Chertsey Town 3-1 Cray Valley (Paper Mills) - Right now it's tough to take but in time to come that will settle down and they'll realise what they have achieved, says proud Cray Valley boss Kevin Watson

Sunday 19th May 2019
Chertsey Town 3 – 1 Cray Valley (Paper Mills)
Location Wembley Stadium, Wembley, Middlesex HA9 0WS
Kickoff 19/05/2019 12:15

(after extra time)
The Buildbase FA Vase Final
Sunday 19 May 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Wembley Stadium

CHERTSEY TOWN manager Dave Anderson announced his retirement after guiding his side to FA Buildbase Vase glory to leave Cray Valley (Paper Mills) heartbroken at Wembley Stadium.

The 57-year-old guided the Curfews to the Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Premier Division title, having banked 91 points from their 38 games and they will be playing Bostik South Central Division football next season.

The moment that broke Cray Valley's hearts. Anthony Edgar hits the crossbar with the last kick of normal time with the score at 1-1 at Wembley Stadium. 
Photo: Alan Coomes

The Curfews beat Woodley United (4-2); Tadley Calleva (1-0); Flackwell Heath (6-1); Horndean (2-0); Redbridge (5-0); AFC St Austell (5-0); Irlam (2-0) and needed penalties to beat Northwich Victoria after their two legged semi-final finished tied at 1-1, with the Surrey side winning 5-3 on penalties.

Cray Valley (Paper Mills) celebrated winning the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division title on the final day of the season by winning 2-0 at Canterbury City, also with 91 points on the board from their 38 league outings, a point clear of Corinthian.

The Millers defeated Sutton Athletic (2-1); Hailsham Town (2-0); St Panteleimon (2-1, after the original game was abandoned at 1-1 in extra time); Badshot Lea (7-0); Sheppey United (4-0); Baffins Milton Rovers (3-1); Abbey Rangers (3-1); Willand Rovers (3-1) and ended Canterbury City’s run by winning 2-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals.

Cray Valley striker Gavin Tomlin, 35, scored his seventeenth goal of the season and the most memorable goal of his career to give the Millers the lead.

However, their lead lasted only 166 seconds as Chertsey Town grabbed an equaliser courtesy of right-back Sam Flegg, who responded to hitting the post from a set-piece.

Anderson received a lucky break when his side were awarded and converted a penalty on the stroke of half-time in extra-time, courtesy of lone striker Jake Baxter, scoring his 43rd goal of the season.

That goal deflated Cray Valley and Chertsey centre-half Quincy Rowe wrapped up the victory towards the end of the extra-time.

“Very emotional, an unbelievable feeling.  I’ve just told the players I’ve retired, that’s me done, so it’s a big moment for me and I’m happy about that but to win at Wembley is everybody schoolboys dream and I’m kicking towards 60 so to do it is unbelievable,” said Anderson.

“I told the people who needed to be told before the Semi-Final.  I just felt, listen, the way it’s finished you couldn’t write the script.  I worked with AFC Wimbledon where it’s a Hollywood movie and you wouldn’t believe it and you wouldn’t believe this.

“It’s just right for me. I knew it was right for me.  I enjoyed retirement and I enjoyed playing golf but how lucky am I to have said yes, to come back in and do this.

“Unless someone’s going to make me a very wealthy guy and then I will think about that but outside that how can you beat that? This has got to be, how lucky am I? I did that on my last day of my career.”

Anderson added: “I thought the game was credit to the level.  I’ve managed at levels up as you know but I thought it was a proper match. It had tactics about it, game plans. They’re a good side, they’re a real good side and we knew we had to find a way but that’s what they’ve done, this team. They’ve always found a way and they make me look brilliant but it’s down to how good they are!

“Cray Valley are a good side. We had to really be patient. We knew that we won’t have the ball at times and they’ll have it but we had to play above the level and we did that so the game plan worked perfectly because if you let them get the ball into their strikers, two levels above you’ll be in trouble but at this level we’ve worked so hard to screen off getting into their front two and effectively we did that most of the game.”

