Sevenoaks Town 0-0 Hythe Town - We just have to turn the draws into wins and that's been the toughest, says Sevenoaks Town boss Micky Collins

Tuesday 04th February 2020
Sevenoaks Town 0 – 0 Hythe Town
Location Greatness Park, Mill Lane, Seal Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 5BX
Kickoff 04/02/2020 19:30

Isthmian League South East Division
Tuesday 4 February 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Greatness Park

SEVENOAKS TOWN boss Micky Collins says the Isthmian League South East Division play-off race is wide open after being held to a goal-less stalemate in his 400th game in football management.

Both sides lacked the cutting edge in front of goal during this disappointing stalemate on the artificial pitch at Greatness Park.

Sevenoaks Town climbed up a place into seventh-place in the table with 35 points from 23 games, courtesy of losing one league game in their last eight, although five of those games have ended in draws.

Hythe Town have slipped down a place into 12th with 33 points from their 25 league outings, having lost just one of their last 10 league games.

“Tight game, tight game.  Did either side deserve to win it? Probably not on the night.  They had a chance early on, we had a chance and that was it,” said Collins.

“I thought it was a night for defenders and I thought defenders done well, both goalkeepers made two good saves and both defences stood strong and there weren’t a lot created.

“We huffed and puffed and that was it really, probably a fair result at the end of the night.”

Hythe Town boss Steven Watt added: “I thought it was a fair result for both teams, two good sides that kind of cancelled each other out a little bit.

“We dealt very well with their threat and I think likewise, they did with us. I just think there were two sides that are up there at the right end of the table challenging for the play-offs cancelling each other out.

“I thought we started the first half shading it and I thought they shaded the second half slightly as it went on.”

Hythe Town were to be denied the lead in the 14th minute, thanks to a great save from Sevenoaks Town goalkeeper Patrick Lee.

Danny Walder swung in a right-footed free-kick from within the left-channel, the ball was flicked on at the near post by striker Frannie Collin and fell at the feet of centre-half Tom Wynter, who swept his left-footed shot towards goal from eight-yards only for Lee to spread himself to his right and made a vital save with his legs.

“I don’t know how he saved it,” said Watt, whose side were held to a 1-1 draw by Herne Bay at the weekend.

“It’s an absolute worldy of a save, it’s a fantastic save.  You’re thinking you’re 1-0 up there and I know Patch well and he’s spread himself well. 

“I think if we get a goal there, the game takes a different shape for the rest of it. I thought we started well and we were causing them problems and we were unfortunate not to go 1-0 up there. It’s a fantastic save from Patch!”

Collins added: “Great save, that’s a great save! Anyone who watches football, that’s a great save because if that goes in then we’ve got a hell of a tough night.

“You look at your goalie sometimes and I said to them afterwards, sometimes they cost you points and sometimes they earn them and maybe on that he’s earnt them and then Will’s done the same at the other end from Tommy Whitnell.”

Darren Oldaker, who took all nine of Hythe’s corners, swung the resulting flag-kick in from the right and Wynter steered his free header across goal and past the far post.

Watt added: “I thought we caused them problems from set-pieces, I thought we were dangerous from set-pieces. It’s something that we looked at, that we could hurt them. It’s just unfortunate. It was either a good save from Patch or we couldn’t finish off those chances.”

Sevenoaks Town immediately went up the other end and were to be denied by a save from visiting keeper Will Godmon after some poor defending from the away side.

Ryan Fowler slipped the ball through to striker Tommy Whitnell, who swept his shot towards the bottom near corner from eight-yards, only for Godmon to use his feet to make the save.

Collins said: “One foot either side in distance and either of them are goals.  Sometimes keepers deserve the plaudits and they’ve both kept clean sheets so fair play to them.”

Watt added: “It’s a good save, it’s a save I expect Will to make. It was a mistake from our part again. We tried to overplay in our own third and caused a turnover but it’s a comfortable save for a goalkeeper.”

Sevenoaks Town then missed a glorious chance to take the lead.

Left-back Joseph Taylor whipped in a deep cross, which was cleared away and right-winger Tyrell Richardson-Brown recycled the ball back into the box.  Frankie Sawyer had his back to goal and teed up Kyle De Silva, who tried to place his curler inside the left-hand post but failed to get any curl on his shot and the ball arrowed just wide from 18-yards.

“He’s got to hit the target, he’s got to hit the target, the levels he’s played,” insisted Collins.

“He knows that. He’s in a great position there and if he hits the target, it’s a goal.  That probably, out of the other two, that’s probably the clearest cut chance of the game. That could be the difference but that was the night.”

The first 25 minutes was played at a frenetic pace, with no one having any time to put their foot on the ball to slow the game down as it was played at a million miles per hour. However, the pace went down a notch when Sevenoaks lost striker Sawyer to a tight hamstring in the 25th minute.

Collins said: “I thought it was cagey, I thought it was quite an edgy game, both teams didn’t want to over-commit and lose the game but no team did enough to win it.

“Sometimes on artificial it’s like that (frenetic) because the ball stays on the ground an awful lot. When you go to places and it’s muddy and heavy or whatever it just ends up being launched whereas you actually get some passes in on a 3G and so you don’t get that and then it calms down and that’s what happened.”

Watt added: “That’s what you get when you play Sevenoaks, you know they’re a side that likes to get the ball forward early and they get bodies forward early.

“I thought it was quite end-to-end in the first half, a little bit more than I would’ve liked.  I would’ve liked someone to get their foot on the ball and try to slow the game down a bit but it was just the way the first half panned out.”

Sevenoaks Town centre-half Ben Gorham wasted an opening in the final six minutes of the first half.

Central midfielder De Silva chipped in a free-kick into the Cannons box and no defender tracked Gorham’s run towards the penalty spot but all he could do was glance his free-header straight into Godmon’s grateful arms.

Collins said: “That summed up the night for me that one chance because it was a nearly and it was not.  It was one of those you look at it and it’s a bit of a half-chance but you’d like to think he gets a bit more on that, it’s a goal but that’s how it was.”

Watt added: “Again, it was a good chance, a good opportunity but it was comfortable again for Will, straight at him and it was a save Will would make with his eyes closed.”

The home side produced a slick one-touch passing move which saw Richardson-Brown release right-back Fraser Walker inside the channel and he whipped in a low cross which was sliced wide by Ryan Fowler, who was left in a pocket of space just 22-yards from goal.

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the interval.

Collins said: “It was just an even game.  Knowing they had a tough game on Saturday against Herne Bay on their pitch, which probably would’ve been a little bit heavy and come and play on 3G it takes it out of your legs. I thought the longer the game went on, the more we’d get on the ball and move them around and I think that happened without any cutting edge really.”

Watt added: “I thought we could get at the full-backs a little bit more. We needed to keep our width. We congested the pitch too much in the first half and we needed to stretch the game more in wide areas, which we tried to do.”

Hythe Town caught Sevenoaks Town on the break and should have smashed the stalemate on the hour-mark.

Former Gillingham midfielder Oldaker played the ball in behind Sevenoaks left-back Taylor to put Collin through on goal in space on the right-hand side of the penalty area.

Collin struck the ball powerfully with the outside of his right-boot, dragging his low shot across the keeper and past the far post from 15-yards.

“It wasn’t far, it wasn’t far! If he was a few yards out, it was coming back towards goal, just past the post. It was a good little pass from Darren and it was a good effort from Fran but unfortunately it couldn’t find the back of the net,” said Watt.

Collins added: “He hit it well as well, Frannie. I was right behind it, it’s a great strike, it’s just a foot outside the post.  Again, it’s one of those chances you look at and go he hits the target, he scores.  That rules out Kyle De Silva’s one.

“They were the margins, there was not a lot created in the whole game and when they come they’re either taken or they’re not.”

