Sevenoaks Town 1-1 Seven Acre & Sidcup - We're lucky to still be in The FA Cup, admits Sevenoaks Town boss Micky Collins

Saturday 15th August 2015
Sevenoaks Town 1 – 1 Seven Acre & Sidcup
Location Greatness Park, Mill Lane, Seal Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 5BX
Kickoff 15/08/2015 15:00

The FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round (Sponsored by Emirates)
Saturday 15th August 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Greatness Park

SEVEN ACRE & SIDCUP owner-manager Lee Hill admits to feeling gutted after his brave side came so agonisingly close to causing an upset on their FA Cup debut.

Big target-man Anthony Fenech went down in history to become the club’s first ever goalscorer in The FA Cup after scoring a stunning strike that nestled into the bottom far corner to give the seventh-placed Kent Invicta League side the lead.

A frustrated Fenech was then booked just before the break through dissent and shrugged off a knock to his left ankle in the second half before bravely taking the gloves for the final 20 minutes after goalkeeper Charlie Martin was substituted and taken to hospital with a bruised left hand.

Seven Acre & Sidcup battled brilliantly during this Extra Preliminary Round tie and were on course of making it a memorable day for the Thamesmead based club.

But Adrian Stone rescued Sevenoaks Town by grabbing a last-gasp equaliser with 46:13 on the clock to snatch an undeserved Wednesday night replay at Bayliss Avenue.

“Honestly, before the game I would have settled for one-all but towards the end I thought we were going to hold on,” said Hill afterwards.

“I thought we played quite well, just gutted at the end when they scored in the 90th minute! Absolutely gutted, absolutely gutted to tell the truth.”

Sevenoaks Town manager Micky Collins read the riot act to his players out on the pitch after the final whistle and during the post-match interview.

“We didn’t deserve a draw, we were awful on the day, absolutely awful,” admitted an honest Collins.

“We set up professionally, we watched them, we had our game plan and the players and the squad today let us down and didn’t turn up, didn’t show at all!

“We go and win at Tunbridge Wells on Tuesday and I think the guys probably have thought we’re good enough to go and beat everybody and they’ve had a reality check today because we were not the better side, definitely not and lucky to get a draw!”

Seven Acre & Sidcup had waited 115 years to play in The FA Cup and players and staff enjoyed a pre-match breakfast back at Bayliss Avenue on the morning of their biggest game in their history.

Sevenoaks Town went into the game sitting in tenth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League table.  They lost 2-1 at home to newly-promoted Hollands & Blair on the opening day of the season before a 1-0 win sealed a rare win at Tunbridge Wells on Tuesday night.

But The Oaks lacked desire and passion during this game and Seven Acre & Sidcup were clearly up for it by putting their bodies on the line for each other in true FA Cup spirit.

Sevenoaks Town created the first chance of the game inside the opening 159 seconds, Stone unleashing an angled drive across the face of goal and past the far post from the right hand side of the penalty area.

Sevenoaks Town were to be denied an early breakthrough following an offside flag inside eight minutes.

Impressive right-winger Martin Debrah whipped in a deep cross which sailed over towards the far post and Stone did well to keep the ball in play on the by-line on the left-hand side.

Stone cut the ball back to left-winger Chan Quan, who played the ball inside to Tom O’Connor and he fed Debrah, whose swerving drive from 22-yards was parried by Martin and the flag was raised by assistant referee Joe Stokes by the time Stone steered his shot into the back of the net.

“That’s probably the only thing we’ve created in the whole game to be honest apart from scoring the equaliser and that’s the only football we’ve played,” admitted Collins.

“We’ve given them licence this season to play a bit.

“Just collectively today, I can’t pick on anyone. I thought the whole squad, we just didn’t’ turn up!

“I’ve questioned their desire and their passion and the respect that they, in my opinion, haven’t shown Seven Acre because they’ve come out and have been a decent side.

“We’re still lucky to still be in The FA Cup!”

Hill said: “Fortunately the linesman put his flag up. It did look offside from where we was down the far end, but yes glad to see the flag go up. 

“Obviously, if Sevenoaks had got their noses in front it might have been a different story.”

That appeared to knock the stuffing and the desire out of Sevenoaks Town, who were simply awful!

A big kick by Seven Acre & Sidcup keeper Martin was latched onto by the impressive Josh Patrick, but his shot lacked conviction and Richard Stroud dived low to his right to hold onto the trickling ball as it rolled apologetically towards the bottom far corner.

“Josh has come to the club from Welling last season and that’s what he does – he’s a tireless runner,” said Hill.

“You don’t think he’s going to get there and he gets there. He’s been magnificent since he’s come down from Welling for us.

“It was a good chance. I think that might have been our first chance of the game. I think we come into it a bit more once we got a bit of confidence.

“It was a quick start. We tried to get our foot on the ball and they was nicking the ball off us and you then know you’re in a game.”

But Fenech produced that special moment to give Seven Acre & Sidcup the lead, 14 minutes and 26 seconds into their FA Cup debut.

Tony Hill played the ball out of defence and central midfielder Billy Higgins invited Fenech to charge down the left. He cut into the penalty area and drilled a stunning left-footed angled drive across Stroud to find the bottom far corner from 15-yards.

“The angle we was as soon as he hit it we knew it was in,” said a proud Hill.

“It’s a historic moment for the club. Six years’ ago playing park football and now we’re in The FA Cup – a great moment!

“All my dreams come into one really.  Off the field what the club do Sam, my wife, all our off-field helpers, all of them, without them we wouldn’t be a club.

“We got to Thamesmead early today, had breakfast with the boys and I said to them ‘this is what we want, playing Sevenoaks in a league above us, that’s what we want to aspire to!”

Collins added: “Good finish! Decent ball over the top but I think we got caught. We haven’t dropped off enough and dealt with it and it landed to him and fair play to the guy, good technique and a good left-footed strike in the bottom corner. Not many keeper’s are going to save that!

“But you look for a reaction, you look at your players and I think we’re 1-0 down, oi oi, it’s a bit of a shock, now we need to come back and have a go and it didn’t happen!”

Every time Sevenoaks Town ventured forward there was a hero in a yellow and green shirt in front of them showing more commitment than the home side to protect Martin in goal.

Sevenoaks Town just could not live with Fenech’s strength and Patrick’s pace and Fenech hooked the ball across field to release his team-mate speeding past Sevenoaks right-back Josh Gilbert but a poor touch allowed Stroud to collect the loose ball inside the penalty area.

Sevenoaks Town created a decent chance to claw themselves back into the game after 32 minutes of toil.

Debrah, their most lively player, used his pace to reach the right by-line before whipping in a cross where Quan nipped in front of his marker to smash his right-footed volley over the bar from six-yards.

Collins said of Debrah, “We didn’t get the ball to him. Martin’s a decent winger when he gets the ball but we starved him of service but the game plan we had and the way we were playing at the moment we executed it well at times on Tuesday and on the first game of the season but today they didn’t adhere to it at all and it’s left me not very happy!”

Hill said: “I thought he (Debrah) was lively and I thought the number 9 (Stone) was a handful, obviously some direct balls to him, winning the flicks on but I thought defensively, it’s the best we’ve played for a long, long time.”

Seven Acre & Sidcup will rue missing a chance in the final ten minutes of the first half.

George Horne released right-back Ade Akande, who easily skipped past Sevenoaks’ left-back Alfie Kitt to reach the right channel. He cut a low cross back across the face of the penalty area but Magnus Orelaja’s first time shot lacked power and brought a comfortable save from Stroud.

Hill admitted: “Again, half chance really! He didn’t hit it. Generally when he gets into those positions he can strike a ball but unfortunately he didn’t hit it too well!”

Tom O’Connor drilled a free-kick into the Seven Acre & Sidcup wall and the ball fell at Damian Ramsamy’s feet inside the box and the quiet attacker cut the ball back to Quan but his low shot was saved by Martin, diving low to his right.

Collins said: “We created bits but it’s not all about the chances we created and the game played the way it was for me.

“It was the body language of the players today that wasn’t acceptable and that’s not good enough for me!”

Seven Acre & Sidcup went in at the break deservedly winning the game.

Hill said: “On the first half I think both had a couple of half chances but they didn’t really, we broke them down really well I thought and for a league above us, I thought they were going to have a few more chances but I think we handled them superbly really.

