Greenwich Borough 0-3 Ashford United - You have to beleive in yourselves if you do want to kick on, says Greenwich Borough boss Luke Medley

Tuesday 13th November 2018
Greenwich Borough 0 – 3 Ashford United
Location Badgers Sports Ground, Middle Park Avenue, Eltham, London SE9 5HT
Kickoff 13/11/2018 19:45

Bostik South East Division
Tuesday 13 November 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Middle Park Avenue

GREENWICH BOROUGH manager Luke Medley says he has belief in his young squad that they will climb the league table.

Gary Alexander returned for the first time with his Ashford United side and they claimed a comfortable 3-0 victory, courtesy of two first half goals from striker Harry Ottaway and holding midfielder Sam Corne’s eighth goal of the season on the hour-mark.

Ashford United are now in ninth-place in the Bostik South East Division table with 17 points on the board from 11 games, while Greenwich Borough have collected six points from 11 games and only have Herne Bay (and Thamesmead Town) below them in the table.

Greenwich Borough booked their place in The Buildbase FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round after beating Bostik Premier Division side Bishop’s Stortford here 1-0 at the weekend, while Ashford United came away from East Grinstead Town with a 2-1 win after a run of 10 without any win.

“I think it was a tough game tonight. Ashford are always going to be good. They’ve got a good manager, he was here before,” said Medley.

“Three-nil is never a good result at home but I think in parts in some of the game we were quite dominant in possession. We just lacked that tenacity and a bit of cleverness in the final third maybe when we’re a goal or two-nil down. 

“We’re maybe lacking a bit of confidence and people trying too hard and snatching at things but I thought overall we’ve failed to score tonight, which was disappointing.

“I believe in my players and we’ll roll our necks up and we go again on Saturday.”

Ashford United manager Gary Alexander said: “An away win, back-to-back wins, obviously nice. We’ve put in a decent performance tonight. We knew what we had to do and we executed it well.

“This was my first time in my managerial career at Greenwich and it’s always nice to come back here. There’s been a lot of change but I’m sure in the future, they’ll be going forward.”

Ashford United handed a debut to former Greenwich Borough centre-half Mohamed Kamara and former Kingstonian winger Toby Ajala, 27, came on at the break to replace Stefan Cox (calf) down the left flank.

Reflecting on Kamara’s departure, Medley said: “It was a tough one. Maybe he was a bit unsettled and wanted to find something new and he’s found himself in Ashford. It was a blow but players move on and that’s football.”

Alexander added: “We’ve got a clean sheet and you’re telling me about a (Greenwich Borough) shot in the 43rd minute so that speaks volumes for Mo and Ollie Rowe.  Mo has stepped in, he hasn’t had a training session because we’re short at the back.  Luis Morrison has been out for a long time, Mo’s been playing hm and Ollie Rowe were awesome at the back.”

Ashford United set the tone as sloppy defending by Greenwich Borough left-back Connor Peters set up a chance for Josh Wisson, who drilled a rasping right-footed drive from 25-yards, which was plucked out of the air by goalkeeper Thomas McGill, high above his head, after only 17 seconds.

“Just a bit of naivety when we’re defending.  We started pretty well, the only game that we didn’t start well was Ramsgate at home.  I think a few were a bit nervous,” explained Medley.

“We won at the weekend, we played ok but I did implement that we need to be better so there could be a bit of nerves at the start but we steadied the ship and we grew into the game.

“The players worked hard, we were lacking second balls in some areas with some people not on the front foot.

“We’re a young side, we’re learning. It’s some of their first taste of men’s football. It’s my first managers job so I’m learning about myself as well.  I have trust in these boys and we go again on Saturday.”

Alexander added: “To get a shot off inside 17 seconds is obviously nice.  But we know how we had to press. We knew how they played and we pressed that ball and has a shot after 17 seconds so it set a good tone and gave them lads belief.”

Wisson, who partnered Corne as holding midfielders, intercepted a poor pass for the third time but his next shot sailed harmlessly over from 30-yards.

Ashford United won the corner count by five-to-nil and they went close to scoring following their first of the night in the 14th minute.

Corne floated the ball in from the right and centre-half Ollie Rowe slid in at the near post to volley the ball just over the top of the near post from inside the six-yard box.

“It wasn’t a corner we worked on but Ollie Rowe’s made it his own and he was unlucky.  He’s been a threat in the last couple of games from set-pieces so hopefully soon he’ll be able to put the ball in the back of the net again,” said Alexander.

