Bexhill College’s football academy won its first piece of silverware this season following an epic penalty shoot-out.
The Penland Road-based college lifted the Chelsea Foundation College Cup after triumphing 14-13 on penalties against a very strong Thomas Bennett Community College team in the final.
The game itself, which took place at Chelsea FC’s first team training ground in Cobham, had finished 2-2 after 90 minutes.
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Having won all of their previous Foundation Cup games over the past few weeks, Bexhill went into the final in confident mood.
A long journey up to Cobham took its toll early in the game, however, as Bexhill were slow to get going and had to withstand some sustained pressure from a very technical and well-coached Thomas Bennett team.
A dynamic break down the right from international student Martin Uzik seemed to ignite Bexhill College into life and they began playing some very attractive football, passing the ball effortlessly through the Thomas Bennett midfield.
With 25 minutes gone, Bexhill threaded the ball through the midfield again and split the Bennett defence, allowing Sean Howard to strike a superb shot from just outside the penalty area into the top corner.
Bexhill continued to dominate during the remainder of the first first half and should really have capitalised on a Bennett mistake, but Howard was unable to get his shot on target.
The second half started in similar fashion to the first with Bexhill again sluggish and allowing Thomas Bennett to build pressure.
This time the Crawley-based opponents capitalised and with 50 minutes played, the Bennett striker ran clear of the Bexhill defence and slotted under Bexhill goalkeeper James Early.
The quick pace of the game started to have an effect on both teams and a number of substitutions were made, but the real turning point came when the Bennett centre-back was given a second yellow card on 70 minutes.
Bexhill capitalised almost instantly. Some dynamic two-touch passing carved open the Bennett midfield and allowed substitute Tomas Horvath to pass into the bottom corner from 18 yards.
Bexhill looked comfortable, but conceded an equaliser with eight minutes left. Earl was quickly off his line and made a good save only for the ball to spin over the line after bouncing.
Josh Pool shot wide and a very good save from the Thomas Bennett goalkeeper denied Matt Astle, so the outcome would be decided by penalties.
Some very good penalties were taken by both sets of players, but with the scores tied at 13-13, Early produced a brilliant save. Bexhill captain Ben Seal calmly placed the following spot-kick into the corner of the goal to give his team victory.
Following the conclusion of the competition, Bexhill players Seal, Dan Blackmore and Ryan Harffey have been selected to represent the Chelsea FC Foundation colleges squad.