Stansfeld 0-2 K Sports - Administrative blunder costs K Sports the title: Caine Smith's absolutely distraught but he's got nothing to be blamed about, says boss Kris Browning

Monday 23rd April 2018
Stansfeld 0 – 2 K Sports
Location Foxbury Avenue, off Perry Street, Chislehurst, Kent BR7 6SD
Kickoff 23/04/2018 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Monday 23 April 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Foxbury Avenue

K SPORTS manager Kris Browning admits the club must be better organised off-the-pitch after being stripped of the league title just hours before finishing at the summit of the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table.


An administrative blunder has cost K Sports the
Southern Counties East Football League First Division
title despite beating Stansfeld 2-0 to finish above Punjab
United in the table after 36 games but they are expected to lose three points after playing striker Caine Smith whilst under a suspension.
Photo: Alan Coomes

Punjab United came away from Stansfeld with a 1-0 win seven days ago and would have celebrated back-to-back titles with victory at Holmesdale at the weekend, but they were held to a 1-1 draw at Oakley Road, courtesy of Adriano Lawson’s late leveller for the hosts.

K Sports, meanwhile, would have claimed the league title with victory at Stansfeld tonight – but a lunchtime statement from League secretary Derek Peck  ensured this game turned out to be an anti-climax.

“K Sports were charged by the Kent FA for fielding a player Caine Smith whilst under suspension in the fixture K Sports v FC Elmstead played on 20th March 2018,” said Mr Peck.

“The case has now been dealt with by the Kent FA and following their judgement K Sports have been charged under League Rule 6.9 for the same offence. The case will be dealt with at a disciplinary commission soon to be arranged.

“As a consequence the League will not be awarding any trophy after the game tonight whatever the result and once the matter has been finalised the League will confirm the championship club for the First Division.”

Rule 6.9, states: “Any Club found to have played an ineligible Player in a match or matches shall, save for exceptional circumstances, have any points gained from that match or matches deducted from its record, up to a maximum of 12 points, and have levied upon it a fine.  The Board may also order that such match or matches be replayed on such terms as are decided by the Board which may also levy penalty points against the Club in default. The Competition may vary this decision in respect of the points gained only in circumstances where the ineligibility is due to the failure to obtain an International Transfer Certificate or where the ineligibility is related to the Player’s status.”

K Sports finished their 36-game league campaign with 91 points in the bag, one point more than Punjab United, who are now expected to claim the league title as K Sports are expected to lose the three points that they obtained by Smith scoring the only goal of the game against FC Elmstead, which was seven games ago.

K Sports completed their campaign on a 14 match unbeaten run and claimed their 29th league win of the season courtesy of goals from striker Matthew Gething and winger Bailey Pearce tonight, which beat thirteenth-placed Stansfeld, who have two games left to play; away to Crockenhill on Saturday and at home to Phoenix Sports Reserves on Monday 30 April.

The Paperboys had to do some soul-searching inside the away dressing room before the game and they delivered a professional performance at Foxbury Avenue tonight.

“I’m just delighted really because the character they’ve shown tonight is immense,” said Browning.

“To hear the news today and everything else about what’s happened to us and still turn up tonight, leave work early and get up here and put in a solid performance against a really tricky, hard side.  The lads have been like that all year. They gelled together, they work hard, we’ve got a system of play, we stick to it.”

Reflecting on the expected points-deduction that has cost his side the league title, Browning said: “The thing is, as it stands our secretary Karen has been with the club four or five years but has obviously made a mistake in keeping records.  She’s never made a mistake before. She was snowed under with a lot of work.

“We did get an email from The FA at ten-past eight (pm, on Tuesday 20 March) to say that Caine (Smith) was suspended but the game kicked off.  We appealed it because we thought it was late notification but to be fair we’ve had advice from our own league and from Derek Peck in particular to say really you should keep account of bookings and things like that.  He said it’s a ruling and if that’s the case then unfortunately that’s the way it is.

“We’ll lose three points against Elmstead, it looks like, yes, which is a great shame but it’s happened but what can you do?  We’ve appeared it.  Everyone knows Caine Smith, so we haven’t played him on purpose.  You can’t get away with playing Caine Smith, he scores goals since he was ten years of age.  Rules are rules at the end of the day.  Caine was suspended for Saturday and he was suspended for tonight. His name is all over it and he’s absolutely distraught himself but he’s got nothing to be blamed about.

“Anyone who knows football knows in this sort of game mistakes happen with admin sort of things.  People are volunteers at football club’s who work seven days a week and have to go home and do emails and things like that.”

K Sports took the lead with the game’s first attack, with six minutes and 31 seconds gone.

Captain Liam Dawson hit a long ball out of defence to release Pearce down the left channel and he reached the by-line before cutting the ball back for former Cuxton striker Gething to tap the ball into the net from a couple of yards out to score his 12th goal for the club.

“They were on the floor, obviously myself, the management and the coaches and even the lads themselves, we just grew momentum and felt we’ll just have to give it a go,” said Browning, on the morale within the camp before the start of the game.

“Matthew Gething’s been on fire lately. We got him from Cuxton.  I always like taking a gamble on a Kent County player. I always have a look now and again. I heard things about him, I managed to get him before Christmas and he’s been a great signing for us and he’s taken the pressure of Caine a bit and come up trumps for us.”

The Paperboys should have doubled their lead with their second chance of the night in the 21st minute.

Dawson played a shorter pass out of defence into Ashley Cooper and the central midfielder released Pearce down the left and he teed up Gething, who took a touch before lashing his right-footed drive over the crossbar when well placed to score from 20-yards.

“He’s got to finish that really! He’s just snatched at it. Normally he would finish that but you’d expect him to put that away,” admitted Browning.

Stansfeld should have pulled a goal back in the 25th minute when K Sports had a couple of chances to clear away Billy Jolley’s free-kick, the ball pinballed around the penalty area and fell at Sam Ryan’s feet but he steered his shot past the far post from 18-yards.

K Sports’ left-back Sam Butterworth hit a speculative half-volley past the far post from 40-yards, before substitute Rob Alderman (who came on for the injured Richard Butler) hooked his shot on the turn dropping past the far post after meeting Butterworth’s corner from the left.

Stansfeld keeper Lewis Collier palmed away David Botterill’s inswinging free-kick from the right-hand side from 20-yards, as the central midfielder arrowed his attempt towards the top near corner.

Browning said:  “It was a great free-kick.  We got him in just around February-March time and he’s settled us down and gave us a little bit of experience we needed. He’s been top drawer for us really.  He did have a bit of a rollicking at half-time because he wasn’t doing enough for us first half but second half he was quality.”

Ineffective Stansfeld striker Jake Williams got in behind the K Sports defence to pull the ball back but Jolley’s first touch was poor at the near post and he stabbed the ball behind for a goal-kick.

“We defended really well, we have done all season.  We’ve conceded 32 goals which is minimum really. It shows a team that are champions in our league, the number of clean sheets is superb,” added Browning.

At half-time, Browning said: “Just said keep going, get a bit tighter.  A few of them got a couple of reminders about how hard it is here and not to give them chances, so a few of them got a bit of a telling off but we didn’t go too mad with them because Liam Dawson our skipper on the way off just said ‘we’re just a bit edgy at the moment so don’t rip into them too much!’

“You have to listen to the skipper so we didn’t and we just kept reminding them of the jobs we needed to do.”

The second half was uninspiring, with K Sports testing Stansfeld keeper Collier on the hour-mark.

Faced with many players in front of him, Cooper manged to keep his head over the ball to smash a volley towards the bottom right-hand corner from 30-yards, which took a deflection and Collier dived to his left to tip around the post.

“It was a great save! The keeper did well there to keep that one out.  Ashley has been immense,” came Browning’s swift reply.

K Sports scored their 106th league goal of the season to seal their victory with 23 minutes and 50 seconds on the clock.

A poor back-pass from Lennie Wise was intercepted by Pearce, who flicked the ball over the keeper and slotted the ball into an empty net from four-yards out.

“Bailey has been a great little signing for us,” said Browning.

“He was brought down with the reserve lot when they arrived at the start of the season with the club and we’ve seen something in him and that’s his 17th goal of the season. We’ve got to give youngsters a chance, he’s just turned 18 and he’s been one hell of a rough diamond for us.”

Stansfeld threw the kitchen sink at K Sports while 2-0 down, without really threatening Jack Rankin’s clean sheet.

Left-back Charlie Wincott launched a number of long-throws into Paperboys’ penalty area and four of Stansfeld’s five corners came in the final 11 minutes of the game.

Jolley’s second corner of the night fell at Wise at the far post and he flicked his shot from a tight angle over the keeper but K Sports had a number of men inside the six-yard box to clear the danger.

“That number five (Wise), he’s superb in the air but we dealt with it really well,” added Browning.

“You know what you’re going to get when you come to these places. I’m glad the lad Billy Shinners wasn’t playing tonight (Stansfeld made six changes to the side that lost 4-2 at Lydd Town at the weekend) because he’s a handful so set-pieces and corners, they are a handful, so we knew that.”

Jolley’s fourth corner was headed over by Wise, who later flicked on Wincott’s long throw and Casey Killilea came up from the back to nod over too but this was a professional performance from K Sports and a comfortable win as they celebrate winning promotion along with Punjab United.

It’s just criminal that the League decided just hours before the game that no title was going to be celebrated on a football pitch.  Why has it taken so long for an administrative blunder to come to the fore, just hours before a game, which would have been K Sports’ biggest in their history, a game that was going to decide a league title?

K Sports will be playing Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division football for the first time in their history in August.

“The main objective at the start of the season was to get promoted,” said Browning.

“You’ve got to look at our league and the teams that came down, Erith & Belvedere and Fisher and Fisher are a great club in non-league football.  Plus you’ve had the clubs that are established already when the League started up, the Lydd’s, teams like that.

“We’ve done really well.  We must congratulate Punjab and say well down to them but also I must put on record my apologies to FC Elmstead, who came down on a bitterly cold night and we played Caine.  I do know Fabio Rossi and Marc Bentz who came down from London on a Tuesday cold night, so we have to consider them as well.”

Browning knows K Sports need more bodies off-the-pitch to cope with life in the Premier Division.

“Really looking forward to it.  The club, the K Sports organisation are putting more facilities in for us.  They’ve been very supportive of us. We are galvanising the club, we’re restricting the club.  I think this was a wake-up call with what’s happened with the points thing.

“We’re looking to get a committee up and running, we’re looking to bring a new secretary in, a fixture secretary in as well. The club needs galvanising because we are fully stretched off the park.

“On the pitch we’re made leaps and bounds but off-the-pitch we need as much help as we can get.  The K Sports organisation have offered people to help because next year we’re going to need it. We’re going to be organised on and off the pitch.”

But on the pitch, Browning revealed tonight that he will be looking to bring in up to five new players for Step Five.

“Well, I think we’ll go up there and compete, be organised. The games that I’ve seen a lot of teams are very organised. It is a different kettle of fish up there, there’s no denying that!  You have to be on it!

“I will need to bring in new players but I think every lad that I’ve had for the last two or three months will be invited back and given every opportunity because they have been absolutely outstanding.  I’m not looking to make wholesale changes if I’m honest with you, maybe four or five new players in and then go from there.”

Browning reflected: “Four years ago we was promised by an old chairman that we would go up to the Kent Invicta League (now SCEFL First Division) and that never happened and then we were told within the same breath we may get relegated to Division One of the Kent County League and then we were told we never had a ground to play at so that was four years ago so we’ve galvanised.  We’ve gone back to Cobdown, the ground has been improved.

“It’s a local club for me and the way that we’ve done it from Division Two East (of the Kent County League) eight years ago up into the top league in Kent is just overwhelming.

“I can’t not mention Graham Martin, my number two, whose just come on leaps and bounds over the last few years and Barry Fenn, who does everything and does all the meetings and everything else, he sorts the kit.  As I keep saying, next year we’ve got to go again and we need people in but the club needs to be organised properly.”

Stansfeld: Lewis Collier, Bobby Holley (James Hammond 78), Charlie Wincott, Perry Holland, Lennie Wise, Casey Killilea, Michael McKenna, Joe Clark, Jake Williams, Sam Ryan, Billy Jolley.
Subs: Frankie Beale, Greg Summersby, Freddie Hamlin, George Lush

Booked: Charlie Wincott 56

K Sports: Jack Rankin, Jack West, Sam Butterworth, Ashley Cooper, Liam Dawson, George Snelling, James Alderman (Martin Di Fede 73), David Botterill, Matthew Gething (Sam Brown 84), Richard Butler (Rob Alderman 34), Bailey Pearce.
Subs: Sam Winch, Rhys Coates

Goals: Matthew Gething 7, Bailey Pearce 69

Booked: Matthew Gething 34

Attendance: 62
Referee: Mr Abdulaziz Olol (Elmers End)
Assistants: Mr Daniel Blades (Wrotham) & Mr Toby Enstone (Plumstead, London SE18)

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