Bridon Ropes 2-3 Sutton Athletic - As long as we turn up and give a good account of ourselves in the final I'll be a very happy man, says Sutton Athletic boss Ben Young

Wednesday 30th March 2016
Bridon Ropes 2 – 3 Sutton Athletic
Location Foxbury Avenue, off Perry Street, Chislehurst, Kent BR7 6SD
Kickoff 30/03/2016 19:30

Kent Invicta League Challenge Trophy Semi-Final
Wednesday 30th March 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Foxbury Avenue

SUTTON ATHLETIC manager Ben Young hailed his side’s hard work after they reached the Kent Invicta League Challenge Trophy Final.

The Hextable-based outfit booked a trip to Sheppey United on Saturday 7 May to play a Final against Glebe, who hosted this re-match after the original tie at Meridian VP in Charlton was abandoned in extra-time with the score tied at 1-1 when the floodlights were switched off at 22:00 as they were on a timer.

This game attracted a crowd of 103 to Glebe’s Foxbury Avenue ground in Chislehurst and Sutton Athletic won an entertaining game.

Striker Arlie Desanges punished some poor goalkeeping to score twice inside the opening eight minutes, taking his goalscoring tally up to 34 goals for the season.

Bridon Ropes pulled a goal back through Nick Dunsdon’s 23rd strike of the campaign, before Chris Mirlees came up from the back to head in his fourth of the season on the stroke of half-time to put Sutton Athletic in the driving seat.

Bridon Ropes dominated for large chunks of the second half, pulling back a second through winger Taylor Bowley, but Sutton Athletic held on.

“I’m over the moon to achieve to be in a final, it’s all the hard work that the boys have put in,” said Young afterwards as fourth-placed Sutton Athletic knocked out fifth-placed Bridon Ropes.

“They deserve something out of the season. I’m not saying that we’re going on to win it but we’ve got a very, very good chance to do that. It’s all down to the boys working hard to achieving to be there, so very, very happy.

“Bridon have been unbelievable over the two legs that we’ve played them as such, they’ve been fantastic.  They deserved to get something out of tonight. They worked hard, you can see why they’re achieving these results.

“Unfortunately for us we’ve got to play them on Saturday (at home) so luckily for us we’ve seen them and know what they’re like. They’re a fantastic team that can achieve anything they want.”

Bridon Ropes manager Mark Murison was forced to play the entire 90 minutes due to a striker shortage.

“Throw it away are my thoughts to be fair,” said Murison after his side’s 13 match unbeaten run came to an end.

“I thought we’ve conceded some sloppy goals, sloppy goals and to go 2-0 down in the first eight minutes is hard because then you’re fighting an uphill battle from the start.

“I think the second one, from my view, was a foul. The keeper had it in both hands and then he decided to smash into the keeper and put the ball in the back of the net, but there you go it was given.

“Just disappointed because you just don’t want to gift goals. Unfortunately we have and it’s just proven a little too much to get into the game but second half was a good battle and I was proud of the boys to pick ourselves up and give it a good go, because sometimes it can be one of those days where heads can drop even and this team don’t do that and that’s what we’ve build here.

“It’s over,” Murison said of his side’s 13 match unbeaten run, adding, “We’ve still got the unbeaten run in the league, which we focus on Saturday to try to revenge some of tonight’s loss. It’s a shame to lose that tag, obviously you always want to continue being undefeated, especially tonight.

“You don’t want to lose the semi-final, it’s horrible, but yes we move on to Saturday and go for the aim that we’ve had in the league to break into the top six in our first season in our management and we’re on course for that.”

Bridon Ropes goalkeeper Anthony Gaughan had a first half to forget as he gifted Sutton Athletic the lead with only three minutes and 7 seconds on the clock.

Frazer Walker stroked a low right-footed drive towards goal from 30-yards, the keeper dived to his left and allowed the ball to squirm underneath his body and poacher Desanges stole in to stab the ball into the back of the net from close range.

“Ant’s held his hands up. It’s a shame because Ant’s been quality since he’s come back from his injury,” said Murison.

“He got injured in September, he came back first game in March I believe and he’s been top notch. We haven’t really been conceding too many goals.

“On Saturday we played Orpington in terrible conditions and they were lumping it in there all the time and he was catching.

“Since he’s come back he’s been quality but to be fair I didn’t actually see the ball hit the net. I thought he already had it in his hands. It’s just slipped out of his hands and their striker was on hand to slot it in.”

