Lewes 3-2 Ramsgate - Where we are at the bottom half of the division it just doesn't go for you, says Ramsgate joint-boss Jim Ward

Sunday 06th November 2016
Lewes 3 – 2 Ramsgate
Location The Dripping Pan, Mountfield Road, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 2XA
Kickoff 06/11/2016 15:00

Ryman League Division One South
Sunday 6th November 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from The Dripping Pan

RAMSGATE joint-manager Jim Ward says he has submitted a couple of seven day approaches for strikers to help his struggling side score the goals that will keep them in the Ryman League.

The Rams remain in the bottom seven in the Ryman League Division One South table with 18 points from as many games after suffering their third defeat on the spin, which leaves the club only five points above the relegation zone.

Brazilian goalkeeper Lucas Covolan – who is on loan from Vanarama National League South side Whitehawk – endured a miserable Sunday afternoon in front of 445 fans at The Dripping Pan.

He suffered a Paul Robinson moment (think back to October 2006 when he failed to clear Gary Neville’s back pass which gave Croatia a 2-0 win over England in a Euro 2008 qualifier), when Jack Dixon's back-pass rolled into the back of the Lewes net inside the opening six minutes.

But Lewes deservedly equalised through Stephen Okoh’s header, before Ramsgate punished another error from the Lewes keeper, this time emergency right-back Oliver Gray heading in his second goal of the season.

Lewes equalised on the stroke of half-time through Dixon and the former Dulwich Hamlet midfielder smashed in a world-class 30-yarder to win it for Lewes in the second half.

Darren Freeman’s side are now in sixth-place in the table with 28 points from 16 games, three points adrift of fifth-placed Carshalton Athletic, but 12 points adrift of league leaders Dorking Wanderers.

“My first thoughts is disappointment like.  There’s not many teams that will come here and do what we’ve done today, I thought we played superb,” said Ward during the post-match press conference.

“We knew that they were good going forward and perhaps not the best at the back and we created numerous chances – so did they!

“It was one of those games that was good for the neutral to stand and watch.

“When you’re down at the bottom or where we are at the bottom half of the division, it just doesn’t go for you.

“Their guy (Dixon) scores two goals from outside of the box. One nearly took the back of the net off and another one’s hit the inside of the post and fell in.

“I think my defenders defended great, we had enough of the ball in midfield and up front they worked their socks off. Alright, maybe a bit more quality in different places, no it’s fine.”

Luke Watkins was the busier of the two goalkeepers and the Ramsgate stopper was called into action after only 60 seconds.

Dixon raised his left arm up before delivering an outswinging corner from the right and an unmarked Lloyd Harrington powered his header towards the roof of the net from 16-yards, but Watkins tipped the ball over the bar.

“That’s what you’re there for, it’s a bread and butter save from him really. He just tapped it over the bar,” added Ward.

Lewes sensed that Ramsgate left-back George Crimmen was their weak link as the home side were a threat down his side.

“Their number eight (Conlon) especially, I thought he was a good player. They took him off at the end.  We sorted him out, we got to grips with him. They were lively, they play a formation that is difficult, really wide and they get players in and they’re a very decent team.”

Dixon played Jonte Smith in behind Crimmen, who cut inside and forced Watkins to get down low to his right to tip the ball away.

Ramsgate were gifted the lead, with only five minutes and 26 seconds on the clock.

Cotton played a back-pass back towards his goalkeeper, who took a swipe at the ball, failed to make contact and watched in horror as the ball bounced into the back of the centre of an empty net.

It was a rare moment when a Brazilian footballer made the biggest goalkeeping gaff in the entire Ryman League this season.

Ward said: “We were all talking about this, what’s going on? We’ve got a bit of luck!  The old famous Ramsgate bobble. Thank you very much, we’ll take that!”

Watkins pulled off a brilliant save just 53 seconds later, diving high to his right to tip over Dixon’s right-footed drive from 20-yards, which was screaming towards the top far corner.

Lewes’ Academy product Ronnie Conlon impressed down the right flank and he got in behind Crimmen to whip in an excellent low cross which flashed across goal and Okoh slid in at the far post and failed to get anything on the ball as it flashed behind.

Lewes deservedly equalised with the clock showing 13 minutes and 43 seconds.

Central midfielder Harrington found himself down the left wing and he whipped in an inch-perfect cross which sailed over towards the far post for Okoh to power his free header into the top right-hand corner from 10-yards.

“To be fair in the last five games we’ve averaged a goal that we’ve let in,” said Ward.

“They scored, which I thought was a poor defensive goal on our behalf. Their guy got in between my centre half (Luke Wheatley) and my left-back (Crimmen) and had a free header. We weren’t pleased with that! The cross shouldn’t have come in, in the first place.

“But then it’s one-each and to be fair to the boys we kept going didn’t we?”

Ramsgate central midfielder Macauley Murray swung in a deep free-kick from the left but Crimmen could only steer his header wide from a tight angle.

