Glebe 2-3 Tunbridge Wells - We haven't played as well as we can do tonight but at the business end of the season it's about winning games, says Tunbridge Wells boss Richard Styles

Thursday 12th March 2020
Glebe 2 – 3 Tunbridge Wells
Location Foxbury Avenue, off Perry Street, Chislehurst, Kent BR7 6SD
Kickoff 12/03/2020 19:45

Sea Pioneer Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Thursday 12 March 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Foxbury Avenue

TUNBRIDGE WELLS manager Richard Styles says his side haven’t played as well as they can do after beating ten-man Glebe at Foxbury Avenue.


This hastily arranged fixture was confirmed at 18:00 on Tuesday night and Tunbridge Wells kept their promotion bid on track after grinding out a 3-2 Thursday night win.

Tunbridge Wells took an eighth minute lead through striker Matt Day but Glebe hit back with two set-piece goals, scored from right-winger Remel Lake and a penalty from striker Jamie Philpot, who notched his 22nd goal of the season.

Tunbridge Wells goalkeeper Aaron Lee-Wharton was outstanding and kept Glebe at bay on many occasions and they also scored two goals from set-pieces, converted by centre-half Chris Lawal, who took his tally up to six goals for the season. The winning goal was a 50-yard free-kick which sailed into the top far corner.

Glebe had winger Jake Britnell sent-off for two yellow cards in the 73rd minute and they even finished the game with nine men after Lake was put in the Sin-Bin 13 minutes later.

“Three points, three points, that’s all that mattered tonight was three points,” said Styles, playing his first game since losing 5-1 at Chatham Town on 29 February.

“It’s a tough place to come, tough conditions but grateful to Rocky (McMillan) and Glebe for their hard work getting the game on.  It’s tremendous and all credit to the club for what they’ve done to get the game on tonight but we had to come here and get three points – and we have!

“It keeps us in the mix and keeps us where we want to be because it’s another three points towards our end target and we’re happy to take them.”

Glebe manager Gary Alexander added: “Obviously disappointed to lose but incredibly proud of the boys. We’ve got a young side out and we got ourselves in a position to win.”

Lee-Wharton was called into action after only 92 seconds, diving low to his right and sticking out a strong right hand to prevent Glebe striker Michael Frazier-Osunkoya drilling a low angled drive towards the bottom near corner from 25-yards.

Alexander said:  “Michael and Jamie Philpot are a handful, they’re both big lads and when they play to their strengths and they were a handful tonight.  We had one or two good chances in that first half, maybe we could’ve been a little bit more in front. Tunbridge Wells were a little bit more clinical in the second half.”

Tunbridge Wells grabbed the lead with seven minutes and 10 seconds on the clock, following a set-piece.

Left-back James Nurden launched a long throw from the left, Jason Thompson rose above his marker at the near post and flicked the ball towards goal.  The ball bounced off the legs of goalkeeper MacKenzie Foley and Day tapped the ball into the net from inside the six-yard box.

Styles said: “I thought we started well. I thought we started very bright and we were doing things the right way. It was great to get ahead, the way we were up the hill.”

Alexander added: “It’s a long throw, we’re a young side but it’s pretty basic. We’re allowing someone to pin a centre-half from a long throw in the six-yard box where organisation has got to be better and we have to take responsibility and we have to have a back marker as well. Unfortunately we never and it led to a goal.”

The visiting keeper pulled off an even better save following a free-kick with 17 minutes and 9 seconds on the clock.

Britnell played a free-kick inside to holding midfielder Tom Hever, who unleashed a right-footed drive towards the roof of the net from a central position from 35-yards, which was tipped over the bar by Lee-Wharton’s outstretched left-hand.

“We encourage Tom to have more shots because he can score goals and he can hit a ball so fair play to him. Britnell’s seen him, offered it to him, he’s taken the effort and Aaron’s made a good save,” said Alexander.

