Ramsgate 3-3 Crystal Palace - That's the sort of standard we've set ourselves now and we've got to continue that, says Ramsgate boss Nick Davis

Saturday 13th July 2019
Ramsgate 3 – 3 Crystal Palace
Location Southwood Stadium, Prices Avenue, Ramsgate, Kent CT11 0AN
Kickoff 13/07/2019 15:00

Pre-Season Friendly
Saturday 13 July 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Southwood Stadium

RAMSGATE manager Nick Davis says his players’ have got to continue setting the high standards that they displayed during this thrilling pre-season friendly against Crystal Palace.

The Rams opened their pre-season campaign with a goal-less draw against Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division side Tunbridge Wells last weekend and Davis used 21 players against Richard Shaw’s side at Southwood Stadium today, although Ollie Gray sat out due to an calf strain.

The Eagles’ trip to the Kent coast took longer than planned and only began their warm up at 14:40 so referee Jack Paxman delayed the kick off by 18 minutes.

It appeared that the Premier League club would win by a cricket score when they opened the scoring after only 106 seconds through a drilled finish from left-winger Jason Lokilo.

However, Ramsgate played some scintillating attacking football during a clinical 15 minute spell as they raced into an impressive 3-1 lead.

Left-winger Will Johnson-Cole swept home following a great move, before Miles Cornwell was played in by route-one football to chip the ball over goalkeeper Joe Tupper, before Dan Carrington curled a beautiful shot into the top far corner of the net.

Attacking central midfielder Giovanni McGregor capped off an impressive 62 minutes by slotting a shot through a crowd of players to find the bottom far corner to score the game’s fifth goal in the 32nd minute.

Crystal Palace grabbed an equaliser with their only shot on target during the second half, Lokilo scoring his second goal of the game after winning and converting a penalty.

“We went a goal down early on and I always say to the lads, I like to see characters when it’s not going so well so to go 1-0 down and then come straight back into the game, I was really pleased,” said Davis.

“I think after the first five minutes we were by far the better side in the first half, in my opinion and we reacted relatively quickly to score, so I was really pleased with that.”

Crystal Palace got off to a flying start and took the lead with their first chance of the game.

Striker Rob Street released right-winger Brandon Pierrick, who was in oceans of space and he had time to play in a low cross towards the far post.  The ball was controlled by Lokilo before he drilled his left-footed angled drive across the keeper to find the bottom far corner from 16-yards.

You sensed it was going to open the floodgates.

“You do think that don’t you?  You think this could be embarrassing,” admitted Davis.

“It was a good goal. We gave them a little bit too much time.  It was a good finish from the lad, you can’t take that away from him.

“We’ve got some experienced players’ out there. It’s going to take time for them to gel but I’m delighted with how we passed the ball and managed the game in general.

“We conceded early on but it just shows character that we’ve got in there to then come back and take the lead.”

Ramsgate targetman Steve Smith was enjoying his first half battle with towering centre-half Ryan Inniss and in the eighth minute Smith controlled Rob Saunders’ long ball from left-back to lay the ball off to Cornwell and Johnson-Cole released Smith in behind Crystal Palace’s right-back David Boateng but dragged his shot across the face of the goal and the chance went begging.

“Steve Smith’s a real handful isn’t he,” said the Ramsgate manager.

“Their centre-half has played for Gillingham and he’s had a few League sides that he’s had minutes under so Smithy gave him an absolute nightmare of a time and that’s exactly what we’re looking for and we know what he can bring.”

Davis and his assistant manager Will Graham often clapped good play from their team - but they should have been two-goals down in the 15th minute.

Lokilo floated in a corner from the right and no defender was positioned on the far post and no one tracked McGregor’s run towards the far post.  Ramsgate were let off as the header was planted past the post from a tight angle.

Ramsgate proved that they will be one of the leading lights in the Isthmian League South East Division this season as they tore apart Crystal Palace with some breath-taking attacking football that humiliated their professional opponents.

Ramsgate immediately raced up the other end and equalised with 15 minutes and 23 seconds on the clock.

Right-back Jack Paxman released Tom Chapman down the right and he put in a great cross from the wing.  Smith dummied the ball for an unmarked Johnson-Cole at the far post to sweep a first-time shot into the top left-hand corner from eight-yards out.

“It was a great move! Really pleased with that.  I actually applauded that one on the side, more than what I should’ve done, albeit it’s a friendly,” said Davis, whose squad treated this like a Cup game rather a pre-season outing.

“Again, I talk about Chapman, I think he’s different class, especially for our level of football.  We get a lot of joy down that side and Smith done well. He left it, he dummied it and I’m glad Will Johnson-Cole was on the back post and put it away. We need numbers when we get balls out wide into the box, so I’m pleased.”

