Tunbridge Wells 5-1 Knaphill - I'll like to re-write and create new history but it's a big ask beating what they did last time but we'll go as far as we can and do the best we can, says Richard Styles

Tuesday 17th September 2019
Tunbridge Wells 5 – 1 Knaphill
Location Culverden Stadium, Culverden Down, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 9SG
Kickoff 17/09/2019 19:45

The Buildbase FA Vase Second Qualifying Round
Tuesday 17 September 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Culverden Stadium

TUNBRIDGE WELLS manager Richard Styles says he wants to re-write new FA Vase history for the club.

Martin Larkin guided Tunbridge Wells to Wembley Stadium for the Final on 4 May 2013 but they lost 2-1 to now National League North side Spennymoor Town.

The Wells went into this replay in fifth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with 12 points from five games while Woking based Knaphill were in 12th place in the Combined Counties League Premier Division with six points from as many games.

The two sides played out a 2-2 draw after 120 minutes of football in Surrey on Saturday but Tunbridge Wells finished off the job at Culverden Stadium tonight to book a trip to Southall in the First Round next month.

Striker Danny Powell headed in his fifth goal of the season, before left-winger Josh Froggatt drilled in a decisive second just 81 seconds during a decent spell of pressure from the home side.

Knaphill pulled a goal back through a three-man move which was finished off by winger Angel Zapata.

Luke Tuffs’ side were the better side for around 30 minutes of the second half but they committed footballing suicide as winger Carlo Santoro was sent off for violent conduct in the 77th minute, centre-half Lesley Sackey was sin-binned immediately after Euan Sahadow scored just 89 seconds after he came off the bench, before Froggatt drove in the fifth goal, before Daniel Band was sent-off for his second yellow card as Knaphill lost the plot.

“Absolutely delighted, absolute delighted to be in the next round, delighted with the result, delighted with the win and delighted with the reaction from the boys,” said Styles, who has lost twice in 11 games in all competitions since his switch from Lordswood.

“Saturday had everything really as a game. We were 2-1 up, we had 11 men, they had 10 men. We felt we done enough and we went down to 10 men and it evened it up a little bit and they had a little go on us and we tried to hold out, we couldn’t and they scored.

“In extra-time I had two players’ injured but I had to push up front, who really couldn’t move so we had eight men really and they threw everything at us but the boys stood firm and they didn’t lay down and they put their bodies on the line and got us here tonight and we were able to finish the job off.”

Tunbridge Wells came away from lower-league side Littlehampton Town with a comfortable 4-0 win at the first hurdle and they started tonight’s game on the front foot.

Jason Thompson, who sat behind lone striker Powell, picked up a loose ball inside the Knaphill penalty area, drove forward and cracked a stinging left-footed drive from 25-yards, which was palmed up in the air by visiting keeper Richard Ossai, who caught the ball unopposed as it dropped inside his six-yard box.

“I thought we started the game really well. I thought we came out of the blocks really well. We showed what we were trying to do tonight. We wanted to get onto them because they’ve had a long journey and to get that early shot always helps,” said Styles.

Knaphill were to be denied a tenth minute equaliser, courtesy of good handling from Tommy Taylor in the Tunbridge Wells goal.

Faced with a four-man wall, Santoro’s right-footed 30-yard free-kick curled around the wall and dipped towards the bottom far corner, forced Taylor to grab hold of the ball as he dived low to his left.

“I mean it’s a half-chance really but we dealt with it and managed it well,” added Styles.

Tunbridge Wells grabbed the lead with 17 minutes and 15 seconds on the clock.

Centre-half Chris Lawall stopped a Knaphill attack and was composed enough to play the ball out of defence and straight into Thompson’s feet.  His diagonal pass found Froggatt down the left and he cut the ball onto his right-foot before whipping in a cross towards the near post for Powell, who nipped in front of Knaphill centre-half Sackey to flick his header into the left-hand corner.

Styles said:  “I mean it was really great and Frogs done all the hard work.  He’s got himself in that position. I think the defender probably thought he was going to run at him but Froggy decided to have a cross and he can do both and Powell’s manage to get in front of the defender.”

