FC Elmstead 2-1 Old Roan - The club's really buzzing, says Elmstead boss Fabio Rossi
FC ELMSTEAD 2-1 OLD ROAN
Barry Bundock West Kent Challenge Shield Final
Tuesday 6th May 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Greatness Park
FC ELMSTEAD manager Fabio Rossi says the whole club is buzzing after his side claimed their first piece of silverware at the end of their inaugural Haart of Kent County Football League campaign.
The Chislehurst club claimed the Barry Bundock West Kent Challenge Shield for the first time after beating 2001 winners Old Roan.
FC Elmstead went into the game in fourth-place in the Division Three West table, having collected 13 wins, 3 draws and 3 defeats and go into their last league game of the season away to Metrogas Reserves on Saturday with a slim chance of snatching the league title.
FC Elmstead dominated the game against an Old Roan side that were in sixth-place in the league above, having collected 10 wins, 1 draw and 11 defeats in Division Two West.
Old Roan grabbed an early lead through midfielder Michael Woodley but Callum O’Shea, who has Kent League experience, lost the Shield for his side when he collected his second yellow card and was sent off by referee Daniel Proctor with fifteen minutes remaining.
FC Elmstead took full advantage with former Holmesdale players Steven Strotten, 25, and central defender Aaron Hamilton both finding the net to cap off a fine season for the club.
“I’ve got to say, I thought it was a c*** game,” admitted Rossi afterwards.
“I’m not sure, it seemed to be all us. I’m so pleased we’ve won.
“I knew if we settled down we’d be ok. I don’t think we played very well. We’ve played much better than that this season but they were tough to break down, credit to them.”
Old Roan manager Alan Westover added: “We thought the early goal that we would continue to play on the front foot and a second goal for us would’ve actually been a completely different game.
“We went in 1-0 at half-time, we still felt we was in the ascendancy, obviously we got lucky with a couple of breaks and the goalkeeper kept us in the game.
“Second half was more of the same. We started changing it around a bit, started to play a little bit more defensive thinking we could hold out, which we were doing up until the sending off and the sending off made it doubly difficult for us and they got a lucky run through, it ricochet off a couple of players and he managed to scramble the ball over.
“With ten-men at that stage it was a very uphill struggle for us. We tried to consolidate and try to get our lone striker up to the ball but for us it just wasn’t coming and it always looked like they would score the second goal, which they did.
“But we threw everything in for the last five minutes. We could have snatched an equaliser, but we didn’t play very well. We didn’t perform very well today as a team collectively. There was some individual mistakes but the goalkeeper kept us in it. Fair does to Elmstead, they run out worthy winners.”
Old Roan, who thrashed NewPark 6-2 last Saturday to end their league campaign on a high, almost got off to a flyer by taking the lead after only 23 seconds at Sevenoaks Town’s Greatness Park, which has now staged this final for the past seven years.
Daryl Swarby played a corner shot to O’Shea who whipped in a cross from the left towards the far post and Luke Kimberley, who was later taken to hospital with a broken tooth, hooked the ball straight into Adam Ballard’s hands.
Old Roan drew first blood by taking the lead inside the opening 12 minutes with their next opportunity.
O’Shea was released down the right and reached the by-line before cutting the ball back for Woodley to sweep his right-footed shot past Ballard from ten-yards.
Westover said: “Excellent finish. He’s got a good connection and we were on our way as it was then!”
Rossi added: “We didn’t defend it very well. They got to the by-line and just pulled it back and we didn’t defend the cross. We’re better than that. We can do better than that!”
The goal kicked-started FC Elmstead’s recovery and Rossi’s side dominated for the rest of the first half.
FC Elmstead should have equalised in the sixteenth minute when Daryl Wheeler – another player with Kent League experience - swung in a corner from the right towards the far post where Strotten guided the header back across goal and Marcus Black’s shot was blocked on the line.
Thomas O’Reilly clipped the ball from right-back towards Black, but Old Roan cleared their lines and Strotten cracked a first time drive from 35-yards, which sailed over the crossbar.
But Old Roan goalkeeper Issac Ige made a string of fine saves to keep his side in the game.
A slip from Old Roan defender Tom Eades gifted Black a chance to race through on goal but Ige narrowed the angle and blocked the striker’s shot with his legs, before the ball came out to Dexter Babalola, whose right-footed drive from 25-yards forced Ige to dive to his left to parry the ball away to safety.
Westover said: “He’s certainly kept us in the game and I expect they’ve been playing like that all season so he was very good for us. I’m just sad the other members of the team didn’t perform as well as he did in goal!”
Rossi said: “Marcus has been good this year, he’s our top goalscorer (with fourteen goals) but we’ve had too many games in a short space of time and he’s looking a bit leggy but he’s been great all year.”
Former Fisher left-back Luis Rozan floated a cross towards the far post but Michael Mullane glanced his weak header wide from six-yards.
