Tunbridge Wells 3-0 Haywards Heath Town - We rode our luck but we're through to the next round, says Jason Bourne

Tuesday 05th September 2017
Tunbridge Wells 3 – 0 Haywards Heath Town
Location Culverden Stadium, Culverden Down, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 9SG
Kickoff 05/09/2017 19:45

(after extra time)
The Emirates FA Cup First Qualifying Round Replay
Tuesday 5th September 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Culverden Stadium

TUNBRIDGE WELLS manager Jason Bourne says it’s a massive achievement to guide his home-town club through to The FA Cup Second Qualifying Round for the first time in 38 years.


Haywards Heath Town grabbed a late leveller in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at the weekend to grab a second bite of the cherry and were miles better for most of the 90 minutes at a wet Culverden Stadium tonight.

Shaun Saunders’ side are in the top-four in the Southern Combination Premier with nine points from their opening four league outings, while Tunbridge Wells are in the bottom four in the Southern Counties East Premier with two points in the bag from three league outings.

But while Haywards Heath missed several glorious chances during normal time, under-strength Tunbridge Wells somehow held on but Bourne’s men were clinical in extra-time by smashing-and-grabbing a flattering 3-0 win.

Substitute Bailey Colbran, 19, may have only entered the pitch with 12 minutes of normal time remaining, but the attacker scooped the man-of-the-match award as his electrifying pace against tired players proved to be a tactical masterstoke from Bourne’s number two Mark Stapley.

Colbran broke through on goal and his shot was blocked by visiting 16-year-old debutant keeper Marcus Newnham before substitute Keelan Mooney smashed the ball home inside four minutes into extra-time.

Tunbridge Wells scored a flattering two goals during the second period of extra-time.  Colbran capped off an impressive display by powering home a header before Steve Ikpeme ran through the heart of the pitch on a solo run before sending Tunbridge Wells through to play Vanarama National League South strugglers Concord Rangers in the Second Qualifying Round on 16 September.

“A bit of a roller-coaster really.  Going back to Saturday, it’s the best we’ve played since I’ve taken over to be honest. We played some lovely stuff in the first game,” said Bourne, who has saved his first three wins of the season for The FA Cup, scooping £6,425 in prize money.

“We went to watch Haywards Heath a couple of times, they’re a very, very good footballing side, especially in the first game.  They really got on the ball, really tested us so we knew what intensity we had to play at and on Saturday it’s pretty much the perfect performance.  To concede last minute was a bit of a sucker-punch.

“All the boys had in their head that they were going to come back here and do the business, so moving on from there we brought them back to our place.”

Bourne revealed that he was without Brad Potter (work), Kieron Tarbie (holiday), Jake Beecroft (hamstring), Scott Whibley and Josh Biddlecombe (both suspended) and Jamie Lawrence played with a broken hand tonight.

Newnham was called into action just 69 seconds into his debut as Tunbridge Wells created their first chance.

Jon Pilbeam released Tom Lawrence down the left channel and he centred low for Joe Nwoko, who teed up Pilbeam, but his low right-footed drive forced Newnham to parry the ball low to his left.

“We started brightly. We said we had to get at them and get shots off.  The keeper was a youngster coming in for the day so we knew we needed to test him,” said Bourne, the club’s record appearance holder with 412 games.

“It was a good chance!  You take these chances it’s 1-0 and all off a sudden they’ve got to come forward, so it was a good start.”

The first sign of woeful finishing from Saunders’ men arrived in the 14th minute when Newnham’s big kick was swept out wide by Alfie Rogers to winger Max Miller, whose pace left left-back Daniel Moore on his backside before cutting the ball back for Rogers to blaze his first time drive over the crossbar from 10-yards.

Tunbridge Wells produced a sweeping move down the right when Ian Parsons, Jamie Lawrence and Nwoko linked up and Pilbeam got in behind to cut the ball back for Steven Ita to steer his first time shot wide from 12-yards.

Bourne said: “Steve will be disappointed. He’s scored two in two for us, he’s been a livewire.  That’s come across and I’m backing him to score! At least hit the target and work the keeper but he just sort of miscued it. We were on top and we had the first two chances but I know we had to be patient.”

But the loss of striker Nwoko to a calf strain killed off the home side’s attacking threat as early as the 24th minute.   Bourne was forced to bring on Mooney, who sat in behind Pilbeam, who struggled to get through the resilience of Nathan Cooper and Tom Graves.

