VCD Athletic 1-1 Greenwich Borough - We've got a job to do and to beat Greenwich Borough will be a big scalp, says VCD Athletic boss Keith McMahon

Saturday 08th October 2016
VCD Athletic 1 – 1 Greenwich Borough
Location Oakwood, Old Road, Crayford, Kent DA1 4DN
Kickoff 08/10/2016 15:00

The Buildbase FA Trophy Preliminary Round
Saturday 8th October 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Oakwood

VCD ATHLETIC manager Keith McMahon says his players’ have shown a decent team performance to stay in The FA Trophy.

Debutants Greenwich Borough arrived in Crayford sitting in second-place in the Ryman League Division One South table on 28 points from 12 games, having won their last nine games.

VCD Athletic have climbed up to tenth-place in the Ryman League Division One North table on 17 points from 11 games after winning four of their last five games.

Both sides went into this Preliminary Round tie with plenty of injuries.  Three players listed on the Vickers’ substitutes bench were all ruled out through injuries, while Greenwich Borough striker Rob Denness, 28, was ruled out through a swollen big toe, although he believes he is confident of being fit for Tuesday night’s replay.

Greenwich Borough shaded a tight first half and striker Charlie MacDonald, 35, tucked home a penalty to score his third goal for the club.

But VCD Athletic improved as soon as they replaced lone striker Jamie Guy (groin) with Jack Stevenson, and the striker scored his first goal of the season with a deserved equaliser and he had chances to claim victory.

“I was pleased, especially second half. I thought we were the better side by a distance to be fair,” said McMahon, conducting the post-match press conference from inside his office.

“I thought we started slow. I thought they tried to pass it around the back and they done it quite well and it took us about 20 minutes to adjust and start pressing them – but I’m over the moon.

“We’ve had five fitness tests before the game, two lads didn’t make it, three did and shouldn’t have and we’ve patched them up.

“Second half we got stronger and stronger. I was pleased.

“First half I thought we was a little bit, I can’t say we paid them too much respect, but I just thought we didn’t press like we normally do and we let them play out and let them dictate the pace of the game without bothering us too much.

“Niklas made a great save but apart from the pen, which I thought was a dive and their fella said it as well, we controlled the second half.”

For Greenwich Borough player-manager Gary Alexander, who slotted in front of the back four, he’s delighted that their home clash against fellow promotion chasing side Tooting & Mitcham United has been called off for this replay.

“Over the moon, over the moon.  I’ve got an injury list, I’ve got suspensions coming up on Tuesday. I’d rather than us that up in a cup match, rather than a league game,” he said.

“If someone would’ve given me a draw to get suspensions out of the way, I would’ve taken it so I’m over the moon!

“We probably dominated the first half, we had a good chance in the second half to put it to bed and credit to them, they came out second half and forced their hand and probably were the better side second half.”

VCD Athletic created the first opening with only 141 seconds on the clock.

Nick Symons turned his man in midfield and released Connor Hogan down the right channel. His initial cross was cleared back to him but he drilled his first time shot past the near post.

Greenwich Borough were to be denied by the crossbar inside seven minutes.

Luis Morrison hit many long balls out of defence and his ball down the right channel was chased by striker Mohamed Eisa, who whipped in a cross towards the far post.  The ball smacked MacDonald in the face and looped up to bounce off the top of the crossbar from a couple of yards out.

Alexander said: “Again, I think we’re going over old ground. The game should’ve been out of sight. Charlie and Mo are both disappointed in there.”

McMahon said: “It’s a mistake. Our centre half (Bruce) should’ve cleared it and I think he's got stuck between heading it and he’s ducked and I think it hit MacDonald to be fair more than a header and it’s clipped the top of the bar so yes it was a warning, but we weathered the 20 minute little patch from them and done well.”

VCD Athletic goalkeeper Niklas Freund pulled off a brilliant save to deny Eisa in the 18th minute.

Peter Sweeney (who was added to Greenwich Borough’s injury-list) fed MacDonald down the right. The striker cut into the box and set-up Eisa, who lashed a shot towards the top far corner.  Freund dived high to his right to get a strong right-hand to tip it onto his post.

When asked about Sweeney’s injury, Alexander replied: “Sweeney would be one who would be unavailable for Tuesday, a big game against Tooting but I’d rather Sweeney miss a cup game than a league game. Hopefully Sweeney can get himself back fit asasp and start pushing for a start again.”

Alexander added: “Good save but again Mo knows he should be scoring a goal and it’s not gone in.  If you give the keeper a chance to make a save, but it’s one of those things, credit to the keeper, he’s made the save.”

