Angels Ladies victorious in Kent Divisional Cup Final
Victory sealed in extra time
Angels Ladies in just their second season have won their first ever cup final in dramatic fashion against the champions of their league, Thamesview with the match being played at the Gallagher Stadium.
It was the team from the Medway area who made the more positive start with Angels keeper Sam Wright quickly called into action after just two minutes when she came quickly off her line to smother a through Thamesview ball and two minutes later Tonbridge's best player and captain Sharon Lyons showed the crowd just how good a defender she is in cutting out a dangerous opposition move.
Arguably, somewhat against the run of play Angels took the lead in the 7th minute. Centre forward Becky Janes was body checked on the edge of the area and Kelly Moran's free kick was converted by Megan Akehurst past Thamesview goalkeeper Bronwyn Allen. Stung by this setback, Thamesview made huge efforts to restore parity continually testing Wright and her fellow defenders. The Blue shirts however held form and just before half time might have added to their lead when Akehurst fed Becky Janes but the striker's shot was dealt with by Allen.
Angels would have been somewhat relieved to have heard the referees half time whistle and to go in for the break with their slender lead intact.
The second period was a much more even affair and on the hour mark Janes was presented with a huge chance to double the Angels advantage following heavy pressure on the Thamesview goal but the shot was skied over. The game ebbed and flowed with defences largely dominating proceedings and for all Thamesview's efforts it began to look as if the one goal for Tonbridge was going to be enough. However in the 85th minute Thamesview drew level through Lucy Stillworth following an uncharacteristic mix up in the Angels defence.
And so the game moved to extra time with all the players beginning to visibly tire and several starting to feel the effects of cramp. That rather put a dampener on the quality of play with neither side in the first period of extra time able to create any clear cut chances. In the 108th minute, however, Akehurst for the Angels somehow managed squeeze the ball past a couple of Thamesview defenders to give Tonbridge the advantage. This seemed to knock the confidence from Thamesview and from this point it appeared to be Tonbridge's cup to lose. Ten minutes later they were awarded a penalty with Janes stepping up for the spot kick which crashed against the crossbar and away to safety but she was to make amends in stoppage time with Thamesview now out on their feet by firing the ball into the net for Tonbridge's third goal and to seal a famous victory prompting wild celebrations.
These were two very evenly matched sides as their respective final positions (1st Thamesview, 2nd Tonbridge Angels) in the SECWFL Kent Division 1 would indicate, the crucial difference on the night being the shortage of substitutes for Thamesview making the exhaustion factor tell more readily than for their opponents.