Crowborough Athletic 2-0 Lingfield - It was a bit of a scrap really, admits Crowborough boss Sean Muggeridge

Friday 04th August 2017
Crowborough Athletic 2 – 0 Lingfield
Location Gallagher Stadium, James Whatman Way, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1LQ
Kickoff 04/08/2017 20:00

The Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Friday 4th August 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from The Gallagher Stadium

CROWBOROUGH ATHLETIC boss Sean Muggeridge says he wanted to make it up to their fans after winning their first FA Cup tie in five seasons.

The Crows made it a winning start at their temporary abode in Maidstone as two second half goals from attackers Reece Connolly and Sam Carrington won a hard-fought Extra Preliminary Round tie.

Crowborough striker Zac Attwood had a first half penalty saved by Lingers goalkeeper Olly Moore.

But their opening goal was controversial which sparked outrage from Lingfield’s players and captain David Graves picked up two yellow cards following the heated exchange as Dixie Dean’s side played the last 22 minutes of this uninspiring tie with ten-men.

Crowborough Athletic attracted a crowd of 152 as their fans had to make the 52 mile round trip to watch last season’s Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division runners-up break their FA Cup hoodoo, scooping £1,500 in prize money.

“What did I say to you earlier? I knew it would be a real, real tough game and a physical game,” said Muggeridge, who lost out on the title to Ashford United by only a couple of points.

“It got a little bit stop and start and we couldn’t get in the flow of the game but on the whole I’ve got to give Lingfield credit, they battled and battled and battled and I didn’t expect anything less really.”

This was the clubs first win in the FA Cup since Crowborough won 5-2 at Chichester City at this stage back in 2012.

“Apart from last year when we didn’t deserve anything out of that game you watched it (a 3-1 home defeat to Farnham Town), the season’s before we should’ve won those games, there’s no doubt about it,” said Muggeridge.

“I wanted to make it up to the fans after last year. It was just unacceptable really.  I took the blame, I said it was my fault. I put the players on the pitch and I just thought it was unacceptable for the players and the coach.

“I said to you I just wanted to put it right for the fans really because they support us through and through. They clapped us off tonight, we could’ve lost, they’re superb and to come all this way, it’s quite a way, to Maidstone to support us, was good.”

When asked about their new temporary surroundings, Muggeridge said: “Fantastic! I said to them before the game, to play a FA Cup game in a stadium like this you should be blessed because I’d love to be out there and we’re here temporary but I’d like to thank Maidstone for letting us to have the opportunity do to that. It’s just fantastic. Hopefully we’ll be there one day.”

Crowborough left wing-back Sam Crabb was often the driving force and his right-footed angled drive from 25-yards bounced into Moore’s hands to make a comfortable save inside the opening five minutes.

Lingfield will be kicking themselves that they failed to test Dan Ellis with a decent chance.

Graves drove a free-kick forward to find right-winger Matt Burroughs running the channel and he cut the ball back for unmarked striker Nick Dembele who lashed his first time drive over the bar from 12-yards.

“They’re very lively, they’re going to go close in that league (Southern Combination Division One, one level lower than Crowborough),” predicted Muggeridge.

“Although we couldn’t get going, I’ve got to give them credit. They closed us down and we couldn’t get the rhythm of the game and really they didn’t cause a lot of problems but they just worked hard.  I like their manager Dixie Dean, I really like him because his players work hard for him.”

Within a minute of that Lingfield chance, central midfielder Jason Barton played the ball inside to Crabb, who brought the ball under control before cutting in to unleash a 35-yard drive, which was held by Moore as he dived to his right.

Referee Joseph McKay pointed to the spot when Lingfield’s holding midfielder Declan Smith fouled Sam Carrington.

Attwood stepped up but his left-footed penalty was parried by Moore, diving to his right, with the clock showing 16 minutes and 39 seconds.

“It’s become a bit of a joke really,” Muggeridge said of their penalty woe.

“I mean, Zac Attwood, after that though was absolutely superb, his running, that’s the kind of guy he is.  We never mentioned it. Penalties are turning into a little bit of a problem. We never even talked about it. Zac knows his missed it. We’ve got a penalty taker in Henry Muggeridge, he’s scored three penalties in a row and he wasn’t available tonight.

