Herne Bay 2-1 Witham Town - Prize money helps us along massively and it helps keep the board happy, it helps with everything, says Herne Bay joint-manager John Embery

Saturday 27th October 2018
Herne Bay 2 – 1 Witham Town
Location Winch's Field, Stanley Gardens, Herne Bay, Kent CT6 5SG
Kickoff 27/10/2018 15:00

The Buildbase FA Trophy First Qualifying Round
Saturday 27 October 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Winch’s Field

HERNE BAY joint-manager John Embery says the prize money collected for winning FA competitions will keep his chairman happy.

The cash-strapped club have banked £9,140 in prize money after winning three games in both FA competitions so far this season and they booked their place in The Buildbase FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round after beating a poor and physical Witham Town outfit at Winch’s Field.

Herne Bay are rooted to the foot of the Bostik South East Division, having collected five wins from their eight league games, while Mark Ashford’s side went into this game sitting second-from-bottom in the Bostik North Division with four points from nine.

Herne Bay were without centre-halves Ben Gorham (ankle ligaments) and Matt Fry (hamstring), while Danny Rumbol was suspended.  In came Nick Reeves (calf) for his first game since the opening day of the season and he slotted in beside James White at the heart of their defence.

Herne Bay controlled a vast majority of the game but they only had one goal to show for it going into the break as holding midfielder Bradley Schafer buried a near post header following a corner.

Witham Town grabbed an equaliser in the 65th minute when substitute Alejandro Seoana-Barber also buried home a header, but Connor Wilkins tapped home the winner for the Kent side just five minutes later.

“We played well but our own mistake leads to their goal and for five minutes it rocks us and gives us our own problems even though we were in total control of the game, before that I don’t think they had an opportunity,” said Embery, whose side have lost all four home league games at Winch’s Field.

“We made a terrible mistake and they punished us and the next thing you know we had to get ourselves back into it. We acclimatised to what just happened and scored a good goal again, so I was pleased.”

Embery was delighted with Reeves’ return to the side.

“I thought he was brilliant. He won everything at the back and it just shows you a good player with experience and knows how to get his way through a game even though he hasn’t played or trained for 10 weeks.  He trained on Thursday and that’s it and for 10 weeks he hasn’t done nothing and I thought he was excellent.”

Witham Town started the game on the front foot, without really troubling Jordan Beeney in the Herne Bay goal.

Witham keeper Luca Collins launched a big diagonal kick up field, winger Johnny Ashman cut inside from the right and floated over a cross for Sam Ashford, who failed to control the ball inside the box and hooked the ball bouncing into the keeper’s hands.

The six-goal Ashford was stretchered off early in the second half with a knee injury, which will be a massive blow to the Essex club’s survival hopes.

Witham right-back Luke Mallett threw the ball short to Ashman, who cut the ball back to an unmarked Danny Norton, who delivered a first time cross from the right wing for man-mountain L’Heureux Menga to nip in front of White to loop his header into Beeney’s gloves for another comfortable catch.

“All teams are going to do that, they’re going to try to come at your for 10-15 minutes, we just have to deal with that,” said Embery, on Witham’s start to the game.

“I always felt the game was never in doubt.  I thought we controlled the game, they worked us and had a five minute period when they huffed and puffed.”

Herne Bay took a while to get going and struck the top of the crossbar with their first attempt on goal in the 16th minute.

Connor Wilkins ran in from the left wing, played the ball inside to Danny Leonard, who cut inside and teed up Tom Carlton, who swept a first-time right-footed drive towards goal from 30-yards, only to see the ball bounce off the crossbar in an attempt to find the top right-hand corner.

Embery said:  “It just sums things up! When things aren’t going your way these kinds of things happen. If it had been last season that would’ve gone in the net for us and that’s just the small lines that you have in between the pair.

“The football was excellent. We played some great stuff up to that point and it’s come in and Tom has an unbelievable right-foot and it looked like it was going one place, the goal, and it comes back of the bar.  The keeper was rooted, he couldn’t move.”

Herne Bay then went close with another chance just over a couple of minutes later when Carlton played the ball inside to Alex Mulrooney-Skinner, who trickled a weak shot from 25-yards into Collins’ hands for a comfortable save.

“He kind of missed it really, it’s a bit of a mis-kick but we passed the ball well.   We controlled the game and in those areas there we made things happen,” added Embery.

Herne Bay deservedly took the lead with 22 minutes and 58 seconds on the clock, through Schafer’s third goal of the season.

Carlton swung in a corner from the right and all it was asking was a powerful near-post downward header at the near post from the holding midfielder, which he buried into the bottom right-hand corner from six-yards.

“We’ve been working on stuff like that,” revealed Embery.

“Tom’s delivery is unbelievable.  Brad, for his size is unbelievably good in the air, his timing, his heading.

“We said before the game today we’ll have those three big lads attacking it and we’ll try to use that as a decoy. Brad had a free role.  They won’t send the biggest marker marking him so we said we’ll occupy them. Alex made a great run out, he pulled two as he went out, two came and Brad had a role and Tom just looked to hit him and it worked brilliant and ended up in the back of the net.”

Mallett floated a free-kick into the Herne Bay penalty area from the right for Menga to rise to glance his header from 12-yards into the hands of a diving Beeney, for another comfortable save.

“It had nothing on it, it went straight in his hands really, it was never going in,” claimed Embery.

“It was their only opportunity they had of the half. I think it was behind him and he did well to get his head on it because it was a bit behind him and he was stretching. He got it on target, whatever happens as long as you get it on target you’ve got a chance because the goalkeeper could fumble it or just drop it and you pick up the seconds.”

Herne Bay had the last chance of the first half when Ashman’s poor clearance from the left-back position was brought down well by Herne Bay left-back Raphe Brown on the other side of the pitch.

He played the through Carlton’s legs and Schafer drove a first time right-footed drive wide of the mark from 25-yards.

Embery said: “Do you know what? That was a great bit of football as well. What we said to Brad at half-time about that one was he had a bit more time. He had to be a bit more aware about what’s going on. He didn’t realise he had more time. He could’ve taken a touch, really set himself lovely because he’s a very good striker of the ball.  If he set himself, I fancied him to score.”

Herne Bay fully deserved to be in the lead at the break and when asked about his half-time thoughts, Embery said: “When we passed it, we killed them. When we kicked it a bit too long – they’re a big side and we were losing the aerial battles – so it was pointless, so we said just keep playing.

“We’re 1-0- up, we’re in front, it doesn’t matter, we don’t need to change it, just keep playing, just keep playing and it will come. I thought we started the second half good as well.”

Herne Bay went close just over 10 minutes into the second half when Carlton’s deep free-kick from the right sailed over the head of Witham’s centre-half Jack Kemsley and Wilkins brought the ball down at the far post inside the six-yard box but could only poke his shot past the foot of the near post from a tight angle.

“He should’ve taken it with his left-foot! He tried to play it with the outside of his right foot and I think it was the wrong decision but he was there to miss it,” added Embery.

Carlton cut in from the right and curled his left-footed shot around the far post, as Herne Bay were in a comfortable position.

But a big error of judgement from Herne Bay left-back Brown gifted Witham Town an equaliser with 19 minutes and 11 seconds into the half.

Brown tussled for possession along the touch-line and thought the ball had gone out of play so tapped the ball over the line to give Witham Town a chance to throw the ball in some 35-yards from the by-line. 

Brown switched off and left a gaping hole in behind him as Mallett’s quickly-taken throw put Ashman in acres of space down the right and he whipped in a great cross for unmarked substitute Seonne-Barber to bury his header past Beeney into the left-hand corner from six-yards.

“He thought the ball was out, kicked it off and they’ve thrown it and crossed it.  It was the only opportunity they had,” said Embery.

“When you’re at the bottom or when things aren’t going your way, they end up in the back of the net and you’re kind of scratching your head. A game that you’ve totally dominated to all off a sudden being 1-1 and they were out of the game at that point.

“You must learn from that and as I said to Raphe ‘play to the whistle’ because the ball didn’t go out of play and even the linesman (Nick Dunn) said it wasn’t out of play.”

Brown’s gift to Witham rocked Herne Bay for five minutes and gave their visitors the belief that they could even snatch something from their trip to the Kent coast.

“That’s what we said, that’s why I was screaming from the side ‘just settle down’ because it rocked us. I think it just rocked them because we were so in control of the game and oh my god! How are we back at one-all!”

Carlton lost the ball on the half-way-line and Mallett drove on a diagonal run into the final third before spraying the ball out to an unmarked Ashmen down the right-channel and his cross was dropped by a stooping Beeney at the near post but Norton poked the ball wide from a good position.

“They had another opportunity straight afterwards, they could’ve scored again and that’s what happens.  You give a team a lifeline, all off a sudden their heads go up and they’re after you!

“He was never going to score that because it was literally on the line and it was an awkward angle. Luckily enough we rode our luck for that one and I’ll take that!”

But Herne Bay shook of their disappointment and claimed a deserved victory by notching the winning goal with 24 minutes and 59 seconds on the clock.

Leonard drove at the Witham Town defence down the right and cut into the box and reached the by-line before cutting the ball back to Embery at the near post and he played the ball across the face of goal for Wilkins to sweep into the bottom near corner from inside the six-yard box.

The joint-manager said:  “I go back further because it was Simon Kabamba who won the ball in the right-hand corner. He’s like a little terrier and he played a great ball forward. 

“One thing Danny has got, he’s got unbelievable technical ability. He jinked and come inside and he’s pulled it back for Jake and to be fair I was expecting Jake to put his foot through it but he’s controlled it, a controlled pass to Connor and he’s had his head up and just tapped it in. It was a good goal and I was well pleased with that one.”

Witham Town showed character and desire to snatch a replay with a vastly-improved performance inside the final 15 minutes.

Liam Whipps’ throw was knocked down by Menga and the ball was played into Norton, whose left-footed angled drive from 20-yards was comfortably caught by Beeney.

Brown failed to recover from his earlier error as he allowed substitute Samuel Owusu to get in behind him (after he was played in by Ashman’s diagonal pass along the deck) to drill over a cross but Seonne-Barber squandered a similar chance to the one he scored from by planting his free header over the bar from a similar spot.

Embery admitted it was a close shave for Barber - sorry, I couldn’t resist!

“Well, he shouldn’t be getting a cross from there. That’s what we spoke about in the dressing room. We’ve given him an easy cross because we didn’t get ourselves in the right position.

“He’s got a little bit lucky to be fair but he’s pulled a good cross and it was just a little bit too high for their centre-forward and he’s kind of dangling and he’s got underneath it and it’s gone sailing miles over the bar.”

Herne Bay won the corner-count by 4-1 and created an opening following their penultimate corner in the final five minutes.

Carlton’s corner from the left was cleared out to Reeves, who from the edge of the box hooked a half-volley back across to his team-mate.  Carlton beat his man on the by-line and dragged the ball back for Mulrooney-Skinner to pull his first time shot with his right-boot past the left-hand post from 20-yards.

There were injury-time fears that Witham Town would snatch a second bite of the cherry at Spa Road on Tuesday night.

White slid in and gave a free-kick away on the edge of the penalty area but Jack Isherwood’s right-footed attempt from 25-yards was comfortably caught by Beeney, as he stepped to his left.

When asked whether he had his heart in his mouth at the time, Embery replied: “Don’t score, simple as!  We’ve given away a free-kick there. James made a tackle there, which he had to do. Jordan caught it and he held onto it as well, which was good.”

Barber then drilled in a low angled drive, which was meat and drink for Beeney, so Herne Bay deservedly progressed, while Witham Town showed no signs of getting out of their predicament in the Northern Division.

“We’re pleased, we deserved the win, I thought we played well,” added Embery, whose side host fifth-placed VCD Athletic at home in the League next Saturday.

Keith McMahon’s side lost 3-1 at home to Southern League Premier Division Central side in The FA Trophy today.

When asked about winning the £3,250 in prize money today, Embery replied: “It means loads. All club’s at this level need to get an income, so we’ve taken (nearly) 10 grand in prize funds, which is good. It helps us along massively. It helps keep the board happy. It helps with everything.”

When asked about Monday’s draw for the Second Qualifying Round, Embery added: “Just to win as far as we’re concerned.  If you look at our league form, we played well away last year. We won exactly the same amount of away games as we did home games so for us home or away makes no odds really. We’re comfortable away and at home.”

Herne Bay: Jordan Beeney, Simon Kabamba, Raphe Brown, Bradley Schafer, Nick Reeves, James White, Connor Wilkins, Tom Carlton, Jake Embery, Alex Mulrooney-Skinner, Danny Leonard.
Subs: Eniyelefa Amgbaduba, Lewshan Clifford-Awoyemi, Miles Cornwell, Ikem Odeh, Jamie Chamberlain

Goals: Bradley Schafer 23, Connor Wilkins 70

Booked: Raphe Brown 81, James White 90

Witham Town: Luca Collins, Luke Mallett, Liam Whipps (Jack Isherwood 90), Danny Norton, Patrick Ahern, Jack Kemsley, Johnny Ashman, Elias Siligato, L’Heureux Menga, Alfie Cerulli (Alejandaro Seoane-Barber 60), Sam Ashford (Samuel Owusu 51).
Subs:  Michael Osei-Saahene, Shamido Pedulu

Goal: Alejandro Seoane-Barber 65

Booked: Elias Siligato 20, Danny Norton 30, Jack Kemsley 63

Attendance: 210
Referee:  Mr Ryan Whitaker (Bexleyheath)
Assistants: Mr Nick Dunn (Deal) & Mr Andrew Simmonds (Grays, Essex)