Sevenoaks Town 1-0 Three Bridges - I'm disappointed because our performance levels wasn't good enough and we weren't ruthless enough, says Sevenoaks Town boss Harry Hudson

Saturday 13th August 2022
Sevenoaks Town 1 – 0 Three Bridges
Location Greatness Park, Mill Lane, Seal Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 5BX
Kickoff 13/08/2022 15:00

Isthmian League South East Division
Saturday 13 August 2022
Stephen McCartney reports from Greatness Park

SEVENOAKS TOWN manager Harry Hudson says he wants his side to rediscover their ruthless streak after having to settle for a single goal victory with 10 men to beat Three Bridges on the opening day of the new Isthmian League South East Division season.

Striker Ryan Gondah, 25, scored within 12 minutes into his debut to seal.

The Oakes were reduced to 10 men in the 68th minute when left-back Karn Miller-Neave was harshly sent-off by referee Jordan Critchlow, who also issued four yellows to the home side, as well as booking Hudson, and four yellow cards were dished out to Jamie Crellien’s fourteenth-placed finishers.

Sevenoaks Town also had Danny Lear sent off during their 5-0 win at Horley Town in The FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round last weekend and Hudson made three changes today from the side that won so easily against lower league opposition.

Sevenoaks Town finish the first day in ninth-place in the table, while Three Bridges are in the bottom three.

“We had good control in the first half but failed to capitalise on our dominance and we should be putting daylight massively between us and them in that period of time,” said Hudson.

“Second half it gives them a chance to regroup and they came out and they probably sensed a weakness in the official and played that very cleverly and that was their chance to try to get points on the board.

“The red card changes the game and then we had to hold on, so I’m disappointed. We need to be better than that. We need to capitalise on our dominance of football matches especially earlier on in the first half and then I don’t think the game was a football match after that.”

Thirty two degree heat produced a poor quality affair, played at a very low tempo.

Sevenoaks Town, who finished the campaign with seven straight wins, including a fine day 2-1 win at champions Hastings United, to finish the campaign in thirteenth-place, created the first opening inside six minutes.

Bradley Wilson, who took all of the home side’s five corners, floated the ball in from the right towards a crowd of players at the back post where centre-half Matthew Weaire rose to plant his towering header just past the left-hand post from eight-yards.

The only goal of the game came with 11 minutes and 54 seconds on the clock through direct football, something that Hudson is not renowned for.

Right-back Oluwadamio Olorunnisomo hit a long ball out of defence straight through the middle and Gondoh easily won a foot race with centre-half Billy Irving before racing into the penalty box and drilling a right-footed drive into the roof of the net, the goalkeeper getting a hand to the ball but preventing it screaming into the top left-hand corner from 15-yards.

“I think we had three or four same kind of opportunities in the first half of the movement in behind and it was the only one we really took,” said Hudson.

“We like to think we’re going to have opportunities to hurt teams in the first half.  We did that but when we got into good areas we tried to make things a bit too complicated and ultimately at that point in that first half we should’ve put more daylight between us and them and the game would’ve been so different.”

Gondah played under Hudson at Whyteleafe between 2019-21 and was at National League Wealdstone and Scottish Championship side Ayr United last season.

“Ryan’s got fantastic ability. I’ve known Ryan since he was 15 years old and to be a professional footballer at three different clubs before the age of 24 shows he should be at that level he possesses.  He’s a great technician. He also doesn’t get enough credit for how fit he is and how much he works.  It’s all about giving Gondah the platform where he can really express himself.”

Sevenoaks Town were clearly winning key battle fields during the first half.  Three Bridges’ isolated lone striker Noel Leighton did not press the home side’s defence as they played out from the back.  The home side bossed the middle of the park and Three Bridges’ right-back Giani Ashley failed to cut out long diagonal balls towards Sevenoaks’ wide attacker Yahaya Bamba.

Hudson said: “We want to try to pull defensive lines apart. There are different ways where we can hurt them. We want to be able to play over teams and around teams and in the first half we got into areas because they didn’t press, they couldn’t press our centre-halves.”

Wilson’s third corner of the game was smacked wide of the left-hand post by Olorunnisomo’s volley at the far post in the 19th minute.

“We work hard on our set plays and we’re really effective from them.  We clocked up four corners in the first half and we typically expect that to result in a goal.  Bradley’s deliveries today were good and we looked like we were causing them problems in those areas,” added Hudson.

Three Bridges offered very little in an attacking sense during the first half until the 43rd minute.

