Ramsgate 4-0 Sittingbourne - I take full responsibility, I'm the manager and we've got work to do, says Sittingbourne newly-appointed boss Chris Lynch

Saturday 19th January 2019
Ramsgate 4 – 0 Sittingbourne
Location Southwood Stadium, Prices Avenue, Ramsgate, Kent CT11 0AN
Kickoff 19/01/2019 15:00

Bostik South East Division
Saturday 19 January 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Southwood Stadium

SITTINGBOURNE’S newly-appointed manager Chris Lynch says he takes responsibility for their thrashing at Ramsgate.

Dover Athletic’s head of youth development suffered a baptism of fire as his first game in charge in the Bostik League ended in a heavy defeat as Sittingbourne’s depressing record of just one win in 13 games leaves the club in the bottom three with 17 points from 19 games, just a point clear of basement side Greenwich Borough.

Ramsgate were two goals in front with only six minutes and 43 seconds in Lynch’s managerial debut, as Aaron Millbank and Kane Rowland scored.

Rory Smith slotted in his 13th goal of the season just before the hour-mark before winger Tom Chapman completed the scoring as Nick Davis extends his unbeaten run as Ramsgate manager to four games.

Ramsgate are now in eleventh-place in the Bostik South East Division table with 27 points from 21 games, eight points adrift of the play-offs.

“Well it was always going to be a difficult game coming into my first game with several injuries, new players joining and some haven’t arrived so there’s four or five players that haven’t arrived yet and on top of the that we had to have a bit of a makeshift defence,” said Lynch.

“Young Arben Muskaj, it’s his first game, he’s come in central defence, it’s always difficult when you’ve not played with people before, communication skills, barriers that is.

“To be honest, I didn’t expect to go and win the game convincingly today anyway but it’s given me a lot to think about and a lot to learn for Tuesday.

“I’ve got a big job here to do. There’s some good players here but we’ve got a lot of organisation to take care off and we’ve got players coming in and they need time to gel so it is what it is.  It’s a 4-0 loss but we move on.”

Ramsgate boss Davis said of his sixth game in charge: “We didn’t know what to expect today really.  They’ve brought in six or seven new players during the week, a new manager who they were looking to impress him and I thought we were very professional today.

“We made it a little bit hard work than what we could’ve been.  It could’ve been a little more than 2-0 at half-time but we were professional how we went about it.  We kept a clean sheet, three points, 10 points from 12, delighted!”

Sittingbourne made five changes to the side that were thrashed 5-0 down at title-chasing Hastings United fourteen days ago and Lynch handed debuts to right-back Abdel N’Dew, and attackers Billy Lewins and Liam Middleton.

Sittingbourne should have opened the scoring after only 22 seconds but Ramsgate keeper Luke Watkins pulled off a fine save.

Henry Woods was released down the left and his low cross was flicked towards the bottom near corner by Lewins, but Watkins dived to his right to parry and Lewins rifled the rebound high over the crossbar.

“Had that gone in, I think we would’ve had a bit more momentum and who knows what the score would’ve been but football is about chances. You’ve got to take your chances and if you don’t then you can get punished and today we have,” admitted Lynch.

Davis added: “We couldn’t clear our lines could we?  I just said to Joe (Radford, goalkeeper coach) that was probably their only shot on target.  Maybe there was a couple more but I’m trying to think. I can’t think of any more but it took us a little while to get going!”

Ramsgate immediately went up the other end and opened the scoring with just 90 seconds on the clock.

Watkins launched his goal-kick up field and Rowland’s fine pass released Millbank who cut into the box and swept his left-footed shot across the keeper and the ball kissed the far post before nestling into the back of the net.

Davis said: “Kane Rowland put the ball through, Millbank on his left-foot, great goal!

“They linked up well, didn’t they? I thought they linked up well all game. We were a real threat and we’ve been a real threat for the last couple of games, not just this one!

“We need to score goals if we want to win games, get that balance right as well and it’s pleasing as well for that clean sheet. It was a great through ball from Kane and what a finish from Millbank!”

Lynch added: “What can you say about that? We’ve literally just had a shot that could’ve gone in – it hits the keeper in the face – and within seconds they’ve pretty much gone down the other side and hit one in off the post so that happens in football.”

Ramsgate were the dominant force during the first half as Sittingbourne’s players froze in the headlights and their defence wasn’t up to this level.

The Rams won the corner count by 12-1 and Smith took all of them and his first one was met by centre-half George Crimmen at the far post who got in front of his slack marker to send his downward header past the post.

Ramsgate went closer following their second corner.  The ball came out to Connor Sanders – who plays on the left-hand side of the midfield diamond – and he drilled his shot from 25-yards crashing against the top of the crossbar and behind for a goal-kick.

