Sevenoaks Town 3-0 Lordswood - At the moment the pressure’s not really on us because we’ve got the points on the board, says Sevenoaks Town boss Micky Collins
Sevenoaks Town 3 – 0 Lordswood
|Location||Greatness Park, Mill Lane, Seal Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 5BX|
SEVENOAKS TOWN 3-0 LORDSWOOD
Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Tuesday 12th December 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Greatness Park
SEVENOAKS TOWN manager Micky Collins says there is no pressure on his table-topping side after extending their 100% home record to eight league games.
The Oaks are now five points clear of Crowborough Athletic at the summit of the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with 38 points on the board from their 15 league outings, with a game in hand.
Striker Bryon Walker scored a hat-trick, taking his goalscoring tally up to 11 for the season, as Lordswood suffered back-to-back defeats to slip down to eighth-place in the table with 28 points from 17 games.
“I knew it was going to be a tough game, they’re a good side but we managed to get it over the line,” said Collins during the post-match press conference.
“It’s nice, we’ll keep ticking them off. I knew it would be a tough one and yes it was, a tough nut to crack that.
“They were good out of possession, they were in good shape. We’ve hit the bar and the keeper’s made a great save. It may have been a bit different.
“The pivotal moment was when we were 1-0 up and the save our keeper made, if that goes in, I think it’s a totally different game. They go in the ascendancy and then we’re maybe clinging on because we weren’t playing that great at the time and luckily Ben’s made a great save and then we go down and miss a pen and then get the second goal and that’s it.”
Lordswood boss Richard Styles said: “The scoreline flatters them a little bit, I don’t think it was a 3-0 game. I don’t think we’ve been heavily beaten as the scoreline suggests. I think we kept it tight, we kept it close, I think we competed very well.
“They had three strikes on goal and he scored all three, it’s as simple as that. Byron Walker’s done nothing in the game really apart from those three goals and that’s where we are.”
Sevenoaks Town’s 3G pitch ensured the game went ahead and 52 people braved the conditions on a frosty Tuesday night at Greatness Park.
“It’s fantastic! Even though it’s cold and you get on it and you think it’s quite hard, it’s not because the rubber loosens up once you start using it,” said Collins.
“It’s quite a long tufty 3G so I thought it played perfectly. I didn’t see any dodgy bounces, I thought the ball skidded well, it played perfectly and let’s be honest every other game would’ve probably been called off so it’s proven i’s worth again. I don’t want any games off, we’re playing catch up anyway, so a good night all round.”
When asked about the playing surface, Styles replied: “I thought before the game it was too icy and too hard to play on. The grass was very slippery, the artificial grass and the black rubber on the bottom was frozen. I thought it was a little bit too much to play the game but you’ve got to respect the decisions because I’ve got to worry about my players going to work in the morning. Luckily they’ve come through tonight unscathed and had they not have been then my attitude would have been a little bit different.”
Sevenoaks Town were to be denied inside the opening five minutes when Greg Benbow fed Tom Youngs down the left and his cross was flicked towards goal by Walker, forcing Ryan Chandler to use his feet to make a block at his near post.
Brett Ince released winger Harrison Carnegie down the right and he floated over a cross towards the far post for holding midfielder Billy Bennett to plant his header against the crossbar from eight-yards.
“Byron heads it down, the keeper’s made a great save with his feet, I think that was a really good effort,” said Collins.
“If Bill directed it better, we maybe have gone one or two up and then it’s a totally different game!”
Styles added: “We knew they were going to start bright. We knew they would put it on us early but you ride your luck when you come away from home against the league leaders and we rode it a little bit there. It didn’t go in and we moved on.”
Lordswood’s first opening of the night arrived in the eighth minute on the break.
Left-winger Bradley Webb clipped the ball up for central striker Charlie Plummer, who knocked the ball down for Jordan Wells, the number 10 taking a touch before unleashing a right-footed drive from 35-yards, forcing keeper Ben Bridle-Card to dive to his left to push towards safety.
Collins added: “You would expect Ben with his calibre to make those saves and he did. You thought he’d get caught out there because he wasn’t expecting it but he got across and it was a comfortable save.”
Styles added: “Jack Mahon was away with work, we’ve had a few missing. We had no Gary Cooke, no Adam Hooper, no Helge Orome, so we knew we were up against it. We knew we had a few missing but that’s what your squad is for.
“The way the pitch was, how slippery it was with the ice, it was always on and it might have been an opportunity where it skipped in. On another day it could easily have slid into the bottom corner.”
Carnegie played the ball into Walker’s feet in the 20th minute, the Sevenoaks striker cutting inside and drilling his left-footed drive around the far post, not getting enough curl on the ball.
Corey Holder swept the ball out to right-back Chris Edwards, who fed Carnegie down the right wing. He cut inside past two Lordswood men and once inside the box he dragged his left-footed shot past the near post from 14-yards.
Lordswood captain Peter Huggens led by example in the first half, the central defender firmly shutting the door and limiting Sevenoaks chances during the first 30 minutes.
“He was superb! He is superb! Peter Huggens has been doing it for a long time, he’s been doing it for years now. He’s absolutely superb and he’s an absolute credit. I haven’t got a bad word to say about him. He’s a top lad. He led the side well and I thought he was superb at the back today,” said his manager.
“We had a game plan and we knew what we could do. We were trying to hit them on the counter. I felt we frustrated them very well in the first half and restricted them and our creativity in the final third wasn’t as good as it was in the second half.”
Jason Hollick, Lordswood’s other central defender, bundled Walker over on the by-line and Benbow cut the resulting free-kick back to Edwards, who sliced his shot just over the top of the near post from 25-yards.
But Sevenoaks Town made the breakthrough with the game’s opening goal, timed at 35 minutes and 13 seconds on the clock.
Youngs fed a low pass into Walker’s feet, who stepped into the Lordswood penalty area and from 16-yards cracked a left-footed dipping drive, which Ryan Chandler got his fingertips to but failed to stop the ball rocketing into the roof of the net.
“That’s a good finish, Byron needed that, he’s been lacking confidence lately,” revelled Collins.
“It was a good little ball into him and sometimes you need one to come off your shin or your knee or you smash one and it goes in and it’s gone in!”
Styles added: “We lose a 50-50 on the halfway line, Tom Youngs gets it and plays it to Byron Walker who’s unmarked and one thing you can’t have is Byron unmarked in the box and he’s turned and he’s hit it. Had he not been allowed to turn it would have been a different story.”
Carnegie crossed from the right, the ball was cleared out to Ince, who controlled the ball and his shot from 22-yards bounced into Chandler’s hands for a comfortable save.
Sevenoaks Town squandered a glorious chance to double their lead in the 41st minute.
Walker was released down the right and he played the ball inside to Ince, who threaded the ball in behind Lordswood’s central defenders Huggens and Hollick to put Bennett through on goal but he placed his shot past the far post from 16-yards.
Collins said: “I don’t know what’s worse, the miss or the penalty?! He’s been a bit unlucky in front of goal Bill, which is a shame because he scored a good goal on Saturday (3-1 win at bottom side Hollands & Blair) but sometimes that happens and your mates have to step up and bail you out and they’ve done that.”
Styles admitted: “At that point, I just wanted to get in at half-time and get around them and change a few things and that’s what it was all about really, just see it out until the half.”
Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break.
Collins said: “I wasn’t happy about certain bits. I thought we were a bit tappy-toe in front of goal. Sometimes we were 18-20 yards in front of goal where we could’ve pulled the trigger and we didn’t and I just asked them to just up it a little bit and we came out and eventually did.”
Styles added: “I said keep going, keep doing what you’re doing. I thought we were frustrating them well. Our shape was very good. I thought we could do more in the final third and we could do more on the ball and that was really the chat, to get us on the ball a bit more and get us moving it.”
Lordswood pressed for an equaliser early in the second half.
Central midfielder George Blake floated in a free-kick towards the edge of the penalty area but Wells’ towering flicked header was caught comfortably by Bridle-Card after 68 seconds.
Bridle-Card is on loan from Bostik South side Greenwich Borough and their manager Gary Alexander was in attendance tonight to keep an eye on his second-choice keeper.
He excelled in the 51st minute.
Lordswood right-back Carl Harrold shrugged off Benbow to reach the channel before floating over a cross for Webb, whose hooked shot was brilliantly blocked by the keeper, who was then relieved to see Webb’s follow-up bounce off the top of the crossbar.
Styles said: “On another day and probably two months ago that probably goes in and that’s your luck when you come to these places. They’ve got the luck at the moment because they’re top of the league and flying high. Nine times out of 10 that drops in the net.
“I’ve just said to the lads in there, anything could’ve happened and on another day it could have been 1-1 and that’s probably the turning point really.”
Collins added: “It’s heart in mouth for us at the time because I thought in that 5-10 minute spell we weren’t playing well. They’ve opened up a great chance, which they deserved. Well played, it was good football. On another day that goes in and it’s game on.
“Fortunately, Ben’s made a fantastic save and we’ve cleared our lines. It was the kick up the backside we probably needed, it stuck a rocket up us and we went on and dealt with it.
“Gary Alexander had no training tonight so he’s come down to see us, he’s a good friend of mine anyway, which is nice and he’s kept an eye on Ben so if they need him back and they have a problem with George Kamurasi then obviously he goes back. He played for them last week in a midweek game because they needed him and that’s the deal we have.”
Sevenoaks Town were awarded a penalty when Walker went down under Hollick’s challenge just inside the box and referee Jack Owen pointed to the spot.
There was a delay as the referee spoke to Huggens and then booked Hollick and Bennett stepped up to stroke his right-footed penalty which was blocked by Chandler, diving to his left, in the 62nd minute.
Chandler, who was on a yellow card, escaped giving away an immediate penalty for wiping out Carnegie in the second phase.
Collins said: “It’s a good save, he’s gone the right way and he’s got to it but I think Bill, with his quality, he wants to put that away really and he hasn’t.
“Again, you’re looking at pivotal moments and you think that’s going to come back and bite us and fortunately it didn’t.”
When asked about the penalty decision, Styles answered: “Not sure really, I’m a bit 50-50. I’m not sure, whether it was or wasn’t. The boys are sure it wasn’t but someone goes down in the box and the ref sees something, he’s going to give it.
“I was a long way away to see it. I’m just glad Ryan did the job really and pulled us out. It was a great save. I’m really pleased for him, he did very well.”
Lordswood offered no quality in the final third after the penalty save but Walker produced a classy finish to score his second with 26 minutes and 4 seconds on the clock.
Substitute striker Mark Jones, who came on for ineffective striker Frankie Sawyer, battled for the ball and headed the ball on to send Walker through on goal and his left-footed chip from 25-yards dropped in underneath the crossbar in the middle of an unguarded net.
Collins said: “Jonesey won the header and flicked it on and Byron’s done well. He missed one on Saturday, very identical and he missed one against Thatcham (FA Vase) in a pivotal moment in that game and tonight he’s put one away. It’s a great finish and I think as a contest, we knew that was it then.”
“Look, that’s a disappointing one because at that point I thought we were in the game and were on top and I think we were playing all the football and they dropped off a little bit,” added Styles.
“They’ve won the header, Byron’s turned and he’s just hit on and that kills you, it’s a sucker punch!
“That ends the game really, that ends the contest. It’s a big job for us to do at that point. I felt at that stage we were restricting them to chances and they weren’t playing much football and I felt we were going to go on and on and on but it’s one of those.
“At that point, it’s very difficult 2-0 down against the team top of the league. It’s never going to be easy but I still want us to keep doing what we were doing and play with the ascendancy.”
Sevenoaks Town produced a sublime goal for Walker’s hat-trick, the goal being timed at 30 minutes and 9 seconds on the clock.
Utilising the slick playing surface, Bennett played a one-two with Walker twice in the final third and played Walker in who took a touch before placing his left-footed shot across the keeper to find the bottom far corner from 12-yards.
Collins said: “It’s great football, it’s what we’re capable off when we’re positive and we’re direct like that not a lot of teams can deal with that, no one would! It’s so clinical and a good little finish, pops it in the corner.
“The boys are chuffed that Byron’s got a hat-trick but I think they’re actually chuffed of the nature of the goal because that’s what we do, we play out and we try to pass the ball and it suits us.”
Styles wasn’t happy that his midfielders were too deep after Youngs dragged his shot across goal and past the far post from 25-yards after Bennett’s pass but Walker was back to his clinical best tonight and Sevenoaks Town retain their favourites tag for the league title.
“It’s good. We’re in the position we wanted to be in, one more game before Christmas. That’s a big, big win for us, needed and we can relax over Christmas and come out in the New Year and we know where we are,” said Collins, who has to wait until 23 December to play their last game of 2017 when Bearsted visit Greatness Park.
“I don’t get involved how they arrange the games but it’s a bit of a pain at times when you get a bit of momentum and then you’ve got a weekend missing. Hayho, that’s the way it goes.
“We’ve just got to turn up and play well, at home we’re playing some good stuff and we have to be positive and try and get a result.
“It’s going to be a tough game, they all are. It’s a tough league, it is every year and most teams can beat most teams. It’s the way it goes when you put yourself in that position you then have got to finish it off. We’ve put ourselves in that position, there’s a long way to go but we’ve just got to keep ticking them off.
“It’s good at the moment. If we make mistakes and we slip up and things go wrong you’ll soon feel pressure. At the moment the pressure’s not really on us because we’ve got the points on the board. Everyone’s chasing us and want to knock us off the top.
“There’s a lot of teams fighting for second place because at the moment if you get the right points per game you can go up in second place so teams will be aware of that even though they they’ve got to try to topple us off top.”
Reflecting on the third goal, Styles added: “That’s a disappointing one that one. It’s a sloppy goal, it’s a sloppy one to give them, there’s nothing more I can say really.
“It’s not a 3-0, no way shape or form, they were three goals better than us. I think they’ll play a lot easier games here through the season. I think we’ve competed and I can’t ask for no more than what the boys have given me there because they’ve done everything that I’ve asked of them.
“We played 10 times better than what we played at Cray Valley (losing 3-1) at the weekend but we still conceded three and not scored. It’s difficult because it’s a poor scoreline and it’s another loss but I’ll take the positives from today than what I did on Saturday and we’ll just keep going. We’ll just regroup, I’ve been positive with the boys in there. They’re ok and we just move on and push on together.”
Lordswood entertain Crowborough Athletic at home on Saturday.
“They don’t come any more easier do they? It is a tough one. It won’t be easy for them and we’ve got to do what we can to win the game,” said Styles.
“I want similar to what I want from them in every game, the desire, the fight, the battle that’s we’re about and I’d like us to put a bit more pressure on them. We’re going to play a bit a different way from what we did tonight and have a go!
“We’re only in December, there’s a lot of points to play for, a lot of games. We know what we can do and what we’re about. Let’s just get them on and get as many points as we can and keep going and keep pushing.”
Sevenoaks Town: Ben Bridle-Card, Chris Edwards, Greg Benbow, Billy Bennett, Tom Ripley, Corey Holder, Harrison Carnegie, Brett Ince, Frankie Sawyer (Mark Jones 53), Byron Walker (Joe Burden 79), Tom Youngs.
Subs: Jack Miles, Jason Thompson, Stephen Camacho
Goals: Byron Walker 36, 72, 76
Booked: Joe Burden 90
Lordswood: Ryan Chandler, Carl Harrold, Lennie Laker, George Blake (James Coppins 76), Peter Huggens, Jason Hollick, Liam Newton (Frank Griffin 70), James Huggins, Charlie Plummer, Jordan Wells, Bradley Webb (Tom Carter 86).
Subs: Tom Montgomery, Gary Cooke
Booked: Ryan Chandler 34, Jason Hollick 61, Carl Harrold 65
Referee: Mr Jack Owen (Sevenoaks)
Assistants: Mr Harry Wager (Tunbridge Wells) & Mr Harry Graham (Orpington)
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