Wednesday 27th October 2004

The Kent Website
Supporting Kentish Football

Vase victory gives Wells confidence ahead of Rams visit

FOOTBALL fans are in for a special treat on Saturday at Culverden Stadium when two unbeaten Go Travel Kent League sides come face to face, writes Stephen McCartney.

Fourth placed Ramgate are the visitors to Tunbridge Wells in what should, if the weather conditions are right, provide a cracking game of football from two talented sides.

Tunbridge Wells, however, have played one more game than Jim Ward's side, and if they collect three points on Saturday, they will go level on points (12) as their visitors.

Their confidence has been increased following last Saturday's 3-1 FA Vase first round victory at Sussex County League side Pagham.

And Kevin Metcalf, manager of the Culverden Stadium outfit, said: "It was a very good performance on a terrible day.

"The conditions were horrendous and before the game we sat the players down in the dressing room and told them to play football on the deck, which we did."

Although the Wells have drawn six of their seven league games, winning only once in the league programme this season, one supporter exclaimed: "This is the best Tunbridge Wells side for ten years."

This is definitely the case, and if they had turned their attractive football into goals, Metcalf's side would certainly been higher in the table.

Erith Town's 5-2 win at Sevenoaks Town on Tuesday has put Tunbridge Wells down to twelve in the table, but their position will be better if they defeat Ramsgate on Saturday and win at Erith Town next Monday (1st November).

Going back to Saturday's FA Vase tie at Pagham, their Sussex hosts could only watch mesmerised after making the mistake of opening the scoring and waking the Wells up allowing them to demonstrate that there is substance behind the accolades.

Wells have now removed their West Sussex opponents from both the FA Cup and FA Vase competitions this season and yet there was no indication early on that they would have things all their own way.

The first good chance of the game fell to Pagham and goalkeeper Matt Bromby had to react smartly to turn round a fierce drive from the ultra competitive Lee Stevens.

But the threat the visitors posed was never far beneath the surface and due warning was served after 13 minutes.

Danny Barham had one of his best games in a Wells shirt, and his mazy run down the left from half-way took him past three defenders before his shot saved the paint of the far upright.

Metcalf, however, revealed Barham was playing with an injury.

"Danny was excellent and he was also carrying a bad ankle injury, which makes the performance even better really."

Then six minutes later Paul Hallet tested his namesake in the Pagham goal after good teamwork had set him up.

Ten minutes of Pagham pressure was rewarded after the assistant referee had given a free kick to the left of the Wells box.  The set-piece was played back to Richard Browne on the edge of the box and he made no mistake with a crisp shot that had Bromby beaten all the way.

Just minutes prior to this effort, the Wells keeper had been the hero when saving an one-on-one from Pagham sriker, Lewis Haga-Hammond, with the defence desperately trying to recover ground.

At last Wells began to take a grip of proceedings and they did not have to wait too long for the equaliser.

The ball was worked down the right and Brad Mortimer fed Steve Ward and the seventeen-year-old found Barham, who tucked the ball deftly into the corner of the net after 43 minutes.

Metcalf added: "The first twenty minutes was nip and tuck and Pagham scored, which basically was the wrong thing for them to do, because it allowed us to up the game and start playing our normal football.

"At half-time we sat the players down and being constructive on how to play football and we came out in the second half and there was only one team in it.

"I don't think Pagham had a shot on goal during the second half."

Just two minutes after half-time Wells suffered their last serious scare when a cross from the right caught Bromby unawares and the ball rebounded off the far post with the rebound effort being blocked.

But then came a devastating period of Wells play which settled the match with two goals in two minutes.

Steve Ward used his blistering pace to great effect down the right.  He looked up to see Barham arriving at the right time and the number nine blasted the ball into the roof of the net with serious intent from three yards.

After 61 minutes Keiron Jennings scored his second Vase goal of the campaign when he finished off a marvelous team goal from close in.

The Wells team had retained possession with some wonderful passing football for almost a minute.  Whilst the finish was simple, this will surely rank as one of the goals of the season.

As Wells played a tactically sensible final half hour, Bromby was a virtual spectator although he did have to save smartly with twelve minutes remaining after a corner was needlessly given away.

However, as the game entered the final five minutes it was Wells who could have added to their tally and they go into the Ramsgate and Erith Town games this week full off confidence.

"The Ramsgate game will be very difficult," admitted Metcalf.

"I am expecting quite a good crowd for the game as Jim Ward's teams always play football. So it should be a good footballing game.

"Obviously I know one or two things about Ramsgate and we will have to watch out for Mo Takaloo and there's a lad who plays at the back who comes up for set pieces. Ramsgate will be very strong.

"We are very confident going into the game, unbeaten in seven league games.  I think Saturday's 3-1 win at Pagham was important because we are a young side and it gives the lads confidence."

Tunbridge Wells, however, travel to the Erith Sports Stadium, Avenue Road, Erith, on Monday and Metcalf revealed he will play a strong side for the game, despite the fact they entertain the Dockers in the FA Vase second round on 20th November at Culverden Stadium.

"I will always play my strongest side", promised Metcalf.

"Every game we play, Martin (Telford) and I go to win.

"I will be fielding my best side for both our games against Erith."

Metcalf, however, isn't expecting an easy game on Monday, especially after Willie O'Sullivan's side won 5-2 at Sevenoaks Town on Tuesday, scoring three second half goals.

"Again, following their win at Sevenoaks they have picked up a few points lately.  It is a very close league this year."

Tunbridge Wells winning team at Pagham:

Bromby, Anderson, Hilden, Joynes, Skinner, Hallett (Walker), Ward, Mortimer, Barham (Perkins), Porter, Jennings (Rich). Sub not used: Vidler.

Tunbridge Wells v Ramsgate
Go Travel Kent League Premier Division
Saturday 30th October 2004
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Culverden Stadium, Culverden Down, Tunbridge Wells

To advertise here - telephone Stephen McCartney - 07979 418 360