Knaphill 3-0 Tunbridge Wells - It’s very disappointing. The Vase is special to us, although it wouldn’t have looked it on today’s performance, says embarrased Tunbridge Wells boss Jason Bourne

Saturday 21st November 2015
Knaphill 3 – 0 Tunbridge Wells
Location Brookwood Country Park, Redding Way, Knaphill, Woking, Surrey GU21 2AY
Kickoff 21/11/2015 15:00

The FA Vase Second Round
Saturday 21st November 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Redding Way

TUNBRIDGE WELLS manager Jason Bourne says he feels hurt and embarrassed following his side’s poor FA Vase exit.

Surrey-based outfit Knaphill – in thirteenth-place in the Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League table on 20 points from 14 games – celebrated reaching the Third Round for the first time in their history with a comfortable 3-0 win at Redding Way.

Keith Hill’s side had defeated Southern Counties East Football League side Cray Valley (5-4 after extra time) at home in the last round and their victory over the 2013 Finalists was depressing for the large travelling contingent that travelled to Woking for the game.

Knaphill raced into a 2-0 lead inside the opening 37 minutes through two goals from tall striker Charlie Postance, as poor Tunbridge Wells failed to register a single shot on target before the interval.

Central midfielder Rob Kersley killed off the Kent side with his sixth goal of the season early in the second half but Tunbridge Wells simply failed to turn up in a competition that they hold close to their hearts after losing 2-1 to Spennymoor Town in the Final at Wembley Stadium a couple of years ago.

“To be honest, we absolutely got what we deserved,” admitted Bourne, 34, who was captain when Martin Larkin took the club to Wembley Stadium.

“Knaphill did everything better than us, everything, first balls, second balls, the quality on the ball.

“Everything that we talked about over the last week, over the last couple of weeks, just wasn’t implemented.

“It looked like we put 11 players out there with no organisation, with no sort of method of play, but that couldn’t be further from the truth!

“It hurts – I’m embarrassed to put my name to that – as a player at the club beginning my managerial career, it’s just not acceptable!

“I can go in there and shout and scream at the boys but it’s not going to change the fact that the coaching staff are working hard and we just looked clueless.”

When put to him that Knaphill wanted it more, Bourne replied: “They were a lot hungry than us. Yes, you could see we were second to everything, we really were. We’re just simply not going to go anywhere with that sort of mentality.”
Knaphill started the game on the front foot and forced visiting keeper Steve Lawrence into making an early save.

Right-winger Josh Watkins was given freedom to stroke his shot towards the bottom corner, but Lawrence got a slight touch and the ball trickled just past the foot of the far post.

But a hungry Knaphill took the lead inside the opening four minutes from the resulting corner from the left.

Alex Lumley played the corner short to Connor Close, whose angled drive screamed across the face of goal and clipped the far post and Postance reacted to stab the ball past Lawrence.

“It was a bright opening for them. Steve Lawrence actually made a good save there,” said Bourne.

“Obviously it went on, progressed, second ball was whipped in. We had two players duck out of the way and there was nothing Steve could do for the goal and all off a sudden we’re one down and we’re chasing tails a little bit.”

Bourne was confident his side could force their way back into the game.

He said: “Well to be honest, I really still believed that we’ve gone one down, we could still react to it and get ourselves back in the game.  I really did believe that and we just didn’t react at all!”

Lumley did well to win the ball from Joe Fuller in midfield and released Postance through on goal.  He easily out-paced last man Scott Whibley but was denied by a fine block from the advancing Lawrence.

Bourne said: “Good save from Stevie.  I thought they were a little bit wasteful all afternoon to be honest with you. 

“They had a lot of clear openings, it could’ve been a terrible day at the office, even worse than it already was.”

Postance cut the ball back to strike partner Jack Mazzone, who hit his right-footed dipping drive into Lawrence’s hands from 25-yards.

Tunbridge Wells, with much-travelled striker Rikki Cable playing in a central role upon his return to the club from league rivals Holmesdale, struggled in the final third and failed to register a single first half chance, despite excellent vocal support from their supporters behind the goal.

Bourne admitted Cable was provided no service to make it a happy return to the club.

“We wanted to play Rikki in wide areas today. We had Joe Nwoko (cup-tied), Chris Seenan wasn’t fully fit, he’s still coming back from injury, maybe shouldn’t even been on the bench today, but my hand was forced a little bit and (Andy) Irvine came off injured.  I don’t know how long that’s going to be so again we didn’t give the forward players anything to work with so it’s hard to make an assessment.”

Knaphill’s main tactic was to try to play the ball in behind Whibley and Perry Spackman, but often the ball would run out of play for goal-kicks.

Clinical Knaphill doubled their lead with 37 minutes on the clock as Tunbridge Wells faced a mountain to climb.

Mazzone started the move inside the Tunbridge Wells half and dinked a sublime pass to left-winger Lumley, whose low ball in took a deflection and landed at Mazzone’s feet, who teed up Postance to pick his shot into the bottom right-hand corner.

Bourne admitted: “Much deserved. We didn’t get involved in the game at all. At times they were just picking us open.”

The closest that Tunbridge Wells came to troubling Knaphill goalkeeper Richard Shelley came towards the end of the first half.

Left-back Tom Bryant clipped a hopeful ball into the penalty area, and Shelley comfortably caught Matt Morris’ sliced clearance. 

That was as good as it got for Tunbridge Wells underneath blue skies.

Bourne said: “We didn’t have a shot on goal. Balls in the box were, if any, very poor. Deliveries from the wrong areas, like I said, we didn’t create a thing.”

Knaphill immediately went up the other end and right-winger Watkins cut inside Bryant and his left-footed shot from 25-yards was caught by Lawrence.

A voice from the travelling contingent demanded that Tunbridge Wells should “step it up” for the second half, but at least the Kent side showed more desire during the second half, which was clearly lacking during the first half.

Bourne said: “We tried to be buoyant, we challenged them and said look this is what we set out to come here and do. It’s half-time. We’ve got 15 minutes to fix it. Let’s try to encourage to do the right things because I don’t believe half-times the time and place to go in there and give them a little bit of a rollocking.

“I think we came out for the second half a little brighter.  I don’t know if that was because they put their foot of the gas or we’ve had a bit more quality, I’m not sure.”

Tunbridge Wells created their first opening of the game after only 29 seconds. 

Fuller clipped the ball in behind Jamie Doble and right-back Idris Taylor but Ian Parson’s drilled his shot past the foot of the near post from a tight angle.

Bourne said: “I asked them to come out the second half a little bit brighter.  We made bits and pieces in the second half, a few scrappy bits, but I don’t think the keeper made (more than one save) all day.”

Right-back Kieron Tarbie then swung in a corner into Knaphill’s penalty area, which was cleared out to Cable, who smashed his left-footed drive high over the crossbar from 25-yards.

Knaphill, though looked hungrier and were more of a threat going forward, especially with Postance, who beat the offside flag down the right and centred for Mazzone to blaze his right-footed shot over the bar.

Knaphill wasted a great chance to kill off Tunbridge Wells in the 51st minute.

Left-back Timmy Taylor advanced into the final third before whipping in an excellent cross towards the unmarked Postance, who planted his header straight into Lawrence’s hands from 12-yards.

Bourne added :”That would’ve killed us off even earlier than they did. They were a little wasteful if I’m honest.”

Taylor then floated in a free-kick from the corner of the penalty area and Morris couldn’t poke the ball over the line as the ball dropped to him inside the six-yard box. Lawrence easily caught Doble’s ball back in from the left by-line.

But the game was over as early as the 55th minute when Knaphill scored a deserved third.

Postance was released down the right flank and he cut inside and swept a low pass towards Lumley in the middle.  He let the ball run past him into Kersley’s path, to drill his left-footed shot across Lawrence into the bottom far corner of the net from 15-yards.

“The writing was on the wall,” admitted Bourne.

“Every time we went forward we didn’t really look like creating much and every time they did they pretty much opened us up at will!”

Taylor whipped in a deep cross from the left which found Close, who put the ball in from the right but Watkins sent his left-footed drive over the bar from 25-yards.

Knaphill missed another great chance to give the score a truer reflection of Knaphill’s dominance in the 67th minute.

Mazzone put Lumley through on goal but he skied his shot over the bar from the edge of the box when he only had Lawrence to beat.

Tunbridge Wells went close to reducing the deficit through substitute Chris Seenan, who cracked a right-footed dipping drive just over the bar from 30-yards with 15 minutes remaining.

Mazzone whipped in a cross from the left which sailed over Postance’s head and Watkins cut inside and sent his left-footed drive over Lawrence’s crossbar.

It was revealed by a home official that Knaphill’s goalkeeper Shelley suffered concussion inside the dressing room at the interval after picking up a first half knock, but Tunbridge Wells finally called him into action with ten minutes left.

Seenan was put through on goal straight down the middle but his shot was blocked by Shelley. The ball ran into Parsons’ path, but the right-winger summed up the Kent sides’ day by lashing his shot past the near post with an open goal at his mercy.

Had Parsons accepted Tunbridge Wells’ lifeline, they were that poor that it would have been a consolation and not a road to recovery.

“What minute was that?” asked Bourne, who was told it was the 80th minute.

“Although we were poor for 80 minutes, if Parsons scores that maybe we, I’m hoping.

“That was a chance that should’ve been converted, only our clear opening all day.  Maybe we could’ve exerted some pressure but it pretty much summed up our day.”

Shelley made comfortable catches from a couple of headers from Barton and Fuller towards the end and Parsons lashed another shot, this time over the bar, as the travelling fans were now silent as their dream on a return to Wembley Stadium vanished on a bitterly cold and windy day.

When asked how he was feeling after his beloved home-town club exited the competition at the first hurdle, Bourne replied: “To be honest, a little embarrassed, a little bit deflated.

“We had a good crowd up here again as normal.  This is why I’m embarrassed, disappointed about the whole thing. They deserve so much better.  I haven’t seen a crowd home or away that is better than the crowd down at the Culverden, that’s what makes it sad.

“We go again as from Monday but as a manager there’s not a day that goes past when you don’t put something into it.  You’re always thinking how you can improve and stuff like that and it’s got to be that way.

“We all have to get together as coaching staff and decide how we fix this problem, whether it will be tactically, whether it will be personnel. 

“It’s just one of those, we’ve come to a point in the season now where we have to finish as high as we can and we have to rebuild and we have to maybe freshen things up.”

Tunbridge Wells are underachieving in 11th place in the Southern Counties East Football League table on 18 points from 16 games.  The club are now 21 points behind leaders Hollands & Blair, but more alarmingly only 10 points clear of basement side Holmesdale.

They travel to second-from-bottom Croydon – the club that ended their interest in The FA Cup in a Preliminary Round Replay – next Saturday.

Bourne said: “We just have to get back in and we have to just rebuild from today. 

“It’s very disappointing. The Vase is special to us, although it wouldn’t have looked it on today’s performance.

“We just got to get back to basics and start again a little bit. We are where we are in the league for a reason. We’re out of all cup competitions now so it gives us as a coaching staff a blank canvass to look to rebuild, that’s what we have to do.

“We have to finish as high as we can. When I came in I said I want players to enjoy their football so they can express themselves.  I don’t believe anyone in that changing room enjoyed it today, so we just have to work.”

Knaphill: Richard Shelley, Idris Taiwo, Timmy Taylor (Scott Costello 90), Matt Morris, Jamie Doble, Connor Close, Josh Watkins, Rob Kersley, Charlie Postance, Jack Mazzone (Aaron Pucci 82), Alex Lumley (Josh Coke 69).
Subs: David Johnston, Andy Rowe

Goals: Charlie Postance 4, 37, Rob Kersley 55

Booked: Connor Close 69, Rob Kersley 83

Tunbridge Wells: Steve Lawrence, Kieron Tarbie, Tom Bryant, Jason Barton, Scott Whibley, Perry Spackman (Lee Radford 58), Ian Parsons, Joe Fuller, Andy Irvine (Chris Seenan 33), Rikki Cable, Alfie Hall (Khalil McFarlane 71).
Subs: Nick Graham, Michal Czanner

Booked: Perry Spackman 18, Kieron Tarbie 60

Attendance: 154
Referee: Mr Jair Alzate Guzman (Southfields, London SW18)
Assistants: Mr James Amadori (Tooting, London SW17) & Mr Mohammed Dilawari (Battersea, London SW11)