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Varsity

By Danny Smith on 21.3.2024

Varsity: Kent FC First Team Report

Kent men’s 1st team secured an overall Kent Varsity victory with their 2-1 win against Christchurch 1st team at Canterbury High. Under floodlights and backed by vociferous support (due largely to the presence of Lorcan O’Duffy and his Red Bull speakers) Kent revelled in the atmosphere, going into the match full of confidence on the back of an impressive run of form.

O’Duffy also generously contributed ample supplies of Red Bull for the squad, and the effect was evident straight from the whistle as Kent dominated the early exchanges. On a short pitch with a poor surface the game began in frenzied fashion with challenges flying in and little quality on display. Ato Okai had to be substituted for the Kent side after a brave tackle left him with a knee injury. Christchurch seemed somewhat overwhelmed by the occasion, becoming panicky and loose with possession. Kent began to take full advantage of this, playing in a more relaxed style with the wherewithal to realise that their best opportunities on this pitch were to be found in wide areas. Sheldon Sellears received the ball wide left just inside the opposition half and made a surging run, beating two players before being cynically brought down 25 yards from goal. Alex Nelson’s resulting free kick was played low towards the far post, and confusion between the Christchurch goalkeeper and defence saw the ball’s path to goal uninterrupted until it nestled in the net.


Set pieces proved to be key for the Kent FC cause. Motion shot courtesy of Simon Adegbenro.

Encouraged and reassured by this advantage Kent’s confidence and class shone through as the midfield started to stamp some authority on the game, controlling the tempo as Christchurch continued to play at excessive pace without the intelligence, guile and skill of their local rivals. Sellears and Jack Stingemore (replacing the injured Okai) continued to taunt both full backs, and it was excellent work from the latter which allowed Kent to double their lead. Receiving the ball from a Stephen Purcell pass Stingemore ghosted past a hapless left back before driving in a perfect cross for Sellears to head home at the back post.


Motion shot courtesy of Simon Adegbenro.

At the restart Christchurch began to enjoy more possession in midfield, however their play lacked the cutting edge of the Kent side, whose back four of Jacob Barnes, Tommy Parkinson, James Robins and Jon Ward coped admirably with the pressure. Christchurch rarely gained any ground inside the Kent half as the Whites, despite their lead, continued to work doggedly to disrupt what little rhythm Christchurch could muster. They did give themselves some hope however with a piece of individual brilliance as the Christchurch captain whipped a 25 yard free kick into the top corner with 30 minutes left to play.


Photo courtesy of Simon Adegbenro.

Christchurch continued to apply pressure but without any real direction, and an unshaken Kent side continued to create chances on the counter. Sellears was denied a brace by an excellent save from the Christchurch keeper, and both Robins and Parkinson were unlucky to see headers saved and cleared off the line. As the second half went on the quality in the game decreased as Kent spent the last quarter of an hour defending long aerial balls and hounding Christchurch players in possession. The Whites were rarely challenged by any real threat however, and saw out the game relatively comfortably to win both the match and Varsity overall.

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