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|Kent Senior Trophy
|Stephen McCartney reports from Eden Park Avenue|
|Beckenham Town||2||Lewis Wood 2,90|
|VCD Athletic||1||Danny Penny 81|
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Long wait is finally over
TWO GOAL hero Lewis Wood booked Beckenham Town's place in the Kent Senior Trophy final at Eden Park Avenue on Saturday.
The 23-year-old Siducp based striker, has now scored 17 goals from 19 games, forming a formidable attacking partnership with Paul "Charlie" Vines, whose scored 15 times from one game less.
Beckenham will now meet local rivals Thamesmead Town in the showpiece final on April 16th (venue to be announced). The Mead were 4-1 up against treble chasing Ramsgate at Bayliss Avenue in the other tie but the Rams clawed their way back to 4-4 but Jason Clews' dramatic last minute winner sent Paul Blade's men through.
The only time Beckenham Town have reached a cup final, as a senior club, was in 1993. They lost the Kent League Cup final 1-0 to Ramsgate but their current talented crop of players are more than capable of ending their draught next month.
Wood, a former Cray Wanderers and Erith & Belvedere striker, is relishing the chance to end the club's search for silverware.
"We've played them once and they've beaten us 3-2 so it will be a good game, a big battle," he said.
Reflecting on the mood inside the home dressing room, he revealed: "Everyone is happy and buzzing. It weren't a bad game. When they pulled one back I thought they were going to come back and beat us but we just nicked it at the death. Everyone is buzzing and really looking forward to the final."
Wood admits winning the Kent
Senior Trophy will be the catalyst for the ambitious club to progress.
They have one of, if not the best, playing surfaces in Kent football and have plans to build a new stand, clubhouse and erect turnstiles at their Eden Park Avenue ground, which will give them a chance of fulfilling their plans of promotion at the end of next season.
This is echoed by the pint sized striker, who added: "It's not an old club, it's still a young club and there's a lot of good players down here."
Wood is confident his side will beat Thamesmead in the final and he revealed the club's plans for next term.
"We'll get a couple of new players, we need a couple of new players, and we will be pushing for the championship."
And it was Wood who got the home side off to a dream start, opening the scoring after only 70 seconds, stunning their visitors in the process.
Wood finished off a fine flowing move down the left hand side involving Vines, out on the flank, Asher Edwards and Darren Hall, who evaded a sliding challenge from Dean Frost on the edge of the area, before Wood found the left corner of the net with a clinical finish.
Stocky VCD front man, Danny Penny, was the man who took their set pieces throughout the game and his ninth minute corner was met by a towering Paul Foley, whose header flashed wide.
Visiting striker Chris Johnson, whose filling the gap left by Jon Main and Richard Dimmock, who are both down under, had a couple of chances in a five minute period.
Skipper Gary Ward's cross from the right flank was met on the volley by the striker but long serving Beckenham goalkeeper Gary Hopper pulled off a fantastic save, clawing the ball wide of the left post.
Johnson, playing only his second game, having been drafted in from the reserve team, will be flying off to Cyprus in three weeks time, working in a bar his parents own, for six months.
And he was unlucky not to score when his speculative strike out on the left hand side left Hopper rooted to the spot but the ball bounced off the crossbar and out for a goal kick.
A minute later another chance was
created by the visitors. Penny cut inside a committed challenge from
defender Martin West and his cross was headed out by Tony Sinclair but Frost,
the club's reserve team manager, blazed over from 20-yards.
Johnson was denied by Hopper on the half and hour mark as he beat the offside flag but his low shot was blocked by the advancing goalkeeper.
With nine minutes to go before the interval, Beckenham almost doubled their lead. Edwards' latched onto a through ball from Wood but the wing-back was denied by goalkeeper Marc Brown, who grasped the shot at his near post like a spider in a web.
VCD hit the crossbar for the second time in the 37th minute when Penny's 30-yard, left footed free kick clipped the woodwork.