“Scoring a penalty, it’s not as easy as it looks and Zac’s missed a penalty so it’s even harder for him. I’m sure he’ll be fine.”

Carrington progressed down the right wing and played the ball inside to Attwood, but his left-footed shot from 16-yards rolled straight into Moore’s hands for a comfortable save.

Lingfield certainly done their homework on Crowborough, who gave former Tonbridge Angels central midfielder Tom Phipp his debut, but he was forced off just before half-time with a gash to his head through an elbow.

Muggeridge said: “He is a big signing. The thing is I’ve been on at Tom for two or three months, it’s not just happened now.  I was just waiting for his work commitments and when he decided to sign, what a quality player to bring in your side with the quality players we have got around!

“It’s very, very handy that we did because Jack Walder is suspended, Tom Vickers and Lee Carey have gone to Hastings so we’re a bit light in that area. 

“When you bring a player of that quality in and then you see him (leave the field injured). He’s had to go to hospital but I’m going to text him to see how he is.  I’m not too sure what he’s done.

“I didn’t see it to be fair.  I can’t believe the linesman didn’t see it.  I just saw him lying on the ground and my players reacting.  I think it was an elbow, yes.”

Crowborough won the corner count by 11-2 and they went close when Jack Turner knocked down Crabb’s corner and Moore got down low to his right to ensure Carrington’s shot went behind for another.

A hard-fought first half ensured there was little excitement for the spectators watching this blood-and-thunder FA Cup tie.

Muggeridge said: “We couldn’t get a rhythm going. There were a lot of stoppages. It just turned into a long ball. It was end to end. It wasn’t that bad. We just couldn’t get going really but they didn’t have a lot themselves in the first half and we didn’t have a lot of chances really.

“At half-time I just said we’ve got to keep going. Phipps’ coming off was a vital decision to make. We put Callum Ridley on.  I just think we had to keep going and keep the ball down.  I think we were playing it too long basically, sometimes when we do struggle a little bit we do tend to go long a little bit but we’ve got quality players in the side.”

The start of the second half failed to produce any goal-mouth action until Moore made a comfortable catch after 20 minutes play.

Right wing-back Marcus Goldsmith floated in a free-kick which was met by Turner’s towering header, which was caught by the busier of the two goalkeepers.

Crowborough’s manager said: “He didn’t really get anything, much on it.  I was a bit disappointed we didn’t use our set-pieces, we’ve been working on them all week! Our set-pieces weren’t great.  We’ve got players not on the pitch who normally take the free-kicks so it was a bit disappointing really.”

Crowborough Athletic grabbed a controversial opening goal, timed at 20 minutes and 42 seconds – where is goal-line technology at this stage of The FA Cup?

Crabb swung in the home side’s ninth corner of the night from the left and an unmarked Connelly swept his low shot towards goal at the near post and it appeared that the ball was blocked on the line but assistant referee David Buck signalled that the ball crossed the line.

This decision enraged a high number of Lingfield’s players, who chased after the official, but three players received yellow cards while Graves chucked his captains armband on the carpet in outrage after his yellow turned into a red-card.

Muggeridge said: “Well again, you can’t see along the line, I didn’t really see. It looked over but I would say that but it did look over.  I can’t tell.  The linesman was pretty 100% sure it was over otherwise he wouldn’t have given it.

“That was going to win the game, I think, a scrappy goal like that. There weren’t a lot of quality really from both sides. It was just a bit of a scrap really.”

Attwood recovered from his earlier penalty woe by bringing a long ball down with majestic control before cracking his volley against the top of the near post from inside the box.

Muggeridge said: “He’s looking lively, he just needs a goal under his belt really to keep him going. He’s just quality. That could’ve gone in the top corner really. It was well hit, it was a good strike!”

Lingfield produced more attacking purpose after they lost their captain and created some chances.

Substitute Ben Connolly cut inside and hit a 30-yard drive which was saved comfortably by Ellis.

Good play from striker Dembele down the left saw him cut the ball back for Ben Connolly, whose first time shot at the near post was held by the Crowborough keeper.

Another Lingfield substitute, Dan Lilly, was given acres of space to drill his left-footed screamer just past the left-hand post from 30-yards.

“We’re not a great side playing 10 men, I’ve noticed it a few times last season,” admitted Muggeridge.

“Whether we just stop and think it’s going to be too easy or we just sit in there.  I said to my assistant (Steve Ives) I didn’t want him to get sent-off to be honest with you because we’ve just scored. We just seem to stop against 10 men. 

“They went more direct, they brought a guy called Ben Connolly on, I like him, he's a very good player and he caused us a few problems.”

Crowborough Athletic should have wrapped up the game with a second goal in the 38th minute when the impressive Crabb swung in a corner from the left, which was punched away by Moore.  Crabb then received the ball, sped past his man and Moore blocked his powerful low shot with his legs and an unmarked Reece Connolly drilled his shot past the right-hand post from 12-yards.

“When I brought him off he was really upset about that,” revealed Muggeridge on the former Whitehawk striker.

“He’s not fit at the moment. He hasn’t done a lot of pre-season so he will only get better and better when he gets fit.

Lingfield were forced to shoot from 30-yards again but Lilly’s left-footed effort was meat and drink for Ellis, who comfortably picked up a rolling ball.

Crowborough Athletic sealed a comfortable 2-0 victory with the clincher goal coming 66 seconds into time added on.

Attwood collected a long ball in the final third and appeared to be heading towards the corner flag. He had a change of heart and cut the ball back to Carrington. The ball was played out to Crabb on the other side of the pitch, who sped towards the by-line to cut the ball back for Carrington to flick his back-heal across the keeper into the bottom far corner of the net from eight-yards out.

“Quality finish! Sam’s really looked lively this season. He’s going to be a big part of the season,” came Muggeridge’s reply.

Crowborough Athletic will travel to Hassocks or Hollands & Blair in the Preliminary Round on 19 August.

“I think we just have to enjoy today, it’s been a long five years since we’ve won a FA Cup game and financially it’s made us a lot better financially, which we need with the 3G pitch, so all in all I’m pleased.  I’m not that pleased with the performance. I was really, really pleased with the result.

“It’s going to be difficult, they’re two good sides again. Hollands & Blair we know all about. Hassocks, I don’t know too much about them. We played them last year in the Sussex Cup. I don’t know what side they’ve got but I’ll plan as I always do.

“The next game is the most important, which is the league game here against Deal next Saturday (12 August).

Muggeridge believes visiting teams will raise their game at their temporary home, similar when a couple of north London Premier League clubs hire Wembley Stadium.

“Yes, that’s what happened today, I think, with Lingfield.  I’m not saying they had to raise their game against us. I’m just saying it’s going to be a little bit like Tottenham or Arsenal when they’re at Wembley. You’ve got a nice stadium and everyone’s going to love to come here and show everyone what they’re all about so it’s going to be tough for us.”

Crowborough Athletic: Dan Ellis, Marcus Goldsmith (Connor Pring 83), Sam Crabb, James White, Jack Turner, Dan Tear, Jason Barton, Tom Phipp (Callum Ridley 46), Zac Attwood, Sam Carrington, Reece Connolly (Tom Pearson 88).
Subs: Gianfranco Mici, Alex Bishop, Jack Allen, Daniel Smith

Goals: Reece Connolly 67, Sam Carrington 90

Booked: Reece Connolly 55, Callum Ridley 60

Lingfield: Olly Moore, Scott Johnson, Connor Wilford, Jamie Bakhit (Dan Lilly 81), Declan Smith, David Graves, Matt Burroughs, Sammy Clemence, Nick Dembele, Richard Wetton (Ben Connolly 70), Ryan Hill (Corbin Turner 74).
Subs: Tony Jenner, Connor Summerfield

Booked: Jamie Bakhit 20, Scott Johnson 57, Connor Wilford 68, David Graves 68, Matt Burroughs 68

Sent Off: David Graves 68

Attendance: 152
Referee: Mr Joseph McKay (Maidstone)
Assistants: Mr David Buck (Istead Rise) & Mr Keiran Stoneham (Gravesend)

Coverage Sponsored by: