Wednesday 07th September 2005

Wells confident of nicking victory

The manager of FA Cup record breakers Tunbridge Wells is still in a daze over the events at Culverden Stadium last Wednesday that re-wrote the FA Cup record books, writes Stephen McCartney.

Kevin Metcalf, the manager of the Kentish Observer League club, is a very proud man, following his side’s epic preliminary round replay victory over Sussex League side Littlehampton Town.

The Wells played poorly in the first game at Worthing’s Woodside Road ground in the first match with Scott McRobert’s goal earning them a replay and Metcalf insisted his side wouldn't repeat their poor showing on home soil.

But what the Tenterden resident didn’t envisage was that the replay would last three hours and fifteen minutes and 40 penalties would be taken in a thrilling penalty shoot out, after the game finished 2-2 after extra time.

Littlehampton Town were awarded two penalties by Hampshire referee, Mr Ian Thomson in both halves, with Wells’ former Ashford Town stopper, John Whitehouse saving Gary Young’s 28th minute spot kick.

But the 28-year-old goalkeeper pulled off four saves in the shoot-out, and was the hero when he saved Grant Vanson’s spot kick for the Kent side to prevail 16-15 on penalties.

And www.kentishfootball.co.uk were delighted to witness our home-town club make FA Cup history.

In another EXCLUSIVE interview, Metcalf reflected: “As you know I don’t think we realised what was going on.

“Looking back on the night there were so many things happening during the game, and outside of the game, and when the penalty shoot out came it was just nerve racking, and to get this much publicity is just great for the club and the Kent League.”

www.kentishfootball.co.uk brought you the news – with interviews from Metcalf and Whitehouse EXCLUSIVELY after the game, and Metcalf and chairman Norman Wells took telephone calls from the national media the following day.

“I am really proud to have been involved in such a game and I think I speak for everyone – including Littlehampton Town – to be involved in such a momentous occasion. These type of games don’t come every game.” he added.

Victory sees them travel to Ryman League division one side Metropolitan Police in the first qualifying round on Saturday, and Metcalf insists his side are more than capable of knocking them out.

“We don’t fear Met Police at all, but we respect them the same as any other team.” he said.

“We’ve got players that have played against them before and they’ve given us some of their inside knowledge.  We will prepare the same as any other game.”

But Wells came back down to earth last Saturday – going a goal down early on – before going on to beat Sporting Bengal United 5-1 at Culverden Stadium in a Kentish Observer League fixture to cement third place behind Beckenham Town and Maidstone United.

Metcalf arrived at the ground late due to work commitments earlier in the day and when he did arrive, he saw the East Londoners take an early lead.

“I had to work and I walked into the ground and behind the goal and the ball was in the back of the net," he fumed.

“After watching the game for 15-20 minutes after the goal, it was just like after the Lord Mayor’s Show, the game after the hype.

“But (coaches) Martin (Telford), Dave (Rice) and myself told the players not to panic, just get the ball down and play their football.

“We scored an important goal through Danny Barham just before half-time.

“Which, again, left Martin and the rest of the boys to work their magic during half-time.  We came out a totally different side in the second half.”

The main aim – apart from breaking FA Cup records – is to get the club into the Ryman League next season.

“As predicted the league table is now settling down a bit, and we must keep Maidstone and Beckenham in our sights,” said Metcalf.

“It was an important win from a potential banana skin and I think what’s come out of the Sporting Bengal game is how many of these young lads have grown up.”

Metcalf, however, is relishing the chance for his side to play on a magnificent playing surface at Imber Court.

“It’s a tough game, but Cray and Ramsgate have gone into that division from the Kent League and have done well, and I cannot see any reason why we can’t hold our own or do better," he expressed

“If we can get the ball down on a magnificent playing surface and play our football it will be a close game,” he predicted.

The manager is pleased there is a “close unit” within the club, and added: “I talk about these young lads but I’d like to think we are now a family and that what makes the emotions run high.

“It’s a close unit and we are all pulling for each other.  We’re getting an understanding now and as far as I’m concerned we are a family and we’re building on this family unit.”

Metropolitan Police v Tunbridge Wells
FA Cup First Qualifying Round
Saturday 10th September 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Imber Court, Ember Lane, East Molesey, Surrey