McMahon said: “It was a great save, yes it was a good save.  I’ve said he’s a top goalkeeper and that’s the chance I’m on about and it was a vital save.”

VCD Athletic, meanwhile, weathered the storm, but they lacked quality in the final third with Guy deployed as the lone striker.

They took 27 minutes to create their next opening when they were awarded a free-kick in a central position, 23-yards from goal.

But the impressive left-winger Robbie Rees sent his left-footed free-kick over the crossbar and into the car park.

McMahon said: “It was good play, again. We started getting in to the game a little bit and we started keeping the ball a little bit better.  I thought the first 20 minutes we gave it away very cheaply. We were looking for a worldy split pass every time we got it but we shortened it up a little bit and we kept the ball and got in a decent area with a free-kick.

“Robbie scored from that last week and we’re thinking he should’ve done a little bit better. It sort of gave us a little bit of a lift.”

Alexander added: “Listen, we’ve come away from home. We know they’re showing us a little bit of respect by going one up top but we changed our shape to a formation today that we’ve never played just to get by because yesterday we had a bare 10, a bare 11 (players).

“If you look at the bench, I don’t know, you’d have to ask me who was on the bench like the young lads (apart from Danny Young) out of the 21s so it was nice for them to get an opportunity. They’ve been involved over recent weeks but two of them have got on today and they’ve done themselves proud.”

Vickers’ central midfielder Ed O’Neill, rolled the ball out to advanced left-back Ricardo Joseph, who took a touch to whip in a deep cross.  Rees rose, sandwiched between Lewis Clarke and Glenn Wilson, to head over at the far post.

There was quality lacking from both sides during the first half. 

Eisa shrugged past Joe Bruce and Jeffrey Imudia, cut into the penalty area but lashed his shot high over the crossbar – heading towards the direction of Phoenix Sports’ football ground.

Referee Daniel Bonnywell pointed to the penalty spot when Vickers’ left-back Joseph’s right leg tripped Jake Britnell just inside the penalty area on the right-hand side.

MacDonald’s left-footed penalty nestled into the bottom left-hand corner, despite Freund going the right way and narrowly missing contact.

Alexander was full of praise for Britnell for winning the penalty.

He said: “We ask Brits to pick the ball up in midfield.  We’re playing Brits out of position at the moment, we’re playing him in centre midfield, which is not where Britnell hurts players. He’s managed to pick the ball up. We said if you can pick the ball up, can you drive with it? He did that and he wins those fouls every week. He probably doesn’t get a fair share of them, it probably goes against him a lot of the time but that’s a clear penalty and Brits done his job.”

McMahon disagreed, adding, “Obviously weren’t happy with it. The balls ended up in the corner flag. He’s gone with pace and he’s gone over him. It happens in football but for me that ain’t a penalty!

“The referee’s adamant. Speaking to a couple of their players coming off they didn’t think it was but listen it’s one of those things.  They got it and it’s the first pen that we’ve conceded for a goal this year. I’m just happy we showed a bit of character and bounced back.”

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break.

McMahon said: “I just said to them, listen, maybe not pressed them like we did, don’t feel sorry for ourselves. We’re in it, it’s a cup game, just didn’t take the game to them.  We’re sitting off, we’re not hitting any challenges.  If you’re going to lose, go down with a bit of fight and they’ve put them under a bit more pressure and we’ve set-up to stop them playing a little bit.

“Yes, I thought we went on the front foot in the second half, our centre halves won nearly every single ball in the air and we put them on the back foot and every time we got the ball wide, we caused them problems.”

Alexander added: “Go out there, keep trying to play. We came here, we said we wanted to play. It’s a nice surface, try and keep playing. We gave the ball away, we did a few times in the first half, so what! I’ve asked them to go out there and try and play. We did it pretty well. We isolated the one (Guy) and played around him.  I think Jamie Guy was getting the hump a little bit but just go out there, enjoy the game.

“We had youngsters on and youngsters on the bench. If we can go out and put the game to bed it would give them probably more game time, the ones on the bench but listen I’m over the moon with the draw.”

VCD Athletic ditched their negative tactics for the second half, creating their first chance when Hogan dragged his shot across goal and past the far post.

Guy came to life for the only time in the game in the 51st minute, flicking the ball on.  Hogan swept the ball out to Rees on the left, who cut inside right-back Nathan Paul, who made the block, the ball looping over for a corner.

But poor defending from Vickers’ right-back Imudia almost killed them off in the 58th minute.

