London FA 2-2 Kent FA - It's up to the boys to show what they can do, says Kent FA manager Darren Phillips

Sunday 31st January 2016
London FA 2 – 2 Kent FA
Location Eden Park Avenue, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3JL
Kickoff 31/01/2016 13:00

Under 18 South East Counties Youth Championship (Sponsored by Gardiner and Scardifield Builders Merchants)
Sunday 31st January 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Eden Park Avenue

KENT FA manager Darren Phillips says it’s up to players to turn up and show what they can do during Representative games.

Kent FA claimed their first point at the third attempt in this season’s South East Counties Youth Championship after their derby against the London FA finished with honours even.

Kent FA took an early second half lead through Tom Carlton’s penalty, before the next three goalscorers all scored on their representative debuts.

London FA striker Rashev Stuart, who plays for Sedgefield Sports College, capitalised on a blunder from visiting keeper Mark Gill to swiftly equalise, before London FA substitute Freddie Cray swept home at a set-piece as the hosts looked set to win their opening game in this five-county tournament.

Kent FA equalised through impressive striker Rory Smith, who capped off an eye-catching display by slotting home, as Kent’s goals both came from Dover Athletic players.

“Pleased for the performance, obviously disappointed with the result but the last three games we were looking for a good performance today,” said Phillips.

“I think the boys have turned up and showed what they can do, especially the two new boys (Robert Henry and Smith) from Dover, who played for the first time.

“I thought Rory Smith was outstanding up front and was recommended by the Kent Schools chairman Richard Crutchfield. He’s watched him twice and got him in so very pleasing in that aspect but the result is frustrating.”

Kent FA went into the game on the back of two defeats to Sussex (5-1) and Middlesex (3-0).

“The biggest problem that we have this year is player withdrawals or players unavailable for various reasons,” said Phillips.

“Today we only had four withdrawals this week, which is quite low. It’s normally quite a lot. It doesn’t help because you don’t train, you’re going off the recommendations from clubs or the league so if they pull out on Thursday-Friday you’re asking people to come in at the last minute.”

London FA manager Steve Chapman admitted a draw was a fair outcome.

“I think the result was probably a fair result at the end of the day,” said Chapman.

“We got our noses in front in the second half and then we went asleep at the back and gave away a silly goal.

“In the end Kent came on strong and either team could’ve nicked it at the end.”

A crowd of 86 watched this game at Eden Park Avenue, played on a pristine playing surface only 22 hours after Beckenham Town defeated Tunbridge Wells 2-1 in the Southern Counties East Football League.

Kent created the first opening with only 185 seconds on the clock.

Captain Jonathan Burtonshaw played the ball into Carlton, who cut in from the right and unleashed his right-footed angled drive which screamed over the top of the far post.

Kent squandered an excellent chance to open the scoring when two Dover Athletic players combined.

Central midfielder Robert Henry released Smith through the middle and after brushing past Cem Tumkaya he dragged his right-footed shot across the keeper and agonisingly past the foot of the far post from 15-yards.

“I was pleased with their link up,” said Phillips.

“They play together at Dover on a Sunday, who are top of their division.

“They looked sharp all day. Rob obviously looks for him at club level and he found him straight away - but he’s missed!

“I’m happy that he’s come in and actually showed what he can do. We’ve had players who have been top scorers before come in and they haven’t shown what they can do but here today I thought Rory was excellent.”

Chapman added: “I think it’s very difficult in representative football to try and get any shape.

“We had to pair Mason (Simms) and Cem (Tumkaya) together, who haven’t played together before so it’s always difficult. You just have to go in there and you’re basically giving out instructions to a team of individuals and just hope it gels.”

London were swiftly to be denied by a smart save by the onrushing Kent goalkeeper Mark Gill, who plays for Maidstone United.

Stuart released Balham striker Arsen Ujkaj through on goal and he was certain to score, but Gill came out and made the block with his feet as Ujkaj advanced a couple of yards inside the penalty area straight through Kent’s heart.

Chapman briefly added: “The easy chances went to us. Arsen could’ve done better with that opportunity!”

Phillips added: “Mark’s a solid keeper. He’s been with us, he was the under 16s goalkeeper all last year.

“He’s at a good club (Maidstone United), he plays for the Schools squad as well so he’s up there with the best keeper’s at his age group.

“He always brings off a one-on-one in every game pretty much and he did it earlier this week.”

Gill made a smart low save to his left following London’s fist of six corners.

Max Williams swung the ball in from the left, Kyran Connelly rose to head the ball out of his penalty area.  The ball fell to an unmarked Merrick Simms and the Erith Town player drove his shot though a crowd of players, the ball deflecting off his London team-mate Tumkaya, which was well held by Gill.

Kent were reduced to ten-men at the time as Tonbridge Angels central defender Olly Baker was off the pitch coming to terms with a nosebleed.

Kent won their first of seven corners in the 26th minute, which right-back Jardal Kamara rose to head straight at London keeper Henry Edwards, after Carlton swung the ball in from the right.

Cray, who was introduced into the game after only 29 minutes, picked up a loose ball inside Kent’s half, raced forward only to drag his left-footed shot past the left-hand post from 25-yards.

London created the last chance of the first half, following a sublime defence splitting pass from Cray, who was in the right-back position at the time.

He released Sedgefield striker Stuart down the right, who cut inside and drilled his right-footed angled drive over the top of the angle of near post and crossbar from 20-yards.

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break.

“I think it was important not to lose today,” said Chapman.

“This is our first competitive game of the season and if we didn’t lose today it effectively puts Kent out of the running with this season’s competition so it was important not to lose.

“I just wanted them to go out and express themselves really and be proud to play for their county.”

Phillips said: “Well I thought we were on top. Again creating and finishing the final chance, we just need to be a bit more clinical, get the shots away at least but we don’t need to walk it into the goal net!

“I thought we was on top at half-time and came out for the second half and pretty much got the penalty pretty much straight away so I was pleased.

“We kept possession and got Tom Carlton and Jonathan Burtonshaw on to the ball in midfield.”

Kent’s substitute Luai Suliman, who plays for Bromley, released Smith down the right and the striker clearly dived as keeper Edwards came out in an attempt to smother the ball at his feet.

Referee Sikiru Idris, who was positioned on the other side of the penalty area, pointed to the spot.

Carlton put his club penalty taking record to shame by sending Edwards the wrong way from the spot, the ball nestling into the bottom right-hand corner.

Chapman was asked whether he felt Smith had dived to win the penalty.

“I think it’s really one of those where he says he didn’t touch him.  I would’ve liked the linesman to be more involved. Our players disputed the decision and the goalkeeper said he didn’t touch him.

“Henry should know better now to put himself in that position but to be fair on Henry that was the only thing wrong he did all day.

“He done some good quality saves and he’s a good young goalkeeper.”

Phillips refused to admit Smith had dived to win the penalty.

“I didn’t see that one,” came his reply.

“I was happy. The referee got it right and we’ll leave it there.

“A penalty’s a penalty. I’m not the ref so he gave it and Tom Carlton was given the job before the game and he slotted it home quite carefully so that was good.

“Tom has been at West Ham for a number of years. He’s also now on trial with Reading, so he’s going back there next week.

“We don’t want to over-complicate stuff with trying to do set-pieces but if someone is a set-piece specialist at their club there’s no reason why they shouldn’t carry it on.”

Kent created a couple of more chances to increase their lead.

Carlton swung in a corner towards the near post and Suliman’s left-footed hooked effort flew just past the near post.

Smith released Suliman down the right and his right-footed shot on the turn from 16-yards forced Edwards to make a low save to his right.

But with Kent playing well, a goalkeeper blunder gifted London a 54th minute equaliser.

Dover Athletic defender Kyran Connelly played a short back-pass back to Gill, who hit his clearance straight at Stuart (who was charging him down) and the ball rolled over the goal-line in the middle of the unguarded goal.

Chapman said: “I think it just cancelled out the mis-justice for the penalty that got awarded to be fair.  We were quite happy to take that, yes.”

Phillips added: “I thought it hit Kyran, obviously it hit their striker.

“Kyran’s got to play it to Sam (Fairweather-Oates) at left-back. There’s no need to go back there, they were a bit close together and Kyran’s under hit the back pass and the bloke’s right on top of the goalkeeper.  It could’ve gone anywhere, unfortunately a bit of our luck this year it went in the back of our net.”

But Gill made amends for his mistake by pulling off a fine diving save just 58 seconds later.

Stuart played a crossfield pass to Cray, who cut inside and cracked a right-footed curler towards the far corner from 15-yards, which forced Gill to dive full-length to his left to push the ball towards safety.

