Isthmian Cup Final Mon 8 April King Georges Field
Cray Valley PM
  • Igwe (3')
  • Turner (17')
  • Hoarty (71')

Pre-match, this Isthmian League Cup Final was billed as a clash between Worthing’s potent attack and Cray Valley’s miserly defence, the Rebels having scored 88 league goals, with the Millers only conceding 5.

Almost inevitably, a biblical downpour arrived as the teams were warming up, and come kick-off, the rain remained intense. Though well used to these conditions by now, the young Reds started slowly, and within 3 minutes Cray Valley were ahead, as they broke rapidly downfield, Turner finding Igwe who finished calmly. Worthing continued to find it difficult to get a foothold in proceedings, and after 17 minutes, Turner’s shot from distance took a deflection which, by football law, we must refer to as ‘wicked’, the ball ending up in the net to double the advantage.

An already challenging assignment had thus become even tougher, but to Worthing’s credit, they gradually began to impose themselves as the half progressed. Zac Jeanes’s pace down the right asked questions of the Cray Valley defence, and Luca Allen was increasingly menacing down the left. On 33 minutes, a shot from Luca was high, wide and handsome, shortly afterwards, another fierce effort from the same player drew a fantastic save from Aidan Wicks in the Millers’ goal. Just before the interval, Stan found enough space to get his shot away, but it fizzed narrowly over the bar.

The heavens had by now closed, but network coverage was still problematic – scuppering Pete’s valiant efforts to provide commentary on Rebel Yell Live, and rendering any updates on the Worthing FC Youth Twitter account decidedly low-tech.

The second half began with Cray Valley again looking sharp, but the young Reds were quicker to assert themselves now, and began to dominate both possession and territory. The much-needed goal was proving hard to come by, however, and it was plain to see why the Millers have conceded so few this year – their out-of-possession work was largely exemplary, and their backline was marshalled superbly by the very impressive Nathan Fashanu.

It felt as if a moment of magic would be required, and on 71 minutes, Evan provided it, working himself enough space just outside the right-hand corner of the box to fire into the top corner. Now the game was on, and the Rebels continued to push and probe in search of an equaliser, but the Cray Valley rearguard held firm. With minutes left, a barely credible last-ditch challenge from Danny Jordan prevented the Millers from sealing the deal, our young number 6 recovering fantastically to deny Igwe in the six-yard box. 5 minutes were added, but try as Worthing might, they couldn’t manage to fashion an opportunity clear-cut enough to trouble the Cray Valley keeper.

Losing a cup final is always tough to take, perhaps even more so when you have played so well – and make no mistake, the boys in red played very well indeed here. They showed determination, grit, endeavour, togetherness and no little skill, and were a huge credit to the club. The future, I believe, remains very bright.