Ramsgate 1-0 Phoenix Sports - We're showing a side to us this year that we didn't last year, says Ramsgate head coach Lloyd Blackman

Tuesday 16th October 2018
Ramsgate 1 – 0 Phoenix Sports
Location Southwood Stadium, Prices Avenue, Ramsgate, Kent CT11 0AN
Kickoff 16/10/2018 19:45

The Buildbase FA Trophy Preliminary Round Replay
Tuesday 16 October 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Southwood Stadium

RAMSGATE head coach Lloyd Blackman says the prize money won from Cup games this season will go towards the longevity of the club.

The Rams earnt a trip to Bostik Premier Division side AFC Hornchurch in The Buildbase FA Trophy First Qualifying Round on 27 October after striker Aaron Millbank poked home his sixth goal of the season to beat highflying Phoenix Sports at the second attempt.

Phoenix Sports arrived on the Kent coast in second-place in the Bostik South East Division with 19 points from their 10 games – but they were without 14-goal striker Jeff Duah-Kessie tonight due to a knee injury.

Ramsgate – who were knocked out of The FA Cup in the Third Qualifying Round by Vanarama National League South side Hemel Hempstead Town – banked a further three thousand pounds after winning tonight’s replay in front of 180 people at Southwood Stadium.

“It’s another cup that we’ve got a result from,” said Blackman, whose side came away from Barnehurst with a 1-1 draw at the weekend to finish off the job on home soil.

“They’re second in the league, they’re a good side and to win 1-0 and a clean sheet, of course we’re extremely pleased.

“Only one goal but there were a couple of good chances their end, there were a couple of good chances our end but generally it was two honest teams and fair play to these guys they’re a good bunch of players, I’m elated.

“We’ve got the quality in certain areas to be able to create opportunities and goals as well. Now we’re showing a little bit of resilience and that’s just not cup games.  I know we’ve had a couple of hiccups along the way against Hastings and Herne Bay but we’re showing a side to us this year that we didn’t last year so that’s pleasing.”

Phoenix Sports manager Paul Bryon – who is assisted by former Ramsgate defender Nick Davis – was massively disappointed that a three-match unbeaten run as come to an end with an early Trophy exit.

“Absolutely massively disappointed. I thought it was a bit of a mirror on Saturday’s game really,” he said.

“First half we just didn’t turn up, they pressed us and we didn’t deal with it very well.

“Second half, I thought we dominated the play without really hurting them but we had some good situations.

“It’s a very disappointing night for us.”

Bryon revealed why he left his leading goalscorer Duah-Kessie at home.

“We’re going to asses him on Saturday and see how he is. He had a bit of an impact on his knee. We’ve got to think about the whole season so we just rested him tonight and see how he is on Saturday.”

Phoenix Sports could have changed the outcome of the match and were to be denied by a goal-line clearance inside the opening 11 minutes.

Ashley Probets swung in a trademark excellent left-footed delivery and Jack Barry came up from the back to glance his header across goal towards the far post but Jack Penny was there to head the ball off the line.

“It was a decent header from Jack.  We’ve worked on set-pieces, unlike us this season we’ve been doing well from them, we’ve scored a few from set-pieces,” revealed Bryon.

“Everyone talks about Jeff but he hasn’t scored in three or four games. We went to Herne Bay and scored four and Jeff didn’t get any of them so we’ve got goals in us.”

Blackman added: “We started a little bit slow and couldn’t quite get to grips with them.  It was a good ball in from Probets. We identified that he’s got excellent delivery and to be honest we always have a lad on the back post, that’s what he’s there for.”

Ramsgate – in thirteenth-place in the table with 10 points from eight games – created their first opening in the 14th minute.

Holding midfielder Billy Munday played the ball into Rory Smith’s feet and he cut inside and onto his right-boot and his right-footed drive from 35-yards was comfortably held by Steve Phillips.

Blackman was delighted with his side’s set-pieces and the top of the crossbar was struck shortly afterwards.

Phoenix switched off as the home side played a short corner.  Harry Stannard floated in a deep cross from the left and Smith rose to glance his header onto the crossbar from six-yards.

Blackman said: “We work an awful lot on set-pieces and we identified a free area there and unfortunately there we hit the bar, it was a good effort.”

