Aveley 2-2 VCD Athletic - We have underachieved certain parts this year so we just need to focus and build for next year, says VCD Athletic boss Keith McMahon

Thursday 30th March 2017
Aveley 2 – 2 VCD Athletic
Location Mill Field, Mill Road, Aveley, Essex RM15 4SJ
Kickoff 31/03/2017 19:45

Ryman League Division One North
Friday 31st March 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Mill Road

VCD ATHLETIC manager Keith McMahon praised the character from his players after coming back from being two goals down to claim a deserved point at play-off chasing Aveley.

The Crayford-based side remain in seventeenth-place in the Ryman League Division One North table on 49 points and are now 10 points clear of the relegation zone with five games left to play.

Wroxham (24 points) and Great Wakering Rovers (25) have already been relegated and Ware go into tomorrow’s home game against Witham Town on 39 points with five games left as McMahon knows he has guided his club towards safety.

Terry Spillane’s (who wasn’t at the game) side climbed up a place into ninth-place on 66 points and are six points adrift of the play-offs (Phoenix Sports are fifth) with four games left to play.

All four goals came from set-pieces.  Aveley broke the stalemate on the stroke of half-time when central defender Hussain Jaffa headed down and in following a corner.

The Essex side doubled their lead early in the second half through an own goal from Vickers’ central defender Richard Butler following another corner.

But Butler redeemed himself by converting two penalties, scoring his first goals of the season, as VCD Athletic came away with a deserved point.

“Disappointed to be fair, we’ve drawn the game. I thought we were the better side.  I think both of their goals were poor really,” said McMahon afterwards.

“But I’m well pleased with the character the lads showed.  I thought we played some very good football on a very bobbly pitch so no I’m disappointed, I thought the lads deserved three points today.”

McMahon made three changes to the side that were held to a 1-1 home draw to Brentwood Town last weekend.

He handed Michael Gooch his debut in goal. The former Cheshunt keeper stayed on his line for crosses, but the manager was pleased with his performance. Niklas Freund was relegated to the bench.  Butler replaced Joe Bruce, who has signed for league rivals Thurrock.

“We’ve had a horrendous season with injuries,” highlighted McMahon.

“We had five missing today and it’s been difficult. I’ve said this before, with no under 18s and no reserves to fill places when we’ve needed to, we’ve had to keep going out and looking for players.  Everyone knows I do my homework.  I know the league inside out and players all over the place, sometimes it’s difficult.”

Gooch made a comfortable save in the opening seven minutes.

Aveley central midfielder Matt Mitchell played the ball out to right-back Harry Gibbs, who played Ross Gleed on the overlap and his deep cross was met by Jordan Peart’s downward header, which bounced into the keeper’s hands.

Aveley squandered a glorious chance to open the scoring in the 16th minute

Mitchell played the ball down the right channel for winger Peart to use his pace to get in behind before cutting the ball back to unmarked striker Mason Bloomfield, who lashed his first time right-footed drive over the crossbar from 18-yards.

“Mason Bloomfield up top’s a handful, he’s been at Dagenham, I think he’s going there next season,” said McMahon.

“We lost Joe Bruce yesterday to Thurrock and we put Richard Butler in and I thought he done a decent job against him.”

VCD Athletic then created a couple of chances as they got back into the game.

Striker Victor Zapata Caicedo flicked the ball past Billy Coyne before racing into the penalty area but he dragged his left-footed shot across the keeper and past the far post from 15-yards.

But Vickers called Aveley keeper Lamar Johnson into making a smart save in the 20th minute.

The dimulative Rashid Kamara split open the Aveley defence to put Caicedo through on goal and his right-footed shot from 10-yards was blocked by Johnson’s feet at his near post.

“Victor, in the first 25 minutes, caused them all sorts of problems,” said McMahon.

