Sevenoaks Town 1-1 Whitstable Town - Everyone wants to fight for each other and we'll keep working hard to get out of it, says Whitstable Town boss Scott Porter

Tuesday 05th February 2019
Sevenoaks Town 1 – 1 Whitstable Town
Location Greatness Park, Mill Lane, Seal Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 5BX
Kickoff 05/02/2019 19:45

Bostik South East Division
Tuesday 5 February 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Greatness Park

WHITSTABLE TOWN boss Scott Porter insists his players aren’t feeling sorry for themselves after conceding a last-gasp goal at Sevenoaks Town.

The Oystermen extended their winless run to seven games after super-sub Ainsley Everett came off the bench to drill a low 35-yard drive into the bottom corner to grab a deserved equaliser for Sevenoaks Town, cancelling out Stephen Smith’s dinked finish just before the hour-mark.

The crowd of 162 witnessed two midtable sides kicking the ball in the air for the majority of a poor game of football.

Sevenoaks Town remain in eleventh-place in the Bostik South East Division table after collecting their 30th point of the season from 24 league outings, while Whitstable Town are three places below them with 25 points on the board from 23 games.

“It wasn’t the best game, it wasn’t the best spectacle to watch was it,” admitted Sevenoaks Town boss Micky Collins.

“They battled well, we played the majority of the football but they scored first and deservedly did, it was a great finish, a really good finish and we’ve plugged away and plugged away and got the equaliser right at the end.

“Do you know what? We have to blame ourselves for that (our long-ball tactics) because we’ve given our boys a game plan and we’ve asked them to stick to it and we’ve said this is how we want you to play and some of them haven’t and that’s the level we’re at unfortunately.  We’ve got to stick with that and see if we can change it.”

Porter couldn’t hide his disappointment as his side’s last win was on Boxing Day, 26 December, when Ramsgate were beaten 1-0 at The Belmont.

“Disappointed obviously. It’s a tough place to come. We’re not on the best of runs and to go as long as we did without conceding, of course, you’re disappointed to lose one in the last minute but that’s the way we’re going.

“The lad has hit a great strike. If you’re on a good run that goes over the bar but that’s the way football is.

“We’re not feeling sorry for ourselves and it’s a tough place to come on a 3G pitch.”

Whitstable Town started the game on the front foot but David Lunani’s offside flag denied them after 69 seconds.

Louis Sprosen whipped in a cross from the right; Miles Cornwell knocked the ball on and across goalkeeper Louie Catherall and Stephen Smith turned the ball in but to no avail.

Porter said: “Some of the decisions here tonight – I’m not going to sit here and talk about the officials. They don’t deserve to be talked about. The 22 players on the pitch deserve to be talked about so I’m not too sure about any of the decisions tonight.”

Sevenoaks Town – who came away from bitter-rivals Ashford United with a 2-1 defeat at the weekend – created their first opening in the ninth minute.

Right-back Fraser Walker took a touch before delivering a deep cross, which was flicked on by Frankie Sawyer from inside the box and his striker partner Kenny Pogue cut inside and his driven shot deflected off John Walker and sailed over.

Whitstable Town failed to create many chances to trouble the on-loan from Gillingham keeper.

John Walker put in a cross from the right and Sprosen drilled shot from the edge of the box was superbly blocked by Tom Ripley and an unmarked Jordan Wright steered his shot wide of the mark from 25-yards.

Whitstable Town goalkeeper Dan Eason had a great game, making a string of comfortable saves.

He got down on to his knees to hold Ryan Makhojini Khanye’s 30-yard free-kick.

Left-back Khanye made a 25-yard dash down the left before playing the ball inside to Sawyer, who took a touch before drilling a swerving 30-yard shot, which was saved comfortably low down by Eason.

“On another day, Ken was wide and open so Frankie could’ve played him in there but Franks confident at the moment, he’s scored a lot of goals (17) so he’s entitled to have a dig there and he’s had a go,” added Collins.

But the game lacked quality as both sets of players were keen to punt the ball in the air.

“There weren’t many chances for either side to be fair but I suppose that’s like most first halves for every team, just picks each other off and it’s a bit more open second half and it definitely was that,” added Porter.

Alec Fiddes skipped past Whitstable right-back John Walker to reach the by-line and he wrapped his foot around the ball to hang over a cross for centre-half Ripley to rise above his marker to loop his header into Eason’s hands from eight-yards.

Collins admitted: “That’s a nothing chance really. We’ve done well to play our way into it but the cross has gone in and it’s a nothing header really.”

Sevenoaks Town kept knocking on the door during the first half and a long ball forward was hit on the volley from Sawyer from 30-yards, which dipped and Eason got down low to his left to parry before gathering.

Collins said: “Again, it’s there to be hit and that’s the one thing, as a forward, if it’s there to be hit and you’re going to.  There probably was another option on and Frank hasn’t seen it and that’s it. On another day that goes in the top corner and Franks a hero, so they’re the margins.”

Porter added: “They’ve got a threat up front, of course, they have but we limited them to chances around the box and you trust Dan Eason there, they were saves he should make every day of the week.”