Cray Valley manager Kevin Watson added: “It’s fine margins! We hit the crossbar with the last kick of the 90 minutes as such but there were two good teams out there.

“They’re a good team and I think they’ve done a job, should we say?  But I thought our boys done ok considering the occasion. 

“Look, you’ve got the four subs that got on so 15 lads who experienced playing at Wembley so the objective was to win the game, absolutely and The FA Vase.

“Right now it’s tough to take but I think in time to come that will settle down slightly and they’ll realise what they have achieved.”

Cray Valley started the game on the front foot. Left-wing-back Danny Smith floated the ball up to Kevin Lisbie, whose header from the edge of the box bounced comfortably into Nick Jupp’s hands after only 16 seconds.

Cray Valley winger Denzel Gayle twisted and turned his man inside the Chertsey box, cut the ball back to Anthony Edgar, who was inside the D and he rolled the ball back to Liam Hickey, who drove a first time left-footed shot sailing over the crossbar from 30-yards.

The Millers created a decent opening in the 14th minute courtesy of their first of 11 corners.

Ryan Flack swung in a corner from the left towards the far post and Lisbie rose and sent his downward header bouncing into Jupp’s hands from seven-yards out.

Chertsey Town weathered the early storm, however, and created an opening in the 19th minute after Smith gave possession away too cheaply.

The Curfews worked the ball out to Sam Murphy, who floated in a cross from the right and the ball dropped down for Baxter to hit a spectacular overhead kick sailing over the crossbar from near to the penalty spot.

Chertsey failed to clear their lines and Lisbie picked up the loose ball and stroked his right-footed drive flashing just past the foot of the left-hand post from 22-yards.

Chertsey Town were a threat down the left-flank during the first half with winger Dale Binns giving Cem Tumkaya a hard time.  Tumkaya committed a foul just outside the corner of the penalty area and Cray Valley almost paid the ultimate price on the half-hour mark.

Lubomir Guentchev whipped in a beautiful right-footed curling free-kick, which was heading towards the top far corner, only for 37-year-old goalkeeper Andy Walker to push the ball over his crossbar, stretching high to his left.

Cray Valley were in dreamland when they took a deserved lead, the goal timed at 35 minutes and 32 seconds.

Centre-half Hickey hit a long ball along the hallowed turf which was picked up by Tomlin a long way out down the left touch-line. The former Dulwich Hamlet striker easily cut inside Chertsey centre-half Michael Peacock and cut into the penalty area and drove his left-footed shot past Jupp to find the bottom near corner from just outside the corner of the six-yard box.

“We started off the game slow and then we started to recognise we was getting information on the pitch how we could be more threatening to them and then we got the goal,” said Watson.

“It was a great ball. That’s what Gav does. He’s a goalscorer right - and he’s finished that well.”

But with the adrenaline pumping, Cray Valley switched off and Chertsey Town’s leveller was timed at 38 minutes and 18 seconds on the clock.

Winger Gunetchev floated in their second corner from the right and Flegg’s initial towering header sailed across Walker and bounced against the foot of the far post and Flegg reacted first to cushion his volley into the back of the net from inside the six-yard box.

“That was one aspect that was disappointing,” admitted Watson.

“It’s hit the post and then come back and they reacted quicker than us. They were dangerous from set-pieces and we didn’t deal with them particularly well. We didn’t make the most of our set-pieces.”

Chertsey Town went close to increasing their lead after only 208 seconds into the second half, following another corner.

Guentchev floated the ball in from the right and Lewis Driver rose and saw his free header just clear the crossbar.

Cray Valley swiftly attacked as Walker’s resulting goal-kick was worked into Gayle, who played the ball into Lisbie, who cut the ball onto his right-foot and his low shot towards the bottom near corner was held by Jupp, low to his right.

Watson gave Lisbie 101 minutes before he was replaced by Francis Babalola.

“It’s been difficult for Lis. He’s played over 90 minutes there and he hasn’t played 90 minutes in quite a while. He gives you the same all the time, which is 100% and the quality we needed,” added Watson.

