Thursday 01st September 2005

The Penny drops for goal-shy Sevenoaks

Tuesday 22nd
November 2005
Kentish Observer
League Cup
Group D
Stephen McCartney reports from
Greatness Park
Sevenoaks Town 0  
Slade Green 1 Mark Penny 50

A striker is high on the shopping list for Kentish Observer League basement boys Sevenoaks Town after they failed to score for the tenth time (from 18 games) this season at a frosty Greatness Park tonight, writes Stephen McCartney.

Languishing at the foot of the table with only four points, Sevenoaks won their first league game at the eleventh attempt on Saturday when reserve team striker Mark Elliott scored the only goal of the game to beat Sporting Bengal United.

And tonight, John Adams and Brian Meaney, who have now been in charge of first team affairs for seven games after replacing Gary Davies at the helm, took the opportunity to throw their table topping reserve side into first team action against Slade Green in what was their third game in the group stages of the League Cup.

And thanks to Mark Penny's third goal of the season, five minutes into the second half, their qualification into the last eight of the competition has well and truly vanished - but they did show promising signs early on.

Visiting goalkeeper Gary Arterton made a fine double save from James Short's long range drive and the follow up shot from Tom Forster inside the first five minutes.

And former Bromley midfielder Kris Hollidge tested the goalkeeper with a low drive, which the former Whitstable Town stopper spilled but managed to smother the ball in time before Forster pounced.

Slade Green then took control of the game and following Tony Gallagher's free kick from the left, Jason Elliott's looping header dropped just over and influential midfielder Gallagher had a 31st minute goal ruled out for offside when he coolly fired home after Lee Jull chipped a clever free kick into the penalty area.

Hollidge was the most experienced player on the pitch for the home side and his long range effort brought a smart save from Arterton who dived to his right to push the ball around the post.

And on the stroke of half time, Sevenoaks' goalkeeper, Craig Clark made a comfortable save from Anthony Weir's looping header following Shaun Malyon's cross.

The only goal of the game, however, came five minutes into the second half.  Gallagher's free kick wasn't dealt with by the home defence and fell to Penny who fired into the near corner to hand the Small Glen outfit their fourth point halfway through their group matches - level on points with second placed Beckenham Town, who have a game in hand.

Sevenoaks' responded well following their setback and were unlucky not to equalise within a minute when Michael Cook's shot sailed agonisingly wide of the far post.

Another Gallagher free kick soon after was met by a glancing header from Weir which flew wide.

Forster's penetrating run down the right saw the Sevenoaks' striker go close just past the hour mark.  Cutting inside, he exchanged passes with Hollidge but his rising drive - heading towards the top right hand corner - was palmed over the bar by the Slade Green goalkeeper.

Sevenoaks' miserable night was summed up in the 76th minute when Weir latched onto Glen McTaggart's through ball only to be tripped by last defender Michael Munsell, and having been booked late in the first half, Maidstone referee Simon Finnegan had no option but to show his second yellow followed by red.

And when your top scorer - with three goals - happens to be your goalkeeper Craig Clark, you do have problems in front of goal.

Sevenoaks' assistant manager Brian Meaney, who joined the Greatness Park outfit along with John Adams to work with Gary Davies in the summer before Davies resigned on the pitch at Greenwich Borough minutes after their 1-0 defeat on 15th October, admits scoring goals is a major concern for his inexperienced team.

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with, Meaney admitted: "We are concerned with that.  That's our biggest problem at the moment.  Let's be honest, would you like to play for the team at the bottom?

And he added: "We are judging our job, John and myself, over the last four games including tonight, and that's probably our worst performance of the four games by miles.

"The first fifteen minutes is what we've been doing for the last four games but then we sat back and rested on our laurels.

"The players were told at half-time make sure they don't give any free kicks away and you can count on your hands and feet how many we gave away and it was only a matter of time (they scored)."

Meaney and Adams, however, would have learnt about the club's reserve team players and will be looking to get their fourth win of the season when Erith Town are the visitors in the second round of the Kent Senior Trophy on Saturday.

"We're not expecting to get much from this cup competition and to be honest its an opportunity to try new things out," said Meaney.

"We've got a lot of enthusiasm in the team and it shows every time we've played but yes, reserve team players do have that little bit of inexperience but they have to learn at some point.  

"We can't just say after one game you're not any good. We've got to give them experience and these are the games to do that."

Four points from their first eleven games is a dire situation for the club, but Meaney points to a better future.

And with three players being shipped in from Essex to try to improve their position soon, Meaney is hopeful they can turn things around for the club, that have finished in eleventh place in their first two seasons back in the Kent League.

"Our focus is the league this year," he said.  "If we can get something in the cups its a bonus.

"We've signed three new players who were unavailable tonight because they live over in Essex at the moment.  We've also got quite a few missing at the moment (including Andy Mills and Martin West) and with myself and John at the helm we haven't had our best eighteen to choose from.

"We are not knocking the boys at the moment.  When we get that luxury of having the best of the eighteen and once we get to gel that team together then we will do well this season.

"We are looking not to get relegated.  The league is our main priority and if we are tight in defence like we have been in our last three games, other than tonight, we should be allright."

Although Meaney is disappointed with the lack of firepower, he did add: "We've got to get a bit of luck going forward.  We can only defend for so long.  We need to start scoring goals.  The boys are working their socks off, don't take anything away from them.  

"They are grafting but working hard is one thing - scoring goals is completely different."

But Slade Green joint-manager, Phil Miles was happy with the victory, although his side have yet scored three goals in a game from 20 outings.

"I thought we thoroughly deserved it," he said.  "I felt 1-0 probably flattered them in all fairness but I felt we played well from fifteen minutes onwards.

"We looked like a composed side, created a few chances and should have won by more."

Miles, however, would like his side to score more than the 17 goals they have this season, with former Erith Town striker Glen McTaggart leading the way with six, and tonight's scorer, Mark Penny scoring three.

"It would certainly be more easier if we scored three or four goals," he said.  "It would take the pressure off.  

"We created three or four chances and should have won the game a little bit more but we've defended well, stopped them creating any chances so yes, it will be pleasing to get a couple more goals but we were strong defensively, kept another clean sheet so it's pleasing all round really."

Beckenham Town and Thamesmead Town were favourites to qualify from Group D before a ball was kicked, and Miles admitted: "If we can qualify from this group it will be a feat in itself to be fair."

Sevenoaks Town:  Craig Clark (Capt), John Martin (Alfie Nunn 82), Michael Cook, Dominic Websdale, Steve Armstrong, Michael Munsell, Kris Hollidge, Mark Elliott (Ryan Hackett 84), Tom Forster, Jo Barry, James Short.  Subs: Lloyd Glasgow, Neil Salmon, Glen Winter Noland (GK)

Sent off: Michael Munsell 76

Slade Green:  Gary Arterton, Scott Lewis (Capt), Lee Barber, Tony Gallagher, Mark Penny, Lee Morgan, Lee Jull, Jason Elliott, Glen McTaggart, Anthony Weir, Shaun Malyon.  Subs: Mark Fern, Billy Bond, Robert Browning

Attendance:  59
Referee:  Mr Simon Finnegan (Maidstone)
Assistants:  Mr M Huggins & Mr P Beadle