Brent secure cup final berth after dramatic penalty shoot-out over Croydon
- Credit: Archant
Dylan Singh and Kai Watts stole the headlines as Brent Under-16s moved within a match of retaining their London Cup crown with a thrilling win over Croydon.
They looked destined to lose their champions’ mantle when they trailed 2-0 with 20 minutes of normal time remaining, but Singh struck twice to force extra time.
The Queen’s Park Community School pupil then completed his hat-trick in the first additional period to put Brent within touching distance of the final, only for the hosts to strike back late on and force the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
Now, though, it was the turn of Claremont’s Watts to take centre stage and his two saves saw Brent emerge triumphant from the spot-kick drama.
Watts had kept his side in the tie early on with a string of saves as the south Londoners dictated play.
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Brent responded but Kingsbury High’s Shaquille Ishmael was unlucky to have an opening goal chalked off for offside – and worse was to follow when Croydon scored on the counter-attack to take a slender lead into the break.
When a second goal followed after a dominant start to the second period, Brent were in need of a hero.
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Cometh the hour, cometh Singh, who reduced the arrears from the spot after Mohammed Jahazi had been upended in the box.
Then came a goal of individual brilliance as Singh picked up a pass from class-mate Dean Toddington and beat two defenders before rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an unguarded net.
No hat-trick would have been necessary had Ashlee Hibbert’s glorious late strike not been magnificently saved at full stretch by Croydon’s No 1.
Nevertheless, Brent had the momentum going into extra time and they were ahead when Singh completed his treble in spectacular style, swivelling and firing home a cross from Rory Carlson.
Just as it looked as if the visitors were safe, Croydon rallied in the second period to level once more.
But amid massive tension Watts had the final say for Brent, for whom the final now beckons.
The Under-14s’ dreams of glory in the same competition are over for another year, however, after they lost a goalfest to Blackheath 8-5.
Four goals in six first-half minutes did the damage, with Heath’s Daniel Lumu proving the chief tormentor with a hat-trick in that nightmare period.
Brent tried to rally, with Felix Amoah going close before Drillon Krasniqi reduced the arrears with 22 minutes played. But hopes of an unlikely fightback were quashed as Lumu scored his fourth and fifth goals of the game for Blackheath just before half-time.
To their credit, Brent produced a spirited second half, Krasniqi grabbing his second within a minute of the restart.
And, after Neil Spencer restored the five-goal cushion, further strikes courtesy of Shammir Swaby and Amoah made it 7-4. Yet there was still time for Lumu to bag his sixth for Blackheath before Amoah netted a final consolation.