Crowborough Athletic boss Sean Muggeridge: To get to the Vase Final and even win it will never be taken away from you for years and years and years. It’s a really awkward question but at the moment I’d take going up

Thursday 04th January 2018

CROWBOROUGH ATHLETIC boss Sean Muggeridge says he would rather win promotion to the Bostik South than reach Wembley Stadium in The FA Vase Final.

With no Kent sides left in the competition, the Crows are the sole representatives from the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division left in the last 32 of the competition.

Crowborough Athletic travel down to Wiltshire to play Melksham Town in the last 32 on Saturday.

Melksham Town are currently in fourth-place in the Western League Premier Division table with a playing record of 12 wins, five draws and four defeats in the league and they are 12 points adrift of the leaders Street.

Sevenoaks Town, meanwhile, lead the way in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with 41 points in the bag from their 16 games, followed by Crowborough Athletic in second-place on 39 points from 19 outings.

“Could have been better, it’s a tough one, a real tough one,” said Muggeridge, who received a scouting report on their opponents from his chairman Simon Colbran.

“I’ve heard it’s a very good well run club, it’s a nice stadium and got a lovely pitch and they’re a team on the up.

“We watched them last week, there’s no hiding behind that and our chairman has brought back brilliant reports from them.

“It’s going to be a very tough game. We’ve got to all play nine out of 10, the whole team, to get a win there.  We are capable of it. We are a side that’s getting a little bit more consistent now, before we’ve been unplayable and then we’ve been very, very ordinary.

“We’re trying to get consistent and if we do get that consistency right then we are going to be hard to beat. 

“It is going to be a tough game. They went the same distance as us last year so they’ve got FA Vase pedigree.”

When asked to give one answer to winning promotion into Bostik South or winning The FA Vase at Wembley Stadium, Muggeridge replied: “I want both! That is a very awkward question because the main priority is to get into the Bostik South, that is the main priority this year.

“The only good thing about Wembley, if you win the Bostik South and you go up it’s a great thing for a club to do that, but it’s progression in that.

“To get to the Vase Final and even win it will never be taken away from you for years and years and years.  It’s a really awkward question but at the moment I’d take going up!”

The Crows left it very late indeed to beat their local rivals Tunbridge Wells 2-1 last Saturday, courtesy of goals from Tom Phipp and fit-again super-sub Dan Perry.

“We started really well.  We should have been two or three up in the first 15-20 minutes,” recalled Muggeridge, against third-from-bottom Tunbridge Wells.

“They got a penalty that wasn’t a penalty really and then after that we weren’t very good for the next 20 minutes.  We didn’t get tested and we looked a little bit flat, whether that was because of the Christmas period, I don’t know what it was.

“I got into them at half-time and we were very good in the second half. We had a few chances and should have gone further ahead but you’re always thinking it’s going to be one of those games again.

“To be fair to Tunbridge Wells, they played very well as well. They had a couple of goes on the break they could have scored but we deserved it on our second half performance.  We’re just lacking a goal really, which is unlike us.”

Muggeridge was delighted with Perry scoring the winner with a last-gasp effort.

“I’m very pleased for Dan Perry because he’s had an absolute nightmare with his injury. He’s been alright and it’s gone again. We tried to bring him back gradually in training.  He’s only trained once with us and we threw him in there. 

“I knew I’d give him 15-20 minutes anyway and to come on and score the winner like that is going to give him loads of confidence.”

The goalkeeping position has proved to be giving Muggeridge a bit of a headache but Ryan Burbridge gets the nod on Saturday.

Muggeridge called upon the services of former Peacehaven & Telscombe and Tonbridge Angels stopper Anthony Di Bernardo, but he has gone back to Bostik Premier Division side Burgess Hill Town, as the Crowborough manager explains.

“The problem is we’ve got a goalkeeper (Dan Ellis) banned at the moment.  We’ve got a goalkeeper I’ve known before (Anthony Di Bernardo). He was only game-to-game, week-to-week, month-month really to see where he was going and Burgess Hill wanted him.

“He went to Burgess Hill and I had to get another goalkeeper, which was the Burgess Hill keeper (James Shaw). He played for two games and got man-of-the-match in one of them and done a good job against Lordswood and Whitstable.

“On the Friday, Burgess Hill phoned me and Tony was injured so James Shaw had to come back so I had to recall Ryan Burbridge, who I have worked before, for the game on Saturday.

“He will be going down to Melksham with us. He’s a good goalkeeper. He’s had time out through personal reasons. He was playing last year when Dan was out injured.  I’ve worked with Ryan, he’s good enough so I’ve got no worries there.”

Muggeridge, meanwhile, believes the promotion race will be a roller-coaster ride.

“It’s such a strong league and everyone’s looking for that second place as well.

“Everyone’s got the budget to do it. It is all about consistency and that’s why Sevenoaks are top of the league, because they’re consistent.  With ourselves and other teams haven’t been consistent as we wanted to be.

“Hopefully come the second half of the season we’ll start becoming strong.  Sevenoaks are quite a way ahead now. I think the second half of the season is going to be a bit of a roller-coaster ride.

“I think the weather is going to play a part.  Teams that can’t go up will drop the budget and drift away and some teams will see a glimpse of it and chuck some more money at it.

“It’s going to be a very difficult, challenging, three or four months of the season.”

Visit Crowborough Athletic’s website:

Melksham Town v  Crowborough Athletic
The Buildbase FA Vase Fourth Round
Saturday 7 January 2018
Kick Off 3:00pm
at The Oakfield Stadium, Eastern Way, Melksham, Wiltshire SN12 7GU