Clinical Tunbridge Wells doubled their lead just 81 seconds later when Thompson was the architect again, playing another diagonal pass out to Froggatt. He played left-back James Nurden on the overlap, who cut the ball back to Froggatt, who drilled his first time shot across the keeper and into the top far corner of the net from 15-yards.

“What a fantastic goal!  I mean, the football we played in the build-up to that, the in, the set and the finish, what a great finish from Froggy and a joy to watch and we were in a great position at that point,” added Styles.

The two goals sparked the home side into a dominant spell.

Right-back Jack Hope fed the ball into Powell’s feet, who swept an inside pass to Thomson, who screamed a left-footed angled drive over the top of the far post from 25-yards.

“It was free-flowing at that point and they couldn’t really live with us with how we were dealing with it and in those areas we looked very, very dangerous, so if it had gone in it would’ve been another fantastic goal.  Unfortunately for JT it didn’t go in,” added Styles.

Another chance came just 78 seconds later when the lively Powell teed up Jordan Wells but the winger’s weak left-footed shot from 22-yards rolled into Ossai’s hands.

Thompson was excellent tonight and he snatched the ball off Jay Welch inside the Knaphill half before feeding Froggatt again, who returned the favour and Thompson drove a left-footed angled drive flashing across the keeper and past the far post.

Styles added: “Likewise, again, if it goes in, I’m buzzing with how it unfolded and the play up to it and the fact we’re getting in those positions makes me happy.”

Knaphill weathered the storm, however, and should have done better with 28 minutes and 18 seconds on the clock.

Right-winger Santoro had two bites of the cherry to get a cross into the Tunbridge Wells box, the ball was knocked down by targetman Matthew Bunyan and Kane Fitzgerald, who plays just behind him, smacked his shot high over the bar when left unmarked on the edge of the box.

“Their game plan was very direct, hit the big eight (Bunyan) and to play off him and work off of him.  I think Fitzgerald should’ve hit the target with that chance,” admitted Styles.

Knaphill showed character and pulled a goal back with 30 minutes and 32 seconds on the clock, following route-one football.

Sackey hit a long ball over the top of Lawall’s head and a flick on from Fitzgerald put Zapata through on goal. His shot was parried by Taylor but Zapata pounced on the loose ball to slot the ball into the back of the net from eight-yards.

Styles said: “A little bit unfortunate. There was a hint of offside potentially with it and a bit of a misunderstanding. He’s won the first header, Tom’s unfortunate because he’s made a great save and the lad has got on it again and managed to tuck it home. 

“At that point we just have to re-asses where we’re at and just settle down a little bit, which I’m thankful we did.”

Bunyan played the ball into Santoro, who hit a left-footed curler just around the top of the far post from a couple of yards outside the Tunbridge Wells box as Knaphill pressed.

Tunbridge Wells captain Freeman Rogers headed in a vital goal, timed at 38 minutes and 33 seconds, to distinguish Knaphill’s fightback.

Holding midfielder Jake Beecroft delivered a high, hanging free-kick from the left, keeper Ossai stayed on his line and Rogers nipped in front of Sackey to flick his header over heads into the left-hand corner from six-yards out.

“To get back to that two-goal advantage to take into half-time was really important,” admitted Styles.

“We were really pleased with that because it gave us a little gap rather than go in at 2-1. 

“Freeman’s got that all day long and he’ll get a few of them this season.  It was a massively vital goal 100%.”

At half-time, Styles said: “What I didn’t want us to do, I didn’t want us to drop off. I didn’t want us to go into panic mode.  I didn’t want us to change the way we were playing because we were getting joy, so I wanted us to carry on doing what we were doing and keep getting joy and go and get the next goal really.

“We felt if we can get that fourth one then it would really kill the game a little bit and at the same time we knew they were going to throw the kitchen sink at us.”

Tunbridge Wells two full-backs Jack Hope (right) and Nurden (left) liked pushing up field as wing-backs during the first half but Knaphill withdrew their left-back Calvin Camara at the break and brought on left winger Durciel Manpono, ensuring Tunbridge Wells spent large parts of the second half on the back foot.

Bunyan was a physical presence up front for Knaphill, with two very quick and diminutive wingers either side of him in Santoro and Zapata.

Knaphill were to be denied a second goal in the sixth minute when Manpono used his pace to easily cut past Hope and play a low crossfield ball to find Santoro in space on the other side of the pitch and his right-footed shot towards the far corner was tipped around the post by Taylor, diving full-length to his right.

“That’s why he’s there, he’s got a job to do there and that’s why he’s there so when called upon he’s done what he needed to do,” added Styles.

Zapata was allowed to cut along the by-line following the resulting short-corner and the ball came out to Santoro, whose left-footed drive sailed just over the crossbar from 18-yards.

Tunbridge Wells had a chance to finish the game off in the 13th minute when Thompson rode a challenge to find Froggatt on the other side of the pitch and he cut inside Santoro before sweeping his shot just past the foot of the near post from 10-yards.

“Again, he’s done the hard work. He’s got in that position to have a shot. It’s unfortunate he hasn’t hit the target at that point. He could so easily have scored,” added his manager.

Impressive Knaphill were the better side despite being 3-1 down and it looked like it was going to be the visitors’ that would score next.

That moment very nearly came in the 71st minute when Fitzgerald swung in a corner from the left and Bunyan found a pocket of space at the near post from close to the by-line to flick his header looping over Taylor’s left-shoulder and the Knaphill captain held his head in his hands in despair as he realised that the ball kissed the top of the far post.

Styles said:  “They had their half-time, they came out and were always going to have a go first 15 of the second half, we expected it. We knew it was coming and I would’ve been the same if it was my team so we were fully understanding with what was happening but we also felt they wouldn’t be able to keep it up for the whole half.”

Knaphill kept knocking on the door and Zapata released Fitzgerald down the left and he cut the ball back for Santoro to pull the trigger, only for his first-time shot on the turn to take a deflection and only just cleared the crossbar, the centre of the goal.

However, the finger of blame for Knaphill exiting The FA Vase will be pointed straight at Santoro after referee Daniel D’Urso showed him a straight red-card in the 77th minute.

Fitzgerald was penalised for a foul on central midfielder George Blake inside the Tunbridge Wells half of the pitch and Santoro used both his hands to throw the ball at Froggatt who was close by him and he took the walk of shame down the tunnel.

“I mean, if you’re a manager and your player does that at that stage you’re probably pulling your hair out because it was total ill-discipline and a poor decision from their lad because he’s been punished and sent off for it,” added Styles.

Ruthless Tunbridge Wells notched their fourth goal of the night with 35 minutes and 7 seconds on the clock, as Sahadow scored just 89 seconds after replacing the quiet left-winger Jordan Wells.

Sahadow played the ball down the line to Powell, who played the ball inside to Sahadow, who produced a good first touch and took the ball on in his stride, sprinting some 30-yards with the ball before going past the last defender and producing a classy left-footed finish, rolling his shot across the keeper into the bottom far corner from inside the box.

Styles said:  “Eighty-nine seconds? I’m sure he’ll let me know!

“Well I know what he can do attacking as an attacker and I was more worried he came in more to support my left-back so that’s pretty much what I spoke to him about. I didn’t really tell him about going forwards.

“I knew he would naturally because he’s that type of player getting forward and try to create something so I’m over the moon because I’ve rested him a little bit tonight in terms of not starting after I played him on Saturday. For him to come on and score, it’s great for him.

“The way that he drove, he just went through on goal. He was so positive and so confident and a real good finish!”

Sackey said something to the referee and was sin-binned before the game could re-start and unprofessional Knaphill were down to nine-men.

Tunbridge Wells completed the rout by scoring their fifth goal with 38 minutes and 12 seconds on the clock.

Thompson was provider again, putting the chance on a plate for Froggatt, who drilled a left-footed angled drive screaming across the keeper to nestle into the bottom far corner from 30-yards.

“A great finish, again and he’s more than capable of that. I’m absolutely delighted for him. He’s got his start today, he wasn’t there Saturday, but he’s come in and it’s a great finish and topped it off really well,” said Styles.

It should have been six inside stoppage time when left-back set up right-back.

Nurden whipped in a great deep cross which was met on the head by an unmarked Hope but the ball went wide of the post.

Knaphill lost physically strong Band to a second yellow-card at the death for a bad foul on Hope.

“Shocking! It was an awful tackle, an awful foul and he knew what he was doing. It was a blatant foul. It was a booking, if not a straight red anyway but he was already booked so it was a no-brainer. He should’ve been sent-off,” insisted Styles.

Tunbridge Wells play four league games against Bearsted (home, Saturday 21 September); K Sports (home, Tuesday 24 September); Corinthian (away, Saturday 28 September) and Beckenham Town (home, Saturday 5 October), before their First Round Date with Southall.

Southall currently sit in sixth-place in the Combined Counties League Premier Division table with 10 points from five games.

They play their home games at Ashford Town (Middlesex)’s ground at Short Lane in Stanwell and the landlords are at home in The Buildbase FA Trophy Preliminary Round to Welwyn Garden City of Canvey Island on Saturday 12 October 2019, so Tunbridge Wells must travel to play the game on a Friday night or the Sunday afternoon.

“Another tough fixture. I played against Southall two years ago when I was Lordswood manager and we went up and played them away and won 2-1 and that will be totally different.  I’m not expecting them to be the same side whatsoever,” said Styles.

“We’ll set up as we do and prepare ahead of games like we did.  Like I’ve said to the boys, you’ve got another game in it. Before today’s game I said go and get yourselves another game in the Vase and go and enjoy it and go and be a part of it because as a player it’s a big competition to be in.

“I’m in a position where I’ll never play in it ever again and the boys in there have got opportunities to play in it and to go on and do the best they can so I’m over the moon for them and over the moon for everyone to go and have another good day away from home, another away day and we’ll set up and do our bits and pieces and do the best we can to get through to the next round.”

There’s something special about Tunbridge Wells playing in The FA Vase and Styles is keen to bring more memories to the club.

“I think it’s very easy to talk about that (playing at Wembley Stadium) now and look back on that but it’s quite a long time ago now.

“It’s time to maybe have another good run in it and try to do the best we can and try to make some history for ourselves. I want to get as far as we can in it.  I take it as far as possible.

“I’ve got a bunch of boys in there who know how much they want it and how much they want to do it. I’ll like to re-write and create new history. It’s a big ask beating what they did last time but at the same time we’ll go as far as we can and do the best we can.”

Tunbridge Wells return to League action when sixth-placed Bearsted visit Culverden Stadium on Saturday, sitting a place and a point below The Wells, who do have a couple of games in hand.

“The games come thick and fast now. There’s no easy games. The boys have done well tonight and will be fully focused on Bearsted now,” said Styles, who was then asked how life is at Tunbridge Wells.

“We’ve had a lot of games and I’m loving every minute of it. I love the club. Every time I come here, I love it a little bit more.  The people and the club are fantastic!

“The group of players I’ve got in the changing room are second to none and will give their all for the club, the badge and for me and they’re a real tight nit bunch and that’s come together very, very quickly, which has been very positive.

“Each and every one of them are good honest boys and they will put a shift in for the club that’s for sure.”

Tunbridge Wells: Tommy Taylor, Jack Hope, James Nurden, Jake Beecroft, Freeman Rogers, Chris Lawall, Jordan Wells (Euan Sahadow 79), George Blake, Danny Powell (Fjord Rogers 85), Danny Powell, Josh Froggatt (James Huggins 85).
Subs: Cameron Hall, Josh Biddlecombe, Ryan Cheek

Goals: Danny Powell 18, Josh Froggatt 19, 84, Freeman Rogers 39, Euan Sahadow 81

Booked: James Nurden 44

Knaphill: Richard Ossai, Victor Ocansey, Calvin Camara (Duricel Manpono 46), Jay Welch, Lesley Sackey, Dale Burnham, Carlo Santoro, Daniel Band, Matthew Bunyan, Kane Fitzgerald, Angel Zapata.
Subs: Owen Davies, Samuel Bello-Balogun, Dean Greenwood

Goal: Angel Zapata 31

Booked: Dale Burnham 38, Daniel Band 83

Sent Off:  Carlo Santoro 77, Daniel Band 90

Temporary Dismissal:  Lesley Sackey 82

Attendance: 119
Referee: Mr Daniel D’Urso (Burgess Hill, West Sussex)
Assistants: Mr Myles Hewson (Sittingbourne) & Mr Stuart Peerless (Tunbridge Wells)

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