His sloppy play slipped in MacDonald, who skipped past a challenge from last-man Bruce to be denied by a vital save from Freund, diving low to his left to use a strong left hand to keep his side in the competition.

Alexander said: “Charlie went through one-on-one. You would expect him to score. He’s disappointed in there not to score and at 1-0 that puts the game to bed at 2-0 and it’s probably game over.”

McMahon said: “We had the ball and Jeffrey Imudia’s pushed the ball straight into the path of him. We had it comfortably and we were going out from the back and he’s done a blind reverse pass straight across to him so we put ourselves in that but Nik’s made a decent save but it was a massive mistake, it’s a huge mistake.”

This was a strong spell for Greenwich Borough.  Amadu Waritay played the ball inside to sub Jerome Wade, who hit a right-footed drive just over the crossbar from 25-yards.

But the introduction in the 59th minute of man-of-the-match Stevenson turned the rest of the game in VCD Athletic’s favour.

“He’s the best player in this level. He’s the best player, I think, in the Ryman Prem,” insisted McMahon.

“He’s been out injured for 18 months with a cruciate.  We took him time to getting him back and we’ve reintroduced him, reintroduced him, reintroduced him in training. He looks sharp as and that’s the longest he’s played.

“Jamie Guy went off with a groin, another injury. We through we’ve got nothing to lose. He’s good on the ball and to be fair he could’ve had a hat-trick!”

Stevenson linked up well with Hogan before drilling a right-footed shot from 30-yards some 30-yards over the crossbar.

Britnell, playing more centrally, fed Eisa, who flashed his right-footed angled drive across the diving Freund and past the far post.

But VCD Athletic notched a deserved equaliser with 66 minutes on the clock.

Hogan’s pass released winger Kris Newby, who sprinted down the right touchline and once inside the channel he whipped in a low cross.

Stevenson cut across Morrison to nip in at the near post to stroke his first time drive into the near corner from six-yards, giving keeper Craig Holloway no chance.

McMahon hailed the vital strike.

He said: “Great build-up. We’ve moved it quite well. I thought Connor Hogan done a reverse pass into Newby, an absolute great delivery to the near post and Jacks got on the end of it. When you’ve been out that long he was hungry.

“I’m over the moon for him. It’s a massive, massive thing for him to come back. He’s been there and there abouts getting minutes for us but it’s great just to see him. If we get him back fully fit in a month’s or so time, he’s going to add a massive bonus to us.”

Alexander added: “They kept coming at us and they kept forcing their hand and they ended up nicking an equaliser.

“I think the ball had gone up top and it didn’t stick and it bounced off and they managed to break on us.  We should be killing space there and it shouldn’t be a goal that we’re conceding but on another day we’ll work on that. We’ll go away and we’ll work on things like that where we’ll kill the space.  The fella shouldn’t be allowed to get across there. It’s a good goal. It’s a typical striker’s goal. He’s got across our centre half and he’s put it in.”

The rest of the game belonged to VCD Athletic, who finally realised that they could go on and win.

Stevenson was given time and space to crack a right-footed dipping drive which was caught by Holloway.

Their next chance was a carbon copy of their equaliser.

Newby sprinted down the right and whipped in a great cross towards the near post.  This time it was Rees, who this time got in front of Paul at the near post to hit his volley over the bar.

McMahon added: “Carbon copy of the goal. Great move down the wing, Kris has gone past the defender and whipped it in and Rob’s unlucky. He’s come onto it near post, we’ve been doing that in training and he’s put it over the bar.  We were enjoying a right bit of pressure there, we was well on top!”

Britnell was brought down by Bruce as he ran with the ball towards the edge of the D, but Alexander blazed his free-kick over the bar.

VCD Athletic were to be denied a deserved winner with seven minutes left.

Rees fed Stevenson, who cut inside to curl his right-footed shot from 20-yards towards the far corner. Holloway dived to his left to use his left-hand to turn the ball behind for a corner, which was headed over by Gorbell.

“Decent save to be fair to Craig,” added McMahon.

“The game was getting stretched and that’s where you want Jack one-on-one and he’s come inside and he’s done what he’s done and he’s picked the bottom corner and Craig’s made a decent save.”

Alexander said: “It’s a save Craig makes week-in-week-out. It’s not a difficult save for Craig.  You expect him to make it. It was never really troubling him but it’s another opportunity for them.

Referee Bonnywell played six minutes and 47 seconds of injury-time and VCD Athletic created another chance but Stevenson’s drive from outside the box sailed into Holloway’s hands for a comfortable save.

