Gravesend & Northfleet 2 Canvey Island 0

Friday 20th January 2006
Paul McCarthy 37
Charlie MacDonald 90


Stephen McCartney reports from Stonebridge Road
Nationwide Conference

Gravesend & Northfleet boss Liam Daish hailed his sides “desire” following their convincing 2-0 success over arch-rivals Canvey Island tonight, which moved them into ninth place in the Nationwide Conference table, writes Stephen McCartney.

Skipper Paul McCarthy headed home his second goal of the season after 37 minutes before they were reduced to ten-men fourteen minutes later.

Bradley Johnson, whose on loan from Northampton Town, was shown his second yellow card, both for the same offence - kicking the ball away.

The Essex side, however, failed to take advantage and had only one shot at goal throughout the game, which Gravesend goalkeeper Craig Holloway saved comfortably on the stroke of half-time.

Striker Charlie MacDoanld, who extended his contract on the eve of the game to stay with the Stonebridge Road club next season, wrapped up the victory, scoring his fourteenth goal of the season inside stoppage time.

“I thought the lads were superb today and we thoroughly deserved it, Daish told after the game.

“I thought it was all about the tempo. The way we shut people down, we closed down. We worked hard and as soon as we got the ball we looked dangerous on the break,” he added.

“As soon as we won the ball we looked to exploit them and there was a bit of pace and zip about them - a bit of desire in there. We set our stall out right from the start and drove on.”

Gravesend, who created some good early chances, should have taken the lead after 23 minutes, but MacDonald was denied by a fine block from McKinney after being put through by Luke Moore.

In fact, Moore, who impressed throughout, helped the Kent side take the lead eight minutes before the break.

Bobby Bowry whipped in a free kick from 30-yards, which was dropped by the goalkeeper and Moore’s chip from the left hand side was headed home by McCarthy from underneath the crossbar to send the vocal home fans in the 1560 crowd wild.

Johnson, six minutes into the second half, however, rolled the ball away from the edge of his penalty area, after referee Mr Steve Creighton awarded the visitors a free kick. Having already booked the player after just four minutes for the same offence, a second yellow turned into a red one.

“Bradley’s a young boy. It was an iffy decision that could have gone either way,” said Daish. “Bradley’s got the ball, looked to play, looked positive but the referee’s sent him off. I don’t understand that!

“In the first half there was a Canvey player who blatantly kicked the ball away into no-mans land and he’s done nothing about it - so where’s the consistency in that? He hasn’t booked him - he hasn’t even talked to him!”

Expecting Canvey to get back into the game, Fleet’s players were determined to keep their lead intact - they even created a couple of good chances on the break to add to the scoreline.

One such instance was with 19 minutes remaining, when Moore latched onto a poor header from Canvey defender Ben Chenery, and with only the goalkeeper to beat, was denied by a fine save.

MacDonald should have scored with five minutes to go when his shot from six-yards ballooned over following Danny Slatter’s cross from the left by-line.

Daish handed Ashley Fuller his debut, as the former Cambridge United left-sided midfielder came off the bench late in the game.

And it was his pass that sent MacDonald through on goal. Although his initial shot was blocked by McKinney, the former Crawley Town striker kept his composure to chip the ball into the net from the right hand side of the box to add gloss to a brilliant Fleet display.

Roll on Grays Athletic’s visit to Stonebridge Road on Tuesday night!

“We played it as a derby game, we played with a little bit of fire, a bit of passion,” added a delighted Daish.

“There were tackles going in, we drove at them and to be fair, we created some great chances.

“We’ve had two or three one-on-one’s with the keeper and I was dying for Luke Moore to score that goal when he was going through. I would have absolutely loved it!”

Portsmouth born Daish, however, heaped praise on Moore and MacDonald, adding: “Movement, pace, touch, bravery. They’re both comfortable receiving the ball with their back to goal.

“We caused a lot of problems just leaving it in there with a little bit of quality and when you’ve got willing runners like Luke and Charlie, you’re always going to cause problems.”

So what can we expect from Fleet’s final eighteen league games? “We said 12 wins will get us into the play-off’s,” replied the manager. “Now we need eleven. We’ve got a tough game (against Grays Athletic) on Tuesday but if the lads play like that, show that desire, not every game is going to go your way, but you can’t fault them for that.”

Daish’s side were thrashed 6-1 at Grays in their second game of the season, and he warned: “That was a bad day at the office. Hopefully we’ll turn up and give them exactly the same as we did tonight.”

Gravesend & Northfleet: Craig Holloway, Scott Gooding, Ross Smith, Danny Slatter, Bradley Johnson, Paul McCarthy (Capt), Andy Drury, Bobby Bowry, Luke Moore (Ashley Fuller 87), Charlie MacDonald, Jimmy Jackson.
Subs: Aaron Kerr, Omari Coleman, James Smith, Lee Protheroe.

Sent off: Bradley Johnson 51

Canvey Island: Richard McKinney, Ben Chenery, Chris Duffy, Joe Dolan, Steve Ward (Dominic Sterling 44), John Kennedy, Ben Edmore (Mario Noto 83) Jeff Minton (Capt), Jon Keeling (Kezie Ibe 66), Jason Hallett, Dwain Clarke. Subs: David McGhee, Danny Potter

Attendance: 1560
Referee: Mr Steve Creighton
Assistants: Mr O Saliy & Mr C Salt
Fourth Official: Mr S Daly