Bearsted 1-2 Hythe Town - I've got to make some decisions over the next 10 days and it's starting to cause me a headache, says Hythe Town boss Clive Cook

Saturday 09th July 2016
Bearsted 1 – 2 Hythe Town
Location Otham Sports Ground, Honey Lane, Otham, Maidstone, Kent ME15 8RG
Kickoff 09/07/2016 15:00

Pre-Season Friendly
Saturday 9th July 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Honey Lane

HYTHE TOWN manager Clive Cook says he faces a selection headache after his side comfortably won their opening pre-season friendly at Bearsted.

Cook was without Sam Adams, Craig Cloke, Chris Saunders and Louis Sprosen for the match against a Bearsted side that claimed the Kent Invicta League title without a budget last season.

Bearsted, who were without central defensive partners Graeme Andrews and Rob Lyall, grabbed the lead against the run of play from a 20th minute penalty from striker Peter Williams, who scored 23 goals last season.

Hythe Town missed a penalty through Frankie Sawyer but they controversially equalised when Sawyer’s centre was turned into his own goal by Bears’ central defender Andy Foster, despite there being two balls on the pitch at the same time.

Hythe Town made seven changes at the break and brought on a couple of teenage prospects later on in the half and substitute Jack Mahoney won the game on the hour mark crashing a stunning shot into the top right-hand corner of the net from 30-yards.

“Good run-out, they’re a good side. It was all about the run-out, most of them got 45 minutes. Just pleased to get back out on the pitch again,” said Cook, who guided Hythe Town to a top-four finish in the Ryman League Division One South last season.

“They’re starting to cause a bit of a headache now with what I’ve got. It was all about looking at the strength I’ve got, looking in depth what I’ve got. 

“I’ve got to make some decisions probably over the next 10 days so this is the start, this is the thought process between the management team.  We’ve got a couple of friendlies and by the time we play Hornchurch at home (on 23 July), we’ll be settled down to where we want to be, then I’ll make some decisions on what we’re going forward with and how we’re going to do it.”

With Bearsted preparing for their Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division debut, the match was switched to the second pitch at Honey Lane and their manager Kevin Stevens was also satisfied with the game.

“It was very good. I was quite happy really. We’ve had six training sessions up until now so fitness was good against a side a league higher,” said the Bearsted manager.

“Obviously they’re flying after coming fourth last year in the Ryman South. Our boys put in a good shift. We were a little bit short on numbers today so three or four guys helped us out. They aren’t used to playing with the other boys so it weren’t as good second half possession wise but all-in-all, very happy, a good run-out.”

It took Hythe Town nearly 12 minutes to create their first opening but Dave Cook played the ball into Sawyer, who leaned back and lashed his right-footed shot sailing harmlessly over the crossbar from 25-yards.

Sawyer’s strike partner Alfie May, cut in from the right flank to curl his left-footed shot around the far post from 22-yards.

But Bearsted grabbed the lead with their only shot on target, the goal timed at 19 minutes and 4 seconds.

Right-back Jack West pumped a long ball out of defence which was chased down by winger Shac Ogazi, who capitalised on a mix-up involving Charlie Slocombe and his goalkeeper Joe Mant and Slocombe tripped the Bearsted man just inside the box and referee Dan Doyle pointed to the spot for the first time.

Williams stepped up and drove his right-footed penalty into the right corner of the goal to stun their higher league visitors’.

Stevens said: “Shac’s pace is unbelievable. It broke didn’t it and he’s one that stays up and hopefully picks up a few scraps. His pace is scary, got fouled and Pete steps up and that’s why he hits so many goals every season, he scores goals. A well despatched good penalty, our first chance so very pleasing.”

Cook added: “It was a poor goal. It was a poor goal to give away. Poor penalty. It was a poor penalty, a poor goal to give away but this is what these games are all about.  We’ve got to see where our minuses are, see what we’ve got to do and work on it. It was their only shot, I think.”

Bearsted keeper Scott Andrews was called into action when he jumped to his right to palm away May’s free-kick, which the winger stroked over the wall and towards the top left-hand corner from 25-yards.

Cook admitted his front two in the first half were not firing on all cylinders.

“Alfie’s always going to give you that (free-kick chance).  He’s probably 30% of him today, same as Frank. It’s all about getting up to that 90%, and that 95% and 100%. Again, going back to it, that’s what pre-season is all about. It’s all about getting the games.”

But Bearsted squandered an excellent chance to double their lead in the 24th minute.

West threw the ball into the penalty area and striker Andy Irvine held the ball up close to the by-line, before cutting the ball back to Charle Epps, who drove a low cross into the penalty area and an unmarked Williams flicked his shot past the left-hand post from eight-yards.

Stevens said: “Pete’s always in and around the action area, always nibbling away. He’s always brave and he uses his brain and gets into little holes and hopefully finds tap-ins now and again. It’s typical Pete Williams.”

