VCD Athletic 2-1 Farnborough - I'm confident we can get out of it, says VCD Athletic boss Keith McMahon

Tuesday 17th November 2015
VCD Athletic 2 – 1 Farnborough
Location Oakwood, Old Road, Crayford, Kent DA1 4DN
Kickoff 17/11/2015 19:45

Ryman Premier League
Tuesday 17th November 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Oakwood

VCD ATHLETIC manager Keith McMahon believes his side can escape relegation from the Ryman Premier League after winning their first league game at the 20th attempt.

The Crayford-based outfit climbed off the foot of the table on 9 points, two points clear of Lewes, who suffered their fifteenth league defeat of the season, going down to a 1-0 defeat at Tonbridge Angels.

VCD Athletic won only their second game in 25, against fellow strugglers Farnborough, who will be relegated at the end of the season due to their financial issues no matter where they’ll finish in the table.

The troubled fallen giants will slip into Division One South even if they escape relegation this season but will be playing Step Five football next season if they finish in the bottom four this season.

Spencer Day’s side remain third-bottom on 12 points from 16 games and VCD Athletic are now 10 points adrift of safety after winning this vital game.

The game was played in swirling winds as a storm named Barney battered the UK but VCD Athletic showed character in farcical conditions to lift the gloom surrounding Oakwood

Vickers deservedly led 2-0 at the break, as Farnborough struggled playing against the storm.

Midfielder Richie Graham drilled a long-range shot into the corner to put Vickers in the driving seat, before striker Donovan Simmonds scored his fifth goal in 13 games for the club.

Farnborough pulled a goal back with nine minutes remaining when Estonian striker Bogdan Vastsuk scored his fifth goal for the club during his loan spell from Championship side Reading.

“I’m over the moon, it’s been a long time coming,” admitted McMahon, who has used 40 players already this season.

“We keep saying our performances, we should have a lot more points than what we’ve got. 

“The last couple of months, the last 7-9 games we’ve been excellent. We played really well on Saturday (losing 2-0 at leaders Dulwich Hamlet in The FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round), we just struggled in the final third.

“It’s been coming. I’ve said to the lads we needed not the prettiest performance and I think that’s what we got tonight.

“The wind spoilt it. I’ve never played in wind like it if I’m honest but we played it better and second half I actually thought we coped really well with it.  I didn’t think they were going to score.”

With Farnborough goalkeeper Aaron Bufton struggling to reach the half-way line with his kicks, it was important for VCD Athletic to go into the half-time break with a commanding lead.

They should have taken a morale-boosting lead with only 160 seconds on the clock.

Simmonds was released down the left and he cut inside and his right-footed shot was beaten away by Bufton, low to his left and Davidson Tejaiye lacked composure to blaze his right-footed shot over the bar from eight-yard

McMahon , who was being interviewed in the physio’s room, said: “I was saying to the lads, listen it’s a really strong wind. You don’t have to put your foot through it. He’s tried to strike it from the edge of the box, if he would’ve side-footed it he would’ve scored!

“We came out of the traps well. It’s so hard to play in wind like that. People’s first touches, you try to play a normal ball and it’s flying at people and it’s swirling around at the other end.”

Farnborough’s only first half chance arrived after thirteen minutes.

Marcus Moody’s pacy run down the right wing saw him get the better of Vickers’ left-back Ricardo Joseph, before centering low to Tommy Wright in the middle. He laid the ball inside to the unmarked Keith Emmerson, the left-winger dragging his shot across the keeper and past the far post from 16-yards.

“We limited them, I don’t think Buddy had a shot on target,” said McMahon.

“They got the ball down a couple of times, maybe from our mistakes, we didn’t get back quick enough.

“The last few weeks we’ve looked solid defensively and I thought we did again today.”

With the ball swirling about high in the air, Farnborough striker Vastsuk had the right idea when he dinked his left-footed shot harmlessly past the left-hand post from 35-yards.

But VCD Athletic received a major boost by deservedly taking the lead, with 21 minutes and 34 seconds on the clock.

Farnborough right-back Darryl Siaw gifted possession with a cross-field pass which was gobbled up by Graham, hitting a first time right-footed drive into the bottom left-hand corner from 35-yards, past the keeper’s despairing dive to his right.

“Richie’s done what he’s done all season,” said McMahon.

“He’s picked it, nipped in and pressed the player and took the ball off him and in this wind he’s hit a shot and it’s buried into the bottom corner. 

“What we deserved really, took a bit of pressure off us.

“It was deserved. The things that have been happening to us recently, we’ve been on top and not scoring when we’ve been on top.  We just needed that goal to give us a lift.

“It’s so easy, you can have the wind and come in at 0-0 and you’re like ‘oh great’. It was only 22 minutes gone as well so there was plenty of time so was pleased with that.”

