Greenwich Borough 1-2 VCD Athletic - It's a difficult situation we're in at the moment in terms of players, says Greenwich Borough player-boss Gary Alexander

Tuesday 11th October 2016
Greenwich Borough 1 – 2 VCD Athletic
Location DGS Marine Stadium, Middle Park Avenue, Eltham, London SE9 5HP
Kickoff 11/10/2016 19:45

The Buildbase FA Trophy Preliminary Round Replay
Tuesday 11th October 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from DGS Marine Stadium

VCD ATHLETIC manager Keith McMahon says his players put in a great performance to knock Greenwich Borough out of The FA Trophy at the second attempt.

Greenwich Borough had won nine wins on the bounce before Vickers held them to a 1-1 draw in Saturday’s Preliminary Round tie at Oakwood.  Greenwich Borough had taken the lead in Crayford through Gary MacDonald’s penalty, before Jack Stevenson came off the bench to equalise.

Rob Denness, 28, who missed the game through a swollen big toe, opened the scoring tonight from close range and the introduction of Stevenson as a substitute lifted VCD Athletic for the second time as he played a part in both of their goals.

His cross was headed in by Kris Newby to equalise with 20 minutes remaining, before Stevenson drilled in the winner to earn a home tie against their Ryman League Division One North rivals Ware on 29 October.

“I’m over the moon. I thought it was a great performance,” said McMahon afterwards.

“Again we were up against it with players missing and so on. As I said to you on Saturday, they’re a decent side. We’ve come away and played really well and deserved the victory I thought.

“We’ve been on a decent run ourselves apart from the blip at Brentwood and we’ve got a decent side ourselves.  If we play like we can – I know we’re missing a few as well and we’ve got a lot of players to come back – we’re a decent side.

“I thought second half on Saturday and second half tonight we showed that. We passed the ball in places exceptionally well but we held on and went a goal down by a mistake but sort of weathered the storm and got our noses in front.  We made a decent substitution and he’s come up with the goods twice.”

Greenwich Borough player-manager Gary Alexander suffered only his sixth defeat in 37 games in charge of the club.

“Obviously disappointed to lose any football match but in the long run we might look back on that and that’s one less fixture that we have to fulfil,” he said, after getting through 90 minutes partnering Luis Morrison in the heart of defence.

“The bonus, the prize money is obviously needed but it wasn’t to be tonight and fair play to VCD, they came back and put in a good performance second half –a bit like Saturday’s game.

“At 1-0 up people, again, should be putting games to bed. At 1-0 up the game should’ve been out of sight but at the moment I’ve got a centre forward that’s a little bit low on confidence in Mo (Eisa) but I’m sure as I said to him there, he’ll believe and he’ll get a goal and go on a run.”

A tight opening, VCD Athletic’s lone striker Mitch Hahn was forced into shooting from distance, but his first time drive from 30-yards flashed wide.

Greenwich Borough opened the scoring with 12 minutes and 22 seconds on the clock.

Striker Mohamed Eisa cut inside and drilled a low shot from the left-hand corner of the penalty area, which was parried by keeper Niklas Freund, diving low to his left and Denness pounced and then controlled the loose ball to lash it into the top right-hand corner from two-yards to score his tenth goal for the club since moving from Hollands & Blair.

McMahon blamed his goalkeeper for allowing Denness to score his tenth goal for Greenwich Borough since his move from Hollands & Blair.

“Niklas is very disappointed with that and so are we. He’s been brilliant for us all year and he’s made a mistake and he should’ve just held the cross. Nine times out of 10 they don’t go anywhere.  It wasn’t exactly a strong cross shot. He should’ve dealt with it and he's let it go and Rob’s nipped in and scored. It was a blow for us but there was plenty of time to come back.”

Alexander said: “That’s what we’ve been asking Mo to do, is hit the target!

“He’s hit the target, he’s a little bit low on confidence and once he gets that goal in the net, if it comes off the backside, I’m sure he’ll go on another run.

“Rob’s been fantastic. He’s playing you can see with a knock tonight. Rob’s had to play out there with a knock. It doesn’t look like it, he puts himself out and about and worked his socks off.”

VCD Athletic’s next three chances were from between 25-35 yards.

Connor Hogan swept the ball out to right-back Jeffrey Imudia, who played the ball back inside to Nicky Symons, whose right-footed drive from 35-yards sailed past the post.

Ed O’Neill then played the ball to Hahn, his first time right-footed drive from 25-yards screamed straight down Craig Holloway’s throat and the Greenwich Borough keeper then made a comfortable save to deny Hogan scoring from 30-yards in the 18th minute.

McMahon said: “I thought we started well. We picked up the second balls well. We managed to patch Mitch Hahn up and get him up top for us – he doesn’t play up front – and I thought he held it up well.  I thought we picked up a lot of second balls and we were on the front foot. I thought we were going to equalise, I really did in the second half.”

Alexander added: “Teams are shooting from 25-30 yards. We’ve said it before, I’ll probably say it to you another 20 times this season, I expect Craig to deal with that!”

Greenwich Borough called Freund into making a save in the 26th minute, following a woeful crossfield clearance from his right-back Imudia, which was collected by Luke Miller, the small right-sided midfielder cut in to hit a right-footed drive, which was palmed over by the keeper’s outstretched right-hand.

Eisa floated in the resulting corner from the right towards the penalty spot where Denness planted his header past the right-hand post.

VCD Athletic were to be denied the equaliser in the 29th minute through a vital save from Holloway.

Newby released Hogan through on goal after cutting open Alexander and Luis Morrison but Holloway dived low to his right to hold onto Hogan’s shot as he attempted to find the bottom corner.

Alexander said: “We were sloppy for the first half on numerous occasions. It’s unlike us, but as I said we’ve got a few knocks. We’ve had a patched up side, created a load of chances, again from Saturday. We’ve had a load of chances from Saturday. We’re not putting any consistency in. It’s not easy at the moment.”

McMahon said: “There was a bit of a mistake.  I thought it got caught through the middle and it’s gone underneath the centre halves foot and he’s clipped it through and he’s gone clear through.  He’s done that a couple of times where he seems a little bit slow and he’s tried to get it on his stronger foot and he should’ve done better.

“You can saw Craig made a decent save, a one-on-one, they normally are.  Normally if Connor goes through and doesn’t think about it he’ll score.  You sit there and you think you need to capitalise on the chances you get, especially away from home and that was one we should’ve taken.”

Greenwich Borough right-back Glenn Wilson floated in a deep cross towards the far post but Miller could only poke a bouncing ball past the near post from a tight angle from inside the six-yard box.

VCD Athletic defender Marc Gorbell had his shirt ripped earlier on in the game and he headed the ball away and Freund danced to his left to push behind Eisa’s right-footed drive from 35-yards.

“I thought the two centre halves dealt with Rob Denness well in the air especially Marc Gorbell, I thought he was outstanding,” said McMahon.

“He’s the sort of centre half that you want.  That’s what we’ve been lacking. He’s a no-nonsense warrior. People at the club said we need a Paul Foley, going back years ago, that character. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he’s done really well.”

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break.

Alexander said: “Go out there and put the game to bed!  We created numerous chances in the first half.

“I think we had a couple of chances to put the game to bed but we haven’t and games turn on chances. Fair play to VCD, they were a credit to themselves and they’ve done that.”

McMahon said: “Exactly the same we said on Saturday.  We’re still in it and if we have a go at these we’ll cause them problems.  We need to get the ball out wide and get to the full-backs a little bit more and get deliveries into the box.

“I said to them we’ll take the game to them, be patient, we’ll get chances and I thought we needed to keep the ball better than we did in the first half.

“We kept giving it away. The only time they looked dangerous was when we kept giving them the ball!  If you keep giving the ball away to the quality that they’ve got there, they’re going to punish you!”

Greenwich Borough created a couple of early openings during the early parts of the second half.

Vickers’ central defender Joe Bruce cleared the ball out to Denness. Amadu Waritay cut the ball back on the right wing to Miller, who whipped in a cross for Denness to glance his header past the far post.

Eisa found himself down the left-channel and he cut the ball onto Waritay’s right-foot, who curled his shot around the top of the far post.

Alexander said: “On another day he scores those goals.  He scored in pre-season for us and he’s scored those goals before and we haven’t been doing that of late.”

McMahon added: “It was a little bit of a stalemate. They were sort of going long and the slope makes a big difference here.  We were giving the ball away and pinging it straight back to them and you’re stuck in the hole so we needed to try to keep it a little bit more.”

Eisa latched onto a long ball to roam down the left channel and skipped past the keeper, who had advanced to the corner of his box, only to see his shot sail over the crossbar, despite having three team-mates calling for the ball from inside the penalty area.

Greenwich Borough created a good move on the hour mark, but Freund frustrated Denness at the far post.

Spence played a sublime 50-yard diagonal pass to send Eisa charging down the right and he whipped in a cross for Denness to slide in to steer the ball into the keeper’s hands.

“It was a comfortably save. I wouldn’t say it was a great save, it was a save that was easy to do,” said McMahon.

“I thought they might’ve come at us a little bit more in the second half and try to get the winner and kill the game off to make it 2-0. I think it’s all over but I think it’s one of these things. The game, like Saturday, they were a bit tentative. If they did push forward we’re going to hit them on the break so it was a bit cat and mouse, I think, for the first 15-20 minutes of the first half.”

Alexander added: “On another day, Rob gets a better connection. A great ball from Mo, he’s getting in some good areas. He just needs to believe in himself. Don’t be downhearted because he’s affecting games.”

VCD Athletic went close halfway through the second half when O’Neill played the ball inside to Robbie Rees, who cut inside and hit a right-footed dipping drive that only just cleared the woodwork from 30-yards.

But McMahon decided to bring Stevenson on in the 69th minute and he played a key role in their equaliser, timed at 24 minutes and 23 seconds.

Hogan swept the ball out to left-back Ricardo Joseph, who fed the ball down the line to Stevenson, who cut the ball onto his right foot and whipped in a brilliant cross where an unmarked Newby sent his header down and past Holloway.

McMahon said: “Sixty-nine minutes we made a sub and brought Jack Stevenson on and we played the ball out to him and he whips it in with his first touch and it's an unbelievable cross and Kris Newby rises and it’s a great goal.

“Jack’s got unbelievable ability. If that was any higher level people would be showing that all day long. It was a great cross.”

Alexander added: “It’s a great ball in, it’s hard to defend. We’ve tried to head it, couldn’t head it. Six-yards out, if he hits the target he’s more than likely going to score so it’s a great ball and a great header.”

Just like Saturday’s game, having Stevenson on the pitch lifted the VCD Athletic players.

Denness went close to regaining Greenwich Borough the lead when his drive sailed just over the crossbar from 25-yards after the ball came out to him after Waritay’s cross was cleared.

Freund then made a comfortable save low to his left to save from Spence, before VCD Athletic snatched victory with 33 minutes and 19 seconds on the clock.

Hahn fed the ball in between Lewis Clarke and Alexander and Stevenson capped off a brilliant two games by drilling his right-footed shot into the bottom near corner from eight-yards.

Alexander said: “It’s poor defending from us. We’ve not communicated enough in terms of the runner, someone should be calling someone.  Should be tracking.

“Without making excuses, we’ve got a patched up backline and it’s a difficult situation we’re in at the moment in terms of players but we’re not going to complain. Full credit to VCD.

“Without making excuses, we’ve got a patched up side, backline and it’s a difficult situation we’re in at the moment in terms of fairness but we’re not going to complain, full credit to VCD.”

McMahon said: “It was a good ball in from Mitch, in behind the full-back and Frantz (Tchonang) done it about two minutes before and turned and Jack got in behind. We’ve found him and listen, he’s finished it really well.  If there’s anyone I want in that area it’s him. He could’ve won in on Saturday in the last few minutes and on his strong foot I know he was going to hit the net and it was a good finish.”

McMahon was full of praise for Stevenson, who played 52 minutes in the club’s two FA Trophy ties against Greenwich Borough.

“Listen, I’ve said this many times, when I first came to the club, Jack was my first signing and he was the first person I wanted to sign.  We put everything on the line. We put him on contract and then he was unbelievable in pre-season. He scored 10 goals and he was scoring from everywhere and he looked unplayable.

“I said I thought I had the best player personally in the Ryman Prem. That was last year and then he played three games and then he ruptured his cruciate really badly and for the kid it’s been a real, long hard slot and he’s worked hard and Adam Woodward, our physio, has been with him.  We’ve helped him along. We still kept him a part of the squad and the team because he’s such a great character as well.

“To see what he’s done again tonight and Saturday is unbelievable. It’s just looking after him and that’s what I’m trying to do when the game gets stretched.

“Some managers may have started him tonight after what happened on Saturday but he’s just not quite ready yet.  We’ve waited this long and we can wait another month.  Once we get him fit he’s one of those players that I would pay to watch. He’s got a great first touch, the cross he put in for the goal was unbelievable and then he’s done it again.

“He’s got that quality in him because of his touch he just makes people back of him so when he comes on all the team as well like him and know what he’s gone through so when he does come he does give us a lift.”

Holloway saved shots from outside the box from Newby, Hogan and Stevenson, before Greenwich Borough almost forced extra time with the last kick of the game, but Spence picked up a loose ball just outside the box and bent his left-footed shot agonisingly around the left-hand post.

Alexander said: “On another night we get the second goal, same as Saturday, we put that game to bed but you’ve got to give VCD full credit.   They’ve come out and they’ve done a job.”

McMahon revealed it was a heart in mouth moment.

“They threw bodies forward and I thought we defended really well. He’s picked the ball up 20 yards out and we got stuck in there and we haven’t tried to get out.

“Niklas is at full-stretch and when you see your goalkeeper at full-stretch and his hand doesn’t get to the ball your heart goes in your mouth. Heart in mouth is an understatement!”

VCD Athletic host Heybridge Swifts (Saturday) and Brighlingsea Regent (Tuesday, 18 October), before travelling to Dereham Town (22 October) and Bury Town (25 October), before hosting Ware in The FA Trophy First Qualifying Round at the end of the month.

McMahon reflected: “That was the first point! We played up there on an awful surface. If we’d have won 8-0 no-one would have complained. We missed chance after chance after chance. We’ve got a completely different side since then as well.  We’re at home which is a bonus. You always hope to win your home ties.”

When asked if losing the £2,500 in FA prize money was a blow to Greenwich Borough, Alexander replied: “Of course it is. At any club it’s obviously needed. What people talk about Greenwich this, Greenwich that, is not the situation. We’re the same as any other club in this league. Whether it will be the Southern Counties East Football League we’re no better off than anybody else.  As soon as people realise that the better.

“It shows what it means at the moment. It’s a massive scalp to beat Greenwich Borough so do you know what it is? A massive scalp to beat Greenwich Borough so do you know what? It’s a credit to every one of us at the club, we’re the side that’s come in the SCEFL, they’re the side that’s dropped out of the Ryman Prem so for me they should be the favourites to beat us on the night but they’ve done a job so that’s well done to everyone at the club.”

Greenwich Borough: Craig Holloway, Glenn Wilson, Lewis Clark, Lewwis Spence, Luis Morrison, Gary Alexander, Luke Miller (Charlie MacDonald 69), Bradley Pritchard, Rob Denness, Mohamed Eisa, Amadu Waritay.
Subs: Leo Goring, Jerome Wade, Theo Osinfolarin, Jack Rogers

Goal: Rob Denness 13

Booked: Gary Alexander 2

VCD Athletic: Niklas Freund, Jeffrey Imudia (Frantz Tchonang 75), Ricardo Joseph, Nicky Symons, Joe Bruce, Marc Gorbell, Kris Newby, Ed O’Neill (Jack Stevenson 69), Mitch Hahn (Harry Brickwood 88), Connor Hogan, Robbie Rees.
Subs: Derek Duncan, Connor Pearce

Goals: Kris Newby 70, Jack Stevenson 79

Booked: Jeffrey Imudia 45, Marc Gorbell 62, Kris Newby 80

Attendance: 115
Referee: Mr Steven Scott (Woking, Surrey)
Assistants: Mr Jack Owen (Sevenoaks) & Mr Simon Cutler (Sheerness)

Coverage Sponsored by:

The DGS Marine Stadium pitch maintained by: