Sevenoaks Town 1-2 East Preston - We just haven't put the ball in the net, admits Micky Collins

Saturday 16th August 2014

The FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Saturday 16th August 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Greatness Park

SEVENOAKS TOWN manager Micky Collins admits missed chances cost his side a second bite of the cherry against a big East Preston side that finished the game with ten men.

Dominic Di Paola’s side finished seventeen points clear of promoted runners-up East Grinstead to run away with the Sussex County League top-flight title last season but were denied promotion to the Ryman League due to ground grading issues.

East Preston took the lead through midfielder Matt Axell’s fine finish and Sevenoaks Town were facing a mountain to climb when Adam Hunt chipped in the second within four minutes into the second half.

Collins threw on striker Andy Walker and he smashed home a stunning fierce drive to give Sevenoaks a life-line but East Preston held on despite having central midfielder Kevin Keehan sent off for two yellow cards with 23 minutes remaining.

East Preston can now look forward to receiving a cheque for £1,500 and a home tie against Holmesdale in two weeks’ time.

John-Paul Collier’s side stunned Tunbridge Wells with a 4-1 win in an all Southern Counties East Football League FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie at Oakley Road in Bromley.

“Disappointed with the first half performance, not good enough,” admitted Collins afterwards.

“We didn’t get to grips with them. They’re a good side, can’t take nothing away from them.

“I wish them all the best in the next round. They’re a good side but we knew that before we played them.

“Too many players were under par. I had a little whinge at them at half-time, thought we secured it and got it right second half. We just switched off. The centre half and left-back switched off and the kid’s gone in, good little finish.

“Two-nil down was always going to be a mountain and then we switched it up a bit, put a bit more pace up front and Andy (Walker) got us back in the game and really I think we should have gone on and at least deserved a draw.

“Jenden Morgan’s hit an absolute worldy off the post, the keeper’s made probably three great saves and we’ve skied two so chances created.  I thought we deserved a replay minimum but at this level of the game you’ve got to take your chances and you can’t have 45 minutes where you can’t play properly.”

Sevenoaks Town went into this FA Cup tie with a 100% record after beating Erith Town 1-0 here a week ago, before coming away from Beckenham Town with a 2-0 win on Tuesday night.

East Preston arrived at Greatness Park with two wins during their opening week of their league campaign, beating Hailsham Town (3-1) and Lancing 2-0.

Sevenoaks Town created the first chance of the game after only 95 seconds when striker Miles Cornwell cut the ball back to Jenden Morgan, who was seen to lean back to sky his left-footed shot over the bar from 25-yards.

A clearly frustrated Andy Constable, who got away with swearing at the referee on two occasions during the first half, scuffed his right-footed shot into Nick Collick’s gloves from 25-yards and has now gone three games without finding the back of the net.

East Preston were nearly gifted a tenth minute lead when a poor defensive header from skipper Ben Judge failed to find its target of goalkeeper Luke Roberts and striker Liam Baitup nipped in to poke his shot just past the foot of the right-hand post.

A long throw from Matthew Parsons was flicked on and Miles Cornwell’s shot on the turn was comfortably gathered by the East Preston keeper.

Cornwell played a low pass into the East Preston box and the ball was cleared away to Kieron McCann, whose first time left-footed drive was comfortably saved by Collick.

But Sevenoaks Town should have taken the lead inside sixteen minutes when Cornwell received a lucky break inside the penalty area and his low right-footed shot on the turn was blocked by Collick’s feet.

Collins said: “You look back on the highlights of it, Miles has had an absolute great chance to score in the first half and the goalkeeper’s made a great save with his feet and possibly two feet to the left it’s a goal and it’s a totally different outcome.”

East Preston left-back Niall O’Hagan ventured forward and flashed a right-footed drive across keeper Roberts and past the far post.

But the game started to edge towards East Preston with Keehan bossing the middle of the park and with towering Marc Pullan and Charlie Farmer immense at the heart of their defence as Sevenoaks Town struggled to find a way through.

With such towering players, they were a threat at a corner just over halfway through the first half.

Boswell swung in a corner from the left towards the far post where Farmer rose above Jon Lord to plant his header wide of the post.

But East Preston did find the target in the 32nd minute through Axell’s first goal of the season.

They built-up well down the left with Axell starting the move to play the ball inside to Baitup who played the ball to Shelley and Hunt laid the ball off to Axell to drill his low right-footed drive past the diving Roberts to score from sixteen-yards.

“Poor! We gave the ball away in midfield, too many touches again, gave the ball away, never cleared our lines,” bemoaned Collins.

“Then we haven’t picked the runners up, which was what we was guilty off all of the first half and they’ve run off and to be fair he’s shot through four people and Luke’s got no chance. Great finish!

“We just weren’t at it first half. We just weren’t sharp enough.  The boys were being told where to go and what to do and they just didn’t take on the instruction which they’ve done since I’ve taken over here.

“Let’s give them some credit. We’ve had a poor 45 minutes out of the amount of minutes we’ve played pre-season and the start of the season. It is disappointing but it happens. That’s why we’re in the league we’re in!”

The opening goal killed off the rest of the first half as East Preston were resilient in defence and were happy just to sit back and protect their lead.

“We had a moan, first moan of the season,” said Collins, during the half-time break.

“Sometimes you have to try and get your point across and sometimes you try to talk to them and they’re sensible.

“I’m a passionate person and I like winning and I’ve played a certain way and I manage a certain way.

“If you ask them to do things and they don’t do it sometimes they have to think for themselves.

“As I said to them in there, it’s not under 14s or under 15s anymore. We’re adults. You expect your more experienced players that have played at decent levels to come to the fore and help your younger ones through and that hasn’t happened so sometimes you have to tell them in uncertain terms you’re not happy and that was it.

“I think apart from falling asleep in the second half, we got the reaction that we wanted really.”

East Preston came out flying for the second half and Boswell drilled a right-footed free-kick straight down Roberts’ throat from 30-yards after 52 seconds into the second half, the keeper opting to punch away with two strong fists instead of catching the ball.

But Collins admitted left-back Parsons, 24, was at fault for East Preston’s killer second goal inside the opening four minutes.

The former Crystal Palace left-back was released by League Two side Plymouth Argyle at the end of last season and struggled on his debut for the Southern Counties East Football League outfit.

Shelley clipped a sublime ball over the top of the Sevenoaks defence to release Hunt through on goal who let the ball dropped down to hook his right-footed chip over the advancing Roberts and the ball bounced into the top far corner of the net.

“It wasn’t the finish, it was before that,” said Collins.

“We’ve just switched off! Matty has not tucked round.

“He’s come in today, he’s probably off the pace a smidge. He’s been up in Scotland on trial up there with Kilmarnock and come back from not having a contract with Plymouth Argyle so it’s probably match sharpness.

“Ben Judge said we’ve squeezed a little bit and we’ve just switched off and they’ve gone in and scored.

“They’ve probably switched off a couple of times and we’ve just haven’t taken the chances so you can give them credit.”

East Preston failed to finish off Sevenoaks when O’Hagan’s throw into the penalty area was cleared out to Keehan, who drilled his right-footed shot high and wide from 30-yards.

Collins made a double substitution ten minutes into the second half and one of them, Walker, began to frighten the East Preston defence with power and pace.

A long ball was flicked on by Cornwell and striker Walker stroked his first time left-footed drive which rolled into Collick’s gloves for a comfortable save.

Collins said: “I think it was nerves and all of a sudden. Bang! Open goal really. He goes on in the keeper and takes it on a bit further and he can slot it in the corner. He’s panicked and had a bit of a dribble up.”

But Walker smashed home his first goal of the season after 59 minutes to give Sevenoaks Town hope of mounting a come-back.

Kieron McCann’s ball over the top released Walker through on goal, who took a touch before drilling a fierce right-footed drive into the top left hand corner from sixteen-yards.

Collins said: “The second one he’s absolutely smashed it and finished it, which was great!

“He’s a young lad, he’s not been at this level before so we’re nursing him in and seeing how he is. He’s come on and done really well for us.”

Collins added: “They’re a good side. I’m taking nothing away from them at all. We just changed the way we did things and as soon as we got the goal, I really thought we’d get the equaliser and maybe even go on and win it, especially when they went down to ten-men. Too little, too late.”

This began Sevenoaks’ best spell of the game and a free-kick from Parsons floated across goal and was headed back across goal by Lord at the far post and Cornwell’s shot from the middle was blocked inside a crowded goal-mouth.

Kieron McCann clipped another ball into the penalty area and Walker’s flick released Cornwell, who steered his left-footed drive past the near post.

The momentum was clearly with Sevenoaks Town and they were given a helping hand in the 67th minute when referee Elad Amr showed Keehan his second yellow card of the match.

“I thought it was always going to happen, you can’t talk to referees like that! I should know,” said Collins.

“He’s committed five fouls and he’s got a yellow card after five fouls and he’s then committed another two. That’s it! Once you get on the ref’s back and you keep committing fouls you’re going to get yellow cards for it.  In that position you just have to calm down!

“It was a part of my team talk at half-time that we never got to grips with the guy early doors and he bossed the game early and once Morgan was a little bit more physical with him in the second half, it proved what can happen.”

Sevenoaks Town midfielder Morgan was desperately unlucky not to score goal-of-the-season within moments of Keehan being sent-off.

Morgan cut inside before unleashing a stunning left-footed dipping drive from 40-yards, which curled around goalkeeper Collick and agonisingly crashed against the top of the far post and bounced down the wrong side of the goaline and behind for a goal-kick.

“An absolutely fantastic strike,” hailed Collins.

“He’s absolutely nailed it with his left peg. That’s your luck! A lick of paint and it creeps straight into the top stanchion and we’re back in the game and that’s it.