Bryon added: “That summed up our first half really. We weren’t alive, they played a short corner, one man went out, they’re two-v-one, we’ve switched off and he’s left a marker and got a free header and luckily it’s just skimmed the top of the bar.  We weren’t alive, we weren’t intelligent and we weren’t switched on.”

The game opened up and Phoenix Sports should have done better with their next chance.

Probets took a touch before whipping in a deep cross, which came out to Tony Robinson and he teed up Conrad Lee but the right-back’s shot arrowed past the far post.

Stannard, who was on fire during the first half, floated over his second corner towards the far post but this time Like Wheatley’s initial free header was blocked and his second header was tipped around the post by Phillips.

Blackman added: “We work an awful lot on set-pieces and I don’t mean to sound like a broken record but when you do get two chances that you’ve worked on and you’ve seen them present themselves we’re kind of disappointed about the two efforts.  We’re up on our seats thinking we’re going to score. On another day, they probably go in.”

Phoenix Sports keeper Phillips made a vital block with his left leg to deny dominant Ramsgate the lead halfway through the half.

Smith’s hooked pass released Stannard in behind and he tried to place his right-footed shot across the keeper into the bottom far corner from 16-yards, but the keeper stuck out his left leg to make the save.

“Rory’s found some lovely pockets in there and to be fair to the front three they have clicked lately and that’s really good for us,” said Blackman.

“Rory’s found some lovely pockets and identified the pass was on for Harry Stannard.  From the angle I saw, I’m not quite sure if he could get it out of his feet but he’s forced the keeper into a save and it was a good save.”

Bryon added:  “Steve keeps us in games when we’re not playing well and that’s what he’s there for!

“A lot of people say they’ve had chances and the keeper’s made some great saves, but there’s 11 players on the pitch and they’ve all got to do their jobs and Steve’s job is to stop goals and luckily for us he does it more times than he doesn’t. It was a great save.”

Ramsgate keeper Luke Watkins caught a cross and bowled the ball out to Stannard, who went on a 60-yard run with the ball, cut inside and stroked his 22-yard drive, which bounced once into Phillips, who got down on his knees to make a comfortable save.

Probets produced some great crosses in from the left and Robinson’s driven shot was blocked but Kweku Ansah’s first time shot sailed over the Ramsgate crossbar from 25-yards.

Ramsgate were the better side during the first half and Penny released Stannard down the left and he cut the ball back for Munday, who drilled his first time shot over the top of the near post from outside the box.

Centre-half George Crimmen then came up from the back to plant his header across goal and past the far post as he met another good delivery in from Stannard.

Phoenix Sports got in behind when Robinson’s throw in caught the home side cold but Ansah drilled his shot on the turn across the keeper and past the far post from a tight angle.

Ramsgate scored the winning goal with one minute and 5 seconds into time added on.

It was a deserved lead at the time and Penny’s flicked pass put Millbank through on goal, cutting through the heart of the Phoenix defence.  The Ramsgate striker just wanted it more than the advancing Phillips, poking the ball past the keeper from 16-yards and watching the ball trickle into the bottom left-hand corner of an empty goal.

Blackman said: “It was a real good bit of play by us. We worked very, very well in the second phase and the transition from the first part of play, I think it was from their goal-kick, it was their phase of play.

“We’ve pressed and we’ve turned the ball over well and we were the first to it and once we get into an area of the pitch where we want them to play, you can see the ability and the movement of the players finding pockets very well and a lovely weighted pass from Rory to put it over for Millbank and it was just a case of who was going to get there first and he got the toe in.  He loves scoring goals and going through like that sometimes he gets there first and he earnt that today.”

Bryon added: “It started with the ball went over the wing-back and didn’t get tight enough on toes and they’ve cut inside and a midfield player ran off one of our midfield players and he’s made a third-man run and they’re hard to deal with when they’ve got pace.

“To be honest, first half it was coming. I thought we got away with it but we hadn’t.

“I said to them (at half-time), like I said to them at the beginning of the game, they’ll work hard these lot (Ramsgate), they’ll work hard and if you match them for effort, we’ve got the quality, we can hurt them and we know that but first half we hadn’t matched them and I said if you go out and give the same effort as the first half it’s going to be embarrassing!

“I said you need to press them higher and get into their faces. We know they’re going to start getting edgy at the back if you start putting them under pressure.