Left-back Dan Ferreria travelled over the halfway line with the ball before releasing winger Camron Lawson down the left channel and he floated in a cross towards the near post but holding midfielder’s Bryan Villavicencio’s looping header was comfortably caught by former Glebe goalkeeper Reginald Rose.

The home side created an opening on the stroke of half-time when Wilson’s free-kick was floated into the box and vocal captain, centre-half Corey Holder steered his header across goal and past the far post as Sevenoaks Town went into the interval with a comfortable 1-0 lead.

“I just wanted the boys to show a bit more ruthlessness,” said Hudson.

“We got ourselves into good areas and we had total dominance and we call it smelling blood.  We didn’t take that opportunity we were given.

“I just wanted us to go up 10-15 percent.  I thought if we got the second goal  we would go on and get four or five.

“They’re a good footballing side and we managed to stop them from being a footballing side today but when we did force them to play long, I just wanted us to be a bit more effective dealing with the first ball.

“There wasn’t too much to change.  We knew they had to do something different and we had to react to that at some point.

“There wasn’t loads and loads to address really. We just wanted to really kick on and get the second and third goal.”

Three Bridges took 57 minutes to create their first shot on target and it came from a set-piece.

Curtis Gayler drilled a low speculative right-footed free-kick towards the centre of the goal from 35-yards, which was comfortably gathered by the seventeen-year-old goalkeeper, who replaced former Ashford United goalkeeper Tyler McCarthy in the sticks today.

When asked who will be his number one goalkeeper this season, Hudson replied: “Tyler wasn’t available today so Reggie came in and kept a clean sheet.  Tomorrow we’ll start to look for Ashford and we’ll start to make decisions on what we do next.

“Reggie’s a young goalkeeper, he’s a supremely talented young goalkeeper and he's got lots of opportunities at professional clubs. He can probably move on from non-league so he shouldn’t really be reliant upon to be the number one so he's got lots of other opportunities coming up and we don’t want to hold him back from them.”

Three Bridges almost grabbed an equaliser in the 64th minute following another set-piece.

Central midfielder Brannon O’Neill swung in a left-footed free-kick from within the right channel which was met by a towering header from centre-half Tad Bromage, the ball skimmed a Sevenoaks head and forced Rose to stretch high to his right to palm the ball around the post.

Gondah squandered an excellent chance to double the home side’s lead shortly afterwards.

Kyle De Silva’s through ball split open Irving to put Gondah through on goal but his dink was comfortably caught by visiting goalkeeper Leo Anderson in a one-v-one situation.

“If he lobs the goalie and it goes in, it’s a world beater but when you dink it into the goalie’s hands when you’re one-v-one, it becomes a little bit more frustrating.  The move was good and we got in well and it’s an opportunity we didn’t capitalise on,” added Hudson.

Three Bridges were given a lifeline in the 68th minute when right-winger Kieron Pamment allegedly conned referee Jordan Critchlow by throwing himself to the ground, despite Miller-Neave’s actions not warranting such a response from the Three Bridges wideman.

“Listen, the player who smashed Brad (Wilson) about two minutes earlier and the ref or the lino didn’t see it and he goes in again on Karn for the incident gets a caution himself and then Karn kind of moves him away and then he throws himself on the foot and he managed to get Karn sent off.

“Listen, we’ll review it on the Veo and we’ll see if we can appeal it because Karn was brilliant up until that point.”

Hudson brought on Tolulope Jonah at left-back as Pamment started to dominate down the right for the first time in the game with the away side having a numerical advantage.

Three Bridges were guilty of a glaring miss following a goalkeeper mistake in the 74th minute of a poor encounter.

Villavicencio rolled the ball over to Pamment, who drilled a cross in from the right and Rose split the ball and the ball dropped for Gayler, who cracked his volley over the top of an open goal from 10-yards.

Hudson said: “That was the kind of chance, I felt, when teams just load it and throw the kitchen sink things will drop.  When that didn’t go in, I felt that was the kind of chance they might’ve had.

“They’ll probably say they deserved a point out of it.  For me, the key to the game is not allowing half-time for them to even be within touching distance with the scoreline.  Even in the second half I don’t think there were tons and tons of opportunities for them, despite having 10 men for 22 minutes.

“It wasn’t the Alamo, yes, they had territory and yes they were shelling balls in and around our box but I felt we defended really well as a group of people and that’s probably the most positive thing to come out from today. Our bodies were against the wall and we as a group, our culture was to dig in and fight and not give away lots of chances, or really if any.  That’s something that we can build on and that’s ultimately what’s got us the three points today.

Three Bridges finished the game on the front foot, although most of the second half proved to be stop-start, with water breaks, knocks, substitutions and many cards being issued stopping any flow or tempo to the game.

Substitute Kevin Rivera fizzed a low ball across the face of the penalty area for Pamment, whose left-footed drive was comfortably gathered by Rose to prevent the ball nestling inside the bottom right-hand corner.

However, Three Bridges almost snatched a point 68 seconds into stoppage time when it was the home side that were guilty of not pressing inside their own half.

Pamment played the ball over to O’Neill, who was in acres of space and unleashed a dipping left-footed drive towards 35-yards, which clipped the outside of the far post and went behind for a goal-kick.

Hudson said: “I think if it was on target, I think Reggie saves it.  Brannon O’Neill’s got a great left-foot, a really, really good left-foot and we wanted to close him down from distance.  If he ever does try to shoot I don’t think it would beat Reggie all ends up but I think it’s bounced a few times and bounced against the outside of the post on its way out and he probably had it covered.”

Sevenoaks Town were holding on during the seven and a half minutes of time added on as Three Bridges applied late pressure to force a draw.

Two of their substitutes had attempts on goal, as Rivera drilled a first-time drive past the right-hand post and Connor Collcutt’s deflected clipped shot was comfortably caught by Rose.

The Sevenoaks goalkeeper dropped O’Neill’s floated left-footed free-kick from the half-way line and not for the first time Three Bridges were second to the loose ball, allowing the highly-rated goalkeeper to gather at the second attempt.

“The game was won today through us in the last half-an-hour standing up and being resilient and showing good character,” said Hudson.

“I’m disappointed as our performance levels wasn’t good enough. We weren’t ruthless enough. It was probably one of our weakest performances throughout the whole of pre-season and it felt a bit flat.  It felt at times in the first half it was a bit too easy for us and we were almost taking the mick a little bit and we didn’t put the ball in the back of the net through the dominance.

“You’re always going to give a team a chance.  I’m disappointed because today we shouldn’t have done that. We should have gone for the jugular in the first half and then we would’ve seen the same quality which we’ve got out there and ultimately we didn’t see that and we had to be backs against the wall. It’s disappointing, I’m disappointed.”

Hudson takes his side to Ashford United on Tuesday night, a second match day six pointer between two clubs who should be vying for the top five places.

Tommy Warrilow’s men came away from Burgess Hill Town with a 1-0 win today, courtesy of centre-half Liam Friend.

The Nuts & Bolts are in seventh-place and finished runners-up behind Hastings United last season but lost the play-off final 2-0 at home to Herne Bay, who make their Isthmian League Premier Division debut away to Potters Bar Town tomorrow.

Hudson said: “It will be really tough, it’s a really place to go.  I thought Burgess Hill were going to win today so for them to go away to Burgess Hill, which I feel is a difficult place to go and I think they’re a really good side this year, I think they’ve got a chance, and win there and keep a clean-sheet just shows the quality that they’re going to have.

“Ashford is a difficult place to go and get a result but we will play better than what we did today and I think we’ll give ourselves half a chance.

“We’ll take the positives today and we’ll learn the things we didn’t do right and then we’ll move on.”

Sevenoaks Town: Reginald Rose, Oluwadamio Olorunnisomo, Karn Miller-Neave, Emmanuel Mensah, Matthew Weaire, Corey Holder, Yahaya Bamba (Omari Hibbert 54, Bradley Wilson (Tolulope Jonah 70), Ryan Gondah (Sam Johnson 90), Kyle De Silva.
Subs: Omar Lawson, Freddie Parker

Goal: Ryan Gondah 12

Booked: Yahaya Bamba 32, Daniel Hector 51, Ryan Gondah 72, Harry Hudson (manager) 77, Tolulope Jonah 84

Sent Off: Karn Miller-Neave 68

Three Bridges: Leo Anderson, Giani Ashley, Dan Ferreria, Bryan Villavicencio (Kevin Rivera 81), Tad Bromage, Billy Irving (Connor Collcutt 89), Camron Lawson, Brannon O’Neill, Noel Leighton, Curtis Gayler (Alex Barbary 81) Kieron Pamment.

Booked: Brannon O’Neill 45, Noel Leighton 50, Kieron Pamment 68, Billy Irving 79

Attendance: 141
Referee: Mr Jordan Critchlow
Assistants: Mr Rhys Jeffrey & Mr Ben Kelly