Bridon Ropes 1-2 Crowborough Athletic - This side never knows when it's beaten, says Crowborough Athletic boss Sean Muggeridge, unbeaten in 30 games

Wednesday 11th January 2017
Bridon Ropes 1 – 2 Crowborough Athletic
Location Meridian Sports & Social Club, 110 Charlton Park Lane, Charlton, London SE7 8QS
Kickoff 11/01/2017 19:45

Macron Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Third Round
Wednesday 11 January 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Charlton Park Lane

CROWBOROUGH ATHLETIC manager Sean Muggeridge says his side never knows when its beaten after extending their impressive unbeaten run to 30 games.

The Crows sit proudly at the top of the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with 15 wins, three draws and two defeats and Muggeridge made seven changes to the side that thrashed Eastbourne Town 6-0 in The Buildbase FA Vase Fourth Round at the weekend.

Hosts Bridon Ropes went into this Macron Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Last 16 tie sitting in the top six in the First Division, with a playing record of 10 wins, six draws and five defeats.

The Charlton-based outfit asked their players for £10 subs prior to the game in the clubhouse, while Crowborough Athletic are one of the big hitters in the division above.

And when Adam Saunders slotted in his fifth goal of the season to give Bridon Ropes the lead in the first half, they were on course of pulling off their greatest ever result.

But Crowborough Athletic dominated the whole second half as they put the home side on the ropes, but the timings of the Crows goals was heartbreaking Bridon’s bravehearts.

Both crosses came from their two wing-backs and both headed goals came late on.

Jason Barton headed in the equaliser, which was timed at 43:46 on the clock and Crowborough’s deserved winner, headed in by Ross Treleaven, who had earlier skied a penalty, scored his 15th goal of the season three minutes and 11 seconds into time added on.

“It was a very tough game for us,” admitted Muggeridge.

“We knew it would be tough because we knew sides below us are going to work really, really hard and they sat 11 behind the ball and we tried to break them down.  We weren’t good enough breaking them down in the first half.

“In the second half we played a lot better.  We didn’t play bad first half but we just couldn’t break them down.

“We made some changes, the changes made a lot of difference.  The players came on and livened it up and at the end we missed a penalty, we hit the post.  We had two cleared off the line. It was just unbelievable. I didn’t think it was going to be our day and then popped up with a header in the 89th minute and then we got the winner in the 93rd minute.

“The thing is it just epitomises this side really. It never knows when it’s beaten and this is what’s been getting us through, even when we’ve been playing badly we seem to get results and that’s the spirit and I’ve said about the camaraderie of the players in the changing room.

“I’ve got so much admiration for Bridon Ropes tonight because they were just superb in every way.  They made it difficult for us and they hassled us.  It was just one of the toughest games we’ve had all season. It was a little bit of quality in the end, but I think Bridon are a credit to their league. I feel really sorry for them because the way they worked hard, they probably deserved something.”

Bridon Ropes manager Mark Murison said:” We are, the players are gutted! That’s an understatement. Whenever you concede an 89th minute goal and a 93rd minute goal or whatever it was you’re going to be disappointed.  The players are going to be disappointed but as we’ve said they’ve taken a team, non-league team of the week, they’ve got a big budget, top of their league, looking like they’re going to be a Ryman team next year, three rounds away from Wembley, they’re a quality side. 

“They might have made some changes tonight but when you’ve got that type of budget and resources you should have quality whoever’s on the pitch.

“But I was proud of my boys. They defended resiliently.  They literally did everything that was asked of them. They didn’t quite do enough going forward in the second half but sometimes it’s difficult when you’re that close to beating a team that’s on fire at the moment and the longer the game goes on the more you try to see out the game and we were minutes away from doing that.

“You’re probably right, that would probably been the biggest win but it didn’t happen but the boys should be absolutely proud of themselves.  They done a great job and the way that Crowborough celebrated at the end, which I don’t blame them because they’ve just won the game but that’s credit to us.  They could’ve so easily come here and won the game easily and not cheering as it it doesn’t matter but they’ve just won the Vase game but it did matter to them.  It was like they won the Cup Final at the end cheering.