“We just said to them the hard half is going to come now. You’ve done really well, just settle on the ball a little bit more, don’t overdo it with the passing, just get behind the ball as a team, just keep playing like you’re playing.

“We knew they was going to come at us second half because we played really well first half and they’ve got to come at us second half – it’s The FA Cup!

“We just settled them down and we just took the heat out of it and try to continue how we was playing in the first half.”

When asked whether he tore the paint of the dressing room walls, Collins replied: “Not massively! I didn’t go mad because you’ve only got 15 minutes and you need to be constructive. It’s easy to go in and just scream and shout and not get your point across.

“We addressed what we were trying to address for the whole first half with their shape and combating it and playing the way we want to play and putting it in place for them.

“I always give them the opportunity to prove me wrong before I make any changes - and I don’t think they did that!”

Sevenoaks Town went close from shaking off their slumber when in the 52nd minute Debrah played the ball inside to Ramsamy, who stroked his first time left-footed drive past the right-hand post from 25-yards.

Gilbert’s fouled Patrick inside the D and Tony Hill stepped up to blast his right-footed free-kick into the Sevenoaks wall.

A corner from Anthony Collins was swung into the Sevenoaks penalty area and Stroud clutched Patrick’s towering header out of the air from underneath his crossbar.

But a brilliant save from Stroud denied Seven Acre & Sidcup a deserved second goal in the 58th minute.

Akande was given licence to venture into Sevenoaks half and he played in a low centre into the penalty area.  The ball bounced off Patrick’s knee, but he cut the ball back to Fenech, who powered his right-footed volley towards the top corner, but Stroud rose high to his right to use a strong right hand to push the ball over the bar.

Sevenoaks’ left-back Kitt was given time and space to float over a cross into the penalty area but Stone’s downward header from eight-yards forced Martin to dive to his left to make the save.

Collins admitted: “But they were half chances. We huffed and puffed, I don’t think we actually created too much today. There was no clear cut chances. I think the only real good chance of the game other than the couple in the first half was Stoney’s finish!”

Hill added: “Towards the end we was hanging on! We knew they was going to push more men on, they made a couple of subs. We knew we was going to be under pressure.

“Charlie done well at his near post there. I don’t think he headed it really well there but he’s still got to get down and save it.  It was quite a comfortable save.

“When you’re going to play a higher league team there’s going to be chances. We defended in numbers, we got behind the ball and it was an immense performance.”

Sevenoaks Town lifted spirits shortly afterwards by bringing on substitutes Austin Gacheru and midfielder Steve Camacho and momentum swung Sevenoaks’ way when the Seven Acre & Sidcup keeper was forced off through injury.

Collins said: “We changed the shape a little bit and we put some fresher legs in there and just tried to live it up a bit.

“I put on a couple of characters that move around a bit and shows some willing because we weren’t showing any all over the park and fortunately it done the trick.”

O’Connor put in a cross from the left and Martin rose with striker Gacheru and bravely punched the ball away with his left hand but was unable to continue following treatment.

Fenech took the grey goalkeeper jersey and gloves from his goalkeeper and made a comfortable catch from Stone’s looping header after Gary Stock pumped a direct long ball into the penalty area.

Hill said: “He’s (Fenech) come back from a broken ankle towards the end of last season and been playing really well. He’s a big lad, as you know, puts himself about and he done really well today.

“He has played in goal for us before, just his size and his agility in goal. He’s not a bad goalkeeper but I’d like him to be out on the pitch.”

Hill revealed Martin is likely to be ruled out for Wednesday’s replay.

He said: “It’s his left hand. It looks quite bruised. He’s gone to hospital. Our physio reckons he’s broken it. I don’t know what we’re going to do Wednesday?

“I’ve got two or three signed on as temporary cover. I’ve got Colin Barnes. He couldn’t make it this week but I don’t know who’s available.”

Collins added: “It’s unfortunate, I hope he’s ok?”

Seven Acre & Sidcup seemed content to park the bus in front of their all-action hero and they almost hit Sevenoaks on the break but Patrick’s run and angled drive from the right took a deflection before flashing the far post.

