Hythe Town 1-1 Herne Bay - I'm really happy with the character the boys have shown today, says Hythe Town boss Steven Watt

Saturday 01st February 2020
Hythe Town 1 – 1 Herne Bay
Location Reachfields Stadium, off Fort Road, Hythe, Kent CT21 6JS
Kickoff 01/02/2020 15:00

Isthmian League South East Division
Saturday 1 February 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Reachfields Stadium

HERNE BAY manager Ben Smith says he is happy where his side are within the play-off zone but they need to pick it up again after coming away from Hythe Town with a point.

Both of these Kent coastal clubs extended their unbeaten run to four games after a crowd of 302 witnessed a typical Kent derby stalemate, which was played under sunny blue skies and a sign that the business end is fast approaching with the floodlights only being used for the final 10 minutes of the game.

Hythe Town came away from Haywards Heath Town with a 3-0 win last weekend, while Herne Bay held leaders Hastings United to a goal-less draw at The Pilot Field in midweek.

Hastings United remain at the summit in the Isthmian League South East Division table with 52 points from their 23 league outings.

The four play-off places are currently occupied by Ashford United (46 points); Whitehawk (45 points); Cray Valley (42 points) and Herne Bay (38 points but with a game in hand); while Hythe Town remain in eleventh-place in the pecking order with 32 games from 24 league outings.

Herne Bay opened the scoring with a controversial goal 11 minutes before half-time, which went down as an own-goal from Cannons striker Alex Flisher, although the goal should have been ruled out for a foul on the keeper.

However, Hythe Town deservedly claimed a point through Frannie Collin’s tap-in, after a three-man move, which was finished off by the prolific 32-year-old marksman.

“It was a terrible game of football,” admitted Smith, who criticised the performance of referee Ian Bentley.

“We had a 0-0 draw (at Hastings), probably the best 0-0 I’ve come across but that was a bad game of football (today), really bad. Not helped at all by the man in the middle.

“I mean, he’s saying at the end of the game ‘I’ll have a look a look at the video’.  He needs to have a watch at that! He’s been a good referee but time catches up with everyone and I don’t think performances like that are good for anyone.  The linesman (Jake Woodman) was getting it off both benches and the fans and it ain’t good for the players because there’s no flow to the game.  You struggle to understand what decisions are given for, that’s both for us and against us so yes, strange one.

“I think we were poor, I don’t think they (Hythe) were great. I don’t know anyone from both sides had a good game today.  The game was stop-start. It was a typical non-league game where it was just lumped too and throw.”

Hythe Town boss Steven Watt said: “Disappointed not to come away with all three points, if I’m being honest.

“I thought for large spells we were the better side. I thought Herne Bay were always a threat on the counter. They’ve got some really good players, Ben has got a good squad there but I feel the ref missed a clear foul on Will Godmon for their goal so we’re sitting a little bit disappointed that the we haven’t come away with a 1-0 victory.

“But I can’t ask any more from the boys. I think we dominated the game but not really having enough quality in the final third to take chances.”

Herne Bay created the first opening with four minutes and 45 seconds on the clock.

Left-winger Keiron Campbell turned Hythe Town’s right-back Ross Ibbertson, before playing the ball into the feet of left-back Daniel Carrington, who hit a long diagonal pass over to right-winger Tushaun-Tyresse Walters. 

Walters spun Hythe’s left-back Nathan Gordon outside the box and once inside sent his left-footed chip landing on the top of the roof of the net and behind for a goal-kick.

“Good chance.  I don’t think he realised how much space he had. He was unlucky with the chip, he’s confident enough to do that so you can’t have a go at people for missing chances and getting good opportunities. It was a great ball in there as well, it was a good start,” said Smith.

Hythe Town won the corner-count 9-5 and they went close to scoring with their first delivery.

Danny Walder drove the ball in from the right towards the near post where centre-half Tom Wynter smacked his right-footed volley screaming past the near post.

Herne Bay swiftly went up the other end and went close to taking the lead with eight minutes and 43 seconds on the clock.

Right-back Ryan Cooper, who was standing on a congested halfway line, slipped the ball through several players to put Zak Ansah through on goal down the right channel.  The striker cut into the box and put a chance on a plate to find Campbell at the far post, who slid in with Gordon to poke the ball just past the foot of the left-hand post from a couple of yards out.

“Really good defending from the right-back. Keiron’s there for a tap-in and then to everyone’s amazement it’s a goal-kick! I think the ref’s done the right-back a lot of dis-justice there because he’s made a great recovery tackle,” said Smith.