Sevenoaks Town produced a sweeping move which included Khanye, Dan Parkinson and Whitnell inside the Whitstable half and the ball was played to Sawyer, who teed up Fiddes, who drove a right-footed shot from 35-yards, which forced Eason to dive to his right to push around the post.

Collins said:  “What we said to them, we want to try to play up to the final third and what can we do that’s a little bit special to try and unlock it?

“They’re solid at the back, they’ve got a very good goalkeeper and what a solid back four.”

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break. The crowd just wanted some entertainment and for the ball to stay on the 3G playing surface and not up in the sky!

“I just thought if we moved the ball and we moved it quickly, we’ll create chances and we’ll get into areas and hopefully unlock them,” said Collins.

Porter added: “It’s like any first half. You just try to pick each other off and have a look at each other but we like to be a hard team to break down. We certainly were all game today and that’s a big plus about us, we started to not concede goals now. We didn’t concede at Greenwich (a 0-0 draw away last time out) and we conceded late today and that’s the main thing.

“We’ve got to kick on from here. We had a look at them and they’ve had a look at us and we’ve been in this situation before and we haven’t come out of the dressing room but today they came out first 10 minutes and they were lively and we weathered it a little bit and we stuck together.”

Whitstable Town created the first opening of the second half eight minutes in when Stephen Smith brought a long ball forward under control on the edge of the Sevenoaks box and when he was crowded out he teed up Sprosen who cut the ball onto his left-boot before curling his shot over the crossbar from 25-yards.

“We were getting in those areas and we’re just not being clinical enough and that’s been the downfall of the season really,” admitted Porter.

Whitstable Town grabbed the lead with 13 minutes and 55 seconds on the clock.

If only Porter tells his troops to keep the ball on the deck more often because their 19th league goal of the season was sublime.

The Oystermen caught Sevenoaks on the counter-attack and Wright released Stephen Smith through on goal and with keeper Catherall rushing off his line, the Whitstable striker dinked his right-footed shot from 16-yards over him and watched the ball nestle into the bottom far corner.

Porter said: “I thought it was a great goal from us on the break.  We threaded it through to Steve Smith and he’s put it in the back of the net. It was a great finish from Steve. Jordan Wright done well.  Jordan’s good at that running at people and getting them on the back foot and Smithy’s pulled off and he’s just dinked it over the goalkeeper.”

It was Stephen Smith’s ninth goal for the club in all competitions following his switch from Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division side Glebe, where he scored four goals before his move.

Porter added:  “He’s a good lad. He hasn’t played this standard of football before. I think he’s doing well. He’s had a couple of knocks and niggles but he’s my sort of player. He’s had a lot of chances to score a few more goals and it just hasn’t happened for him but it was a good finish tonight.”

Porter admitted he’s feeling concerned that his side has scored the least number of league goals in the division.

“It’s been a problem, we know that. We try to identify that. It’s not as though we’re not creating chances. We have created chances in a number of games. It’s putting them away at this level. You need to put chances away. If you don’t put your chances away it gives you a bit of pressure on the back four. You’re going up the league, you’ve got a better quality of players.

“It was pleasing to get a goal because we didn’t score in our last game. Smithy’s done well, he’s worked hard. He gets a lot of fouls against him. He gets punished for fouls he gives against people so it was pleasing and we just wanted to kick on from them and we didn’t really kick on.”

 Collins added: “Unfortunately, we’ve gone a bit gung-ho and not really listened to what I’ve said and we’ve got caught with a sucker-punch and then we’ve shown great character to come back and get something out of the game.

“It’s good, it’s patient football, they’ve sat in and they’ve caught us on the break and played around us and they’ve played him in and it’s a good little finish. That’s it. You’ve been undone!

“If you’re coming away from home, it’s perfect isn’t it? 1-0 up, alright you may not have created much prior to it but you’re in the game and then all of a sudden it’s down to us to try to get something out of it.”

When asked how goalkeeper Catherall is settling in during his loan period from League One side Gillingham, Collins replied: “He done ok. It’s early days for him, he’s learning senior football so it’s early days. There are bits that he can improve on so we’ll talk to him about it and we’ll talk to Gillingham about it and he probably knows it.

“He’s had no chance with the goal. He’s made himself big and the kid’s made a great finish. He’s done alright, he’s been ok, he’s been solid for us.”

Porter explained why he ditched his three-central-defenders formation at Greatness Park tonight.

“We changed formation today just to be a bit more organised really.  I think they’d expected us to set-up 3-5-2. I watched them on Saturday so we know quite a few of their players and we just wanted to be a hard team to break down and obviously it proved that.  I can’t fault my boys, I thought they worked hard.”

Khanye whipped a great free-kick into the Whitstable Town penalty area from the left but Jack Miles glanced his free-header over the crossbar from 15-yards.

Collins added: “Again, it’s a half-chance for me. It’s a good ball in but we haven’t got enough on it. It was how the game was. It lacked quality at times from both sides and you look at it and people were giving the ball away too easily, the balls been smashed up and down and that’s just how it is, so it’s what I would deem midtable football.”