Styles added: “One of many fantastic saves that he’s made today. He was superb today.  That’s the reason he’s there. He’s been very limited to game time this season overall but his fitness is getting back to where it should be and thankful to give him 90 minutes tonight.”

Glebe deservedly equalised with 19 minutes and 21 seconds on the clock, with Britnell the driving force, often cutting in from the left wing into the heart of the pitch, where he drew the foul.

Lake drilled a low left-footed free-kick into the wall from 25-yards and received a huge slice of luck as the ball took a deflection and trickled into the bottom corner of the goal.

Alexander said: “Look, Remel’s got free-kicks in his locker. It was a little bit of luck but we’ll take that because I didn’t think we deserved to be a goal down.”

Styles added: “It’s a silly free-kick we’ve given away, in a silly area and you’re going to give someone an opportunity. They were a little bit fortunate really for the ball to hit the wall and the way it went in. If the ball hits the wall it could go anywhere!”

Glebe took the lead with 29 minutes and 53 seconds on the clock.

Left-back Anthony Dythe and Britnell linked up down the left, Dythe skipped past Josh Froggatt before slopping the ball into Philpott, who cut into the box and after his heels were clipped by George Blake from behind, referee Paul Agboola pointed to the spot.

Goalkeeper Lee-Wharton dived to his right but Philpot slotted his right-footed penalty straight down the middle.

“Look, it’s a penalty from Jamie and you expect him to score with the quality he has from 12-yards and he did. The ref’s seen a penalty and there’s nothing we can do and Jamie’s tucked it away,” said Alexander.

“I think Jamie will admit he should have a lot more goals. He’s back on it now, he’s making runs for us, he’s getting in good areas but I think Jamie will be the first to know that the part of the game that he can improve is the chances to goals ratio.”

Styles added: “I’m upset that we gave the ball away in our half to start with, to start them getting on the ball.  I’m not happy with that and then we’ve had umpteen chances to clear the ball and we haven’t done. They put it back in the box and Philpot’s put it in an area where he can be brought down.

“It was very clogged in there to see whether he was or he wasn’t but the ref has seen it as a foul. I think it’s 50-50 but from where I stood it’s very difficult for me to say so I have to trust the referee on this occasion.”

Tunbridge Wells offered very little in an attacking sense during the first half and Styles admitted he wasn’t expecting his right-back Jack Hope to score when a chance fell to him on the edge of the box in the 36th minute.

Froggatt cut in from the right and ran into a crowd of players on the edge of the box before he held his nerve and rolled the ball out to left-winger Euan Sahadow, who whipped in a cross. The ball was punched away by Foley, Thomson cut the ball back for Hope to hit first time, but he lashed his first time shot high over the crossbar.

Styles admitted: “One player you don’t want the ball coming to on the edge of the box is Jake Hope!  Out of all of the 11 players I could have on the end of that, Hopey probably wasn’t the favoured one but on another day he hits it in the top corner.”

Alexander added: “Going up the hill is obviously a little bit difficult but I thought they tried to counter us at times and they looked a threat but maybe lacking a little bit of quality in the first half but second half they upped it and scored a few good goals.

“When we’re on top in games we really have to put teams to bed and do we?  Do we make it easy for people? Do we finish well enough? I’m not sure, probably been the story of our season, not taking chances.”

Man-of-the-match Lee-Wharton made a brilliant reaction save, getting down low to his right to prevent Frazier-Osunkoya scoring with a first time angled drilled shot coming in from the right.

“He’s made more saves than our goalkeeper has had to make tonight, including the second half,” said Alexander.

“It’s one of those games! We’ve had chances but the keeper has pulled out a few worldies, so fair play to him.

“We can look back and say maybe our finishing could be better but he’s made some good saves so credit to him.”

Styles added: “It’s another one out of his book really, a great save and full credit to him tonight.”

Lee-Wharton’s poor clearance bounced into Stacy Long inside the Tunbridge Wells half and he feed the ball into Philpot, who played the ball out to Lake, who cut the ball onto his left-boot and dragged his shot past the near post.