“The second half was much better but we didn’t really test their keeper.
It was a mirror on Saturday. We had chances on Saturday and we should have really won the game in the end and as the time went out it became even more frustrating.”

Blackman admitted Millbank’s strike changed his half-time team-talk.

“Charlie Dickens was carrying a knock. It was an impact injury across the top of his ankle, bottom of his shin.

“It did change the talk. We had to think about contingencies, just in case Charlie couldn’t continue, also being on a booking as well that we weren’t quite as happy with.  Nothing against his performance mind but it did change the team talk.”

Blackman added: “I said keep doing what we were doing. We were in the same position on Saturday weren’t we, and we just made sure we wanted to play with a bit of bravery and no fear.  You hear those sayings an awful lot but it’s true.

“When we played them on Saturday we invited a bit of pressure and of course the team are on the ascendancy when they’ve got nothing to lose and they’re going to gamble a little bit more but we still created a couple of opportunities in the second half in particular so it was a case of us being brave and doing the eight things that we done in the first half.”

Ramsgate created the first opening of the second half after only 101 seconds as Smith struck a right-footed drive from 25-yards towards the bottom left-hand corner, which Phillips dived low to his right to hold.

Ramsgate’s next chance came on the hour mark when substitute Damon Todd released Stannard down the right and he whipped in a deep cross which was smacked on the volley by an unmarked Smith, which rose high over the crossbar from the very edge of the penalty area.

Blackman said: “It was a great move. We did identify areas across the pitch in certain phases of play when we felt we could hurt them, when the ball gets shuffled the way that it did and the balls down the channel.

“Stannard worked that very, very well from a Damon Todd pass – I thought he done extremely well when he came on by the way – and it was a perfect delivery, It was almost too perfect and it gave him an opportunity to hit it on the volley and Rory is never going to turn it down, a lad of his ability, although it’s a ridiculous tough chance from a volley just from the edge of the area. I think he’ll be disappointed that he hasn’t hit the target.”

But Phoenix Sports swiftly got on the front foot and went in search for an equaliser.

Zak Bryon found a pocket of space in the final third to clip a cross into the box which Robinson flicked his right-footed volley sailing past the far post.

Probets released striker Kyren Mundle-Smith in behind and he skipped past right-wing-back Tom Chapman on the by-line before crossing towards the far post but Bryon hooked his volley over the crossbar from 20-yards.

“Zak’s had a volley there, for me he had a bit of time. He could have let it drop a little bit and he’s tried to wrap his foot around it. It weren’t too far over but it’s just that little bit of composure. If he lets it drop another half a foot he can get over it and he’s going to test the keeper.”

Ramsgate almost grabbed a second goal inside the final 20 minutes when Penny placed his left-footed free-kick around the wall from 25-yards and Phillips made a low save on his knees as bodies cut across him in an attempt to find the decisive touch.

Phoenix Sports came within inches of equalising – deservedly at the time – when Ansah’s clever pass caught Ramsgate sleeping and slipped the ball through for Lewis Clark, who slid the ball past the keeper towards the bottom near corner, only for Mensah to get back to make a goal-line block at the near post.

“It was unfortunate for us,” said the frustrated Phoenix manager.

“The keeper’s made a mistake.  That was the area we were getting in, down their right-hand side. There were big gaps there. I kept saying to them ‘stay high, stay high.’ We were hurting them down that side and we got down that side quite a bit.  That one, if that had gone in, it would’ve been a bit of a fluky goal but he could’ve cut that one back maybe, it didn’t happen.”

“That was a strange one,” admitted Blackman.

“The ball seemed to go through and I didn’t see the lad – I don’t think anyone did! Everyone’s stopped and the next thing you know the lads turned and nearly poked it in and it was sort of a chance out of nothing and Jacob made a great recovery run and managed to clear it off the line.”

Robinson drilled a right-footed free-kick over the Ramsgate crossbar after Mundle-Smith was tripped on the edge of the box by Wheatley.

Ramsgate’s substitute left-winger Sam Lawford was released and his pacey run saw him cut inside and his right-footed low drive was held by Phillips, low down to his right.

Phoenix Sports were getting in behind down their left on many occasions and substitute Tariq Ibrahim cut the ball back from the by-line but Mundle-Smith lacked composure and flashed his first time shot across the keeper and past the far post from 22-yards.  Phoenix Sports will need to work on their finishing as Watkins was hardly tested but the highly-rated Ramsate keeper plucked many crosses out of the air during the game.

