APM Contrast 1-0 Academic Club London - I take the blame for today's defeat, admits AC London boss Prince Choudary

Saturday 13th February 2016
APM Contrast 1 – 0 Academic Club London
Location Cobdown Sports & Social Club, Station Road, Ditton, Aylesford, Kent ME20 6AU
Kickoff 13/02/2016 13:30

(after extra time)
Kent Invicta League Challenge Trophy Quarter-Final
Saturday 13th February 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Station Road

ACADEMIC CLUB London manager/chairman Prince Choudary admits he is to blame for his side’s Kent Invicta League Challenge Trophy exit.

The Crystal Palace turned Banstead based outfit squandered some excellent chances to win the game but fellow league debutants APM Contrast booked their place in the Semi-Finals by converting an extra-time penalty.

Former Bredhurst Juniors striker Edward Morant scored his sixteenth goal of the season to send the artist formerly known as Aylesford Paper Mills into the last-four along with league leaders Glebe (who won 7-0 at Orpington today), Sutton Athletic and the winner of next week’s tie between Bridon Ropes and Gravesham Borough.

“I think we were unlucky,” Choudary, 20, admitted after his side’s six match unbeaten run came to an end, not including THAT abandoned game at Glebe.

“We had good chances to win the game, should’ve won in normal time.

“Obviously the boys finishing wasn’t good enough and APM, their defence was fantastic.

“I regret not playing the same team,” admitted Choudary, whose side thrashed Rusthall 7-1 at home in midweek.

“I decided to drop four or five players because they didn’t attend training on Thursday. We have a rule if you don’t attend training you’re not playing. The boys let themselves down by not coming to training and ultimately they paid the price for not playing in a Quarter-Final and we lost out because if they were here today I’m sure we would’ve done a better job than we done.”

APM Contrast manager Kris Browning said he was feeling over the moon after guiding his side to the Semi-Finals at the first attempt.

“Absolutely delighted with the win, how we played and the lads battled and dug deep against a very good technical side,” he said.

When asked if they can go all the way, the Bristol born manager replied: “Yes, why not? If they show me that desire and that attitude then who knows? On our day we can beat anybody in this league but yes, I think why not go for it?”

A crowd of 30 watched an entertaining first 45 minutes on a muddy pitch at Cobdown Sports & Social Club on Station Road, the training ground of Vanarama National League South leaders Ebbsfleet United and Kent Football Association offices just a big sliced goal-kick away.

AC London kicked off and Joel Ramos attempted to score with the second touch of the game, his effort from the half-way line was controlled by the leg of Paperboys’ goalkeeper Ryan Chandler before he gathered.

But Chandler was a spectator as APM Contrast went on to dominate and create some chances, which kept visiting keeper Juan Trivino – who was excellent at catching crosses – busy.

Central midfielder Mark Swift played the ball out to right-back Martin Di Fede, who played Robert Norman down the right wing and he cut inside and his angled drive was palmed away by the diving Trivino to his right after just 56 seconds.

APM Contrast were awarded a free-kick on the right corner of the penalty area and Robbie Dengate’s right-footed free-kick was palmed away again by Trivino, again diving to his right, with only 163 seconds on the clock.

Browning said: “We knew we had to get out and get at them because we know they like to set into a pattern of play. They like to dominate and manipulate us in certain areas. We took it to them today and got at them early and pulled them about a bit and we knew we’d have half a chance.”

“Juan is a young goalkeeper, 18 year’s old, yes, fantastic saves,” added Choudary.

“He kept us in the game at the start, first 5 minutes, just well down to Juan. A bright future for the young guy.”

Swift released striker Caine Smith down the left channel and his low centre was poked just past the foot of the near post by Norman, who had cut into the penalty area to nip in front of the keeper.

Di Fede swung in a free-kick from down the left channel towards the far post but Norman was off-balanced and could only direct his free header into the open playing fields.
In fact, only playing with one ball at a time was frustrating to watch throw-in takers chase after the ball whenever it went out of play as the main pitch was not enclosed.

Both managers were asked about that and Choudary claimed: “It’s their tactics I suppose to slow down the game. They had the balls hidden under their bench. The balls are going far there and they didn’t want to give it to us.”