Glebe, who won the corner count by 6-1, should have called the Tunbridge Wells keeper into more action on the stroke of half-time.

Lake swung in a corner from the right, the ball was hooked back across goal by right-back Chris Parr and Denzel Williams produced a centre-halves finish by drilling his shot across the face of goal and past the far post when finding a pocket of space at the far post.

Long was to be the next Glebe player to be thwarted by the busy Tunbridge Wells goalkeeper, who parried the ball low to his right before gathering the ball inside his six-yard box.

Both manager’s were asked their thoughts at the break.

Alexander said: “Keep doing what you’re doing, keep getting down the sides, keep turning them and keep being aggressive and picking up second balls.  We showed great character to come back from a goal down, undeservedly being a goal down and come back. It maybe could have been three or four in the first half on another day.”

Styles added: “I felt we were very naïve. I felt we were a bit sloppy. I didn’t feel we played the hill the way we should, the way we intended to.  There were things I wasn’t happy with and I had to make a change and change the system a little bit to go and try to win the game second half.”

Tunbridge Wells put in a vastly-improved second half performance.

Sahadow released Nurden, who whipped in a first time angled drive, which was blocked and his second bite of the cherry flashed across the face of goal and was comfortably collected at the far post by Foley after 217 seconds into the half.

“I thought we were a lot more solid, I think the way we used the ball was a lot better and we looked a lot more threatening.  It was a more positive start and it was a step in the right direction, that’s for sure,” admitted Styles.

Day was released down the right and he teed up Jordan Wells, whose first time drive from distance screamed just over the Glebe crossbar.

Lee-Wharton pulled off another brilliant save in the 55th minute, diving to his left to claw the ball out to prevent Philpot burying a header at the far post after Lake whipped in a deep cross from down the left touchline.

“I know Aaron and he’s obviously made saves.  You’re standing here talking about saves that their goalkeeper has made and you haven’t mentioned how many saves my goalkeeper has had to make so that’s a positive,” said Alexander.

“That’s taking nothing away from Tunbridge Wells, that’s a positive. My point of view, that their goalkeeper has had to work a lot harder and it’s been the story of our season, a lot of goalkeepers come here and get Man-of-the-Match.

“Of course, it’s frustrating but it’s part and parcel of the game and it’s something that we have to improve on, be more clinical.”

Styles added: “That was point-blank and he’s pulled off a great side, so yes I’m delighted.”

Tunbridge Wells grabbed an equaliser with 12 minutes and 18 seconds on the clock.

Thompson’s left-footed free-kick from 35-yards forced Foley to dive to his right to parry before the ball was put behind for Tunbridge Wells’ only corner of the game.

Sahadow swung in the corner from the left, the ball was flicked on at the near post by Thompson and Lawal cracked a right-footed drive in off the underside of the crossbar from 12-yards, despite there being several players between him and the goal.

“The way he is, the way the pitch is and the way set-pieces are down in that hill, if you put it in an area, you’ve always got a chance,” said Styles.

“The big boys have gone in for the header, it’s bounced down and Chris has connected with it well and it’s flew in. At that point I was really pleased to get the equaliser as early as we did.”

Alexander added: “It’s a cracking finish, isn’t it?  Should he be free at the back post? Was there wrong decisions made within that corner? Probably, so could we cut that opportunity out? Yes, certainly! You can’t take the finish away, he’s hit it well, in off the crossbar. It’s a cracking finish from the lad.”

Lee-Wharton pulled off an outstanding save just 110 seconds after his side equalised, diving high to his left to claw the ball out after Britnell whipped an exquisite right-footed curler towards the top far corner from 20-yards.

Alexander said: “We’ll stand here all night and applaud the goalkeeper for making saves.  It was good technique from Britnell. It was heading in the top corner and he’s got a hand to it and pushed it over the bar. It’s one of those nights!”

