Colliers Wood United 0-1 Hollands & Blair - We defended as a team and as a unit so I can't ask no more from my boys, says Hollands & Blair boss Simon Halsey

Wednesday 02nd September 2020
Colliers Wood United 0 – 1 Hollands & Blair
Location Wibbandune Stadium, Robin Hood Way, West Wimbledon, London SW20 0AA
Kickoff 02/09/2020 19:45

The Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Wednesday 2 September 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Wibbandune Stadium

HOLLANDS & BLAIR manager Simon Halsey says his players gave him energy, effort and a lot of commitment, which he asked for before this FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie.

Striker Matthew Gething’s near-post header from a corner inside the opening 13 minutes into his debut sealed a vital victory over Combined Counties League Premier Division side Colliers Wood United.

Hollands & Blair have banked £1,125 in prize money after winning in south-west London, while Colliers Wood United will bank £375.

Halsey said: “It was a tough second half, we defended for the whole 45.  Take nothing away from them, they’re not a bad outfit.  Lively, they played with a lot of pace up front and got the ball forward quickly.  I think Ali Fofana and Mario Embalo were very, very good players. Why their playing at this level, I don’t know.

“We scored an early goal. We had a good start for the first 15-20 minutes. A great goal from Matthew Gething. He should’ve had another one and in the second half as well but at least he’s getting in the areas of having a go at goal.

“We had to realistically see the first half out and then second half, slightly kicking slightly down the hill, we had to defend for our lives.

“I said to the boys before the game it weren’t a case of coming here – it’s a decent pitch – and we were going to start passing it from the back and being something that we’re not.  It was all going to be about us being a top five Southern Counties East Football League Premier League team. 

“We had to work hard and we have to do the dirty stuff when we haven’t got the ball and that 45 minutes proved that we can do that – and we done it.”

Another debutant, striker Danny Kedwell, 37, almost scored 60 seconds into his debut following his surprise move from National League South side Havant & Waterlooville but he dragged his angled drive across the keeper and trickled past the far post.

“It was a great ball into him. He has gone a little bit wide to be fair but he’s done well having two touches and getting a shot away on goal and it just trickled past the post,” said Halsey.

“Dan’s not at full fitness but you can see his experience, directing the players out there and he’s done fine, exactly what we’ve asked of him.

“I don’t think we got close enough to him sometimes because he’s played at a lot higher level and we’re not perhaps that at the moment but we’ll get there with hard work.”

Reflecting on Kedwell’s shock move to the club, Halsey added: “I don’t think it’s about the money with Dan.  It’s about coming to the club, which he’s been associated with as well with his family and he wanted to come back and give something back.

“We haven’t got loads of money from somewhere all off a sudden, put it like that, we have not. I can assure you that myself and my (management) staff don’t get paid so we haven’t all off a sudden got a windfall from somewhere. We’re just thankful that someone like him wants to come down and help bring our younger players’ on.  We’re over the moon to have him and hopefully our younger players can learn from him.”

Dan Ranger’s side’s tactic was to hit balls over the top to release pacey attacker Ali Fofanah down the left, giving Cameron Heffernan (the man on the right hand side of a three-man defence) a torrid time.

Hollands & Blair sealed the victory following their second of four corners, the goal being timed at 12 minutes and 20 seconds on the clock.

Midfielder Louis Valencia put the goal on a plate for Gething, swinging in a great delivery from a left-wing corner towards the near post and Gething had the simplest task of burying his header into the top left-hand corner from inside the six-yard box.

“He’s pulled behind the goalie and then he’s nipped in front of him and it’s a great header – and he should’ve had one in the second half like that, that he should’ve done better with,” added Halsey.

Hollands & Blair started the game on the front foot and should have doubled their lead within three minutes.

Kedwell drilled a deep low cross in from the right channel which was controlled by left-wing-back Joe Kane on the other side of the box and Kane put the ball back in towards the near post and this time Gething poked his shot just past the foot of the near post from almost the same spot that he scored.

Halsey added: “His movement was great. He’s nipped in front of the full-back and the goalie and just opened his body up but obviously not good enough and it’s just trickled past the post.”