Irvine had a quiet game but Stevens said he has high hopes for his summer signing, alongside Williams.

He said: “I’ve been trying to get Andy for a couple of years and we’ve finally got him now. 

“He’s so good in training, he doesn’t miss the target hardly at all. He’ll give us that focal point up front and it won’t mean we’ll go long ball route because we still like to play football but he can play football as well.

“Pete Williams, as most people know, he’s the one who scores all our goals every season and all off a sudden we’ve got two people who will probably get 20-30 goals each and hopefully Brad Webb, who I know will score goals as well, Brad along with the other strikers will give us a lot more firepower up front.”

Hythe Town were awarded a penalty of their own after Ryan Johnson (who has returned from a short spell at SCEFL champions Greenwich Borough) was given time and space to thread a ball through to Cook.

Cook started the game in the middle of the park before dropping into the heart of defence for the second half, was going away from goal by the time he was tripped by the Bearsted keeper inside the penalty area.

Sawyer stepped up, dummied the keeper sending him the wrong way, before clipping his right-footed penalty against the right-hand post and missing his first penalty for Hythe Town summed up his poor half.

Cook said: “My thing about it is you don’t miss penalties and we missed a penalty! I think he's told everything that (was his first missed penalty for us) but saying that he actually had an open goal because the keeper was already committed, he was committed one way and all he had to do was put it in!”

Stevens added: “Scott probably argued but it looked to us it was a penalty, yes.   I’m not going to knock Scott off. I thought he had a fantastic game so he pulled four or five really good saves. It looked from my angle it was a penalty. It hit the post. Again in pre-season Scott’s probably a little bit too casual. He kept us going luckily enough.”

Sawyer’s clever free-kick set up a chance for former Tonbridge Angels winger Charlie Webster, who tried to find the bottom near corner with his shot but was denied by Andrews’ outstretched right leg.

Hythe Town deservedly equalised with 39 minutes on the clock – despite there being two balls on the pitch at the same time.

A yellow football was punted from the main pitch onto this pitch and referee Dan Doyle allowed play to continue.

The Maidstone official even grabbed the second ball by the time that the real match ball found its way to Sawyer inside the penalty area on the left hand side.

Sawyer put in a low centre and the ball should have been cleared away by Foster at his near post but the central defender turned the ball into the bottom near corner from inside the six-yard box.

“I didn’t see the two balls – I’m going to say that – but I didn’t see them,” said Cook, the first manager to act like Arsene Wenger this season when asked about a controversial decision.

“I think we had the pressure, now I think it’s only a matter of time. We played some decent stuff in patches. We took control. It was just a matter of time when we scored. We scored kinda thing. It was like that type of game for us, that’s what I thought anyway. It all counts and it got us back in the game.”

Stevens added: “Just before that (Sawyer cross), we thought it looked quite a bit like offside. We thought a couple of players were offside but again one of those things.

“Foster’s had a fantastic game at the back there, can’t knock him. He lives on the end of everything. He was a little bit unfortunate but we thought it was offside, but there you go, one of those things.”

The goal seemed to explode The Cannons into life and only Dave Cook will know how he missed his great chance.

Right-back Connor Hood whipped in a quality cross into the Bearsted box which Cook expertly brought down at the near post before spooning his shot over the crossbar from eight-yards.

“Well, he does need to put those boots back on again I think because he was getting in some good positions being honest but they should be put away, they should be buried,” came the manager’s response to his son’s glaring miss.

Johnson produced a sublime through ball to release Sawyer through the heart of Bearsted’s defence but Andrews dived to his right to push his dinked shot around the post.

Stevens revealed: “Scott has got a couple of young lads pushing him this season. They’re away on holiday sunning themselves and he’s there between the sticks and I thought he was absolutely top notch, pulled three or four very good saves off.”

Both managers reflected on the first half.

Stevens said: “Just a good run-out. We expected them to come and have a lot of possession, which they did.  You’re playing a side that came fourth in the Ryman South who are well set up.  They came with a team each half so we knew it would be hard work but our boys stuck at it, stuck to the t ask well, closed them down at the right times.

“I thought we gave the ball away. Our game is built around keeping the ball as well and I thought we gave it away at times too easily, maybe it’s that little bit of panic playing a side a league above but all in all it was a very good first half.”

Cook added: “We had enough chances to go in there quite comfortable really but we didn’t. We made it a little hard for ourselves.”

Bearsted made four changes at the break, while Hythe Town brought seven new players on for the second half.

Andrews pulled off another fine save inside the opening seven minutes into the second half.

Substitute right-back Sam Welch launched a ball in to the penalty area towards an unmarked Jack Harris, the hooked shot from the Cannons striker was saved by Andrews to his right.

Harris had a couple of attempts blocked from a free-kick and the ball ran loose to James Morrish, whose shot on the turn was easily saved by the Bearsted keeper, low to his right.