“He’s gone clear through on his left and Jack fully fit would just have chopped him and bent it into the bottom corner or whatever. He’s hit it first time and he’s made the keeper make a save,” said McMahon.

“I was pleased, the second half we got closer to them. We didn’t let them play, we didn’t give them their way.  Football has different styles. I thought we played better football in the final third than them, more football. They played it out from the back better than us.

“They’re a good side. We gave them respect. They’ve got some good players, everyone can see that but so are we and that was a good game to watch most probably.”

Greenwich Borough now have home advantage for Tuesday night’s replay at the DGS Marine Stadium on Middle Park Avenue in Eltham.

Alexander said: “I’m stood here happy with a draw because we would’ve had Tooting on Tuesday night with a lot of players missing so I’d rather waste a suspension within a cup match than I would in a league game. I’m over the moon with a draw to be playing VCD again and not Tooting & Mitcham, who I know are a good side in our league.

“We’ll go out there with what we’ve got. We’ll give it our best chance but I imagine we’ll see a few youngsters mixed it again with what we’ve got.  We’ll find our tomorrow, the physio will assess the boys, see where we’re at and see who we’ve got and who’s available and then we’ll deal with it from there and play a shape from there with what we’ve got.”

Alexander hinted that he’ll give some players from their under 21s a chance to impress him in the replay.

“There’s no point having them if we can’t give them a run out,” he said.

“With Sweeney going off, it forced my hand to get Jerome (Wade) on but he came on, he didn’t look out of place so that’s great for him and Leo (Goring) came on for the final 20 minutes and looked good, he got on the ball, ran channels and tried his best and they can only get better.

McMahon said: “I’m pleased with it. One-nil down, they probably thought they’d push us aside and we’ve come out battling and we’ve shown a decent team performance when we was up against it with the players out missing and missing a fitness test so it gives us two days to get some of those players back.

“We’ve still got a couple of knocks there and we’ll have a go. It’s a cup game, we’re away from home. If we play like we did second half we’ll give them a very good game.

“The lads’ are going to be up for it, especially after the second half, the way we responded well. We’ll go and give it our best shot.”

The winner will scoop £2,500 in prize money and will host Ryman League Division One North side Ware in the next round on 29 October after they won 3-1 at Aylesbury today.

Alexander said: “There’s money on the line so whichever club progresses it’s a chance to earn money. Listen, we want to earn money for the club and we want to win cup matches but sometimes you can’t because of things what go on within and we haven’t got a massive squad and we have to make do with what we’ve got.

“If we win on Tuesday then great, with what we’ve got but I’m more than happy for players to be suspended for a cup game.”

Reflecting on the end of their nine match winning streak, Alexander added: “All good things come to an end. It was always going to happen. We were never going to win 46 games in a row, which we wanted to do but it was never going to happen.

“Before the game I would’ve taken a draw and I’m over the moon with a draw. It wasn’t vintage Greenwich but we took a draw and we’re happy with that.”

McMahon added: “It’s a nice home tie (against Ware) but we’ve got a job to do. To beat Greenwich Borough will be a big scalp. Everyone’s sort of talking them up, they’ve been doing that from day one. It puts pressure on Gary as well, which I understand but they’re a good side and they’re on a good run at the moment. We’ve just halted that run and hopefully we can go on and cause an upset.”

VCD Athletic: Niklas Freund, Jeffrey Imudia, Ricardo Joseph, Nick Symons, Joe Bruce, Mark Gorbell, Kris Newby, Ed O’Neill, Jamie Guy (Jack Stevenson 59), Connor Hogan, Robbie Rees.
Subs: Frantz Tchonang, Derek Duncan, Mitch Hahn, Connor Pearce

Goal: Jack Stevenson 66

Booked: Mark Gorbell 20, Robbie Rees 50, Joe Bruce 82

Greenwich Borough: Craig Holloway, Nathan Paul, Lewis Clarke, Gary Alexander, Luis Morrison, Glenn Wilson, Amadu Waritay, Peter Sweeney (Jerome Wade 32), Mohamed Eisa, Charlie MacDonald (Leo Goring 74), Jake Britnell.
Subs: Guy Tresor Mpungi, Danny Young, Theo Osinfolarin

Goal: Charlie MacDonald 42 (penalty)

Booked: Jake Britnell 90

Attendance: 97
Referee: Mr Daniel Bonnywell (Herne Bay)
Assistants: Mr Jack Fagg (Canterbury) & Mr Joe Stokes (Dover)

Coverage Sponsored by:

VCD Athletic pitch maintained by: