Ashford United 2-2 Faversham Town - It's probably one of our best performances that I've seen since I've been at the club, says Faversham Town boss James Collins

Saturday 01st January 2022
Ashford United 2 – 2 Faversham Town
Location Homelands Stadium, Ashford Road, Kingsnorth, Ashford, Kent TN26 1NJ
Kickoff 01/01/2022 15:00

Isthmian League South East Division
Saturday 1 January 2022
Stephen McCartney reports from Homelands Stadium

FAVERSHAM TOWN manager James Collins says his players put in an astronomical performance after coming away from title-chasing Ashford United with a deserved point.

Target-man Gary Lockyer headed in his third goal for Ashford United inside the opening seven minutes, taking his tally to 23 after leaving Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division tenants Kennington.

The Lilywhites deserved their equaliser when it came inside the opening 11 minutes of the second half through makeshift central midfielder Clark Woodcock.

Ashford United grabbed the lead on the hour mark when Tashi-Jay Kwayie scored from a set-piece, as did Faversham centre-half Jono Richardson to seal a point in front of a crowd of 397 at Homelands Stadium.

Ashford United lost right-back Tariq Ossai after he “broke down” in the warm-up so Tommy Warrilow was forced into making late changes to his match-day squad and midfielder Rhyle Ovenden was stretchered off late in the first half after suffering an ACL injury while making a challenge.

Goalkeeper coach Lee Hook, 42, was almost thrown on by Warrilow as an emergency forward after centre-half Daniel Hull went down with a knock nine minutes before the interval.

Warrilow said: “Disappointing really.  It feels like a loss but fair play to them, even they’re saying they’ve never played like that before or with that amount of energy and they’ve got something out of it and to be fair I can’t moan about that.

“We’ve not lost today.  This team beat Sittingbourne 3-1 so they’re no mugs and we’ve got to respect Faversham for coming here and worked hard and got a point.  I thought second half they could’ve nicked it.”

Reflecting on his missing players, Warrilow revealed: “Missing today was Jay May, Liam Friend, Tommie Fagg and we’ve lost Rhyle Ovenden and we’ve lost Tariq Ossai so that’s five boys that are out and they’re big players and hopefully I’ll get two back on Monday but it is what it is.

“I’ve not seen (the squad) since (our last game) on 18 December.  We have had a few boys who have played today like Johan Ter Horst that have not been well. Bradley Simms, Jack Steventon have all been sick all over Christmas and Liam Friend.

“Tariq broke down in the warm-up.  Rhyle looks like it’s his ACL, which is obviously a bad one and that’s the way things are going for us at the moment but I’m not going to sit here and make excuses. It’s one of those things. You’ve got to get on with it.

“We’re looking to bring players in but I’m not just going to bring anyone in. They’ve got to be the right player but losing those two today we’re in that situation.”

Hook was even doing a few stretches during the half-time interval and when asked whether he was going to put a goalkeeper outfield, Warrilow replied: “No.  If push came to shove, I would’ve done. We would’ve shoved him up front and dropped someone in.  We had no chance but thankfully the boys got through it so we ended up with 11.”

A delighted Collins added: “I thought we were excellent today. I thought we played really, really well.

“I said to the boys at half-time, obviously you want to win the game but if we played like we did in the first-half, in the second half, I could’ve dealt with that. I thought we were absolutely excellent and thought we were well worth the point.

“Look, if you’d have given me a point today with the current status of us with our injuries and getting players through games at the minute I would’ve bitten your hand off, so I’m going to say if you come to one of the best teams in the league and you get a point I don’t think you can say it’s two points dropped but they could’ve nicked it right at the death couldn’t they, so I’ll take a point.”

When asked about his missing players, Collins actually got his mobile phone out of his pocket and read out a list of names.

“Well, we’ve got Luke Watkins, who had done his knee and you’ve got Harry Harding obviously. You’ve got Bourney (Matthew Bourne) who failed a fitness test today. You’ve got Donvieve Jones, who came on for the last minute and we’re trying to get him back into it.  You’ve got Marshall Wratten, whose injured, from Dover.

“We’ve signed Owen Punselie from Holmesdale and there’s an issue with his registration. 

“It seems like we’ve got seven or eight out every week but when everyone gets back, we’ve got a very strong squad now anyway. We’re asking for a hell of a lot from the players at the moment.

“The injuries that we’ve been having, that’s why it’s such a good performance because we’ve got players playing out there that are not fit. It’s the same for everyone but when you come to one of the best teams in the league you really need everyone on it.  It’s not so much the fact that we’re missing players, it’s the fact that players are having to play with us not being able to train and not knowing how we do things.

“I mean I don’t think we’ve got too many players that did pre-season with us that are playing so they’re sort of learning on the job. It’s just an astronomical performance from the players today.”

Both sides had a long throw with Bradley Simms throwing the ball into the Faversham Town penalty area on eight occasions and Faversham Town centre-half Lewis Chambers using that tactic six times at the other end.

Warrilow said: “We’ve got one, every team has got one now, so you’ve got to deal with it. It’s a weapon.  I’ve got no qualms. Everyone’s using it because we use it. If it works, then use it!”

Faversham Town created their first opening after only 82 seconds via this direct method.

Chambers’ throw from the left was cleared out to Woodcock, who took a couple of touches on the edge of the box and once inside his shot deflected past the left-post.

Simms short throw was flicked on by Lockyer and Josh Wisson cut into the box and his shot deflected over the top of the near post from just inside the corner of the six-yard box shortly afterwards.

However, Ashford United opened the scoring with six minutes and 57 seconds on the clock through Lockyer’s head.

Holding midfielder Wisson played the ball out to full-back Mamadou Diallo out on the left wing and he easily cut inside Tyrell Richardson-Brown, who didn’t attempt to make a tackle and Diallo whipped in a precise cross towards the penalty spot where Lockyer flicked his header past the diving keeper into the left corner.

“I thought first-half we played some really nice stuff and we were patient,” said Warrilow.

“Gary’s got bits to do but it’s the first time I’ve seen the lads since the 18th December, with what we’ve had going through the camp with injuries and the Covid thing.

“Gary will get goals. We should create enough chances for him to get them, so we know what he brings to the table.”

Collins added: “I said at half-time, I don’t know whether I’m wrong but I think that was their only effort in the first half.  We’ve come to Ashford, a team that’s top of the league and they’ve had one chance.

“It wasn’t really a chance, we didn’t get out quickly enough, but the guy’s put a good ball into the box and it’s an unbelievable header and that’s why they’re top of the league.  You can always to better but it was a very, very good goal.”

Faversham Town showed character to bounce back from that early set-back and started to wrestle control of the game, although they didn’t call home goalkeeper Tyler McCarthy into making a save.

Chambers’ second long throw was cleared out to diminulative attacking midfielder Eddie Allsopp, who slipped over just inside the penalty area and steered his low shot past the left-upright.

Faversham’s dfiminulative right-back Benedict Bioletti fed the ball up to physical striker Emmanuel Oluwasemo, who shrugged off the attentions of Jack Steventon before Allsopp cut towards the edge of the Ashford box and his weak shot (while under pressure from a sliding Steventon) rolled into McCarthy’s hands.

However, Faversham Town’s holding midfielder Mobalaji Dawodu missed a glorious chance to equalise in the 16th minute.

Chambers’ third throw in was flicked on by Oluwasemo and Allsopp’s initial header was blocked and the ball came out to Woodock on the right-hand side of the penalty area and he clipped the ball back in towards Dawodu at the far post, who smacked his hooked volley high over the crossbar from eight-yards out.

Collins said: “I feel Bola had a really good chance from one of the throws.  It’s something that we work on and something I felt until a couple of weeks ago we weren’t scoring enough goals from.

“I thought Ashford defended them well, they’re a big side and they’ve got a long throw themselves and good set-pieces. It’s something that we use but they dealt with it.

“Bola has been on hot form. If you want it to fall to anyone it would’ve been him. He probably felt he could’ve done a little bit better there.”

Faversham Town should have tested McCarthy in the 22nd minute but the drilled chance screamed past the near post.

Dawodu stole the ball off Kwayie inside the Faversham half before Allsopp released striker Emmanuel Oluwasemo in behind Diallo but once through on goal the winger failed to take the chance some 14-yards from goal.

“I thought Manny was a threat all day. I thought he caused their two centre-halves a lot of problems,” said Collins.

“I felt we were getting into positions that looked like they were going to be good chances and we were making them into half-chances and I actually think the positions we got into we should’ve created better chances in the final third.

“I don’t think we were testing Tyler McCarthy as much as we could’ve done with the positions we were getting in so that’s what we wanted to do second-half.”

Warrilow added: “The only problem was when we tried to hit a killer ball, we leave ourselves open for counter-attacks and we’ve not done that for a little while but I thought the first half we gave it away cheaply and they were dangerous from some of the breaks.  I don’t remember Tyler making a save.”

Chambers’ fifth long throw came from the right and Richardson rose inside the penalty area and steered his header across goal and past the far post although the referee Joe McKay awarded a corner.

Warrilow’s injury-list grew in the 36th minute after Ovenden’s challenge in the middle of the park, with Warrilow’s 17-man squad now looking threadbare.

Allsopp’s deliveries were on the money and from the resulting free-kick, Dawodu ghosted in to knock his header straight at McCarthy just six-yards from goal.

Allsopp released emergency left-back Onoriode Ogboe, who cut inside Simms and steered his left-footed shot straight into McCarthy’s hands after digging the ball out from under his feet down the left.

Ashford United were almost gifted a second goal deep into stoppage time.

McCarthy launched a big kick straight down the middle of the pitch, the ball was flicked on by Lockyer and Richardson’s back-pass forced goalkeeper Patrick Ohman into diving to his left to hold to prevent the quiet Roberto Ratti from pouncing.

Warrilow said: “I thought we was alright in the first-half. We knocked it about. I thought we played some nice football.

“I had 11 players at the end of the day so we knew if they introduced fresh legs that might’ve caused some problems but I just felt we caused our own problems through giving the ball away cheaply.

“I said just up it a bit more and stop giving the ball away cheaply.  If you want teams to score make them work hard for their goals.”

Collins added: “I said it’s probably one of our best performances that I’ve seen since I’ve been at the club.

“I said if we play like that second half we can score some goals and can we limit them to chances and my concern was they can build four or five passes and bang! It’s a goal before you even know.

“They’re a threat from set-pieces, they play good balls into strikers who can hold the ball up and have runners off.  They have got 11 very good football players and I know they’re missing players.  I was concerned any time they could turn it on but I just felt we need to be a little bit more clinical in front of goal and start turning the possession we had into chances and I felt the chances could hopefully turn into goals.”

Ashford United’s first opening came inside the opening three minutes when Wisson played a 10-yard pass inside to Ter-Horst, who drilled his right-footed 35-yarder high over the bar but their next effort was a lot closer.

Ter-Horst fed Lockyer, who laid the ball off for substitute Luke Burdon, whose right-footed drive from 25-yards cleared the crossbar.

Faversham Town wasted a glorious chance to equalise in the seventh minute.

Ohman launched a big kick upfield, the ball was flicked on by Dawodu inside the Ashford half and this played in Richardson-Brown (in behind Simms and Daniel Hull) who drilled his shot into the side netting when he only had McCarthy to beat.

“He’s got to score that, it was a great chance,” admitted Collins.

“That’s what I’m saying, that’s us turning half-chances into big chances and I thought it was a big chance when you feel they can score at any time. When you get a big chance here you’ve got to take it to get anything out of the game.  I thought Tyrell was brilliant again today.”

Faversham Town deserved their equaliser when it finally arrived with 10 minutes and 50 seconds on the clock.

Bioletti whipped in a cross from close to the by-line on the right and the ball was headed away by centre-half Hull and fell kindly for Woodcock to take a touch before placing his shot across the keeper and the ball kissed the base of the far post before nestling in the back of the net for his first goal of the season.

“Clark was brilliant again today and I felt he was outstanding (during our 3-1 home win over Sittingbourne) on Monday,” said Collins.

“We put him into the middle of the park. He said he hasn’t played there before and we put him in there in training and he’s looked really good.   He needed to find his feet (in our FA Trophy tie at Premier Division side Folkestone Invicta) but the last two games he’s been absolutely unbelievable and he deserves that.”

Warrilow added: “I thought we created our own problems through giving the ball away cheaply and basically not defending. I think a few people could’ve handled the situation differently from my goalie to my centre-halves regarding clearing the ball and we wasn’t on the edges for the second balls either so disappointed with that respect.  We’ve got nobody picking up Clark, he’s walked it in.”

Collins insisted his side should have been awarded a penalty when menace Oluwasemo was clearly tripped inside the box by Simms but referee Joe McKay waved away the appeals.

Collins added: “Are you going to see a more blatant penalty all season? I find that unbelievable that the referee hasn’t given that!”

Ashford United grabbed the lead with 14 minutes and 37 seconds on the clock following a set-piece, which was totally against-the-run-of-play at the time.

Ratti drew a foul from Ogboe inside the right channel and Diallo swung in the resulting free-kick.

Chambers cleared a towering header (from inside a crowded penalty area) off the line but Kwayie reacted to smash the ball into the back of the net from inside the six-yard box to score his third goal of the season.

Warrilow said: “Happy with that. It’s a set-piece. I’m sure that they won’t be happy with it but we’ve cashed back in and perhaps given us a bit more belief for the second half.”

Collins added: “The thing is we’ve said before the game, they’re a big side and we’ve got to have big, big performances in that box and we’ve got to be better in both boxes if we want to get anything out of the game as they’re a threat from set-pieces.

“Kelvin has done us a great shift, he’s not a left-back and he forgot to get in on toes and then given away a cheap free-kick and then they’ve scored.

“It’s very hard to be critical of the players when they’ve put a shift in like that. It’s two goals from crosses today that we’re disappointed with.”

The goal lifted Ashford’s players out of their slumber, while Faversham’s players took a while to get over their second set-back in the game.

Allsopp was penalised for high feet and Ashford were awarded a free-kick just outside the D.

Ratti took a touch and Wisson latched onto the loose ball to stroke his right-footed free-kick across the keeper and just past the foot of the far post in the 19th minute.

A brilliant goal-line clearance from Diallo prevented Tyrell-Brown from smashing home the equaliser but they did just that from the resulting corner with 31 minutes and 57 seconds on the clock.

Faversham Town won the corner count by 6-2 and their sixth corner was superbly whipped in from the right by Allsopp and Richardson buried his downward header past McCarthy to score his third goal of the season.

“Manny’s trying to claim it. I don’t know, I think it’s a Jono goal,” insisted Collins.

“Eddie puts in a very good delivery and can you get on the end of it? He’s done it last week and he’s done it again today and I thought Jono had a great game today as well.  I’m well pleased for him, against his old club.

“I’m just more pleased with the performance that we’ve managed to put in and the result is an absolute bonus for us.”

Warrilow added: “I was disappointed with both of their goals but as a manager I’m only looking at my team. From Faversham’s point of view, they might be good goals but we could’ve done better with both goals.

“Again, no disrespect to Jono or them, it’s just about marking isn’t it?  We haven’t marked, they’re knocking on the door all the time with the throw-ins and the corners, so we knew that’s their main threat and they cashed in on one.”

Faversham Town had Ashford United (a side unbeaten at home in the league) on the ropes and all they lacked was that decisive knockout punch.

It almost came inside the final 10 minutes, however, when winger Richardson-Brown’s sublime through ball along the deck split open Diallo to put substitute Sam Bewick through on goal.

Bewick’s shot on the turn from the corner of the penalty area beat McCarthy but rattled the crossbar, as Bewick aimed for the top near corner.

“I thought it was in, it bounced down off the line and it wasn’t to be. It was a great strike. I was pleased with how many chances that we’ve created. I know that was desperately unlucky,” added Collins.

Warrilow added: “There were chances, it was going to be, the game was wide open at the end. We do try to win games of football and obviously they were.”

Lockyer latched onto a ball over the top and was clattered into which probably explains why his chip dropped just past the foot of the near post shortly afterwards.

Simms launched his penultimate throw into the box, which was cleared out to Wisson, who clipped the ball back into the box for Burdon to bravely put his diving header over the crossbar from eight-yards.

Ashford United created two chances to snatch the victory inside stoppage time.

Burdon slipped over just inside the Faversham penalty area and his weak right-footed shot was gathered by Ohman to prevent the ball nestling inside the bottom near corner.

With a crowd of players inside the Faversham box, Simms fed an unmarked Wisson, who got in a pocket of space to drill his right-footed shot across the keeper and just past the foot of the far post from 12-yards, which would have been cruel on the Lilywhites had the ball nestled inside the bottom far corner of the goal with the last kick of the game.

Warrilow said; “We probably had the better chances at the end with Wisso, right at the death he’s had a shot where he’s not hit the target and we could’ve snatched something and gone again with three points instead of one – but it feels like a loss.”

Collins said: “From where I was standing, I thought it was going to hit the base of the post and go in. I think we deserved that little bit of luck at the end. I will take that, that’s a great point for us.

“The players gave absolutely everything, they were absolutely brilliant. I can’t fault them. They had a bit of quality on the ball and I thought we played some nice football at times so if we can get some players back and be able to train and work on some stuff, we’re only going to get better.”

Hastings United returned to the summit of the Isthmian League South East Division table after their 1-0 home win over Lancing today.

Hastings United have collected 43 points from their 20 games and the play-off places are occupied by Ashford United (39 points from 19 games), Cray Valley (39 points from 20), Herne Bay (39 points from 19) and Ramsgate (38 points from 20).

Faversham Town are in 12th place in the pecking order with 25 points from 19.

Whitstable Town, who suffered a 7-2 humiliation at Herne Bay on Monday 27 December, lost 4-1 at home to Ramsgate today.

Warrilow takes his side to Ramsgate on Monday, 3 January, while Collins’ side welcome Keith McMahon’s Whitstable to Salters Lane at the same time, both kicking off at 15:00.

Warrilow said: “We’ve obviously got a lot of problems internally with injuries etc but we’ve just got to get on with it.  It’s not ideal timings. We’ve got 24 hours to bring a player in but we’ll see what happens over the next day or so for Monday.

“Jay May’s back available but we’ve lost two today so you get one back in and two come out so it’s not going to be a strong squad going there.

“I’ve tried to put seven-dayers (approaches for non-contracted players) in for someone today, I don’t know if they played or not. All I can do is ring around and see what’s what and if it aint then we’ve got to go to Ramsgate with what we’ve got.

“It doesn’t take an Einstein to work out we need to get some players in but my job is to make sure it’s the right player and I’m not going to start panicking and get the numbers in just for the sake of it.  As long as I’ve got a couple of subs to shuffle things around with.  I couldn’t foresee Tariq breaking down in the warm-up and Rhyle doing his knee today, which didn’t help matters.

“These things are here to test us and you find out more about people around you when things are going wrong than they are going right.  We’ve just got to all stick together.”

Reflecting on being in second-place behind Hastings United, Warrilow replied: “The most important thing for me was to be in and around it after Monday, get Christmas out of the way and the first two games of January and have a look at it.”

Collins, meanwhile, is relishing another local derby on Monday.

“I said to them a lot of you guys make sacrifices to not go out on New Years Eve, whether some of them did or not, you don’t know. I said don’t make that sacrifice and not put a shift in today and I think we got what we deserved today.

“Let’s hope we’ve got enough players to get a team out. It’s another local derby. I said after the game you don’t want to come here and get a point and then lose against Whitstable.  To make this a really good weekend we have to back this up with three points.”

Ashford United: Tyler McCarthy, Bradley Simms, Mamadou Diallo, Josh Wisson, Jack Steventon, Daniel Hull, Tashi-Jay Kwayie, Johan Ter Horst, Gary Lockyer, Roberto Ratti, Rhyle Ovenden (Luke Burdon 39).
Subs: Tariq Ossai, Lee Hook

Goals: Gary Lockyer 7, Tashi-Jay Kwayie 60

Booked: Roberto Ratti 69

Faversham Town: Patrick Ohman, Benedict Bioletti, Onoriode Ogboe, Mobalaji Dawodu, Lewis Chambers, Jono Richardson, Abdul Saccoh, Clark Woodcock (Donvieve Jones 90), Emmanuel Oluwasemo, Eddie Allsopp, Tyrell Richardson-Brown (Sam Bewick 57).
Subs: Harry Day, Freddie Kemp, James Geddes

Goals: Clark Woodcock 56, Jono Richardson 77

Booked: Mobalaji Dawodu 45, Clark Woodcock 68

Attendance: 397
Referee: Mr Joe McKay
Assistants: Mr Teddy Osborn & Simon Cutler