VCD Athletic created chances to make the game more comfortable.

A poor wind-assisted kick from Bufton went straight to Graham inside Farnborough’s half and he swept the ball out wide to Lheureux Menga down the right.

He whipped in an excellent low cross but Simmonds slid in to poke his shot across goal and past the left-hand post from eight-yards.

McMahon said: “He got to the ball first so really he should’ve scored because it was decent play. Menga’s got past the winger, put in a decent cross and he’s got across the near post and as a forward that’s what you ask him to do. He was unlucky not to extend our lead even more there.”

But Vickers’ despair was short-lived as they doubled their lead with 34 minutes and 32 seconds gone.

Menga clipped a sublime ball to put Simmonds in behind the Farnborough defence and his right-footed dink went over the goalkeeper and dropped into the bottom right-hand corner.

“That’s what we get from Donovan,” said a delighted McMahon.

“I think that’s his fifth goal for us. He’s come in, his work-rate has been excellent for us most of the time and when he’s working hard, he’s a threat. He’s on people’s shoulder, he’s quick.  We could say he should finish a bit more but five goals isn’t a bad turnaround. It was a very, very composed finish.”

It should have been three only 117 seconds later but Ashley Probets, who was pushed up field to play in front of left-back Joseph, was to be denied by a smart low save at the near post by Bufton.

Graham found himself down the right flank and he whipped in a great cross towards the far post but the unmarked Probets planted his downward header towards the bottom corner, which was caught by the keeper low to his right.

McMahon said: “He’s done everything right Ash.  He’s got in at the back post and he’s headed it back across the goal but he’s heading it against the wind and the keeper’s made the save low down.

“Again, it was a decent move for us.  It’s opportunities on goal which they didn’t do in the second half when their whistling over the bar and going out for goal-kicks. We’ve actually testing (their keeper) and getting shots off so I was pleased.”

Farnborough issued the hosts a warning when Wright played Moody in behind Joseph but his shot deflected just over the crossbar.

A mega gust of wind blew around the Oakwood pitch just before Probets was about to pump a free-kick forward from inside the centre-circle and the ball dropped into Bufton’s grateful hands beside his left-hand post.

VCD Athletic deserved their 2-0 lead at the break and it was the first time that McMahon went into the dressing room with such a lead at the break this season.

The manager said: “It was just basically listen gents, we’re up against a strong wind. 

“Our second ball is the most important.  We spoke to Buddy about his kicking and he needed to take it from the other side.  We just said we needed to pick the second ball up with (half-time substitute) Arron Wickham.

“We made a tactical change and brought Kojo (Awotwi) off and just went the one up and five across the middle and we thought if we can get Donovan and Arron (Wickham) down the right-hand side from the second ball we could cause them problems and the first 20 minutes we did.

“We picked the ball up and Arron burst through midfield because we’ve got leg and a couple of chances were created from that.”

Farnborough made a double substitution at the break as Day brought on Lewis Collins and Nick Brown.

Winger Emmerson dropped back into left-back, while central midfielder Perry Ryan partnered Tom Broadbent in central defence.

Farnborough had the wind behind them for the second half and skipper Courtney Fearn hit a 30-yard right-footed drive sailing past the near post after only 103 seconds.

It should have been a sign of things to come but Rob Budd made a smart save to keep Farnborough at bay.

Central midfielder Collins bulldozed his way through the middle and only had the keeper to beat, Budd got down low to make a fine block.

“He was clear on goal. He’s come out and he’s spread himself, he’s good at that,” said McMahon.

“It’s at the keeper’s advantage with the wind blowing that strong, it’s running quickly towards you and he’s come out, he’s done a good job for us.”

Farnborough left-back Fred Grant cut inside and onto his left-foot and went close when his powerful drive from 30-yards sailed just past the far post after 51 minutes.

Probets pass from the left-wing put Menga in behind the Farnborough defence but he lacked composure on the left-hand side of the penalty area and drilled his shot past the near post.

VCD Athletic created an even better chance to clinch the victory as the game reached the hour-mark.

Half-time substitute Arron Wickham released Menga down the right-hand side of the penalty area and from inside the box his right-footed angled drive was parried by Bufton, low to his left, the keeper grabbing hold of the second ball.

McMahon added: “If he got up as well, he could’ve had the rebound.

“It went down the right hand side again and we got it down and we tried to play down that side.  We’ve got pace like we have and the legs we’ve got we can create chances against the wind – and we did.

“If he might’ve gone across the keeper we might’ve got something but it was a decent chance.”

McMahon was outraged when Farnborough refused to give the ball back to VCD Athletic and they almost scored a controversial equaliser with sixteen minutes left.

