Erith & Belvedere 0-2 Sevenoaks Town - Deep down I don't think we can win the title now, admits Sevenoaks Town boss Micky Collins

Tuesday 21st March 2017
Erith & Belvedere 0 – 2 Sevenoaks Town
Location Park View Road, Welling, Kent DA16 1SY
Kickoff 21/03/2017 19:45

ERITH & BELVEDERE 0-2  SEVENOAKS TOWN
Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Tuesday 21st March 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Park View Road

SEVENOAKS TOWN manager Micky Collins admits he has written off the club’s chances of winning the league title this season.

 

The club passed their ground grading inspection at Greatness Park today to host Ryman League football should they win promotion but they remain in third-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table on 68 points with seven league games remaining.

Sevenoaks Town have closed the gap to five points on second-placed Crowborough Athletic, who suffered a shock 1-0 home defeat to Croydon, while Ashford United returned to the summit, one point clear of the Crows, following their 3-1 home win over Hollands & Blair tonight.

Sevenoaks Town claimed their 22nd league win of their most successful campaign, courtesy of two second half goals from winger Harrison Carnegie and an injury-time penalty from Joe Bingham.

Erith & Belvedere, meanwhile, remain in the bottom four on 23 points with seven games remaining and below them are Beckenham Town (22 points from 31 out of 38 games), Lordswood (22 points from 31 games) and Fisher (21 points from 31 games).

Former Erith & Belvedere manager John Wilfort is now on Sevenoaks Town’s management team.  Jamie Leggett was in charge for Erith & Belvedere’s 2-1 home win over Corinthian, but he has since stood down to become Luke Coleman’s assistant and this was the club’s third defeat on the bounce.

“I thought for 75 minutes, I thought we were very much in the game,” said Coleman, 28.

“I thought we played aggressive, we played on the front foot, we were positive.  I felt that we should’ve taken a chance or two early on, which would give us a comfort blanket perhaps because we knew there would be an onslaught coming from Sevenoaks.

“But my thoughts on the game overall it was a sloppy goal to concede.  The goal has come from our set-piece, we’re attacking, the keeper’s caught the ball, launched it up field and the guy’s hit a very good finish, I feel. A great finish but I thought it’s avoidable and those sort of mistakes are costing us at the moment.”

Coleman’s first job in football management is to keep Erith & Belvedere in the division and he has seven more games to achieve that.

“So far it’s giving me grey hairs! It’s enjoyable. After games like tonight I do question why I took it on. It is difficult but I think overall there’s something there for us to play from, a platform. We’ve played well so far and the boys have responded tremendously to me.  I said in my programme this evening the only disappointing thing is we haven’t built from the first win and got another three points on the board.”

Collins said: “We needed to bounce back (after losing 1-0 at Deal Town). We were so bad on Saturday it’s like the season capitulated on us on Saturday and we were just poor.  Fair play to Deal, they played really well, done a number on us really and we never coped with it.

“A bit different tonight, still missing loads of personnel and injuries all over the place, but it’s good to bounce back.

Collins, who left Erith & Belvedere just days after winning the double for them in 2013, has ensured Sevenoaks Town have overtaken his old club since then.

Collins, who is coming to the end of his third season in charge of The Oaks, said: “It’s always nice to come back to your old club and get a win. It’s been a long time now, I’ve been away for four years.  Yes, you have good memories. I’m standing here now remembering winning the double here. I still hold the club high in my affections but you have to come here, be professional and do a job and that’s what we done.”

But the Deres put in a spirited first half performance and started the game on the front foot.

Forward Matthew Parsons chased a lost cause and made a crossfield run from centre to wide on the left and his cross was cleared out to Grant Brown, who hooked his shot past the left-hand post after only 48 seconds.

Diminutive central midfielder Max Williams then played the ball out wide to left-winger Edgar Morais, who sprinted for 40-yards before cutting inside and hitting his left-footed dipping drive just over the bar from the corner of the box.