“I’m not saying they got away with it because they played really well. They did get away with it in the sense of how late it was.”

Murison sent his players’ out “with a point to prove” and they created the first opening inside the opening four minutes.

Winger Henry Dasofunjo broke through the heart of the pitch before playing the ball outside to Saunders, who stumbled and dinked his right-footed shot over the crossbar from 15-yards.

“It was a good chance.  I think Cozzy (Doune West) and Adam Saunders got in eachother’s way which might have just forced him to go a bit wide because both of them sort of stopped for a second.  If he was able to drive in a little bit closer to the goal but he had to try to dink it.  He was unlucky. From the angle he was, if he would’ve scored it, it would’ve been a heck of a goal but it was a good chance and it was good to get a chance early because it encouraged our boys that we can create chances against this team.”

Muggeridge said: “They were sitting there trying to hit us on the break and it was working. 

“I’m not making excuses, we did rest a few tonight making seven changes and some of them haven’t played together. It took us time to get going.  They had a couple of chances when they could’ve scored but it was all us possession wise. It was just trying to break them down.”

Crowborough Athletic won the corner count by 14-3 and sprayed the ball around the pitch at ease as Bridon Ropes parked the bus and worked resiliently.

Dan Perry’s low centre from the right was cut out by Bridon Ropes goalkeeper Jack Turner, before Crowborough’s first shot in anger came in the 19th minute when the ball came out to central midfielder Tom Vickers, who unleashed a right-footed drive past the left-hand post from 30-yards.

Crowborough went closer following their third corner, which was swung in by right wing-back Wayne Clarke, but Jack Turner (one of three central defenders for Crowborough) rose to plant his free header over the bar from eight-yards.

Bridon Ropes stunned the Crows by taking the lead with 22 minutes and 54 seconds on the clock.

John Woodcock threw the ball to Saunders, who wasn’t challenged by anybody on his 35-yard run forward with the ball and space opened up and he drilled his right-footed shot across the diving keeper into the bottom far corner to score from 22-yards.

Murison admits he wants more from his number 10.

“That’s something he should do more. Saunders is one of our most talented players technically on the ball, one of the aspects that we’ve been trying to improve is scoring a lot more goals because he should be a double-figure player each year,” said Murison.

“He got the ball in space, drove at the back four, no one wanted to put in a challenge, they just backed off and he got himself in a  great position and it was a great finish so he just needs to do that more often whenever he’s in that position.  He makes things happen with his technique and ability on the ball is so good because he troubles players.”

Muggeridge added: “Disappointing where it came from because he came from his own half and he ran right through and no one challenged him. 

“I don’t know whether it was complacency tonight and it happened a few times when they hit us on the break.  I think it was all down to us being a little complacent.  We had a lot of challenges coming up here on a Wednesday night, which we’ve got to get used to and I think it contributed for us not starting very well.”

Crowborough’s first half play appeared to be complacent, thinking they were playing a lower league side and all they had to do was turn up.  Bridon Ropes kept them at bay.

“We didn’t move the ball quick enough.  We’re never going to open up teams if we’re not going to move it around quickly enough and they sat in there and they caused us a lot of problems in doing it,” said Muggeridge.

“We’ve got to learn we’ve got to move things quicker. That’s the reason we couldn’t open up their back six they’ve got, two holding, because we didn’t move the ball quickly enough.”

Murison added: “Nothing much happened after that goal. We tried to do some game management by trying not to concede anything silly before half-time. Sometimes when you’re 1-0 up you don’t mind the game going a bit sour because that’s what you want.  We didn’t create much but nor did they. It kind of dwindled out really, which is how we wanted it.”

Goalkeeper Jack Turner flicked the ball away off his namesakes head as the Crowborough defender was ready to meet a corner with a free header at the far post.

Clarke’s long throw from the right was flicked on by Treleaven at the near post and the Bridon Ropes keeper comfortably gathered the ball.

Bridon Ropes snuffed out Crowborough’s non-existent threat but they wasted a good opportunity in the 39th minute.

