Thursday 01st September 2005

Sevenoaks pitch in to secure impressive victory


Tuesday 2nd
August 2005
Stephen McCartney reports from
Greatness Park
Sevenoaks Town 4 Ross Cable 15 (pen)
Danny Powell 37
Wayne Balmer 57
Craig Clark 77 (pen)
Bromley 2 Michael Johnson 78
Andrew Dalhouse 88

The relationship between Kentish Observer League side Sevenoaks Town and their Ryman Premier League neighbours Bromley has cooled over the controversial circumstances surrounding this pre-season friendly at Greatness Park tonight, writes Stephen McCartney.

Originally a first team fixture, Bromley refused to send down their first team squad as planned, due to the "condition" of the playing surface.

But having seen photographs of this pitch when Sevenoaks played Tonbridge Angels, and witnessed their friendly against Nationwide Conference side Lewes - who fielded several first team players, with first team manager, Steve King coaching from the dug-out, the pitch is a lot greener now than it was then.

And a statement issued by a Bromley official on their fans forum earlier today warned supporters that they will be fielding an "XI", therefore costing the Kent League outfit much-needed revenue from gate receipts.

"Just in case anyone missed the announcement on the official site, we will not be sending the full first team squad down to Sevenoaks this evening. Andy Silk will be in charge of an XI which I would imagine will contain a mixture of reserves and first team triallists although I'm not entirely sure!" the statement said.

Reserve team manager Andy Silk, however, was able to cast his eye over his squad of thirteen players, as he prepares for Kent League division one football.

"I think they've had troubles with their water system breaking down and you have to make the best of it I suppose - it's not worth complaining about it," the 32-year-old player-manager said.

"I think you have to look at the big picture.  They've (first team squad) a few injuries, three or four struggling with ankle knocks and as the season gets nearer, they've got their biggest pre-season game against Welling United (at Hayes Lane) on Friday night.

"We've come down, we could have been really horrible and called the game off and pulled out, but we've brought a side down here and should have got more out of the game."

Bromley got off to a good start and thought they had taken a ninth minute lead but their goal was disallowed for offside.  

Ricky Ogbog played a defense splitting pass, which cut open the home side's defence, and was latched onto by former QPR youngster Andrew Dalhouse.  

And as the goalkeeper came out he played the ball to Ben Gabriel, who slotted home, but it didn't count as he was offside.

But Sevenoaks took the lead six minutes later when midfielder Dave Forster cut inside James Falaise on the by-line and was upended and Ross Cable - who should have scored a hat-trick in the first half - sent the goalkeeper the wrong way from the penalty spot.

Sevenoaks doubled their lead eight minutes before the break when Forster played the ball forward from midfield, after a poor kick from Bromley goalkeeper Ben Scully, and the impressive Danny Powell fired home.

The home side's management team issued instructions out in the middle of the pitch to their players during the half-time interval, asking for better football, and that was what they got, adding a third in the 57th minute.

They produced sweet passing on the deck, which resulted in Dominic Websdale crossing low from the left hand side and Wayne Balmer - just back from his honeymoon - striking a sweet low 25-yard drive across the goalkeeper and into the bottom far corner of the net.

Defender Tom Stadwick - the only member of the Bromley side with first team experience - shot straight at the Sevenoaks' goalkeeper, when the home side failed to clear a corner.

Sevenoaks produced good football again, which resulted in their fourth goal after 77 minutes.

Richard Purse played a defense splitting pass down the left hand side, which was picked up by the lively Powell.  Leaving Stradwick in his wake, he cut into the penalty area, but was chopped down by the Bromley defender.

Sevenoaks' former Erith Town goalkeeper, Craig Clark, raced into the opposite penalty area, and smashed the penalty high into the roof of the net.

But he was picking the ball out of his net twice in ten minutes, when Bromley scored through substitute Michael Johnson (via the left upright) and Dalhouse, whose shot from the right hand side, sailed over Clarke, and dropped into the roof of the net, after a mix-up following a Sevenoaks throw.

Silk added: "I'm not bothered about the result, it's what we get out of the game.  I was really impressed with our team as we kept the ball.

"It's a big eye opener,  I wouldn't call them trialists, there's a few new boys to have a look at.

"We've (reserve team) have only had three pre-season games, with virtually three different sides.  That's the amount of boys I've worked with."

Bromley's reserves drew their opening two friendlies, against Whyteleafe (1-1) and Crescent Rovers (2-2) but Silk admits he is learning from each game.

"I've had three different sides, I've looked at virtually everyone and it's down to me to work out my squad that I'm going to work with.  You get something out of every game."

Having secured promotion into the first division of the Kent League, winning matches isn't the focus for Silk - but producing players good enough to play in the Ryman Premier League is.

"I'm just looking at getting boys to play for the first team, that's my trophy, instead of getting results," he said.

"Last year, all in all, we had 13 reserve players play for the first team."

And the former Bromley, Leyton Pennant and Cray Wanderers' utility man has aspirations to manage at a higher level - and feels he still has time to do so.

"I'm 33 this month so there's plenty of time.  I'm enjoying management, it's gone really well," he admitted. 

"I've had so much help from Gary Hewitt and John Robinson off the pitch and they do the business when I'm playing but (first team) management is a long way off.  I'm just learning my trade and playing when I have to."

Bryan Meaney, Sevenoaks' recent addition to the coaching staff, admitted he was pleased with tonight's showing.

"First half we started off slowly and it wasn't exactly what we wanted at the beginning of the game.  We set our stall out and it didn't work out," he admitted.

"In the second half we played the way we wanted to play so I was quite pleased."

And he was delighted with the way his side scored their third goal through former Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells' midfielder, Wayne Balmer.

"The third goal is the way we've been training during the whole of pre-season.  That will pittimise the way we will play this season.  The ball never left the floor, 6-7 passes, keeping possession, switched the play extremely well, great cross, great finish.

"So basically that's the end product on what we've been working so hard on in pre-season."

And Meaney admitted team morale is as it should be and everyone is relishing their opening game of the season at Herne Bay on Saturday week.

"We are getting better and better.  Team morale is getting better and better and I think we will surprise a few teams this year.

"With two more friendlies coming up, the boys are taking it seriously.  They are all fighting for their places now, we've got the squad but they are fighting for the first eleven.

"The Herne Bay game will be interesting as I don't know what their pre-season has been like.  Their set-up is quite strong down there. 

"Obviously they are going to be all ready for it, hopefully so will we.  

"Hopefully there will be a surprise at Herne Bay."

Sevenoaks Town: Craig Clark, Kris Holidge (Jeff Sweeting 71), Dominic Websdale (Richard Purse 66), Dave Waters, Martin West (Michael ? 68), Steve Simpson, Lee Aldridge (John Martin 66), Dave Forster (Bradley Smith 72), Ross Cable (Dennis Sayer 59), Danny Powell, Marvin Elliott (Wayne Balmer 46)

Bromley: Ben Scully, Rhys Robinson, Michael Donovan (Martin Debrah 52), James Porter, Tom Stradwick, Ricky Ogbog, Austin Gacheru, Ben Gabriel, Andrew Dalhouse, Chris Chin (Michael Johnson 52), James Falaise.

Referee: Ian Crouch