Wideman Liam King, who replaced Sawyer in the 25th minute, pinged a sublime 60-yard diagonal pass from left-to-right to put Richardson-Brown through on goal but the pacey winger drilled his right-footed shot into the top of the side netting from 15-yards.

Hythe Town were to be denied the winning goal in the 76th minute, courtesy of another good stop from Lee.

It came from their penultimate corner of the game, an outswinging corner from the right which was met by another Wynter header, which was clawed out by Lee, stretching to his right.

There was controversy to as referee Nick Dunn ignored a strong penalty claim from Hythe Town when it appeared that Sevenoaks centre-half Joe Tennent took away Oldaker’s legs in a central position just inside the penalty area.

Watt was shown a yellow card from the referee for shouting out “what did he do?” several times, while Collins was also shown a yellow card in a separate incident towards the end of the game for shouting out “what are you watching you clown?” after De Silva should have been awarded a free-kick after being fouled.

“I feel a little bit hard done by,” admitted Watt.

“I have to be careful what I say but it’s a decision I can’t understand.  DJ (Oldaker) gets his body across the defender, he’s trying to let the ball run across his body and get a shot off and gets his legs taken from him in the box and the ref gives a foul against him saying ‘he’s initiated contact’.

“It’s frustrating but I can’t honestly sit here and say if we got three points I think it would’ve been a bit harsh on Sevenoaks. I think a draw was a fair result.”

Collins replied: “For me, listen, I’m a long way from it but it looked like their guy touched the ball and our guy fouled him so from that distance I look at my players reaction and look at theirs. A couple of them moaned, their bench moaned but listen he was bang on it the ref, he was right on it and he’s made that decision so was he right? Was he wrong? Sometimes you look and sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t.”

Both managers were then asked about receiving yellow cards from the referee.

Collins said: “It’s disappointing because Steve’s moaned about a decision which he had every right to and he wasn’t swearing at him (the referee) and he wasn’t rude and I did the same. 

“I thought it was a foul when Kyle’s played it past one of their guys and he’s just body checked him. It’s a foul, so all I’ve said to him is you’ve not given the foul and he’s come over and he’s cautioned me and the annoying thing is there’s been four or five fouls there that could’ve been yellow cards in the first half and all off a sudden me and the manager have had an (difference of opinion) with him and moaned at him, not rudely, not sworn at him and they want to come over and show a yellow card. It’s disappointing at times but hey-ho, it is what it is.”

Watt said: “Again, I’m sure it comes down to frustration from decisions that have been given against both benches.   I don’t think the ref was great for either side tonight and Mick was aggrieved with the decision next to him and I was aggrieved by that penalty decision that I can’t understand.  Even their players were laughing at the decision! That tells you everything you need to know!”

Collins was impressed with the 12-minute cameo debut from former Whitstable Town midfielder Liam Gillies.

“I thought he was excellent. I thought he looked a bright spark, exactly what we wanted out of him.  He came on, got on the ball. He wasn’t over-rawed for a young lad and looked to put some good passes in and tried to open them up.  For a young lad to play against the quality that they’ve got in their midfield and stand out a little bit, I thought he was excellent and he’s a good prospect this kid and I know it and we’ve watched him a lot and hopefully we’ll give him the portal to go and push on and to get noticed.”

Sevenoaks Town pressed for a winner inside the final six minutes but they couldn’t find the quality needed to get one past Godmon.

They built-up patiently with Alec Fiddes, King and Gillies all linking up before Fiddes unleashed a right-footed rasping drive from 18-yards, which was plucked out of the air by Godmon, high above his head.

Collins said: “They’re not proper chances, are they? They’re huffed and puffed shots.

“What we did well, which I wanted them to and I was really pleased with the fact that we kept the ball and we were patient and we were trying to open them up but you’ve got to give them some credit, they defended really well and they were solid and we couldn’t get many openings and they were half-chances.  When you’re shooting from distance, one day they go on and four or five of them never do.

“I look at my boys and I’m pleased with them for keeping the ball and doing what I asked but I’ve got to give the other team credit because they defended very well.”