Left-back Woodcock smashed his 32-yard free-kick into the wall and Saunders took a touch and his right-footed drive deflected on its way into Dan Smith’s hands.

Muggeridge was asked whether he tore into his players during the interval.

“Yes, you could say that, but it was hard with the amount of chances we’ve had and a lot of quality players that we’re out of the side.  It was hard to have a go at them because some of them haven’t had a lot of match time.  I didn’t go mad as I’ve done in other games.  I thought we’d get back into it easily so I didn’t really tear into them.  I didn’t think they needed it because they knew what they were doing wrong but I did have a bit of a go at them.”

Murison added: “Happy with what they were doing, we wanted them to try to replicate that and we put a couple of things in place to try to help us get out a little bit better and get on the ball but the main focus was we knew that Crowborough were going to get a bit of a b******ing. We knew they were going to come out harder and throw players at us, try to take risks and it was going to be difficult.   It was mentally preparing them. 

“We’ve had it a few times before when we’ve been leading 1-0 at half-time and you can concede a silly goal within a couple of minute and it just turns the whole game and the whole 45 minutes has just been a waste.”

The second half, however, was a different story and Crowborough Athletic upped their game and desire levels.

Woodcock swung in a couple of free-kicks into Crowborough’s box, which were easily gathered by Smith in the Crowborough goal inside the opening five minutes.

Crowborough’s now right wing-back Jon Shea whipped in some high quality balls in the second half and striker Tom Pearson slid in at the far post and hurt himself in the process as the ball only just flashed past the foot of the far post.

Barton issued Bridon Ropes a warning in the 55th minute when he met Shea’s precise deep cross from the right with a free header, which he steered past the left-hand post from 10-yards.

Muggeridge said: “We were getting the ball wide. We said at half-time to get some quality in the box but we weren’t getting on the end of them and when we were getting on the end of them, the quality wasn’t there and that was a good chance.  I think if we’d have scored a bit earlier we may have made it a bit more easier.”

Murison added: “We knew the pressure was starting to come. There was no doubt it was going to come.  In any game, even if you come up against someone that’s lower than you, you know when there’s going to be a point in the game when they have a good spell.”

Shea then delivered a free-kick from the right and Crowborough’s Turner nipped in front of his marker to hook his shot wide.

Crowborough Athletic were turning the screw during this part of the game and it was only a matter of time a goal would come.

Bridon Ropes’ goalkeeper Turner pulled off a fine save in the 59th minute to frustrate the East Sussex outfit.

Treleaven’s right-footed dipping free-kick from 30-yards was destined for the top near corner, but the keeper dived high to his right to turn the ball behind for Crowborough’s ninth corner.

Shea swung in the resulting corner from the right but Tom Boddy came up from the back to guide his free header straight into the keeper’s hands from 10-yards.

Murison said: “He kept us in the game with that. He hasn’t had a lot to do, even though we’ve had a lot of balls in our box, Jack our keeper hadn’t had much to do at all.  Sometimes as a goalkeeper when you’re not getting a lot of action and he was on it. His time came to do his job and he did it well.”

“The keeper didn’t have a lot of saves to do,” admitted Muggeridge.

“That’s the quality we have got. Ross Treleaven is a quality free-kick taker so I was expecting that but it was a good save from the goalkeeper.

“I’m thinking it could be one of those days but this side never gives up.  Even in the 89th minute I was expecting something to happen – and it did!”

Crowborough’s next corner, which was swung in by Shea from the right, clipped the near post but there were plenty of bodies in the goal-mouth to prevent the ball creeping in.

Bridon Ropes squandered an excellent chance to progress with their only second half chance in the 65th minute.

It came from their second corner of the night, swung in by Saunders on the left, which was met at the far post by Dasofunjo, but the angle for the unmarked winger was tight and he lashed his volley over the crossbar.

“We didn’t create much at all in that second half. It was not great to watch from my side, especially as a manager. We should’ve done a little bit better,” admitted the Bridon Ropes manager.

