Hythe Town 1-0 Leatherhead - When you need him, Alfie May always nicks a goal, says Hythe Town boss Clive Cook

Saturday 03rd September 2016
Hythe Town 1 – 0 Leatherhead
Location Reachfields Stadium, off Fort Road, Hythe, Kent CT21 6JS
Kickoff 03/09/2016 15:30

The Emirates FA Cup First Qualifying Round
Saturday 3rd September 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Reachfields Stadium

HYTHE TOWN manager Clive Cook says he wants to guide his side to The FA Cup First Round this season.

The Cannons are three wins away from replicating Scott Porter’s side that went down to a 5-1 defeat at then League Two side Hereford United in 2010 after pulling off a Second Qualifying Round upset against Leatherhead here today.

Leatherhead’s planning for this game was poor as they arrived at Reachfields Stadium at 14:50 – with the team bus stuck in traffic owing to last Saturday’s bridge collapse on the M20.  The game kicked-off late at 15:37.

Hythe Town, who went into the game sitting in fourteenth-place in the Ryman League Division One South table with five points from four games, claimed a deserved victory, courtesy of Alfie May’s breakaway goal with 21 minutes left.

“After Monday’s 3-0 defeat at Ramsgate, absolutely fantastic because Monday was poor,” said Cook during the post-match press conference.

“Today, I thought the effort was absolutely brilliant and if I’m being really honest, it should’ve been a bigger margin than 1-0!  They had a couple of opportunities, yes they did, but we had four or five clear cut chances and that has been the story of our season.”

Reflecting on the delay to the start of the game, Cook said: “Doesn’t help because all the boys left (home) early because we knew the M20 was shut and they got here well on time so it was really like a downtime of an hour and a half because we didn’t come out until ten to three.  We had this last week against Horsham when the bridge did come down and it does affect their mindset because they’re having to do two warm-ups kind of thing but they’re in and all off a sudden they’re not so they’ve got to start again.

“I thought we had a good start though. I thought we played very well the whole game. We didn’t let it go.  We said our work-rate had to be better than theirs. We knew their strengths because we went to watch them and we had a game plan and we executed it very well.

“The biggest thing for me today was the work-date, the work-rate was immense right til the end, massive!”

After beating their league rivals Sittingbourne 5-0 at home in a replay, Hythe Town have now scooped £4,925 in FA prize money after knocking out Mike Sandmann’s side that are struggling in the bottom five in the Ryman Premier League with five points from six games.

Non-League Day ensured a crowd of 255 watched the game and Hythe Town created the first chance after only 84 seconds.

Charlie Webster, who lined up at right-back to snuff out the threat of Leatherhead’s left-winger Kiernan Hughes-Mason, advanced over the halfway line to float in a cross, which powerfully built striker Kenny Pogue stroked a volley over the crossbar from 16-yards.

But Hythe Town received a slice of luck when Hughes-Mason pinged the near post inside 11 minutes.

Striker Oluwatomisin Adeloye’s diagonal pass was played out to Callum Davies, who hit a deep cross for Hughes-Mason to ping the near post with a free header from 12-yards.

“It’s what happens in cup football, football’s like that and cup football is cloak and dagger and there’s going to be opportunities at both ends so that’s all I want to say about that,” said Cook, who was without his son Dave who was on holiday.

“You kind of think ‘thank god for that, it’s about time we had a little bit of luck!”

Cook revealed he put Webster at right-back to nullify the threat down the wing from Hughes-Mason.

He said: “Will (Graham, my assistant) saw them at Leatherhead when they played Worthing and we knew what he was about and we actually switched Webster and he went to right-back. He’s played there before with Tonbridge Angels and done a great job, a fantastic job.”

Leatherhead linked up well down the left through Jeyasiva Sivapathasundaran, Barry Cogan and Hughes-Mason and Joe Mant was forced to dive to his right to parry Adeloye’s low drive and Giuseppe Sole was in an offside position when the turned the rebound into the net.

“He should’ve gathered it! He knows that. The good thing is he’s stopped it, it was offside but he shouldn’t have given that opportunity off so he doesn’t do too many mistakes Manty,” said Cook.

Hythe Town called visiting keeper Joe Taylor into making a smart diving save to his left.

Pogue stole the ball from Leatherhead central defender Jerry Nnamani and he cut inside onto his right foot to drive a shot towards the bottom right-hand corner, but Taylor had to be at his best to push the ball towards safety.

“He’s had a little bit of criticism since he’s been at the football club and he’s lost a bit of confidence,” revealed Cook.

“He’s played at Hastings as you know for a long period of time. He dropped down a level to Eastbourne Town and I think that affected him dropping down to that level. It’s taken him more time than I would’ve wanted for him to come to the table but he had four or five chances today and I think he’ll be disappointed not to put one of them away.”

Hythe Town went close in the 28th minute when their central defender Nick Reeves hit a free-kick down the left channel for Frankie Sawyer, who hung over a deep cross and the angle was too tight for Pogue to steer his shot in.

Leatherhead went close a couple of minutes later when Sole’s driven free-kick knocked out the immense Craig Cloke in the wall, the ball fell at Hughes-Mason’s feet and his low right-footed drive flashed just past the foot of the left-hand post from 25-yards.

This was Leatherhead’s best spell of the game and Lloyd Harrington’s long ball was chased by Sole, who laid the ball into Hughes-Mason’s path and his first time drive from 25-yards was saved comfortably by Mant.

But Hythe Town rode the storm and they were denied by an excellent one-handed save from Taylor in the 39th minute.

Sawyer clipped a nice ball in behind Ryan Mahal and Nnamani to put May through on goal, the wide left striker cut inside and stroked his right-footed drive across the keeper, who was diving to his right but somehow used his outstretched left hand to make a great stop.

“He went one way and the hands went the other so I don’t think he could’ve done more than what he done,” said Cook.

“I think it was a great stop and a great opportunity. We should’ve, any other time probably it would’ve gone in but as I said that’s the story of our season so far!

“We’ve had loads of opportunities, loads of chances, we need to start banging them in.”

When asked his thoughts at the interval, the Hythe Town boss said: “Keep doing exactly the same thing, just keep it going, keep doing the same thing.  I think the effort was there massively, the work-rate, the performance, we knew all we had to do was carry on doing the same thing in the second half – and I felt we did.”

Leatherhead created the first chance of the second half after only 74 seconds.

Davies was hugging the touch-line and floated in a cross from the right but Adeloye’s free-header was caught comfortably by Mant.

Hythe Town also created a headed chance when Cloke ghosted in to meet Sam Adams’ free-kick with a header which he failed to get on target.

But Hythe Town squandered a glorious chance to open the scoring from a long ball from Ryan Johnson.

The ball sailed over Sivapathasundaran and Harrington but Pogue failed to keep his shot down, lashing his drive over the crossbar when he only had Taylor to beat.

“He should put it away, he should’ve put it in,” admitted Cook, who knows if he’s going to fulfil his dream of reaching the First Round again, chances like this one must be clinically taken.

“I don’t want to criticise him but chances like that for a centre forward should go away and that’s it. That’s how I see that but we’re making opportunities, that’s the thing.”

Hythe Town were now dominating and Mahl was spotted to handball on the very edge of the Leatherhead penalty area.

Adams’ right-footed free-kick from 19-yards squeezed past the wall and forced Taylor to dive and parry the shot and Pogue stuck out a long right leg to poke the ball wide.

“But the chances that we made in the second half for about a 25 minutes spell, we should’ve been out of sight, we should’ve been out of sight,” said Cook.

“We know if we can get them on the back foot the three what we’ve got now, Sam Adams, Alfie May and Frankie Sawyer, if we can get them running at them, we know the pace that they’ve got and the intelligence of Sam Adams we would hurt sides.”

Leatherhead’s travelling supporters were now vocal and Hughes-Mason came back into the game after a quiet spell by hitting a right-footed drive sailing over the crossbar from 25-yards after picking the ball up from Reeves’ sliding tackle.

But Hythe Town were deadly on the breakaway, as May notched his second goal of the season with 23:53 on the clock.

Leatherhead’s second of third corners was swung in from the right by left-back Sivapathasundaran, which was headed back across goal at the far post by Harrington and landed at Johnson’s feet inside the box. 

Johnson kept his composure to dance with the ball outside his box before looking up and playing a sublime pass to release May.

May sped past last-defender Semakula, also kept his composure and with Taylor to beat he rolled the ball across the keeper, trickling inside the bottom far corner of the net.

Cook was full of praise for May.

“That’s what you get with the boy, that’s what you get with him, that’s what makes him so different from any other striker as such.

“When you need him, he’ll always nick a goal. Trademark Alfie May.”

And he was also full of praise for the quality shown by Johnson.

“RJ has come back (from Greenwich Borough), again he’s taken a little bit of time to settle down but that’s probably his best performance today.  RJ was probably one of the heroes today and the other 10, 12, 16 really.”

The home fans felt their side had doubled their lead within three minutes.

Sawyer played Pogue in behind Nnamani but the former Hastings United striker shaded the foot of the near post with a low right-footed drive.

A cross from Hythe’s left-back Josh Burchell found Pogue, who laid the ball off to Sawyer, but his 22-yard shot was saved comfortably by Taylor.

Leatherhead missed a couple of glorious chances to grab an equaliser inside the final 10 minutes.

Sivapathasundaran escaped down the left channel and cut the ball back for Adeloye to pop out of Cloke’s pocket to drag his first time shot past the left-hand post when left completely unmarked 12-yards from goal.

“Really being honest, we got out of jail with that one – he really should’ve put that one away,” admitted Cook.

“We were a little bit at sea, I think. We got a little bit carried away but they’re very good at going forward and we knew that so we tried to limit them to that.

“One thing I will say, Clokey was absolutely immense today and he was immense at Ramsgate and he’s been immense all season really and I can’t speak no highly of the guy. He was immense against a very, very good centre forward.”

Cloke launched a trademark long throw into the box but Taylor grabbed hold of the ball as Pogue tried to volley the ball into the near corner.

Leatherhead were denied a second bite of the cherry when substitute right-winger Alex Mulrooney-Skinner put in a deep cross from the right and Hughes-Mason’s driven shot was blocked by Mant’s leg.

Cook added: “Great save at that time of the game, that’s what you need at that time of the game, your keeper and your defenders come to the table. Manty did. I would’ve taken that all day long at that stage.”

Cook (who was Porter’s assistant) is keen to go on a run to the FA Cup First Round this season.

“We’re looking forward to the draw on Monday,” added Cook.

“The prize money is lovely for the club, fantastic for the chairman.  Mr Chairman (Paul Markland) stuck by us and he’s been very good. The board have been great so it’s good for the prize money.

“That (playing Hereford United) was one of the things that I actually said at training on Thursday and before the game, that I want them to experience that.  That was the best weekend of my footballing life as part of the management and I’d love them to be a part of that, to get part of that, it was fantastic and that’s what I drove into them.  I want them to feel it. I want them to achieve it and I want them to get there to say you’ve done it. It’s fantastic and I’m proud that I can say that.  I’d love to do it again as a manger, love to, but that’s a long way yet. Let’s get the next one done, who do we get? We’re quite good here, I’d love to get a home draw, who knows, I really don’t care!”

Hythe Town return to league action on Tuesday when Cook takes his side to Salters Lane to play Faversham Town, who sent Cray Wanderers crashing out of The FA Cup, courtesy of Kieron Campbell’s winner.

“We’ll get this one out of the way today and then tomorrow we’ll start building for Tuesday. We’ll start looking and see what’s about. We’ve got two or three coming back,” said Cook.

“We’ve got a couple of tough away games coming up against Faversham and Corinthian-Casuals To me every one of these sides in the league is good because everyone’s strengthened in their own manner and to do the best they can in the league so every game is going to be tough this year.”

Hythe Town: Joe Mant, Charlie Webster, Josh Burchell, Ryan Johnson, Craig Cloke, Nick Reeves, Chris Saunders, Sam Adams, Frankie Sawyer (Travis Jackson 89), Alfie May, Kenny Pogue.
Subs: Sam Welch, Josh Alger, Keane Gillett

Goal: Alfie May 69

Booked: Chris Saunders 29, Kenny Pogue 79, Ryan Johnson 87

Leatherhead: Joe Taylor, Ryan Mahal, Jeyasiva Sivapathasundaran, Paul Semakula, Lloyd Harrington (Jack Healy 87), Callum Davies (Alex Mulrooney-Skinner 68), Barry Cogan, Oluwatomisin Adeloye, Giuseppe Sole, Kiernan Hughes-Mason (Evan Lopes 89).
Subs: Kyie Martin, Callum Wilson, Nathan Campbell

Attendance: 255
Referee:  Mr Peter Killip (West Norwood, London SE27)
Assistants: Mr Jordan Whitworth (Catford, London SE6) &  Mr Ronald Albert (Catford, London SE6)

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