Under-18's maintain perfect record

Kent 1-3 Sussex

Jay Lovett’s side moved a step closer to South East Counties Youth Championship final with a 3-1 victory at defending champions Kent to maintain a 100% record in all competitions. This leaves Sussex needing just a point against London FA in the final game to gain a place in the final.

Sussex had beaten Jersey and Essex 4-2 and 1-0 respectively in the group and overcame Bedfordshire with a 1-0-win last time out in the cup. 

Four days after the Ladies side had gone down 4-0 to the same opponents, the Under-18s - who won the South East Counties title last term - returned to the Garden of England and enjoyed markedly better fortunes than their counterparts. 

By contrast, Kent, who won this competition last term, see the defence of their title hanging by a thread having lost both league games so far. 

Lovett was pleased with his side’s success but also eyed room for improvement. He said: “It was a good team performance and on the whole I’m pleased.

“As a manager you can always look to improve and although we played some good football, I thought we started a bit slowly and didn’t work their goalkeeper enough in the first 20 minutes. 

“If I’m being hyper critical, we missed too many chances for my liking, we had three headers in the first half and, although our profligacy didn’t cost us, we should have won by more. 

“We were a bit lax early in the second half and at 2-1 it was uncomfortable for a time, but we responded well, got the third goal during their best spell of the match and then got control again.

“Ollie Munt and our keeper James Earl played well on his debut, but it was a good all-round performance.”

Lois dos Santos was kept out early on by the aforementioned Earl, and Mitch Hewens - dual signed with Lancing and Lewes - went close with a cross/shot at the other end. 

Sussex took the lead with their next attack when Tegan Freeman slotted home from the spot on eleven minutes after Nic Dariezno had gone down under a challenge.

Tyrese Mthunzi headed wide and Demas Ramsis also went close with another header, but Kent continued to prove an intermittent threat. The hosts almost equalised when Dos Santos flashed an effort narrowly wide after a quick counter attack.

Kent were made to rue that miss as Sussex moved 2-0 ahead on the stroke of half-time. The visitors launched a breakaway of their own, a sweeping move that culminated in a clinical finish from Ramsis who swept home beyond the advancing Roman Hall. 

To their credit, Kent hit back and made Sussex work for the win. Earl denied Dos Santos and substitute Callum Rollings before the former gave his side hope with a one-on-one finish after a superb pass from Harrison Point with 25 minutes still to play.

Back came Lovett’s men and, within three minutes, they had re-established the two-goal advantage. A deflected Hewens free-kick caused havoc and fell into the path of Munt who made no mistake and buried it for a deserved goal. 

Alfie Prior had a shot tipped wide by Earl and Rollings could have set up a frantic finale, but Sussex’s debutant Eastbourne Borough keeper did well to deny the forward. 

Reggie Ward struck the bar for Sussex, but they had done enough and held out for victory to retain pole position in Group B.

Lovett added: “We’ve won three out of three which I’m very happy with, but we don’t want to get carried away. It’s dull and a well-worn cliché, but it’s so true that you only take one game at a time. You can’t ahead of yourselves and we’ve emphasised that to the players.” 

(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)

Stats: (Kent - Sussex)
Shots 11-10; On target 4-7; Corners 1-3; Fouls 12-9; Offsides 2-2; Yellow Cards 2-0; Red Cards 0-0.

Kent: Hall; Jones, Exall, Adekunle, Williams (c), Cheek, Roberts, Gilbert, Baumgbose, Point, Dos Santos. Subs: Rollings, Wilkinson, Prior

Sussex: Earl; Ferreira, Darienzo, Freeman, Blencowe, Blackmore (c), Ward, Mthunzi, Ramsis, Munt, Hewens. Subs: Whitmore, Seymour, Stevens, Wright. 

Match Report by Jamie Spoor

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