League comes down to 180 minutes of football…

Kent County League Division One West: Ide Hill 5 Sutton Athletic Reserves 3

Columb Grant scored a sumptuous brace on Saturday afternoon at Wrotham to leave Ide Hill FC one win and a draw from the league title in their two remaining games.

Ide Hill boasted a strong squad, very near to full strength with a talented bench of five with which to attack Sutton, and although they started in a slightly sluggish manner, Ide Hill could have been two goals up after 5 minutes, with man of the match Grant rattling the post from 15 yards and Matt Bunn having a shot saved on the line from a clever lobbed shot.

Sutton were passing and attacking with some threat, but Ide Hill went ahead on 15 minutes, after a couple of close shaves from the previous two corners, Ben Holder’s arced third set piece was perfectly weighted for captain Phil Alteirac to time his run to perfection and power in at the back post for his second crucial goal in March.

Ide Hill quickly doubled their lead thanks to some more razor sharp interplay at the top of the pitch, some smart passes leading to the excellent Bunn slipping in Grant, who took a touch wide, drew the keeper and lifted a deft chipped finish into the goal for his fifth of the season.

The home team sensed a heavy victory and took a strong hold of the game towards the end of the first half and scored an astonishing third; once more, a quick break with a number of rapid passes, the final one lifted through from the impressive Callum Heath saw Bunn through but wide right on the edge of the box on 35 minutes. Two minutes previously he had found himself in a similar position and selflessly squared an inch perfect square ball to the irrepressible Sam Heasman, who had missed from close range. This time he took it on himself, and rocketed a beauty in to the top left corner for his 11th of the season.

Sutton Athletic pulled one back from a scrappy set piece which would somewhat foreshadow the seesawing messy nature of the second half from Ide Hill’s perspective. But another blinding goal on 40 minutes took Ide Hill into the break 4-1 up. Heath took a throw-in near to the Sutton box on the right, Craig Jackson flicked around the corner and Grant did the rest; steadying himself from 20 yards out wide and curling a delicious left footed shot beyond the Sutton keeper and in to the top corner to cap arguably his best performance of the season.

The second half was a much less slick affair, Ide Hill missing the chance to take a scoreline more reflective of their missed chances. Sutton making it 4-2 when their forward wriggled in to the box and lifted over the advancing Mike McKay. Substitute Rob Piper made the victory safe though, Grant squaring unselfishly to him in the box to strike home at the second attempt. Sutton finished the scoring in the 85th minute, a long range shot was saved, with the Sutton forward slotting in the rebound.

Ide Hill Manager, Paul McDonagh, was happy with the win, saying: “We played well in patches and attacked really well in spells, we could have scored quite a few more and the scoreline seemed a bit closer than it should have been. But a good win and it sets us up for the last couple of games”.

On MOTM Grant he said: “He was excellent today, as he was midweek. His goals were brilliant and it’s important to have him scoring and playing well with big games to come”.

Ide Hill remain one point clear of Sydenham Sports at the top of the legaue after they beat Club Langley on Saturday, Ide Hill though, have a game in hand. Chipstead are six points behind with a game in hand, but Ide Hill know that a win and a draw in their remaining two games against South East Athletic and Welling will secure them the league and promotion to the Kent County Premier.

Before the league is finished though, Ide Hill play Farnborough Old Boys Guild Reserves on Wednesday evening at Rusthall FC’s ground in the Semi-Final of the Sevenoaks Senior Charity Cup with Chipstead waiting for the victors in the Final. The Final is scheduled to be played on Good Friday at Sevenoaks Town FC.