Gayle made progress down the right and floated in a cross towards Lisbie, who found a pocket of space around the penalty spot but the 40-year-old striker’s header looped over the crossbar.

A poor defensive header from the Millers gave the quiet Baxter an opening but he cut inside and dragged his shot across the keeper and past the near post from 20-yards as the game approached the hour-mark.

Cray Valley weathered the Chertsey storm and Gayle cut into the penalty area before cutting the ball onto his left foot and his shot sailed past the keeper and past the far post from 16-yards as the game entered the final 20 minutes.

Both sides had chances to win it as the game approached it’s conclusion.

The Millers were to be denied the winning goal with 43:29 seconds on the clock, following Edgar’s corner from the left.  Ashley Sains found space and his goal-bound header was destined to win the game for Cray Valley, only for Jupp to dive to his left to push the ball behind for a corner.

Twenty-one seconds into injury time, Walker and Sains saved the day.

The impressive Guentchev penetrated the Millers defence and his curling shot was heading for the top far corner, only for Walker to palm the ball up and Sains was at the right place to guide the ball over the crossbar with his head from inside his six-yard box.

Chertsey Town wasted a glorious chance to snatch the victory, with three minutes and 11 seconds into injury time played.

Both centre-halves were up and inside the penalty area and Rowe cut the ball back from the left towards an unmarked Peacock, who sliced a poor side-footed shot past the right-hand post from eight-yards.

But the moment that broke thousands of hearts from south-east London and Kent came with the last kick of the game as Anderson and his men got lucky, very lucky!

Edgar drove at the Chertsey penalty area straight down the middle of the pitch and a couple of lucky ricochets fell in his path. He got in between a couple of Chertsey defenders and stroked his left-footed shot over the keeper’s left-shoulder, only for the ball to agonisingly strike the crossbar.

Anderson admitted he got lucky, very lucky!

He said:  “I’ll tell you something, look at this (opening his jacket to reveal a white AFC Wimbledon shirt).  This is the lucky t-shirt I’ve had on the whole way through ok.  I’m a very lucky guy!

“There’s moments in games that change the game. It could so easily have been them! They hit the bar in the last minute. These were big moments in football and fortunately for me today we did the right things.

“I think good cup finals are like that.  I’m fortunate that my team won. I’m a lucky guy, I suppose.”

Watson added: “This is a learning experience. We’ll watch the game back. It’s a different view out there and we’ll watch the game back and it will be quite interesting and we’ll learn from it as a collective group.

“I’ve always said it’s a relatively small club in some respects but with a big heart.

“I’m not as emotional as I thought I would be. I’m not bitter in any way about losing. I’m a firm believer over the course of the 120 minutes, I thought they probably deserved to win more than us and that’s not saying we played poorly.  I think what they do, they are very good at and they dealt with certain aspects better.”

It proved to be the game’s key moment.  The first period of extra-time was a cagey affair.

The impressive Guentchev easily cut inside Smith and from inside the D curled a left-footed shot which sailed harmlessly wide of the target, with Walker stepping to his right and sticking out his right-arm to make sure that the ball sailed wide of the Cray Valley goal.

However, Cray Valley received a cruel twist of fate when Chertsey Town grabbed the lead, one minute and 4 seconds into time added on.

Tumkaya’s foot was standing on the white line of the penalty area down the right hand side as his tackle sent Guentchev crashing to the ground and referee Ross Joyce pointed to the spot.

Up stepped talisman Baxter, who stroked his right-footed penalty into the bottom left-hand corner, despite Walker diving the same way and Cray Valley were heartbroken and beaten.

Watson said: “I haven’t seen it. Was it a penalty? It’s difficult for me to comment right now. Even if it wasn’t a penalty it’s irrelevant now isn’t it? We’re not going to come back here and play the rest of the game.

“Cem has had such a good season. A young lad who has conceded the penalty and he’ll be beating himself up.”

Chertsey Town settled the contest by scoring a third goal with 11 minutes and 23 seconds into the second period.

Rowe played a one-two with Guentchev and the centre-half produced a striker’s finish, curling a beautiful shot past Walker into the bottom far corner.

