Westfield 1-0 Canterbury City - We don't have that cutting edge that some of these other sides do, says Canterbury City boss Ben Smith

Saturday 11th November 2017
Westfield 1 – 0 Canterbury City
Location Woking Park, off Elmbridge Lane, Kingfield Road, Woking, Surrey GU22 9BA
Kickoff 11/11/2017 15:00

The Buildbase FA Vase Second Round
Saturday 11th November 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Woking Park

CANTERBURY CITY manager Ben Smith says his side were missing the cutting edge up front to avoid exiting The FA Vase in the Second Round.

Woking-based side Westfield progressed through to the next round courtesy of wide-man Aaron Watson’s 19th goal in 20 games, or a rather impressive 10 in his last four games.

Tony Reid’s side went into the game on a run of seven wins on the bounce, sitting at the top of the Combined Counties League Premier Division table with 40 points from 15 games, while Canterbury City were in eleventh-place in the Southern Counties East Football League table with 19 points from 14 games and five games unbeaten.

“Obviously gutted!  In the build-up we looked at the stats and people have given us reports on them saying how good they are and we’ve come here and I don’t think you can say they were any better than us at all,” said Smith.

“I thought at times we were the ones who put them under pressure, looking around us in that final bit of quality in the final third again. We spoke about it before, in 50-50 games we don’t have that cutting edge than some of these other sides do.  We made one mistake and it’s been punished there, apart from that I didn’t see them absolutely dominating us at all really.

“It’s gutting but we’ve got to take the positives from the actual performance, I thought we put in a decent performance.”

Canterbury City started the game as the better side and created their first opening with only 184 seconds on the clock.

Darren Marsden shrugged past Dale Burnham to play the ball out wide to Pat Nzuzi, who laid the ball off for Dave Pilcher, who dragged his shot across the keeper and past the far post from sixteen-yards on the right hand side of the box.

Smith said: “They looked good going forward, you can tell they look a good side going forward, they’ve got experience up there in Purdy, goes from either side of the three but as soon as we got at them at the back they looked very average at the back.”

Pilcher then played a free-kick into Matt Martin’s feet, who cut onto his left foot and from 22-yards stroked his shot into the gloves of Westfield keeper Gary Ross, who made a comfortable save from the striker.

“You’ve got to take those chances,” admitted Smith. 

“If you take those chances you punish them.  We didn’t really do that, we didn’t feel that we were going to do that even though we were getting in those positions.”

Smith’s plans were thrown out of the window when he lost his right-back Gary Sayer to a pulled calf, so he was forced to change to three-men at the back, which ultimately cost them the only goal of the game.

“We changed our formation today and up until Gary Sayer went off injured it looked like it was going to be the making of a decent result up here. You then change formation, you haven’t got the same personnel in that formation,” said Smith.

Holding midfielder Anthony Oaks played the ball out to Kyle Bailey, the man on the right-hand side of their three central defenders, who was given space to drive into before slicing his speculative shot harmlessly wide from 30-yards.

The home side were now enjoying a good spell of pressure and central midfielder Adam Bellmaine rolled the ball out to left wing-back Shaun Elliott, Westfield’s captain, who cut into the box before dragging his shot across the box and past the far post from 20-yards.

Westfield secured the victory with 22 minutes and 34 seconds on the clock, courtesy of a gaping hole left on the edge of the penalty area.

Westfield keeper Ross’s big kick was flicked on by Graeme Purdy, the central striker winning the ball in the air from Laurence Harvey.  Karle Carder-Andrews was in space in the final third to loft the ball over to an unmarked Watson.  Goalkeeper Jack Delo saw the danger and rushed out but Watson placed his left-footed shot into the back of the open goal from 17-yards.

“Jack got a good bit on the ball to be fair but there’s a reason that Watson scores that many goals and he’s finished it well,” said Smith, who felt substitute Sam Conlon should have tucked in to help.

“It’s disappointing really, the fact that we’ve been playing with three at the back, which was a change for us and we spoke about Purdy being a danger in the air.

“To be fair to Laurence, it’s the only header he’s missed all game but the one he’s lost there’s no cover for him and we’ve left ourselves three-on-three, which is criminal!

“That goal comes after we made the change with Gary Sayer going off then the player coming on have got to be switched on to tucking round and reacting to that because Laurence came out to win it, he’s not won it, which is a collectors’ item but we’ve got to react to it and bang, he’s clean through, it’s disappointing.”

It should have been two on the half-hour mark when Purdy held the ball up before slipping the ball in behind for Watson, who swept his shot into the side netting from 10-yards when he only had Delo to beat.

“I thought Delo narrowed the angle well, put him under as much pressure as he could,” said Smith.

“We had a 15 minute spell when we weathered the storm a little bit where we conceded so our levels had dropped a little bit and they were starting to get on top of the game, which they’re going to have! We’re playing away in the Vase.  They’re a team that are flying, you expect them to have a spell.  I expected them to have longer spells than that but they really had that 15 minute spell in the first half.  That’s the thing that has won them in the game, which hurts the most really, they’ve won the game off it and that’s what we’ve got to be doing.”

Elliott threw the ball to 18-goal Carder-Andrews who returned the ball back to him courtesy of a diving header and Elliott whipped in a cross towards the near post, which was glanced wide by Watson’s free-header.

Canterbury City weathered the storm, however, and Pilcher, who has scored 50 goals for the club in 100 appearances, was presented with a chance from a set-piece in the 38th minute, but Ross made a comfortable save as the free-kick from 28-yards bounced right in front of him.

“He held it well, it skipped up in front of him as well. It’s one of those where you think here we go, he’s going to spill it but to be fair to him, good hands.  He actually had a good game for them, he’s pulled off some good saves, so credit to him,” added Smith.

Westfield closed the first half by creating a chance after Marsden lost the ball whilst trying to play the ball out from the back following the home side’s first corner of the half.

Bellmaine’s right-wing corner came out to Marsden, who lost the ball to Carder-Andrews, who drilled his right-footed angled drive towards the far corner, which was held by Delo as he stepped to his left.

“They’re going to have chances,” added Smith.

“Marso is a very attacking player. If he’s in those areas he’s likely he’s going to play out because he’s got that quality, sometimes you get caught with that, they didn’t punish us from it.”

When asked about his thoughts at the break, the Canterbury City boss replied: “We’ve come here thinking they’re going to be one special side and they weren’t, disappointing really, how they were.

“I just said to the boys there is nothing to fear in that dressing room you’re playing against.  Yes, they’ve scored 59 League goals etc but I think you saw their quality of their League against the quality of our League, I think you saw the differences in levels.

“Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been inconsistent in the League, not had a settled side. We were not struggling against a side that’s romping their League.”


Canterbury’s holding midfielder Dan Keyte hit a left-footed drive harmlessly wide of the target from 25-yards after a pass from substitute Conlon (Sayer’s replacement) inside the opening six minutes.

Westfield wasted a good chance in the 10th minute when Elliott threaded the ball through an eye of a needle to play in Watson, who from the left-hand corner of the penalty area dragged his right-footed shot across Delo and past the far post.

Another Westfield chance went begging when Bailey stole the ball from Marsden, whipped in a cross from the right wing towards the far-post where an unmarked Watson steered his header across goal from six-yards out, which was easily gathered by Delo.

“It’s one of those, it curled outwards so it was always going away from goal. He was always stretching to get onto it. I can’t really see him troubling Delo with an effort like that,” admitted Smith.

But Delo was called into more serious action on the hour-mark.

Right-winger Joshua Cover played a one-two with Purdy (who was good at holding the ball up as the central striker) and unleashed a left-footed angled drive from the edge of the box, forcing Delo to dive low to his right to tip the ball around the post.

Smith said: “It come through a lot of bodies didn’t it? I think he saw it late as well. It just shows how Jack is, he’s 32, his reactions are still absolutely spot on and I felt for him today because he certainly didn’t deserve to be on the losing side.”

Canterbury City then realised that Westfield weren’t that great after all and upped their urgency levels after the hour-mark.

“My thinking is we really have to start turning the screw,” revealed Smith, whose side then started going more direct.

“We were well in the game, we weren’t looking troubled at the back. We’ve got to turn the screw somehow. We were looking at ways of changing it and really getting information to the boys to start putting it on their back four a little bit more and it’s all well good passing it in our midfield but we had to make them work for their win and we started to do that.”

The Kent side created a glorious chance when Pilcher played in striker Martin, who was forced wide by Elliott.  Martin, turned Elliott, cut inside and drove his left-footed shot towards goal, Ross clawing the ball behind for a corner.

“I felt Matt Martin starred to get into the game more.  He cut inside, he’s cut back on himself.  I think he’s got to trust himself.  He’s got a sweet left-foot but I think he should’ve trust himself. However, he’s cut inside and he’s still got a shot off.  I think going on his left-side would’ve been a better option for him.”

Canterbury City won the corner count 6-5 and they went close to levelling in the 65th minute.

Pilcher played a short corner to Marsden, who was given space to deliver a cross into the box from the left, which was met by Joe Nelder’s glancing header, which was grabbed by Ross as he moved to his left.

“The angle were in that looks like it’s in and we’re celebrating,” said Smith.

“It was a great ball in, it’s one of those great flicks but to be fair to the keeper he’s pulled off a good save there and he’s held it as well so there’s no chance on backing it up.”

Canterbury City threw three men up front for the final 20 minutes with Martin (left) being joined by subs Sam Lawford (central) and Conlon (right).

The longer the game went on, the more Westfield displayed the dark arts of timewasting, much to Smith’s frustration.

He said: “You don’t want to talk about referees but I think that was an embarrassment today!

“The referee did not want to know any situation like that! He wasn’t interested and he did not deal with any of those antics at all, which was disappointing.

“You travel this way, you expect a fair deal. It’s a referee from Middlesex, you expect a better deal than what we got, that’s for sure.”

Referee Paul Andrews played six minutes and 41 seconds of stoppage time and Canterbury City missed a couple of late chances to force extra-time.

Conlon put in a cross from the right and Lawford spun and turned to hook his right-footed shot towards goal from 16-yards, the ball sailing just past the far post.

Smith said: “He’s come on to make an impact. He was unlucky not to start. He’s swivelled on it, got a shot off, another one where you think it’s in and it just sort of goes wide.  How close was it? When those go past you’re starting to think maybe it’s not our day!”

An even better chance should have been buried by captain Harvey, who met Pilcher’s deep corner with a downward header, which was grabbed by a grateful Ross.

Smith added: “He’s done the right thing, he’s headed it down but to be fair to the keeper he’s read that and he’s got across his goal quickly and he’s held it.  That’s when you wanted it to spill out.  I just think it was one of them when we were never going to score!”

There was still time for Westfield to add to their tally.  Carder-Andrews played in substitute right-winger Andrew Crossley, who from in the middle chipped the ball wide of the mark when he only had Delo to beat and the keeper then saw Anthony Oaks flash his shot across him and past the post after Crossley held the ball up down the left-hand channel before putting in a low cross towards his unmarked team-mate on the edge of the box.

When asked what was missing from his side today, Smith replied: “I think us being clinical in the final third, having maybe that more intelligence in the final third.”

Canterbury City have banked £2,400 in FA Vase prize money but Smith wants more prize money for club’s who compete in the ninth and tenth tiers of English football.

Today was also the Second Qualifying Round of The FA Trophy, which like the Vase is sponsored by Buildbase and winners today each scooped £4,000.  In fact by getting through three rounds will bank clubs a massive £10,250.

“We’ve played four games and that’s how much it gets, again that’s a disgrace how much you win for those games. It’s a lesser competition (than The FA Trophy), fair enough, but the prize money should be better at this level really because those are the club’s that need it.

“We’re not reliant on Vase money, this for us was a shot in the dark really. If we’ve done well, we’ve done well. There was no pressure on us to do well in the Vase.”

Westfield:  Gary Ross, Kyle Bailey, Shaun Elliott, Anthony Oaks, Matthew Steer, Dale Burnham, Joshua Cover (Andrew Crossley 73), Adam Bellmaine (T’Sharne Gallimore 73), Graeme Purdy (James Mariner 90), Karle Carder-Andrews, Aaron Watson.
Sub: Tony Reid

Goal: Aaron Watson 23

Canterbury City: Jack Delo, Gary Sayer (Sam Conlon 16), Jamie Maxted, Dan Keyte (Sam Lawford 68), Laurence Harvey, Josh McCallum, Pat Nzuzi (Rob Lawrence 88), Joe Nelder, Matt Martin, Dave Pilcher, Darren Marsden.
Subs: Cory Walters-Wright, Tom  Walmsley

Booked: Jamie Maxted 87

Attendance: 75
Referee: Mr Paul Andrews (Feltham, Middlesex)
Assistants: Mr Matthew Swinburn (Staines, Middlesex) & Mr James Field (Feltham, Middlesex)

Coverage Sponsored by: