VCD Athletic 1 Herne Bay 1 (EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS)
VCD ATHLETIC 1
James Brown 54
HERNE BAY 1
Stuart King 76
Stephen McCartney reports from Harrow Meadow
Kentish Observer League Cup Semi-Final First Leg
Seventeen-year-old striker Stuart King’s thirteenth goal of the season has given the initiative to Herne Bay for Saturday’s second leg at Winch’s Field.
The youth team product met Ronan O’Conner’s ball back into the penalty area and sent his header over the advancing Grant Wallis into the corner of an open net to earn a share of the spoils.
Although VCD Athletic created more chances than their North Kent coastal visitors, they had to wait until the 54th minute to break the deadlock when James Brown headed home his fifth goal of the campaign.
Stuart Abbott’s free kick from the right, just outside the penalty area, was met by Brown at the far post, whose header crept in off the top of the near post despite Steven Lloyd’s efforts on the goal line.
Earlier, Wallis was forced to push Marlon Button’s drive around the post, after King found him unmarked on the left hand side.
Then, at the other end, Danny Penny carved open a chance for burly striker Richard Dimmock, but the former Cray Wanderers target man couldn’t turn the ball home.
Moments later Wallis made a comfortable save from King’s header.
Ashley Probets swung in a hanging free kick from the right, which was met by skipper Paul Foley, but the shaven headed defender powered his header wide, much to his disgust.
VCD, missing Mark Greatorex, Clayton Probets and Lee Coburn, should have broken the deadlock earlier in the second half but Penny headed straight into Jack Delo’s grateful arms.
And a small ripple of applause from Vickers’ fans greeted a good move on the hour mark.
Dimmock flicked on Wallis’ clearance and sent Abbott on his way and his cross from the left was met by a looping header from Penny at the far post, which went over.
Abbott then clipped a right-footed ball into the penalty area but Dimmock’s powerful header, which Delo got his fingers to before finding the far corner of the net, was ruled out for offside after 66 minutes.
Dimmock, meanwhile, missed a gilt-edged chance late on, latching onto a poor header from Herne Bay defender, Gary Cook, but he didn’t have the finish.
Both managers though, are confident they can finish the job off on Saturday.
Jason Lillis, Herne Bay’s 37-year-old manager, had warned his players about VCD’s threat from set-pieces and was disappointed they didn’t listen to his advice.
“I said to the lads don’t give them no set pieces as I thought that was all they could offer us,” he said.
“But we gave away a silly goal from a set-piece, which we said not to do, but the boys battled on and I think deservedly got a goal back.”
The former Gillingham and Maidstone United star, however, praised his teenage goalscorer.
“I could easily throw him in week-in, week-out,” he said. “He’s only a seventeen-year-old kid.
“At this level it’s a bit physical. I want to get him a little bit stronger but at the end of the day he’s cemented his place.”
VCD Athletic manager, Martin Ford, whose also guided his side to the final of the Kent Senior Trophy next month, said: “From my point of view we hoped that there was going to be a game on Saturday that would be a one-off game.
“To be honest with you before the game I would have took a 0-0 because of the players we’ve got missing tonight.
“We’re happy we’ve come away with something and it sets the game up nicely for Saturday.
“I felt we missed the pace of Mark Greatorex tonight although Richard Dimmock and Danny Penny worked really hard but we just didn’t have the cutting edge up front.”
* In tonight’s other semi-final, Maidstone United have one step in the final following their 2-1 win at Hythe Town.
Hythe’s Roy Guilver had cancelled out Nathan Paul’s early opener but prolific striker Mo Takaloo has given the Stones the advantage.
* www.kentishfootball.co.uk shall bring you a preview to Saturday’s second leg at Winch’s Field later in the week. We shall also be at the game.
VCD Athletic: Grant Wallis, Chris Whitehouse, David Hunt, Paul Foley, Kevin Winchcombe, Steve Hogg, Stuart Abbott, James Brown, Richard Dim mock (Alan Owen 87), Danny Penny, Ashley Probets.
Subs: Ricky Bennett, Terry Murphy, Terry Barry.
Herne Bay: Jack Delo, Nathan Eastwood, Shaun Bremner, Gary Cook, Steven Lloyd, Richard Styles, Marlon Button (Ronan O’Conner 67), Simon Brown, Stuart King (Kevin Eldridge 87), Dave Soutan, Dave Masters.
Subs: Shaun Brown, Kevin Eldridge, Owain Williams.
Referee: Paul Andrews (Rochester)
Assistants: Brian Harvey & Chris Williams