Browning replied: “That’s what we’ve got here, we’ve got an open pitch here. We take five match balls out with us, sometimes you get so induced in the game that the balls flying everywhere. The grounds are so big but until we get ball boys and things like that we try to keep the balls moving. 

“There was no advantage for us because it was 0-0 so it’s just one of those things that happen here.  We have so many match balls. We lose about 20 match balls a year going into the M20.  It’s not done on purpose. It’s just one of those things.

“Sometimes you put a ball behind the goal and then we have a visiting goalkeeper pick it up and boot it down the other end of the ground so you can’t win. There’s no gamesmanship there, it’s just the grounds so wide as you can see.”

AC London weathered the storm, however, and created their first opening after 19 minutes.

Joel Ramos played left-back Nurradin Hanif on the overlap and he cut into the penalty area and with goalkeeper Chandler in no-man’s land, his cross sailed over diminutive winger Ricardo Cabral and the home side were able to clear their lines.

A good piece of skill from talented playmaker Genielson Pugas in the middle of the park saw him turn his marker before spraying the ball out to Ramos, who played the ball to Hanif, whose right-footed angled drive was held by Chandler, low to his right.

There were unsavoury scenes in the 25th minute, which warranted a couple of red-cards had referee Steven Martin and bench assistant Stephen Cole spotted the two incidents.

The APM Contrast bench were angered when they spotted AC London skipper Suliesmar Naves allegedly poked his fingers in the eye of Smith in an off-the-ball flashpoint.

One of the Paperboys coaching staff, Graham Martin, then drilled a ball into the AC London dug-out from less than three yards away.

Referee Steven Martin told the APM bench “We have to see it,” as Browning demanded the necessary punishment, although Martin should have been sent-off for his shocking response.

Browning claimed: “I think it was a bit of a poke or a gouge but that goes on. It was one of those things really. I think it just goes to show how Caine kept them on toast back there. He was running them ragged and they didn’t know how to cope with him and I suppose that was the only way they could see to try to get in his head. No, it was one of those football things really. Caine reacted well to it and we moved on throughout the game.”

When asked about Martin’s response by kicking the ball at Choudary, Browning replied: “That’s out of frustration then probably because as we saw what happened it was an off-the-ball incident but these things happen.

“I think one of our coaches got a bit upset and what he’s seen on the pitch about a six-foot-two player against a five-foot-three player. He just got slightly annoyed.

“We all shook hands after and at half-time. We went in at half-time and everything was fine.”

Choudary said: “They kicked the ball in my face when I was sitting on the bench!

“I didn’t see that (the alleged poke in the eye) but a bit of-the-ball nonsense. I don’t know if you noticed I was sitting down for at least the whole first half and I just get a ball slapped in my face.

“We’re portrayed as the thugs in this league but if you get a ball slapped in your face what can you do?  I’m mature. I don’t respond to his nonsense behaviour and yes we just get on with the game.”

This spurred AC London on and they squandered a great chance to take the lead on the half-hour mark.

Pugas drove in their first corner of the game from the right and Cabral flicked his shot towards the bottom near corner, which forced Chandler to get down swiftly at his near post to push the ball away.

Choudary said: “Ricardo’s generally a good player, you’ve seen him before, another one of our young players, 17 year old, should’ve buried it, near post.  I think the keeper made (the save) and deflected on to the guy on the line. It happens.”

Browning added: “We call him Bogdan because he reminds us of the Liverpool goalkeeper (Adam Bogdan). He wasn’t called into play until that and he’s made a good save there and they’ll see that as a missed chance.”

APM Contrast were to be denied by a great save from Trivino within six minutes.

Di Fede played the ball up to Morant, who swept the ball inside to Norman, who played a sublime defence splitting pass in behind Alexandre Gomes to put Smith through on goal, who swept his first time shot towards the bottom far corner, but Trivino flicked the ball behind for a corner.

Browning said: “That’s another great save the keeper’s made!

“At that stage we was thinking ‘is that going to be the same situation we’ve had that problem all season really?’.  We’ve just lacked that bit of confidence.  We thought ‘is it going to be one of those days today?’ but we just kept going and we kept creating chances.”

Choudary added: “Juan’s saved us again. He’s a good keeper, young kid, right future. The defence were caught napping but he saved us again.”

But AC London finished the half on the front foot and they created three gilt-edged chances to take the lead.