Styles added: “I think that one was probably the best one of the night! I thought that was a very good save and it’s come straight after we scored, so it was a very important time as well.”

Sloppy defending from Glebe saw a pass intercepted by Sahadow inside the centre-circle and he drove through the heart of the pitch and from a difficult angle steered a weak left-footed shot rolling into Foley’s gloves for a comfortable save when the winger only had the goalkeeper to beat.

“I think his first touch was a little bit wide. When he initially started his run, I thought he could go on his own but after that his second touch just took him a little bit too wide so at that point he should’ve crossed it or looked to pass it,” added Styles.

Britnell and substitute Tjani Eahilokun both linked up in the final third before Hever sliced his left-footed shot past the post from 25-yards at the halfway point.

Tunbridge Wells went agonisingly close to scoring when Thompson released Sahadow down the left, the winger easily cutting past Glebe right-back Chris Parr before hitting a left-footed curler across the keeper and agonisingly clipping the outside of the far post.

Glebe were reduced to 10 men in the 73rd minute when Britnell slid in and connected with Thomson’s left-shin and out came the referee’s second yellow card and then a red-card.

Alexander claimed mistaken identity for Britnell’s first yellow card in the 57th minute.

Alexander said: “It wasn’t Jake who fouled him! I’m not going to say (who it was). It wasn’t Jake who committed the foul. He’s booked the wrong person, the first yellow card that Jake received, it wasn’t Jake who fouled the person, so what game are we watching? He’s got it wrong and ultimately it’s cost us for probably one of the best tackles I’ve seen this season, fair, committed, both players.

“We shouldn’t be down to 10 men but only the ref can decide that. He’s got that wrong. Unfortunately, the game’s not videoed but he booked the wrong player, 100%.

“Are they willing to realise they’ve made a mistake? It’s one of them, probably not. There’s nothing on camera, if it was on camera, he’d be made to look silly.”

Styles added: “It happened very quickly, it was in front of me, it happened very quickly.  I just think JT had knocked the ball past ever so quickly and Britnell then came in.  You could hear the contact that had been made.  Jason has a massive lump on his leg to show for it and he had to come off for it so he’s definitely made contact.  He’s on a booking already, it’s another yellow card.”

There was a three-minute delay before the resulting free-kick, which was on the halfway line on the left-touch-line, let’s say 50-yards from goal.

Lawal swept his right-footed free-kick which was intended for somewhere inside the Glebe penalty area but Foley was left embarrassed when the ball dipped and sailed into the top far corner of the net, despite the small goalkeeper backpeddling and sticking up his arm in a desperate attempt to make a last-ditch save.

“Yes, he definitely meant it – he’s definitely been working on that, no,” said Styles.

“He hit it and he connected with it well but with the wind and the hill and the way it was going, he’s actually moaned after he’s hit it because he hasn’t put it where he wanted to but it’s gone up, the keeper, I don’t know what the goalkeeper is doing. He’s lost it in the wind or the height and it’s gone straight in.

“It’s a hell of a goal from a hell of a long way out but fair play to Chris, his performance deserved that little bit of luck and sometimes you make your own luck in this game.”

Alexander added: “It’s a freak goal isn’t it? MacKenzie’s has been terrific when he’s been asked to step up. He’s made saves for us, he’s kept clean-sheets. He’ll probably be the first one to admit tonight he’s got himself out of position for that free-kick and he’ll be disappointed. 

“We’re not going to pin the blame on MacKenzie, there’s been games where he’s made saves and he’s kept us in games so we’re not going to pin the blame on him.

“It’s a basic error and it is what it is. We have to move on and he has to gain strength and he’ll move on and learn from it.”

Jordan Wells cut the ball back from the right by-line but Day swept his shot rolling into Foley’s gloves for a comfortable save.

Despite the win, Styles wasn’t pleased with the performance from his side.