“We’re working with our boys to get their shots off when they can, half a yard and anything can happen,” added Young.

“Fantastic start. Frazer got his shot away and Alfie – like he’s been doing all season – follows up and taps in, so perfect start for us.

“Really pleased. It settles the nerves. It was a big semi-final, anything can happen. We got off to a good start and it just puts a bit of doubt in the other team’s minds but as you can see from Bridon, we didn’t, they were fantastic!”

Sutton Athletic’s right-winger Jonny Murray played the ball inside to put Walker through on goal, who dragged his shot across the keeper and past the far post.

But Sutton Athletic were celebrating a commanding 2-0 lead, with only 07:56 on the clock.

Daniel Gunner swung in a corner from the right and Anthony Gaughan failed to catch the ball under pressure from Desanges, who poked the ball over the line from similar distance like his opening goal.

“We’re lucky enough to have Frazer and Dan Gunner, they’re both fantastic deliveries of the ball and that’s something I ask the boys to do, is to get on the end of their deliveries,” said the Sutton Athletic boss.

“We work on it and it’s frustrating to watch from the sidelines and fortunately enough tonight it’s come off. Dan’s put a lovely ball in and Arlie’s on the end of it once again so fantastic from his point of view.”

Murison felt the goal should have been chalked off.

He said: “It was a definite foul. I was right near it and Ant had two hands on it and their player, it wasn’t even a split second. It’s almost a second later smashes into the arms and puts the ball in the net so that’s all I’ve got to say on that! Four. Shouldn’t have counted!”

Bridon Ropes’ created their first opening shortly afterwards but player-manager Murison met Adam Saunders’ near post corner but could only steer his header past the far post.

Murison inevitably admitted: “I’m struggling to remember it to be honest, it was so long ago!

“We started to create. The panic was over once you’re 2-0 you just have to get back into it anyway if possible. We started to cause some trouble in there. Yes, I missed a chance there and we just kept on going.”

The Bridon keeper was a bag of nerves and got away with his third error of the game when he dropped Ben Williams’ free-kick from the left but luckily for him Mirlees failed to take advantage.

Walker fed the ball into Desanges, who easily cut inside central defender Kemal Chakarto, only to drill a shot into the hands of Gaughan from 25-yards.

But Bridon Ropes gave themselves a lifeline, pulling a goal back with 23 minutes on the clock.

Murison was pleased with the move which finished with John Woodcock whipping in a cross from the right to put Dunsdon through on goal, who slotted his shot underneath Dean James to score.

He said: “Good goal, a well-worked move between a few of our players, finally.

“We’ve been talking about it before the game, quick, one-touch football around there. We will get their centre backs out, the ball went to John and he’s slotted in Nick and Nick does what he does best and drove into the heart of defence and slotted it past the keeper. It was a good finish.”

Young added: “All credit to Bridon, they just knuckled down, worked hard and got their breakthrough and we was sloppy not dealing with it.

“We got turned inside and Nick Dunsdon’s a great player and he’s scoring week-in-week out, so you can’t give those players time and space.”

Bridon Ropes sensed blood and Woodcock was given time and space to unleash a right-footed dipping drive from 30-yards, which forced James to dive low to his left to hold.

Bridon Ropes hit Sutton Athletic on the break and Murison flashed his shot past the left-hand post after being played in by Dunsdon, who broke down the left.

Sutton Athletic squandered an excellent chance to kill the game off when Desanges put Walker through on goal, who dragged past the far post when he only had Gaughan to beat.

Young said: “That’s what we ask them, the front three, is that everyone goes in, one has to look to run in behind. It was fantastic movement from him. All the front three have had a fantastic season. He was unlucky. If I’m honest if that goes in the games put to bed but it wasn’t and he was unlucky but I can’t complain because he’s put himself in those positions.”

Murison added: “We got back into it and to be fair at that point there was only one team that was going to get back into it and get another goal and that was going to be us!

“I was really urging us to press up and try to get that second goal just before half-time. On another day it hits the net, today it didn’t but that’s football.”

But Gaughan pulled off a great save to deny Sutton Athletic, who scored from the resulting corner, their third goal timed at 45:21.

Murray cut the ball back to substitute Tom Hammond, the right-back whipping in a first time cross into the box and Desanges’ planted his header, which was pushed over the bar by Gaughan.

Gunner swung in the corner from the right and Gaughan failed to claim the ball and allowed Mirlees to rise to head home.