Davis said: “It was always going over that one!  We work quite hard on the set-pieces.  We haven’t scored from a corner yet since I’ve been here.”

Lynch said: “Well, it was a good strike. We haven’t closed down quickly enough on that occasion but these are the things that we’ll be working on over the next few months in training.”

Ramsgate deservedly doubled their lead with only six minutes and 43 seconds on the clock, through comical defending.

Goalkeeper Patrick Lee played a short goal-kick to centre-half Ben Fitchett, who was standing inside the D. 

Quick thinking from Rowland saw him press Fitchett into making a costly mistake, stealing the ball off his opponent, cutting onto his right foot before finishing easily past Lee from just inside the penalty area.

“Well I said to the lads before, Chris has gone in there, he’s had a couple of sessions with them and he said he wants to play football,” explained Davis.

“Sittingbourne have been very direct this year so I said what do we expect today? We know they’ve got a long throw but I think they’re going to try and play so let’s press them and that’s exactly what we did and we scored from it.

“It’s very difficult sometimes to play, over-play at the back, especially on our pitch.  Woodstock will be difficult as well for them, so we set-up to be able to deal with both and they played it and they gifted us really and I’m pleased for Kane Rowland to get his first goal.”

Lynch said: “I mean that routine was something that we’ve worked on in one session pretty much and I felt confident enough as long as the ball was played to feet and the first touch is good, then it gets us high up the pitch.

“Unfortunately, what you saw was one out of those seven goal-kick procedures we took happened to just be a poor touch and ended up being pressed and the balls gone in. It wasn’t ideal but mistakes happen and you’ve got to accept that sometimes.

“Two-nil down with seven minutes gone and you’re thinking to yourself this could quite be a high scoring game that we want to avoid but full credit to the lads, they have come back with character after the second and the third went in during the second half and they still showed a lot of character so I’m proud of the boys for that.”

Chapman had a great game for Ramsgate and he drove across the pitch with the ball at his feet and after going on a run for 40-yards he flashed his left-footed drive just past the foot of the near post from a couple of yards outside the box.

Sanders launched six of his seven long throws into the Sittingbourne box during the first half and Sittingbourne just couldn’t defend them properly.

Fitchett flicked the ball back into the danger area and Crimmen’s free-header was plucked out of the air by Lee at his near post.

“We’ve got a long throw as well, which helps. It’s another string to our bow,” said Davis.

“If we can score from different avenues it makes us stronger as a team doesn’t it? If games are tight, you’re playing against better sides, sometimes if you get that ball in that box, I’ve been accustomed to it for years with the teams that I’ve been involved in.  We’ve played some good stuff but we’ve also got that in our armoury as well.”

Lynch added: “The lad has got a long throw on him and it’s dangerous.  We’ve done what we can to deal with that. We’ve got quite a small back line at the moment in terms of physicality and height wise but he’s put them in the right areas.”

Sittingbourne keeper Lee used his finger-tips to deny rampant Ramsgate a third goal in the 25th minute.

Poor defending from Sittingbourne’s two centre-halves Arben Muskaj and Fitchett allowed Smith to play the ball along the pitch straight down the middle to put Rowland through on goal but Lee’s fingertips ensured the ball sailed wide of the left-hand post and behind for another corner.

“It was a great save actually. The lad has gone through one-on-one and Pat’s done really well to get to it so he’s done really well there,” added the Sittingbourne manager.

Sittingbourne took over 30 minutes to create their second chance of the game.

Winger Middleton was left in acres of space down the left to float in a great cross but Woods glanced his free-header across keeper Watkins and watched the ball drop just wide of the far post.

“I was very impressed with Liam today. A year ago he was playing youth football so he’s stepped up from under 18’s football and played a bit at Canterbury this year and as a result I thought he done quite well today. It was a good effort, on another day it could’ve gone in,” added Lynch.

Davis added: “It wasn’t on target though! They’re entitled to have spells in the game aren’t they? They’re going to get in at times when we push forward with numbers. I thought we were comfortable throughout really weren’t we?”

Sittingbourne midfielder Lewis Chambers launched three long throws into the Ramsgate box and Tommie Fagg’s near-post header was comfortably caught by Watkins.

A couple of minutes later, Ramsgate striker Smith cut the ball onto his left foot and curled his powerful shot around the far post from 22-yards.

Sittingbourne lost lone striker Tom Loynes to his troublesome knee injury and was replaced by Keith Orenuga, who let the game pass him by for the 35 minutes that he was on the pitch before he was replaced by Izzy Adebayo.

Lynch said: “Tom’s had a knee injury for the last few weeks so he was injured prior to my arrivel.  We thought we’d test him today. It’s nothing too serious with what’s happened in the match today but he just felt that he needed to come off before any further injury could take place so he should be alright in a couple of weeks from now with a lot of rest.”

