1st Xl finish in style
By Paul Linaker
Confirm League win by 4 points and goal difference of 59
Having secured the League title the previous week, Sutton Valence travelled to Gillingham Anchorians without the pressure of having to secure points. Although the game was a dead rubber and various absentees reduced the travellers to 11, the Valence team agreed they needed to prove themselves worthy League Champions.
As always, Valence started strongly dominating possession early on and continued controlling the game throughout the half. When they didn’t have the ball, Valence worked as a unit to limit Gillingham’s options and win back possession. When they did have the ball, the passing was slick, and opportunities created. The pressure told on the home team’s defence who conceded a plethora of short corners but their keeper, playing the game of his life, kept the score sheet balanced. Denied from the set piece, Valence’s first-half goals came from open play; Brett Angel bagging the first of two on 8 minutes, then Chris Back 8 minutes later, and then Brett Angel wrapping up the scoring for the first-half with his second 13 minutes from the break.
The glorious spring weather was not choice for an 11-man side and the heat told on the visitors through most of the second half. Although this allowed Gillingham more possession, Valence’s defence was infallible and denied the hosts any real opportunities to score. Their two short corners were easily dispatched and their closest chance, a scorching, rocket-propelled shot heading for the top right corner, was skilfully gloved away by Young for a long corner.
At the other end Valence continued to test the buzzing home team keeper who persistently defied the odds, making saves from set piece and open play. Valence persevered and were rewarded with a brace of goals late on. First Kirkham 6 minutes from time, patiently duping the keeper and lifting the ball over his prone body and finally one minute from time, Mitchell closed the scoring also taking the aerial route to beat the keeper.
Valence finish the season four points clear at the top with a very healthy goal difference of 59 and look forward to the challenges of Kent Division 2 next season.
MOM: Gillingham keeper
Scorers: Brett Angel (8,22), Chris Back (16), Kevin Kirkham (64), Lewis Mitchell (69)
Team: Stewart Young, Russell Blanchard, Angus McVarish, Chris Back, Jack Davies, Lewis Mitchell, Fred McVarish, Brett Angel, Kevin Kirkham, Johnny Walker.
Umpire: Andrew Wishart
Match Tea: Something resembling a sausage, chips and beans.
Match Report by Stewart Young.