Chapman said of his debutant midfielder: “Again, another new boy to the squad today. Freddie Cray plays for Welling. He’s got a lot of talent. We worked hard to try to get him to play for us today. He showed why he’s been selected to play for London. He had a really good game.”

Phillips said: “I say he’s very good like that around the six-yard box with those sort of saves, that’s why we’ve kept him in the squad and we’ll stick with him for the remaining game and obviously next year as well.

“No problem with Mark, he’s obviously one of the first names to call up and he’s very happy to play for the county.”

Gill pulled off another great save when he palmed over Stuart’s fiercely hit right-footed angled drive after the striker was released down the right by Max Williams.

Chapman revealed he gave Stuart an ear bashing at the break.

He said: “I had a word with him at half-time, told him to change his game a bit, to hold up the ball rather than turn the centre halves and I think it paid dividends.

“He also changed his boots just before half-time so the studs he had some effect because he had a much better second half.”

Phillips added: “Good save, strong wrists and he’s flicked it over the bar.  We got cut open a little bit there.

“Again, he does what a keeper does, got it away.”

It was a key save from Gill, who was at fault for London’s opening goal.

Phillips said: “Goalkeeper is a position where you can be brilliant or you can make one error and people only focus on that but the two saves he made afterwards, especially the one he tipped over the bar, I thought was fantastic.

“I’ve got no thoughts on anything other than him playing for the foreseeable future.”

Kent created a chance from a set-piece as right-back Kamara played the ball forward, the ball was flicked on by Suliman and Smith took a touch before dragging his left-footed shot past the far post.

Williams swung in a corner from the right which was met by Mason Simms, who came up from the back to plant his towering header over the Kent bar.

But London took the lead for the first time in the 69th minute.

Williams floated in a free-kick from the right towards the far post, the ball was headed back across goal by Stuart and the ball landed at Cray’s feet and the Welling United midfielder swept the ball into the right-hand corner from six-yards.

Chapman said: “Again, it’s very difficult to work on set-plays but if we know the strengths of some of our players like Max, I put Max on corners and we tell them what to do and from that point of view it was a well-worked goal.

“We asked them to deliver the ball into that particular area and Freddie done well to pick up the scraps.”

Erith Town player Williams impressed for London.

Chapman said: “Max is an ex-Cray Valley player. I know him very well. He’s deserved his place in the team. He hasn’t been around for the first half of the season because he dislocated his jaw but we’re really pleased to have him back and he played a key role today in our success.”

“I suppose if you’re seeing the boys and working on things like that constantly people take more responsibility,” admitted Phillips, who like Chapman does not spend any time on the training ground prior to games.

“When a ball gets dropped in the six-yard box someone could smash it in or it could get smashed away so unfortunately for us they scored and I thought it was against the run of play.  We fought back afterwards.”

London wasted a great chance to kill off Kent when right-back Matthew Khizzah hugged the touch-line to whip in an excellent cross for Stuart to rise to plant his free header across goal and past the post.

Williams hit a 25-yard screamer past the diving Gill and also past the left-hand post, before Kent deservedly equalised with 15 minutes left.

Carlton played a lovely through ball straight through the heart of London’s defence to put Smith through, who shrugged past two defenders and showed great composure to slot his right-footed shot past the keeper in a one-on-one situation.

“I think that was the chance he was waiting for,” said Phillips.

“He had a few similar but none where he was clean through on goal. He was calm as anything, just to slot it away.

“I thought he was brilliant. I thought he was outstanding today, Rory on his debut for the county.

“The work-rate, the effort, the desire, the calmness to finish the goal, just carried on from start to finish basically. He didn’t drop until the last minute when he got cramp. It was an excellent performance.”

Chapman felt Mason Simms and Tumkaya could have cut out that chance.

He said: “I thought we could’ve done better. I thought our two centre halves got in each other’s way.

“Rory Smith is undoubtedly a good player, we know that and I thought for most of the game we kept him quiet but good players always pop up in the end, don’t they?”

Suliman drilled an angled drive into the foot of the side-netting for Kent after he was released by fellow substitute Lewis Unwin, who was one of three substitutes from Rusthall.

The last chance of the game arrived in the final nine minutes but Kent defender Connelly planted his towering header over after another fine delivery from the corner by set-piece specialist Carlton.

But these are exactly the type of games where today’s players could earn themselves a move to bigger and better things.

“I tell the players sometimes I think they don’t believe me but you get a lot of scouts coming to these games,” said Chapman.

“Over the years we’ve had more than 10 players who have gone through to the Football League or into the Conference.

“Jack Parkinson has done well, the boy who’s played in centre midfielder for Peterborough (Erhun Oztumer) played for me for London.  There’s lots of them.

“In fact we’ve just lost one of our players from this season who went to the Nike Academy who has signed for Huddersfield, Rarmani Edwards.

“The door’s open for him because we all know even when you’re at a pro club you still haven’t done it so we’re keeping tabs on him and next season hopefully he’ll stay at Huddersfield. If he doesn’t the door is always open for him to come back.”

Kent manager Phillips added: “I don’t know who is here today. We don’t know who is going to turn up.

“The under 16s had a Charlton (scout) there and a couple of boys are on trial now with them. There could be anyone watching them.

“It’s up to the boys to show what they can do.”

Contracted players are not allowed to play representative games but clubs should have a look at Kent striker Smith, 17, following his impressive display today.

“I thought we deserved maybe to win it but the one thing the boys will remember in the changing room at the end is they should’ve won,” said Phillips.

“But for me Olly Baker whose played for the under 16s stopped up today, played centre back and he had a bit of a nosebleed early on and came off and came back on but pleasing for me.

“Joe Newman returned, he’s missed a couple of games, the Dover boys, Luai (Suliman), the first time I’ve seen him for a bit.

“Again, I thought Max (Taylor) and Sam (Fairweather-Oates) down the left-hand side worked well together.

“But overall I’m more than happy from the last game against Middlesex when we lost 3-0 at home but disappointed not to get the result.

“Rory Smith, the striker, is the main thing, shining star.”

Chapman also took positives from drawing their local rivals.

“I was really proud with the way we played. It’s always going to be a struggle against Kent, it is a local derby and there was very few negatives. We could’ve passed the ball around a little bit better. I like passing teams and that’s the only thing we look into the future games but generally I was really pleased with all of them.

“I’m not looking to change the squad too much around for the next game against Middlesex.”

London FA: Henry Edwards, Matthew Khizzah, Harry King, Harry Wootton, Mason Simms, Cem Tumkaya, Max Williams (Rabai Corbin 81), George Reed (Heru Jess-King 46), Rashev Stuart (Devontae Irving-Young 76), Arsen Ujkaj (Freddie Cray 29), Merrick Sims (Ijah Currie-Wilson 46).

Goals: Rashev Ujkaj 54, Freddie Cray 69

Booked: Max Williams 62, Harry King 90

Kent FA: Mark Gill, Jardal Kamara (Olly Baker 730, Sam Fairweather-Oates, Robert Henry (Lewis Unwin 60), Kyran Connelly, Olly Baker (Ellison Rago 20, Joe Newman 63)), Jonathan Burtonshaw, Tom Carlton, Rory Smith (Luai Suliman 90), Efe Edosio (Luai Suliman 39, Efe Edosio 83)), Max Taylor (Callum Taylor 58).

Goals: Tom Carlton 51 (penalty), Rory Smith 75

Club Representation:
London FA:

Balham: Arsen Ujkaj
Cray Valley: Cem Tumkaya
Dartford: Rabai Corbin
Erith & Belvedere: George Reed
Erith Town: Merrick Simms, Mason Simms, Max Williams
Langley College: Ijah Currie-Wilson
Long Lane: Henry Edwards, Harry Wootton
Sedgefield Sports College: Heru Jess-King, Matthew Khizzah, Rashev Stuart
Thamesmead Town: Harry King, Devontae Irving-Young
Welling United: Freddie Cray

Kent FA:
Bromley: Jardal Kamara, Luai Suliman
Corinthian: Max Taylor
Dover Athletic: Tom Carlton, Kyran Connelly, Robert Henry, Rory Smith
Fulham Community: Efe Edosio
Maidstone United: Jonathan Burtonshaw, Sam Fairweather-Oates, Mark Gill, Ellison Rago
Rusthall: Joe Newman, Callum Taylor, Lewis Unwin
Tonbridge Angels: Olly Baker

Attendance: 86
Referee:  Mr Sikiru Idris (Brixton, London SW2)
Assistants: Mr Joe Camacho (Orpington) & Mr Peter Agboola (Walworth, London SE17)
Fourth Official: Mr Ashley Barnes (Bromley)