Khalsa brought their season to a close on a high, comfortably beating fellow Midland Football League outfit Highgate United in the final of the JW Hunt Cup at the Molineux.
In truth, Highgate barely laid a glove on Khalsa and, but for an unfortunate penalty in the dying stages, Sam Arnold would have enjoyed yet another clean sheet.
This was all action from the off, with the flat, lush surface at the home of Wolverhampton Wanderers perfect for the attacking football on offer.
There was a moment of controversy within the first minute, Leon Miles appearing to handle the ball in the penalty area in full view of the referee, but adjudged not to have acted deliberately. Two minutes later at the other end and his central defensive partner and Khalsa skipper Tes Robinson headed wide from a curling dangerous cross by Alex Woodhouse.
Woodhouse would have a chance himself on eight minutes, his volley flashed over the bar from just inside the area after Beckley’s shot from a tight angle was saved by Highgate keeper Bradley Catlow.
Two more chances for Khalsa on 15 and 17 minutes, first Sean Williams‘ gorgeous cross-field pass found Kinch who fed Beckley whose control appeared to be spot on but he couldn’t get his shot away, and then Williams headed over from Woodhouse’s corner.
Kinch broke the deadlock on 29 minutes, a sweet drive from the right side of the penalty area had Catlow beaten all ends up for what was the winger’s tenth of the season.
Highgate’s McAuley Manning had something approaching a shot on target on 38 minutes, his long-range effort easily collected by Arnold. Then with two minutes left to half time, Dave Meese had a chance to double Khalsa’s lead, an outrageous bit of skill by Liam Armstrong on the left flank saw him centre for Meese who exchanged touches with Holdcroft before firing over.
The game was effectively killed off in three second half minutes soon after the restart. First, on 48 minutes, Holdcroft fired a shot which Catlow might feel he could have done better with as it squirmed past him and into the South Bank goal. Then, three minutes later, Beckley grabbed the third, poking home at the second time of asking to make it 3-0 to Khalsa.
Catlow did well to stop the scoreline running away when he saved well from Holdcroft on 58 minutes.
Highgate – who had no fewer than four players dismissed in the last meeting between the sides – then went down to ten men when Manning was sent off for a crude tackle on Woodhouse.
Williams, a menace to Highgate all night and clearly relishing playing on a pitch of this size and quality, had a shot deflected over on 73 minutes before Highgate stepped up through the gears in search of an unlikely comeback.
Lei Brown’s shot forced a really good save from Arnold on 79 minutes and on 83 minutes an uncharacteristic defensive lapse by Carlo Franco let the same player lose in the box, ending with Arnold sending him tumbling for a penalty. Brown stepped up and lashed home to make it 3-1.
Only more heroics from Arnold stopped it being 3-2 and a nervy finish as Highgate began to show late on what they are capable of.
With a corner deep in stoppage time, the imposing figure of Catlow headed into the area to try and get something for Highgate. The ball was cleared, finding Beckley on the flank and the Gate goal gapping. The ball ended up with substitute Alex Perry beating the retreating Catlow to the ball and chipping brilliantly from 40 yards into the back of the net to seal the win in style.
Sporting Khalsa: Sam Arnold, Carlo Franco, Alex Woodhouse (Alex Perry), Leon Miles, Tes Robinson (captain), Dave Meese, Liam Armstrong, Mensah Kinch (Remi Birch), Sean Williams, Mykel Beckley, Jay Holdcroft (Danny Dubidat). Subs not used: Lee Chilton, Kieran Whittaker.