Hythe Town 0-3 Dorking Wanderers - I don't want to fall away now, says Hythe Town boss Clive Cook
Hythe Town 0 – 3 Dorking Wanderers
|Location||Reachfields Stadium, off Fort Road, Hythe, Kent CT21 6JS|
HYTHE TOWN 0-3 DORKING WANDERERS
Ryman League Division One South
Saturday 5th March 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Reachfields Stadium
HYTHE TOWN boss Clive Cook says he doesn’t want his side to fall away in the promotion race after suffering a blow against rivals Dorking Wanderers.
The Cannons reached the top five of the Ryman League Division One South table on 65 points from 35 games after winning nine games on the bounce, which helped Cook scoop his second manager-of-the-month award, while his goalkeeper Joe Mant scooped the goalkeeper award.
However, the curse struck as Dorking Wanderers extended their unbeaten run to nine games after coming away from Reachfields Stadium with a 3-0 win, courtesy of goals coming during a devastating seven minute spell just before half-time.
Former Folkestone Invicta attacker Dane Luchford headed in the Surrey side’s opener after 37 minutes before Craig Cloke added a second with an own-goal before right-back Luke Hackett headed in a third from a free-kick.
Marc White’s side remain in second-place on 74 points from 38 games and their 22nd league win of the season puts them 16 points adrift of champions-elect Folkestone Invicta, while Hythe Town slip down a place to sixth following their 11 league defeat of the season.
“Got to pick my words, we didn’t play very well,” admitted Cook after the game.
“Dorking had a ten minute spell but they were the better side, end of story, no doubt about that today.
“But they had a ten minute spell just before the end of the first half and got three goals, game over really.
“We changed it, we tried but we had four clear cut chances. If you don’t hit the back of the net on any of them you’re not going to win football matches. You win football matches if you score goals.
“I don’t think there was a decent goal in the three but that’s football. We take it on the chin and go again.”
Cook admitted that being without 16-goal striker Alfie May, who was suffering with a chest infection, was a big loss to his side.
He said: “He was taken ill before the game. Yes, he was a big miss, a massive miss, but it’s not all about one player. He could’ve got marked out of the game so you can’t look at it in that respect, although he is a big player for us. Yes, Alfie is a big player for us.
“You learn, I’ve learn more out of today’s game than I have all season. I think some of them didn’t come to the table, some went missing.”
May’s replacement, Louis Sprosen, squandered an excellent chance to open the scoring inside the opening five minutes.
Dorking Wanderers started the game on the front foot and they enjoyed plenty of possession, before Hythe Town hit them on the counter-attack.
Striker Jack Harris played a lovely pass to put Sprosen through in behind the defence but his left-footed shot from 15-yards was gobbled up by Slavomir Huk, low to his left.
“Was it seven minutes in the first half? That would’ve changed the game,” said a frustrated Cook.
“He had two chances, Jack had two point blank chances and if you don’t hit or make the keeper do something, then you’re not going to get anything from a football game,” said the 57-year-old Hythe boss.
Darren Marsden was taken out by a strong challenge by Ben Dyett, but quiet striker Frankie Sawyer sliced his free-kick high and wide from 35-yards.
Harris was then guilty of squandering another excellent chance for Hythe Town in the seventeenth minute.
Midfielder Marsden picked up the ball on the right and made space for himself to float over a cross into the penalty area. Harris, meanwhile, planted his free header straight at the keeper from eight-yards.
Cook added: “We should’ve been 2-0! You take one chance early doors like that it changes the game, it changes the way things turn out.”
Dorking Wanderers enjoyed plenty of possession but Hythe Town kept 31-goal threat Tom Tolfrey out of the game during the early stages of the game, although Tony Oaks bossed the middle of the park with a man-of-the-match performance.
Hythe Town created another opening when James Morrish’s header dropped down to Sprosen, who shanked his first time shot past the near post from 25-yards.
But Dorking Wanderers started posing questions to their fellow in-form rivals as soon as the game hit the half-hour mark.
Oaks and winger Kev Terry linked up well down the left playing a couple of one-twos and Terry cut inside and drilled his right-footed shot screaming over the top of the far post from 22-yards.
Tolfrey’s first attempt on goal was a stroked right-footed free-kick from 35-yards, which he tried to find the bottom near corner, but Mant made a comfortable save.
Luchford then unleashed a right-footed angled drive towards the far corner from a similar position from 22-yards, which was tipped around the post by the former Ashford United keeper, diving full-length to his left.
Cook said: “We knew they’d be dangerous, they’ve got some quality up at the top. We knew that, we spoke about it and we done the right things, but we went to sleep. If you go to sleep against anyone with any quality you’re going to get punished but I wouldn’t mind if they were good goals, they were disappointing goals from our point of view.”
Terry had a second bite of the cherry following the away side’s second corner of the game and whipped in a cross from the right towards the near post for Luchford to plant his free-header into the right-hand corner from 12-yards to give Dorking Wanderers the lead with 36:10 on the clock.
“Not even a person who scores a goal with his head – but he did,” admitted Cook.
“He got in front of David, Dave Cook, 1-0. It came off his shoulder, 1-0, awful goal, awful goal to let in, we went to sleep!”
Hythe Town’s central defender Cloke could have equalised when he met Sawyer’s free-kick from the right with a free header at the near post, only for the ball to sail harmlessly wide.
But Dorking Wanderers doubled their lead with 40:57 on the clock, courtesy of Cloke’s own-goal.
Dorking Wanderers felt John Walker and Cloke were Hythe’s weak points as Matt Briggs got in behind Walker down the left to reach the by-line.
The winger cut the ball back where there was a wall of red-shirted Hythe players in front of Mant, but the ball struck Cloke, rolled across his keeper and nestled in the back of the net.
“Second goal, an own-goal, came off him, sums it up, sums up the half, just sums up the way we went to sleep for that final eight minutes. That’s all I can say about it,” said Cook.
“Nick Reeves has been out for three games, Clokey’s been out of it one game. I think they took a little bit of time to adjust.”
Hythe Town were facing a mountain to climb when Dorking Wanderers netted their third goal, timed at 43:09.
Central defender Tom Familton clipped a deep free-kick from the halfway line towards the far post where his captain Hackett planted his free header into the roof of the net from 10-yards.
“I’ve got a thing about that because a six foot four right-back is always going to beat a five foot four striker in Frankie Sawyer,” admitted Cook.
“How the heck did that happen? It did but that’s things what we’ve been talking about.”
It left the Hythe Town fans in the crowd of 233 shell-shocked and their side with an ear bashing from their manager.
“We’ve learnt a lot, we’ve learnt a lot today,” said Cook.
“What did I say was they went to sleep, they (Dorking Wanderers) didn’t do anything for the 37 minutes, I felt they wasn’t dangerous to us, then we go to sleep, they get one, two, three, bang and game over. I said don’t let the game be over and you’ve got to work hard. You work hard and you have to get back into the game!”
Hythe Town had to score as early as they could in the second half to give themselves half a chance.
Dave Cook drilled a through ball from the middle of the park which wasn’t cut out by Dyett, who tried to stick out his right leg to prevent the ball going in
Sprosen latched onto the pass but he lacked the clinical edge to tuck the ball away and Huk recovered to pounce on the ball after the Hythe Town number 10 initially took the ball around him after only 31 seconds.
“I thought we worked exceptionally hard in the second half,” said Cook.
“We had a chance early doors in the second half. Louis Sprosen just has the keeper to beat, you’ve got to take those chances! You have to tuck them away and that brings you back into the game, a little bit of hope but I don’t think he got a shot off.”
Sawyer drew a smart low save to Huk’s right when he drilled an angled drive in from the right-hand side of the penalty area on the hour-mark.
Dorking Wanderers brought on much-travelled striker Bertie Brayley and he latched onto a fine diagonal pass from Oaks but his left-footed chip bounced on to the top of the crossbar and went behind for a goal-kick.
Cook said: “I don’t think they were in the game second half. I think they put the game out, they put the game to bed, they put the fuse out, they put the fire out, whatever you want to call it.
“We huffed and puffed and we done a bit.”
Hythe Town created further chances to give themselves a fighting chance.
Substitute Jack Mahoney swung in a corner from the right and Nick Reeves came up from the back to power his free-header from 12-yards straight at Huk, who pushed the ball over the bar.
Cook felt his defender should have done better with that headed chance and gave him some advice.
He said: “Always head it down is my motto! Always head it down! If you’ve got a free header that would’ve been bread and butter for that keeper. He wasn’t a bad keeper but you’ve got to make the keeper work, head it down, head it into the corners, head it anywhere but head it straight at him!”
Oaks’ free-kick was headed away to Briggs, whose right-footed drive clipped Marsden and Mant made a comfortable low save as the game edged towards the final 20 minutes.
The longer the game went on, the chances of Hythe Town staging a remarkable comeback were vanishing.
Cook, agreed, by saying: “I knew it was going to be a tough ask. I just wanted us to put a bit in. I thought we lost a little bit of belief in the first half, last ten minutes. God knows why because we were right in the game!”
Hackett played the ball inside to Jerome Beckles, who played the ball inside for Brayley, to scream in despair after sweeping his shot past the near post from 25-yards.
Beckles then released substitute Jason Hughes down the right wing and he whipped his cross towards the near post which was hooked over the bar by Tolfrey’s outstretched left leg.
Dorking Wanderers were easing their way towards a vital victory, before Hythe Town squandered two great chances to score late on.
Substitute Ben Wilson floated in a cross from the right but Cook’s free-header from 10-yards was pushed over the bar by Huk’s outstretched right-hand.
Wilson then hit a deep cross over the top of a Dorking back four, which was well-marshalled by Dyett and Familton.
Harris brought the ball down under his spell with a brilliant touch but his right-footed shot drew a great stop from the advancing Huk.
Reflecting on those two late chances, Cook said: “Should’ve put them away, especially Jack’s one. Cookie, like the one with Reevsie, should’ve made the keeper work in a different direction. To me, you get a free header, you make the keeper work!
“Jack done everything right, just the keeper to beat. I’ve seen him plant them but just wasn’t going to be today. It just wasn’t going to happen.”
Cook hopes his side recover from this set-back at fourteenth-placed Whyteleafe next weekend, before hosting fifth-placed (65 points from 34 games) Hastings United on Thursday 17 March.
“It’s a huge game next week, that’s the first one. We’ve got to get the right result there,” said Cook, whose side are one of six clubs chasing the final play-off berth.
“They beat Guernsey 4-3 today, Guernsey are another one that’s slipped down, so it’s not that bad.
“If you’re going to lose and everyone around you loses except for Worthing, Dorking, Hastings and Herne Bay, who we’ve got two games in hand on them, four points behind. That was a big game today to lose, but we go again.
“I just don’t want to fall away now because we’ve worked (to get in to the top five).
“There’s a few scores that went with us. Faversham lost, Ramsgate lost, so we’re still in there.”
Hythe Town: Joe Mant, John Walker, Josh Burchell, Darren Marsden (Lawrence Harvey 76), Craig Cloke, Nick Reeves, Dave Cook, James Morrish, Frankie Sawyer (Ben Wilson 82), Louis Sprosen (Jack Mahoney 55), Jack Harris.
Subs: Connor Hood, Alfie May
Booked: John Walker 33, Craig Cloke 45
Dorking Wanderers: Slavomir Huk, Luke Hackett, Jake Hill (Harry Shipton 87), Ben Dyett, Tom Familton, Tony Oaks, Jerome Beckles, Matt Briggs (Jason Hughes 82), Dane Luchford (Bertie Brayley 59), Tom Tolfrey, Kev Terry.
Subs: Chris Boulter, Jake Beecroft
Goals: Dane Luchford 37, Craig Cloke 41 (own goal), Luke Hackett 44
Booked: Ben Dyett 13, Tony Oaks 40, Matt Briggs 54, Bertie Brayley 79
Referee: Mr Stephen Brown (Ashford)
Assistants: Mr Ross Alexander (Maidstone) & Mr Theo Parfitt (Heathfield, East Sussex)