This Friday night fixture represented a first opportunity for me to visit the home of Otford United. This game with local rivals, IDE Hill FC, was the opening Kent County Premier League fixture of the season. I came with my son, to find the ground, which is tucked away behind Otford High Street. There was lots of parking available adjacent to the recreation ground and it was free after 7.00 pm.
The Recreation ground, Otford, boasts a nice clubhouse serving refreshments and where I was able to buy a club pin badge for my father’s collection. The Friday night derby fixture attracted a big crowd, of well over a hundred people and it created a noisy atmosphere throughout.
Otford United’s manager Mike Cunningham has his work cut out this season, as he attempts to turn around the performance in 2021/22, when Otford United finished in a disappointing 11th place. Just below them in 12th place were Ide Hill FC, who also came into the new season looking to prove they are capable of challenging for promotion, in 2023.
Ide Hill didn’t publish their team sheet online.
The game kicked off in late evening sun, on a dry, but level, grass pitch. Ide Hill had much of the early pressure.
In the 35th minute, the pressure paid off for Ide Hill FC, when a fine strike, from outside the area, by Shaun Boyle, their number 3, flew in off the post.
Otford United rallied, for the final ten minutes of the half and went close when a headed chance from a free kick on the left, struck the post. However at half time the score remained 0-1 to Ide Hill FC.
Within 5 minutes of the restart, Ide Hill doubled their lead. An early pass was played through to put Callum Heath in to score, which he executed with a neat finish, to put the away side two ahead. Five minutes later Ide Hill FC missed an open goal, when they could easily have put the game out of reach.
On 67 minutes a penalty was awarded to Otford United, which James Evans despatched comfortably to make the score Otford United 1, Ide Hill FC 2. There was then an altercation which led to a brawl and resulted in Ide Hill FC’s number ten being dismissed.
The remainder of the game saw Otford United pressing hard as they attempted to draw level. This also left space at the back which created counter attacking chances for Ide Hill.
Despite the efforts put in and the noise generated by the large following for both teams, the score remained 1-2 and it was Ide Hill FC who went top of the Kent County Premier League. I had thoroughly enjoyed the evening at Otford and my first experience of Kent County league.