Ramsgate wasted a glorious chance to wrap up the game when Millbank’s delightful dinked pass put Millbank through on goal and with Phillips to beat his right-footed shot flashed past the right-hand post from 22-yards.

“He usually gobbles them up, he’ll be disappointed but the kid has worked hard, same as Aaron, they’ve all worked hard,” praised Blackman.

“He’s one-on-one and he’s usually clinical so I’m not going to complain. I was a striker myself and I missed plenty of chances. Deal with a mistake, that’s not a problem. It was the right thing to do, he tried to slot it inside. It was just unfortunately the wrong side of the post.”

Zak Bryon drove an injury-time angled drive towards the bottom near corner from outside the box, which was spilt by Watkins, before Barry was deployed as an emergency target-man and he glanced his header wide after meeting Probets’ last-gasp free-kick into the Ramsgate box.

“We threw the centre-half up front for the last eight minutes but it just didn’t happen for us tonight and it’s frustrating,” added Bryon.

When asked about the prize money obtained in both The FA Cup and The FA Trophy this season, Blackman replied: “Happy days! You saw the huge smile on the chairman’s face, he’ll be happy.

“I haven’t even discussed that (getting some of it for players), I really haven’t.  My job is just try to win as many games of football as I can and if the chairman comes knocking at me door and says here’s (some money), great. 

“If he doesn’t we can invest that in areas that will benefit the longevity of this club.

“I took over two years ago as a project. It’s a big project.  This time last year we would have lost games like that today.  The young players that we have they’re showing steel, they’re showing quality and for me that’s the important bit.

“It’s still a progress, it’s still a bigger picture and if the money can help us progress the process quicker, great, but that’s a given.”

Bryon – who caught the 16:50 fast train from St Pancras International to Ramsgate -  said he felt like a presenter of a travel show on television after travelling to the coast for midweek games.

“Greenwich Borough is the next one (midweek game) which ain’t too far to travel to.

“We haven’t got a big squad and we’ve had to go to Horsham at Lancing two Tuesday’s ago, last Tuesday we were at Herne Bay, this Tuesday we’re down at Ramsgate, it takes a lot out of you.

“We’ve wrapped up some miles over the last three or four weeks, if you bring in Guernsey away in the middle of that as well. I feel like Judith Chalmers!

“You know what it’s like, it’s hard work. You’ve got people coming from work. Lee Bird couldn’t get here tonight because of work and Danny Young gets here 15 minutes before kick-off so the preparation is wrong, mentally you’re tired.  I know everyone has got to work but when you have to go to work and travel a couple of hours from London, it’s difficult.”

Bryon – who takes his side to Sittingbourne on Saturday - revealed he is still hurting by the clubs FA Cup elimination for playing a suspended player.

“It’s very disappointing after what happened in The FA Cup.  Everyone knows we’re not a wealthy club, we’re self-funding.  Losing six grand in The FA Cup was devastating but this was more disappointing because it was down to us on the pitch.

“We came back Saturday and we probably could have nicked Saturday if I’m being honest – but we gave ourselves a mountain to climb in the first half.” 

Ramsgate: Luke Watkins, Tom Chapman, Jack Penny (Sam Lawford 82), Jacob Mensah, Luke Wheatley, George Crimmen, Charlie Dickens (Damon Todd 60), Billy Munday, Aaron Millbank, Harry Stannard, Rory Smith.
Subs: Stan Waller, Kyron Lightfoot, Jake Munday

Goal: Aaron Millbank 45

Booked: Charlie Dickens 13, Jack Penny 60

Phoenix Sports: Steve Phillips, Conrad Lee, Ashley Probets, Zak Bryon, Danny Young, Jack Barry, Tony Robinson, Lewis Clarke (Joe Smith 89), Kyren Mundle-Smith, Kweku Ansah (Tariq Ibrahim 78), Alfie Aldridge (Kemiude Ailreu 76).
Sub: Andrew Dythe

Booked: Lewis Clark 71

Attendance: 180
Referee:  Mr Jack Fagg (Dover)
Assistants: Mr Adam Miller (Southend-on-Sea, Essex) & Mr Nick Dunn (Deal)