Sevenoaks Powerchair Football Club took part in round three of the WFA Muscular Dystrophy Championship division at the end of November, competing in their final fixtures of 2017.
For the first time this season Oaks travelled with a fully fit squad, welcoming back England international Kyle Alexander, who had recovered from his summer back surgery. This has given the entire squad a lift, both on and off the pitch.
Saturday morning saw Sevenoaks face East Riding Eels and with their confidence high, the squad produced their best performance of the season to date. The team were 2-0 up at half time, both penalties, despatched by the returning Alexander.
He completed his hat-trick shortly after the break. Myles Miller played a great ball from the sideline into space near the edge of the penalty area for Alexander who reversed and slotted the ball into the far post. Miller then got on the scoresheet himself, scoring his own hat-trick and Shaye Reid-Watson added another to complete a 7-0 victory.
Middlesbrough Reserves were the teams Saturday afternoon opponents. Again ‘Oaks were 2-0 up at half time courtesy of strikes from Miller and Reid-Watson, who poked home on the line from Miller’s original shot with only seconds left of the first period. Sevenoaks made it 3-0 two minutes into the second half. Miller took a quick corner to Reid-Watson who played back to him for a simple finish and 3 points.
Sunday morning saw the most anticipated game of the season so far, against league leaders Leeds PFC. Both teams, to their credit, were positive with their play in an open game. Leeds started brightly with Sevenoaks growing into the half as time went on.
Sevenoaks had a couple of great chances; Alexander shot inches wide and Miller should have scored a few minutes later. Alexander passed wide to Reid-Watson, who then played an excellent ball across the edge of the penalty area with the goal gaping at the back post. Miller hesitated and couldn’t get a final touch.
Leeds had a glorious chance near to half time, switching play from one side to the other their firmly struck effort ricochets off both Alexander and keeper Dan Stevens, fortune favoured the Oaks on that occasion and the ball was cleared.
Leeds started the second half on top with early possession and some half chances. Sevenoaks settled and had a chance of their own again, however they were let down by poor passing accuracy and mistimed shots. Miller thought he had won the game with thirty seconds remaining, bundling in at the near post, however the referee had already blown for a Leeds foul, meaning play was taken back. The game finished 0-0 and Sevenoaks will relish playing Leeds again in May – potentially a winner takes all fixture.
Sevenoaks rounded off their weekend with a 5-0 victory against Rotherham Wheelchair Wasps. Youngster Harry Bestwick scored his first national league goals, bagging four in the process. Alexander scored the fifth to complete a great weekend and conclusion to 2017.
Oaks remain in second place in the table, with eleven wins and two draws from their thirteen games, two points behind Leeds.
Sevenoaks now focus on regional league commitments and their upcoming WFA cup match in January away to Reading before returning to Nottingham in March. The team have a league break until the weekend of March 17/18 when they face five opponents in the next two day schedule.
Prior to the next round, Sevenoaks have an away WFA Cup match versus Reading PFC on Saturday 13 January, 2018, with the winners going on to play Premiership side Evergreen.
The Wheelchair FA
Powerchair football is an adapted version of football played by people with a physical disability who use wheel or power chairs. Two teams of four play the game indoors on a basketball court, similar to futsal, with halves lasting 20 minutes. Powerchairs are fitted with barriers to attack, defend and spin-kick a 13-inch football in an attempt to score goals.
The Wheelchair Football Association (WFA) was formed in 2005 and is the governing body of the game in England. There are currently 40 clubs affiliated to the WFA in the UK.
The sport provides competition at a national and regional level, as well as the WFA Cup, the powerchair version of the FA Cup.
Valence Vikings to STJFC
Sevenoaks Powerchair Football team originated from Valence School in Westerham. It was introduced to students by staff in 2003/04. At this early stage car tyres were sawn in half and tied to wheelchairs to act as barriers to enable them to play. Students at Valence School played competitively in the National League as the Valence Vikings.
This continued until 2012 when, with the employment of a full time development officer at the school, steps were taken to separate the competitive school team to a community team, enabling other disabled people outside of Valence School the opportunity to take part.
Valence Vikings officially became Sevenoaks Powerchair Football Club for the 2012/13 season after affiliating with Sevenoaks Town Juniors Football Club. The team currently play in the Wheelchair Football Associations National League and the South East Regional Powerchair Football League.