But Erith & Belvedere should have been in front inside six-minutes.

Journeyman striker Rikki Cable was put through on goal through the heart of the pitch but he dragged his left-footed shot across keeper Rob French and past the far post with only the keeper to beat.

Coleman said: “I think Rikki will now by his own standards, because Rikki above all else is an absolutely brilliant goalscorer, and if I could see him go through one-on-one like that I bet my house that Rikki hits the target at the very least.

“But that’s been our problem for the last three weeks rather than just tonight. I feel for the last three weeks we have played aggressively, on the front foot and we’ve looked dangerous.  The issue that we’ve had is we haven’t taken our chances at crucial times and the same applies tonight really.”

Collins added: “I think a few years’ ago Rikki would’ve buried that, no doubt about it. Probably old age is catching up on him a bit.

“But they came out.  We knew they would.  They’re at the bottom. It’s tight down there and anything could happen. It’s two down and it is tough.  They did come out and equipped themselves well to start off with.”

Sevenoaks Town’s first opening was created inside the opening 14 minutes.

Carnegie got the better of left-back Nad Nwitua and delivered a cross, which came out to Yacine Gnahore, but the striker turned central midfielder sliced his shot wide of the right-hand post from 22-yards.

Jimmy Rogers’ corner from the right was hooked back to him by Tom Ripley and Rogers’ cross was punched away by Luke Roberts and Carnegie stroked his shot past the left-hand post from 20-yards.

Sevenoaks Town were now getting back into the game and right-back Marvin Okundalaiye delivered a deep free-kick into the box which was met by Ripley’s towering header across goal, which was comfortably gathered by Roberts.

Collins said: “It was ok. It was cagey. It was one of those halves you look at, we’re up the slope. It’s always more difficult, it’s weird.  It always seems to suck it in down at that bottom end. It was like it when I was here.  You’ve got to weather the storm and you’ve got to be solid and manage the game correctly and then we’ll get chances and when we get chances, hopefully we’ll take them.”

Kieron McCann linked up well with Stephen Camacho down the left and Camacho clipped a cross towards the near post which saw target-man Andy Irvine get in front of Richard Butler to stab his shot straight at Roberts from six-yards.

Coleman is delighted that VCD Athletic manager Keith McMahon has sent the central defender out on loan to help with Erith & Belvedere’s survival bid.

He said: “I thought Richard Butler came in with Jamal McCann and was superb so I thought defensively we looked strong but lapses in concentration is costing us games.

“Keith McMahon has been extremely generous with Richard. He’s allowed me to take him, he felt he needed some games because Keith couldn’t afford him that at this precise time so he’s said I could have him on loan.  I contacted Keith late last week and Keith’s been really good about giving me Richard and we’ve got an understanding if Keith needs him back then he can go. In my eyes I’d like to keep him until the end of the season and certainly on tonight’s performance.”

Bingham’s pass was chased down the right channel by Irvine, who drilled his angled drive into the base of the side netting, before the former Bearsted striker missed a great chance to break the stalemate in the 34th minute.

Gnahore’s quickly taken free-kick put McCann in behind Jeffrey Allen and Jamal McCann down the left and he cut the ball back from the by-line for Irvine to place his first time right-footed shot towards goal from eight-yards, only for Roberts to make a comfortable low save to his left to delay the inevitable.

“Irvs will be the first to say he could’ve had a few first half,” said Collins.

“He’s got himself in the right areas and probably trying to impress too much and hasn’t showed much composure and then the chances have gone.  It’s early days for him settling in. He’s come in to a side that plays at a tempo and it will take him time to adjust.

“I think if it was on his other foot, if it had landed on his other foot, I think he would’ve buried it.  I played there and if you’re there to miss them, then great.  You’ve just got to put them away at some point, which will happen, there’s no doubt, he’s a proven goalscorer.”

