FOOTBALL: Clymping lift Vernon-Wentworth Cup

SUBSTITUTE Adam Barnard's last-minute winner gave Clymping their second trophy of the season on Wednesday evening after a thrilling finish at Woodside Road.

The match appeared to be heading for extra-time after Paul Young had cancelled out George Evans' opener for St Francis Reserves, but Barnard then grabbed the winner from Joe Stokes' cross.

St Francis had dominated the first period and were unfortunate not to be ahead at half-time. Stuart Church should have put them ahead with the first attack of the game but his one-on-one effort was saved by Clymping keeper Michael Oakley.

Sam Palmer then lobbed over before Ben Palmer also headed over from Russell Harris's free kick.

Clymping, the County League Division 3 champions, received an even bigger let off in the 23rd minute when Chris Cook's flick from Evans' cross was cleared off the line by Clymping player-manager Dominic Di Paola.

Despite being outplayed, Clymping had the best chance of the half in the 25th minute. Aaron Meehan's effort was saved by James Baker, and Peter Brackley's follow-up crashed off the bar.

If the first half was St Francis', the second was definitely Clymping's and they almost went in front on 50 minutes but Tom Bunting turned Joe Shelley's pass wide.

Meehan then had an effort saved, before St Francis went ahead against the run of play just past the hour mark. Palmer's free kick deceived the Clymping defence and Evans stole in to nudge his side ahead, despite Shelley's attempted clearance.

The deserved equaliser arrived 20 minutes from time. Brackley's in-swinging free kick fell to Young, who scuffed his shot home from eight yards.

Dan Barnard's thunderous effort smashed off the post, and Shelley fired wide as both sides appeared to run out of time to force a winner, but Adam Barnard's late heroics proved otherwise.

Di Paola said: "It was a tight game, as you'd expect, but I thought we probably just about deserved it.

"They had the first half, and we had the second, but it's been a superb season for us. The attitude and commitment of everyone has been fantastic.

"I'd like to thank everyone for their hard work behind the scenes and I'm very pleased."

CLYMPING: Oakley; Stokes, Young, S.Di Paola, D.Di Paola; Brown, Meehan, Shelley, Brackley; Bunting, Moss. Subs: D.Barnard (Bunting 58), A.Barnard (Brown 85), Castro (Meehan 90), Miller, Westwood.


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