Millbank played the ball inside from the right to Chapman, whose left-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area (after being given a chance following some more poor defending from Chris Webber and Fitchett) was parried by Lee, diving low to his right.

Dominant Ramsgate should have been in front by more than two goals at the interval and Sittingbourne’s players lacked confidence and belief.

“It should’ve been (more) but what I said to them in there 2-0 is not a great lead,” admitted Davis.

“We were 2-0 up against Haywards Heath, same story. We should’ve had a little more but we didn’t and the next goal is key isn’t it? If we get it you think we’ll go on and win comfortably but if they get it goals change games don’t they and it did against Haywards Heath and that’s at the back of my mind. 

“You’re thinking if they score you never know what happens so it was a key for us to get the next goal and luckily we did and then we went on to comfortably win.”

Sittingbourne manager Lynch added: “So at 2-0 down at half-time, I said to the lads that this game is achievable to come back now shooting down the hill and quite frankly I felt we could do something. Unfortunately, we then conceded the third goal, which is kind of game over at that point.”

Lynch made a tactical change at the break as substitute Robert Lofting came on for right-back N’Dew.  Lofting featured at left-back with Muskaj moving across to right-back with Fitchett and Webber playing in the heart of defence.

Impressive Ramsgate took two and a half minutes to create their first opening of the second half when Smith delivered an out-swinging corner from the right and Rowland guided his header which was comfortably gathered by Lee.

Chambers’ third and final long throw was hurled into the Ramsgate penalty area and the ball was cleared out to Middleton to hit his left-footed half-volley sailing over the crossbar from 16-yards.

Sanders fed the ball into Smith, who cut in from the left and with the ball bouncing up and down he smacked his shot past the foot of the near post from 30-yards.

Davis said: “We’ve put him out on that side and he’s scored three goals and he didn’t score in 14 games before that so they’re quite versatile those boys up front. They can mix and match it.  He scored one exactly like that against Guernsey (2-2 draw at home) last week which nestled into the top corner so he’s got that in his locker.  I thought they were a real threat, all of them (our attacking players).”

Ramsgate produced a lovely move to score their third goal with 12 minutes and 33 seconds on the clock.

Right-back MacKenzie played the ball into Millbank’s feet inside the Sittingbourne half and he ran at the defence before slipping Chapman in behind the Sittingbourne defence and instead of shooting from a tight angle he rolled the ball across the six-yard box for Smith to sweep his shot into the bottom near corner.

Davis said: “A great move, wasn’t it?  I’m pleased for Rory that he’s scored again and all four of the forwards so a clean sheet, it’s near enough a perfect game, a perfect day for us for Ramsgate people.”

Lynch added: “Well taken goal. Rory’s done well there, a good finish again. They’ve pressed us at the top there, they’ve done well and it’s gone in for them so a good all-round move from them.”

Sittingbourne failed to test Watkins at all during the second half but they created an opening that should have been better halfway through.

With Fagg pulling the strings in midfield, Fitchett came up to join the attack and from within the final third he floated in a great cross into the penalty area for an unmarked Middleton, who steered his poor header across goal and Ramsgate cleared their lines.

Lynch said: “He’s tried to direct it, it clearly hasn’t on that occasion but he’s a young lad and he’ll learn from that.”

When asked about creating nothing in the final third for the rest of the game, the Brickies’ manager replied: “It’s difficult when you’ve got a squad that really haven’t played together before. Some have obviously but on the whole there were three new people in today and it was a case of this was the team we could put out today. The new players arrive on Monday and Tuesday so we did what we could do today and I think it showed in our shape.”

Ramsgate centre-half Mensah has hit the national press with claims that Premier League duo Wolverhampton Wanderers and Cardiff City are taking a keen interest.

“I’m not sure how much truth is in that if I’m being honest,” Davis said on Mensah’s interest.

“Do you know what? I could’ve kept the back four from last week, the same back four that beat Haywards Heath and drew with Guernsey.  We’ve conceded four goals in those two games and that was our first clean sheet for a long time so I went back to that back four.

“I put Mensah in alongside Crimmen, who didn’t put a foot wrong, again. Since I’ve been at the club Crimmen hasn’t put a foot wrong! I played with him, he’ll be the first to admit he lacks a bit of pace but my god he does everything so well.

“Mensah and Crimmen compliment each other well, Rob Saunders as well with his pace so I’ve got a nice balance there.”

Ramsgate went close to adding to their lead inside the final 20 minutes when left-back Saunders put in a great cross from the left for Smith to hook his volley just past the left-hand post at the near post.

Ramsgate rattled in their fourth goal with 30 minutes and 40 seconds on the clock.

Smith was some 40-yards from the Sittingbourne goal and he played a sublime through ball along the deck to put Chapman through on goal and the winger showed composure to skip past the advancing keeper before rolling the ball into the bottom far corner.

“What a burst of pace Tom Chapman’s got! He’s such a threat isn’t he? We were training the other night and they were linking up well in training against our back four and we know there’s goals in therm.  Adding Kane Rowland to the side as well just gives us another option, another string to our attack.  I’m pleased and delighted that all four of them have scored.”

Lynch said: “Again, another good quick move. I don’t think we were good ourselves in terms of we went switched on enough for that particular move again and they’ve capitalised. They’ve gone through and taken it around the goalkeeper very well and it’s a good, cool finish.”

Ramsgate keeper Watkins almost switched off when he was almost caught-out by Sittingbourne keeper Lee, who launched a free-kick forward from way outside his penalty box and the ball almost sailed over the Ramsgate keeper’s left-shoulder before catching the ball.

Two of Ramsgate’s substitutes linked up well with the final chance of the game.

Tijan Jadama released winger Harry Stannard on the right and he cut the ball onto his right-boot before whipping in a great cross-come-shot which forced Lee to dive high to his right to push the ball towards safety to prevent further humiliation.

Davis has carried on the great work that his predecessor Lloyd Blackman put in during his time in charge at Southwood Stadium and the play-offs are in sight with 15 games remaining.

“It’s just three points at the end of the day, what it is it’s 10 in 12. We’ve got to go on a run now,” said Davis, who takes his side to Lancing to play fourth-placed Horsham next Saturday, a club that are 11 points ahead of them.

“We’ve got Horsham away next week who are very strong on their 3G surface. What that gives us is a little bit of a free hit.  We’re probably not expected to win as we were at Haywards Heath. If we can get something from that game and Greenwich Borough and Herne Bay, you can look one game ahead but we can put ourselves in a nice little platform now. We’re certainly looking up and not looking down. It will be interesting to see how far we’re off the play-offs?

“We’ve got nothing else left to play for now. What I said to the players, let’s see where it takes us. No one really expected us to get anything at Haywards Heath and we did and all that’s done is given us a chance. 

“We’ve kept the run going, it gives us half-a-chance and we go to Horsham full of confidence now and bearing in mind they’re one of the sides we can look to catch, why not?”

The Sittingbourne manager, meanwhile, appreciated the 90 minute vocal support his players were given and wants the same when eighth-placed side VCD Athletic visit Woodstock Park on Tuesday night.

“It’s important,” said Lynch, “They’re probably the best fans in the league to be fair so all of the lads and myself went over and thanked them for their efforts at the end.  What can I say about the fans? They’re fantastic. Losing 4-0 and still singing louder than anyone else in the ground, there’s nothing else what can be said about that? They’re great!

“It’s the first game. A lot has changed in the last seven days. Players have got to have time to get used to it so you can’t blame anyone in particular other than, I take full responsibility, I’m the manager!

“I’ve come in and it takes time to gel and that’s what we need to do. We need a bit of time now but we’ll try to retrieve the situation.

“We’ve got work to do. We need to pick up some points quite quickly.  We’re going to have a few new players available at that point, some new lads will be in for that game.  We’re not going to have a session between now and then so they’ll need time to recover from today so it’s just a matter how quickly our lads can gel and get to understand the relationships between each other.

“If we can achieve that quite quickly then we will do fine. If we don’t then we will struggle so we just have to make sure we are understanding and learning as quickly as we can to bounce back and move forward.

“Coming in at the time I have, it’s very difficult in the position that we’re in.  It’s a tough position to be in but I believe we will get out of it so I’m full of confidence from here moving forwards, today is one result. We’ve still got 17 to play.”

Ramsgate: Luke Watkins, Jake MacKenzie, Rob Saunders, Ollie Gray, George Crimmen, Jacob Mensah (Tijan Jadama 68), Tom Chapman (Harry Stannard 79), Connor Sanders, Aaron Millbank, Rory Smith (Jack Penny 80), Kane Rowland.
Subs: Charlie Dickens, Luke Wheatley

Goals: Aaron Millbank 2, Kane Rowland 7, Rory Smith 58, Tom Chapman 75

Booked: Tom Chapman 23

Sittingbourne: Patrick Lee, Abdel N’Dew (Robert Lofting 46), Chris Webber, Tommie Fagg, Ben Fitchett, Arben Muskaj, Billy Lewins, Lewis Chambers, Tom Loynes (Keith Orenuga 37, Izzy Adebayo 72)), Henry Woods, Liam Middleton.
Subs: Matthew Funnell, Khalil McFarlane

Booked: Ben Fitchett 90

Attendance: 244
Referee:  Mr Kane Dempster (Deal)
Assistants: Mr Peter Conn (Maidstone) & Mr Jamie Eacott (Chatham)