“It came straight out but that’s football.”

Boswell could have won it for East Preston but he dragged his shot past the far post when he was given a free shot at goal from inside the Sevenoaks Town penalty area.

And Shelley sent his towering header sailing harmlessly wide after he rose to meet O’Hagan’s free-kick from the left.

Sevenoaks Town switched formation to an attacking 3-4-3 and pressed for a late equaliser.

Collins said: “I thought they looked a bit leggy last half-an-hour. I know they went down to ten with 20 minutes to go but I thought even more that we stretched them a bit better.

“I thought we looked to play in behind them even more. The amount of balls that went into the box was ridiculous. I played as a forward. Sometimes they just don’t go in the net.”

But they were reduced to nine men temporarily in the 80th minute after referee Mr Amir told Parsons and Kieron McCann to leave the pitch because they weren’t wearing shin pads.

Collins explained: “They wore shin pads up to the game and then at the start of the second half one of them broke their shin pad so he took the other shin pad off because he was uncomfortable and then a very eager linesman shall we say has spotted it and they’ve had to come off, which is fine.

“I fully understand that but they’ve put the pads back in and it’s taken the referee an eternity to bring them back on. 

“I can understand why now because he’s (the referee) explained it but they had to be checked before they’ve came back on.  I thought he done well the referee today.”  

Parsons played in a low corner in from the right towards the near post but Lord steered his hooked shot past the near post.

Sevenoaks Town continued to throw bodies forward and were to be twice denied by fine saves from Collick.

Roberts pumped the ball straight down the middle of the pitch and Jack Howlett’s flicked header put through substitute Steve Camacho whose shot was blocked by the onrushing keeper at his near post.

Lord then released Camacho who slipped the ball through to Walker, who was thwarted by the onrushing keeper who made another fine block.

Collins said: “The keeper’s made a couple of good saves. You can’t argue with that. 

“We created the chances. As a manager you always look at did we create chances because if you don’t then you start scratching your head.

“We’ve created an awful lot of chances, an awful lot, probably the best part of maybe six or seven.

“We just haven’t put the ball in the net. That’s football.  Their goal lead a charmed life at the end but fair play to them, they held on and their goalkeeper done really well for them.”

But Sevenoaks Town couldn’t find the breakthrough, which inflicted Collins’ first defeat in charge of the club and sent the club crashing out of The FA Cup at the first hurdle.

He said: “Unfortunately we’re out of the Cup and we haven’t got the prize money, which is disappointing for the club because it’s nice.

“Everyone can say you can concentrate on this and that but you want to win as many (games in this) competition as you can, so yes it’s disappointing.

“A negative today, the first 45 minutes, probably after the second goal from they’re on it I’m pleased to finish the game the way we did, certainly the stronger side.

“It’s my first defeat of the season. They’ll be more. We’re not going to go through the rest of the season without losing that’s for sure

“Sometimes it’s the manner of the defeat and today was a disappointing first half.  The positive out of that we were only 1-0 down. It could have been more. Then we rectified it.

“Yes, we let the second goal in but from there on in there was only one team that were going to get something out of it and I thought it was us so you look for reactions and you look for the reactions of the players and I certainly got that from the boys today.

“I looked into their eyes and second half they put in a performance for me and the shirt and that’s exactly what you want and that’s what gets you up the table.”

Sevenoaks Town welcome Martin Larkin’s Tunbridge Wells to Greatness Park in the Southern Counties East Football League on Wednesday night.

Collins said: “They got beat by Holmesdale today so they’re out so we’ll have Wells here.  They’ll be smarting to avenge their defeat, same as us. That will be a good game.”

Sevenoaks Town:  Luke Roberts, Jamel McCann (Jack Howlett 77), Matthew Parsons, Luke Coleman (Steve Camacho 55), Ben Judge, John Lord, Kieron McCann, Louis Sprossen, Miles Cornwell, Andy Constable (Andy Walker 55), Jenden Morgan.
Subs: Timi Osibody, Simon Osborn, Luke Turner, Jack Miles

Goal: Andy Walker 59

Booked: Andy Constable 34

East Preston: Nick Collick, Alex Duncan, Niall O’Hagan, Kevin Keehan, Marc Pullan, Charlie Farmer, Joe Shelley, Matt Axell, Liam Baitup (David Herbert 72, Shaun Charles 90), Adam Hunt, Darren Boswell (Grant Thetford 90).
Subs: Dom Di Paola, Ian Miller

Goals: Matt Axell 32, Adam Hunt 49

Booked: Joe Shelley 48, Kevin Keehan 61, Adam Hunt 65, Alex Duncan 90

Sent Off: Kevin Keehan 67

Attendance: 84
Referee: Mr Elad Amir (Woolwich, London SE18)
Assistants: Mr Tom McCourt (Greenwich, London SE18) & Mr Andrei Delanu (East Dulwich, London SE22)