“He caused their centre halves all trouble all game when we got in behind with his pace.  I keep saying and I need to keep talking to him, he’s got a heck of a lot of ability but he’s raw and he needs to trust in people and if he does and he trusts us and he stays and we’ve already spoke, I can make him into an exceptional good player.  When he’s sharp and he’s on it, he’s unplayable.

“It’s certain games when the game goes ahead he’s a little bit, he switches off when the ball’s not near him and if we can get him lively, like their lad, I think he’s going to have a great future.”

Aveley midfielder Coyne launched the first of his four long throws into the penalty area and the ball was cleared away to striker Bloomfield who poked his shot wide whilst under pressure from 12-yards.

Aveley failed to call Gooch into action when Bloomfield held the ball up inside the Vickers’ box, laid the ball back to Coyne, who teed up Michael Toner, who flashed his drive well wide from 25-yards.

Mitchell delivered a deep corner towards the far post where Jaffa rose with a team-mate to loop his header over the crossbar from six-yards.

Vickers midfielder Siao Blackwood played the ball inside to an unmarked Mitch Hahn, who powered a speculative right-footed drive from 35-yards wide of the right-hand post.

Aveley squandered a good chance to break the stalemate in the 37th minute – the chance falling to their right-back.

Winger Gleed collected the ball at his feet in the final third and danced into the Vickers penalty area before laying the ball off to Gibbs who lashed his right-footed shot over the bar from 12-yards.

McMahon said: “I thought we dealt with most things they had.  I was pleased. I was really disappointed before the goal, I thought we were in control and I was really pleased with the start we made.  I thought we were passing the ball better.  I thought we were getting the ball wide and just a little bit more quality or something in front of goal.”

VCD Athletic’s right wing-back Daniel McCullock was penalised for handball on the corner of the box and Mitchell went close with his right-footed curler, which just cleared the top of the near post.

Mitchell then drove in a free-kick which was met by Gibbs’ looping free header which sailed across goal and Gooch reacted by punching the ball towards safety as Toner attempted to nod in.

Aveley went close following another set-piece when Gleed swung in a corner from the right and Jaffa rose to plant his header just over the crossbar from seven-yards out.

That proved to be a warning, as Jaffa notched with 44 minutes and 50 seconds on the clock.

Gleed swung in another corner from the right, Gooch stayed on his line again and failed to react and Jaffa’s downward header went in at the far post just four-yards out.

“I thought he (Gooch) was excellent. He didn’t have a huge amount to do to be fair, a couple of shots, crosses at him but corners back post we’re always a struggle. Their height is massive, when the geezer’s a foot bigger than you, you can’t do much about it.  I think they had eight corners and we dealt with a lot of them fairly well.  We didn’t put many of ours in the box though to be fair and that caused them problems.

“I was pleased with him.  I thought his kicking, his talking, I thought his starting position was excellent and that’s what we’re saying to Niklas. We put him in because Niklas is away on Tuesday. We needed cover and Michael is a very good goalkeeper at this level and I thought he was excellent.”

Reflecting on the decision to award the corner, McMahon bemoaned: “It was never a corner, no one appealed for it.  The cross had come over, the blokes headed it off.  We all knew, the only person on the pitch that gave the corner was the referee. Even the lino gave a goal-kick and it was on his side and the second goal was similar and I was disappointed with it.”

When asked his thoughts at the break, McMahon said: “I said to the lads we played really well for 35 minutes.  They had 10 minutes, we got a little bit sloppy on our passing. I thought we panicked a little bit, understandably, you need an extra touch out there but I just look we can hurt these. 

“I just said keep playing. If we pass the ball and we moved these around. The only thing I was well impressed with was our fitness.  They were dead on their feet at the end with cramp, they were chasing the ball for most of the second half.   I just said keep the ball moving, get the ball into Rash, Del and Siao (Kamara, Duncan and Blackwood) and they would struggle.”

