Hythe Town 3-0 East Grinstead Town - The target is to be in the play-offs or be there or there abouts come the end of the season, says Hythe Town boss Sam Denly

Saturday 18th August 2018
Hythe Town 3 – 0 East Grinstead Town
Location Reachfields Stadium, off Fort Road, Hythe, Kent CT21 6JS
Kickoff 18/08/2018 15:00

Bostik South East Division
Saturday 18 August 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Reachfields Stadium

HYTHE TOWN manager Sam Denly says he was pleased with his side after bouncing back from their opening day derby defeat at Ashford United by comfortably beating East Grinstead Town.


Star-striker Zak Ansah, 24, scored a perfect hat-trick (left-foot, header, right-foot) inside the opening 34 minutes to seal a 3-0 win over Matt Longhurst’s side at Reachfields Stadium.

Ansah, who is the son of former Southend United and Gillingham midfielder Andy, has now scored an impressive 23 goals in his last 21 games for Hythe Town, who will be challenging Cray Wanderers for the Bostik South East Division title.

“We’re off and running and I thought it was a good performance today,” said Denly.

“It was very professional and ruthless, certainly in the first half. To come in at half-time 3-0 was good.

“Second half was a little bit more quiet but we managed a little bit of game management and slowed the game down when we needed to and pleased to come away with a win and a clean sheet as well.”

The game started in a frenetic fashion. East Grinstead had four former Hythe Town players in their team in the shape of Ryan Johnson, Ben Wilson, Callum Emptage and Sid Sollis.

East Grinstead Town won the corner count 7-2, with the Cannons two corners coming inside the opening 14 minutes.

Jack Sammoutis’ first corner was cut back to Ansah, who dug the ball out from under his feet at the near post and he put the ball on a plate for his striker partner Nigel Neita, who flashed his shot past the foot of the near post from a tight angle.

But Hythe Town took the lead with only six minutes and 45 seconds on the clock.

Sammoutis fed the ball into Kieron Campbell just inside the East Grinstead half and he spun Donvieve Jones before striding forward and playing the ball out to Neita on the left.  He put in a low cross towards the near post and Ansah’s sublime first touch brought the ball under his spell, his second touch was a left-footed drive across the keeper into the bottom far corner from 10-yards.

Denly said: “Very clinical.  All three goals were clinical today.  I thought Kieron Campbell was outstanding in the first half. We didn’t get the ball to him as much as I liked because I thought he caused the full-back a lot of problems but first goal was a good move and a very good finish from Zak.

“We scored an early goal (at Ashford) last week and lost 3-1 so it can sometimes go against you if you get your goal and take a back step but we didn’t do that today. We got our first goal and it spurred us on and the second and third weren’t too far away.”

Ben Wilson threw the ball to Michael Wilson, who had time and space to cut inside to hit a 30-yard drive, which sailed harmlessly over the Cannons crossbar.

Sammoutis suffered similar fate when he whipped his curling free-kick over the crossbar from 35-yards at the other end.

Hythe Town went close to doubling their lead in the 15th minute when Sammoutis swung in a deep corner from the right towards the far post for Mitchell Dickenson to rise in the air to plant his header across goal, only for it to be cleared off the line by Karn Miller-Neave.

Hythe Town deservedly doubled their lead with only 16 minutes and 34 seconds on the clock.

The Cannons produced a slick nice move down the left which involved left-back Aziz Lyoubi and winger Campbell, who was played on the overlap.

Campbell destroyed Jones for the 45 minutes that he was on the pitch before the right-back was deservedly replaced by Harvey Killick, who put in a much better defensive display in the second half.

Campbell whipped in a deflected cross and an unmarked Ansah rose to plant his header over the keeper’s right-shoulder into the roof of the net.

“Another good goal.  We were causing problems down our left and with Aziz and Kieron on the overlap.  Another well-worked goal.  We played some good football first half and the second goal was another example of that. Another outstanding finish from an outstanding striker.”

East Grinstead Town created an opening a couple of minutes later, courtesy of some good attacking play from former Margate striker Sollis.

Sollis ran through the heart of the pitch before playing Ainsley Everett in behind Lyoubi and played a low angled cross from the by-line and Dickenson swept up at the far post before central striker Marcus Elliott could pounce.

“I thought we were good at the back today, a little bit open too much at times for my liking but they’re going to have spells in the game, they’re going to create chances and they done that,” said Denly, who heaped praise on his two dominant centre halves.

“That’s why I’m looking at my back four and my keeper to stand still and make a difference, which they done.  I thought Nathan Daly and Mitchell Dickenson were outstanding today.”

Central midfielder Emptage clipped the ball over the top and Cannons keeper George Kamurasi charged out of his penalty area in an attempt to clear because Lyoubi failed to.  Kamurasi slid the ball into Everett’s path, whose right-footed shot from 30-yards sailed over the top of an empty goal.

“Again, a little bit of decision making at times and we spoke about that at half-time,” revealed Denly.

“We had to make sure we stick to basics and don’t do things we don’t do.  George, my keeper, came running out 25-30 yards out.  Fortunately enough they weren’t able to capitalise on a few mistakes that we made today.”

Emptage nipped in front of his marker to hook a speculative 30-yard attempt screaming past the near post, before Ansah completed his hat-trick with 33 minutes and 14 seconds on the clock.

East Grinstead Town won a free-kick out on the left and Ben Wilson has delivered better set-pieces than this one. His left-footed cross was swept upfield by Dickenson, who turned a clearance into a sublime 60-yard through ball on the deck, which split open Johnson and Joe Tennent to put Ansah through on goal and he placed his right-footed shot into the bottom right-hand corner, despite keeper Sheikh Ceesay getting a hand to the ball.

“A bit of a direct goal,” admitted Denly.

“Like I said to the boys before the game, you’ve got to play percentages at times. Maybe a pass or a clearance whatever you want to call it from Dicko. He dealt with it and turned defence into attack and all off a sudden we find ourselves in on goal and 3-0 up so that’s important.

“We like to play football as a team but when it’s not on and things are going against you a little bit, it’s important you turn them and we got a goal.”

On Ansah’s goalscoring form, Denly said: “He’s a great player! I made it very clear that my intensions were to keep hold of him this season because he’s massive with what we want to achieve here and he’s been excellent today and I think Nigel Neita as well is going to be a massive player for us. It’s an exciting partnership for the future.

“They’ve got a good understanding. They played together at the Arsenal. They both had a spell there and big things were ahead of them future wise. They had a couple of injuries the pair of them that probably held them back but they showed their class and hopefully we can keep both of them fit and they can enjoy a good partnership.”

Chris Kinnear played the ball inside to Sammoutis, who drove forward but a deflected drive took the sting out of the shot from 25-yards and Ceesay got down on his knees to prevent the ball going behind for a corner.

Hythe Town went into the break with a comfortable 3-0 lead but they lost Sammoutis to a heal injury and Kinnear was forced off with an ankle injury after receiving two bouts of treatment from physio Alice Lee during the second half.

Denly was forced into making a reshuffle.  On came Josh Stirman, who played on the right flank, so Charlie Webster moved inside to partner Kinnear in the middle, while Campbell stayed on the left flank.  When Kinnear was substituted, Mitchell Chapman took his position and Dickenson took the armband off Kinnear for the final 18 minutes.

Killick’s introduction at right-back made East Grinstead Town a much more solid outfit as Campbell was kept quiet after the interval and the Wasps were the more likely side to score.

“It’s still a dangerous scoreline for me. The next goal was going to be key, if it was going to come but what we wanted to do was make sure we didn’t concede,” said Denly.

“They don’t score, we win the game, simple as that and that was the message. Keep doing the right things, just keep turning them.  If we need to keep playing percentages at the right moments, if you do that gaps will appear and we can start to play a little bit more football.

“But the most important thing was we kept our banks when we lost possession. I thought our shape was good and it was a very good performance.”

When asked about his injuries to Sammoutis and Kinnear and the emergence of Stirman, Denly replied: “Jack had a bit of a problem in a fitness test before the game, a slight problem with his heel but he got through a fitness test. It was playing up a little bit so we brought him off at half-time at 3-0.  We didn’t have to risk him longer.

“Chris got a little knock on his ankle so again at 3-0 we’ve got good cover sat behind me so it isn’t a problem making a change.

“He did ok Josh, he done alright. It’s really hard to come on off the bench to have an impact at 3-0 but he done alright Josh. He’s a good player, a very good player. He’s in from the Academy at Maidstone, which is now Tonbridge Angels.  He’s gone over there now. We’ll feed him through and get minutes here and there and I’m sure he’s got a good future in the game, he done well.”

Miller-Neave swung in a free-kick from the right with his left-boot and Kamurasi stretched to get a strong right fist to the ball.  Ben Wilson’s ball back in from the other wing lacked quality and hit the top of the stand roof behind the goal.

Michael Wilson whipped in a couple of corners just before the hour-mark.  Tennent rose at the near post and Johnson’s poked shot deflected wide, while Tennent’s near post header sailed across goal before being cleared away towards safety.

Ben Wilson launched a deep cross from the left which was met by Sollis’ towering, looping header from an acute angle, which was grabbed by Kamurasi at his near post as Elliott challenged him.

East Grinstead Town were to be denied a goal in the 66th minute when Sollis struck the crossbar.

Sollis played the ball into Everett’s feet, before making space on the outside before cracking a left-footed curler from 25-yards, which flew over Kamurasi’s right-shoulder before crashing off the crossbar and dropping behind for a goal-kick.

Denly said:  “I thought Sid was excellent today. His hold up play and link up play was good for them but in terms of actually creating chances, they didn’t create an awful lot.

“He’s hit the bar from 30-yards because we got our banks and we were getting good shape so I think he limited them in terms of chances created.  Sid is a dangerous player and can score a goal from anywhere. He’s had a great effort there but it’s fortunate for us it’s nipped the bar and gone out.”

Emptage fed the ball into Everett, who shift past his man with a clever touch, before cutting the ball on his left-foot and stinging Kamurasi’s fingers with a left-footed angled drive from 25-yards. The big keeper swiftly grabbed hold of the ball.

“George done well.  When these chances do come, I’m looking at my keeper and defence to stand tall and eradicate any opportunities they might find the opposition team, which we done today,” said Denly.

“George was decent in goal, he talks and organises and he’s had another very good game and a clean sheet as well, which is important. Whilst we’ve got very good firepower going forward, we want to make sure that we’re big and strong at the back and we’re not leaking too many goals and it’s always nice to get a clean-sheet.”

Hythe Town had to wait until the final 13 minutes to create their only second half chance.

Campbell’s dinked pass released Ansah down the middle, but East Grinstead Town shut the door in his face and Campbell fought to win the ball back from inside the penalty area before slipping over, regaining control of the ball before hitting a rasping left-footed drive from 12-yards, which Ceesay plucked out of the air above his head.

“If I’m being ultra-critical, we’re looking to score them,” added Denly.

“Zak had a very good chance, should be slotting, given his quality but Kieron’s had a couple of chances but we’ll take that at 3-0. We’ve had a few more chances to extend our lead but haven’t taken them.”

The Wasps created a couple of late chances.  Miller-Kneave nipped in to stop Campbell breaking forward from the half-way-line before striding forward and hitting a left-footed drive screaming wide from 35-yards.

Elliott played the ball down the line for Sollis, who cut in to drill his shot across the keeper and past the far post but East Grinstead Town didn’t trouble Kamurasi and find themselves second-from-bottom in the table without any points from their opening two games, while Hythe Town rise from the bottom three to eighth following their first league win of the season.

Denly was delighted in the manner his side bounced back after losing to Gary Alexander’s side last weekend.

“What I demanded from them was a response, which I got today,” he said.

“East Grinstead are going to be a good side. They’ve signed well in the summer and brought some good players in. They’re going to cause some upsets and beat some good teams and I’m sure they’ve got aspirations themselves to be decent.  A 3-0 win at home, a clean-sheet, is a response.”

Denly has promised to make changes for Tuesday night’s home Kent Senior Cup First Round tie against Margate, who are in seventh-place in the Bostik Premier Division table on six points from three games and came away from Brightlingsea Regent with a 3-0 win today.

Hythe Town then welcome Worthing United to Reachfields next Saturday in The Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round, before hosting Herne Bay here on Bank Holiday Monday.

“We’ve got a few niggles so we’ll probably give a few people a rest on Tuesday. It gives me a chance to give lads minutes so we’ll see where we go,” revealed Denly.

“Of course, we’ve got the FA Cup game on Saturday at home, a game we’re looking forward to. We want to have runs in the Cups this year as every club will say it’s important for revenue and getting money into the club. We’ll get in Tuesday and give that game out of the way and then we’ll prepare for a big FA Cup game on Saturday.

“Herne Bay, it’s against my old club but we’ve played them a couple of times now since I’ve left. Whilst it will be nice to see some familiar faces, my job will be to turn up for Hythe and make sure we win the game.”

Denly must deliver a top-five finish with the budget and players that he has to pick from.

“We want to be up there, that’s for sure. The target is to be play-offs and be there or there abouts come the end of the season,” he said.

“I think with the squad that we’ve got, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be.  We’re not getting carried away. I’m not going to be shouting from the roof-tops that we want to get promoted or win the league. That’s not what we’re about. We know we’re a good side, we know if we do the right things and we play like we can, we should be (in with a shout) in the business end of the season come next April.”

Bostik South East Division clubs must play 38 league games this season instead of 46 and 24 of those are Kent derbies.

When asked about the reduced fixture list, Denly replied: “It’s interesting. It’s been regionalised a little bit. There’s a lot more local derbies.  It’s better to have less midweek games. I think it’s gone from quite a lot to quite a big contrast now. We’re not full-time, we’re not in every day.  You pick up a few injuries and it can cost you so I think ultimately it’s a good thing.”

Hythe Town:  George Kamurasi, Salvyn Kisitu, Aziz Lyoubi, Chris Kinnear (Mitchell Chapman 72), Nathan Daly, Mitchell Dickenson, Charlie Webster, Jack Sammoutis (Josh Stirman 46), Zak Ansah (Charlie Owen 90), Nigel Neita, Kieron Campbell.
Sub: Jack Negus

Goals:  Zak Ansah 7, 17, 34

Booked: Nigel Neita 90

East Grinstead Town:  Sheikh Ceesay, Donvieve Jones (Harvey Killick 46), Karn Miller-Neave, Michael Wilson, Joe Tennent, Ryan Johnson, Ben Wilson (Robin Deen 70), Callum Emptage (Daniel Hogan 78), Marcus Elliott, Sid Sollis, Ainsley Everett.
Subs: Jack Bray, Steven Springett

Booked: Ryan Johnson 62

Attendance: 233
Referee: Mr Daniel Proctor (Halling)
Assistants: Mr David Lunani (Bromley) & Mr Robert Columb (Rochester)