It’s just been a great run. We’ve had three wins, the furthest the club has ever been in The FA Vase. It’s been a lot of fun and we’ll go again next year says Stansfeld midfielder Joe Minter
STANSFELD joint-manager Billy Hamlin says the club has come a long way during the past five years.
The club reached The FA Vase Second Round for the first time but came up against an impressive Flackwell Heath side who claimed a 3-0 victory at Foxbury Avenue yesterday.
Marcus Richardson’s side – a point clear of Binfield at the top of the Hellenic League Premier Division – now travel to Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division leaders Chatham Town in the last 64 on Saturday 19 December.
Stansfeld is a zero budget football club and when asked what the club has got out of their FA Vase run this season, Hamlin, who runs the side jointly with Jamie Phipps, said: “A nice few quid! As a club we’re fighting on all fronts, the club in Bermondsey, there’s a big legal challenge going on with that. We’ve got to pay rent down here at Glebe, there’s lot of things.
“We run three sides and five years ago we didn’t have tracksuits for the players, now everyone has one.
“We play at a lovely ground, the third team play at a lovely ground over there (Queen Mary University Sports Ground), the second team play at the Gas (Metrogas).
“The club has massively come forward in the last five years.
“As I said to you the other day, it is the best club in the world. Everyone mucks in and does their bit and does it for nothing.
“We’ve come so far, to play six games in the Vase and The FA Cup, if you said that five years ago, you would’ve gone ‘yes, right, ok.’
Stansfeld captain Sam Ryan had a penalty saved during the 2-2 draw against AFC Hayes in the previous round six days earlier and also missed one in the penalty shoot-out before Stansfeld claimed a 4-3 win.
Ross Morley suffered the same fate as Flackwell Heath’s goalkeeper Aaron Watkins dived to his right to save the penalty which would have given his side the lead.
Flackwell Heath have now kept four clean sheets in all four of their FA Vase ties this season and went up the other end and took the lead through Ashley Howell’s scrambled header just 172 seconds later.
Stansfeld right-back Billy Parkinson was sin-binned in the 54th minute and Flackwell Heath doubled their lead through Howell’s header after goalkeeper Charlie Cottrell punched away Cameron Gray’s cross before striker Muhamadou Ceesay wrapped up the victory with 15 minutes remaining, sliding in a cross from the impressive left-winger Khalid Zakaria Simmo.
“Difficult one to take. I thought we started ok, obviously missed a penalty, if that goes in, it’s a totally different game, especially as they scored two minutes afterwards,” said midfielder Joe Minter, 31.
“We probably weren’t good enough, credit to them, they were pretty sold, well-drilled.
“Listen, we’ve had a good run, it’s been good for the club. We’ve earned the club a bit of money, which is important for us. It just wasn’t to be.”
Reflecting on the big moment in the game, Minter shared the blame.
“Not a great penalty, I’m half to blame because I was going to take it but we had a little bit of a discussion and he said that he wanted it and if someone says they want a penalty, you’ve got to give it to them.”
The Southern Counties East Football League is presently suspended until Saturday 26 December and Minter revealed the players’ were kept up their fitness levels by communicating on their mobile phones.
“It’s been difficult. Jamie and Bill have set up a Whatsapp group and made sure that everyone were doing their runs and every day all of the boys were putting in their runs. Road running is not the same as a physical game of football so it’s been difficult.
“We’ve got that never say die attitude and that will always pull you through in games.”
Reflecting on their longest FA Vase run, Minter said: “We’ve had a lot of fun along the way, which we always have as a group.
“It’s been so good for the club, so good for Jamie and Billy, Danny, Lushy, everyone whose involved with the club.
“It’s just been a great run. We’ve had three wins, the furthest the club has ever been. It’s been a lot of fun and we’ll go again next year.”
Centre-half, Greg Summersby, 27, was sent-off in the closing seconds of the Hayes game for bringing down striker Mourad Jarraz and his one-match ban starts today (seven days after the offence), so he misses the Lewisham Borough home game on Sunday 27 December (13:00).
“The boys, we dug in last week against Hayes. I got sent off in the last minute, it was one of those things. I had to do it,” said Summersby.
“We’ve come up against a very good Flackwell Heath side, who are well-drilled. They were solid and their front three were really lively. It was hard to keep track on where they were going!
“You can see why they’re top of their league. AFC Hayes were organised but Flackwell Heath are the next level up and you could see they’ve won six out of seven league games.
“I think they’ve got a big task against Chatham next week. I’ve watched Chatham a few times this season and I think it’s going to be one hell of a game!
“Me and Joe Minter are good mates with Luke Rooney who plays for Chatham so it’s a bit gutting. I would’ve been suspended anyway. It was a tough one for me.”
Reflecting on their FA Vase campaign, Summersby said: “It’s great. You think it’s little old Stansfeld. A couple of seasons ago we were in the Kent County League Premier and now we’re in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division and in the Second Round of the Vase. It’s massive.
“We’re just a group of mates really who happen to be alright at football. We like going out for a beer. Everyone’s on the Whatsapp group firing into each other throughout lockdown. I think that’s what’s kept everyone going.”
It’s now the bread and butter of Step Six football and the visit of Lewisham Borough.
Stansfeld are in tenth-place in the table with seven points from six games and are eight points adrift of the promotion places with 26 league games to cram in until the end of the season, if it finishes.
“It’s a big game against Lewisham Borough,” said Summersby.
“I’ve played against them, I used to play for Lewisham Borough a few years back so we know what they’re all about.
“It’s a must-win game for us really if we want to push up that table, if the season finishes anyway? We’ll soon find out.
“I think we’ve got a good chance of pushing on and try to get in and around that top four.”