Ashford United left-back Tom Carlse – who was later forced off with an ankle injury – floated in a cross which Ottaway rose to knock across goal and Corne latched onto the loose ball and swept his shot towards goal, only for the McGill, who is on loan from Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion, to rush off his line to make a vital block.

Ashford United deservedly opened the scoring with 21 minutes and 2 seconds on the clock.

Good play from right-winger Clark Woodock saw him make progress down the right and he cut the ball back for striker Danny Parrish, who crossed low towards the near post for Ottaway to slide his shot into the bottom right-hand corner from 12-yards.

Alexander was full or praise for his front two, Parrish and Ottaway.

“Clark done some good work in the corner and battled for it and it fell to Danny Parrish whose picked out his partner, which is what you want to see,” he said.

“Danny’s a goalscorer, you saw tonight that he sniffs out chances. He had a number of chances and Danny had a good game tonight. All he missed tonight was the goal. He had some good chances and he’ll go away happy because he’s had that many chances.

“Look, Harry Ottaway has been working his socks off.  He’s what you call a team player and he got his rewards tonight, what he’s deserved.”

“I warned them about Harry Ottaway,” revealed Medley.

“He scored two good finishes tonight. We’ve got a seventeen-year-old and a nineteen-year-old at the back. It’s a great learning curve for them.

“They played against Jamie Cureton on Saturday, he’s an ex Premiership footballer and if these boys want to kick on, they’re going to have to deal with this sort of stuff at this level for them to kick-on.  It’s a great test for them and they’ll learn. It’s all a learning curve for them, myself as well.”

Carlse whipped in a cross from the left and Ottaway rose high above his marker but planted his header across goal and past the far post from eight-yards.

Ashford United went route-one when Mott’s big kick was flicked on by Ottaway and Parrish chipped the ball straight at a grateful McGill when he only had the keeper to beat.

Alexander said: “That’s a bit of linking that you want. Sometimes it’s not always perfect football. Harry was a handful and you’ve got somebody running off him, which is nice and he’s got his opportunity and he hasn’t taken it.”

Medley added: “Again, a bit of naivety, maybe a bit of ball watching. It’s great learning and I just want them to keep growing with every game they play.  If you’re young enough, you’re good enough and you’ll play.  They’ve got my belief in them and I’ll continue to play these boys but managing them is key.”

McGill made a fine save in the 37th minute when Solomon Taiwo gave the ball away to Corne, who fed Ottaway, who played the ball out to Woodcock down the right. He whipped in a cross which flicked off Ottaway’s leg at the near post and keeper McGill gobbled the ball up.

Alexander said: “We said we want our wide boys putting in crosses and we want centre forwards making runs. We have a problem putting balls into the box and not getting on the end of them and tonight the boys were making chances and they were putting decent balls in and getting on the end of them.”

Wisson carved up another opportunity for Ashford United, rolling the ball back for Parrish to take a touch before stroking a right-footed shot into McGill’s gloves from the edge of the box.

It took Greenwich Borough to create their first opening in the 43rd minute.

Wisson gave the ball away and Taiwo drilled a right-footed shot towards goal from 35-yards, keeper Sam Mott moving to his right to comfortably hold onto the piledriver.

“He’s got great technique, He’s kind of our older head in the team as our captain and leader. He’s got great experience and he helps me out a lot in terms of getting the boys motivated and being that second voice so it’s magnificent.”

Alexander said: “I’m not sure what minute we’re talking here but we’ve limited them to very few and you’re talking about a shot from long distance so that tells you what sort of performance and structure we had out there tonight.  If that happens to teams we’re putting in the right press. We’re disciplined and making it hard for teams.”

Greenwich Borough’s emergency striker Laurent Mendy was living off scraps and the home side lacked quality in the final third to trouble Sam Mott in the Ashford goal.

“We’re not playing with a natural striker. Reece Deakin’s injured at the moment. Hopefully he’ll be back soon. He’s scored five goals for us since he’s joined. He’s as good as hold and he’s getting his fitness back up,” said Medley.

Ashford United deservedly doubled their lead with 45 minutes and 3 seconds on the clock.

The impressive Parrish drove at the Greenwich Borough defence and they received a slice of luck as the ball ricochet into Ottaway’s path.  He took a touch before drilling a low right-footed angled drive across the keeper, who got his hand to the ball but failed to prevent it bounced off the base of the far post and nestling into the back of the net.

Alexander said: “Again it might’ve been Danny and it’s deflected into Harry’s path but look when you work as hard as Harry does and as hard as Danny does, you make your own luck and they deserved that little bit of luck.  Us as a team deserved that little bit of luck for something to fall to us.

“Look, it’s early days yet but they’re getting an understanding and they’ll grow on each other and hopefully they’ll only get better,” said Alexander.

Medley said: “He’ll probably be disappointed knowing Tom. He’ll probably be thinking he can pull it out because he’s made some magnificent saves throughout the season so far so he’ll be disappointed with his foot-work which wasn’t quite right. Or he could’ve got a stronger hand and that’s the sort of boy he is. He’s got high expectations. It was unfortunate. The defenders weren’t tight enough from a throw-in and he’ll learn from that and we’ll crack on.”

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break.

Medley said: “I said be patient, it will come. I don’t go in and shout and holler. The boys know my style and I’m learning about myself and sometimes that’s needed.

“I said the midfielders could’ve got on it more, standing up there midfielders and taking them on, not so much taking a risk but pushing past and taking the players on.  If you go man-for-man in midfield, I think our midfield players could’ve take on one-on-ones all day and just being confident and being nice and relaxed on the ball and not panicking regardless of the scoreline.”

Alexander said: “We was in this situation two weeks ago so I said don’t go away from what you’ve done. Don’t think the game’s over, keep doing what you’re doing, Keep pressing at the intensity that we’re pressing at and you’ll create more chances and the next goal is vital and luckily we got it.”

Alexander handed Ajala his debut and explained why Stefan Cox made way after a quiet first half.

“Toby’s a good player, he’s a good winger. He’s played a lot higher up the ladder and he’s a quality player. We know he can play higher but he’s found himself here and he has to work his way back up so hopefully he can do that with us by putting in some good performances ad getting in a winning team.

“Toby will add to the squad.  Coxy just had tight calves. It was nothing in terms of Coxy’s performance. It was a thought pitch on Saturday and he played for a long period and his calves were tightening up and it’s handy having a squad when you can make changes like that.”

When asked about the condition of left-back Carlse, Alexander revealed: “I think he’s just rolled his ankle.  It will be a bit precautionary. Tom’s a strong boy, he knows when his right and what’s wrong and when it’s better to come off so he’s honest enough and we managed to get Brandon Williams on there and he went on and did well.”

A slip from Briggs Ojemen let Parrish in on goal and after running towards the edge of the Greenwich Borough box, Ojemen got back and made a vital block as the ball looped over the crossbar.

Ashford United sealed the points with a third goal, timed at 14 minutes and 26 seconds on the clock.

It was route one football as keeper Mott launched a big kick straight down the middle of the pitch.

A poor downward defensive header from centre-half Simba Kubyima was pounced on by Ottaway, who played the ball out to substitute winger Ajala, who whipped in a great cross towards the near post for Corne to place his first time shot into the bottom left-hand corner.

“Corney’s got a knack of getting into the box and scoring goals. That will be his eight goal of the season,” said Alexander.

“Wisson hasn’t played centre midfield for most of the season so for him to go in there and put in that performance alongside Corney was outstanding.

“The whole team executed what we spoke about.  Almost to perfection tonight because we limited them to very few chances and they didn’t really have any clear chances and we created loads and loads of chances.”

“I said to them, we struggled with a lot of second balls tonight, people standing flat footed and not being on that front foot,” said Medley.

“I think we struggled all over the park with that tonight. At this level or any level that’s really key to pick up those second balls and they just got to it before us but it’s a learning curve and we’ll work on that at training and try to kick on.”

McGill was forced into making a low save to his right to prevent Woodcock scoring from the right and Kubyima was there to clear his lines.

Alexander added: “Clark’s been in and out but the last two games he’s come in.  We’ve asked Ashford subs to come on and have an impact. He had that on Saturday and came on and he’s earnt his start tonight.

“I want a team where the whole team has an impact, not just 11. We’re all involved on the bench and people coming off the bench have impacts and earnt the right to get into the starting 11 and Clark deserved that tonight.”

Greenwich Borough squandered their best chance of the night in the 65th minute.

Winger Ryan King-Elliott clipped a free-kick, just outside the penalty area down the right and the ball sailed over to Kubyima to plant his free header just past the near post from six-yards out.

“It’s one of those, he’s fighting with the individual and maybe getting a header on it. It looked clean. Again, he’s learning how to attack the ball. It’s something that we’ll work on. It’s a great chance and it should’ve gone in the back of the net!”

Alexander added: “Look it’s a chance from a set-piece but Ollie Rowe put enough pressure on him to not allow him to score the goal. It’s nice to have a bit of contact on him and not allow him to score that goal. Maybe the boy should’ve scored the goal and get him the goal but we’re talking about a few chances here.”

Central midfielder Philipp Brown-Bampoe held the ball up before cutting the ball onto his right-foot before drilling his shot across the keeper and past the far post from 30-yards.

Parrish was excellent tonight.  He picked up a loose ball inside the Greenwich Borough half, lost it and got it back again before driving past a couple of defenders to reach the penalty area before stroking a low right-footed shot across the keeper, who dived to his right and used a strong right hand to palm the ball behind for a corner.

“Tom McGill has been fantastic. He’s on loan from Brighton. What a great young character to have around the dressing room,” said Medley.

“He comes in, he’s just fantastic. I can’t sing his praises more.  In his first game he saved a penalty away to Herne Bay and got us three points on his debut.

“He’s the first name on the team sheet without a shadow of a doubt. He’s fantastic for us. The boy is confident and he’s only 18 and he’s starting to talk more and it’s a learning curve for him as well. This is his first taste of men’s football and I can’t sing his praises enough.”

Kamara played the ball along the deck to Wisson, who angled his pass to play in Ajala, who blasted the ball past the near post when he only had the keeper to beat.

Greenwich left-back Peters gave the ball away to Woodcock, who split open the home side’s defence to put Parrish through on goal and his drive from 15-yards was tipped over the bar by McGill.

Medley added: “He’s our last line of defence, what a great goalkeeper he is.

“Maybe it’s tired legs. We had a tough game at the weekend. There’s some tired guys out there.  It’s a great learning curve and we’ll pick up on these things and we’ll work on them at training to stop conceding.”

There was still time for Corne to play a short-corner to Ajala and Corne tried to bend his shot around the keeper into the top far corner, only to see the ball dip just over the crossbar.

Greenwich Borough host fourteenth-placed Faversham Town to Middle Park Avenue on Saturday, while Ashford United are without a game.

“As I’ve said to the boys, it’s not great to look at – the table doesn’t lie and it’s as simple as that,” said Medley.

“For all the great football we’re playing and the style, to be a good team you’ve got to put the ball in the back of the net and I’ve gone with the mindset because they are young.

“I’ve said to the boys if we’re going to concede one, we’ll score two.  If we concede two, we’ll score three and the boys are capable of that.

“I think their lacking in confidence a little bit but it’s my job. I was saying to these boys, you have to believe in yourselves and if you do want to kick on you have to show yourselves at this level and you have to put yourselves against these teams. The beauty of football, we go again on Saturday.”

And when asked why he only had a squad of 13 to select from tonight, Medley replied: “We’ve had a few late injuries, which was unfortunate. It was a bit late to call anyone from the under 23s to come in last minute so they’ll be assessed and we’ll look to make sure we’ll have a full squad on Saturday.”

Greenwich Borough have closed the gap to the play-offs to just six points following tonight’s comfortable win.

“I can’t credit my team enough tonight. For the way they performed tonight and their work ethic in the last couple of games,” said Alexander.

“Back-to-back wins, look it’s been coming. We haven’t been playing bad. We just needed a little bit of luck. 

“It’s easy to say Saturday was probably our worst performance of the season and we got the win and that must be the little bit of luck we needed.

“Hopefully we’ve turned the corner but it’s only two games.  There’s a long way to go. We’ve got to make sure we keep the mentality that we’ve got at the moment and keep wining games, know how to win football matches.”

Greenwich Borough: Thomas McGill, Deandree Golding (Chams-Eddine Faraji 75), Connor Peters, Solomon Taiwo, Simba Kubyima, Briggs Ojemen, Ryan King-Elliott (Theodore Osinfolarw 69), Philipp Brown-Bampoe, Laurent Mendy, Oliver Bennet, Kayne Roberts.

Booked: Philipp Brown-Bampoe 62, Kayne Roberts 89

Ashford United: Sam Mott, Jerald Aboagye, Tom Carlse (Brandon Williams 74), Sam Corne, Mohamed Kamara, Ollie Rowe, Clark Woodcock, Josh Wisson, Harry Ottaway (Matt Day 87), Danny Parrish, Stefan Cox (Toby Ajala 46).
Subs: Luis Morrison, Fidan Fejzi

Goals: Harry Ottaway 22, 45, Sam Corne 60

Attendance: 128
Referee: Mr Zach Jacquart (Sutton, Surrey)
Assistants: Mr David Moreno-Rojas (Romford, Essex) & Mr Peter Georgiou (Wandsworth, London SW17)