St Peter U18s are finally set to play in a final of a competition they started well back in September 2019. It has been a long wait but manager Karl Benest says his team are ready to create history on Sunday.
Benest caught up with Sportscast Jersey’s Dan Andrade ahead of the final to explain a bit more about their road to the final, and explains why he thinks more clubs on the island should play in mainland competitions.
Tell us more about the tournament so far and how many rounds you played pre lockdown!
The tournament is called Kent County Cup. There were 64 teams when the competition started back on 29/09/2019. We have gone through 5 rounds to reach the final where we have beaten 3 of the best teams in the competition. First round we beat VCD Athletic 2-1. Second round we beat K Sports 4 -2, they were in the final the year before. With an injured Toby Ritzema who played a 6 minute cameo to turn the game around in our favour. Third round we beat Orpington Mustangs 4-3 in very tricky conditions. Quarter final we had to go all the way to penalties as it was a 3-3 draw after extra time. Kacper Smilek was the hero after losing our keeper at 60 minutes due to injury. Kacper volunteered to go in goal and save the decisive penalty. We won 5-4 on penalties. We all thought the competition would be over due to coronavirus. We had to wait 15 months to get the semi final played. Where we beat the favourites Faversham Town 1-0 with Ryan Marchinko scoring in the 83rd minute.
How good was it to finally get the semi-final played a few weeks ago? How did the game go?
It’s absolutely amazing finally being able to play the semi final after waiting almost 15 months! It is such a great achievement for the players, St Peter’s and even putting Jersey, putting us out there on the map.
5mins – Improved start St Peter came out of the half time team talk with a strong and powerful start playing positive, fast passing, flowing football to take the game to the home team. It surly will only be a matter of time before a goal comes. 20mins – Close opportunity Toby continued his excellent form during the game with A great solo run from midfield passing two players and accelerating through the defense into the box for a one on one with a keeper but unfortunately his curling shot just went over the bar. 60th minute – Close opportunity Toby found himself coming from deep running onto a well lofted ball and with ball hanging high in the air it was a 50/50 race with the goalkeeper. Toby was millimetere’s away from a headed flick passed the keeper but the goalkeeper was brave and came to punch the ball away and then clattered into Toby. 65th minute – One on one opportunity Continuing the constant second half pressure of St Peter, Harry Scott was given an opportunity to take on the centreback when a ball from Kacper was played from the edge of the St Peter box into space on the left side of the pitch where upon Harry raced onto it from his Centre forward positioning, after out pacing his marker he was bearing down towards the opposition box where he is met by a covering full back and the opportunity to beat the defender and get a shop away was on. Harry did a step over and moved the ball from his left to right foot ready for a shooting opportunity but the defender borrowed the angle and Harry had to switch the play back to the over wing to start another phase. 70th min – Disallowed Goal It would have been deserved but following a panic scrabble in the box from an in-swinging corner, Kacper was first to strike home a lose ball at the far post but appeals for a hand ball were agreed with by the ref who blew to award a free kick and no goal. 75th min – Chance From our own half, Noah takes a throw in from left back down the line for Ryan to head infield to the midfield position where Tommy heads in forward to Harry Scott who chests the ball dead as follows with a defense splitting ball where upon James Carr was running into having come into a central position off the right wing. James shoots for goal with his trusty left foot and it looks goal bound if it was not for a great defending last lunge block by the Faversham Centre back. 83rd min – Goal A lose ball in midfield got picked up and controlled by Jamie who played a central pass forward from inside the Centre circle to the advanced Tommy who instinctively played a square one touch pass into the path of the advancing Toby who did a deft chest control from the bounce and then a delightful lobbed through ball into the channel between the Centreback and right back where Ryan had stayed onside and pounced to finish cooly with a delightful first touch finish past the advancing goalkeeper on the near post. 1-0. Stern defending and pride and passion saw us through the final 7 minutes.
Who are you playing in the final and when is it?
In the final we are playing Bexley FC. Who are in the U18s Kent Youth League Division North. The Final Tie will take place on the ground of Chatham Town FC on Sunday, with it being a 1pm kick off.
How good has this tournament been for your players, and yourself, as a way of challenging yourselves against unknown opposition?
It’s be absolutely amazing for the players to be able to get off the island and play teams that we know nothing about. The only way we find out stuff is through Google and see if they have a club page. I do hope more clubs in Jersey will see us in the final and give there club the opportunity to go off island and give there lads the opportunities every player needs.
How hungry are you to win the final now you’re there!
As the manager of this amazing set of players I’m ready to give everything to the lads to help them go out and put on a great team performance. If we play as I know we can play I have no doubt we can go there and win. We want to bring the trophy back to St. Peter’s where it belongs. Come on the Cross Keys Red and White army!
Good luck to the lads. Dan will be at the match, with our coverage being sponsored by Shotstoppers Goalkeeping Coaching. Bring the trophy home boys!