Coleman admitted: “Well I think that’s a relief more than anything because I would’ve thought he would’ve scored from there. I think it was on his weaker foot but nevertheless from our point of view it’s probably a moment where we’ve switched off defensively and those are the things we can ill-afford when you’re at the bottom of the table.

“That was one that let us off because for the first 30-30 minutes I thought we were dominant. We were potent and I thought we were aggressive so to concede a goal at that point would’ve been really poor from our point of view so more than anything I think it’s a let-off!”

Irvine has yet opened his account for Sevenoaks Town, after scoring 14 goals for league rivals Bearsted and he latched onto a ball over the top but his shot sailed harmlessly past the far post.

Bingham then floated in a cross into the home side’s defence and Irvine’s looping header from 10-yards was comfortably plucked out of the air by Roberts.

Erith & Belvedere called French into action on the stroke of half-time.

Skipper Brown hit a right-footed dipping free-kick towards the bottom near corner from 30-yards, the keeper getting down on his knees to make a low catch.

Coleman said: “I trust Brownie to take the free-kicks there.  As you saw tonight his technique and his passing ability and his set-piece delivery is always pretty good. He hit the target but I think on another day he’ll make the keeper work just a little bit more.”

Collins added: “I thought French was decent all night. They came and tickled him a couple of times and I thought he was solid. His kicking was great. He’s kicked straight into Harrison for the goal, a phenomenal kick.  He’s commanded his area, a real positive tonight.”

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break.

Coleman said: “I said to the boys at half-time, first half an hour we were pressing, we were aggressive and on the front foot, which was everything I think you need when you’re in the position we’re in.  I wanted the boys to continue it because my overall riding concern was last week. We were at Canterbury when they were down to 10-men at half-time at 0-0 and we came out at the beginning of the second half and we conceded two very, very sloppy goals.

“The message to the boys at half time more than anything was to keep tight, play our game, play as we have been in the first half and I think they’ll be something there for us.”

Collins added: Not a lot really.  We just wanted to move the ball quicker, that was the bit and we haven’t done it enough and there were certain bits in the midfield I wasn’t happy with, which we addressed sand we came out and tried to affect the game slightly differently.”

Erith & Belvedere created a couple of chances inside the opening eight minutes but both of their wingers, Sebastien Schoburgh and Edgar Morais, drove over after cutting inside towards the edge of the Sevenoaks penalty area.

“I think offensively second half we lacked a bit,” admitted Coleman.

“I must say we could’ve created more dangerous opportunities because in my view what we was doing was picking up second balls in the middle of midfield and our tempo of our play needed to be quicker. We needed to get the balls out wide to the boys you would’ve caused the damage which are those two but probably our final delivery wasn’t great.

“Since I’ve come in Seb Schoburgh has been absolutely excellent for me so I’ve got no complaints with him.  Edgar’s just come in and last week he came on and I thought he was superb and I thought first half tonight he done the same.”

Sevenoaks Town grabbed the lead with 11 minutes and 48 seconds on the second half clock – as they turned defence into a devastating attack courtesy of one massive kick.

Erith & Belvedere midfielder Brown swung in their third corner from the right, which was easily plucked out of the air by visiting keeper French. He launched a big kick up field and Carnegie watched the ball drop out of the night sky before drilling a superb half-volley across the exposed keeper, the ball looping into the bottom far corner to score his 12th goal of the season.

“Oh, very good finish, very good finish,” added Collins.

“It’s bouncing and he’s got to hit it and he’s got to hit it on the half-volley and I was waiting for it to nestle in to the far corner and it did. It was good because he was having a quiet game up until then. He’s just come back from injury and he’s trying to find his feet again and a bit of fitness and he deserved that. It was a great goal.”

Coleman couldn’t believe what he was seeing!

“Again, that’s the biggest disappointment for us tonight because I thought Harrison Carnegie, what I know him and the other lad, Kieron McCann on the other side, they’re obviously two of their dangerman and I felt our left-back Nad Nwitua and our right-back Jeffrey Allen played extremely well against both of them and did everything what I asked so.