Watkins thwarted Lewes again when he stuck out his right leg to prevent Jamie Brotherton scoring his 11th goal of the season.

“It was a good save, Brotherton’s a good player, he’s been around for years, plenty of experience,” came Ward’s reply to that vital save.

Ramsgate grabbed the lead – against the run of play – in the 25th minute – courtesy of another mistake from Covolan.

Murray swung in another free-kick from the left and Covolan came off his line at the near post and failed to gather and Gray stooped to send his header into the left-hand corner from 10-yards.

“We’ve been working on set-pieces and it hasn’t come off all season and all off a sudden up pops Ollie Gray,” said Ward.

“It was a great ball in from Macauley Murray, he’s put it in the right area and we got on the end of it.”

Ramsgate squandered an excellent chance in the 28th minute.

Lewes’ central defender Stacey Freeman’s crossfield pass which was intended for left-back Matthew George was intercepted by Ramsgate winger Jake MacKenzie, who took the ball on and dragged his shot past the far post when he only had the keeper to beat.

Ward said: “It was just his last touch, instead of keeping the ball under close control, it bobbled off him and he literally had to stretch to dink it over the keeper and he got the dink right, it just went a yard wide, but a great run.

“But we had plenty of that. We had plenty going forward, creating chances, not clear cut chances but we had plenty of the ball in their third.”

Ramsgate’s second goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Lewes and the Kent side were comfortable.

Ward said: “We stopped them. We tucked in my two wingers (MacKenzie and Paxman) into midfield and condensed the whole pitch and that’s why I’m disappointed we gave the goal away.”

MacKenzie played a low cross in from the right and striker Aaron Millbank flashed his centre across the face of goal and Alfie Paxman ghosted in at the far post but failed to make contact.

Referee Daniel Austin decided that there would be an additional two minutes of stoppage time  - but Lewes equalised with three minutes and eight seconds of time added on, much to Ward’s despair.

Stacey Freeman advanced across the halfway line and played the ball inside to Dixon, who took a touch before unleashing a left-footed drive across the diving keeper from 30-yards, the ball nestling into the bottom far corner after kissing the foot of the far post.

Ward complained: “I felt their goal, when the guy hit the inside of the post, I thought he (the referee) played over time.  What’s all that about? It’s only two minutes. It is nip picking a little bit.

“The boys’ tried to shut him down, but at the end of the day what you can do about it? The boy’s 25-yards away, he’s smashed one in the far corner, perhaps we could’ve got out quicker?”

Ramsgate re-started the game and Millbank went for goal from the centre spot, his shot sailing over the poor keeper and over the crossbar.

When asked whether Dixon’s second goal of the season had changed his half-time team-talk, Ward replied: “No! Just keep doing what you’re doing. I was pleased. We knew they’d have more of the ball than us but they didn’t have much more of the ball than us. So we just had to dig in and kept playing.”

Conlon was putting over some delicious crosses into the Ramsgate box from the right and Dixon went close with a hooked volley, which flew over the crossbar from eight-yards out after only 217 seconds.

Ward said: “We started off a bit slow to be fair in the first 5-10 minutes of the second half and then we grew into it again and it was alright.

“Again, I felt quite comfortable. I didn’t see them scoring. I knew they had a few chances but I couldn’t see them scoring.”

Ramsgate suffered the same fate when Paxman’s long throw came in from the right and Tom Chapman’s left-footed hooked volley sailed high over the bar.

Ramsgate took the sting out of the tail of Lewes’ treat. Paxman swept in a free-kick into the Lewes box, Gray flicked the ball on with his feet, the ball looped up and Covolan grabbed hold of the ball despite being put under pressure by Crimmen inside the six-yard box.

The Lewes keeper was slow coming off his line on more than one occasion during the game – probably the reason why he’s not playing in the second tier of non-league football anymore.

Watkins held a stinging drive from Cotton from 20-yards after Dixon sprayed the ball out to Okoh out on the right, who linked up well with Conlon.

But Ramsgate missed a glorious chance to grab the victory, just 51 seconds before Lewes powered in the winner.

Hardworking striker Millbank broke away down the left and he lost his footing under a challenge but managed to sweep the ball across the pitch towards Chapman, who took a touch and rushed his shot, dragging it past the far post from 20-yards.

Ward said: “Again, I thought he took on the shot on too early. I thought he done the boy, he could’ve got away. He could’ve run in a bit but Tom’s been playing today with a bad calf. He’s done wonders for me today, he’ll be sore tomorrow that’s for sure, and they’ve gone up the other end and scored.”

Lewes immediately raced up the other end, winning the game with a quality strike in the 69th minute.

This game was put back to a Sunday afternoon due to Lewes’ famous bonfire celebrations on Saturday.

Okoh played the ball inside from the right to Harrington, who set-up Dixon, who drilled a stunning first time right-footed drive rocketing into the top left hand corner from 30-yards.

“Very good goal, very good goal, it was a great goal,” hailed Ward.

