Park come through the Drama of a Penalty Shoot-out!!
The spectators that braved the weather and the early start at Cobdown on Sunday were rewarded for their efforts as they were treated to some of the most exciting and entertaining games in youth football that provided everything except for dogey goal line incidents.
After all the pre match respect rituals completed the game finally got going, to begin with no real team making any real progression, with the ball being challenged in the centre on the pitch. Then Park managed to make an opening for Alfie Collins-Smith who then was judged to have been fouled in the area. He dusted himself down and placed the ball into the corner of the net to give the lead to Park. This really brought the game to life for both teams and the action flowed from one end to the other with the Park team finding it hard to breakdown the resolute Maidstone rear guard. Then Maidstone finally got a break in open play on the left which allowed a composed shot into the corner of the Park net to equalise. Now it was to play for again, both teams giving 120% effort and the crowd electrifying the atmosphere. Park were awarded a FreeKick just outside the area and after a little team conference Alfie Collins-Smith lined up the kick to which there seemed no possible way though but his strike was clean and it managed to avoid any desperate efforts to stop the ball as it flew into the net. So Park back in front again. Park started then to get a little more on top of the game and looked likely that they would increase the lead, but the Maidstone Keeper made a number of heroic saves to keep the game on a knife edge as Maidstone still looked like they could create something on the break themselves. Then with the normal time ticking out Maidstone capitalised on one of these chances to equalise with a header from a free kick.
So it went into Extra Time. Again both teams never appeared to lose any appetite for the game as they continued to play the game at a very fast pace. Again both teams had chances but both the teams defences and keepers kept on top of their game and the final result ended 2-2.
So another final to be decided by the kicks from the Penalty Spot. It was a nervous start as both teams missed their first penalty's but this then settled with the next 6 taken finding the net. Down to the 5th penalty taker with those not in the original 5 takers starting to get worried Maidstone missed to the left of the Goal. This then brought up the Park Captain Adam Jones to take the sudden death kick. With what it seemed everyone in Cobdown watching stepped up and managed to squeeze it under the keeper to settle the tie.
What a game.. what a advert for how youth football should be played allowing the boys to express themselves with no other interferences other than total encouragement for them from the sidelines.
Both teams then lined up in the presentation area and sat next to each other and it was great to see them both chatting away to each other like nothing had just happened.
Thanks to Maidstone Supporters, Tyke and Ian for helping make this such a great day for all. Im sure there will be many more encounters between the two teams to look forward to soon.
Congratulations to Harry Barker, Adam Jones and Charlie Gallighan for the tireless effort in being so composed in defence always looking to play the ball through the team. Bashiri Ryan, Louis Callighan-Inge, Sam Ford, Charlie Weston and Luke Still, who always tried to keep the ball moving throughout against the bigger opponents and Alfie Collins-Smith for taking the opportunities in the big games when it matters.