Crystal Palace centre-half Inniss was embarrassed by a Sunday League type goal that gave Ramsgate a deserved lead with 18 minutes and 9 seconds on the clock.

Goalkeeper Luke Watkins launched a big kick straight down the middle of the pitch.  Inniss and Smith both jumped for the ball some 30-yards from goal and Cornwell latched onto the loose ball and sublimely chipped his right-footed effort over the stranded Tupper and watched the ball drop nicely into the bottom far corner.

“Miles has been injured for the first couple of sessions actually and he’s only just recently come back in,” revealed Davis.

“I’ve had him before at Sittingbourne and he’s done well for me there, the first time around.

“He links up well with Smith, he’s an intelligent footballer Miles. Smithy came a little bit short, had a battle with the guy whose six foot five. He’s flicked the ball or he’s missed it but then Miles has taken the incentive and he’s made that third-man run, outmuscled his man and it was a great finish!”

Watkins pulled off a brilliant save to frustrate Crystal Palace in the 20th minute.

Striker Street hooked the ball to Malachi Boateng, who drilled a right-footed shot towards the top right-hand corner from 22-yards, forcing the Ramsgate keeper to dive high to his left to push the ball over the crossbar.

“A few of them haven’t played together so they had a bit too much room at times I think from deep area and we addressed that,” said Davis.

“Miles was tiring, even that early on because we were asking a lot of him in that 10 position but to be fair Watkins’ has done his job there.  They’re shooting from distance but it was going in, it was a great save!”

Ramsgate’s third goal was certainly an early contender for goal-of-the-season, when it was sublimely taken with 25 minutes and 16 seconds on the clock.

Ramsgate broke down the right with Cornwell before he fed the always-impressive Chapman.  His cross sailed into the Eagles’ penalty area and Smith threw himself at the ball but missed his diving header.  Johnson-Cole did well to keep the ball in play and recycled the ball back into the box and the ball came to Paxman, who slipped the ball into Carrington, who curled his right-footed beauty into the top far corner from 12-yards.

“I was right behind it. What a finish that was! I was saying to Will Graham (assistant manager) Dan Carrington has been different class in training. His ability on the ball, he just makes it look so comfortable and he’s got that technique and ability to score in those areas. It was a fantastic goal, a brilliant goal!”

Davis added: “They’re all pros out there (Crystal Palace) and they train every day so they’re on a hiding to nothing, don’t get me wrong, whatever the result is.

“I wanted us to do the right things and when we’ve got the ball and more so when we haven’t got the ball because that’s when we struggle because I thought in possession we were really comfortable and played some really good stuff. 

“We had a lot of time on the ball, I thought, baring in mind a lot of these lads haven’t played together so we’re delighted with the performance considering the amount of time that we’ve had with them.”

Crystal Palace bounced back from their shock and started their recovery by pulling back a second goal with 31 minutes and 4 seconds on the clock.

McGregor’s pacey run took him over the hallway line straight through the heart of the pitch and he played the ball outside to Pierrick, who was given acres of space again by Ramsgate’s left-back Saunders.

Pierrick played a low ball into the box and McGregor slotted his left-footed shot through Street’s legs inside a crowded six-yard box and it certainly did the trick as Watkins was unsighted and couldn’t prevent the ball nestling into the bottom far corner.

Davis said:  “I’m not sure if he was meant to shoot but the nine (Street) dummied it and there was a crowd of players and it went in the far corner.

“We had to be critical today, the goals we have conceded, even though I think we’ve restricted them really, we’ve restricted them in general and Watkins has made that save but I can’t think of any save our keeper’s have had to make today so that’s a plus for us but we’ve still conceded three and it’s probably the sloppiest one out of the three that we’ve conceded.”

Tupper kept his side in the game when he made a comfortable near post save towards the end of a very impressive Ramsgate performance.

Chapman played in a low cross from the right, Smith did well to turn his man inside the penalty area before finding Jonny Steele unmarked at the far post but his low shot was held by the keeper at his near post.

Davis said: “We changed a lot of the side, only three stayed on (Chapman, Paxman and Saunders).  Rob (Saunders) was the only one who did the 90 minutes so we didn’t want to push Tom Wynter more because he hasn’t played since October with his injury at Margate so we really wanted to ease him into it.

“I was delighted with the lads for the first half and that’s the sort of standard we’ve set ourselves now and we’ve got to continue that.  It wasn’t the perfect performance but it was very, very encouraging and really pleasing this early on.”

Ramsgate made seven changes at the interval, while Crystal Palace made five and both sides cancelled each other out during the second half.

Ramsgate created a couple of openings during the first eight minutes.

Paxman, who got through an impressive 62 minutes at right-back, cut in from the right and rolled the ball inside to George Monger, who sliced his left-footed shot harmlessly wide of the goal from 25-yards despite being left unmarked.

Davis was full of praise for the highly-rated former Margate defender Jack Paxman.

“He’ been an absolute livewire since he’s come in. His energy, what he brings to the side, his strength, it’s surprising how strong he is. The lad is up and down and he’ll certainly give us options during the season with Chapman on the right-hand side as well. From my point of view the way that they will link up this year will be very exciting this season and hopefully he can do that for us.”

Paxman found a pocket of space and ran towards the edge of the D but watched his right-footed drive sail just over the top of the right-hand post.

Crystal Palace needed a penalty to claim a draw with the goal coming with 12 minutes and 6 seconds on the clock.

Pierrick’s run got him inside the Ramsgate box down the right hand side and he played in a low angled cross which found Lokilo, who was brought down by last-defender Paxman and referee Jack Packman pointed to the spot.

The referee reminded substitute goalkeeper Will Godmon about the new one foot on the goal-line Law and Lokilo smashed in the resulting left-footed penalty over the keeper’s left-shoulder to get Crystal Palace out of jail.

Davis said: “It’s come from our possession! Our ball play today and the way we kept the ball was fantastic. It was the one time that we actually over passed it. They got in and our shape was out of synch and it was desperate defending from Paxman, who was showing for the ball so I can’t blame him. It was the pass that was wayward but that’s their only shot, I think, that they’ve had on target in the second half.”

Ramsgate squandered a glorious chance to claim the victory that their football deserved, just 222 seconds later.

Mikey Dalton floated in a great cross from the right which was met by Kane Rowland, but the substitute striker planted his header over the crossbar from eight-yards out.

“He should’ve scored! We created the chance so that’s the most important thing but I think Kane’s really tried to header it.  It had enough pace on it just to get his head on it didn’t he?

“There wasn’t many chances, we cut each other out in the second half.”

Monger floated in a left-footed free-kick from the left and centre-half Liam Friend went up and sent his far-post header into Ollie Webber’s safe hands.

Crystal Palace didn’t look like they were going to snatch a late goal.  The best they could muster was in the final couple of minutes.

Dylan Thistlen played in a cross from the right, which played Kammari Parris in behind Friend, but a poor first touch at the near post saw the ball bounce off him and Godmon watched the ball bounce behind for a goal-kick.

Ramsgate return to Southwood Stadium on Tuesday night (19:45) for the visit of Sean Muggeridge’s Crowborough Athletic.

“We have to actually talk about that if we’re going to go with two different teams again or just cut it down and go with 18 or so,” added Davis.

When asked whether he knows his starting 11 for the Isthmian League South East Division opener at home to newly-promoted Chichester City on Saturday 17 August, Davis, who is going to run with a squad of 16 or 17 players, revealed: “I think we’ve got about seven places that we know if I’m being honest but there’s still a few that are up for grabs.”

Ramsgate: Luke Watkins (Will Godmon 46), Jack Paxman (Dan Barrett 62), Rob Saunders, Dan Carrington (Leo Mazzone 46, Will Johnson-Cole 87)), Daniel Flemming (George Crimmen 46), Tom Wynter (Liam Friend 46), Tom Chapman (Matty Robinson 62), Jonny Steele (Mikey Dalton 46), Steve Smith (Kane Rowland 46), Miles Cornwell (George Monger 46), Will Johnson-Cole (Ashley Miller 46).

Goals: Will Johnson-Cole 16, Miles Cornwell 19, Dan Carrington 26

Crystal Palace: Joe Tupper (Ollie Webber 46), David Boateng (Jude Russell 66), Joshua Chamberlain-Gayle, Malachi Boateng (Denzelle Olopade 46), Ryan Inniss (Lewis Hobbs 46), Brandon Pierrick (Lion Bello 66), Giovanni McGregor (Kamari Parris 62), Rob Street (Idris Kadded Benoit 46), Brandon Aveiro (TQ Addy 46), Jason Lokilo (Dylan Thistlen 62).

Goals: Jason Lokilo 2, Giovanni McGregor 32, Jason Lokilo 58 (penalty)

Attendance: 276
Referee: Mr Jack Packman (Margate)
Assistants: Mr Michael Marsh (Herne Bay) & Mr Joe McKay (Maidstone)
Fourth Official:  Mr Nic Derrane (Ramsgate)