Sevenoaks Town 2-2 Chichester City - We've played a very, very good side where we've come away with a draw and could've won it," said Sevenoaks Town boss Micky Collins

Saturday 09th November 2019
Sevenoaks Town 2 – 2 Chichester City
Location Greatness Park, Mill Lane, Seal Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 5BX
Kickoff 09/11/2019 15:00

Isthmian League South East Division
Saturday 9 November 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Greatness Park

SEVENOAKS TOWN manager Micky Collins says his side dropped two points against an impressive Chichester City side at a rain-lashed Greatness Park.

The Oakes remain in third-place in the Isthmian League South East Division table with 21 points from their 11 games, while Miles Rutherford’s side do have three games in hand, in eleventh-place, with 14 points on the board.

Chichester City should have been playing expelled League One side Bury in The FA Cup First Round today but they received a bye into the Second Round, having started their run in the Extra Preliminary Round by beating Erith Town 3-1 on 10 August.

Rutherford’s men certainly didn’t have their focus on The FA Cup here today, as they bossed possession during the first half and kept the ball on the deck, exploiting the slick artificial surface.

Sevenoaks Town grabbed the lead through Frankie Sawyer’s low 25-yard drive, which kissed the foot of the right-hand post before nestling into the back of the net.

Chichester City deservedly drew level just four minutes before half-time when winger Kaleem Haitham started and finished the move from inside the six-yard box.

Chichester City produced a good move to take the lead through Haitham’s fifth goal of the season, before Sawyer latched onto a long ball and produced a sublime finish over the advancing keeper to score his sixth goal of the campaign.

“I think on the balance of play, if you look at it, probably first half they shaded it and I think second half we did,” said Collins in the post-match press conference.

“On chances created for both sides it could have gone either way.  Two sides dealt with the conditions well, the pitch being 3G.

“Sometimes you’re a bit disappointed because you want to get more out of it but sometimes you have to take that on the chin but we certainly had the chances near the end to finish it off.”

Rutherford’s men are confident playing the ball out from the back and their passing game was a joy to watch and they created their first opening after only 114 seconds.

Haitham found himself in a central position before he played the ball out wide to striker Josh Clack out on the right and he played a diagonal pass through to Jamie Horncastle, who took a couple of touches to control the ball before dragging his shot across the keeper and past the far post from 22-yards.

“They were going to have the majority of the ball, we set-up to catch them.  We weren’t fussed about that but we knew we could spring them and that’s what we did and that’s nearly, nearly undone them,” said Collins.

Sevenoaks Town started the game on the back foot as the ball wasn’t sticking up front with Sawyer and the ever so quiet Ainsley Everett not keeping possession in the final third.

Sevenoaks Town took nearly 13 minutes to create their first opening.

Midfielder Bradley Schafer, often their holding midfielder, advanced into the opposing half before playing the ball out to right-back Fraser Walker, who did well to control the bouncing ball before he cut towards the by-line before putting over a cross.  Sawyer, with his back to goal, hit an overhead kick wide of the right-hand post.

“A difficult one, that’s either going to fly into the top corner, or it’s going to go over the bar, which it did,” said Collins.

“I thought we got into some good areas and caused them some problems and just the composure in the final third, again, let us down a bit. That was a bit disappointing and then we managed to get one, which was a great finish from Frank.”

Sevenoaks Town grabbed the lead with 15 minutes and 43 seconds on the clock.

Goalkeeper Patrick Lee launched a big clearance upfield, hooking it right-footed up field, the ball was cleared out to Sawyer, who found a pocket of space before hitting a left-footed drive from 25-yards, which zipped off the wet turf, kissed the base of the right-hand post before nestling into the net.

Collins said: “Left-foot as well! A long way out, skidded it along the floor and he can’t save it the keeper and let’s make no bones about it, the keeper’s made two or three fantastic saves today to keep them in the game, but he couldn’t get near that one and Frank’s showed his class with that one, it was a great finish.”

Referee Elliott Kay awarded Chichester City a controversial penalty when he judged Sevenoaks’ left-back Fraser Walker to have tripped Haitham inside the right-hand side of the box.

It was a soft penalty and Collins felt justice prevailed when Axell lashed his left-footed penalty high over the crossbar with 19 minutes and 15 seconds on the clock.

“He’s (Walker) been blatantly elbowed and then dragged to the floor and the ref’s given a penalty the other way,” said a furious Collins.

“We’ll watch it back on video because we video all the games.  Do you know what? It defies belief. I’m a long way from it as well but I can still see it and I go by where the guys are standing behind the goal and I can hear comments from very normal quiet people that are disgusted by it but it’s not the only decision.

“It’s been given, justice was done, he’s missed it so it just seems these decisions are going against us at the moment.

“It was soft. I’m 60-yards away from it, for me, it’s never a pen.  I listen to people’s reactions who were close to it, who are not players and I’m talking about people standing on the sideline watching the game and their reaction was horrified because it’s that bad but you have to live and die by these decisions and unfortunately some of them today were unbelievable!”

Micky Collins was shown a yellow card by the referee after shouting out “how didn’t you see that?!” after the referee missed an elbow on Sawyer that went unpunished some 30-yards from goal as the Sevenoaks striker worked the channel once more.

Sevenoaks Town should have doubled their lead in the 32nd minute, following their second of nine corners.

Schafer raised his right arm up before floating in a right-footed corner from the left towards the near post and Ben Gorham came up from the back to rise to plant his header just over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box.

Collins said: “I think he’s got to score the first one, I think he’s for to score that one.  The second one, he’s got under it a bit. He’ll be disappointed, I know he’s disappointed and they’re moments in the game when you go 2-0 up and all off a sudden they’ve got to come out a bit more, they come out, we catch them.”

Schafer floated in a free-kick into the Chichester City box, which was punched away by goalkeeper Steven Mowthorpe, Gorham had a couple of driven shots blocked before the keeper grabbed hold of a left-footed volley from winger Tyrell Richardson-Brown, although the hooked shot lacked power from just inside the box.

Chichester City kept playing their nice football and deservedly equalised with 40 minutes and 10 seconds on the clock.

A poor defensive header out of defence from left-back Nathan Gordon went straight down the middle of the pitch and was collected by Haitham, who sprayed the ball out to lone striker Clack on the right.  He cut the ball back for an unmarked Haitham to tap the ball past Lee from six-yards.

“Nathan’s header has gone straight down the middle, they picked it up and broke on us and we’ve got six men in the box defending but we haven’t picked up the guy who scores it,” said Collins.

“That’s not good enough! It’s about getting bodies back in there but you actually have to pick up the man whose the danger and we haven’t done that and it’s a sloppy goal and you’re up against it a little bit.”

Collins’ words during the break had the desired effect as Sevenoaks Town spent a vast majority of the second half in dominant mood and pegged back Chichester City, who on this performance should be challenging for promotion in their maiden season in this division.

“I told them just do what you’re doing! We knew how to combat it. We knew how to break them down and how to catch them on the break and we exposed that and I think we did for 45 minutes in the second half.

“Apart from the goal they’ve scored they’ve created a couple of chances but we had the gilt-edged chances there to win that game of football and unfortunately we haven’t taken them.”

Chichester City’s right-back Ryan Davison got forward on several occasions during the first half but Gordon put in a more dominant display after the interval to stop that happening.

“We changed shape a little bit to accommodate him and once we got a footing in the game, I thought as the game went on they tired and then we left him to Nathan so we left him to our left-back to cope with it and that frees us up,” explained Collins.

Gorham had a second headed chance to score for Sevenoaks Town, following their third corner with 82 seconds gone.

Schafer delivered a precise corner from the left and Gorham rose to steer his header over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box for a second time.

Gorham had a third chance to score when Kyle De Silva cut a short corner back to Alec Fiddes, who took a touch before whipping in a deep cross from the right which was met by Gorham’s far post header, which drifted across the keeper and past the far post.

Chichester City rode the storm and grabbed the lead with a beautiful move with 11 minutes and 3 seconds on the clock.

Horncastle, Lloyd Rowlatt, Axell and Robert Hutchings kept possession inside the Sevenoaks half and Axell played a sublime low through ball along the deck in behind a flat-footed Gorham to put Haitham through on goal.

Haitham only had keeper Lee to beat but the keeper stuck out his left-leg to make a fine block but he had no protection from his defenders and Haitham had time and space to sweep his left-footed shot, which kissed the base of the left-hand post before rolling along the line and nestling into the opposite corner.

Collins said: “The disappointing thing is we haven’t picked the runner, that’s the bit that annoys you. Their guy’s run for quite a way in behind us and we haven’t tracked him and we haven’t picked him up which allows him to get his shot away and then after that we haven’t tracked, we’ve just switched off.

“You have to expect Patrick to make the save, can we get around the ball and effect it and we haven’t and it’s trickled in the corner.”

The rain started to lash down after an hour-mark and Sevenoaks Town went on to dominate the rest of the game as they went in search of an equaliser and then the winner.

The Oaks were to be denied a deserved equaliser, following their sixth-corner of the game in the 62nd minute.

Schafer, although quiet during the game, delivered some high-quality corners and he put it on a plate for Richardson-Brown, who swept a first time shot towards the bottom corner from the edge of the six-yard box, only to be denied by a brilliant save from Mowthorpe, who spread himself to his right to make the save.

“When someone whips a great ball in like that you just ask to get something on it,” said Collins.

“If it goes either side of the goalie, it’s a goal but he makes an absolute great save. He makes himself big. I thought he was good. I thought he was good all game the keeper and done really well for them.”

Fiddes started to explode into life and he played a fine first time pass out from the middle of the pitch out to Walker, who cut in with the ball at his feet from the right wing, channel and the centre of the pitch before teeing up De Silva, whose left-footed angled drive from the corner of the box was kicked away by keeper Mowthorpe at his near post to prevent the ball nestling inside the bottom near corner of the net.

Sevenoaks Town deserved their equaliser when it arrived with 20 minutes and 3 seconds on the clock.

Fiddes hit a long 60-yard pass which was chased down by Sawyer down the left-channel and the finish was sublime, chipping the ball over the advancing keeper and watching it drop in just underneath the crossbar towards the top far corner.

“That’s a great finish because you’ve always got an eye on a big goalie coming at you and he’s been composed and the hardest thing out of all of it, it’s up in the air and he’s still got to get it on target and under the bar and he’s managed to do it and it’s a great finish,” said Collins.

“It was who was going to win it and I thought it was up to us to go and win it and we just couldn’t get it over the line.”

With Chichester City pegged back and offering no threat going forward, Sevenoaks Town pressed for a deserved winner during the final 20 minutes in horrible conditions.

“There was plenty of time left. We were patient and we carved out the chances abut we just never took them,” admitted Collins.

Central midfielder Rowlatt floated in a free-kick from the right, which was cleared by the home side and they broke at pace through substitute Louis Collins, who switched the play from left to right to pick out Richardson-Brown, who slipped the ball through to De Silva, who was denied by another vital save by the outstanding Mowthorpe.

Chichester City substitute Emmett Dunn lost the ball in midfield to Richardson-Brown, who released Sawyer through the middle of the pitch. His magical turn left Horncastle on his backside but he slid his shot across the diving keeper and past the far post when he only had the keeper to beat.

“Frank will be really disappointed that he hasn’t got his hat-trick or squared it to Louis, whose got an open goal,” added the manager.

Chichester’s two-goal winger Haitham almost scored his hat-trick with 13 minutes remaining, cutting in space onto his right-footed and trying to find the bottom left-hand corner from 30-yards, forcing keeper Lee to dive to his right to push the ball behind for the away side’s sixth of eight corners.

“I think it’s comfortable from that distance,” admitted Collins.

“If you look at the game, a draw is probably a fair result .  I think he’ll be disappointed if that went in from there, let’s be honest. I thought we kept them at bay in the second half and I thought it was down to us to go and win the game and unfortunately we haven’t.”

Substitute attacker Scott Jones almost won it for Chichester City but he guided his near-post header across the keeper and past the right-hand post after centre-half Connor Cody somehow found himself down the right wing to whip in a cross.

Sevenoaks Town were guilty of a glaring miss with 43 minutes and 41 seconds on the clock, when they lacked composure in the box.

