by Mark Doig, Kent Sports News @ksnfootball
It took penalties to decide an entertaining F.A. Youth Cup Preliminary Round tie between Erith Town and Sevenoaks Town.
Sam Stiles was the hero for Erith with two excellent penalty saves in the shoot-out following a game that had ebbed and flowed and was a superb advert for non-league youth football.
Early chances went the way of the hosts and a long range free kick by Ronnie McLean had to be tipped over by Tom Cleary. The Erith dead-ball expert took the resulting corner and Alfie Curnow met it with a firm header that Cleary had to beat away.
At the other end Michael Peate delivered a corner and Harry Edwards lost his man at the near post but he couldn’t make a clean connection and it went wide. Piers Fautley then fired over after Elliott Duncan had teed him up.
Just shy of the half hour mark, the Dockers went ahead. McLean passed back to Stiles and he kept calm to find Tom Ash in space. He looked up and sent a perfect ball over the top to send Joe Chalker away and as Cleary hared out, Chalker calmly lobbed him to find the back of the net.
Asanti Amoah whacked a free kick over for the hosts before Stiles had to come out quickly at the other end as Elliot Duncan looked to get in behind.
Well into first half stoppage time, Sevenoaks levelled. They won a corner and Erith again failed to deal with a near post man losing his marker but managed to scramble it away for another corner. This one was half cleared but only back out to Peate and this time he sent it deep and Duncan rose to head home.
Soon after the break Alfie Curnow forced a defender into a hurried clearance but it ricocheted off him and went just over. Chalker then struck a shot well but it was straight at Cleary and he held on well.
However, it was Sevenoaks who went ahead when a pass across the edge of the area found Will Mullen in space and he took his time to measure his shot beyond Stiles. Soon after, Stiles again had to be out quickly as Duncan burst through.
Having weathered the storm, the Dockers levelled when Sevenoaks scrambled an effort off the line but it fell to Curnow and he shot home through a crowd of players.
Both teams searched for a winner with Mullen going close for the visitors when his effort was deflected over but neither side could find a winner and it went to penalties.
Stiles saved Sevenoaks’ first two spot kicks with brilliant stops at full stretch diving to his right. Although Sevenoaks converted their next two, the Dockers were perfect with four out of four and it is they who progress to the first round when they will entertain Hastings United or Lewisham Borough.
Erith Town: Stiles, Lawrence, McLean, Yushfogly, Burgess, Ash, Chalker, Hergest, Mandisodza, Curnow, Amoah. Subs: Lacey, Newham, Jones, Whitwall, Barnes, Tinbu.
Goalscorers: Chalker (29), Curnow (69)
Yellow cards: None
Red cards: None
Sevenoaks Town: Cleary, Longland, Sacmon, Greenwood, Peate, Driver, Mullen, Edwards, Duncan, Edorm, Fautley. Subs: Harris, Hudson, Bennett, Parrott, Raishbrook, Ryan.
Goalscorers: Duncan (45+), Mullen (56)
Yellow cards: None Red cards: None
Referee: Kennedy Kikulwe