“Henry had a great game. He done everything that we wanted him to do.  I think at that point as well we were asking a lot of our wingers today. We upped what we wanted them to do. We subbed him because the legs started to go. If it lands to him in the first five minutes of the game he could probably hit a great strike but when tired legs are there and he’s trying to get all his body shape right, he couldn’t quite get there.  I can’t fault his performance, he’s put in a quality performance.”

Murison and his assistant Scott Taylor pulled off a tactical masterstoke after the home side gave away a penalty in the 65th minute.

Clarke, who was keen to reach the channel all game, skipped past Bridon Ropes’ right-back Luke Hewitt and central defender Kemal Chakarto came across and chopped down Clarke and referee Jamie Eacott pointed to the spot.

Bridon Ropes put doubt in Treleaven’s mind as they replaced a tiring Dasofunjo for Jacob De-Vries and when the whistle blew Treleaven skied his right-footed penalty high, high over the crossbar.

Murison admitted: “Definitely a pen.  I’m probably the furthest away you can be from that and there’s bodies in the way but it was definitely a pen and I think the ref has done the right decision.

“Kemal went to ground, which you can’t do in the box. If you go to ground you have to be 100% you’re going to get that ball and he didn’t.  He had a quality game Kemal and that was the only mistake he made.

“The decision was made that we wanted to slow it down a little bit, try to put some sort of thought process into the kicker’s mind so we made a sub. We were going to make a sub anyway in the next couple of minutes so we thought we may as well do it now.”

“It was in the contents of the game, I think,” admitted Muggeridge.

“I don’t like saying it, that might be missed tonight because of the way the game was going, little bits here, little bits there. We couldn’t get on the end of stuff.  I don’t think it’s Ross’s fault. It was just in the contents of the game that put a lot of pressure on him.”

When asked about Bridon’s gamesmanship of delaying the kick, Muggeridge replied: “Good on their coaching staff. It delayed the pen and it put a bit more pressure and put stuff in his head.”

Treleaven was the corner taker for Crowborough’s 12th corner, which was hooked wide at the near post by Barton.

But Barton was the driving force as Crowborough’s desire levels and tempo increased as the game went on.

Shea was given acres of space in the middle of the pitch to unleash a right-footed drive from 35-yards, which dipped and only just cleared the crossbar.

Bridon Ropes were putting their bodies on the line and they were living on the edge as their biggest win got closer.

Murison said: “It’s difficult because you’re always expecting especially in the last 10 minutes I knew we were going to have our backs up against the wall and we had a couple of players with cramps and whatever else and you’re thinking can we get to the end of the game with 11 men on the pitch because people are starting to cramp up?

“We knew there was going to be a lot of pressure but you do start to think at that time they’re peppering us, they’re not really creating clear cut chances.  They’ve missed a pen and you think ok this could be our night. It didn’t turn out that way but at that time there was a lot of confidence through the team.”

Barton clipped the ball over the top, which was chased by substitute Sam Carrington and Lewis Unwin’s header was palmed away by Turner, stretching high to his left.

But Bridon Ropes resilience and hearts were broken when Crowborough equalised.

Shea was given acres of space down the right wing and delivered a brilliant deep cross towards the far post and an unmarked Barton headed into the bottom near corner from a couple of yards out.

“Jason did push up and he’s very good in the air,” said Muggeridge.  “It was the quality of the cross. It was just a great cross and the desire to get on the end of it. That’s what we needed all night.  We left it too late, well we didn’t leave it too late, we left it a bit late to do that.”

A heartbroken Murison added: “Great cross. They did it all night. They’ve got some quality players, brilliant crosses with the ball into the box.  You’re always hoping that one or two of them will be poor but they were all on the button.  I can’t remember a cross that wasn’t in a dangerous area.

“I’m a little bit disappointed with it because the whole game we put some pressure on the cross, even if it was someone just running out to him but he had all the time in the world and when you give good players that time he’s always going to pick a great spot and they had two players at the back post free. We just switched off from one and we had two or three players switch off. It’s just disappointing because it was an easy goal in the end.  I don’t mind if he powers in a header with a defender on him but he had a free header at the back post and he put it away.”