Shame on Farnborough skipper Fearn who went against fair-play by smacking his shot from the half-way line towards the top far corner of the net, the ball only just clearing the crossbar.

McMahon was not happy when Farnborough’s antics was brought up.

“A throw on that they should’ve sportingly given back to us and decided to shoot from it didn’t go down too well,” he said.

“If that’s the way they want to win, then that’s fine.  There would’ve been eruptions (had it gone in) because it was a joke!

“Their player was down injured, kicked the ball out and he’s shot! It would’ve been disappointing and I’m sure we would’ve had words afterwards but it didn’t (go in).

“It keeps a bitter taste in your mouth but it doesn’t surprise me a bit to be honest if that’s the sort of people they want to be, then fine.”

VCD Athletic wasted another great opportunity to score a third goal.

Probets was lucky to get away with a challenge on Ryan down the left and he continued his run to reach the penalty area.

Instead of shooting, he crossed the ball into the middle and Menga did well to direct his downward header towards the top left-hand corner of the net from four-yards.

But the ball bounced up and agonisingly clipped the crossbar. The ball found its way back to Probets, who put in a second cross and this time Wickham skied his shot over the bar.

“I think Ashley should’ve shot if I’m honest,” said McMahon.

“He’s crossed it and he’s pulled it back. It’s gone behind Menga and he’s done pretty well to get a head on it and put it on the bar but then he’s bent down and a little bit of composure, maybe he (Wickham) could’ve taken a touch and rolled it in the back of the net.

“When you’re in our position and you’re a little bit nervous and you’re snatching at things and I think that’s what happened. 

“We could’ve killed the game off at 3-0, which is what we deserved as well.”

Farnborough took advantage of that let-off by pulling a goal back just 166 seconds later.

Wright’s flicked header put Vastsuk through on goal and he produced a clinical finish, drilling his left-footed angled drive across Budd to find the bottom far corner from 12-yards.

“It was pretty similar to Donovan’s,” said McMahon.

“I just thought we lost a bit of shape at the back. The ball came over, the 10’s dropped in the hole and Frantz (Tchonang) has gone with him. If he had stayed and kept his shape he would’ve just headed it straight to him and he’s got sucked in and he’s put it in the hole.

“It was a decent finish but I was pretty pleased we didn’t panic. We kept our shape and tried to push a little bit forward and made it difficult for them.  I don’t think they had a shot on goal after that.”

Farnborough had a late chance to snatch an undeserved point when Ryan pumped a long ball over the top but Wright failed to bring the ball down under control inside the box and Budd gathered the loose ball.

Tonight’s first league victory has given VCD Athletic a fighting chance to beat the drop going into Saturday’s trip to eleventh-placed Harrow Borough.

McMahon said: “We fought for the win and hopefully we can push on and get a few results and start climbing the table.

“There’s still more than half the season to go. We need to believe, keep the work rate, keep our discipline and pick up points.

“We go to Harrow on Saturday and it’s a place we can go and pick up a result.

“Apart from the Tonbridge game (losing 7-0 in August) we have not been battered. We were poor then and we had a bad day at the office.

“The team rolled their sleeves up tonight and put a shift in for the whole club and got what they deserved and that’s what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to believe.

“I’m confident. A couple more wins, win Saturday, another win and we’ve already got off one place from the bottom. A couple more wins and it will get us in touching distance, that’s all you want to be.

“We’ve still got to look at the Farnborough situation because wherever they finish they can get relegated, relegated or if they finish fifth-from-bottom there’s a space up. I’m not looking at that. 

“That’s our first win now. I’m going to enjoy it and then just see how many points we can get from there.

“But I’m confident we can get out of it.”

VCD Athletic:  Rob Budd, Mathias Bakare, Ricardo Joseph, Ashley Probets, Joe Bruce, Frantz Tchonang, Richie Graham, Davidson Tejaiye, Lheureux Menga, Donovan Simmonds (Mark Nwokeji 90), Kojo Awotwi (Arron Wickham 46).
Subs: Harry Brickwood, Harry Palmer

Goals: Richie Graham 22, Donovan Simmonds 35

Booked: Joe Bruce 84

Farnborough: Aaron Bufton, Darryl Siaw (Lewis Collins 46), Fred Grant, Courtney Fearn, Gary MacDonald (Nick Brown 46), Tom Broadbent, Marcus Moody (Josh Francis 67), Perry Ryan, Bogdan Vastsuk, Tommy Wright, Keith Emmerson.
Subs: Jack Barton, Ryan Zidyana

Goal: Bogdan Vastsuk 81

Attendance: 90
Referee: Mr Stuart Butler (Maidstone)
Assistants: Mr Ivan Gelov (Canterbury) & Ms Louise Saunders (Rochester)