“There was a reason behind it.  We realised the mistake that we’ve made with Joe (Kane) playing out of the position. Then we didn’t get back in to set-it up and then it fell to him. What can you say? Fair play to the guy.”

Conlon’s run took him towards the by-line before he cut the ball back but this time Dixon curled his shot around the far post.

Lewes substitute Ghassimu Sow was denied a goal with his first touch thanks to another great save from Watkins.

Dixon’s deep corner was retrieved by Cotton on the left by-line and he clipped the ball back towards the far post for Sow to rise and his close-range header was brilliantly kept out by Watkins, high to his right.

Ward simply added: “He’s done well today, Luke Watkins.”

Only one substitution was made by both teams today and Ward explained why he kept the same 11 players on the pitch for the whole game and today was evidence just how thin Ramsgate are squad wise.

He said: “I can’t do a lot about it! The 11 I’ve got starting, I’ve got no experience on the bench except for one, Jack Penny. He’s probably the most experienced on the bench. Well, his injured, he’s only on there to make the numbers up, so it was just a matter of digging in and getting on with it and keep playing the game. It was an enjoyable game to play in, it was alright.”

Ramsgate were to be denied an equaliser inside the final seven minutes.

MacKenzie played the ball inside to Millbank, who flicked the ball up before looping a volley against the top of the crossbar and over for a goal-kick.

“I was right behind that. I thought it was a half a chance. I thought the keeper had to at least make the save and it just looped a bit too early,” agonised Ward.

Quiet Lewes striker Jonte Smith played the dark arts card when he went down after Joe Kane’s touch and the referee showed the Ramsgate central defender his second yellow card, as the Rams played the final four minutes with ten-men.

Too many semi-professional footballers are going down as if they’ve been shot just to get an opponent sent-off.

“The boy went down like a sack of spuds didn’t he – unbelievable,” said Ward, who watched a 21-man melee take place in front of his dug-out following the incident.

“I don’t know what it was all about. I thought it was a coming together. There was nothing vicious what Joe Kane done. It was easy for the referee. I don’t know why he booked the other guy (Dixon). Why did he book the other guy? It makes life easy for him (the referee) really.”

The last chance fell to Lewes left-back George, who hit a 35-yard angled drive sailing over the crossbar.

Ramsgate are now involved in a relegation dog-fight, sitting above Guernsey (17 points from 18 games), Molesey (16 points from 16), Herne Bay (14 points from 14), while the bottom three consists of Chatham Town (13 points from 18), Godalming Town (9 points from 17) and Three Bridges (6 points from 17).

“I’m disappointed. We can’t get away from it. We’re thin on the ground but any manager will tell you it’s a struggle when you’re struggling.

“We’ve had some great performances this year and we’ve had some poor performances.  Today I thought it was fine. I thought we done alright. I thought we deserved to get something out of the game but not a lot of teams will come here and cause as many problems as we did.”

The Rams are without a midweek game this week and have a blank Saturday as they were knocked out of The Buildbase FA Trophy.  Their next game is a Kent Reliance Senior Cup Second Round tie against Ebbsfleet United at Southwood Stadium on Tuesday 15 November.

“Looking forward to it. As a manager you look forward to these games, bringing down a National League South team to play us and we’ll give it our best. We’ll put our strongest team out, well our only team out!”

Ward revealed that he has submitted seven-day approaches to bring in fresh faces.

“We’re talking to a couple of players. I’ve put in a couple of seven-day approaches in this week, talking to a couple of players to strengthen it up,” Ward said, revealing what he is looking for.

“Upfront really. We need to score the goals. The industry is excellent, we do all that.  We’re doing the hard work. It just needs that final touch. The forwards need help from somebody else to perhaps put the ball in the goal to take the pressure off the forwards who are not scoring goals.”

Lewes: Lucas Covolan, Steve Brinkhurst, Matthew George, Lloyd Harrington, Stacey Freeman, Lloyd Cotton, Stephen Okoh, Ronnie Conlon (Ghassimu Sow 74), Jamie Brotherton, Jack Dixon, Jonte Smith.
Subs: Chris Winterton, Jack Whitmore, Arinse Uade, George McCarthy

Goals: Stephen Okoh 14, Jack Dixon 45, 69

Booked: Lloyd Harrington 58, Lloyd Cotton 62, Jack Dixon 86

Ramsgate: Luke Watkins, Oliver Gray, George Crimmen, Joe Kane, Luke Wheatley, Macauley Murray, Jake MacKenzie, Luke Girt, Aaron Millbank, Tom Chapman, Alfie Paxman.
Subs: Jack Penny, Joe Halford, Mitchell Laing, Jake Munday, Lloyd Blackman

Goals: Jack Dixon 6 (own goal), Oliver Gray 25

Booked: Oliver Gray 64, Joe Kane 81

Sent Off: Joe Kane 86

Attendance: 445
Referee: Mr Daniel Austin (Bognor Regis, West Sussex)
Assistants: Mr Andrew Dunn (Portsmouth, Hampshire) & Mr Barrie Small (Bognor Regis, West Sussex)

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