The Sports never looked likely to slip up against plucky Shoreham FC at a rain-swept Priory Lane, where a core of first-teamers were actually outnumbered by Under-18 players. A high-paced and entertaining game began quite evenly, but prospects of an upset vanished with two goals in two minutes midway through the first half, from Simo Mbonkwi and impressive youngster Fletcher Holman.
Freddie Verrall and Sam Bull – whose combined ages are actually less than at least one Borough senior player! – were playing like seasoned pro’s at the back, and Fin Holter looked assured in goal. Milly Scarlett, unleashed from his more usual role at full-back, was full of wizardry on the wing. And James Hammond, Chris Whelpdale and Greg Luer played minor supporting roles…
By half-time that lead had been doubled by Greg Luer and Chris Whelpdale, but the Musselmen never rolled over. The pacey De Niro Pinto was brought down to earn a 65th minute penalty – but the spot kick was well saved by keeper Sam Marsden.
There was time for two more of the young prospects, Alfie Lambden and Nicoli De Freitas, to get a taste of the action. And only in the final few minutes – as an absolute deluge of rain hammered across the glistening 3G – did the Sports breach the Shoreham defence again, through Luer and Hayden Beaconsfield.
Manager Danny Bloor was more than happy:
“Out of that squad of sixteen players, nine are still eligible to play for our Under-18s. Freddie Verrall did really well and he’s still just 16. Sam Bull, Hayden Beaconsfield, I could go on naming them but they are all really good prospects for the club. Great credit to Shoreham Football Club, who I am sure will continue their excellent season in the Southern Combination, and we look forward to our paths crossing again. An enjoyable and very successful evening all round!”