Nwoko’s withdrawal was the springboard to Haywards Heath’s dominance for the rest of normal time.

George Hayward played the ball into Rogers feet, who turned Ikpeme before stroking a right-footed drive from 30-yards, which skipped off the wet turf and forced Chris Oladogba to dive low to his right to hold on to the ball to prevent Trevor McCreadie to poke any loose ball into the bottom corner of the net.

“That was the turning point a little bit,” admitted Bourne.

“In between that Joe Nwoko got injured, we shuffled the pack a little bit. We had to play Jon Pilbeam up top and Keelan (Mooney) came in as a 10 for us and to be fair I think we took 15 minutes where we had to just get to the half-time break because we were on the ropes a little bit during that period.

“When we made the change we didn’t get to grips with their three midfielders and I think they made a few chances before half-time so we were glad to get in.”

McCreadie then cut into the box from the right to stroke his angled drive across the home keeper and past the far post.

Scott Chamberlain went close with his right-footed free-kick from 28-yards, which narrowly dipped just over the Tunbridge Wells crossbar on the half-hour mark.

Miller held off his man before spraying the ball out to right wing-back Luc Doherty, who was easily getting in behind Moore to reach the by-line to whip in a cross for McCreadie to loop his header into Oladogba’s hands from eight-yards.

Tunbridge Wells were keen to hit the channels during the first half but got no joy as Haywards Heath bossed the middle of the park as the home side failed to press their opponents.

Bourne admitted that he was glad to get his battered troops back in the dressing room level at the break.

He said: “That area of their three midfielders, when we went to watch them we knew we had to look after that and we done it really well on Saturday and we done it really well tonight but it did take us that 15 minutes before half-time to get our bearings. I think it was a fair reflection to say they just about edged it but we probably had the clearer chances in the first half and they probably edged possession.”

Bourne said he had to get tactics over to his players during the half-time interval.

“It was more about getting that midfield right.  We knew we had to be patient.  Losing Jake Beecroft, we lose that little bit of creativity so we knew it was going to be more of an engineer performance than an artist game so we wanted to get Pilbeam and Ita on the ball and keep driving at them and we done it to a point. We just didn’t keep it well enough so it was a little bit relentless.”

Tunbridge Wells got to grips with Haywards Heath’s midfield and there was nothing for the crowd of 254 to get excited about as the game turned into an uninspiring stalemate.

“It was tough going,” admitted Bourne, who knows his side must improve on tonight’s showing.

“The boys dug in. They got a shape. We conceded a lot of possession.  We were going a little bit too direct. We didn’t keep hold of it but we just wanted to get the boys to get the ball down and keep it. We knew we were asserting too much energy.”

However, Haywards Heath missed a sitter in the 65th minute when the footballing gods were looking down on Tunbridge Wells.

Haywards Heath were clearly the better team at this point and a poor header from central defender Tom Davey let in Miller down the left. The winger sprinted into the penalty area and from the by-line he cut the ball back to Rogers.  Six-yards out he had to score – but he placed his shot just past the foot of the left-hand post with only the keeper to beat.

“We’ve had plenty of games in my tenure where we’ve missed chances and then been punished,” said Bourne.

“I just had a feeling, they missed a few, that was a terrible chance to miss.  If they had scored it, they were on top in every other department. It would’ve been tough going. We rode our luck. They didn’t take that chance and it’s probably the best of the night.

“It’s unfortunate, it came from a mistake by us but I think the next few chances we’re going to talk about came the same way. We were getting tired. We were under the cosh. We weren’t keeping it and it all accumulated into little errors.”

Jamie Weston cut inside from the right flank to curl his speculative left-footed drive around the foot of the far post from 35-yards as it appeared to only be a matter of time that dominant Haywards Heath would score the goal that they deserved.

Tunbridge Wells were poor during the first 90 minutes and called the teenage goalkeeper into making only his second save of the game in the 79th minute.

Ikpeme fed the ball into Tom Lawrence and he dragged his angled drive across goal and Newnham made sure by diving low to his right to grab hold of the greasy ball before it nestled inside the bottom far corner.

Bourne said: “It was good.  We were saying ‘get shots off’ because he’s a youngster, put him under pressure and we started to then develop into the game a little bit, but by doing that we were leaving a bit of space for them to come on into, which accumulated into them making chances but we didn’t quite have the balance right at that point.”