Old Roan weathered the storm for a little while and in the 33rd minute Eades smashed a right-footed volley ballooning into the sky after the ball came out to him following O’Shea’s free-kick from the left.
But FC Elmstead squandered an excellent chance to change Rossi’s half-time team-talk with another missed chance four minutes before the break, following a slick move down the left.
Rozen slipped the ball into Black’s feet, who flicked the ball into Wheeler’s path, who unleashed a right-footed drive, which forced Ige to dive to his left to get a strong left hand to parry the ball away.
Both managers were asked their thoughts at the half-time interval.
Rossi said: “I changed a couple of things at half-time. I changed the left-wing-left-back. Luis Rozan has got a much better delivery so I put him much further forward and we did get balls in better. I took Daryl Wheeler off to give us more width really to try and get them. It wasn’t really the changes that done it.”
Whilst Rossi pulled off a tactical masterstroke, Westover failed to deliver the goods.
Westover added: “We were playing three up front, which wasn’t really working for us in the sense so having been 1-0 up we felt we would consolidate a little bit and play a little bit more defensive.
“We knew that would bring them on to us but we were hoping to counter. That was the plan. We did counter a couple of times and came close but we didn’t get that second goal that was needed at that time really.”
Just like Old Roan in the first half, FC Elmstead squandered an excellent chance to equalise just 53 seconds into the second half.
O’Reilly clipped the ball forward, which was brought under control by Strotten’s chest, before he swept a clever reverse pass to put Black in on goal but his strike partner rolled his right-footed shot agonisingly wide of the foot of the far post from 12-yards.
O’Reilly then clipped another ball forward, which Woodley headed back into his own penalty area but Rozan flashed his angled drive across goal.
Old Roan fashioned a speculative, but rare, attempt on goal in the 52nd minute when substitute Billy Barnes drilled his first time shot wide of the near post from 25-yards after FC Elmstead went to sleep from Terry Stark’s throw.
FC Elmstead continued to frustrate when another chance went begging just before the hour mark.
Substitute Neil Harper reached the by-line before whipping in a cross towards the far post but Strotten’s right-footed angled drive was blocked by the keeper’s legs.
But despite wave-after-wave of FC Elmstead’s chances, Old Roan almost grabbed a second goal, which would have brought the Shield to the Kidbrooke-based club.
Barnes swept the ball out wide to O’Shea, who was given time and space to whip in a cross from the right which was headed away and left-back Ruari Wheeler curled his right-footed shot towards the far corner from 25-yards, which was tipped around the post by the diving Ballard.
The Old Roan manager said: “He scrambled it away. On another day that might go in and it certainly would have killed it off for us. That was the game plan, was to counter and see if we could get forward and snatch something and also from the set-plays but it wasn’t going to be for us.
“Fair does to Elmstead. I thought they played well. They stuck to their game plan and they kept coming on to us and when we went down to one-one it was one way traffic.
“We had to throw everything forward in which case they had to defend and it was a grandstand finish.”
However, man-of-the-match Ige produced his best save of the night in the 70th minute.
Strotten stroked a right-footed free-kick from 30-yards over the wall and the ball dipped down but the diving Ige tipped the ball over with a strong oustretched left hand.
Westover said: “It was a great free-kick and Issac the goalkeeper did very well to tip it over and that was the excitement of the game so hopefully that gave the crowd something to cheer about.”
Rossi was full of praise for the Old Roan goalkeeper, who on this performance could qualify for the Haart of Kent County League representative side along with Rozan and Strotten, should they decide to stay at this level of football.
“He made some good saves to be fair to that fella,” said the victorious manager.
“We watched him Saturday because our game got called off and he wasn’t as good but he played really well tonight. We got to give him a lot of credit for two or three really good saves.”
Strotten then penetrated the Old Roan defence with a mazy run through the heart of defence before setting up Rozan, who drilled his left-footed angled drive past the far post.
But O’Shea cost his side any chances of claiming the Shield when he picked up a second booking for a challenge on Chijioke Amechi, an attacker who slotted in at left-back for the second half.
“Well, I didn’t know the fella had been booked first off all,” admitted Rossi.
“The foul was definitely close to a red. If it was not a yellow, it was close to a red. It was right underneath my face and it weren’t good.”
Westover admitted the red card dented his side’s chances of claiming the Shield.
“Not only that, he’s one of our quality players and we had it very difficult. There was no one equal on the bench today. Our other gifted player, Daryl Swarby also wasn’t firing on all cylinders today. We had too many players who were under performing.”
FC Elmstead equalised with their next attack with only fourteen minutes of a one-sided game remaining.
Ballard played a short free-kick to Amechi, who clipped a long ball forward to release Strotten through on goal.
Strotten’s first shot was blocked by the onrushing keeper, but the striker received a huge slice of luck as the rebound ricochet off him and rolled into the empty net to score his fourteenth goal for the club.
