Rusthall Reserves 7-1 Tonbridge Invicta - If we stay up it will be good for the club but we know we've got to be better next season and improve, says Rusthall's Dean Jacquin

Tuesday 08th May 2018
Rusthall 7 – 1 Tonbridge Invicta
Location Jockey Farm Stadium, Nellington Road, Rusthall, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 8SH
Kickoff 08/05/2018 19:45

Andreas Carter Joma Kent County League Division Two Central & East
Tuesday 8 May 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Jockey Farm Stadium

RUSTHALL officials remain hopeful that they will be reprieved from relegation despite finishing their debut Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division campaign in the drop zone.

Rochester United were rooted to the bottom of the table with 16 points from 38 games, while Rusthall finished on 29 points, a couple of points adrift of Hollands & Blair.

The Jockey Farm outfit are searching for a new manager after parting company with joint-managers Steve Ashmore and Steve Sands after two seasons in charge.

“We’ve had plenty of candidates and worthy of the position or credentials of the position,” said Dean Jacquin, who has a dual role of club secretary and reserve team manager of the amateur outfit.

“As a club we’re taking our time over this appointment. It’s going to be really important.  The chairman (Joe Croker) is away, he’ll be back at the end of the week.  I think we’ve got a few people to see, get the decision on whether we’re up or down hopefully within the next two weeks we can make an announcement on that.

“I’ve only spoken to the League, we’ll Derek Peck, the League secretary, he’s non-committed but he thinks there will only be just one team will be going down. He thinks Rochester United have to go down. The FA have stipulated one has to go down but we’ve had no nods or winks, we’re just waiting to see. If we stay up it will be good for the club but we know we’ve got to be better next season and improve.”

Rusthall Reserves, meanwhile, claimed the local bragging rights with an impressive second half showing to thrash local rivals Tonbridge Invicta 7-1.

Jack Rusbridge gave the hosts the lead but Tonbridge Invicta levelled through Daniel Rosier’s far post header.

Rusthall right-back Josh Fermour scored a brilliant 35-yard strike into top bins to give his side an early second half lead, but Tonbridge Invicta capitulated during a poor second half showing.

Joe Scott beat the offside trap to make it 3-1, before Fermour slotted in a penalty, before striker Franck Ndouga added a fifth goal.  Substitute winger Mushed Miah hooked in a sixth goal before Callum Seal celebrated his 19th birthday with a goal at the end.

Tonbridge Invicta hold onto seventh-place in the Andreas Carter Joma Kent County League Division Two Central & East table with 23 points from their 20 games, but Rusthall are now on level points in eighth (bottom four) with one league outing remaining.

“I thought we played really well,” added Jacquin.

“It’s an important game for us locally. As a reserve side we want to be the best team locally. Tonbridge Invicta are in our league and the Sevenoaks based sides. We’ve beaten three of them and we’ve done the double over Invicta this season.  They done the double over us last year so we turned it around. An important performance, I thought we played really well second half, scored some good goals.”

Tonbridge Invicta manager Lee Chambers, 36, suffered a humiliation in his final League game in charge of the club.

“Today there was a bit of pressure on us in our last league game and had to come to Rusthall, a big venue, to come and play a good side,” said Chambers.

“It’s a bit of a local derby, disappointing we didn’t really turn up tonight and take nothing away from Rusthall, they performed really well today and were clinical when it mattered.

“Not making any excuses, we’ve not played since (beating New Romney Reserves 7-1 at home on 21 April) and it showed tonight that we were off the pace.  Rusthall have had a run of three games in the last week. I just felt we were second best from the start really.”

Rusthall created the first opening when left-back Sam Stevens cut the ball back from inside the final third to Callum Lawlor, his cross was cleared out to Rusbridge but his right-footed half-volley sailed high over the bar from 25-yards inside the opening three minutes.

Tonbridge Invicta central defender Oliver Hogden took their goal-kicks and goalkeeper Nathan Killick dropped three high crosses during the game and striker Connor Morrow dropped deep and linked up well with his team-mates.

The game was played on a rock hard surface under the lights but Rusthall opened the floodgates by scoring their first goal with 9 minutes and 23 seconds on the clock.

Rusbridge cut into the box down the right hand side before drilling a low right-footed angled drive to beat Killick at his near post before running towards the clubhouse patting the badge on his chest.

“He took it really well.  He waited for the keeper to go down, put it in near post, a good goal for Jack,” said Jacquin.

“I was really pleased but we did go off the boil after that, I thought, for a little while.”

Chambers added: “Shouldn’t be allowing that to come in at his near post but Jack has got an eye for goal and his clinical in front of goal.”

Rusthall had a chance to double their lead when a big kick from their goalkeeper Jake Cornish bounced over Hogben’s head (not for the first time) and Seal’s left-footed drive was comfortably picked up by Killick.