Bearsted’s only second half chance arrived in the 58th minute when Irvine’s driven free-kick was blocked by the wall and substitute Brad Webb dragged his shot across goal and past the far post.

Stevens said: “Brad’s come along and helped us out today. Hopefully we might be able to get him to come and join the squad actually. He used to play for me as a youth player. He’ll score goals. He finds holes, very intelligent player. I thought he done well when he came on actually so he’ll score goals for us.”

But Hythe Town sealed a deserved win on the hour mark with an early contender for Goal of the Season.

Welch fed the ball up the line to Webster, who played the ball inside to Mahoney, who took a touch before cracking his left-footed drive into the top right-hand corner from 30-yards.

“Jack’s got that in the locker, Jack, lovely lad. It’s always good to win. It’s always good to win a game like that but he’s got that in the locker, he’s a good player,” said Cook.

“Oh crickey!” came Stevens reply when asked about Mahoney’s worldy.

“A little bit critical from our point of view, we were shouting at someone to get out and press him but those things happen, don’t they?

“He’s cracked it and like you say it flew in to the top corner. A fantastic strike but from our point of view, we were looking at someone to come out and press it.”

Former Eastbourne Town striker Kenny Pogue should have taken his only chance of the game, dragging his shot past the far post at the halfway point of the second half.

“Kenny will get fit,” said Cook. “Kenny, he’s not a good pre-season player as such. He needs to get fit. He needs to lose, he will lose his bit of timber he’s got and I think when he does get trim, I think he’ll be a very dangerous for us.  I think he’ll be a big asset.”

Hythe’s next chance arrived in the 80th minute when Morrish played the ball to Alister Griggs, but the 18-year-old’s 20-yard shot took a deflection before dropping into Andrews’ hands.

Andrews was called into action twice late on to deny Harris getting on the scoresheet.

Sixteen-year-old left-back Keane Gillett played a long ball over the top to put Harris through on goal but Andrews made the save.

Andrews then dived high to his right to palm away Harris’ stinging drive after being set up with a cross-box pass from Pogue.

Reflecting on Hythe’s opening work-out, Cook said: “I always look a friendlies, I was quite relaxed, I was sitting there quite relaxed seeing what was going on, looking at different players, analysing the players. I’ve got to be honest I wasn’t bothered with the result. I don’t like losing but I was more interested getting at what I needed to get out of the players, which I need to make decisions on.

“At the end of the day both halves we played ok. We done enough and I got something out of both halves so I’m happy.

“Two-one probably flattered it but it’s a result and that’s what it’s all about. That’s where we are.  I’m pleased because I’ve got something out of it. That’s what pre-season is all about, it’s getting something out of each 45 and I feel we got that.”

When asked about his aspirations for the season ahead, Cook replied: “Every manager will say the same, I’m going for the title. It’s going to be extremely hard, it’s going to be difficult because there’s a lot of good sides in that league. There’s massively good sides coming into the league. Everyone’s strengthened and every game is going to be huge and we’ll do the best we can, how we go about our business and hopefully we’ll get to where we want to be.”

Hythe Town are next in action next Saturday at Lancing, while Bearsted host
Andreas Carter Sports Joma Kent County League Premier side Kennington on Tuesday night.

Bearsted boss Stevens said: “Second half we had to play a few players 90 minutes, that we didn’t want to do but we didn’t have enough numbers today.  We had four players who were doing us a favour today who normally wouldn’t get in our squad but they done us a massive favour today.

“It was hard work second half, very hard work. One of our qualities is we are very resilient, dig-in and defend really well. We had two top class defenders missing today (Graeme Andrews and Rob Lyall). It’s hard work and we dug in. To only lose by an odd goal, we done well.”

Bearsted: Scott Andrews, Jack West, Ollie Bartrum (Mike Cook 66), Andy Foster, Jon Baker, Charlie Epps (Connor Ivie 46), Peter Williams (Brad Webb 46), Mike Holliday (Liam Bellingham 46), Andy Irvine (Ken Gardiner 66), Sam Flisher, Shac Ogazi (Paul Holliday 46).

Goal: Peter Williams 20 (penalty)

Hythe Town: Joe Mant (Adam Highstead 46), Connor Hood (Sam Welch 46), Josh Burchell (Ben Wilson 46), Ryan Johnson (Dan Parkinson 46), Charlie Slocombe (Keane Gillett 68), Nick Reeves (James Morrish 46), Dave Cook, Charlie Webster (Alister Griggs 70), Frankie Sawyer (Kenny Pogue 46), Alfie May (Jack Mahoney 46), Jack Harris.

Goals: Andy Foster 39 (own goal), Jack Mahoney 60

Attendance: 65
Referee: Mr Dan Doyle (Maidstone)
Assistants: Mr Matt Pollington (Paddock Wood) & Mr Michael Wilson (Sittingbourne)






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