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The Dockers Squad and Backroom Staff Celebrate Winning the Kent Senior Trophy

Dockers Add Kent Senior Trophy to this Season’s Haul!

There are plenty of clichés that could have summed up Erith Town over the last decade: “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.” “Close, but no cigar.” “This one is coming down to the wire.” One famous saying that has summed up the club’s recent hunt for silverware was, “You wait ages for a bus, then along come two at once!“, but luckily for The Dockers, the recent Southern Counties Eastern Football League (SCEFL) Challenge Cup and Kent Senior Trophy success made it worth every second of the wait. Approaching the fixture at Maidstone United’s Gallagher Stadium, The Dockers were riding the crest of a wave, one trophy in the bag and still well in the hunt for a SCEFL Premier Division play-off place, there was plenty of confidence amongst the Erith Town faithful, but locking horns with SCEFL Division One’s Croydon FC, who themselves are in the mix for promotion to the fifth tier of Non-League football, The Dockers knew they would be in for a tough Sunday afternoon in ME14.

The opening salvo couldn’t have gone any worse for Adam Woodward’s side when, after just 38 seconds, Ryan Palmer unleashed an absolute thunderbolt from well outside The Dockers’ penalty area that fizzed right into the top corner of a helpless Mackenzie Foley‘s net. Easily a contender for goal of the tournament, if not goal of the season at any level, Palmer may well never score a goal that good again and the blue sea of noise from the Croydon fans was loud and raucous, leaving those from SE28 watching in stunned silence.

Eager to build on the early goal and momentum, Croydon were playing a higher tempo and seemed hungrier than the team in yellow and black, being first to every loose ball and closing down passages of play, but this all changed in the 9th minute when The Dockers equalised. A Harry Taylor flick-on from a right-side cross looped over the head of Croydon goalkeeper, George Kamurasi, but didn’t beat the crossbar. Reading the bounce quicker than those around him, Ollie Milton was first to the rebound and slammed home his 20th goal of the season from close range, sending the Erith Town fans into rapture. The goal sparked life back into the SE28 outfit and they began to dominate, passing the ball well, keeping control and cutting-off passing lanes, but although they controlled the game for large portions of the remainder of the first half, Erith Town did not test the opposition Number One as much as their midfield dominance would suggest, and while nowhere near as dominant as in the opening 10 minutes, Croydon had the chance to get back in front late in the first half, but Mackenzie Foley was equal to the chance from close range, and both sides went in at half-time at 1-1.

Dockers' Captain Ryan Mahal holds the Kent Senior Trophy Aloft as the Team Celebrates

The second half was a near carbon copy of the first as once again Croydon took the lead early into the half. Pouncing on a mistake at the back from Erith Town, Ulrich Fischer got himself on the end of a low cross in right front of the Croydon FC fans, stabbing the ball into the back of the net in the 49th minute to see The Trams back in front. Erith Town huffed and puffed for large periods of the second half, and it was only some outstanding goalkeeping from George Kamurasi that prevented The Dockers from blowing the Croydon house down, and not to be outdone by his opposite number, Mackenzie Foley was also called into action, and it was some magnificent and agile goalkeeping that kept Croydon from scoring and winning the final.

With time running out, scoreboard pressure was telling on Erith Town. Passes were being rushed and shots scuffed as they tried to force the play, and with 15 minutes to go it looked for all the world like the trophy was going back on the coach to South Norwood. Cue the introduction of Dockers’ number 19, Bradley Ryan, who changed the game altogether for Erith Town. A handful from the moment he got on the pitch, Ryan did some fantastic work on the left hand side, skinning the Croydon right-back to get into their area before cutting the ball back to the on-rushing James Dyer at the edge of the Croydon penalty area. Dyer had a quiet game compared to his usual high standards, but he showed why The Dockers’ management have so much faith in him by burying a low effort into the bottom corner of Kamurasi’s goal in the 77th minute. Kamurasi had been magnificent in the Croydon goal, but he had no chance with Dyer’s effort to bring the game back level.

James Dyer winds up take the shot for his winning goal in the Kent Senior Trophy.
Croydon looked obviously deflated. Nervous mumbles could be heard from both sets of fans, but in the 90th minute, and with extra-time looming, Dyer again showed why he’s the big game player when the situation calls for a little magic. Timing his run to perfection from another flick-on from the tireless Harry Taylor, the Erith Town Number 7 did some great work to beat the Croydon defence, and again got the better of Kamurasi, thumping the ball into the bottom corner from distance. The Gallagher Stadium erupted, and everyone jumped onboard the Dyette fan-bus, roaring with delight as Dyer caressed the Erith Town badge and pumped his arms to get the fans roaring.

The final whistle sounded, and The Dockers secured a second successive cup final victory and their second piece of silverware in a season that will live long in the memory.

James being presented with the Player of the Match award at the Kent Senior Trophy win
Celebrating with the young fans, youth players and stars of the future, Erith Town were once more inspirational in their ability to dig deep and get a result when needed as they look to the end of what could be a historic season for the club.