“I think there’s a number of reasons, you can look at the conditions and the pitch and the wind. We’ve had two weeks without a game and you can train as much as you want, like we do every Tuesday and every Thursday but ultimately it’s the games and getting that momentum.

“We’ve had it a little bit tough really, not being able to find that momentum with so many games being called off. It’s been very tough and it’s frustrating for me as a manager, so I can only feel how frustrated the players are but credit to them. We’ve stuck at it, we’ve trained and prepped well like we always do every game.

“We’ve only got out of second gear today really and our performance from the boys can be a lot better and do give a lot better on a regular basis. My aim now is to go to Saturday and go into Tuesday (against Canterbury City) and give me what they’ve got.

“We haven’t played as well as we can do tonight and we know that and the players know that. We’ve spoken about it but at the business end of the season it’s about winning games and if you’re not playing as well as you are and you’re still winning games, or you’re 2-1 down at half-time and not playing well and you still win the game 3-2 then that’s a good foundation to build on.”

Glebe remain in fifteenth-place in the Sea Pioneer Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with 28 points from 21 league games.

Beckenham Town are top with 57 points from 26 of 36 games; Corinthian are in second-place with 55 points from 25 games; Sheppey United are third with 54 points from 26 games; Chatham Town are in fourth-place with 53 points from 27 games, while Tunbridge Wells remain in the top-five with 46 points from 23 games.

Glebe travel to Sheppey United on Saturday and welcome leaders Beckenham Town to Foxbury Avenue next Tuesday, 17 March, while Tunbridge Wells play basement side Erith & Belvedere in what Styles hopes is their first game at Culverden Stadium since 7 January.

“I might have to put the Sat Nav on to get there, I think,” said Styles.

“I’ve loved the Culverden this year, the times I have been there and we have missed it.  We all want to be back there in front of our fans. We want our fans to be there. We’re all frustrated and all in the same boat.

“We want us to be back playing at home, winning games at home in front of our fans because it’s such a good relationship between the fans and the players and the management. 

“We miss our pitch, we miss our changing room, we miss our bar and we miss it but at the same time the boys have done remarkable and have shown such grit and determination to perform how they are and not crumble having to play so many away games and very sporadically so they all deserve credit.”

Glebe must cram their last 15 league games in a 43 day period.

“Listen, we’ve got a busy week ahead, Tunbridge Wells, Sheppey, Beckenham, game-after-game-after-game. We have to check on the lads tomorrow. One days rest into a game against Sheppey but we’ve got a squad. We’ve managed to put bodies together and we can rotate teams so probably over the coming weeks they’ll be changes within the team and the lads’ understand that.

“If they’re going to go out and put effort in like that we can’t fault them but they’re going to tire playing game-after-game-after-game.”

Glebe: MacKenzie Foley, Chris Parr (Daniel McCarthy 87), Anthony Dythe, Tom Hever, Ben James, Denzel Williams, Jake Britnell, Stacy Long (Jerome Wade 75), Jamie Philpot, Michael Frazier-Osunkoya (Tjani Eahilokun 63), Remel Lake.
Subs: Louis Henry, Jonus Whitmore

Goals: Remel Lake 20, Jamie Philpot 30 (penalty)

Booked: Chris Parr 13, Jake Britnell 57, Denzel Williams 90

Temporary Dismissal: Remel Lake 86

Sent Off:  Jake Britnell 73

Tunbridge Wells: Aaron Lee-Wharton, Jack Hope, James Nurden, George Blake, Ryan Cheek, Chris Lawal, Euan Sahadow (Tyrell Mitford 87), Jordan Wells, Matt Day, Jason Thompson (Josh Eka 79), Josh Froggatt (Rhys Bartlett 46).
Subs: Freeman Rogers, Clark Woodcock

Goals: Matt Day 8, Chris Lawal 58, 76

Booked: Jordan Wells 18

Attendance: 131
Referee: Mr Paul Agboola
Assistants: Mr Fernando Lopez & Mr Stephen Gorman