“We were chasing the game a little bit. It’s tough. People are tired. They had a bit of buoyancy after that because I felt we looked a little bit more energetic and we’re a little bit fitter but when you concede that second goal heads go down a little bit.”

Substitute Andy Crossley released Guentchev down the right channel and he was denied by a fine save from Walker, diving to his left and using a strong left-hand to ensure the ball bounced off the near post and trickled along the goal-line before being cleared away.

Both teams will be playing in The Buildbase FA Trophy next season so Chertsey Town cannot retain the silverware next season as both clubs will be in the Isthmian League.

Anderson was full of praise for his double-winners.

“They’re special people,” he said.  “I think you don’t get to win stuff unless you’ve got special people in your dressing room and they’ve been that, all of them.

“When it comes to days like today, you all want to speak to me. It’s not me. I’m the guy that drives the bus but there’s a lot of people on it and there’s no way I could’ve have done it without my staff, medical staff, unbelievable for the level and the players and the board.  You can’t do it.  I’m always wary about interviews like this because I know I have to do it. It’s not about me. It’s about everyone.

“I just thought it was a proper advert for the level of football. I just though it was well above level five. The people on the pitch are experienced and we knew they were a good football side. They’re a proper team and we had to proper work on our pattern and our game plan – and we did it!”

Both managers were asked how they are going to spend the rest of the week.

Watson, who has won the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division, helped the club reach their first ever Wembley Final, enjoyed their longest ever run in The FA Cup and all without getting a player sent-off, was feeling pride.

“Look, I love my boys and my team. I wouldn’t prefer to be in that dressing room over mine you know and that’s no disrespect to them.  I’ve got a connection with the boys and I like them and I enjoy working with them and they’ve done me proud.

“We were in a tough league and we’ve gone and won that league but Dave Anderson has done a great job and Chertsey are a good club so worthy winners.

“It’s a bit of a blur so until I watch it back and then I’ll reflect and then I’ll be able to comment how the game went because it’s difficult to think about the other team when you’re concentrating on what your team are doing so quite possibly they had the upper hand.

“Right now they’ll be extremely disappointed, emotional, all those natural responses to a loss but in time they’ll look back and will be absolutely proud of each other.  They’ve been on a journey and what they go on to for the rest of their careers or their life they’ll have a connection together and you find that in football. If you achieve something with a group of people you have a certain bond.”

Watson added: “I am going to work tomorrow.  I work for the school as vice principal. I have got to do my day job, get up early, go to work and carry on with the week. That’s the reality of non-league football isn’t it. We work so back to normality.

Anderson added: “I’m going to Spain on Wednesday to play golf with my mates.  I might be sober when I get on the plane!”

Chertsey Town: Nick Jupp, Sam Flegg, Mason Welch-Turner, Kevin MacLaren (Dave Taylor 79), Michael Peacock, Quincy Rowe, Lubomir Guentchev, Lewis Driver (Andy Crossley 83), Jake Baxter (John Pomroy 118), Sam Murphy, Dale Binns (Lewis Jackson 97).
Subs: Lewis Gallifent, Michael Kinsella, Danny Bennell
Goals: Sam Flegg 39, Jake Baxter 105 (penalty), Quincy Rowe 117

Cray Valley (Paper Mills): Andy Walker, Denzel Gayle, Danny Smith, Liam Hickey, Ashley Sains (Calum Willock 122), Cem Tumkaya (Brad Potter 106), Anthony Edgar, Paul Semakula, Gavin Tomlin, Kevin Lisbie (Francis Babalola 101), Ryan Flack (Josh James 73)
Subs: Tyler Myers, Deren Ibrahim, Lea Dawson

Goal: Gavin Tomlin 36

Booked: Cem Tumkaya 47, Paul Semakula 81, Kevin Lisbie 99

Attendance: 42,962
Referee: Mr Ross Joyce (Cleveland, North Yorkshire)
Assistants: Mr Rob Smith (Stevenage, Hertfordshire) & Mr Matthew Lee (Chichester, West Sussex)
Fourth Official:  Mr Thomas Bramall (Sheffield, South Yorkshire)