Luck was clearly shining on Tunbridge Wells as Haywards Heath missed a couple of glorious chances inside the final five minutes of normal time.

A poor pass from Jamie Lawrence was intercepted in midfield by Chamberlain, who drove forward before playing in Miller, who stroked his low drive from 14-yards past Oladogba, only for the ball to bounce off the base of the right-hand post.

“Again, we rode our luck,” admitted Bourne.

“Tiredness was creeping in, Diggers (Jamie Lawrence) barely put a foot wrong over the two legs and you feel for someone whose made a mistake.”

Chamberlain then pumped a long free-kick from the halfway line down the right-hand side of the penalty area and Cooper chipped in a lovely cross towards the far post to the unmarked Miller, who from six-yards steered his header past the left-hand post from six-yards.

“We were really holding on desperately for the 90 minutes. I just had a feeling, we’re a real fit side this year, even with all the chances and I just had a feeling the longer it went on we’ll get to grips with it and they’ll tire in the end,” said Bourne.

Central defender Perry Spackman, who has now been at Tunbridge Wells for eight years where he has collected 43 yellow cards and 11 red cards during that time, was outstanding.

Bourne was full of praise for his inspirational captain tonight.

“Absolutely immense, he is every time he puts a shirt on for me as captain. He leads by example, he’s a character.  When he’s at it and he’s fully fit he’s still one of the best centre halves in the League, no two ways about it and today he was absolutely immense. Without Perry today, I don’t know what would’ve happened. He really held us together and it was a real man’s performance.”

Somehow Tunbridge Wells played their get out of jail card and took the game to extra-time.

One disgusted Tunbridge Wells supporter said his side’s performance was “unacceptable” and stormed off towards the exits.  Do NOT leave any football match early, you might just miss your side coming back from the dead and scoring three goals!

“Of course it shouldn’t (have gone to extra-time),” admitted Bourne.

“I just basically said to the boys they’ve missed chances, we’ll get a chance so we’ve got to make sure when that chance comes, we take it.  You know what’s it like when you miss a lot of chances and it goes the other way sometimes, your head goes and that’s exactly what happened.”

Step forward Colbran who exploded into life and destroyed Haywards Heath with his pace, something that was missing from Tunbridge Wells in normal time.

It was inevitable that Tunbridge Wells would produce a smash-and-grab raid as they took the lead just 107 seconds into extra-time.

Moore hit a long ball over the top of the Haywards Heath back-line to put Colbran through on goal and keeper Newnham came off his line to make a vital block with his legs.  Colbran could so easily have panicked but he kept composed to cut the ball back for Mooney to smash his low right-footed drive into the back of the net from 12-yards.

“Bailey has been playing for our under 21s, he’s only signed a couple of weeks ago. He’s been doing really, really well. I went down and watched him against Chatham the other week and he’s a livewire. He just works hard,” said Bourne.

“Mark Stapley, my assistant, said put him on but we needed to relieve some pressure so we put him on and he absolutely changed the game. He played through the middle, he got in behind them. He worked hard and he got his just rewards.  I thought he was going to score with the chance but it’s then popped out and then Keelan’s gone and finished. I was really pleased with him.”

When asked how he was feeling at the time, Bourne replied: “Hold on!  We took the lead twice in the first game and conceded after five minutes of playing, so I just wanted to get us through that five minute period and once we did we grew stronger in the end.”

Not for the first time, Haywards Heath’s finishing was poor. Rogers had a night to forget, driving forward through the middle before hitting his right-footed drive screaming over the bar from 25-yards a minute before the end of the first period.

Tunbridge Wells hit Haywards Heath on the break when Colbran raced down the right and sprayed a diagonal cross to fellow substitute Rhys Bartlett, who took a touch and his angled drive was tipped around the post by Newnham in the second period.

“I fancied that we’d grab another one. My main message was to keep it solid, keep a clean-sheet.   We didn’t need to score. The longer it went on the more space we’d get and then we’d go and exploit them,” said Bourne.

“I was really pleased with Rhys, he’s another youngster coming through with the under 21s and he’s established himself this year. He’s come off the bench and he's got pace to burn and he’s got raw ability and he’ll be massive in years to come, he really will.  He needs maturing but we know by getting him on, tired legs, a bit of pace in behind that we’d get another chance.”

Tunbridge Wells grabbed a flattering second from the resulting corner in the 112th minute.

Bourne insisted his players offered insurance by keeping men back so Davey played a short corner to Tom Lawrence on the right before Davy whipped in a cross towards the near post for an unmarked Colbran to plant his header into the top left-hand corner from 12-yards. He was the only Tunbridge Wells player inside the penalty box at the time.

“To be fair, I needed a little nudge to get Bailey on,” revealed Bourne, who would have been staring FA Cup elimination had he not have made the brave decision to bring him on.

“It’s such a big game for the club, you want to keep your experienced players on. We took the risk and the gamble paid off and on another day, it doesn’t.

“We didn’t want to commit too many players forward. We had plenty back and in the end because we didn’t commit too many forward, we played it short and as soon as they played it short the space just opened up. Davy delivered and it was a great header by Bailey, absolutely changed the game!”

The second goal knocked the stuffing out of Haywards Heath, who went close through Miller’s driving run and a drive which flashed just past the foot of the post from 35-yards.

Bourne said: “You miss that many chances you get deflated, it gets to everyone!  You miss that many chances, you get punished. As it’s a Cup tie they had to come at us and I just don’t think they had the legs to make that forward push and we just looked like we got stronger and stronger.”

Tunbridge Wells grabbed a flattering third goal at the death through a terrific solo run from Ikpeme.

The central midfielder picked the ball in midfield, ran with the ball at his feet straight down the heart of the pitch, reached the penalty area, cut past a defender who was left on his backside before slamming his low shot into the back of the net.

“He’s such a powerful boy for a 20-year-old.  He literally appeared at the Rusthall game (28 August) over the hoardings and said ‘any chance of coming back down?’

“I didn’t have his number, he didn’t have mine. He was here before but decided to turn away from football for a bit and all off a sudden the squad’s a bit thin and Steve takes a chance. He’s a powerhouse. He’s very quietly efficient in there. It was a great run, we kept on saying ‘shoot! Shoot! Shoot! and he just took it further.”

Tunbridge Wells travel to Cray Valley on Saturday before hosting Croydon on Tuesday 12 September, before they travel to Canvey Island in Essex to tackle Concord Rangers in the next round on 16 September.

Adam Flanagan’s side suffered a 3-1 defeat at Eastbourne Borough tonight and are second-from-bottom in the Vanarama National League South with seven points from nine league outings.

Tunbridge Wells must perform better than they did tonight if they have any chance of upsetting a club three League’s higher.

“Absolutely flattering (to win 3-0), Haywards Heath were quality. They made the better chances but no one will remember that, no-one cares, supporters don’t care, we don’t care,” said Bourne.

“We’re through to the next round. It’s the best the club’s done in 38-years so it’s a massive achievement in The FA Cup, massive, massive achievement for us tonight.

“We’ll just go and enjoy it.  The draw for the next round has been made, we’ve got Concord away. Everyone will be chopping at the bit for that, it’s only a week and a half, we’ll just look forward.

“I think in a nutshell you’ve hit the nail on the head, National South.  They’re three Leagues above us! I’m sure if they came down to watch I don’t think they’ll be overly concerned. It’s a great day for us. It’s The FA Cup, big shocks happen. This wouldn’t be the biggest shock that happened. I’m sure everyone will be fully fit and raring to go and we’ve got some quality coming back into the squad but we’ve got to be at our best, they’re three League’s above us for a reason.”

Tunbridge Wells: Chris Oladogba, Ian Parsons, Daniel Moore, Steve Ikpeme, Perry Spackman, Tom Davey, Tom Lawrence, Jamie Lawrence, Joe Nwoko (Keelan Mooney 24), Jon Pilbeam (Bailey Colbran 78), Steven Ita (Rhys Bartlett 110).
Subs: Connor Charlton, Jake Beecroft, Jake Hampson

Goals: Keelan Mooney 94, Bailey Colbran 112, Steve Ikpeme 120

Booked: Tom Lawrence 117

Haywards Heath Town: Marcus Newnham, Luc Doherty (George Fenton 90), Bailie Rogers, George Hayward, Nathan Cooper, Tom Graves (Joel Daly 106), Max Miller, Scott Chamberlain, Trevor McCreadie, Alfie Rogers, Jamie Weston.
Subs: Karel Kutaa, Alessandro Nanni

Attendance: 254
Referee: Mr Jamaal Horne (Croydon, Surrey)
Assistants: Mr Daniel Baruch (Longfield) & Mr Harry Wager (Tunbridge Wells)

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