Cray Valley Paper Mills (1) 2, Metropolitan Police (1) 1
Cray Valley Paper Mills won the London Senior Cup for the first time last Wednesday 3rd May as they beat Metropolitan Police FC at Champion Hill, Dulwich. A second-half goal from Aaron Rhule separated the teams after a tense and exciting game which saw Cray Valley take the lead on two occasions.
The Blues’ defensive frailties were shown as early as the ninth minute when a ball into their penalty area was not cleared properly, giving both Ben Francis and Jason Thompson half-chances, before Ollie Robinson hooked the ball clear.
Thompson then brought an uncomfortable save from Brannon Daly, blocking the ball with his body at the near post.
If these were warnings to the Police, they went unheeded as, in the 16th minute, they didn’t close down Francis, who smashed a dipping 25-yard drive over Daly and off the underside of the crossbar into the net.
It took only six minutes for the Blues to reply. A corner from Charlie Collins was met with a thumping header from Ola Sogbanmu, giving Jordan Carey no chance.
In the 24th minute, Francis should have restored the Millers’ lead, but, following another scramble in the Police box, he side-footed the ball wide from five yards out when it was easier to score.
The game calmed down and the next two incidents were both very unfortunate, injuries to Francis and, scarily, Sam Williams of the Police. Williams slipped on the side of the pitch and crashed into the side of his team’s dugout.
Both players were replaced in the 40th minute, Tom Fitzgerald replacing Francis and Rylan Myers Williams, who was taken to hospital.
Just before half time, Rhule took too long when a chance presented itself. Just after the break, at which point Orlando Smith replaced Sogbanmu, Roman Michael-Percil fired a 20-yard drive which was caught just under the crossbar, at full stretch, by Carey.
Further Police pressure nearly resulted in a goal for Michael-Percil in the 54th minute, when his deflected shot was cleared by Alastair Gordon near the goal-line.
A few minutes later, Denzel Gayle was denied by a good low save from Daly. Within a minute, Orlando Smith fired over the crossbar after the Millers had failed to clear their lines.
The game was decided in the 61st minute when a through ball should have been cleared Mekheil McLaughlin, but he was called off by Daly’s call of “Keeper, keeper, keeper.”
When you call for the ball, you must get it, but Daly didn’t and RHULE was able to guide his header into the empty net.
With 20 minutes to go, the last three changes were made, Joe Matthews and Enoch Adjei taking over from Millers Laurence Collins and Rhule, while Ahmed Abdulla replaced Rob Bartley.
In the 71st minute, a hopeful ball into the box from Ollie Robinson was misdirected, but it resulted in a magnificent save from Carey as it arrowed just under the crossbar.
Met Police pushed for an equaliser in the last 10 minutes but Cray Valley kept men behind the ball and ensured they were hard to break down, keeping the boys in blue at bay.
The full time whistle was met by delight by Cray Valley fans and players alike, who had the perfect ending to what has been a fantastic season for them.
London FA would like to thank all those who have helped out with the Senior Cup this season, including players, coaches, supporters, officials, sponsors and volunteers. It has been a fantastic tournament and we couldn’t have done it without all of your hard work.
CRAY VALLEY PAPER MILLS: Jordan Cary, Alastair Gordon, Danny Smith, Laurence Collins (Joe Matthews, 69), Ashley Sains, Tyler McDonnell, Denzel Gayle, Jamie Miller, Ben Francis (Tom Fitzgerald, 40), Jason Thompson, Aaron Rhule (Enoch Adjei, 70). Unused subs: Frankie Griffin, Jamie Wood.
Goals: Ben Francis, 16, Aaron Rhule, 61.
METROPOLITAN POLICE: Brannon Daly, Sam Williams (Rylan Myers, 40), Mekheil McLaughlin, Will Salmon, Ollie Robinson, Rob Bartley (Ahmed Abdulla, 70), Luke Robertson, Ola Sogbanmu (Orlando Smith, HT), Charlie Collins, Lloyd Macklin, Roman Michael-Percil. Unused subs: Ryan James, Jon Nurse.
Goals: Ola Sogbanmu, 22.
Referee: Andreas Anastasiou
Assistant Referees: Michael Begley, Craig Kissi
4th Official: Lee Brennan
Many thanks to Jeff Pettitt for providing the match officials with new kit for the game.
Written by David Balheimer.