On this performance Strotten still has plenty to offer at Southern Counties East Football League level.
Rossi accepted his side’s good fortune and said: “Little things like that change football games really and probably just helped us up our intensity when we looked like we were losing our way. They defended really well. We peppered their goal. It was the scruffiest of goals from Strotts really. He’s done it for me at the end. Scruffy or not, I’ll take it!”
Westover added: “I saw it more as a scramble! He came through, he got the ricochet, it’s fallen at his feet and then he sort of bulldozed his way through really but sometimes they go for you and to be fair they hadn’t had much luck before that so one could give them that!”
When asked whether he was confident his side could take the game to extra-time, Westover admitted: “Once you’re down to ten men unless we countered and got a goal I really thought the next goal would probably come from them so we were being realistic about it.
“We didn’t really think we would get to extra-time.”
Old Roan failed to hang on and FC Elmstead deservedly wrapped up the victory in the 89th minute.
Substitute Keith Flynn whipped in a precise cross from the left towards the far post where the unmarked Hamilton planted his header over the keeper into the top near corner from six-yards.
Westover said: “When you’re down to tem-men you lose a bit of shape and it’s easy for people maybe to get a bit of space somewhere and come in and that was unfortunate for us. A good header and he planted past our goalkeeper, who had been playing well up until that time.”
But the Old Roan manager hinted that his side grew tired as the game ticked towards its conclusion.
“We’ve got an aging squad as well, some of our players are on the wrong side of 30, 34-35 so there will be some changes for us at Old Roan, but for us to get to a Cup final is only good for the club.
“Clearly everyone’s disappointed but we had a good run to get here and I’ll concentrate on the team and emphasise that to them.
“I’ve been to the club for the last three months so we’ve consolidate the position. I’ve seen the players, we will bring in new players for next year.
“The previous manager moved to Newcastle. I was asked to come over and maybe put some good plans in place for us to perhaps brings in some new players and to perhaps improve our position in the league.”
Rossi said of the winner: “It was great. We was getting a little bit ragged at that point because they had to come at us. They had a couple of littler skirmishes really with the ten men so I’m glad it’s gone it. Aaron has been great for us all year.”
Rossi admitted he was preparing for extra-time before Hamilton’s late winner had skipper Strotten lifting the Shield after the final whistle.
“I was preparing for extra-time,” said the FC Elmstead boss. “I was thinking it might go to extra time, especially once we got it to one-all, that period in between.”
Rossi said he was pleased that FC Elmstead’s name has been joined by previous winners that include the likes of Bromley, Fisher Athletic and Maidstone United.
“I didn’t know they were on there but I’ll be going in (to the dressing room) and having a look (at the previous winners), if they are I’m quite happy with that,” said Rossi.
“It’s great for the club. I’ll just tell you a bit about the club. Our top three sides, I think we’ve entered ten competitions and I think we’ve won six of them so far.
“We’ve won the West Kent Shield and we’ve got a very slim chance to win the league. Our Sunday team are probably going to do the double on Saturday. Our reserves have done the double. Our 17s come second. The 16s have won their league so the club’s really buzzing at the moment. It’s great.
“The Saturday side is the pinnacle of the club. The whole club has been doing really well. For us to get that (Shield) is really fantastic. I’m happy for the club and happy for the people that came.”
Rossi faces a headache ahead of their last league game of the season against Metrogas Reserves at the weekend.
“We’re going on a stag-do so it’s going to be a struggle to get a team out actually, but we’ll see. I’m sure I’ll be able to put a team out somewhere.”
FC Elmstead: Adam Ballard, Thomas O’Reilly, Luis Rozan, Dexter Babalola, Kieran MacKenzie, Aaron Hamilton, Michael Mullane, Daryl Wheeler (Neil Harper 46, Daryl Wheeler 86), Steven Strotten, Chijioke Amechi, Marcus Black (Keith Flynn 63).
Subs: Luke Alliband, David Mott.
Goals: Steven Strotten 76, Aaron Hamilton 89
Old Roan: Issac Ige, Mark Mansfield (John Nicholls 76), Ruari Wheeler (Michael Woodley 90), Luke Kimberley (Tom Smith 28), Terry Stark, Tom Eades, Chris Ryall (Billy Barnes 40), Callum O’Shea, Sam Cook, Daryl Swarby, Michael Woodley (Richard Pecha 58).
Sub: Tom Lawrence
Goal: Michael Woodley 12
Booked: Callum O’Shea 58, Ruari Wheeler 82
Sent Off: Callum O’Shea 75
Referee: Mr Daniel Proctor (Dartford)
Assistants: Mr Vincent Kennedy (Welling) & Mr Hossain Tavakkoli (Forest Hill, London SE23)
Fourth Official: Mr John French (Swanscombe)