Tonbridge Invicta grabbed an equaliser with 15 minutes and 10 seconds on the clock.

Left-back Owen Reid played the ball down the line to Chris Ells, who reached the by-line and floated over a deep cross for an unmarked Rosier to plant his header into the right-hand corner from a couple of yards out.

“Dan doesn’t really score with his head normally. It’s only his right-foot that he scores with,” revealed Chambers.

“He found himself free, it was a good header and at that point I thought the game was right in the balance.  Unfortunately, on our second half performance it wasn’t to be tonight.”

“A decent goal from their point of view, poor from ours,” admitted Jacquin.

“Our centre half tried to win it earlier on, he should’ve never tried to win the ball, lost it and we actually won the ball back in a period of play. They recycled it, a decent ball in and we were out of shape so a good goal from their point of view.”

Tonbridge Invicta were the better side by the time they shaved the outside of the far post halfway through the first half.

Right-back Kyle Walker swept the ball up field to release Morrow in behind and the striker stroked his right-footed shot across the keeper and watched the ball kiss the foot of the far post from 18-yards.

Morrow pleaded with referee John Quirke not to show him a yellow card later in the half after he clipped Rusbridge from behind, as he would miss next Tuesday’s Les Leckie Cup Final against Ashford at Greatness Park in Sevenoaks.

Chambers said: “We’re not sure yet, we don’t know if he’s on three bookings or four bookings at the moment, we’re not sure. Five would mean he would miss the final for a one-match suspension but we need to check that, we’re not sure at the moment.”

Going by the Morrow’s reaction, he will serve his suspension and will miss the Final next week.

“It was a great chance, he hit it clean as well. It was a sweet strike, just unfortunate to graze the outside of the post.”

Jacquin added: “I can’t remember that one to tell you the truth. They had a period of play from when we scored, they got back into it and up until the last 10 minutes of the first half they were the better team and looking more likely. We lost our shape and went a bit long, which I didn’t really want us to do.”

Rusthall took 40 minutes to click into gear. 

Winger Matthew Hathway, with 16 first team appearances to his name this season, swept a 30-yard free-kick dipping over the crossbar.

Hathway then whipped in a great cross from the right towards the far post but Seal rose to meet his header back across goal and the ball was cleared away.

Seal was then put through on goal by a long ball but stung Killick’s fingers at his near post.

Ndouga then played Seal through on goal but his right-footed shot was spilt by the sloppy visiting keeper and was relieved to see the ball trickle just pass the foot of the post.

Scott released Stevens, who charged down the left before whipping in a cross, which was cleared and fell nicely for Scott, to outjump his marker Hogben before cracking a volley, which was palmed over by Killick’s outstretched left-hand in the 44th minute.

“Callum’s been a bit in and out for us this season. He turned 19 today so he’s a good, young prospect. He’s a Rusthall boy,” said Jacquin.

“Matt Hathway joined us earlier on in the season as a reserve and he did break into the first team so it’s good to have him back. He’s got good quality.  Callum with a bit more composure, he could’ve had a couple of goals in the first half.

“Joe Scott is a decent local footballer. He’s not been with us enough. He’s only come back in the last few weeks but he’s lively.”

Chambers added: “They created some good chances tonight in the final third, some good crosses, good link-up play and they were clinical in front of goal tonight and we can’t fault that at all.”

With the first half even, both managers were asked their thoughts at the break.

Jacquin said: “I just said I didn’t want to see long football! People down here don’t want to see long football.  You’ve got to the opportunity to play and it was too one dimensional. Our keeper was getting the ball and no one else was showing up, it was just going to go long and they were dealing with it or it was hopeful whether we were going to get something out of it, so I was pleased we started to play a little bit more football in the second half.”

Chambers added: “At one-all we said it’s for us and we need to perform and take that into the Cup Final. We made a couple of changes. We needed to give minutes for everyone tonight so we’re in a good position for everyone having good game time ready for the cup final.  At one-all the game was in the balance. It could’ve gone either way and we went two-three-four-one down, heads dropped and there was only going to be one winner.”

Rusthall scored a classy goal just five minutes and 17 seconds into the second half, a goal that you do not expect to see in the 12th tier of English football.

Substitute Miah linked up with Ndouga down the left and Ndouga played an intelligent crossfield pass along the deck to right-back Fermour, who took a couple of touches to control the ball before striking a sweet left-footed drive into the top left-hand corner from 35-yards.

“He’s literally come back from a stag weekend. He missed the Tunbridge Wells Charity Cup Final win (over Southborough, 2-1 after-extra-time) on Friday, missed a game (5-4 home defeat to New Romney Reserves) on Saturday, got back late yesterday so really pleased with Josh. He’s been a stalwart for us the whole of the season, he’s a Rusthall boy, been here all his career and it was a sweet left-foot as well. He’s a right-footed player and he took it on his left!”

Chambers added: “I was screaming at our left-winger Jake Fairweather! He stood off him from about 10 yards. If he goes and squeezes that, he puts pressure on the ball, the strike may have taken a deflection and maybe had even got blocked but standing off him it was a good strike and went into the top corner.”

Hathway and Ndouga, who linked up well with his team-mates by holding the ball up, set-up a chance for Stevens, who dragged his left-footed angled drive across the keeper and past the far post.

Rusthall raced into a 3-1 lead in the 56th minute when a long ball out of defence released Scott through on goal and despite looking yards offside the flag stayed down and he produced a composed finish in the bottom right-hand corner when he only had Killick to beat.

“All of our front men can finish, James and Franck.  When they get one-on-one, I’m pretty confident they can take their chances,” added Jacquin.

Chambers added: “Like I say, not playing for a while, not doing some of the basics in the second half, relying on offside. Rule one, you play to the whistle and we didn’t do that tonight!”

This was when Tonbridge Invicta started to lose their heads and called out for character to be shown.

Scott floated in a deep cross from the left which was smacked over the bar post by Hathway, who got in behind Reid and Hogben just before the hour-mark.

Physically strong Invicta substitute Josh Marshall looped his far post header into Jake Cornish’s hands as he met a set-piece from the right.

Referee John Quirke spotted a push on Miah by Invicta right-back Kyle Walker inside the penalty area after Fermour swept a free-kick into the Tonbridge Invicta penalty area.

Fermour stepped up and slotted his right-footed penalty into the bottom right-hand corner to give the home side a dominant 4-1 lead in the 66th minute.

Jacquin said: “I literally turned round, my assistant Den saw it, he thought it was soft from where we were standing but he said there was a little push but it was soft. There was a lot that wasn’t given during the game and to give a soft penalty seemed a bit off. 

“Josh has been confident, he takes our pens and he’s calm in those situations and I wasn’t worried about him missing.” 

Chambers said: “I can’t really get a clear-cut view of it at the time. It all happened so quickly so I can’t really comment on it to be fair.

“I think it was a push from the right-back Kyle Walker. The keeper did come out but I think it was Kyle Walker who had pushed him.

“We just needed to stay in the game at 4-1, there should be a bit of fight within us but we’ve got to really fight to try to get back in the game but it was a downward spiral after that!”

When asked about his thoughts at the time, Jacquin replied: “Really chuffed!  I know the opposite manager well, we talk all the time. They done the double over us last year so was chuffed to be in that situation. We’re a good side when we’re in the lead and teams are pushing to get back into it. We’ve got good counter-attacking options.  That’s all I wanted us to do, was keep the ball and manage the game well and I think we done that.”

Tonbridge Invicta then capitulated very quickly and any scouts from Ashford will take note that their desire levels soon vanished during a poor second half showing from them.

Rusthall made it 5-1 only 63 seconds later.

Hathway, who is too good for reserve team football, released Ndouga through on goal and his trickery inside the box left poor defender Hogben sliding in and ending up on his backside, as did keeper Killick, before the striker smashed his right-footed shot into the bottom right-hand corner.

“He turned the guy inside out!,” said Jacquin. “Franck has been a real plus. He came in perhaps about three months ago. He freely admits he’s not quite in shape and he needs a pre-season but his hold up play is really good and he showed that tonight. He doesn’t just hold the ball, he’s strong and he can beat players. When he got his opportunity, he took it really well.”

Chambers added: “Basics again, not reacting to the first ball, not reacting to the second ball and it was too easy in the end. Some of the goals we conceded in the last 20 minutes was schoolboy stuff really.”

Tonbridge Invicta were a threat from corners. Josh Marshall’s corner from the right was delivered deep and Tyler Watt’s far post header was gathered by Cornish in the Rusthall goal.

Clinical Rusthall didn’t take long to score their sixth goal, timed at 24:17.

Hathway whipped in a deep cross from the right and Miah ghosted in unopposed at the far post to hook in his volley into the bottom near corner from six-yards.

Jacquin said: “I think that was the best goal of the night! The move down the line, we got it in the middle, we got it out wide, short and sharp, a decent cross.  Matt’s got that in his locker, he’s got quality and your opposite midfielder was coming in to put it away so I think that’s the best goal of the night.”

Chambers added: “Another nice finish. Some of the goals and some of the moves that they made in the final third were good moves and we can’t take nothing away from it!”

Fermour delivered a deep cross for impact sub Miah, who cut into the box to flick the ball up before drilling his shot past the near post with only Killick to beat.

Tonbridge Invicta right-winger Marshall drove his shot straight at Cornish, who made a comfortable save in the 76th minute, before Reid threw the ball to Marshall, who flicked the ball to substitute Ashleigh Craft, who hooked his shot wide.