Clarke swung in a quality corner from the left, which Bridon cleared off the line.  The ball came out to Crowborough’s Turner, who drilled his shot against the right-hand post.  The ball was cleared out to Clarke, whose cross-shot from the left sailed over the keeper’s left shoulder and kissed the top of the crossbar and Bridon Ropes were heading for extra-time.

Muggeridge said: “It was just one of those nights where we could’ve won a little bit more convincingly if those chances had gone in.  You’ve got to give them credit, they shoved everything in front of them.  I’ve got so much admiration for them for what they did tonight. They didn’t show us any respect really, they done really well.”

Murison added: “At that stage the boys’ heads had dropped slightly because we were a few minutes away from winning and now you’re thinking about getting into extra-time.

“I didn’t know how that first one didn’t go in. It looked like it was going in.  Again you think we have got away with one, can we get into extra time and re-settle the boys, try to make something happen. As a manager at that point your hands are almost tied.  You’re shouting to try to encourage them to stay focused but at that time you’re really in the lap of the gods and hoping they see the game out.”

But Crowborough Athletic snatched a deserved victory.

Clarke turned his man down the left channel and delivered a left-footed cross into the box and Treleaven saved Crowborough’s bacon by burying his header past Turner from six-yards.

Muggeridge said: “Was it Ross Treleaven? I couldn’t see who it was because I was so relieved it happened. I didn’t see who it was.  Ross Treleaven is a goal machine every time he plays.  He’s not always available in midweek because of his work. He’s been with us for years and he scores goals.  That’s not the first time he’s done a header like that.  We’ve got quality.”

When asked what the secret is for their 30-match unbeaten run, Muggeridge replied: “I’ve brought players in.  The most important thing we kept the nucleus of the side. We kept seven or eight from last year and we’ve brought in some quality from higher levels.  I have picked the right players and we’ve brought in players that we know as well and the camaraderie is unbelievable.”

Murison added: “It was a great cross as well and to be fair to that player all game I thought he hasn’t got a left foot. He kept trying to get on his right and then he put in an absolute beauty, fizzed across the six-yard box for their striker.

“He didn’t get a clear, clear header on it. He headed it onto his shoulder but it went in. Great cross, great finish. 

“It’s heartbreaking at that point as a manager.  I feel gutted for the boys because you knew how much effort they’ve given me as a manager, for the club. They’ve made the club proud of them being a player for the club so you’re really disappointed for them.”

Bridon Ropes can be immensely proud for the way they fought tooth and nail against a big-budget club.

“A team that’s 29 unbeaten, a huge budget and resources and they cheered at the end like they’ve won the cup,” said Murison.

“They could’ve come here tonight and walked over us, probably not cheer the goals, just walk out and go home and job done.  They beat Eastbourne Town 6-0 in The Vase at the weekend and we forced that cheering out of them.  Their bench was jumping up.

“We forced a team that’s top of the league above with all the resources and a budget against a team where players have to pay a minimum of £250 a year to play for us to put on a Bridon top and everybody at this club should be proud of that because that’s a big achievement.”

Bridon Ropes: Jack Turner, Luke Hewitt, John Woodcock, Kieran Fanner, Kemal Chakarto, Matt Dennis, Henry Dasofunjo (Jacob De-Vries 72), Adam Smith (Joe Hall 77), Douane West (Daniel Akanni 75), Adam Saunders, Tayler Bowley.
Sub: Aryton Tahsiri

Goal: Adam Saunders 23

Crowborough Athletic: Dan Smith, Wayne Clarke, Jon Shea, Jason Barton, Jack Turner, Tom Boddy, Tom Vickers (Lewis Unwin 51), Callum Ridley, Tom Pearson (Sam Carrington 75), Ross Treleaven, Dan Perry (Zac Attwood 79).
Subs: Sam Crabb, Dan Ellis

Goals: Jason Barton 89, Ross Treleaven 90

Booked: Jason Barton 52

Attendance: 61
Referee: Mr Jamie Eacott (Walderslade)
Assistants: Mr Chris Goulbourn (Otford) & Mr Joseph Dann-Pye (Maidstone)

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