Canterbury City 3-1 Lydney Town - We haven't really hit the heights that we've sort of set ourselves recently, says Canterbury City boss Ben Smith

Saturday 22nd October 2016
Canterbury City 3 – 1 Lydney Town
Location Homelands Stadium, Ashford Road, Kingsnorth, Ashford, Kent TN26 1NJ
Kickoff 22/10/2016 15:00

The Buildbase FA Vase First Round
Saturday 22nd October 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Homelands Stadium

CANTERBURY CITY boss Ben Smith says his side didn’t hit the heights during their FA Vase First Round win over Lydney Town.

Sitting in eleventh-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table on 13 points from 11 games, they made hard work to see off their Gloucestershire opponents that arrived in Ashford in ninth-place in the Hellenic League Premier on 22 points from 14 games.

Mark Lee’s side stayed overnight but they fell behind when Canterbury City striker Rob Lawrence headed in his fifth goal of the season after only 144 seconds.

Canterbury City went in at the break with a comfortable 2-0 lead when Dave Pilcher drilled in his sixth goal of the season.

But Lydney Town got back into the game during a good spell of pressure, with man-of-the-match Declan Morley-Lyne sliding in to score from close range for his 10th goal of the season.

But Canterbury grabbed a late third through right-winger Matt Martin to extend their unbeaten run to eight games to join landlords Ashford United, Corinthian, Crowborough Athletic and Division One sides Glebe and Sporting Club Thamesmead in Monday’s Second Round Draw.

“Happy to be through to the next round in the end really,” said Smith inside the press room at Homelands Stadium.

“I don’t think we got out of second gear in the game. We scored early on and it looked plane sailing really. They changed it up a little bit, went route one at us and I think we dealt with it well at times, but we just didn’t get any rhythm going really in the game.

“Second half, I said if we give them a chance to get back in it, it will be a difficult half for us and that’s exactly what it proved to be. It was a poor goal to concede from us, out of nothing, which was disappointing.”

The Buildbase FA Vase failed to capture the imagination of the Canterbury or Ashford football public as today’s crowd of 51 attracted the club’s lowest crowd of the season.

Canterbury City officials confirmed before the game that staging a side from Gloucestershire cost the club £1,000 when you take travelling and match officials costs into account – and that’s not including the playing budget.

But for those that came out on a sunny day, saw Canterbury City get off to a flying start following the first corner of the game.

Pilcher floated in a deep corner from the right for Laurence Harvey to come up from the back to plant his towering header towards goal, only to see Rob Lawrence poach the goal by glancing his header into the top left-hand corner.

Smith said: “Great header from Laurence Harvey! Signing him was a big coup for the club. He brings that aerial presence in the box which we’ve not had.  We look like we can score from set-pieces now, whereas before we probably hoped we’d score.   He’s hit a great header and Rob Lawrence has nicked it on the line, which I don’t think Lawrence isn’t too happy about!

“We’ve had them watched in midweek up at Highworth in Swindon (where they lost 4-0) where they were down to nine men for 45 minutes so we knew that we had to start quickly.  That’s one of the things we really pressed on the lads that we’ve got to make sure we start on a high tempo and put them on the back foot and we did that to a tee.”

Lydney Town started the game with five at the back but the combative James Morse came out the heart of defence to win the midfield battle shortly after the opening goal.

The impressive Morley-Lyne worked the channels well, his first shot, a speculative angled drive from the right, sailed across former Gillingham keeper Daren Hawkes and comfortably wide of the far post.

Referee James Hurst ignored Max Edwards’ offside flag to allow Martin sweep his shot towards the top far corner from just outside the penalty area only for Richard Thomas to move to his right to claw the ball into his hands.

Smith said: “Matt Martin looked lively today. We looked at them and saw that the left-back (Mason Lewis) was a bit of a weak link for them and that’s how it proved out to be.

“Matt walks home with the (home club sponsor) man-of-the-match award where he’s got at him and he’s caused them problems so he was unlucky with that situation.”

Lydney Town winger Thomas Maxted launched six long throws into the Canterbury box and Hawkes allowed the ball to bounce inside his six-yard box but was relieved when Morley-Lyne failed to pounce on the loose ball to get a shot away.

Maxted’s lovely pass put Morley-Lyne in behind Chris Webber but with only Hawkes to beat his finish was woeful, powering his left-footed drive towards the corner flag when he should have tested the keeper.

Morley-Lyne’s throw was knocked down close to the by-line by Kerry Hale but Maxted smacked his left-footed volley over the Canterbury crossbar in the 23rd minute.

But Canterbury City produced a good move to double their lead, with 30 minutes and 13 seconds on the clock.

Gary Clarke was taken out by a strong challenge after pinging a diagonal ball out to left-winger Taser Hassan, who cut inside and played the ball into Dan Lawrence, who linked up well with his brother Rob, who played the ball over to the unmarked Pilcher, who drilled his shot into the bottom right-hand corner despite Thomas getting his left hand to the shot.

Smith said: “Fantastic goal! We’ve been worried about us scoring goals early part of the season but we’ve been scoring, playing great football. It was great inter-play. The combination of play around the box was fantastic. That’s what Rob and Dan Lawrence can do.  You think they’re twins where they’re on the same wavelength and great volley from Pilch. That’s what he does. That’s what he brings to the team.

“Dave scored 17 goals last season, he’s only 20, he’s doing well. He pops up with goals and he’s got that quality in the box. That’s what he likes to do and I’m very pleased for him.”

Canterbury City were to be denied a third goal in the 39th minute.

Martin cut in down the right wing and floated in a cross which Rob Lawrence glanced his towering header to Dan Lawrence, who played the ball to Hassan, who cut the ball onto his right-foot to crack an angled drive from just inside the corner of the box and Thomas palmed over his crossbar high to his left.

“Tass was getting frustrated out there because the ball wasn’t coming to him early enough, which is a big disappointing from our point of view,” said Smith.

“We didn’t switch the play well enough, which we normally do and he’s cut in and hit a great shot. He was very unlucky.  Tas has got that ability to come inside people and he caused the full-backs problems when he got it.”

Smith, his assistant Tim Dixon and Rob Lawrence all held their head in their hands when the number 10 missed a sitter in the 39th minute.

Harvey’s ball out of defence released Martin down the right and he cut the ball across the face of goal and Rob Lawrence somehow blazed his shot over the crossbar at the far post from inside the six-yard box.

“I said to the lads, we come out with out with a high tempo, they’ll die off because we knew they’re a team that like to press and they did that.  They stifled us in midfield and that final 15 minutes of that half we started to carve them open a little bit.  Great play again, one and two touch football around the box.  Yes, somehow he’s missed it.  I think that’s the famous upside down pitch at Ashford for you.”

Pilcher got his right-footed free-kick over the wall from 28-yards but his shot went straight down the Lydney keeper’s throat.

Lydney could have snatched a crucial goal on the stroke of half-time.

Morley-Lyne delivered an out-swinging corner from the right and central defender Niall Halford’s downward header was bravely saved by Hawkes low to his left as he put his head within a crowd of players - preventing a certain goal as Hassan moved away from his position beside the post.

“That’s one of the areas that we’ve been trying to work on,” said Smith.

“Bringing Laurence Harvey in has worked really well for us.  We played Josh McCallum at left-back, a centre half at left-back. We played him out of position today because we knew that everything was going to get pumped into our box and that was their threat.

“Laurence doesn’t lose headers too often and he did on that occasion and Hawks’ has come to our rescue.  He’s been class since we’ve signed him.”

When asked his thoughts the break, Smith replied: “Just to go up a few gears to be fair because we haven’t hit the heights that we’ve sort of set ourselves recently and we’re a much better side than that.

“We didn’t play enough football we like to play and sometimes it’s to our detriment but we believe in the way we do things but I didn’t think we did them well enough today.

“I said at half-time to make sure that we don’t switch off and shock horror after 53 minutes we completely switched off and a goal completely came out of nothing.”

The first half was comfortable for Canterbury, too comfortable, but they let Lydney back into the game as Morley-Lyne scored from close range, the goal timed at seven minutes and four seconds.

Gorham made a mistake when his attempted headed clearance went backwards and this allowed Hale to pick the ball up to sprint down the left.  He swept the ball across the face of the penalty area to an unmarked Morley-Lyne, who poked the ball into the bottom right-hand corner.

“Gorham was at fault, he’s headed it the wrong way,” added Smith.

“When we got the report on them Hale and Morley-Lyne, they were the ones we were told they were the dangermen and so it proved.  They combined really well.  Morley-Lyne was dangerous all game to be fair, big lad, good feet and he could move to be fair for someone so big.  He caused problems that lad.  Pleased we don’t have to face him all the time but he didn’t have many chances did he?”

It was only the 12th goal in 17 games in all competitions that Canterbury City have conceded this season.

Smith said: “I thought Ben Gorham and Laurence Harvey to be fair to them were decent again and our defensive record has been class this season.  It’s a shame to concede a cr**py goal, it really is.”

Canterbury City were to be denied by a smart low save from Thomas, diving low to his left to deny Martin finding the bottom near corner, after Rob Lawrence’s pass.

“Rob is there to create things and he’s got Matty away again.  I thought Matty was excellent again today. He got knocked about but he’s one of those that gets up and gets on with it.  He’s resilient, that’s for sure, for someone so slight, he’s very resilient. He keeps going.  I think he caused the left-back all sorts of problems.”

Lydney Town then started to enjoy a good spell of pressure, without threatening Hawkes, who had Harvey and Gorham protecting him in front of him.

Canterbury City squandered a great chance to wrap up the victory in the final 20 minutes.

