It was a warm June evening, although grey and overcast, at the Bauvill stadium for the final of the post lockdown tournament. A month ago I had watched these teams draw 4-4 in the group stages.
Kick off was delayed until 8.00 pm due to latecomers in the crowd still accessing the ground. When the teams came out it looked to be a crowd of over 1000 watching this final, as the teams played for the Kent Non League Podcast Trophy.
The first half was well fought, seeing plenty of chances for both sides but no goals. Sheppey hit the bar on 38 minutes and immediately, in response, Chatham’s number 12 went through on goal but failed to score.
Both sides went into the break with the final still in the balance.
On 55 minutes it was Chatham Town who opened the scoring, with the pressure they put on the Sheppey defence forcing an own goal.
On 79 minutes Chatham conceded a penalty, with a careless trip in the box. The spot kick was converted, with aplomb, by Midson, the Sheppey United captain.
Both sides had chances to win as they threw everything forward in the final minutes. On 88 minutes a bad challenge led to tempers spilling over with a short melee on the pitch. The referee stamped his authority, brandishing a card to calm the mood.
As the whistle blew for full time, with the scores tied at 1-1, both teams gathered together before going into extra time.
In extra time Bradshaw put Chatham in front before Sheppey again equalised, this time through Warren Mfula, with minutes left. With the scores locked at 2-2, the game went to penalties.
Chatham missed one and then Sheppey, but the finishing was so good, that after 8 penalties, the score was tied at 7-7. Then it happened and after Chatham made it 8-7, Sheppey finally missed a penalty. After a tournament providing three matches between the teams resulting in 14 goals, the teams were, in the end, only separated by one penalty in 16. Chatham secured the trophy and celebrated wildly.
While tonight Chatham celebrated, both they and Sheppey will look forward to an exciting upcoming SCEFL league season, where they will surely be favourites to dual for the league title. The fact that the match drew a mid week crowd of 1087, reflected the popularity of non league football in Kent and the quality of both teams.