Sevenoaks Town 1-1 Whitehawk - It just shows the calibre of how far we've come - we've had a great game with Whitehawk at our place, says Sevenoaks Town boss Micky Collins

Tuesday 20th August 2019
Sevenoaks Town 1 – 1 Whitehawk
Location Greatness Park, Mill Lane, Seal Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 5BX
Kickoff 20/08/2019 19:30

Isthmian League South East Division
Tuesday 20 August 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Greatness Park

SEVENOAKS TOWN manager Micky Collins says his players’ put a shift in for the club after holding Whitehawk to an entertaining draw at Greatness Park.

The Brighton-based outfit have suffered back-to-back relegations and are back playing Isthmian First Division football for the first time in seven years and were watched by their old boss Steve King, who spent one season at his only Kent club, Welling United, last season.

Jude MacDonald’s side took the lead on the stroke of half-time through impressive Brazilian winger Lucas Santos-Rodriques, 21, but Sevenoaks Town put in a vastly improved second half performance and deservedly equalised through super-sub, former Horsham winger Tyrell Richardson-Brown.

“Good game, good game.  I thought Whitehawk were excellent in the first half.  I thought they were a good side, caused us all sorts of problems,” admitted Collins.

“We were a bit naïve and we allowed them to dictate it but when you’ve got quality like that have with Dave Martin and the other lad up top (Santos-Rodrigues) it caused us all sorts but we had a moan at half-time and just told them to be a bit braver.  I thought we had the quality there to do it and second half it was a totally different game.”

The Hawks created their first chance after only 156 seconds when talented Santos-Rodriques sprinted down the right with the ball at his feet, cut into the box before drilling his shot across Ben Bridle-Card and flashing past the far post.

Sevenoaks Town then regained control of the game and went close through wide striker Louis Collins, who cut the ball onto his right-boot and unleashed a dipping drive that only just cleared the crossbar from 25-yards.

Ainsley Everett slipped the ball into Bradley Schafer, who drilled a shot on the turn, which deflected off his marker and sailed over the crossbar but the former Herne Bay midfielder otherwise had a quiet night as Whitehawk bossed the midfield during the first half.

Collins explained: “They just overloaded! They just popped their two wingers in and they made it a five-on-three in midfield and unless your full-backs go in there with them, you’re going to cause yourself a problem and we just eradicated that in the second half. Instead of trying to expect our three midfielders to cope with five, we got the full-backs to go in and create a problem with them and our goal come from it second half because Kyle De Silva put the cross in. 

"He probably hasn’t got forward once in the whole first half so you tick your own box and say we got it right and I think we got it right off the pitch and the boys delivered for me in the second half. It was a good performance.”

Whitehawk went close to taking the lead in the 12th minute when Santos-Rodriques burst down the right wing, flashed the ball behind big target-man Duane Ofori-Acheampong and the ball fell kindly for David Martin, who placed his left-footed shot across the keeper and just past the foot of the far post from 15-yards.

“He’s a great player, he’s pro, he’s a quality, quality footballer but we didn’t see him second half and that’s the difference,” Collins said of Martin.

“I said to the boys’ that pitch is a leveller because it gets heavy, that rubber makes it heavy and I thought second half I thought we were the team that was going to go on and win it, we just never took our chances.”

An example of Sevenoaks’ midfield of Dan Parkinson, Schafer and Alec Fiddes going missing on duty came when composed Whitehawk 17-year-old centre-half Kacper Lopata collected the ball on the halfway line and was given the licence to roam forward with the ball at his feet and no one closed him down and as space opened up in front of him, he drilled his right-footed shot just past the foot of the left-hand post from 30-yards.

Ofori-Acheampong was forced to drop deep before pinging a quality diagonal pass sailing over Kyle De Silva’s head to put Santos-Rodriques in again and once cutting into the box he drilled his shot over the crossbar.

Sevenoaks Town were forced to go route on in the 20th minute as centre-half Ben Gorham launched a 60-yard ball over the top to pick Collins out on the left and a fine touch saw him bring the ball down to stab it inside to Schafer who played Everett in behind but he drilled his shot across the keeper and past the far post from 15-yards out on the right-hand side of the penalty area.

“It was nothing pressure,” admitted Collins.

“We huffed and puffed a little bit and they were solid and once they got their foot on the ball and then passed it and then overloaded, we had problems and then they caused us serious trouble.”

Whitehawk’s holding midfielder Luke Emberson released Martin down the right and he cut the ball onto his left boot and stroked his shot from the edge of the box, which was comfortably saved by Bridle-Card, as the Hawks dominated proceedings right up until the interval.

John Paul Kissock rolled the ball back to right-back Fintan Walsh, who crossed low into the Sevenoaks box and Jack Miles flicked the ball away at the near post, only for it to be retrieved by Santos-Rodriques who cut across the penalty area and turned and stung Bridle-Card’s fingers with a drive from a central position.

Whitehawk centre-half Marvin Hamilton played the ball into Martin, space opened up again and his left-footed drive flashed past the post.