“He’s got in one-v-one when we’re attacking and given how well we defended against those two, it was a real disappointment to see us concede such a sloppy goal.

“I wouldn’t expect us to get out-ran because we’ve got Seb at the back and he should be astute enough and experienced enough to stop that happening, especially from our own attacking set-piece. 

“If they score from open play or from their own set-piece sometimes you have to stop and say little you could do about it but when the balls in the attacking third, we’ve had our own set-piece and the keeper’s plucked it out of the air and had all the time in the world to pick Harrison out, in my mind that’s criminal defending!”

Sevenoaks’ substitute Chris Edwards floated over a deep free-kick into the penalty area but Bingham’s towering header bounced into Roberts’ hands for a comfortable save.

Sevenoaks lost left-back Stephen Camacho with a bruised shin in the 71st minute despite Brown going in hard but winning the ball right in front of the Sevenoaks Town dug-out.

Collins said: “A straight red all day, straight red! You leave the ground and it’s two-footed, it’s a straight red! Unfortunately, we’ve had this ref a few times this year and to say he’s weak is an understatement and that’s proved that with that challenge.   You don’t want to see people sent off but it’s reckless and it’s proved it because the guys hurt. It’s so high, it was ridiculous. He’s got a badly bruised shin, he couldn’t put any weight on it so we’ll have to asses him again for Saturday.”

When asked about the incident, Coleman replied: “I know Mick said it was high. He said it was dangerous. In my view if I was playing for Mick, knowing Mick as I do, if he’s player didn’t go and try to win the ball there, Mick would’ve had something to say so I understand where Mick’s coming from.  In fairness he caught the ball and the player. If it was me managing I’d probably have appealed it but I thought the ball was there to be won and certainly the ref did because I don’t think he even gave a free-kick.”

Erith & Belvedere should have done better when they produced a chance on goal with 15 minutes remaining.

Nwitua swept a deep cross in from the left, which was hooked down by Schoburg but substitute striker Elyon Marshall-Katung’s weak shot from 18-yards was too comfortable for French.

“I don’t think the keeper even saved it,” came Coleman’s response to that poor attempt to score.

“Second half I thought we looked toothless actually in the final third. I think the issue was when I was having to play Rikki Cable to drop deep to be a third central midfielder.  I think it lost our attacking flair just a bit.   Matthew Parsons was really isolated. Matt is very honest and he’ll run in all the time but I just wanted him to just stay on the shoulder and that was probably the only chance we had in the second half.”

A driving run forward from Sevenoaks’ central midfielder Jimmy Rogers saw him try his luck from outside the box, his shot was spilt by Roberts as he dived low to his left before the ball was cleared towards safety.

Substitute striker Francisco Mbela was a threat for Sevenoaks when he came on and his angled drive deflected off team-mate Bingham and rolled behind for a goal-kick as the away side finished the game well.

Sevenoaks Town scored a flattering second, the goal timed at two minutes and 8 seconds into time added on.

Carnegie played the ball inside to sub striker Byron Walker who played the ball to Mbela, who took a touch and Roberts came to smother the ball at his feet and took the striker instead and referee Dan Doyle pointed to the spot.

Bingham stepped up to steer his right-footed penalty into the bottom left-hand corner to score his eighth goal of the season.

Collins said: “It was a good move. It was out on the right. Harrison got it played it inside to Byron, Byron took his time waited, laid in Cisco and fair play to the kid, he’s probably had a bit of a heavy touch and Luke’s done well and come out at him and Cisco’s just toe poked it away and he’s gone down and it’s a pen.  I’m pleased with the kid. He’s been an impact since he’s been with us. Bingham, it's a great pen, bottom bins. That’s it and its game over.”