Watt added: “Ross was able to put enough pressure on him so he couldn’t steer it goalwards.

“They’ve got very good players’ going forward and they’re always a threat and they’re always in the game, if you don’t get some goals up early against them, so we always know you’ve got to contain them going forward but I think over 90 minutes, yes they’ve had chances but I’m sure Ben’s having the same opinion as myself. It’s our players made better decisions in forward areas, we could’ve both scored more goals today.”

Herne Bay goalkeeper George Kamurasi pulled off a fine reaction save to frustrate the home side.

Hythe central-midfielder James Rogers won a header in the centre-circle and the ball landed at Flisher’s feet on the edge of the box and he swept the ball out to Charlie Webster out on the right (splitting open centre-half Callum Adonis-Taylor) and he drove forward before unleashing a right-footed angled drive from 15-yards, which was parried by Kamurasi, getting swiftly down to his right and getting a strong right hand to the ball to push the ball away at his near post.

Watt said: “It was something that we spoke about, keeping our width and hitting the diagonals to isolate their full-backs one-v-one and Webbo got his shot off and was unlucky not to hit the back of the net.”

Smith added: “I expect George to save them. He’s been playing well. He’s come into good form so it’s going to take something decent or something very simple to beat George.”

Hythe Town went close to scoring following their third corner.

Walder hung a corner in from the right, deep towards the far post where an unmarked Tom Wynter knocked the ball down and Tom Murphy cracked his right-footed volley screaming across the keeper and through a crowded box and watched the ball scream past the far post from 22-yards.

“I thought it was a good chance. I thought he could’ve done better with that effort,” said Watt.

“It was about creating chances and trying to get at their back-line as much as we could and I thought we asked them a lot of questions and unlucky not to come away with a goal.”

Hythe Town were knocking on the door and created another chance just before the half-way mark.

Rogers, who was winning the aerial midfield battle, nodded the ball forward from midfield, Callum Adonis-Taylor failed to cut the ball out after sticking out his leg, and Webster drilled his right-footed angled drive across the face of goal and just past the foot of the far post.

“They’re a big, strong experienced side so they’re going to create chances really,” added Smith.

“Today was a day that was about the way we play and we didn’t match them for that. We stood off them a little bit too much and that’s why we couldn’t implement our own game.”

Herne Bay, however, weathered the storm but their goal, which was scored with 33 minutes and 37 seconds on the clock, should have been wiped out by referee Ian Bentley.

It came from their second corner of the game, which was swung in by Tom Carlton from the right – the first corner he put into the box having played his first two short to Ansah.

A foul was clearly made on goalkeeper Will Godmon as the ball came in but the referee failed to spot it.

Mobalaji Dawodu (who also protected his goalkeeper with some great defensive headers sailing behind for corners later on in the game) nodded the ball towards the goal and the ball bounced off Flisher and nestled in the back of the net.

Watt said: “I think it’s a bad error from the referee.  Look, when I spoke to him after the game he said he didn’t really see.  He can ‘only give what he sees’.

“I’m glad it hasn’t cost us all the points, that’s the only thing because it is an error. Will is on the floor before the ball’s even kicked!  That’s one area the referee usually looks at very closely and I would say I think nine times out of 10 he would’ve given a free-kick there and you don’t find yourselves 1-0 down.”

Smith added: “You see them given on keepers but I think he’s tried to buy it. I think he could’ve stayed on his feet.

“Whether there was a little foul in there, a slight foul or not, I think he tried to buy it in there and I think he’s gambled at the wrong time really. You don’t gamble with (set-pieces) into your box.  Seven out of 10 they’re given as a free-kick.

“We’re 1-0 up but I thought we were flat, nowhere near the performance we had against Hastings, so delighted to be 1-0 up but we’ve got to give more than that.”

Herne Bay struck the top of the Hythe Town crossbar in the 39th minute.

Carlton’s third corner was played short to Walters and Carlton and Campbell linked up down the left before Carlton floated in a cross, which sailed over the keeper’s left shoulder and dropped and kissed the top of the crossbar, as the highly-rated midfielder tried to curl his ball into the top far corner from 25-yards.

“They go in, it’s a lucky goal. We had one against us against Burgess Hill like that. You’re thinking could’ve it be our day with something like that going in but not to be,” added Smith.

Walters exploded into life by reaching the by-line before cutting the ball back for Dawodu, whose left-footed hooked shot bounced comfortably into Godmon’s hands.

Anthony Edgar was not in the game at all as the ball often by-passed him and the quiet attacking midfielder was penalised for handball and resulted in Walder drilling his right-footed free-kick over the wall from 35-yards, which was held at head height by Kamurasi, stepping to his left to prevent the ball rifling into the top right-hand corner.

Smith said: “Dangerous opportunities giving free-kicks away. They’ve got a lot of players that can strike free-kicks well. We know Danny Walder is a quality player. He gets it on target but luckily it was a bit too far out to really trouble G.”

Kamurasi pulled off a brilliant save at his near post at the end of the first half.

Hythe Town centre-half Jamie Coyle often found himself lurking in space at the far post at set-pieces and he was left in space to meet Walder’s corner towards the far post and from six-yards buried his header down, which was flicked behind for a corner by Kamurasi, low to his left.

“I thought it was a great save from Jamie’s header,” said Watt.

“It was, again, a great delivery, Jamie does what he does well at the back post and it’s a good powerful header down and you’ve got to give credit to the keeper, it’s a fantastic save.”

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the interval.

Watt said: “Going in at half-time with the boys, it was really positive and I said we were really unlucky to be behind in the game, not just because of the poor decision but because of the few chances that we did create in that half.”

Smith added: “Liven up! Nowhere near good enough!  You want to take something from this game, you’ve got to raise your performance level!”

Herne Bay fashioned a chance after only 185 seconds when Campbell sprinted through the heart of the pitch before feeding Ansah down the left and he cut the ball onto his right-boot before flashing his right-footed drive across the keeper and just past the foot of the far post with an angled drive from 16-yards.

“For as poor as we were today, we did create some half chances, we didn’t quite take the half-chances today,” admitted Smith.

“We thought it was in, a great shot. I thought the keeper was stranded but it didn’t quite go.”

Watt added: “He’s their top goalscorer (with 21 goals). Even though you might not see him do much in the game, he’s a threat and we have to contain him. These types of players are always going to create opportunities. It’s how you manage him and if you then manage him in the right areas and I thought we did that. I think we managed to nullifying him in particular.  We worked quite a lot today and their main threats were their two wide players.”

Herne Bay left-back Carrington was struggling with a knock to a bruised left knee and he was turned by Webster, who whipped in a great cross from within the right channel to pick out an unmarked Murphy, who found a pocket of space as he wasn’t marked by Cooper, but his drilled shot on the turn flew over the crossbar from 16-yards.

“I thought Murphy should’ve scored there, maybe have taken a touch and hit a better effort but I think with the way the game patterned out we dominated possession particularly for large periods of time,” said Watt.

“Yet again, just quality in the final third let us down today. We didn’t take our chances when they presented themselves.”

Herne Bay caught the Cannons the counter-attack in the 66th minute when Edgar drove a long ball along the deck that split open Gordon to put Cooper in down the right. The right-back sprinted to keep the ball in play before cutting the ball back for Ansah, who curled his shot around the keeper and around the far post from 19-yards.

Smith said: “Another one. We keep getting Ansah chances, he’s going to score on. Today, it didn’t quite fall for us.”

Campbell had two bites of the cherry, his first driven shot was blocked and his second rolled into the hands of Godmon at his near post.

“I thought their main threat was Campbell down the left-hand side, who is always a constant thorn in the side, “ said Watt, whose side nullified the threat from Walters and Edgar during the whole game.

“You have to contain their front four, you have to address that and in your pre-match discussions and we spoke about how important it was today to contain the majority of them.  We all agreed that it would be impossible to contain them all the whole time but I thought on the whole baring Campbell, who I thought was their best player going forward, I thought we contained them very, very well.”

Watt made a couple of changes with Darren Oldaker and Tom Walmsley coming on, while a struggling Carrington was replaced by Simon Kabamba, who was at fault for the equaliser when it arrived with 30 minutes and 17 seconds on the clock.

Kabamba was nowhere to be seen as Hythe Town built their move down the right-hand side.

Webster released Ibbertson on the overlap, who was in oceans of space to whip in a quality low cross which flashed across the face of goal.  Kamurasi stretched his big frame but failed to cut the cross out and Collin slid in at the far post to poke the ball into the bottom left-hand corner from on the goal-line to score his sixth goal in Hythe’s colours this season.

Watt said: “Something that we spoke about at half-time about getting in behind their full-backs and doubling up with our full-backs, getting in overlaps especially down their left-hand side, so we touched on it that it was something that we could exploit and the boys listened and it’s paid dividends today. A great overlapping run by Ross and a fantastic cross and Frannie Collin does what he does best and puts the ball in the back of the net.

“It was a good effort from the boys, a great character to come back and disappointed we’ve not got all three (points).”

Collin had a very quiet game today but popped up when it really mattered.

Smith said: “He had a quite game, the last time he played us and scored so he’s made a living out of that hasn’t he?”

“I’m just disappointed with how it’s come from. We’ve had a situation under control on the halfway line and we’ve just stepped off and allowed them to play the ball down the line. It’s poor defending high up the pitch from us and from then on it’s just opened us, the game’s open , a great ball in and to be fair to my defenders, once it gets that ball in that little area and he’s put it in there, nothing my defence can do about that.”

Hythe Town finished the game on the front foot but Herne Bay were the side creating the chances.

Campbell, Walters and Carlton linked up before Ansah right-footed shot on the turn was saved by Godmon inside the final 10 minutes.

At the other end, Oldaker floated in a deep cross, which was recycled back into the box by Coyle and Flisher’s looping header was caught by Kamurasi.

Carlton whipped a 28-yard free-kick over the Hythe Town wall into the side netting before Carlton teed up a free-kick on the other side of the pitch to Ansah, who took a heavy touch before drilling his shot over the crossbar with his second touch, from 25-yards.

Dawodu flicked on a big kick from Kamurasi, before Campbell cut into the box and centred for Walters, who nipped in front of Gordon and poked his first time shot past the foot of the near post from inside the six-yard box.

Collin missed a late chance to snatch the victory for Hythe Town, smacking his right-footed volley over the crossbar from a central position 25-yards from goal after the ball was cleared to him following Godmon’s free-kick from the halfway line.

Watt said: “I feel at times today the ball didn’t bounce our way wither there was a couple of times we got in good areas and it’s a cross and it takes a deflection and rather it falls to you, it fell to them. It was one of those days, which happens.

“I’m really happy with the character the boys have shown today. You’re 1-0 down at home, against a side that’s (lost one game in their last 10 league games) and we’ve come away and everyone in our dressing room is disappointed we didn’t get three points but on the other hand I’m very, very pleased that we’re playing the way we are and how good we’re looking at the moment.”

Smith said:  “We huffed and puffed, we didn’t quite have that spark in us today, whether that’s in defensive areas, getting out to close the ball down or whether it was in attacking areas, getting a finish to things.

“We’re disappointed today, I’ve got to be honest, we’re disappointed. We’ve been flying, we’ve been doing well all season and we have to look at the positives, look at the bigger picture.

“We’ve come away at Hythe, which I think will be a very tough place for anyone to come the back end of the season. Some of the players they’ve got and the ones that they are signing, we’ve come away from here today and we’ve got a point.  We got a point away at Hastings, at the end of the season I’m hopeful those points will make a big difference to us.

“We’re happy with where we are at the minute but we need to pick it up again and go again.”

Both sides are back in league action on Tuesday night, with Hythe Town travelling to Sevenoaks Town (kicking off at 19:30)  while Herne Bay welcome Ramsgate to Winch’s Field (19:45).

Micky Collins’ side are in eighth-place in the table with 34 points from 22 games and came away from Faversham Town with a 2-0 win today, while Ramsgate remain second-from-bottom on 14 points from their 23 games after losing 2-0 at home to the side immediately above them in the table, Three Bridges.

Matt Longhurst’s side are eight points clear of his old side East Grinstead Town, who are at the foot of the table, without any league win in their 22 league games.

Hythe Town: Will Godmon, Ross Ibbertson, Nathan Gordon, James Rogers, Jamie Coyle, Tom Wynter, Tom Murphy (Tom Walmsley 64), Danny Walder (Darren Oldaker 64), Alex Flisher, Frannie Collin, Charlie Webster (Jarred Trespaderne 81).
Subs: Alex Brown, Jacob Brown

Goal: Frannie Collin 76

Booked: Will Godmon 90

Herne Bay: George Kamurasi, Ryan Cooper, Daniel Carrington (Simon Kabamba 64), Mobalaji Dawodu, Callum Adonis-Taylor, Laurence Harvey, Keiron Campbell, Tom Carlton, Zak Ansah, Anthony Edgar (Danny Lawrence 75), Tushaun-Tyresse Walters.
Subs: Kyron Lightfoot, Chris Saunders, Joe Nelder

Goals: Alex Flisher 34 (own goal)

Booked: Mobalaji Dawodu 67, Anthony Edgar 75, Danny Lawrence 90

Attendance: 302
Referee: Mr Ian Bentley
Assistants: Mr Jake Woodman & Mr Bo Wang