Trophy for Sheppey United for the second time this season!

Whilst the Ites celebrated, Hollands & Blair were left wondering what might have been after they had taken the lead courtesy of Jack Simon’s terrific free kick three minutes after the break.

Sheppey had to dig deep and eventually levelled the scores when “super-sub” Michael Hagen followed Simon’s lead and equalised with a free-kick of his own. With penalties looming, the former Faversham striker converted substitute Connor Wilkins centre.

Referee Joss was the busiest man on the pitch as both sides “over-stepped” the laws with the official showing three red cards – one to Blair substitute Ricky Freeman after an “exchange” between the benches – as Ernie Batten’s side clinched the first part of a possible season’s treble…

The opening half was tense and cagey with neither side forcing the opposition’s keeper into too much of a scare – Warren Mfula fired over for Sheppey whilst George Benner shot wide for Blair in the half’s best chances.

The second half was a different matter and easily could have gone either way. Whatever Scott Porter said to the Blair players at the break worked wonders as they were in front within three minutes as Simon hit a glorious free kick into the top corner giving keeper Adam Molloy no chance.

The lead could easily have been extended but Molloy saved superbly from Dean James and then equally from Stephen Smith.

Things threatened to turn ugly at the midway point of the half as Ben Brown and Dan Birch clashed leaving the Blair man complaining to Mr Joss that Birch had bitten his arm. Mr Joss “only” showed the yellow card when it could and perhaps should have been red…

With fifteen minutes left, Hagan replaced Richard Hamill and with literally his first touch, he stepped up and sent a free kick sailing beyond the despairing Mitchel Ware and into the back of Blair’s net.

Spurred on by finally levelling, the Ites went for the win and with a little under four minutes left, they found their hero as Grant beat Ware at his near post as he got on the end of Wilkins’ centre.

The game exploded in the remaining minutes with Mr Joss the busiest man on the pitch – Blair substitute Luke Exall was first for the early bath following a second yellow card before Sheppey’s Birch went too – also for a second caution.

There were joyous scenes at the final whistle as Mr Joss confirmed Sheppey’s third Senior Trophy win in the past seven seasons whilst defeat was Blair’s second in Senior Trophy Finals.

One down with two more possibly heading for Holm Park… or should that be halfway to a quadruple given their win in the Final of 2019/2020 competition that was only held back in February?

Sheppey could move closer to the SCEFL title over Easter as they return triumphantly to the Island on Easter Saturday – their opponents? Today’s beaten finalists – Hollands & Blair…

SHEPPEY UNITED – Molloy, Birch, Tenyue (Wilkins 76mins), Howlett-Mundle, Sains, Gillies, Hamill (Hagan), Aibangbee, Bennett, Mfula, Grant

Subs – Oldham, Dasofunjo, Griffiths

HOLLANDS & BLAIR – Ware, Kane, Walker, Ben Brown, Benner, Gillman, Simon, Saunders (Exall), James (Welford), Smith, Valencia

Subs – Harry Brown, Freeman, Loynes