Haringey Borough 1-0 Sittingbourne - I thought we were the better side over the two legs but we've not gone through, says a bitterly disappointed Sittingbourne boss Nick Davis

Monday 13th November 2017
Haringey Borough 1 – 0 Sittingbourne
Location Coles Park, White Hart Lane, Tottenham, London N17 7JP
Kickoff 13/11/2017 19:45

The Buildbase FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round Replay
Monday 13th November 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from White Hart Lane

SITTINGBOURNE manager Nick Davis says his side must learn how to break down stubborn sides after being dumped out of The FA Trophy by direct Haringey Borough.

Tom Loizou’s side reached the Third Qualifying Round for the first time, courtesy of striker Ralston Gabriel’s seventeenth goal of the season.

Sittingbourne were held to a 1-1 draw at Woodstock Park on Saturday and Haringey Borough, unbeaten at home in the league, in fourth-place in the Bostik North with 31 points from 13 games, finished off the job to earn a home tie against same-level side Thame United in the next round on 25 November.

“Bitterly disappointed.  I think the difference was their centre forward, who has got 17 goals,” said Davis, whose side have lost only five games in 27 this season in all competitions and arrived at Coles Park sitting in sixth-place in the Bostik South with 29 points from 16 games.

“We played some absolutely fantastic stuff first half but it was that final pass again that let us down.

“I can’t rely on my back four to keep us clean sheets week in week out, we need to start scoring and we didn’t do that today but looking at the game and how well we done first half, I just said to them we have to take the chance.  We’ve got to create something when we’re on top because we’re away from home against a side that’s unbeaten (in the league) here.

“I thought we were the better side throughout the game, if I’m being honest, in my opinion.”

Haringey Borough, who have lost just once in 12 at home in all competitions before tonight, enjoyed plenty of possession during the early stages but what is the point in investing heavily on a plastic pitch when the ball spends most of its time in the air?

The first half was a cagey affair, however.  Daniel Aristidou swung in his third corner from the left which was met at the near post by Gabriel, who looped his near-post header wide.

Sittingbourne’s left wing-back Salvyn Kisitu received a short pass from Miles Cornwell, who controlled Ben Gorham’s floated deep cross, but his right-footed dipping drive cleared the top of the far post.

“I thought it took us 10 minutes to get into it and then I thought we took control,” said Davis.

“Don’t get me wrong, they were dangerous on the break and Brooks had to make a good save but we played some fantastic stuff. Again, it’s that final ball.”

Haringey Borough bypassed their midfield often on the night and a long ball forward was hit over the crossbar by lone striker Gabriel, who tried to score from 30-yards.

Haringey Borough lost former Margate goalkeeper Valery Pajetat to injury as he rushed off his line to stretch the ball after Tom Loynes hit a long ball over the top of the home side’s three central defenders in the 24th minute.

Kane Rowland, who was playing wide on the left, failed to capitalise on the injury, as a defender got back to make a decisive block inside the box to prevent the Sittingbourne attacker breaking the deadlock.

“The keeper’s gone down, we could’ve scored, a great tackle and again the referee made a bad decision and given a goal-kick when it was a corner,” said Davis.

“We needed to score and it takes the pressure off and at this level, at any level, the first goal is very important., any goal is important especially the first one.  You tend to go on and win the game.

“He’s a decent goalkeeper.  I thought he was very good in the first half, very good at crosses and commanding. He made a couple of good saves.”

Haringey Borough named a goalkeeper on the bench and Sittingbourne hardly troubled Austin Byfield.

Davis said: “I knew they had a goalkeeper on the bench, I saw their teamsheet beforehand.  My thoughts were, let’s put it on him and we didn’t do that enough.  I wanted crosses in there, we done one short, what are we doing? 

“That was the plan at half-time, to put it on him a little bit and see what he had and when we did put it on him he dropped the two of them.  We didn’t do it enough did we, so unfortunately it’s a little bit of poor game management from the players today and I let them know that.”

Aristidou swung in his side’s fifth corner of the game on the half-hour mark, the ball was headed clear and fell to Kai Heather, Haringey’s central midfielder who steered his left-footed volley harmlessly wide from 25-yards.

Loynes delivered a deep corner from the right towards the far post and up went their central defensive pairing of John Coker and Gorham, but Gorham’s downward header bounced past the near post.

Both side went close to breaking the stalemate as the first half drew to a close.

Cornwell laid the ball off to Rowland, who from the left-hand corner of the box, drilled a low shot, shading the foot of the near post.

Davis added: “We’ve played Kane a little bit wider today. We changed our formation for the first time this season actually at the start of the game and it worked first half.  We dominated the midfield and put him through and you’ve got to make the keeper make a save there!”

Sittingbourne keeper Brooks, who was drafted in as Darren Hawkes was unavailable through work-commitments, was called into action by making a flying save.

Gabriel worked the left channel and held of Coker before waiting for support and swept in a cross towards Rakim Richards, whose shot on the turn from 12-yards was sailing towards the far corner, only for Brooks to dive to his left to turn the ball behind for a corner with a strong left hand.

“Great save, he’s done well there.  They had one chance in the first half and the keeper’s made the save and really that’s the only save that Brooksey has had to make,” said Davis.

Sittingbourne were the better side tonight and Davis wanted more of the same after the interval.

“More of the same.  I thought we were outstanding, the way we moved the ball, we moved it quickly.  I said just keep going as we are, keep going with this momentum.  We needed to make the keeper work, so let’s test him!

“The first half was some of the best football we’ve played this season.  I thought it was really, really good.  It must’ve been good to watch, without creating loads of chances.  If you’re not penetrating their defensive unit, it's irrelevant really.”

Haringey Borough got in behind Sittingbourne’s left-back Kisitu when Aristidou fed substitute Anthony McDonald, who whipped in a cross from the by-line, which was sliced over his own crossbar by Gorham inside the opening four minutes of the second half.

Sittingbourne have found a great central defender in the shape of former Staines Town man Coker - but he failed to hit the target from a set-piece.

Loynes floated in a free-kick close to the corner flag from the right and Coker rose at the far post to plant his downward header just past the left-hand upright from inside the six-yard box.

“He was getting up so well, he near enough wins every header John but he didn’t make the keeper work,” said Davis, who faces a fight to keep the highly-rated defender at the club.

“He done exactly the same on Saturday and against Phoenix and Faversham, just a bit of composure. He jumps like a kangaroo, it’s ridiculous. 

“I’ve just got to be careful because people will be after him.  He played 40 games for Staines last year. He’s been a great find.”

The game then turned into a scrappy, tight affair, until Haringey Borough grabbed the winning goal, timed at 23 minutes and 5 seconds.

The north Londoners went route one but along the deck.

Olufemi played the ball out of defence up to McDonald, who played a long ball down the left-channel to release Gabriel.  Goalkeeper Brooks rushed off his line but was never going to get to the ball first and the prolific striker slotted his left-footed angled drive across the keeper into the bottom far corner of the net from 17-yards.

Davis said: “Darren Hawkes has pulled out of the game yesterday saying he couldn’t get out of work and luckily we’ve got Brooks on hand. He’s played in other games, not many teams have two goalkeepers.

“He’s been exceptional for us, but he’s come out and made the mind up of the centre forward, I think.  He’s come out and he’s in no mans land. He’s shot early and it’s gone in.

“One ball!  I don’t know what’s happened there? Maybe we were caught when we lost possession, we were committed so maybe that’s how they got through because all night they didn’t have an opportunity because we were tight but it happened so quickly.”

Sittingbourne called stand-by keeper Byfield into making his first serious save in the 72nd minute, holding Gorham’s right-footed drive from 35-yards.

Davis added: “What can I say? He’s driven in, he’s broken the line a few times tonight Ben and tried to make things happen. Yes why not, have a shot?”

Haringey Borough almost grabbed a second goal when substitute Ademilyi knocked the ball down for Lawrence Yiga to unleash a powerful right-footed drive from 30-yards from the right, forcing Brooks to dive to his right to tip behind for a corner.

“We’re throwing a few players on a little bit more, put bodies going forward and they’re going to have chances, the game’s a bit more stretched,” added Davis.

McDonald swung in the resulting corner from the left and Gabriel sent his near post header past the post from six-yards.

Sittingbourne threw three men up front as the game went on as they went in search for a leveller.

They went close to scoring inside the final three minutes.  Holding midfielder Ollie Brown swept a free-kick into the box from the half-way line, there was a scramble and Coker’s shot on the turn took a deflection as the ball sailed over the crossbar.

Davis said: “There was a scramble in the box, please go in!  It was a deflection.  You’ve got to hit the target but again their keeper has dropped it a couple of times but it’s difficult.

Yiga’s low drive from the edge of the Sittingbourne box was held by Brooks and Sittingbourne’s final chance saw sub David Smith drill his left-footed shot harmlessly wide from outside the penalty area.

Sittingbourne didn’t deserve to be knocked out in this manner as Haringey Borough scooped the four thousand pounds in prize money, leaving Sittingbourne with £6,250 in the bank having beaten Ashford United and Merstham (in a replay) in earlier rounds.

“We were so good in the first half, that’s why it’s disappointing,” reflected the Sittingbourne boss.

“I always say if we’re playing against a better side and we lose against a great strike, you hold your hands up sometimes, today we didn’t.  You can see they’re unbeaten here and we’ve come and we’ve shown we’re a very, very, very good side but if you don’t score you’re going to have problems and we need to address that.”

Davis held a inquest out on the pitch with his players for around 10 minutes after the game and when questioned what he said, replied: “I just said to them we can’t rely on our back four, we can’t rely on our defensive unit every week. 

“When teams are stubborn and they’re set-up we’ve got to learn how to break them down, maybe that’s down to me as well and Tony (Cornwell) and the coaching staff to go through that in training.”

Davis was full of praise for the vocal travelling fans, “Brilliant, they were absolutely brilliant, they’ve been fantastic all season.”

Sittingbourne have now gone four games without a win and they host midtable South Park in the Bostik South on Saturday.

“We’ve just got to dust ourselves down and go again. It was our 27th game tonight, it’s our fifth loss in 27 so it’s not a bad start considering I had one player in pre-season. We’re a much better side now than we were last year,” said Davis.

“We’ve just got to keep going, stick together. We’ve got a good bunch here. We’ve got to dust ourselves off on Thursday, go through a few bits and hopefully get a result on Saturday.

“I’m disappointed today.  I just thought we were the better side over the two legs but we’ve not gone through.

“There’s been a lot of highs and a lot of lows but we’re only in November. There’s a long way to go. We have midweek games all the way to January, we’re in the last sixteen of the League Cup so it’s not too bad.”

Haringey Borough: Valery Pajetat (Austin Byfield 27), David Olufemi, Michael O’Donoghue (Anthony McDonald 42), Lawrence Yiga, Scott Mitchell, Quba Gordon, Daniel Aristidou (Michael Ademiluyi 71), Kai Heather, Ralston Gabriel, Rakim Richards, Dean Fenton.
Subs: Ayrton Coley, Joseph Benjamin

Goal:  Ralston Gabriel 69

Booked: Quba Gordon 59, Ralston Gabriel 68, Lawrence Yiga 73

Sittingbourne: Harry Brooks, Chris Webber, Salvyn Kisitu, Ollie Brown, Ben Gorham, John Coker, Kane Rowland (Gil Carvalho 79), Tyrone Guthrie, Miles Cornwell (Kane Phillip 62), Mobolaji Dawdou, Tom Loynes (David Smith 74).
Subs: Jide Okimeji, Laurence Ball

Booked: Salvyn Kisitu 73, Kane Phillip 84, Kane Rowland 90

Attendance: 177
Referee: Mr Neil West (Leigh-on-Sea, Essex)
Assistants: Mr Peter Wilson (Chelmsford, Essex) & Mr Piotr Zachwieja (Chatham)

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