Whitehawk were to be denied a deserved lead with 41 minutes on the clock when Ofori-Acheampong fed Martin, who burst down the right and cut into the middle and after a 50-yard run he danced into the Sevenoaks box and slipped his left-footed shot across Bridle-Card and watched the ball kiss the foot of the far post before rolling along the goal-line before being cleared away at the opposite corner.

“That’s football isn’t it. You need that luck sometimes. Sometimes it looks down on you, sometimes it doesn’t,” admitted Collins.

“They’ve come here and we’ve come up against a good side and we’ve matched them. They were exceptional first half and I thought they were quality. It was a pleasure to watch actually from the dug-out.”

Dominant Whitehawk deserved their lead when it came with one minute and 22 seconds inside injury-time.

Collins felt his side should have been awarded a free-kick by referee Simon Finnigan as he felt his centre-half Gorham was fouled in the build-up.

Whitehawk fed Martin, this time down the left channel and he whipped in a great low cross which was slid in by Santos-Rodriques from a couple of yards out at the near post.

“It was a shame, it was a foul on Ben Gorham. The ref hasn’t given it and they’ve gone and broke and they’ve scored but if he gives the foul, it doesn’t happen and we go in at nil-nil and it’s a different ball game but that’s football,” said Collins.

“Good player and a good goal and the quality’s there but it’s just disappointing for the fact that he should’ve get there because it’s a blatant foul and he hasn’t given it for one reason or another but hey-ho, that’s another story.”

Collins urged his players’ to be braver on the ball during the second half.

“Just be tighter, be braver. I just think we had our chances and we had some moments in the game. I look at it and thought we caused them problems and we huffed and puffed a bit around the edge of the box and then at half-time you want a reaction from the players’.

“You could either sit here and just take this on the chin and have a two or three-nil loss or you can actually roll your sleeves up and go if we can implement a game plan we can actually cause them problems and we did and we deservedly got our goal and they’ll probably saw on our first half performance to get a draw was a fair result, certainly on the second half, I felt we deserved to win!”

Whitehawk went route-one to create their first opening of the second half after just 16 seconds when Hamilton launched a long ball which caught out De Silva and let in Hawks’ right-back Walsh, who failed to keep his half-volley down from the right-hand side.

Whitehawk continued to boss the midfield areas during the early exchanges as Kissock strode forward before playing the ball out to Santos-Rodriques, who cut in from the right and onto his left foot and stroked a low shot which was held by Bridle-Card, diving low to his right.

Martin cut in from the left and found himself with the ball in a central position before dinking the ball to man-of-the-match Santos-Rodriques, who drilled his shot over the crossbar from a tight angle, as De Silva went missing on defensive duty again.

But the introduction of Frankie Sawyer and Richardson-Brown turned the game in Sevenoaks’ favour as they started to fight their way back into the game after the hour-mark.

However, a good save from Bridle-Card prevented Whitehawk from sealing the victory in the 21st minute.

Martin clipped the ball over the top of De Silva to put Santos-Rodriques through again, he cut inside and looped his drive towards the bottom right-hand corner, forcing Bridle-Card to dive to his left to hold.

“Ben’s been exceptional in pre-season and he’s shown it tonight,” said Collins.

“I thought the two centre-halves were quality as well.  I thought Ben Gorham and Jack Miles both covered each other and their nine (Ofori-Acheampong) never had a sniff and that was the idea of it.  The only thing we had to be careful of was the runners coming in and they were the guys that caused you problems but we do our homework and we knew what was coming. It was just how you dealt with it and I don’t think we did in the first half.”

Replacing Schafer (for Richardson-Brown) and dropping striker Tommy Whitnell into a deep midfield position proved to be a masterstroke from Collins as his side found an equaliser with 24 minutes and 32 seconds on the clock.

Collins said: “We changed it. Brad was struggling a little bit with a dead leg in midfield so we dropped Whitnell back into there to give us a little bit more legs in there. I think that helped us because we won a lot more second ball and then you had Louis out one side and Tyrell he came on and done what we’ve been, that’s why we signed him because of the pace he’s got, it’s incredible!”

Whitehawk were attacking, Sevenoaks cleared their lines and Whitnell played in intelligent ball over the top to release Sawyer down the left channel. He held the ball up and waited for Whitnell to charge upfield to receive an inside pass before he released De Silva down the left and he whipped in a great deep low cross towards the far post which was tapped in by Richardson-Brown from inside the six-yard box at the far stick.

“Kyle gets on, he’s quality, he’s not a left-back but we’ve got a left-back problem at the moment because Nathan Gordon’s injured. It was a big game tonight for someone like Harry Kingdon to come in and play so we made the decision to pop Fraser Walker at right-back to protect Harry.  I knew what he would be up against and I know the quality of Dave Martin and the other lad so there’s no point putting a young kid through that when he’s only played one senior game.

“The decision worked. I know they’ve scored from a wide cross but when experienced players are getting done like that, it shows you, so we made the right decision and I thought the back four were good.”

Sevenoaks Town were the dominant force for the remainder of the game as they kept Whitehawk on the back foot following their equaliser.

The Oaks probed and holding midfielder Dan Parkinson pounced on a loose ball after De Silva’s in-swinging left-footed free-kick from within the right channel was cleared out to him and his first time right-footed drive from 25-yards flashed through a crowd of players and only just missed the foot of the left-hand post inside the final eight minutes.

Whitehawk’s substitute striker Alfie Rogers cut inside and drilled a deflected shot from outside the box which screamed past the far post at the other end.

Sevenoaks Town missed two glorious chances to snatch the winner inside stoppage time.

Fiddes exploded into life and slipped the ball through for Parkinson, who was played in behind the two Whitehawk centre-halves (Lopata and Hamilton) and only had keeper James Broadbent to beat, only to place a weak right-footed shot straight at the keeper from 22-yards out.

“I thought it was us. I just said to the boys’ I thought we went a bit gung-ho at times when we were looking to launch it and go in behind. What we should’ve done was calm it down a little bit and just take a breather,” said Collins.

“They’ve just said in there were baying for blood. I thought we would go on and win it and we wanted to win it so from a first half for probably 25-28 minutes of staleness and just letting them dictate the play that was the positive that I wanted tonight. They proved to themselves tonight with two big games at the weekend that we can go and match most people and I think it’s shown everyone tonight.”

On Parkinson’s chance, Collins said: “He had a back pass! He’s run his socks off for 85 minutes and then all off a sudden he’s in on goal and he passes it back to the goalie! That’s what happens but then Saturday he was there with a two-yard tap in (to beat Three Bridges 1-0) and wins us the game.”

Richardson-Brown put a cross on a plate for Sawyer, who found a pocket of space at the near post but the ball bounced off his head and looped over the Whitehawk crossbar.

“Frank’s not been around, he’s been away working for three weeks and he’s got a bit part on Saturday and then tonight and that’s it. He needs sessions and it’s difficult now because we’re Saturday-Tuesday forever so it’s trying to get him minutes to come in on Thursdays and work on sharpness. It’s difficult but we’ll have to integrate it and rotate it.

“They’re chomping in there, they all want to play so that is what you want, competition.

“Listen, everyone put a shift in for the club tonight and for me and for themselves and it just shows the calibre of how far we’ve come. We’re in our second game in our second season in our league and we’ve taken so-called favourites – which they are and they’re a massive club - and we’ve had a great game with them at our place.”

Haywards Heath Town are the only side in the Isthmian League South East Division with six points from their opening two games.

The four sides in the play-off zone are all on four points are they are Herne Bay, Cray Valley (Paper Mills), Hastings United and Whyteleafe.

Whitehawk and Sevenoaks Town follow in sixth and seventh-place on four points - and Collins takes his side to eight-placed Burgess Hill Town in The FA Cup Preliminary Round on Saturday, before travelling to Cray Valley on Bank Holiday Monday, 26 August (15:00).

“Brilliant! I would’ve taken that! If somebody said to me there’s your first two games and you’re going to take four points from it, thanks very much,” said Collins.

Burgess Hill Town, meanwhile, opened by shocking Hythe Town 7-2 at the weekend, but crashed back down to earth with a 5-1 defeat at their local rivals Haywards Heath Town tonight, with striker Trevor McCreadie scoring four goals.

“Tough, another tough one.  They’ve had an indifferent result tonight but they had a great result at the weekend. On their day they’re good and we have to go to their place and that will be tough.

“We’re mindful where we are on Monday. We’ll take every game as it comes for the minute and it’s going to be think and fast for the next two or three months because of some of the stupidness of some of the cups that we’re in but we’ll deal with that as we can and try to keep everyone fit and put in performances like we did tonight.”

Sevenoaks Town: Ben Bridle-Card, Fraser Walker, Kyle De Silva, Dan Parkinson, Jack Miles, Ben Gorham, Ainsley Everett (Frankie Sawyer 53), Bradley Schafer (Tyrell Richardson-Brown 56), Louis Collins (Daniel Cumber 86), Tommy Whitnell, Alec Fiddes.
Subs: Adrian Stone, Harry Kingdon

Goal: Tyrell Richardson-Brown 70

Booked: Louis Collins 23, Kyle De Silva 53, Daniel Cumber 90

Whitehawk: James Broadbent, Fintan Walsh, Charles Banya, Luke Emberson, Kacper Lopata, Marvin Hamilton, Lucas Santos-Rodrigues, John Paul Kissock, Duane Ofori-Acheampong (Alfie Rogers 68), Henry Muggeridge, David Martin.
Subs: Ian Robinson, Max Blencowe, Connor Tighe, James Waters

Goal: Lucas Santos-Rodriques 45

Booked: David Martin 25

Attendance: 157
Referee: Mr Simon Finnigan (Maidstone)
Assistants: Mr Anthony Andrews (Burgess Hill, West Sussex) & Mr Daniel Cooper (Burgess Hill, West Sussex)