Central midfielder Ray De Oliveira’s diagonal cross floated over the head of APM Contrast’s left-back Gabriel Blaise and Cabral took a touch but Chandler came out to smother at the right-winger’s feet inside the box.

“Ray has been fantastic for us for the last three games, said Choudary.

“I think the last three games he’s got four goals, three assists. Fantastic! Another one of our young players, only 20, Brazilian. He hit the crossbar as well, a great player.

“Ricardo should’ve done much better and as he gets more experience and more mature, hopefully he’ll become more clinical.”

Pugas then played a diagonal pass to Cabral, who easily cut inside Blaise again to reach the penalty area. He played the ball inside to De Oliveira, to stroke his shot straight at Chandler from 12-yards when he only had to pick his spot with only the keeper to beat.

Choudary said: “Good combination from the Brazilian players. Again Ricardo is extremely fast, a bit like (Arsenal’s) Theo Walcott, faster, no end product. Squared it to Ray, should’ve scored for his standards. He’s so much upset right now but he knows he should’ve scored but it happens. The keeper made a good save.”

Browning admitted: “He just had to score! We were pressing so much, they got in through and they should’ve taken that opportunity.

“As we’re dominating most areas of play, they had their 10 minutes where they had a couple of chances as you saw, they didn’t build on that.”

Chandler then made the save to deny Hanif scoring with a right-footed angled drive when he cut into the penalty area after Pugas’ diagonal pass put him in behind Di Fede and Michael Russell.

Somehow, after 49 minutes and 48 seconds of play, the first half remained goal-less.

Browning said: “I said keep going. We know we had them rattled to a certain degree and we knew that with our fitness levels would be good so we just said keep going but just make sure when we clear the line we clear it and get it in behind their full-backs and get it forward early.”

Choudary added: “I just said to them, you need to see more of the same in the second half to what we produced at the end of the first half.

“They’re going to get tired so we need to play with our hearts, keep motivated and I told them hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard and my players are talented but if they’re not going to work hard they’re not going to win ultimately, so I just told them more of the same and move the ball a lot quicker and second half just keep your head up.”

The second half was more of a midfield battle in the mud, but APM Contrast should have scored after only 48 seconds.

Fourteen-goal striker Smith as played in down the left and keeper Trivino narrowed the angle and tipped the angled drive to ensure the ball flashed just past the foot of the far post and  behind for a corner.

“He should’ve scored,” was a common response from both managers.

Browning added: “He’s had a few chances today. The thing is with Caine Smith, he works so hard for the team. He gets one goal, he usually gets three or four but he wasn’t lucky in front of goal today but his work rate was absolutely outstanding.”

AC London created a half-chance in the 65th minute following a good move.

Gomes, Shaun Johnson and Naves played a slick passing triangular move in midfield before Cabral released Pugas on the overlap.  He reached the by-line and cut the ball back but Paperboys midfielder Perry was on hand to clear the ball away.

Choudary said: “Not many chances. I think the pitch got cut up a bit as well and it was difficult to play.  Conditions dictated to be honest and it’s difficult to play our sort of football on these type of surfaces in these type of conditions, but I think it was ok, the second half, we could’ve done better.”

Smith appeared to be offside when he picked the ball up on the half-way line but reached the final third before hitting his right-footed angled drive past the foot of the near post.

“I think we cancelled each other out,” admitted Browning.

“I still think we had the lionshare of possession and we played the better football and I thought at the end there we looked to win it.”

Dengate floated in a free-kick from the left, which was headed on by both Swift and Morant for Di Fede balloon his hooked volley high over the bar from 20-yards.

But just like the first half, AC London created the chances to snatch victory.

Pugas showed his high-quality range of passing again and the visitors raced down the right and substitute Josemar Gomes cut the ball back from the by-line to Luis Ruiz, who sliced his left-footed shot across goal and past the far post from 25-yards.

“Luiz is one of our Colombian players, experienced 26-year-old, the second oldest in the team and he knows he should’ve done better, said Choudary.

“He’s done extremely well since he started playing for us. Of course we made changes over the last couple of months and therefore to work on our discipline as well and Luiz is one of the leaders and he done well.”

AC London had a Frank Lampard moment (a shot that hit the underside of the bar and bouncing over the line during England’s 4-1 World Cup defeat to Germany in 2010) with one minute of normal time remaining.

The impressive Pugas was again instrumental in the move with another fine diagonal pass which picked out right-back Johnson inside the APM half.

He dinked the ball inside and the ball came to De Oliveira, who drilled his right-footed shot towards the top near corner. Keeper Chandler got a vital flick to the ball, which crashed off the underside of the crossbar and referee Steven Martin and assistant Wayne Dunn chose to ignore appeals for a goal.

The AC London bench jumped up to celebrate and to appeal the goal, which was chalked out.

Paul Germaney tweeted: “Ball over the line and spun back out. Was standing right by corner flag. APM got lucky there.”

Choudary said: “I remember that clearly! Good build-up play. Ray on the edge of the box takes a touch, balls headed for the top corner.

“I think the keeper gets his fingertips on to it and hits the crossbar, bounces over the line. 

“I couldn’t see from my position but about 10 of their supporters standing there said to me it was over the line, but I couldn’t tell if it was over or not. If it was over, it happens!

Naturally, Browning replied: “Bogdan (Chandler) said he turned round to see it. He said he couldn’t see it spin out but he said it hit the line so he doesn’t think it was in!

“But two people behind the goal didn’t think it was in so it was one of them that hit the line and came out and spun out the other way.

“We haven’t had much luck. We’ve had chances like that when it’s hit the bar and its gone in. It evens its way out throughout the season and I think it would’ve been very, very harsh on them (my players) if that had gone in.”

Both managers were asked their thoughts going into extra-time.

Browning said: “I just thought we have to keep going, stick in there. None of them would’ve waivered. Our fitness levels were good. The lads who I made the changes for came in. They’ve been training in the week and training well so I knew we had the stamina to keep going.

“Our legs got tired so our passes went a bit astray. They weren’t quite clinical with their passing. I said keep moving it forward, keep passing them down, make mistakes happen, we’ll be fine. The same old, same old really as what we did in the first half.”

Choudary added:  “I think we were doing well. I thought APM were getting a bit tired and space was opening up and I just told my boys look they’re going to get tired, we’re going to get tired but you have to play with your heart, desire, keep working, keep playing our simple football, don’t mess around too much in the middle, pass the ball quick, don’t mess around in defence and yes opportunities will come and we need to that that opportunity.”

Pugas rolled around on the pitch after he was challenged by APM substitute midfielder Nick Hegerty and was off the pitch for treatment by the time that his team-mate gave away the match clinching penalty.

Josemar Gomes was guilty for over-playing inside his own penalty area and Paperboys substitute Josh West picked up the ball and cut across the box heading towards the by-line.

West was going nowhere but defender Alexandre Gomes came across and fouled the nippy winger from behind and the referee pointed to the spot.

Morant stepped up and thrashed his right-footed penalty high into the roof of the net, despite Trivino diving the other way to his left to score the only goal of the game with four minutes and 30 seconds into extra-time.

Browning was full of praise for West, who came on with Hegerty in the 80th minute.

He said: “He works hard. He came on, fresh legs. He’s just come back from injury.  He scored for us last week. I had to drop him this week because I went a different way about it but he came on, he jinxed in there. We knew they were prone to a mistake back there from overplaying and we got in there and little Josh came up trumps for us.”

And on Morant, Browning added: “He worked so well again today and Caine worked tirelessly hard.  He picked the ball up. He was the first one to get the ball and he buried it! He deserves that, the work rate he done was outstanding!”

Choudary added: “I think it was a soft penalty to be fair.

“I made a bad sub bringing on Jose Gomes and taking off Ricardo, which ultimately cost us the goal in added time so I take the blame for today’s defeat.

“It’s our fault, once again playing in and around our own penalty box. Jose Gomes, I believe, should’ve just cleared the ball but he decided to do some skills in his own penalty box and after a good 10 seconds holding the ball he decides to play in the APM player through on goal.

“Alex barely touches him and he goes down easily but having said that he should’ve even challenge from behind and APM scored from the spot kick.”

That was APM Contrast’s only chance of the first period and AC London also created one.

De Oliveira played the ball into Ruiz, who clipped the ball out to substitute winger Oscar Lopes, who cut into the penalty area before cutting the ball back for Pugas, who couldn’t cap off an excellent game with a goal as his shot from 20-yards was hit straight at Chandler, who simply caught the ball.