Aveley created the first chance of the second half when Bloomfield cut the ball inside to Mitchell, who cracked a right-footed drive from 30-yards, which comfortably sailed into Gooch’s hands.

Aveley doubled their lead with seven minutes and 30 seconds on the clock as Vickers conceded from their eighth and final corner of the night.

Gleed swept in the ball from the right and Gooch allowed the ball to sail over him and was met by the towering figure of Jaffa at the far post. He headed the ball back across goal and the ball struck Butler and bounced into the bottom near corner for an own-goal.

“He’s (Butler) tried to head it off the line but again it’s diabolical refereeing from the ref and the lino,” claimed McMahon.

“I’ve spoken to the ref and the cross has come over and Kojo has gone to head it and their seven (Gleed) has pushed him in the back and it’s a blatant foul and it’s come off him and gone for a corner and they score from that corner.  You get punished for the mistake.”

When asked about the stat of conceding a couple of set-piece goals, McMahon replied: “We’ve been excellent.  We’ve changed the way we defend corners and we’ve been brilliant with it.  I thought we were again today. They’ve got four or five big six foot lads and we haven’t.  The boy at the back (Jaffa) is about six foot six so sometimes you can’t do nothing about it.”

Caicedo won Vickers a free-kick on the hour after being fouled by Jaffa just outside the corner of the box and Derek Duncan’s dipping free-kick bounced right in front of Johnson, who made the save.

Vickers back three of Ricardo Joseph, Butler and Salvyw Kisitu kept Aveley’s attacking threat at bay and they had to shoot from distance.

Gleed swept a crossfield pass from right to left to left-back George Woodward, who cut inside and played the ball inside to Coyne.  He had to bring the bouncing ball down under control of the bobbly surface before striking a right-footed half-volley from 30-yards, which went straight down Gooch’s throat.

Gleed’s pass released Peart through on goal but his left-footed shot from 12-yards was poor and went straight at Gooch, who made a comfortable save.

“They’re a threat going forward, that’s where they are in the league. They’re a decent enough side and they have got a hell of a lot of pace going forward and they’re going to create chances,” said McMahon.

VCD Athletic accepted a lifeline when Butler drilled home a penalty with 17 minutes and 59 seconds on the second half clock.

Kamara fed the ball into Caicedo’s feet, who was caught by Johnson as he rushed off his line in a poor attempt to try to win the ball and referee Andy Low pointed to the spot.

Butler stepped up to drill his right-footed penalty into the bottom left-hand corner, which was too good for Johnson, who had dived the same way.

You don’t expect a number five to clinically put away a penalty like that but McMahon did:

“I’ve known Buts for years at Thamesmead and in training his penalty taking is unbelievable and he don’t miss,” he said.

“We put him in the side and I told the lads ‘Buts is on pens’ and a few people who don’t know him looked.

“But the move for the pen was great.  We played some great football, probed. Rash got on the ball, Kojo made a great run, he’s played a great ball through to Victor and the keeper’s come flying out and taken him out and he’s despatched it. Lamar’s a good goalkeeper and he’s buried it in the bottom corner.”

With Jaffa, then Gibbs, suffering from cramp, VCD Athletic looked the more likely team to score again.

Vickers captain Duncan was booked by the referee after pacing out 10-yards as the Aveley wall were eight steps away from the ball.

Hahn decided to take the resulting free-kick from on the line of the penalty box on the left-hand side, the ball bouncing into Johnson’s hands for a comfortable save.

McMahon said: “The booking on Derek Duncan in the second half is an absolute disgrace!

“I’m going to speak to the referee about it in a minute because he was too lazy to walk 10 yards.  We kept asking him for 10 yards and he wouldn’t do it and he booked him (Duncan). Then he marked 10 yards out and found the wall was too close so I wasn’t pleased with that.  People say you go on about refs but I just thought in certain parts was disappointing.”

Coyne brought the ball down with his chest before cracking a right-footed volley from 30-yards, which screamed wide.

VCD Athletic kept probing for the equaliser that their play deserved.

Duncan and Kamara linked up and left-back Awotwi was given space to unleash a left-footed drive which was screaming towards the roof of the net.  Johnson pushed the ball over his crossbar with his outstretched right-hand.

“I thought we was well on top. I thought we’ll go on and win it and if we look after their threat with the pace going forward,” added McMahon.

“We just kept causing them problems. Kojo, who I thought was immense today, again was fantastic. Every time we got the ball wide to him or to Rash, we caused them problems and it was only a matter of time we were going to get another one.”

But Aveley gifted VCD Athletic an equaliser through some poor defending from Gleed.

Duncan played a short corner to Kamara, who was pushed over just inside the box by Gleed and the referee Loe pointed to the spot for a second time.

Aveley attempted some gamesmanship by making a substitute in an attempt to distract Butler from the job in hand.

It failed. Johnson stepped to his right and Butler placed his right-footed penalty just right of centre to seal a point with 44 minutes and 27 seconds on the clock.

McMahon said: “We played a ball to his feet again and he’s shifted it and he’s just gone and pushed him, cheers! We’ll have that!

“That’s why I had my sub ready to bring on because I knew he was going to score. He was standing next to me.  Nothing with phase Buts. We had to wait for cramp and we had to wait for that sub and then he’s just rolled it in the middle of the goal, hasn’t he.”

Today’s point will be enough to ensure VCD Athletic will maintain their current status next season.

They travel to eighth-placed Bowers & Pitsea next Tuesday, before completing their campaign with games against Norwich United (away, 8 April); Bury Town (home, 15 April); Tilbury (away, 17 April) and Ware (home, 22 April).

“It will be a good test for us, we’ve got a couple back as well,” McMahon said of his next game.

“We’re looking to build for next year. Me and the chairman (Gary Rump) have spoken about strengthening the club itself bringing in an under 18s, which we’ve done and so on. We need a foundation, we’re positive.

“If we haven’t had the injuries like we’ve had this year, it’s impossible but also we have underachieved certain parts this year so we just need to focus and build for next year.

“We want five wins, simple as.  I’m going to say this, we’re going to be, we’ll be trying in every single game.  Tuesday night we’re going to go full out because we want to do Phoenix a favour and if we can beat Bowers that puts them in a great position because I think they’ll win tomorrow.  I’m going to go and watch and we’ll be trying to do our friends a favour next door so Tuesday night we ain’t going there to see the rest of the season out, we’re going for three points.”

Aveley: Lamar Johnson, Harry Gibbs, George Woodward, Billy Coyne, Tommy Spillane (Joe Clark 23), Hussain Jaffa, Ross Gleed (Ramone Cassidy-Sinclair 90), Matt Mitchell, Mason Bloomfield, Michael Toner (Joe Paxman 90), Jordan Peart.
Subs: Cain Broughan, Joshua Luther

Goals: Hussain Jaffa 45, Richard Butler 53 (own goal)

Booked: Matt Mitchell 3, Lamar Johnson 63

VCD Athletic: Michael Gooch, Daniel McCullock, Kojo Awotwi, Salvyw Kisitu, Richard Butler, Ricardo Joseph, Siao Blackwood, Rashid Kamara (Frankie Sinclair 90), Mitch Mahn, Victor Zapata Caicedo, Derek Duncan.
Subs: Nicky Symons, Lewis Byrne-Hewitt, Marc Gorbell, Niklas Freund

Goals: Richard Butler 64 (penalty), 90 (penalty)

Booked: Rashid Kamara 3, Ricardo Joseph 60, Derek Duncan 76

Attendance: 123
Referee: Mr Andy Loe (St Albans, Hertfordshire)
Assistants: Mr James Kerten (Enfield, Middlesex) & Mr Michael Mackey (Enfield, Middlesex)

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