Whitstable Town 2-4 Worthing - We need to turn it around very quickly, says Whitstable Town boss Simon Halsey

Friday 02nd October 2015
Whitstable Town 2 – 4 Worthing
Location The Belmont, Belmont Road, Whitstable, Kent CT5 1QP
Kickoff 03/10/2015 15:00

The FA Trophy Preliminary Round
Saturday 3rd October 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Belmont Road

WHITSTABLE TOWN manager Simon Halsey says his main focus now is to keep the club in the Ryman League after being knocked out of The FA Trophy at the first hurdle.

The Oystermen after languishing in the bottom two in the Ryman League Division One South table with four points from 12 games and are six points adrift of safety and they threw it away against eight-placed Worthing in this Preliminary Round tie.

Sam Bewick had his penalty saved by Worthing keeper Rikki Banks, who was beaten twice by right-winger Ira Jackson inside the opening 12 minutes.

Whitstable Town were by far the better side for the opening hour playing a nice brand of football on the deck – but they embarrassingly capitulated in the second half by shipping in four goals.

Omar Bugiel powered home a header from a corner in the 59th minute, before Brannon O’Neil slotted home a penalty before Lloyd Dawes and Will Hendon scored from tight angles to inflict Whitstable Town’s fourth straight defeat on the bounce.

“Just disappointing to take a 2-0 lead against a good side and then just throw it away again by our individual errors,” said Halsey as he suffered his seventh defeat in his 11th game in charge of the club since replacing Will Graham.

“It weren’t comfy, they had a great chance in the first half that Adam (Highstead) made a great save for and that’s what he’s there to do so I wouldn’t say it was comfy.

“Our goals were well worked. We work on them in training so 2-0 up is always a little edgy because you have to understand where we are. 

“Second half identifies even more to myself and everyone exactly why we can’t think it’s comfy because that’s what we do to ourselves – we implode and the scoreline shows it!”

Whitstable Town started the game with confidence that belied their lowly position in the league table.

Scott Heard, impressive as ever, made them tick with his runs from midfield, and he played a diagonal pass to Kareen Boyle, who cut the ball back to left-back Malachi Robinson, but his cross sailed over the head of the jumping Jackson at the far post.

Worthing’s opening chance arrived inside the opening seven minutes when midfielders Matt Axell and O’Neil linked up and his left-footed drive from 25-yards bounced into Adam Highstead’s hands for a comfortable catch.

Whitstable Town were awarded a penalty when Worthing central defender Gary Elphick – who was being watched by former Cray Wanderers boss Tommy Warrilow, his manager at Tonbridge Angels – fouled Jackson just inside the penalty area and became the first of five Worthing players to be booked.

Bewick stepped up and his right-footed penalty was saved by Banks, diving to his left but Whitstable Town scored from the resulting corner, with 9 minutes and 48 seconds on the clock.

Bewick trotted over to take the corner from the right and played the ball short to Heard, who played the ball inside to Jackson, who cut inside and drilled his right-footed angled shot in off the far post from 25-yards.

Halsey said: “We missed the penalty and then we get a corner straight away from that.  We worked on that in training. It took one extra deflection of someone but Ira managed to get a toe on but the actual build-up is what we’ve been practising so we’ve scored from that twice now so full credit to us.”

Worthing midfielder Bugiel played a one-two with lone striker Ben Pope (who was later forced off through injury) but blasted his drive high over the bar from 20-yards.

Whitstable Town made it a dream start as they doubled their lead with 11 minutes and 32 seconds on the clock.

Left-winger Boyle played a sublime 30-yard inch-perfect low pass in between Corey Heath and Elphick to put Jackson through on goal, who took a touch and stroked his right-footed shot into the bottom left-hand corner from 16-yards.

Halsey was delighted that work on the training ground came to fruition.

He said: “It’s something that we worked on so I’m over the moon for the goals because they are what we work on so it proves when we get to training and we can do stuff.”

Jackson was causing Worthing left-back Steve Metcalf problems and he outmuscled the visitors’ captain as he penetrated down the right and played the ball inside to Bewick, who drilled a low right-footed drive from 30-yards, which stung Banks’ fingers at the near post.

Worthing were to be denied by a smart save from Highstead following their first corner of the game after 32 minutes.

O’Neil’s corner from the left was cleared away by the first man and Bugiel picked up the loose ball outside the box and played the ball back to O’Neil.  His cross came in and Elphick laid the ball off to Bugiel, whose right-footed drive from 20-yards forced Highstead to dive low to his left to make a fine block.

Halsey said: “Great save! A team of that calibre and how they play, you expect them to get chances and we limited them to that one chance so that makes my job even harder that I’ve gone in at 45 not over played, give them the positives what they’ve done well and the negatives what we haven’t.”

The lively Jackson beat his man (Heath) down the right and his initial cross flashed past two of his team-mates at the near post but the ball came to Heard at the far post. The talented contracted midfielder cut the ball onto his right-footed and his low drive from eight-yards was held by Banks, diving low to his right.

Worthing targeted Whitstable right-back Ollie Gray during the first half and their best moves came down their left hand side.

Left-winger Harvey Sparks cut the ball back to Dawes but all he could do was clip his left-footed shot straight at Highstead, who comfortably caught the ball.

Metcalf joined an attack and laid the ball off to Dawes, but once again his shot lacked conviction and was caught by the untroubled Whitstable keeper, as was O’Neil’s free-kick from 25-yards which bounced off the wall in front of him.

Whitstable Town created another opening on the stroke of half-time.

Impressive pair Jackson and Heard linked up well again down the right and Jackson whipped in a low centre towards the near post which was met by a first time shot from lone striker Charlie Smith, which looped over the crossbar from six-yards.

Halsey said: “We took the game to them and we’ve had good chances and we got into good areas and they just didn’t take them. That’s fine lines in this level of football.

“Charlie Smith’s just missed one. I’ve asked us to miss the first man, which we have done today and we’ve got bodies in the box and we’ve just not connected with it and put the game out of sight.”

Whitstable Town deserved their 2-0 lead at the break and were comfortable. If you had rushed to the bookmakers to place a bet that Worthing would score four second half goals you would have earnt a lot of money for yourself as that seemed unlikely during the first half.

“We went in at half-time and set our ways out what we’ve been doing good and just keep it up really,” said Halsey.
Gray cut in from the right flank but he produced a full-backs finish inside the box, scuffing a poor shot that Banks collected at ease as the game entered the 52nd minute.

But Worthing pulled a goal back from a set-piece with 13 minutes and 59 seconds on the second half watch.

Set-piece specialist O’Neil drove over a corner from the left and Bugiel planted his free downward header past Highstead from inside the six-yard box.

“Poor marking in the six-yard box,” bemoaned Halsey.

“Adam feels he was fouled by Gary Elphick but then again if he’s fouled where’s my other defender marking the (scorer)?

“It’s a clear header . There was no-one near him. We don’t get anyone on it. It’s poor!”

Whitstable Town created a good chance to kill off Worthing when Heard broke through the middle of the pitch and had options either side of him but Bewick ensured it was the wrong one, as a poor first touch forced him wide and the midfielder steered his shot past the foot of the near post.

Halsey admitted: “We don’t nail those goals, that’s what happens. It comes back and bites you on the backside yet again. Unfortunately we’ve been bit on the backside.”

McGeehan gifted Worthing an equaliser when he gave away a soft penalty for a nudge on Bugiel just inside the penalty area.

Referee Steven Parmenter pointed to the spot and with it went Whitstable Town’s chances of causing a shock result.

O’Neil sent Highstead the wrong way, slotting his right-footed penalty just right of centre – with 22 minutes and 13 seconds on the clock – to score his ninth goal of the season.

“If that’s a foul in football, we are in trouble,” said Halsey, who claimed, “If that’s a foul the 10 (Bugiel) shouldn’t even been on the pitch after stamping on Josh Algar so that’s a foul. That’s not even a block or anything. He’s chested it down and they’ve gone like that. That’s poor.

“If you keep allowing teams pressure on like that those mistakes and those decisions get easier for the referee and we just invite them on and things happen and that proves it.”

It quickly went downhill for Whitstable Town as Worthing took the lead just 56 seconds later.

Halsey pointed the finger of blame to central defender Ryan Cheek, for not clearing his lines and allowing Dawes to cut in from the right to reach the by-line and his shot from a tight angle somehow beat Highstead and the ball crossed the line despite efforts from Josh Algar to acrobatically clear hook the ball off the line.

“Cheeko’s come in today, he’s 19-20, if that, playing alongside Calum (McGeehan). He’s come in because Docs (Luke Doherty) got groins and he’s done superb.

“He’s made one little mistake when he knows that the ball had to be in the cricket ground, not trying to jockey it out so their bloke nicks it for the third goal so I’ve got to take the positive out of that. He’s a young centre half who done very well.”

The writing was on the wall when Worthing’s right-back Hendon advanced into the final third and cut inside before hitting a speculative cross-come-shot, which sailed over Highstead’s head and outstretched hand to fly into the top far corner of the net, timed at 27 minutes and 54 seconds.

“It’s just where we are at the moment.  It’s looped over Adam, it’s exactly where we are at the moment,” admitted Halsey, cursing his side’s bad luck.

“He was on the by-line, the goal-line and he’s tried to whip it in. Whether it’s taken another deflection, I don’t know and looped in at the back post.

“We’re chasing the game then, we’re pushing and changing our shape, going 3-5-2. We’ve taken Calum out of it and pushed him through the middle with the two strikers.

“We had to change our shape to chase the game and it leaves areas for them to exploit and they’re a good side and done it.”

O’Neil rolled a corner back to Sparks, who cut inside and curled his left-footed drive around the far post from 30-yards as the game entered the final ten minutes.

Whitstable Town then created the last chance of the game.

Bewick swung in a corner from the left which was hooked back across goal by Smith and the ball fell at Michael Hurcombe’s feet at the near post but the substitute had a couple of efforts to stab the ball over the line but Banks got his body in the way.

Halsey added: “He just couldn’t get a toe on it and that’s where we are at the moment.

“Just not Worthing, just another other team, that bounces around the box and they get a toe on it and goes in!

“We have to keep working hard on our offensive play as well even harder than our defensive play as a team. Let me reiterate that, as a team, not just the back four or the midfield in front, as a team.”

Halsey was thankful for the home supporters behind the goal that were singing his name towards the end of the game and insists the team will repay them for their loyalty.

“Hopefully they can see we’re not far off it. We just need a little tweak and a little bit of luck,” said Halsey.

“I appreciate their support. They’ve always been good supporters here and long may it continue.  Long may we’ll be able to repay them with some wins. I think they can see the performance in certain patches of the 90 minutes were good. I just want to get some wins so we can replay them with their faith.”

Halsey, meanwhile, promises to make changes for their trip to league rivals Sittingbourne in the Kent Reliance Senior Cup First Round on Tuesday night. This game will be postponed if Nick Davis’ side draw at Walton Casuals in The FA Trophy on Sunday afternoon.

“I’m treating it as another game of football and I’ll be looking at different players in different areas for that game. Under 21s will be coming in,” revealed Halsey.

“I’m judged on my league position so I’m more interested in South Park next Saturday and I’ve got to make sure I’ve got players that are struggling are fit for South Park for three points because my job is not on the line but my job’s judged on my league position.

“Since I’ve taken over we’ve moved up one place and stayed there for four weeks or for however long it is now and it’s not good enough in my book or not good enough for the football club, so I’m focusing on Tuesday night to look at a few and obviously Saturday three points away at South Park, which is getting even bigger every game.”

When asked whether he needs to bring in new players, Halsey revealed he is happy with his current crop.

“I don’t think we’re far off,” he said.  “We just need to switch on a bit more. I’m not sure what it is, I really don’t know. I need to go home tonight and have a look at that. It’s not a massive change of personnel to be fair. I think we just switch off. We get beat us a little bit by the bigger sides.

“Twelve games in to it so there’s a long way to go. A lot of games to play yet, a lot of points to be done, but we need to turn it around very quickly.

“We’re a good side. If your first time seeing us and hopefully you’ll go away thinking they shouldn’t be second from bottom in Ryman South because our passage of play and our shape is right and everything about us is right but we’re just self- imploding so I’m never comfy at the moment.”

Whitstable Town: Adam Highstead, Ollie Gray, Malachi Robinson, Calum McGeehan, Ryan Cheek, Josh Algar, Scott Heard, Sam Bewick, Charlie Smith, Ira Jackson, Kareen Boyle (Michael Hurcombe 78).
Subs: Daniel Keyte, Kieron Edwards, Reiss Crimmen, Harry Brooks

Goals: Ira Jackson 10, 12

Booked: Ira Jackson 45, Adam Highstead 60

Worthing: Rikki Banks, Will Hendon, Steve Metcalf, Matt Axell, Gary Elphick, Corey Heath, Lloyd Dawes (Jack Barnes 79), Brannon O’Neil, Ben Pope (Ryan Morley 24), Omar Bugiel (Ryan Quirke 90), Harvey Sparks.
Subs:  Rui Buckland, Zack Newton

Goals: Omar Bugiel 59, Brannon O’Neil 68 (penalty), Lloyd Dawes 69, Will Hendon 73

Booked: Gary Elphick 9, Corey Heath 33, Brannon O’Neil 50, Omar Bugiel 63, Ryan Quirke 90

Attendance: 154
Referee: Mr Steven Parmenter (Southend-on-Sea, Essex)
Assistants: Mr Dean
Markwick (Corringham, Essex) & Mr Kirk Edwards (Southend-on-Sea, Essex)