Choudary  said: “Oscar is one of our younger players, he’s 16. Brought him on towards the end, good player, fast. That’s probably one of my regrets not starting him. He’ll learn.  I think he played good movement towards the end of the first half when he beat two players, cut it back to Pugas and Pugas should’ve done better for his standards.  Nonetheless I can’t fault the players. It’s my fault.”

The second period was clearly a struggle for both sets of players as the muddy pitch cut up and zapped energy, but Browning knew his team would pull through in the end.

He said: “That’s why we say train and work hard! We get good numbers at training. We’ve got a big squad so they work hard and it showed dividends today and their fitness levels kept going until the end.”

West raced down the right and cut the ball across the face of the penalty area and Morant was denied a goal as his back-heel slipped past Trivino but bounced into the feet of Naves standing immediately behind him.

AC London’s last chance arrived halfway through the second period.

Lopes played the ball inside to De Oliveira, who played in substitute Santos, who turned in the box and hooked his shot on the turn screaming just past the left-hand post from 12-yards.

Choudary  admitted: “Huender, he should’ve scored. That’s the thing we didn’t make their keeper work enough today. We had many shots off target like. We need to learn to make the keeper work and after Wednesday we beat Rusthall 7-1, we should’ve won 10-0 but once again we wasn’t clinical enough.”

“Hunender is another one of our Brazilian players, good player, young as well. He was upset with himself. He knows he should’ve done better with that chance towards the end, one-on-one with their keeper.  Ronaldo, as we call him, should’ve buried it!”

Morant released Norman (who was playing up front with Morant when Smith was subbed) in behind Johnson and Alexandre Gomes, but his angled drive was tipped around the post by Trivino, who watched a speculative 40-yard effort from substitute Toby Edwards flash just wide at the death.

Browning was delighted with central defenders Liam Dawson and skipper Russell for keeping out their talented opponents.

He said: “Two solid centre halves, both have come up from Kent County football, brought them up to this level and they’ve been absolutely superb. They’ve got an excellent relationship back there, absolutely outstanding!”

AC London welcome third-from-bottom strugglers Rusthall to their current home, Banstead Athletic’s Merland Rise, on Wednesday night.

“I think we haven’t lost a game in seven or eight weeks, more than that actually, we haven’t lost a game in nine weeks,” said Choudary.

“Today, unfortunately that run has come to an end but we just need to focus in the league. The main aim is a top ten finish.”

AC London are in tenth-place in the Pain & Glory Sports Kent Invicta League table on 34 points from 22 games.

Glebe and Sheppey United sit level at the top with 51 points, although Glebe have two games in hand on their title challengers.

Choudary revealed: “We’ve withdrawn our promotion application. That was just put in for a bit of motivation for the boys. Of course, we know we wouldn’t get promotion with the likes of Sheppey, Bearsted and Gravesham in the league and it looks like it’s Sheppey’s title to lose.”

Seventh-placed APM Contrast (40 points from 24 games) travel to eleventh-placed Phoenix Sports Reserves next weekend and Browning added: “Our first season in the league, to be in the top half of the league and be in the Semi-Finals of the Cup, we’re over the moon with it.”

APM Contrast: Ryan Chandler, Martin Di Fede, Gabriel Blaise, Jason Perry (Toby Edwards 110), Liam Dawson, Michael Russell, Robert Norman, Mark Swift (Nick Hegerty 80), Caine Smith (Josh West 80), Edward Morant, Robbie Dengate.
Sub: Marc Morrison

Goal: Edward Morant 95 (penalty)

Booked: Michael Russell 38, Caine Smith 77, Nick Hegerty 91, Jason Perry 96

Academic Club London: Juan Trivino, Shaun Johnson, Genielson Pugas, Luis Ruiz, Alexandre Gomes, Suliesmar Naves, Ricardo Cabral (Josemar Gomes 71), Ray De Oliveira, Nurradin Hanif, Joel Ramos (Huender Santos 82), Leonel Medrado (Oscar Lopes 88).

Booked: Suliesmar Naves 69

Attendance: 30
Referee: Mr Steven Martin (Orpington)
Assistants: Mr Stephen Cole (Borough Green) & Mr Wayne Dunn (Faversham)