Rusthall were in seventh heaven when they completed their scoring inside the final four minutes.

By this time Tonbridge Invicta’s back four lacked any desire and they allowed Seal to cut into the box before drilling his shot past Seal.

“Callum’s very direct, he needs to get his head up and bring other players in to the game. He’s only young, he’s turned 19 today but he’s ruthless when he gets in those situations and he took that goal well as well.  It was a great birthday present for him.”

Chambers added: “That’s it! Watching again, waiting for the whistle, someone else’s fault. We just wasn’t switched on and we didn’t concentrate for the whole of the 90 minutes today.”

Tonbridge Invicta’s Ells, who was playing the number 10 role, kept plugging away and his pass released Craft down the left and his cross was sliced over his own crossbar by Stevens.

“Chris Ells, he drives on, he plays in the number 10 role, he always picks up any loose balls as well and he will fight for 90 minutes, every week for us,” added Chambers.

Rusthall keeper Cornish jumped up to pluck Marshall’s looping header following the away side’s seventh and final corner at the end.

Jacquin was delighted that his club claimed the local bragging rights and they complete their campaign at home to second-placed Rochester City on Saturday.

“I’m chuffed for the lads more than anything,” he said.  “We’re two local sides that both went into the Kent County League at the same time, both got promoted from Division Three last year, so we’re vying to finish above them (Tonbridge Invicta).  We’re level on points now, but it’s great to do the double over them. I’m not wallowing in it and gloating too much but I’m chuffed with the performance more than anything.”

Rochester City must win their last two league games if they are to win the title on goal-difference if leaders Wateringbury fail to pick up anything at West Farleigh on Saturday.

“Mathematically Rochester City can still win the league but they’ll be coming here, they are a decent side.  Our problem this year as a reserve team is the inconsistency of selection and we’ll probably have the same on Saturday, we won’t get the same team out but the lads should be buoyed by that. 

“We’ve had a cup final win, disappointed on Saturday, high again today. We’ll have a real good go against Rochester, there’s nothing on it for us so I’m expecting to play some football and enjoy the day and we’ve got our presentation afterwards.”

Tonbridge Invicta must improve if they are to end Chambers’ 25-year stay at the club on a high note.

Chambers said: “The performance wasn’t good enough, we know that! We didn’t speak too much about it after the game because everyone knows it wasn’t good enough!

“It’s been a difficult season. We’ll probably end up below midtable but we’ve got a nice cup final to look forward to so there was a lot of positives to take from the season.”

Attention now turns to playing fifth-placed side Ashford in the Les Leckie Cup Final.

“We played them twice this year, we’ve lost both games against them but we’ve proved if we do play as well as we can we can beat the good sides,” said Chambers.

“We’ve beaten Wateringbury, who are top of the league, we’ve beaten Rochester City, who will probably finish second, so we know we’re as good as anyone in this division if we perform but it’s being consistent but if we turn up we’re going to match Ashford in the cup final.”

When asked why he is stepping down, Chambers replied “We’ve done well, we’ve rebuilt the club over the last few years. I’ve managed to have success on the way, promotion last year, year before we won the league in the Tonbridge & District League and two years before that we got to another cup final.  It’s not all doom and gloom at Invicta by no means.

“Today was a disappointing result for us, hopefully for the club and myself we can finish on a high.

“I’ve been here a long while. I’m 36, I’ve been managing since I was 19 so I’ve been managing 16 years. It’s just got to a point where I feel that I’ve taken Invicta as far as I can and it’s probably time for a new face to come in and who knows we’ll see after the cup final what lies next for me.”

Rusthall Reserves: Jake Cornish, Josh Fermour, Sam Stevens, Callum Lawlor, Stuart Hunter (Joe Cameron 46), Nick Coxon (Framck Ndouga 89), Matthew Hathway, Jack Rusbridge, Franck Ndouga (Callum Seal 71), Callum Seal (Mushed Miah 46), Joe Scott.

Goals: Jack Rusbridge 10, Josh Fermour 51, 66 (penalty), Joe Scott 56, Franck Ndouga 67, Mushed Miah 70, Callum Seal 86

Tonbridge Invicta: Nathan Killick, Kyle Walker, Owen Reid, Charlie Elgar (James Knight 46, Daniel Rosier 60)), Jack Moore (Charlie Elgar 75), Oliver Hogben, Jake Fairweather (Ashleigh Craft 63), Kane Ramsell, Connor Morrow (Tyler Wait 63), Chris Ells, Daniel Rosier (Josh Marshall 46).
Sub: Ayrton Phillips                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
Goal: Daniel Rosier 16

Booked: Connor Morrow 39, Oliver Hogben 66

Attendance: 40
Referee: John Quirke (Maidstone)

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