VCD Athletic 0-1 Bedford Town - The lads have let the club down today, says VCD Athletic boss Keith McMahon

Friday 06th October 2017
VCD Athletic 0 – 1 Bedford Town
Location Oakwood, Old Road, Crayford, Kent DA1 4DN
Kickoff 07/10/2017 15:00

The Buildbase FA Trophy Preliminary Round
Saturday 7th October 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Oakwood

FURIOUS VCD Athletic manager Keith McMahon criticised his players’ attitudes after they crashed out of The FA Trophy at the first attempt.

Bedford Town’s players dropped down like flies through injuries and three had to be replaced inside the opening 22 minutes but The Eagles showed character to grab a single-goal victory through substitute Jemale McKenzie-Lowe’s low strike to earn a trip to Brentwood Town or South Park in the next round in three weeks’ time.

“I’m disappointed if I’m honest. I thought we threw the game away in the first half,” said McMahon.

“I think we’ve lost to a, well we should beat them, we should’ve won.  We turned up first half a little bit off the pace.  We thought we’d win the game. We were lacklustre and second half I think there was only one side in it but the keeper’s made a few brilliant saves to keep them in it.

“I shouldn’t have to go bananas at half-time anymore to get a reaction and just think we turn up after some good performances in the last few weeks and think we’re going to win. 

“I think our attitude has cost us today.”

Former Tonbridge Angels striker Bradley Woods-Garness suffered a cut ankle and was forced off through injury and from the resulting free-kick, Ryan Auger’s right-footed free-kick from 28-yards only just cleared the top of the right-hand post after only 178 seconds.

“It disrupted play a little bit as well. It was stop-start, stop-start in the first half, which wasn’t great and that’s disappointing,” said McMahon.

“They’re just making changes, kept disrupting the side, we tried to re-jig and I’m not really worried about them.”

VCD Athletic called visiting keeper Kyle Forster into making a fine double save inside 12 minutes.

Nine-goal striker Kemo Darboe stroked a right-footed drive from 25-yards, which was parried by Forster, who then reacted by using his legs to deny Omar Lawson from six-yards.

McMahon said: “We started ok.  We’ve been playing well. We’ve changed our shape and you sit there and think right we’re on the front foot but I just think, I don’t know, it’s all about attitude.  They just thought it was going to be easy.”

Vickers’ left-winger Lawson then cut across Bedford’s second substitute Ashton Grant before scuffing a low shot that rolled into Forster’s hands for a comfortable pick-up.

But McMahon was furious in the manner that their fifteenth-placed Southern League South-East opponents grabbed the winning goal, timed at 23 minutes and 24 seconds on the clock.

Vickers’ right-back Kamarl Duncan should have cleared his lines from inside his penalty area but he lost the ball to winger David Manu, who played a low pass inside for McKenzie-Lowe to place his first time right-footed shot into the bottom left-hand corner from 12-yards.

Goalkeeper Joe Mant has been ever-present for VCD Athletic this season but this was the 36th goal that has gone past him in 15 games and that is simply unacceptable.

“We gifted them a goal really to win a game,” admitted McMahon.

“We’ve just spoken about it. We conceded a couple of poor goals (during our 3-3 home league draw against Whyteleafe) on Tuesday.

“He’s had the ball at his feet and he has to stick it in the channel as a normal full-back would and he decides he wants to take the forward on and he’s lost it and they’ve squared it and scored.

“It’s something that I’m looking to change.  We need personnel at the back. Our defensive record is absolutely sh**e! I know that and everyone has had enough chances so we need to change it!”

Lawson played the ball to Awotwi, who drilled his left-footed shot past the near post from 20-yards.

And at the other end, Bedford’s fifth-minute sub Andrew Phillips whipped in a deflected cross, which was flicked into Mant’s hands by Leroy Griffiths, 40.

VCD Athletic had clearly not turned up. Former Gillingham striker Griffiths was left in acres of space in the 32nd minute as Kamarl Duncan fell asleep yet again.

Right-back Paul Cooper cut into the final third and played the ball inside to McKenzie-Lowe, who spread the ball over to an unmarked Griffiths, who drilled a first-time angled drive with his left-foot from 12-yards, which was held by Mant, low to his right at his near post.

McMahon said: “Leroy’s been about. He’s a top lad, I’ve known Leroy for years. He’s just prime example you should play for as long as you can.  He didn’t cause us enough problems. I don’t think any of them caused us any problems.  We just caused ourselves problems. I just needed to get to half-time and score to get in at 1-1.”

VCD Athletic should have levelled proceedings with a couple of glorious chances within 37 seconds.

Holding midfielder, Alastair Gordon released Awotwi down the left channel and he cut the ball back from the by-line and Darboe drove his first time shot past the near post from 10-yards.

McMahon added: “He should’ve carried on with it. He had acres. He was on the edge of the box and he could’ve taken it right to the keeper and done what he wanted. He hit it first time. I think the keeper got a touch to push it wide but it doesn’t matter, we should’ve scored!”

VCD Athletic were then embarrassed both on and off-the pitch when Bedford’s central defender and captain James Peters underhit a back-pass towards his keeper and this let in Darboe. He steered his shot into the foot of the side netting and the home club played Chelsea Dagger from The Fratellis, a song associated with goal celebrations up and down the country, over the public address system before realising the ball went wide for a Bedford goal-kick.

“They’ve made a mistake, we’ve pressed them for the first time in the half and he's got it and he’s clear through on goal. Again, you’ve got to score! You’ve got to score. He’s just rolled it past the keeper, wide, just too casual and our attitude just summed us up,” came McMahon’s response to that miss.

Bedford’s other central defender, Dean Dummett, was also in the wars when he was kicked in the face by Darboe, as the Vickers striker raised his feet high and sent his over-head kick high over the crossbar after Derek Duncan’s left-wing floated free-kick.