Walker won the ball inside his half to prevent the away side creating a chance and released Sawyer charging down the left-channel again. He teed up Louis Collins on the edge of the box in a central position, but he maintained control of the ball as he was being pressed and he laid the ball off to substitute wideman Renford Tenyue, who was thwarted by the keeper. The ball rolled out to Schafer, who drilled his first time shot high over the crossbar from 18-yards.

Collins said: “They’re the margins that you’re dealing with and the game’s done but we’ve not taken it.  Shafer’s just got to be composed and he’s tried to stick his foot through it and it went over!”

With the second half much better than the first, Chichester City created two injury-time chances to snatch the victory at the end of these two club’s first ever meeting.

The impressive Haitham broke straight down the middle of the pitch and once on the edge of the box he teed up striker Clack on the outside and he too lacked the composure needed when he only had the keeper to beat, drilling his shot into the side netting from a tight angle.

And from their final corner of the game, Rowlatt floated the ball in from the right and centre-half Cody rose at the near post to head down and past the upright.

Cray Valley’s debut season at this level sees Kevin Watson’s side sit proudly at the top of the table with 26 points from their 11 league outings.

The four play-off spots are currently occupied by Hastings United (22 points with a game in hand); Sevenoaks Town; VCD Athletic (19 points) and Herne Bay (16).

“Disappointed with a point, it feels like two points dropped at the moment but in the cold light of day, against a good side, you come here today and not lose but we’re at home, unbeaten in the league at home which is good,” said Collins.

“If we really, really want to concentrate on challenging up this table we’ve got to stop conceding sloppy goals because then games become much easy but that’s something that we’ll work on and we’ll look at it on Tuesday when we have VCD here in the Velocity Trophy.

“I feel disappointed coming away from here but we’ve played a very, very good side and we’ve come away with a draw and probably could’ve won it.

“They’re a good side, they’re very well-organised, they’ve got them well-drilled and they’ve got some very good individual players. They’ve got a great game plan.

“I said it the other day, you get to the Second Round of The FA Cup because you’re either a really good side – or you get a bye – and let’s be honest they’ve got both because they’re a good side and they’ve got a bye but their there on merit and you could see that today with some glimpses.

“We could have got at them a bit more and we probably could’ve got some more goals but it’s just a bit disappointing.”

Sevenoaks Town welcome Keith McMahon’s VCD Athletic side to Greatness Park on Tuesday night (19:30) to play out their final Velocity Trophy Group Nine game.

McMahon’s men came away from Ashford United with a 4-1 league win today and Collins said he will hand debuts to Liam Smith (dual-registration deal from Tonbridge Angels) and Jake Beecroft (Tunbridge Wells).

Collins said: “We’ll put out the strongest squad we can mindful that we want people to play.  The boys here that haven’t had many minutes lately they’ll play, they’ll start and if that’s strong enough to get a result, we’ll get a result and if it doesn’t then so be it.

“It’s far more important with our league position at the moment that we’ll use this fixture to make sure everyone gets game time so we’ll use it wisely and see what the result is.”

Sevenoaks Town: Patrick Lee, Fraser Walker, Nathan Gordon, Bradley Schafer, Jack Miles, Ben Gorham, Kyle De Silva, Alec Fiddes, Frankie Sawyer, Ainsley Everett (Louis Collins 68), Tyrell Richardson-Brown (Renford Tenyue 87).
Subs: Adrian Stone, Tommy Whitnell, Liam Smith

Goals: Frankie Sawyer 16, 66

Booked: Micky Collins 26 (manager), Ben Gorham 59, Nathan Gordon 73

Chichester City: Steven Mowthorpe, Ryan Davidson, Robert Hutchings, Matthew Axell (Emmett Dunn 73), Connor Cody, Corey Heath, Gicu Iordache (Scott Jones 63), Lloyd Rowlatt, Josh Clack, Jamie Horncastle (Jimmy Wild 86), Kaleem Haitham.
Subs: Ryan Peake, George Cody

Goals: Kaleem Haitham 41, 57

Booked: Jamie Horncastle 83

Attendance: 143
Referee: Mr Elliott Kay (Loughton, Essex)
Assistants: Mr Gary Baker (South Ockenden, Essex) & Mr Andrew Simmonds (Grays, Essex)