Sevenoaks Town produced a sweeping seven or eight passes move inside the final 20 minutes, which ended with Fiddes playing the ball out to Fraser Walker on the right, who played the ball inside to Khanye, who took a touch before curling his left-footed shot agonisingly wide of the top of the left-hand post from 30-yards.

Eason pulled off a great save to frustrate the home side inside the final 11 minutes.

Khanye burst down the left wing and cut the ball back towards the near post for Whitnell to hit a first time shot towards the bottom near corner from 16-yards but Eason dived to his right to push the ball towards safety.

“Good save! That’s the difference. If that goes in it’s one-all and we’ve still got 11 minutes to play and it may have been a little bit different. He’s a good keeper Dan, a really good keeper,” said Collins.

Porter added: “It was a good save. We were under a bit of pressure there and the time was ticking down and you just think is it going to be? Is this the win we need? I thought once they had a free-kick, if that doesn’t go in we’ll be alright. That’s the way it is!”

Eason’s overarm throw travelled at least 60 yards to release Sprosen down the right and substitute striker Ricky Freeman linked up and set up Morrish, who curled his shot around the far post from a couple of yards outside the box.

Collins added: “Again, it’s a half-chance. It’s not worked the goalkeeper. They’ve played their way in and he’s hit one and it’s gone wide.”

Sevenoaks Town deservedly claimed a point through Everett’s first goal of the season, timed at 32 seconds into injury time.

The lively Khanye swept the ball inside to an unmarked Everett, who drilled a stunning low right-footed drive into the bottom right-hand corner from 35-yards out, which pleased the Sevenoaks Town manager.

“I actually thought if we could get the equaliser earlier enough we might’ve gone on and get another one but that wasn’t to be and I’m pleased that Ainsley’s done the business and rattled a great finish,” said Collins.

“Since he’s been here that’s what we’ve been waiting from him and he’s been starting and coming off the bench and he ain’t scored and for me, do you know what? He hasn’t wanted it enough and I could see tonight he came on and wanted it!

“He took the free-kick, wanted that, alright that went in the wall and after that he’s been dominant and that’s what I’ve wanted from him and to see him do it.  I know what he’s capable off and that’s a great finish and I’m really pleased for him.”

Porter added: “You can’t fault it, it’s a great goal! It was a good finish but that’s the way it is. If you’re winning games and you’re just ticking team off, that goes over the bar and you win 1-0 but when you’re down there and you’re fighting for victory and getting a win under your belt away from home, that’s what happens!”

Sevenoaks Town host Whyteleafe here on Saturday, while Whitstable Town entertain Hastings United at The Belmont.

Harry Hudson’s Whyteleafe slipped down to sixth-place after losing 3-1 at home to runaway leaders Cray Wanderers tonight, while Hastings are in third-place after their 1-1 draw at Horsham.

“Another tough one on Saturday, a good side that play good football, totally opposite to what we’ve come up against tonight,” said Collins, whose side came away from Church Road with a 3-2 win on 17 November.

“They will want to avenge what we did to them down at their place and beat them so we need to switch on.  The good thing for us tonight, we actually went the first 10 minutes without conceding, which has been a while.”

Whitstable Town are eight points clear of the relegation zone and Porter said: “We’re definitely, definitely not going to feel sorry for ourselves at all. Everything was positive in the changing room after and we’ll move on to Saturday.

“Of course there’s pressure, I put pressure on myself all the time because I want to be successful and I want to win football games but this league is very tough.  We had a spell in this league when we were good. We had a little blip and now we have to get ourselves out of it.  We’ve all stuck together. I’ve got honest guys in that changing room, no bad eggs and everyone wants to fight for each other and we’ll keep working hard to get out of it.

“But we’ve come a long way since I took over this football club and the league is tough and there’s a lot of money thrown around.  There’s a lot of good teams and good players in this league so we are where we are.

“Our aim now is to finish in the top 10 and that’s the pressure I put on myself and the players and they’re the goals I want to reach and that’s what I want us to do,” added Porter, whose men are seven points adrift of tenth-placed Phoenix Sports.

Sevenoaks Town: Louie Catherall, Fraser Walker, Ryan Makhojini Khanye, Dan Parkinson (Ryan Fowler 86), Tom Ripley, Jack Miles, Alec Fiddes, Tommy Whitnell, Kenny Pogue (Ainsley Everett 70), Frankie Sawyer, Osman Proni.
Subs: Mikey Dalton, Josh Dorling, Luke Holness

Goal: Ainsley Everett 90

Whitstable Town: Dan Eason, John Walker, James Trueman, James Morrish, Stuart West, Tom Bryant, Jordan Wright, Louis Sprosen (Tom Walmsley 83), Stephen Smith (Ricky Freeman 76), Miles Cornwell, Taylor Fisher.
Subs: Charlie Smith, Michael Jenner, Rob Gillman

Goal: Stephen Smith 59

Booked: Stephen Smith 51, Jordan Wright 63, Tom Walmsley 86, Tom Bryant 89

Attendance: 162
Referee: Mr Kane Dempster (Deal)
Assistants: Mr Christopher Price (Bromley) & Mr David Lunani (Bromley)