Hill said: “They pushed on, they were leaving one-on-one at the back. I just thought with Josh and Tony Ecuyer, who pushed up front in the second half, to try to nick one on the break.

“We played with people behind the ball and hit teams on the break and we had a couple of half chances.  I just thought we were going to nick it.”

Fenech asked assistant referee Tom Chivilo how many minutes were remaining on two occasions as Sevenoaks Town continued to throw bodies forward and Seven Acre & Sidcup remained resilient and fought their corner.

They attacked again, this time substitute Michael Samoi down the right and he played the ball inside to Tony Ecuyer (who switched from wing to up front) and Orelaja’s shot on the turn sailed over the Sevenoaks crossbar.

Sevenoaks Town continued to throw caution to the wind and inside the final couple of minutes Stock’s free-kick from the left was cleared by an excellent visiting defence and Camacho smashed his left-footed volley over the bar from 20-yards.

But Stone, who scored 22 goals for Cray Wanderers last season which helped them pull off The Great Escape to avoid relegation out of the Ryman League, pulled off another Great Escape here today.

Kitt released the striker in behind the defence and as Fenech advanced off his line he dinked a right-footed shot across the stand-in keeper to find the bottom far corner from 15-yards to leave Seven Acre & Sidcup heartbroken but proud.

SAVIOUR: Adrian Stone (number 9) got Sevenoaks Town out of jail by scoring this last-gasp equaliser to break Seven Acre & Sidcup's hearts.
Photo: Alan Coomes

Hill said: “The angle from where we was Fenech had to come out in goal and I thought he was just going to put his frame in the way but he’s dinked it over him.

“As soon as he hit it I knew it was going in the far corner – absolutely gutted for all the boys really!”

Collins admitted Stone got his club out of jail.

“They’ve had to put their big guy from up front in goal and he’s definitely not at fault for the goal, but maybe if a proper keeper was in then maybe Stoney doesn’t score.

“A little bit of fortune has gone our way and we’ve taken advantage of it.

“It was the only bit of quality play that I thought we had in the whole game. It’s a very good ball from Alfie. I thought Stoney peeled off the full-back quite well and it was a delightful little ball and he goes through.

“Stoney deserves a goal because he’s had a few chances and been unlucky. That’s why he’s here because he’s taken the chance that we needed and he’s got us out of jail and we’re still in The FA Cup!”

The winners will host Ryman League Division One South side Sittingbourne in the Preliminary Round on 29 August.

Collins said: “You’re playing a team that’s one league lower and they’ve very organised. We had them watched and we haven’t turned up and given them the respect that they deserve!  We have as a management team because we’ve done our homework but the players, in my opinion, have left me down. They know now, I’ve told them in no uncertain terms and I look for a reaction on Wednesday night.

“I expect a reaction now. They know what I expect on Wednesday and I’d like to think we’ll turn up and have a different mentality, a different mind-set, be a bit more professional and see if we can go there and put in a good performance.”

This tie may go all the way and Hill added: “We’re still in it. Obviously the winners play Sittingbourne, I believe, which is a great, great tie to have in the next one so we’ve got all to play for. They know they were in a game today.”

Sevenoaks Town: Richard Stroud, Josh Gilbert, Alfie Kitt, Gary Stock, John Lord, Tom Ripley, Chan Quan (Austin Gacheru 62), Tom O’Connor, Adrian Stone, Damian Ramsamy, Martin Debrah (Steve Camacho 62).
Subs: Jack Miles, Frank Griffin, Alim Sesay, Michael Fahm

Goal: Adrian Stone 90

Booked: Chan Quan 29

Seven Acre & Sidcup: Charlie Martin (Michael Samoi 70), Ade Akande, Anthony Collins, Billy Higgins, Ricky Hardie, Tony Hill, George Horne, Magnus Orelaja, Anthony Fenech, Josh Patrick, Tony Ecuyer.
Subs: Sam Bailey, Billy Skinner, Brad Marshall,  Brad Fowler, Michael Dillon

Goal: Anthony Fenech 15

Booked: Anthony Fenech 44, Anthony Collins 45

Attendance: 88
Referee: Mr Michael Marsh (Herne Bay)
Assistants: Mr Joe Stokes (Dover) & Mr Tom Chivilo (Ramsgate)