Saints win coveted Smiths Senior League Cup

Smiths Senior League Cup Final: St. Lawrence 5 Blackham & Ashurst 4 (aet)

One of the best cup finals in recent years saw St. Lawrence FC eventually triumph over Blackham & Ashurst by the odd goal in nine, but they needed extra time in a thrilling match.

Saints took control of the early stages when long serving left back Nick Tunnell popped up in the inside right position to flick home Charlie Withycombe’s low cross at the near post after five minutes. 10 minutes later he added his second, when from a free kick he shot low into the net from 20 yards for his first ever brace in a long and distinguished career.

Blackham & Ashurst fought back and as Saints eased off they earned a penalty when a shot was handled. The goalkeeper, George Marsh, went the right way, but the powerful spot kick from Mark Baggeson reduced the arrears. A deep cross then saw a misplaced defensive header to the keeper and Blackham nipped in to equalise.

Shortly after half time, Blackham took the lead when Jake Miller hit an explosive strike into the top corner from the edge of the area.

Saints’ captain, Tim Daniels, and former captain Jamie Herbert, urged their team forward but they were unable to take advantage of some goalmouth scrambles and were kept at bay by the Blackham keeper, James Larkin.

With time running out Andy Clark floated a deceptive free kick towards goal which was misjudged by defenders and attackers alike and the ball went in off the far post just below the crossbar to take the game into extra time.

The inspirational Herbert and substitute Joe Storey, attacking down the left galvanised Saints into sustained attacking pressure and this paid off when the best move of the match involving a neat interchange of passes ended with Withycombe slotting the ball just inside the far post.

Edgar Hime then hit a long deep cross from the left which found Withycombe who met it with a perfect volley only for the Blackham keeper to pull off a remarkable save turning his shot over the bar.

Half way through the second period of extra time, Blackham hauled themselves back into the match once again. An exhausted defender conceded a free kick on the left and an excellent cross into the area saw Marsh make a fine save from a header, but he was unable to hold on to the ball and the rebound was bundled into the net by the Blackham centre forward.

Almost straight from the kick off Saints man of the match Withycombe went off on an amazing solo run from the half way line, beating three players before sending a powerful low shot into the far corner of the net.

This concluded the scoring with both sets of players exhausted at the finish. The match was played in a great sporting manner which was a credit to both sides and to local football.

At the conclusion the trophy was presented to Saints captain Tim Daniels by Keith Whitlock, Vice President of the Kent County Football Association.