2007-08 Southern Combination Challenge Cup Final,
A combination of profligacy in front of goal and solid goal-keeping by James Wastell, the Chipstead custodian, ensured that Ashford returned home empty handed from this cup final, a legacy left over from last season. There was plenty of effort and chances came, but were squandered by all, some where it looked easier to put the ball in the back of the net than miss.
In weather conditions more suitable to late autumn rather than summer and on a superb looking pitch, Chipstead got proceedings under way but it was the visitors who had the first chance of the match following a foul on Paul Johnson some 20 yards outside the hosts penalty area on the left. Johnson took the kick himself but failed to lift the ball over the first defender.
Shortly after, Scott Weight found Johnson on the left with a perfectly weighted (no pun intended) ball and the midfielder wasted no time in drilling a low cross into the box that flashed across the face of the goal finally arriving at the feet of Jon Palmer who shot wide.
The home team had there first meaningful attempt to breach Craig Ross’ goal in the 12th minute when Darryl Coleman found himself in acres of space but fired a hurried shot wide.
An audacious back-heel by Palmer into the path of the marauding Johnson led to a fine cross to the far post to the incoming Warren Harris but Chipstead’s left back Chris Head was just too tall for Harris to out-jump.
Byron Harrison, galloping around the park like an out of control lawn-mower, latched onto a long ball from Stuart Bamford, cut inside and played the ball into Johnson’s path, Johnson hit a sweet left footed drive that looked a goal from the time the ball left his foot but somehow Wastell, diving full length, finger-tipped the ball round the post for a corner. Ricky Wellard’s out-swinging kick met the head of Harrison but his header was cleared of the line by Chris Head.
Chipstead’s main danger man was Josh Smith who was given to making mazy runs pretty well every time he received the ball and it was one of these and a neat pass inside to Sam Butler that set up the hosts next chance, Butler’s shot being deflected into the path of Danny Oakens who shot wide.
The visitors should have taken a deserved lead in the 34th minute following Vinnie O’Sullivan’s superb cross-field pass to Harris who took the ball past Ashley Reid before beating off two more challenges and crossing low to the far post to where both Palmer and Harrison were loitering. Both strikers had attempts to put the ball in the net but eventually Wastell managed to fall on the ball and the chance was gone.
Another weaving run by Smith sent Johnson the wrong way but the Chipstead winger’s shot was weak and Ross gathered the ball safely then, O’Sullivan advanced into the Chipstead half before finding Harrison with a good ball, Harrison pivoted and sent a shot goal-wards that was deflected just over the bar.
The home team scored what turned out to be the winning goal in the 50th minute and it came from a corner in similar circumstances to the goal scored against Ashford the previous week. Chipstead skipper, Richard Williams was allowed the freedom to meet the corner kick and calmly head home without any defenders troubling him.
A long ball out of defence by Adam Logie picked out Palmer who controlled the ball well, but excellent defending by Nathan Campbell mopped up the danger, while Butler skimmed the bar at the other end with a powerful left-foot shot.
Josh Smith moved wings to try his luck against O’Sullivan and this allowed Ricardo Josef to push forward more. One such adventure down the Ashford left culminated in a great cross that Johnson met on the volley but contrived to miss the target from 12 yards.
Ashford had what looked to be a decent penalty shout in the 71st minute when Scott Harris, on for Harrison, was bought down but referee Mr Jempeji seemed confused, immediately putting his whistle to his lips but not actually blowing it.
An excellent passage of play by the hosts set up a chance from range for Coleman who let fly a tremendous effort only to see young Craig Ross acrobatically dive full length across his goal to tip the ball past the post for a corner.
Both sides showed some neat touches in a game rather spoiled by the conditions and the Middlesex side will hope to get back to their free-scoring ways for the visit to Hastings United next Saturday.