Young said: “That’s a great ball in from Tom Hammond. We were saying if we can’t beat a man, can we deliver a great ball in? A fantastic reaction save from the keeper. I was like that would’ve been 3-1 at half-time, then we can come out, obviously from the resulting corner Chris Mirlees has stepped up and I think Chris Mirlees was superb tonight, led the line very well from the back and he deserved his goal.”

Murison added: “It was a good save. I was hopeful he was going to build up a load of confidence because with a goalkeeper it’s a horrible job once you’ve made a mistake it’s difficult to get that out of your head and he’s pulled off a good save there at 2-1.

“Unfortunately I think it was the resulting corner, again, bad decisions cost us and we’re going in 3-1 down and I think that probably could’ve been the key point.

“If we went 2-1 down I think we would’ve gone on to not just level it, we would’ve gone on and won it.  I think the pressure trying to get two goals was just too much.”

Both managers’ were asked their thoughts at half-time.

Murison said: “Everything really! In my opinion we just weren’t doing our jobs properly. We’ve spoke about it. People weren’t tight, they were watching them play, we were making stupid decisions, spilling balls, making mistakes all over the pitch and probably had a 10-minute spell in that first half where we tore Sutton to shreds and that was just because we started doing what we do, giving no time on the ball for teams when we’re on the ball. We do quick, sharp football, that’s’ what’s got us 13 unbeaten and that’s’ what got us up to fifth.”

Young added: “I just said the performance wasn’t good enough! They know that. There were certain sloppy areas.

“Maybe the pressure got to us a little bit but I talked about game management with the boys and they didn’t show any in the first half so we talked about being tight, pushing on the middle three and not letting them turn and obviously stopping the set-back from the centre forward.
Everyone knew their job and we was ready for the second half.”

Brydon Ropes camped themselves inside the Sutton Athletic half for most of the second half.

Murison said: “It was a good second half. You do have to take positives out of every game. Yes, we’ve lost the semi-final but the boys have come down from 2-0 down and 3-1 down and in my opinion that’s no offence to Sutton but I think they really are a good team.  I think on the day we were the better team. I think individual mistakes cost us. We lost it. They didn’t win it and that’s the difference but I’m not trying to take anything away from them because I like Sutton, they’re a good team.”

Young said: “They’re a fantastic side that don’t give up, they’d keep working hard. Credit to them, they’re a fantastic team, got some very good individuals, a good team spirit and working harder and harder and they’re not going to give up after not losing 13 games in a row, that’s what confidence is.”

Midfielder James Doherty strode forward and his drive deflected past the far post inside the opening three minutes.

Hammond and Woodcock then linked up well down the left but Saunders’ scuffed his shot from just outside the penalty area, which bounced into the hands of James in the Sutton goal.

Murison admitted: “We were creating quite a few chances, sort of half-chances through. It wasn’t clear, clear cut. We was getting a few where we were having a shot deflecting of their centre backs out for corners and the keeper pulled off a couple of routine saves really but we was knocking on the door.”

At the other end, Gaughan made a comfortable save as Gunner drilled a deflected low drive into his hands from the right-hand side.

But Gaughan made up for his earlier blunders by making a fine save just before Bridon scored their second goal.

Murray was given time and space to unleash a right-footed curler from 35-yards, which was destined to sail into the top right-hand corner, only for Gaughan to jump up high to his left to push the ball around the post.

“We talked about the keeper had a bit of an uneasy start but we said if you get an chance have a shot,” said Young.

“Jonny’s got it out of his feet, as he’s hit it I thought that was in the top corner. Credit where it’s due, the goalkeeper made a fantastic save!”

Murison added: “Anthony’s a good keeper and I don’t want him to think, go away from this thinking, he’s not.

“It’s one those days. We all have them, players on the pitch.  Unfortunately when you’re a keeper it lights up. He pulls off some good saves and for the last month he’s not put a foot wrong. It’s just unfortunate that there’s been a couple of mistakes but it happens and he moves on. He’s a good keeper and he’s got Saturday to show what he can do.”

It proved to be a vital save as Bridon Ropes scored their second goal in the 57th minute.

Saunders fed Bowley down the left, who cut inside and from just inside the penalty area drove his shot towards goal.  The ball looped off Mirlees and sailed over the keeper into the roof of the net.

Murison said: “A bit lucky with a deflection obviously but you’ve got to shoot to have a chance.

“I moaned at him at half-time about a chance he had to drive into the box and have a shot and he turned back and tried to pass, so I said an opportunity you have I want you to drive and anything can happen and it’s proved that.