Watt said: “They had a few shots from the edge of the box but shots that don’t concern me! They’re straight down Will’s throat, they’re not really that threatening.  They pushed for the winner and we tried to catch them on the counter. It was just an even game, good sides just cancelled each other out.”

Walker pinged a 60-yard diagonal over to the left, which was cut back first time by Richardson-Brown and De Silva’s left-footed drive from 20-yards was held by the visiting keeper.

And 35 seconds into time added on, King played the ball inside to Gillies, who swept the ball over to Whitnell, who cut onto his left-boot to drill his shot over the crossbar from 25-yards.

With Hythe Town centre-half Jamie Coyle away through business commitments, Watt gave centre-half Eli Benoit his fifth start of the season alongside Wynter at centre-half.

“Jamie is away on a business trip so Jamie wasn’t available tonight but Eli’s come in when we’ve needed him and he’s a good omen. He’s only conceded one goal in the five games he’s played and he’s not lost so he’s a good omen to have when he’s needed to be called upon,” added Watt.

Hastings United remain at the top of the Isthmian League South East Division table with 53 points from their 24 games.

Ashford United (49 points from 24 games); Whitehawk (46 points), Cray Valley (45 points) and Herne Bay (41 points and with a game in hand) are in the play-off zone.

Whyteleafe are in sixth-place in the table with 36 points from 23 games and you cannot rule out fifteenth-placed Haywards Heath Town (25 points from 19 games) to grab a play-off place come the end of the season.

Sevenoaks Town welcome sixth-placed Whyteleafe to Greatness Park on Saturday, while Watt takes his side to thirteenth-placed side VCD Athletic (32 points from 25 games).

“Another tough game,” said Collins, whose side are just a point adrift of their next opponents.

“They’re vying for play-offs and Hythe will be. They’ll keep going because they’re not losing any games.  They’ve got one eye on the play-offs so we need to be on it here on Saturday and it will be a totally different test against Whyteleafe so we need to graft and get our heads down at training on Thursday and have a look at what we’re going to do and come good Saturday and try to get some points.

“I had a little nose (at the league table) earlier and I said it’s from third place all the way to about 15th. Everyone’s still got a chance. It’s wide open but you need to put that run together. We’ve lost one in eight and we just have to turn the draws into wins and that’s been the toughest.  Once we start doing that we’ll creep back up the table. Of course, we can do it! There’s enough points on the table to do it.”

Watt said: “I’d prefer three points obviously (tonight) but when you’ve come away from home at a tough place and a team that’s going for play-offs like yourselves, it’s another clean sheet for us.

“We didn’t have Jamie Coyle in the side and we’ve shown how solid we were defensively and how difficult it is to beat us now. I think it’s one loss in 10 so it’s about keeping this momentum going but we’ve got to go to VCD on Saturday and try to get three points because it’s alright drawing games of football if you can back them up with wins so we’ve got to back them up with wins.”

Sevenoaks Town: Patrick Lee, Fraser Walker, Joseph Taylor, Alec Fiddes, Joe Tennent, Ben Gorham, Ryan Fowler (Liam Gillies 78), Kyle De Silva, Tommy Whitnell, Frankie Sawyer (Liam King 25), Tyrell Richardson-Brown.
Subs: Dan Parkinson, Tom Ripley, Jack Miles

Booked: Micky Collins 90 (manager)

Hythe Town: Will Godmon, Ross Ibbertson, Nathan Gordon (Tom Murphy 71), James Rogers, Eli Benoit, Tom Wynter, Darren Oldaker (Tom Walmsley 90), Danny Walder (Alex Brown 82), Frannie Collin, Alex Flisher, Charlie Webster.
Subs: Jacob Brown, Jarred Trespaderne

Booked: Ross Ibbertson 58, Alex Flisher 73, Steven Watt 77 (manager)

Attendance: 127
Referee: Mr Nick Dunn
Assistants: Mr Daniel Blades & Mr Joseph Dann-Pye