Substitute Gary Mickelborough went on a magical run down the right, twisting and turning his man before seeing Dan Lawrence had made a run to the edge of the box.  He cut the ball back but the Canterbury captain hit his first time drive just over the bar.

“Gaz Mick comes on, he was unlucky not to start today. The two centre forwards have been doing well for us but it wasn’t his day and he’s come off the bench and he’s had a good impact. For someone so big he can really move. He’s got his grey hair but he’s lively and again he’s got that presence in the box. He can just take his time, good decision making, which he done well there and Dan Lawrence is kicking himself. For his quality, 20-yards out, unopposed he should go and score that.”

You got the impression that Lydney would claim an equaliser to force extra-time.

Halford hit a long free-kick into the Canterbury box from the half-way line, the home side failed to clear their lines and Maxted cracked a right-footed volley over the crossbar.

Smith said: “We gave away so many free-kicks in a short space of time, which it helped them to gain a little bit of momentum because all they wanted to do was pump it in our box anyway but we dealt with them, which was good because Canterbury City last season would’ve conceded from those.”

Canterbury City’s fifth and final corner of the game saw Pilcher deliver a high hanging corner, which was met by Gorham’s towering header, which went straight at Thomas.

Canterbury City killed the game off with a third goal, timed at 39 minutes and 53 seconds.

It looked like Martin was yards offside when he latched onto Pilcher’s through ball down the right wing, but the winger cut in towards the centre of the box, rode a challenge from keeper Thomas who had came out towards the edge of the box,  but Martin kept his composure to slot his shot into the bottom far corner.

Smith felt the error from assistant referee Tom McCourt made up for the decision not to award a penalty after Martin was wiped out inside the box in the 62nd minute.

“I thought the full-back, he seemed to be a lot further back than everyone else.  The full-back was deep and it seemed Matt Martin was very close to the lino and I think that was difficult for him but I think with the two penalties we should’ve had, that evens itself up personally, whether it was or not.

“We’ve probably missed 15-20 of those this season, I’m not even joking. It’s been laughable at times so I was just pleased when that hit the back of the net.

“In The FA Cup we went out having two or three of those that we missed. I’m pleased we didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot. At 3-1 that killed their momentum. We looked like we could go and score again, which was good.”

Canterbury City created a couple of chances after the clincher.

Thomas beat out Mickelborough’s angled drive before Clarke pounced on a loose ball before his opponent to hit his right-footed drive over the crossbar.

Canterbury City enjoyed their longest run in The FA Vase last season when they were defeated 3-1 at home to Knaphill in the Third Round.

“For any club in our league it’s massive to get through, you’re in the draw. I’m sure the club would prefer to draw someone like Ashford, to draw a big club with a big following to get some money in because it’s tough times when you’re not in your own ground,” said Smith.

Canterbury City cannot survive on gates of just 51.

“It’s disappointing because we just have to do our job on the pitch. It’s tough because we can play the best football we can possibly do and still we don’t have a massive impact on the turnstiles because of where we are.  Politically, supporters don’t want to travel out to Ashford because that’s where we are at the moment.

“I’m hopeful the chairman’s doing the business behind the scenes. I know how he's working hard with that.  Hopefully, we’ll have that home soon, that base and it really gives us the foundations to push on.”

Canterbury City have banked £1,275 in prize money after beating Peacehaven & Telscombe (8-0) and now Lydney Town in the competition so far.

“It’s helpful. It can go into the club, into the coffers,” said Smith.

“I know everyone bangs on about they haven’t got a big budget, we haven’t got a big budget. They’ve (the board) backed us when we needed to be backed and given me their support so it’s good to give something back to them really but it will be nice to go a few more rounds and really have a FA Vase experience. We had it last year, it was the best run in the club’s history. It’s a bit underwhelming really because we should be aiming a lot higher than the Third Round, so hopefully the draw is kind to us and we can go on again.”

Canterbury City: Daren Hawkes, Chris Webber (Jack Healey 57), Josh McCallum, Gary Clarke, Ben Gorham, Laurence Harvey, Taser Hassan (Mikey Yome 79), Dan Lawrence, Dave Pilcher, Rob Lawrence (Gary Mickelborough 65), Matt Martin.
Subs: Sam Conlon, Alfie Nunn.

Goals: Rob Lawrence 3, Dave Pilcher 31, Matt Martin 85

Lydney Town: Richard Thomas, Josh Davis, Mason Lewis, Niall Halford, Peter Macklin (Ryan Pendry 51), James Morse, Kerry Hale, Jamie Addis (Liam Fox 86), Pat Gibbs, Declan Morley-Lyne, Thomas Maxted.
Subs: Tom Baldwin, Mark Lee, Stuart Liddington

Goal: Declan Morley-Lyne 53

Booked: Thomas Maxted 56

Attendance: 51
Referee: Mr James Hurst (Peckham, London SE15)
Assistants: Mr Max Edwards (Brixton, London SW2) & Mr Tom McCourt (Greenwich, London SE5)

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