“Yes, it was a bit of a lucky deflection. It could’ve went anywhere. It’s a great move, a good drive and a good finish.”

Young added: “Again, something they deserved but I think we could’ve stopped it.  They broke well, I think our right-back could’ve got tight in the no 7. He got the turn in and that’s what’s what put is on the back foot. We always tell our players don’t let anyone turn you because once players can turn they can dictate what happens and they deserved that goal. They deserved to be back in it because they put us under that pressure.”

Sutton immediately went up the other end and Williams went close with a long-range attempt.

Sutton Athletic almost sealed the tie when Walker cut in from the left and his chip sailed over the advancing keeper and a brilliant goal-line clearance from Matt Dennis saved the day.

Bridon Ropes were by far the dominant side during the second half but the longer the game went on, Sutton Athletic proved to be a threat on the counter-attack.

Murison felt his side would go on to force extra-time and grabbing the winner.

“Yes I did and that’s probably the biggest disappointment,” he said.

“At that point I really did think we’d get a third, at least take it into extra-time but it’s difficult. It’s football, it doesn’t always go like that. We had some chances, we just couldn’t quite hit the back of the net for the third.  That’s disappointing but it was a good second half.”

Walker put Murray through on goal with a fine pass down the left and Murray cut inside but a brave piece of goalkeeping from Gaughan saw him smother the ball at the winger’s feet.

Young added: “We looked to work on soak up a bit of power, trickery and pace with our top three stroke four with Dan Gunner in the hole and that causes a lot of trouble for teams this year.  They all get on the scoresheet and they’ve been fantastic service for Arlie to get all of his goals so that’s how we like to play with deep midfielders and our full backs like to join in as well.”

Sutton Athletic created a couple of late chances but Gunner smacked his volley over the crossbar after substitute Bill Palmer launched a long throw in from the left.

And Chris Page hooked his volley over the bar after Gunner swung in the last corner of the game from the right.

Young added: “That’s what we talked about. We said that they would come out and if we can be resolute the game will stretch and that’s where we can take advantage out of that.  Just tonight it didn’t set up for anyone to take that chance but it was credit to us that we kept going until the end and it would’ve bene good to nick that one to seal the game.”

Murison added: “We started taking a lot more risks going into the last 10 minutes. Sometimes you can create a few more chances for yourself but if you’re not taking those chances or keeping hold of the ball in their half then unfortunately they can counter and they were doing that quite well in the last 10 minutes.

“We had to take the risks and leave less players back. We had to push anyone on and they did create a couple of chances and Ant saved one and a couple went just wide but we needed to do it. I’d rather lose 4-2 than rather not have a go at it.”

Looking ahead to the Final against Glebe, currently in third-place, four points adrift of leaders Bearsted, Young added: “I’m looking forward to it. They’re a very, very, very good side. I know Simon (Copley) and they’ve got some fantastic players and they turned us over twice this year and credit to them, they’re up the top because they’re a good side.

“In a final anything goes, the boys will go with confidence and we’ll have a point to prove. As long as we turn up and make a good account of ourselves, I’ll be a very happy man.”

Murison, who takes his side to Sutton Athletic on Saturday, added: “They deserve to go through and good luck to them in the final.”

Bridon Ropes: Anthony Gaughan, Finlay Chambers, Kemal Chakarto, Matt Dennis, Justin Gould, James Doherty (Dean Gould 78), Adam Saunders, John Woodcock, Mark Murison, Nick Dunsdon, Taylor Bowley (Abel Olatungi 81).
Subs: Jacob De-Vries, Eamon Gaughan, Kieran Fanner

Goals: Nick Dunsdon 23, Taylor Bowley 57

Booked: James Doherty 35, Mark Murison 71

Sutton Athletic: Dean James, Joe Hill (Tom Hammond 32), Marvin Francis (Bill Palmer 71), Chris Page, Ben Williams, Sean Heather, Frazer Walker, Chris Mirlees, Arlie Desanges, Daniel Gunner, Jonny Murray.
Subs: Danny Ball, Mike Mills

Goals: Arlie Desanges 4, 8, Chris Mirlees 45

Booked: Chris Mirlees 28, Marvin Francis 31, Chris Page 44

Attendance: 103
Referee: Mr Mark Cheeseman (Teynham)
Assistants: Mr Steven Martin (Orpington) & Mr Robert Williams (Beckenham)