Edwards' tested Brown again early in the second half and the black clouds hovering above the ground produced a wild hailstorm for several minutes with supporters dashing for cover.
Lively striker Johnson went close again in the 56th minute. Sinclair's header back to his goalkeeper fell short and Johnson pounced on it like a tiger. After taking the ball past Hopper, Sinclair recovered well, taking the ball off the striker as he was about to pull the trigger inside the box.
Wood then latched onto a though ball and shot wide and energetic wing-back Nathan Paul then played the ball over the top of the VCD defence for Vines. However, the former Cray Wanderers and Bromley striker, should have done better with his shot, dinking the ball just past the post.
Another run from Vines saw him evade a committed challenge from Clayton Probets inside the area to cross to Edwards, who blazed over.
However, the introduction of Paul McCarthy in the final ten minutes brought life into the visitors and they clawed their way back into the game scoring in the 81st minute.
Penny latched onto a defensive splitting pass on the left hand side, beating the offside trap. His fierce 25-yard drive, deflected off Sinclair, who dived in at the ball and it looped off him and sailed over Hopper's head into the top far corner of the net.
Penny, a threat from set pieces, struck a free kick wide of the post but they were left heartbroken inside stoppage time when Beckenham grabbed a deserved winner, 28 seconds into time added on.
Daniel Beszant cut inside his marker on the edge of the box and his cross wasn't dealt with by the defence. Wood punished them for poor defending and squeezed the ball past the goalkeeper and Mo Miah on the line inside the near post.
Jubilant Beckenham assistant manager Jason Taylor beamed: "It's been a long time coming but it's here and we're going to enjoy it. We'll have a good day out in the final and hopefully we'll be able to pick the trophy up.
"I thought we made plenty of chances in the second half with Paul Vines and Lewis Wood. I think overall VCD shaded it in the first half but I thought we were better in the second. At the end of the day, I thought we were well worth winners."
Taylor emphasied what Wood and Vines mean to the club. The pair have contributed 32 goals between them this season, and he praised: "They're the best in this league, scoring in every single game. If we picked up at the beginning of the season we maybe would have been looking for the title as well because the pair of them are prolific. We are glad to have them."
Can Beckenham pick up their first ever trophy as a senior club? "It will be tough, like all the sides in this league, Thamesmead won't be easy to beat," added Taylor.
"It will be a hard game. We are confident as we score goals, play good football and we will be in more than a good shout for that game.
"A great day for the club, we are well happy with it as it's been a while since we've reached a final."
Dejected VCD Athletic manager Martin Ford added: "We just didn't take our chances. We had enough in the first half to make the game safe. A sloppy start, giving a goal away in the first minute but we've missed a lot of chances again today. It's been the story of our season."
Ford played Paul Foley and Dean Frost in the middle of the park as he was expecting a battle.
He added: "We played two big boys in the central area of midfield today hoping we could break them up. We left out, what we would call, our better passing footballers, because we thought we'd have a battle out there today.
"We've created chances, we've hit the crossbar twice, the goalkeeper's pulled off a fantastic save from Chris Johnson's volley. It one of them goes in we go in at half time to re-organise.
"We got a goal but we didn't get the lift I thought the goal would have given us. We settled back into the way we were playing. We didn't go up a gear and it was a dreadful mistake again for the winner."
Beckenham Town: Gary Hopper, Nathan Paul, Asher Edwards, Tony Sinclair, Martin West, Russell Kirkby, Matthew Belton (Capt), Paul Smith, Paul Vines, Lewis Wood, Darren Hall (Daniel Beszant 75). Subs: John-Paul Green (GK), Grant Watts, Raymond Freeman, Billy Bateman
VCD Athletic: Marc Brown, Chris Whitehouse, Mark Greatorex, Clayton Probets, David Hunt, Steve Coatham, Gary Ward (Capt), Paul Foley (Mo Miah 61), Danny Penny, Chris Johnson, Dean Frost (Paul McCarthy 80). Subs: Steve Hogg, Kevin Winchcombe, Dominic O'Connor (GK)