With a less than a month until the Isthmian League Cup final, I thought it was worth looking at how both teams made it to the game which will be held at Maidstone FC on the 9th April. It’ll be a momentous occasion in itself as the Isthmian League Cup becomes the first major competition in the country to stage its showpiece cup final on an 3G surface, how that will effect the play of both sides remains to be seen!
Our opponents on that day will be Dulwich Hamlet of the Ryman League South Division, and they are no stranger to playing higher league opposition in this seasons cup competition. After a 2-1 away victory at Eastbourne Town in the 2nd round, and a 5-1 home victory against Herne Bay in round 3, “The Hamlet” hosted Ryman Premier League high-flyers Wealdstone. Dulwich were the better side throughout, and scored the only goal of the game 4 minutes into the second half. As seems to be the case in most games, the trailing team rallied in the closing stages, but the tie-saving goal never came, booking Hamlet a Quarter Final date at home to Kingstonian (also in the Ryman Premier League).
After 3 weather-related postponements the game finally took place at the start of February, and Kingstonian took an early lead. Many would think the lower league team in this scenario would capitulate, but they rallied together to get back into the game & eventually ran out 4-1 winners. Although the score looked one sided, the Hamlet match report naming their ‘keeper as MOTM probably tells you all you need to know about how the game went. A penalty shootout victory over Thamesmead in the semi-final (after being 1-1 at 90 minutes) gave The Hamlet their place in the final next month.
The Beachboys journey to the final began away to Romford in the 2nd round, with the match being played at the home of Thurrock FC due to a ground-share agreement. A comfortable 4-1 win for Concord Rangers against the lower league side set up an away trip to Redbridge in the 3rd round, where the lads demolished their opposition by winning 9-0 (Jason Hallett even grabbed 6 goals). Next up was a home draw against fellow Ryman Premier team Bury Town, and a tough game saw the Beachboys earn a 2-1 victory early in December.
The weather affected the quarter final against Wroxham, with the game being postponed two weeks on the trot, however when the game finally took place it started fairly quietly. The first half finished scoreless but within 4 minutes of the restart Jason Hallett gave Concord the lead. Wroxham tried to get back into the game and put on some pressure, however they left themselves open at the back and 3 minutes from time Ade Osifuwa pretty much killed the game off with a 2nd Concord goal. Hastings were up in the semi final just over a week after beating them in the league 4-0, but nothing could be taken for granted as football can produce some surprising results. Didn’t happen on this night though, Concord romped to an emphatic 3-0 win in the mist to set up the final.