Welford en­sures it ends in cheers

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Kent Reliance Senior Trophy Final Special -

Man­ager Danny Lye de­scribed Shaun Welford’s per­for­mance as ‘un­real’ af­ter the striker’s dou­ble led Ash­ford to glory in the Kent Re­liance Se­nior Tro­phy at Maid­stone’s Gal­lagher Sta­dium on Sun­day.

United, the favourites, fell be­hind to a Lau­rence Collins goal in­side two min­utes but Welford had them level at the break and then headed the win­ner with 11 min­utes re­main­ing.

The goals were Welford’s 40th and 41st of a pro­lific cam­paign and player-boss Lye said that the 37-year-old’s ap­petite for the game shames men far younger than him.

Lye said: “Shaun’s de­sire to win is in­cred­i­ble. He did it all on his own up there. He just runs and runs and runs and he does it ev­ery week.

“At 37, it’s un­real what he does but it doesn’t sur­prise me be­cause he just wants to win.”

South­ern Coun­ties East League lead­ers United went into the game hav­ing beaten Cray three times al­ready this sea­son but they Shaun Welford con­grat­u­lated by Rory Hill af­ter scor­ing the win­ner ASH­FORD UNITED CRAY VAL­LEY PM were be­hind in­side two min­utes 20 sec­onds af­ter keeper Ge­orge Ka­murasi came for but did not claim Ja­son Thomp­son’s free-kick from the left. The ball fell to Val­ley skip­per Jamie Wood whose mis­cued shot fell to Lau­rence Collins who swept home from 12 yards. Welford threat­ened a swift equaliser when he headed against the post and the United top scorer was then picked out by Dave Bot­ter­ill but stabbed his shot wide from close range. Cray Val­ley’s Aaron Rhule got in be­hind the United de­fence on 20 min­utes but was un­able to keep his feet and the chance went beg­ging and six min­utes later, United were level. While Cray’s de­fence hes­i­tated ex­pect­ing ref­eree Ben Bowles to blow for a high chal­lenge, Welford didn’t, run­ning on be­fore drilling a low shot into the bot­tom cor­ner from 15 yards. De­fen­sive er­rors pre­sented Welford with two other sights at goal be­fore the break, while Ka­murasi saved well from Rhule and Cray be­gan the sec­ond half in pos­i­tive fash­ion, with United skip­per Stu­art West do­ing well to block from Enoch Ad­jei.

Ad­jei then sent over a ter­rific cross which was turned back across goal by Den­zel Gayle with Fran­cis un­able to get a touch.

Ash­ford’s first chance of the half came just be­fore the hour when Rory Hill’s low drive was well palmed away by Carey who then de­nied the same player with an equally smart save.

Mo­ments later, Val­ley scorer Collins had Ka­murasi scam­per­ing across his goal with a well-struck ef­fort which drifted just wide and on 64 min­utes, United de­fender Pat King­well got a vi­tal block in to keep out Gayle’s goal­bound ef­fort.

There was a real cut-and-thrust feel to the game at this stage, even given the heat, but as the min­utes ticked away, so the con­test be­came more cagey and ex­tra time looked likely un­til Welford struck.

Sav­age’s su­perb deep cross al­ways had Cray keeper Carey strug­gling and when he failed to get there, it gave Welford the chance to head into an empty net.

Hill al­most made it 3-1 two min­utes from time when his snap shot from 15 yards hit Carey in the chest with­out the keeper know­ing too much about it.

United’s win came at the third at­tempt, hav­ing lost 4-0 to Beckenham in 2013/14 and on penal­ties to Shep­pey in last year’s fi­nal, also at the Gal­lagher Sta­dium.

Ka­murasi, Sav­age, Walker, Bot­ter­ill, West, King­well, Palmer, Stubbs (Stone 69mins), Welford, Good­child, Hill. Subs: Eldridge, Wil­liams, Laven­der, Lye.

Carey, McDon­agh, Smith, Wood (Gor­don 69mins), Sains, Collins, Gayle, Thomp­son, Fran­cis (Springett 82mins), Ad­jei, Rhule (Fowler, half-time). Subs: Fitzger­ald, Young.

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‘Shaun’s de­sire to win is in­cred­i­ble. . . At 37 it’s un­real what he does’

FM4735925; FM4735902, in­set

Ash­ford play­ers and sup­port­ers cel­e­brate af­ter Sun­day’s tri­umph

FM4735882

FM4735927

Ash­ford man­ager Danny Lye and coach Shaun Hol­land

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