“I wasn’t best pleased,” was McMahon’s summary at half-time.

“I went mad! I haven’t done it all year. They need it. It weren’t good enough! It’s attitude! We can’t be great for a couple of games and then poor for another and it’s all attitudes and I told them.  I said I’m fed up with conceding stupid goals and we don’t liven ourselves up then there will be a hell of a lot of changes coming. I think it worked. I thought second half they looked like there was only one side but we just couldn’t score.”

VCD Athletic should have equalised inside the opening five minutes of the second half.

Left-back Ricardo Joseph played the ball down the line for Awotwi, who was denied by goalkeeper from Forster, coming out to the edge of his box on the right to make a block with his chest low to his right.  Awotwi swung in a cross-come-shot which sailed over Ellis Brown and went behind for a corner.

“Many people were saying Ellis could’ve done a diving header and scored but we were on top and we should’ve scored.  Kojo went clear though and the keeper’s blocked. We could’ve squared it, you’re just looking for a goal and I thought it was coming.”

Grant struck a left-footed deflected drive from the left from 25-yards, which was comfortably gathered by Mant, within a minute.

Gordon swung in a free-kick from the right into Bedford’s box and team-mates Darboe and Kamarl Duncan lacked communication, both jumping up to head the ball but Darboe steered his header across goal and past the far post.

Despite VCD’s pressure, former Southend United midfielder Auger tried to pull off a speculative chip from inside the centre circle, which cleared the crossbar on the hour-mark.

Lawson played the ball out to Brown on the right wing and his whipped in a quality low cross, which flashed in front of Darboe and past the far post.

VCD Athletic lacked togetherness and desire for large parts of this game and an example off this came in the 70th minute.

McMahon substituted Awotwi and instead of running over from the far side of the pitch to shake hands with his replacement Rashid Kamara, the striker walked off the pitch, walked along the by-line, behind the goal, only turning his back to watch his side attack once before disappearing down the players tunnel.

When asked about that incident, McMahon said: “I’ll have a chat with him later. He’s had his 70 minutes and he didn’t do anything for me. He’s come back from a long-term injury and for three games he's been back he’s been brilliant.  Today, it might’ve just been one game too many for him.  Kojo’s not a bad lad so we’ll have a chat and we’ll sort it out in-house.”

Bedford created a chance inside the final 12 minutes when Cooper cut the ball back to Auger, who whipped in a deep cross, which was headed out and fell to Phillips, whose left-footed shot on the turn from a yard inside the box from a central position was held by Mant, low to his right.

Vickers pushed bodies forward as they went in search of an equaliser and visiting keeper Forster made two decent saves to keep them at bay.

Kamara skinned Cooper on a run into the final third and teed up Gordon, who unleashed a right-footed drive towards the top left-hand corner from 22-yards, forcing Forster to dive high to his right to use his right-hand to push around the post for a corner in the last nine minutes.

Forster excelled again, diving to his right to push behind Lawson’s right-footed free-kick from 25-yards.

“The second half was better than the first but it couldn’t get any worse could it?” said McMahon.

“The keeper’s made an unbelievable save from Alastair and a great save from Omar.

“We just needed to score. Sometimes when you’ve done what you’ve done in the first half, you don’t get what you deserve in the second and we got what we deserved. We didn’t’ deserve anything, even though we were the better side.  We were well below our standards today and the lads have let the club down today.”

Auger let the ball roll cross him before hitting a right-footed drive from 25-yards, which was meat and drink for Mant.

Next-up, Bostik South leaders Lewes visit Oakwood next Saturday with McMahon’s men in 12th place with 13 points in the bag from 11 league outings.

The manager said: “If we play well, if we play like we can with the right attitude we’d beat anyone in this league but we go through runs of being brilliant for a few games and really poor so we need to get that out of our head.

“We play to our potential we’ll win. We’ve got a week now to patch a few up because we had a few struggling but we need to show some character but I don’t care if they play poorly. I just want to see effort and good attitudes. That’s not the whole team there, we’ve got some decent lads out there.  Omar Lawson has been excellent for us all season and a few others but we’re carrying a few at the moment.”

McMahon, meanwhile, is keen to bring in fresh blood and axe his underperforming players.

“100% gotta, gotta, it’s no good for me, it’s doing my head in! There’s some lads here who are really good players but everyone’s in the whole squad has started a league game now, every single player has had an opportunity so no-one can come moaning and if it is attitude that is the problem then they’re the ones that I’ve got to weed out and I think a few more may need to follow if they don’t pull their socks up.”

VCD Athletic: Joe Mant, Kamarl Duncan, Ricardo Joseph, Derek Duncan (Lamin Camara 77), Jeffrey Imudia, Marc Gorbell (Aymun El-Moyhalbel 83), Omar Lawson, Alastair Gordon, Kemo Darboe, Kojo Awotwi (Rashid Kamara 70), Ellis Brown.
Subs: Aaron Sekhon, Junior Baker

Booked: Ellis Brown 86

Bedford Town: Kyle Forster, Paul Cooper, Mayowa Balogun, Josh Oyibo (Ashton Grant 18), James Peters, Dean Dummett. Bradley Woods-Garness (Andrew Phillips 5), Ryan Auger, Joel Norris (Jemale McKenzie-Lowe 22), Leroy Griffiths, David Manu.
Subs: George Brinkman, Matt Clifford

Goal: Jemale McKenzie-Lowe 24

Booked: Ryan Auger 82

Attendance: 65
Referee: Mr Craig Barnett (Basildon, Essex)
Assistants: Mr Andrew Simmonds (Grays, Essex) & Mr Kane Woods (Benfleet, Essex)

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