Thursday 01st September 2005

Fans treated to six-goal thriller

Monday 2nd
January 2006
Ryman League
Division One
Stephen McCartney reports from
Southwood Stadium
Ramsgate 3 Stuart Vahid 17
Shaun Welford 30 (pen)
Lee Minshull 68
Tonbridge Angels 3 Nick Barnes 10 (pen)
Jay May 20
Ray Powell 70

Ramsgate attracted their highest league attendance of the season and the 449 fans enjoyed an entertaining six-goal thriller between two Kent club's that deserve promotion at the end of the season, writes Stephen McCartney.

Both sides didn't field their first choice goalkeepers, with Tonbridge Angels giving former East Thurrock United goalkeeper, Dean Neil his debut.

The relevant paperwork went through on the morning of the game but they did have Matt Bromby - who was a star performer in the Kent League last season for Tunbridge Wells - on the bench.

Ramsgate's David Cory was desperately unlucky not to score his sixth goal of the season when his shot cannoned off the crossbar following his shot from ten yards after just 44 seconds.

Tonbridge, however, took the lead after ten minutes when Nick Barnes fired a penalty into the bottom right hand corner to score his seventh goal of the season.

It took Ramsgate only seven minutes to draw level when Simon Pettit launched a long throw into the penalty area, and after having his initial shot blocked, Stuart Vahid tucked the ball home for his fifth goal of the campaign.

Tonbridge regained the lead only three minutes later when Darren Smith's right-footed free kick from the left was met by Jay May - who got there before Wild - to plant his header into the net.

The former Dartford striker is now leading goalscorer for the Angels with eight.

Ramsgate twice had efforts cleared off the line but they were awarded the second penalty of the game after half an hour.

Shaun Welford left Tonbridge skipper Steve Aris on the ground and cut in from the left into the penalty area and the Ashington born striker was felled by John Beales' challenge.

Welford scored his 16th goal of the season, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way and rifling the spot kick high into the net.

Both sides had a chance late in the half with Welford's left footed low centre being well held by Neil and at the other end Ray Powell drove a shot wide.

Welford thought he had scored again within 65 seconds of the second half but he upended Neil - who needed treatment before continuing - before slotting home the loose ball into an empty net.

Tonbridge came close to taking the lead after 53 minutes when Danny Lye played in Powell but his shot was saved by Wild's midrift at the near post.

Then former Bromley striker Fraser Logan sent in May but he found the side netting but Ramsgate substitute Lee Minshull thought he had scored the winner - with his first touch of the ball - after 68 minutes.

Substitute Steffan Ball's corner was met by the youngster who planted his header into the net for his first goal for the club.

The lead, however, didn't last long, and Powell's low drive, across the goalkeeper, found the bottom far corner to score his seventh goal of the season.

"I think the fans of both sides will be happy - certainly get the fans back." Rams boss Jim Ward told after the game.

"The referee (was) involved in more things than he perhaps should have been involved in but no, we're not happy at all.

"We came back from the death twice.  We should have held on, played the corners for five minutes but we're not that sort of team.

"We gave the ball away cheaply on the half-way line.  To be fair to Ray Powell he's finished well but he shouldn't have had the chance in the first place."

Kent football managers have more respect for each other as these following comments prove.

"Tonbridge are really good aren't they?" said Ward.  "You don't go five games without dropping any points without being a decent side.

"The two boys up front, especially Powell really played well.  I was ever so impressed with him.  I thought he was the best player on the park, for them anyway.

"They had strength all over the place, they're a good side, a big club Tonbridge.

"When you look at the end of the game it was Tonbridge that were jumping up and down at the final whistle, thinking they've come to little old Ramsgate and got themselves a point."

2005 can go down as one of - if not - the best year in Ramsgate's history.  They started the year by thrashing Lordswood 7-1 in the quarter-finals of the Kent Senior Trophy.  The Thanet club, however, have since improved - on and off the pitch and are comfortably sitting in fourth place in the Ryman League first division.

"This time last year we were playing at places like Lordswood and that's no disrespect to Lordswood," said Ward.  "It just shows you how far we've come. 

"We had alot of players missing today, we'll hopefully get a few back next week."

What has been the secret to Ramsgate's success?  Many clubs tend to spend to bring in expensive journeymen, but most of the Rams squad have come up through the ranks at Southwood Stadium and are local players - apart from Steffan Ball, Shaun Welford and Michael Yianni.

Ward explains: "We spoke a bit before the game.  The biggest edge we've got with a lot of clubs in this league is nobody frightens us and I think we've proved that to a lot of them.

"We're young - and local.  Ninety percent of the players come from six miles from the club.  Steffan Ball's from up the line, Welford from Maidstone, Yianni, Hythe but the rest are all here.  So we've got that advantage - they all live here."

Tonbridge manager Tony Dolby - who came off the substitutes bench for Danny Lye with 23 minutes remaining, admitted today's game was good for the neutral.

He said: "It was good for the neutral, not ideal for the managers, I'm sure.  Neutrals would have enjoyed it today."

But he was pleased of taking four points off their Kent rivals - having beaten them 2-1 on home soil at the end of August.

"I'm pretty sure not many teams are going to take four points off Ramsgate this season," he admitted.  "It could be the difference of going up, play-off's or whatever it may be.

"In that sense we've got to take the positives out of the game.  We've beaten them at home and we've drawn away."

Dolby, however, was disappointed that his defence leaked three goals a day after scooping the Safe Hands award for Ryman League Division One - along with the manager of the month award.

"We've got the safe hands award for the month of December and it would have been nice to keep that going into January getting a clean sheet today," he admitted.  "But at the end of the day, we're not involved with many thrillers - we have to take them when they come."

Speaking about his opponents, Dolby added: "They are very affective what they do.  I felt they were quite direct at our place and we beat them 2-1.

"Today I felt they tried to play a little bit, probably on a less better pitch than ours.

"They make good use of the players they've got and full credit to Jim (Ward) and the lads - they've done a great job here."

With his side second in the table, four points behind Horsham, but with three games in hand, Dolby is confident the club can maintain their status in the Ryman Premier League - if they get there at the first time of asking.

"We are looking to get promotion," he stated.  "The club's a much more stable position than it was last year.  Everybody's working tremendously hard on the training pitch, at the ground, nobody more so than me, Mike (Rutherford) and Nick (Sullivan), whose the chairman.

"Everything's going in the right way and I'm pretty sure we're in a much better position if we do go up, fingers crossed to maintain our status in the Ryman Premier."

Third from bottom Burgess Hill Town are the visitors to Southwood Stadium next Saturday, 7th January.  Tonbridge, meanwhile, travel to Fleet Town.

Ramsgate: Jurgen Wild, Edd Vahid, James Gregory (Michael Cassar 30), Liam Morris, Ollie Schulz, Simon Pettit, Michael Yianni (Lee Minshull 67), Warren Schulz (Capt), Shaun Welford, Stuart Vahid (Steffan Ball 58), David Cory.  Subs: Sam Denly, Nathan Jefferys

Tonbridge Angels: Dean Neil, John Beales, Danny Glozier, Darren Smith, Steve Aris (Capt), Lew Watts, Jay May, Danny Lye (Tony Dolby 67), Fraser Logan, Nick Barnes, Ray Powell.  Subs: Luke Piscina, Adam O'Neill, Jon Heath, Matthew Bromby

Attendance: 449
Referee: Mark Basten (Sevenoaks)
Assistants: Mike Rogers & Alan Marshall