Colliers Wood United weathered the storm, however, and gradually started to get back into it as the game approached the half-hour mark.

Adam Highsted’s outstretched left hand prevented a certain equaliser in the 29th minute when the ball was cleared out to holding midfielder R’marni Blankson, who drilled a first-time drive towards the top right-hand corner from 35-yards, only to be denied by the Hollands & Blair goalkeeper who pushed the ball over his crossbar.

“Great save – but that’s come from us though, our retention up top wasn’t good enough today,” admitted Halsey.

“We wasn’t holding it up there, it was literally just coming back down our throats and that’s where that effort from them came from.

“When we tried to clear our lines or put the ball in to an area, it wasn’t an area where the forwards were so they were relentless at us again.  Their shots came from us giving the ball away cheaply in a bad area.”

Hollands & Blair got away with it just 37 seconds later when Blankson found space inside the penalty area and put in a cross towards the far post which was headed back across goal from an unmarked Jermaine Queensborough but the ball bounced off striker Mario Embalo inside the six-yard box.

Colliers Wood United goalkeeper Lewis Gallifent made a comfortable save 10 minutes before the break.

Right-wing-back Sam Welch played a through ball into the final third, which was hooked clear by Colliers Wood’s centre-half Joe Dyatt. The ball bounced off Kedwell and played in Gething but he dragged his shot and was collected by the keeper, although the ball was rolling wide.

Colliers Wood United were a threat with pace going forward with Fofanah impressing and he whipped in a great free-kick from the right touchline which was met by Embalo’s free-header, which went straight at Highsted, who made a comfortable save.

“Their deliveries were quite good tonight. I keep saying it, they put the ball, whether it was in open play or set-pieces, they put the ball in some very, very good areas to attack.  If they keep doing that we won’t win every header or second ball and that’s exactly what happened in that situation,” added Halsey, who was then asked what his thoughts were at the break.

“I just thought in the first-half our tempo was great. Everything about it was great but we kept doing the same thing down the same alley and I think that’s why we may have looked a bit tired in the second half because every time we got the ball we were going forward and we never did we once say ‘right, let’s slow the game down and get our second wind and our recovery time and go out the other side.”  It was out the other side and straight at them again, pretty much what they were doing to us but we’re not as quick as them.  That’s fact but we just kept going down the same alleys and I just think we wore ourselves out a little bit in the first half.”

The second half started in a cagey fashion and the longer it went on Hollands & Blair were content to protect their slender lead.

Jack Buckle smashed the ball over the top to release Fofanah down the left and with pace to burn before he cut the ball back to Buckle, whose right-footed angled drive was spilt by Highsted, who gathered the ball at the second attempt, low to his left.

“It’s bread and butter for him. It was nothing he shouldn’t be collecting and dealing with any time in the game,” added Halsey.

A tactical switch by Ranger saw Blankson roam further forward swapping positions with Buckle, who sat in front of their back four and Blankson started getting on the ball and dictating play, while Hollands & Blair parked the bus and defended for their lives for the remainder of the game.

However, the Gillingham-based visitors’ went close to sealing the deal in the 63rd minute following a set-piece.

Cooper floated a free-kick from within the centre-circle into the Colliers Wood penalty area, the ball was flicked across goal by centre-half Calum McGeeghan and Gething found himself at the near post again and this time steered his header just past the post.

Halsey said: “It was a great set-piece, a great delivery from Cooper, which he usually does.  Calum’s got on it, Gething’s got in the hole as well and most probably should’ve scored. He should’ve at least hit the target.

“The good thing about it is Gething’s only just joined (from K Sports) and he’s getting into the right areas. He’s in a whole new team, new team-mates and a new club but he’s getting into the right areas, which is the good thing about it.”

Kedwell was expected to drill a 30-yard free-kick towards goal but Cooper whipped the kick just past the right-hand post instead.

“Fair play for Cooper for taking the set-piece off Dan but Cooper’s scored a couple of great ones last year,” recalled Halsey.

A long ball over the top released Kedwell in behind centre-half Queensborough but his low shot brought a comfortable save out of Gallifent inside the final 17 minutes.

Colliers Wood United were camped inside the Hollands & Blair half of the field for the rest of the game, hanging on to dear life during the six minutes and 37 seconds of stoppage time too.

Fofanah swung in a corner from the right which was met by Embalo’s towering header from inside the six-yard box which he steered over Highsted’s crossbar

The home side continued to press and called Highsted into a diving save following a three-man move.

Buckle switched the play out to right-back Kieran Brown, whose first time pass released Fofanah, who cut onto his left-foot and drove a shot towards goal from 22-yards, which forced Highsted to spring to his left to push the ball behind for a corner.

“Apart from that great save in the first half and I think the two in the second, I think he’s done alright tonight,” Halsey said of his goalkeeper.

“That’s full credit to the boys in front of him as well, who worked hard.

“They kept knocking and knocking and knocking but we was resolute, we was strong and we defended as a team and as a unit so I can’t ask no more from my boys.

“They gave me effort and a lot of commitment, which I asked for before the game.  I haven’t personally had a great run in The FA Cup, I don’t think the club has either.”

Colliers Wood’s left-back Archie Drewett was a good 40-yards out when he unleashed a left-footed dipping drive, which only just cleared the top of the left-hand post.

Hollands & Blair squandered a glorious chance to finish the game off inside the final seven minutes.

Kedwell was released on the counter-attack and cut into the box from the right and switched the ball over to an unmarked Cooper, who should have put his left-foot through the ball first time. Instead he took a touch and his side-footed attempt was gathered at the second attempt by Gallifent, grabbing hold of the ball low to his right.

“I think he should’ve struck it first time. He’s had a first touch and tried to side-foot in where if he lets it come across his body and strike it but we’ve created another chance on the counter-attack,” added Halsey.

The home side went with three at the back and Hollands & Blair kept everyone behind the ball as they put in a resilient, workmanlike performance to grind out an opening night victory.

Halsey said: “It doesn’t matter how we come away from this one away from home on a cold, wet Wednesday night and we had to win a game of football and we’ve won a game of football and put some money in the bank.”

Hollands & Blair will now travel to Isthmian League South East Division side Burgess Hill Town in The FA Cup Preliminary Round on Saturday 12 September (15:00).

“They’re going to be a tough outfit. It’s an away game on a Saturday, which is great. This FA Cup stuff on a Tuesday or Wednesday night is ridiculous for all clubs. I think it’s unbelievable that they’ve made us do it and not only have they made us to do if it’s a draw people are going out on penalties with no extra-time. There must’ve been a better way to get round this but we’ll go to Burgess Hill, we’re in the hat for that game so let’s go and see, hopefully by then we’ve had two more games.”

Hollands & Blair kick-off their Southern Counties East Football League campaign on Saturday at newbies Balham (well, at AFC Croydon Athletic’s Mayfield Stadium in Thornton Heath), before Crowborough Athletic visit Darland Avenue next Wednesday 9 September.

Colliers Wood United: Lewis Gallifent, Kieran Brown (Iaia Mane-Banona 90), Archie Drewett (Emmanuel Quarshie 84), R’marni Blankson, Joe Dyett, Jermaine Queensborough, Naseem James, Jack Buckle, Mario Embalo, Nathan Mampono (Ramone Leitch 55), Ali Fofanah.
Subs: Jordan Willis, Callum Orris, Ricardo Silva Conceicao, Lukas Hanson-Puffer

Booked: Joe Dyett 63, Jermaine Queensborough 64

Hollands & Blair: Adam Highsted, Sam Welch, Darren Cooper (Harry Kingdon 90), Calum McGeeghan, Cameron Heffernan, Joe Kane (Lewis Mingle 46), Chris Saunders, Sam Prescott, Danny Kedwell, Matthew Gething (Fjord Rogers 75), Louis Valencia.
Subs: Sid Hopkins, Jack Simon, Ben Brown, Harley Horse

Goal: Matthew Gething 13

Booked: Chris Saunders 38

Attendance: 180
Referee:  Mr Peter Georgiou
Assistants: Mr Christopher Murray & Mr Ebenezer Adebanjo

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