Coleman admitted: “By that point the penalty’s immaterial to be honest. We’ve lost the game or we’ve lost the opportunity to win the game when we’ve conceded such a sloppy set-piece.  I think we wouldn’t have to go gung-ho and put three upfront and leave three at the back if it wasn’t that we conceded such a sloppy goal.”

The game was now dead and buried and Erith & Belvedere did create one final chance at the death.

Trey Small, who came on with two minutes of normal time remaining, whipped in a cross from down the left channel, the ball was sliced towards his own goal by Edwards at the near post, forcing French to get down low to his right to push the ball around the post.

Coleman said: “I think by that time it was 2-0 anyway so I suppose the goal would unlikely would’ve changed things because the ref blew for full-time a minute after that but that’s a chance we had.

“In terms of the overall picture in the second half perhaps we could’ve created a lot more. It’s certainly something that we’re going to be working on, our offensive and defensive play in the future but I’m two weeks through the job and we’ve certainly got a lot of work on.”

Collins said: “Again that’s capped his night for me. I thought him and Tom Ripley at centre half, I thought they were immense, both of them played so well, so solid. It was good to see Ripley back to his full strengths since his ACL injury.”

Marshall-Katung then delivered a cross but Jamal McCann came up from the back to glance his header past the far post.

Sevenoaks Town host league leaders Ashford United at Greatness Park on Saturday and Collins said on his side’s title chances, “I wrote it off Saturday to be honest. We were that bad Saturday, I wrote it off. We were on a good little run and then we were too bad. I don’t think we can (win the title now) deep down.  I think it’s down between the two big boys (Ashford United and Crowborough Athletic) and they’ll battle it out amongst them and I think we’ll be an also-ran but we’ll give it a go. We’ll just keep going, that’s’ all we can do. 

“Crowborough have gone and got beat tonight, I didn’t see that coming. It’s happened. Ashford drew (3-3 at home to AFC Croydon Athletic) at the weekend. It can happen, but I just think we’re too far behind.”

Tunbridge Wells have climbed up to fourteenth-place in the table – 10 points clear of the relegation zone on 32 points from their 30 games – after winning three of their last five games.

Coleman, who takes his side to Culverden Stadium on Saturday, said: “At the moment I’m a bit unclear as to how many go down so that’s one thing that hasn’t been clarified exactly to me. I’ve got a number of people telling me a number of different things!

“We are in the prime position out of the bottom four and that’s something the players and my management team have got to bear in mind.  Ultimately, it’s in our hands now. We’ve got seven games to go, we’re fourth-from-bottom, as long as we do what we need to do, we don’t go down!”

Erith & Belvedere: Luke Roberts, Jeffrey Allen (Trey Small 88), Nad Nwitua, Max Williams, Jamal McCann, Richard Butler, Sebastien Schoburgh, Grant Brown, Matthew Parsons, Rikki Cable (Elyon Marshall-Katung 66), Edgar Morais.
Subs: Chris Weber, Yinka Moruf Salami, Bryan Glover

Booked: Jeffrey Allen 62, Max Williams 90

Sevenoaks Town: Rob French, Marvin Okundalaiye, Stephen Camacho (Francisco Mbela 71), Jimmy Rogers, Tom Ripley, Jack Miles (Chris Edwards 46), Harrison Carnegie, Yacine Gnahore, Andy Irvine (Byron Walker 46), Joe Bingham, Kieron McCann.
Subs: Jack Richards, Corey Holder

Goals: Harrison Carnegie 57, Joe Bingham 90 (penalty)

Booked: Harrison Carnegie 79

Attendance: 53
Referee: Mr Dan Doyle (Maidstone)
Assistants: Mr Steven Tunnicliffe (Maidstone) & Mr Mark Chesseman (Teynham)

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GREENWICH BOROUGH  v  CORINTHIAN-CASUALS
Ryman League Division One South
PLAY-OFF SEMI-FINAL
Tuesday 25 April 2017
Kick Off 19:45
at DGS Marine Stadium
Middle Park Avenue
Eltham
London
SE9 5HP