Holmesdale 2-4 AFC Uckfield Town - I'm proud of the club that we've got this far, says hurting Holmesdale boss Lee Roots

Saturday 31st October 2020
Holmesdale 2 – 4 AFC Uckfield Town
Location 68 Oakley Road, Bromley, Kent BR2 8HQ
Kickoff 31/10/2020 15:00

The Buildbase FA Vase First Round
Saturday 31 October 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Oakley Road

HOLMESDALE manager Lee Roots says he is hurting after the clubs maiden appearance in The FA Vase First Round ended in defeat to a clinical AFC Uckfield Town side at Oakley Road.

The visitors’ arrived in Bromley sitting in the top-five in the Southern Combination Premier Division table with 20 points form their 11 league outings but having lost their last four in all competitions.

Holmesdale went into this game sitting in third-place in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table with 15 points from six games and after losing 4-2 at Kennington on the opening day of the season have won their last seven.

Roots’ side have beaten Kent Football United (4-2) and Old Varndeanians (2-0) to reach this stage of the first time but their opponents were clinical in front of goal.

They raced into a 2-0 lead inside the opening 20 minutes, courtesy of winger Max Walsh and holding midfielder Callum Ridley, but Holmesdale showed great character and desire to fight their way back into the game.

Centre-half James Shield swept in before talisman wide-striker Nathan Palmer drove in his fifth goal of the season.

However, despite Holmesdale enjoying plenty of second-half possession, AFC Uckfield Town killed the game off through Jack Samways’ penalty before Sam Carrington wrapped up the flattering fourth goal at the death.

“The run comes to an end here, a great achievement for the lads to get that far. Definitely gave their all, too little too late in regards to the game,” said Roots.

“Listen, it is what it is. They’re a Step Five side and we gave our best account of ourselves today but we accept the result. It wasn’t good enough second half but they gave their best and I’m proud of the lads, they’ve done well.”

There wasn’t much difference between the two sides in open play – the only difference was the Premier Division side were more clinical in front of goal and that’s what really matters during a football match.

Roots said: “You can do as much homework as you can coming into the game but when we drew them they were top of the league above so we wanted to challenge ourselves against a good opposition but I agree, I don’t think there was anything between the two sides.”

AFC Uckfield Town joint-manager Steve Ives said: “We’re through, which is great.  We have from our point of view stopped a worrying run of defeats and obviously on top of that we’ve managed to score a few goals, so mission accomplished.

“We did fully respect Holmesdale. I see they’ve won seven on the spin so we weren’t taking it for granted.

“We always start well, always, it’s just whether we put the ball in the net when we’re on the up. Luckily today we managed to get the two goals in front.”

Holmesdale were without their goalkeeper Nathan Edwards (groin) and suspended pair Shameek Farrell and Jake Britnell and they almost fell behind inside five minutes when they were hit on the counter-attack.

Palmer’s left-wing corner was grabbed by goalkeeper Jason Tibble, who launched a big kick to release right-winger George Cook down the right channel. His initial cross was hooked clear by Nad Nwitua inside the box before Cook drove his shot into the side-netting.

“Early counter-attack, just got caught high a little bit in the full-back area. They got in behind, didn’t hit the target.  We knew that’s how they set-up 4-4-2, so there about getting the ball out wide and getting it into the box, so it was an insight on how they were going to play.”

Tibble had his fingers stung by Palmer in the eighth minute of the game.

Uckfield’s centre-half Nathan Hover gifted possession away to Rory Ward (one of three Holmesdale central midfielders) and he played the ball into Samuel Adenola and Palmer stung the keeper’s fingers with a right-footed 30-yard drive.

Roots said: “I thought he did well today Palms actually. We had to make a couple of changes today with the goalkeeper and some of our big core lads suspended.

“I thought Nathan drove the team on well. He tried to be creative, he can shoot from distance because he can score from distance so we gave him that freedom and nine times out of 10 Palms either hits the target or score goals from those area and he has the freedom to have the shot. He stung the keepers hands, it’s a good save.”

The away side hit Holmesdale on the counter-attack, which lead to them taking the lead with 13 minutes and 25 seconds on the clock.

The impressive central midfielder Samways played a first time pass to release striker Morgan Vale down the left wing and he easily cut inside Holmesdale right-back Dan Carpenter to reach the penalty area.  Walsh popped up and stroked a first-time left-footed shot underneath debutant goalkeeper Adam Highsted to score from 16-yards.

Ives, who was Sean Muggeridge’s number two at Crowborough Athletic, said: “I think we looked really dangerous whenever we were managing to run at them. It was a bit of a counter-attacking game.  To be truthful, it was two defences that looked a little bit vulnerable at times up against some lively attacks.”

Roots added: “It’s probably the most disappointing goal that we’ve conceded all season really.  They just got through around the right-back too easily and then when he’s made the shot, the keeper said at half-time, ‘he just made the shot before he was set’, which is why he didn’t get down high enough so I think it’s a catalogue of errors.

“We can stop that at source. We can stop the run and we can be a little bit more clued up with the shot.  It’s a bit of a disappointing goal but with regards to them, that’s a good goal from Uckfield, so maybe give them a little bit of credit, Step Five opposition they moved us well there but that was the first time that’s happened to us but a good goal. 

“If the right-back (Carpenter) gets a toe on it, it doesn’t happen.”

AFC Uckfield Town were gifted their second goal with 19 minutes and 19 seconds on the clock.

Highsted played out from the back and holding midfielder Nwitua’s attempted low short pass towards Ward was intercepted by Ridley some 30-yards from goal and he strode into the box before clinically drilling his left-footed shot past Highsted.

Ives said: “Callum has only scored one goal (before today) so far this season, which is funny because maybe seven or eight years ago when he broke through at Crowborough he was a 15-20 goals a season man. 

“I think because we only played a two-man midfield he has to take on the role of the one who sits but we’ve been encouraging him a little bit to get higher and we try to press high and it gives him opportunities and he’s always got a good strike in him from range.”

Roots added: “That was a s**t one on our part because we have an identity how we play, the lads’ know how we set-up and play and to play out when it’s right but I think in Nad’s defence, no-one’s given him a shout and he’s turned out on the left-side and the guy has just read it.

“Nad is very comfortable in possession with his back to their goal and to our goal so I feel we weren’t really set and we were playing out for the sake of it.  You can only play out when you’re set in that shape and it’s a really poor goal from us, a total error and they’ve got to put their hand up really, they got caught on the ball.

“At 2-0, you’re thinking it’s not the start that you wanted. I think the biggest worry at that point it doesn’t go three and the game becomes a bigger challenge, so I tried to make an impact from the side and I think that’s when we got the goal back, so you’re thinking at that point is not concede a third and try to get yourself back into the game as quickly as possible, which we did.”

However, Holmesdale showed great desire to swiftly fight their way back into the game, pulling a vital goal back following their third corner of the game, the goal timed at 23 minutes and 47 seconds on the clock.

Palmer played a short corner to Adenola, who played the ball back to Palmer, who whipped in a first-time cross towards the near post where an unmarked Shields swept his first-time left-footed shot across the keeper and into the bottom far corner from the corner of the six-yard box.

“Shields has been absolutely tremendous for us all season and he drives in from the back and the way he can play towards his own goal and some of the things is just fantastic and he deserved a goal,” said Roots.

“He’s scored a couple of worldies and it’s a nice finish today. That’s one of our (set-piece) routines and it’s nice to see it pay off and we got back into the game.”

Ives added: “That’s the one that opens the door back open for them isn’t it?  I think the guy that was marking him has had a bit of a slip so that’s football. It goes in the box, anything can happen.  I think we’ve slipped around a bit today, especially first-half, five or six players, whether it’s footwear of whether it’s heavy out there. Fair play to them, the game was on (after heavy rain pre-match) so I’m not going to moan about that.”

Nwitua pinged a quality 60-yard diagonal pass towards Palmer, who easily cut inside Uckfield’s right-back Mohammed Zabadne but the ball hit a bobble and bounced up and Palmer smacked his shot high over the crossbar.

Highsted made a comfortable save on the half-hour mark as AFC Uckfield Town’s left-winger Max Walsh split open Shield to put Carrington through on goal but his left-footed shot from inside the D was comfortably held by Highsted in his midriff down on his knees.

Roots revealed: “Adam was making his first game for us today.  Nathan Edwards, my normal keeper, has not missed a game for me in two-and-a-half-years. He’s got a slight groin injury. 

“The game was very important for us today, for the longevity of Nathan and I think Adam had to deal with a couple of things early on and then I think he was quite strong to the half and didn’t make any errors in that period and he’s a good goalkeeper. 

“He comes with a good pedigree and he did a good job for us today.”

Holmesdale pressed for an equaliser and it deservedly arrived with 39 minutes and 17 seconds on the clock, a well-worked move.

Carpenter threw the ball down the line to central striker Ola Rabiu, who got in behind left-back Ben Kirk-Patrick to whip in a low cross into the centre.  Adenola teed up Palmer, who unleashed a low right-footed drive into the bottom near corner from 12-yards.

“Dan’s got a nice gigantic throw, he’s had a fantastic season Dan and I thought it was a really nice move.

“Nathan’s held the space really well and then it was a really clever finish to send the keeper the wrong way and tuck it past the keeper in the near post.

“At that point we didn’t want the half to end because Nathan has made 10 assists so far this season and has scored five goals and that just tells you how important he is to the product of the team.”

Ives added: “Nathan Palmer is a good player, I’m fully aware of that. Again, our players’ aren’t happy with the manner that we’ve conceded the goal.

“I’ll be honest, I can’t recall it too well so I can’t give you any insight. I know the boys were a little bit disappointed and I’ll be honest with you, it’s something that we’ve struggled with a little bit, letting in some silly goals.”

It should have been even better for Holmesdale when they should have taken the lead on the stroke of half-time, another well-worked move.

This time it was left-back James Tedorescu who threw the ball in play and Rabiu and Ward linked up just outside the box and Adenola was in two minds whether to unleash a shot on the corner of the box or make the pass but his shot was weak and rolled into Tibble’s gloves for a comfortable save.

Roots said: “Sam has scored four in five games up to this point and he’s a young man, doing fantastic and the goals that he’s scored, he’s just gone on instinct and that one he’s just tried to place it and he’s looked at the options around him and got himself in a great position. 

“If he scores that goal and makes it 3-2 it makes their team-talk different but we were definitely on top in that period and it was just a carbon copy of Nathan’s one, just without the end product.”

Both manager’s were asked their thoughts at the interval.

Roots said: “It was a mix really. It took us to go 1-0 down to get going. We hadn’t started the game correctly being more respectful to the opposition but we were in the game, we were on top and we had good momentum during that period.

“We felt we had a good game plan going into the second period and really it was a case of we’ve brought ourselves back into the game and the momentum is correct and we’re on top and we just needed to plug a few of their areas and be a bit better in ours, which I think for 15 minutes of the second half we were good until they got the goal.

“It was a case of carrying on what we’ve done for the last 25 minutes (of the first-half) and up the tempo.”

Ives added: “Basically we said look it’s looking pretty much like it’s a game of attack against defence and we feel if we can get the ball forward a little bit more directly and try to ask some questions of their defence, there’s more goals to come.

“They’ve obviously set-up with three in midfield, we’ve only got two, so we know we’re outnumbered in the centre so we’re not going to try to over-play through there, so try to get the ball forward and wide and isolate their defence one-on-one.”

AFC Uckfield Town were a direct outfit during the second half and they tried to score from 45-yards inside the opening six minutes.

Ridley knocked the ball up to Vale, who knocked the ball down for Carrington, who tried to score from a speculative shot from distance seeing the keeper was off his line but his wind-assisted shot trickled harmlessly wide of the left-upright.

Tedorescu’s looped a long ball forward to release Rabiu in down the left channel and after beating the offside trap he sprinted through with the ball but sliced his shot across the keeper and past the far post in a two-on-three counter-attack.

“He makes so many runs for us Ola and many people probably don’t see it but he stretches back fours fantastically,” said Roots.

“I actually think he should get more goals through his work-rate. I feel he works so hard for the team, he gets his chances but they’re not chances we’re not presenting him with tap-ins and when we do the game’s already dead in that period so he’s unlucky today.  He runs for lost causes and he runs channels and he’s strong and he’s pacey. Even when a ball’s not a good ball he can turn it into a good ball just through his sheer desire really.”

Rabiu was forced off the pitch for a couple of minutes as the referee told him to remove his nose piercings and they were almost made to pay.

Kirk-Patrick swung in a free-kick from the left and centre-half Dan Tear glanced his header across goal and past the far post.

Tedorescu threw the ball to Palmer, who cut onto his right-foot to unleash a right-footed drive towards the near corner from 35-yards, which forced Tibble to dive to his right and grab hold of the ball.

“We’ll never take that away from Nathan’s game because he’s scored so many for us like it,” said Roots.

“He’s probably our most talented player in that regard from long distance shooting but the goalkeeper was amble to it.  We told them to shoot on target, it’s a wet day as you know and anything can happen on the pitch so shoot on target and follow the ball.”

Ives said: “Jason is a great shot-stopper from distance and you’re right, they’ve had momentum, they’ve come out and the goals came at good times for them and they’re feeling they’re on the up.

“They’re quite a vocal side, the pressure was starting to build with long throws and it was a test of our character. Other than Dan Tear and Sam Carrington there’s not a boy in our starting 11 over 25.”

Referee Paul Agboola allowed AFC Uckfield Town’s left-back Kirk-Patrick get away with a second yellow card when he was penalised for handball, slipping over and dropping to the deck some 35-yards from goal in the 65th minute.

Roots said: “I was surprised. We thought he was on a yellow and then we thought maybe, but the referee didn’t give him a (second) yellow card.

“It’s hit his hands and it’s handball and it stopped the ball going forward and he’s brought himself really low to the ground to do it so I don’t want to be harsh on the ref or speak ill of him but he’s got to make that call.

“I just think maybe there’s a grey area with the handball, especially when it’s the second yellow but the referee has to be sure and we instantly looked around and that’s a big moment if that’s the case.  If that’s the rule of the Law he should go but it’s a tough one really. The linesman hasn’t helped him out.”

Ives added: “I think ‘claims’ might be the operative word. It seemed to be the theme of the day really.  Did it hit him? Look, I trust the referee, I think the referee’s had a good game, he’s dealt with a potentially quite a vocal setting and he’s done well.  I’m going to trust the ref, if he hasn’t said it’s not handball, it wasn’t handball.”

Palmer drove the resulting free-kick into the penalty area and Adenola glanced his header past the far post.

But AFC Uckfield Town killed the home side’s momentum by grabbing a third goal with 22 minutes and 59 seconds on the clock.

Samways cut in from the left into the box and was tripped by Holmesdale’s right-back Carpenter and the referee pointed to the spot.

Samways took over penalty duties and stroked his right-footed penalty into the bottom left-hand corner, despite Highsted diving the same way and getting close to it.

“I think that was vital for us, it was what we said we wanted to do at half-time, which was to get people running at them,” said Ives.

“In truth, we haven’t had much success and Jack taking the bull by the horns like he did, I thought it was a great run, really vital because I thought the game was going either way at that point.

“I think maybe I’m a bit of a pessimist but I’m thinking ‘blimey, after that head start we’re in a bit of trouble here’, but Jack’s took the bull by the horns, a positive run, which we really encourage him to do.

“He wasn’t the nominated penalty taker but he just really fancied it and that’s an 18-year-old boy there.”

Roots said: “A disappointing one because from my view I can’t really see whether it was.  It looked a little bit clumsy. It wasn’t a clear-cut penalty.

“I thought the referee had a good game and probably got it right. Probably a little bit harsh on Carps but I thought we could deal with things better before the penalty comes but it was kind of a killer because we’re on top.

“Adam comes close and at that point at 3-2 you’re still going for the next goal but it was a bit of a blow, I must admit.

“I felt the way that we approached the second half, we were going for it in regards to a cup manner and then it’s about the margins.

“I think if we didn’t gift the goals that we gave, it was a bit of an error from the first one, the second one was a gift and the third one was a penalty.

“We didn’t deserve it but sometimes if you’re not good enough in both ends you get what you deserve. We should have done better with the chances and then it wouldn’t have mattered.”

Roots made a double substitution and changed formation to three at the back, two wing-backs, two holding midfielders and three attackers as they went in search of an equaliser and dominated proceedings.

Ward controlled the ball with his chest before cracking a right-footed half-volley which flashed past the left-hand post from 30-yards.

With little over five minutes remaining, Ward showed desire to keep possession under pressure down the right before Shield swept the ball out to Palmer on the left and he cut the ball onto his right-foot and his 30-yard drive was held by Tibble in his midriff down on his knees.

Bromley Academy prospect, Soul Kader, drove a first-time shot past the left-hand post after Holmesdale built down the left with fellow sub Tom Austin and Rabiu.

However, AFC Uckfield Town grabbed a fourth goal in clinical fashion on another counter-attack with 43 minutes and 12 seconds on the clock.

Samways clipped a great diagonal down the left-wing towards substitute Luca Page and three Holmesdale defenders got back and had chances to clear their lines but the ball fell nicely for Carrington, the former Crowborough Athletic man showing great skill in the box to bury his shot past Highsted.

Ives said: “Holmesdale are having to commit at that point, I think they’ve gone with three at the back. Fair play to them, they had to, it’s a knock-out game so obviously there’s going to be chances on the counter.

“Luca Page has rapid pace and Jack Samways will run all day. I thought Sam Carrington had let the opportunity go because I think he checked when I was going to get a shot away.

“I don’t even know what you call it because he got the ball in between his legs and jumped.  The boys have said it’s got a name but I’m too old to know the name of these tricks but that’s what a captain does.

“Our captain (Daniel Perry) left in the week for pastures new (Eastbourne Town) so Carra stepped up and what more can he do to lead us to victory and score the goal that seals it.”

Roots added: “That one is a bit of a killer because were rolling the dice now with 10 minutes to go.

“We’ve changed shape and they’ve caught us one-on-one or two-on-two at the back and we’ve actually did hold them up.

“Jordan Eels made a sliding tackle and he beat Eelsey.  JT (Tedorescu) made a recovery tackle and so did Rory Ward but the ball just fell to the bloke and when it fell to him he put it in and that was the game.

“At 3-2, we would have still rolled the dice and felt hard done by.  At 4-2, it flatters them.  It flatters to deceive but they’ve still scored the goals they needed to and at that point we were willing to lose the game 4-2 to try to stay in the game at 3-2.”

Holmesdale still had time to create – and miss – one final late chance – when Palmer whipped in a quality cross from the right but a brave header from Ward while under pressure looped over the crossbar from six-yards.

Roots and Ives were asked what their boys gave them in this FA Vase tie.

Roots said: “They done well. I feel it wasn’t our best game, we’ve played better but we’re playing against Step Five opposition and I thought when we’ve got three players out it wasn’t particularly hugely noticeable between the grades.

“I can’t knock our lads, I’m proud of the lads, I’m proud of the club that we’ve got this far.

“I’m hurting that we’ve gone out in the manner we have. I hate losing at home and we haven’t lost in the league in 13 months here so it’s not often we lose games.

“I’m gutted that we’ve lost. I’m proud of the lads and proud for the club. If we had won this round we would have looked to have gone on even more rounds but we wanted to reach the First Round proper.

“Listen, we’re hurting, we’re all hurting, we’re upset, we’ll dust ourselves down and we’ll go again.”

Ives added: “We went eight games unbeaten, won team of the month with a side that literally has got 50 first-team games under its belt., We’ve massively over-achieved. We then had a wobble and there’s been a bit of discontent in the camp. A couple have left and we said today in all truth who knows what Boris Johnson is going to say? This could be the last game for a while so regardless of whether we win or lose, we don’t want our last day of football for however long it may be, to be a damp squib of a performance.

“They’re united out there, there’s no negativity and we’re in the hat, whether the hat ever gets drawn, we’re in it and that’s delighting but at least it’s put us on a positive, back on a forward march.”

When asked about Monday’s Second Round Draw, Ives replied: “I generally couldn’t care in all honesty! Home draw. If it’s wet it ain’t got a lot of chance of being on because we have got a notoriously wet pitch.

“We’re seeing this competition as a shot to nothing for us. It’s just an opportunity to not to worry about the three points. You just go out, let them off the leach and let them go.

“From our point of view, we’ve just wanted to stop our particular bad run and we’ve done that. It will be great if we now get the opportunity to see if we can get on another run.”

Holmesdale, now in fourth-place are scheduled to welcome Forest Hill Park to Oakley Road next Saturday, if the game does go ahead due to the UK Government’s second national lockdown starting on Thursday and expected to last for a month.

“On a personal level it’s one I want to do well in for numerous occasions. Whenever you play against your old club you want to show them where you’re at,” said Roots, who spent a year in charge of Forest Hill Park.

“I don’t think they’ve had the best of starts, they’ve only won a couple of games but they’re a tricky outfit and it’s a game we’re looking forward to.”

“in regards to the league, we don’t fear anyone, we respect everyone and it’s a game that we must get back on track, get the three points and keep us on track in the promotion race.”

Holmesdale: Adam Highsted, Dan Carpenter (Soul Kader 78), James Tedorescu, Nad Nwitua (Tom Austin 63), Jordan Eels, James Shield, Nathan Palmer, Rory Ward, Ola Rabiu, Samuel Adenola, Ellis Green (George Acland 77).
Subs: Gabriel Ntumba, Harry Towner, Sam Green, Harry Hornsby

Goals: James Shield 24, Nathan Palmer 40

Booked: Nad Nwitua 32

AFC Uckfield Town: Jason Tibble, Mohammed Zabadne, Ben Kirk-Patrick (Sam Cash 78), Callum Ridley, Nathan Hover, Dan Tear, Max Walsh (Wayne Clarke 82), Jack Samways, Morgan Vale, Sam Carrington, George Cook (Luca Page 85).
Subs: Shane Harper, Lloyd Francis, Michael Platt

Goals: Max Walsh 14, Callum Ridley 20, Jack Samways 68 (penalty), Sam Carrington 89

Booked: Ben Kirk-Patrick 39, Callum Ridley 45, Max Walsh 75, Sam Carrington 84, Sam Cash 90

Attendance: 89
Referee: Mr Paul Agboola
Assistants: Mr Steven Martin & Mr Stephen Gorman