Ashford United 4-2 Ramsgate - When you're down at the bottom having a bad time something has to change and it's got to change very quickly, says Ramsgate coach Joe Radford

Tuesday 26th November 2019
Ashford United 4 – 2 Ramsgate
Location Homelands Stadium, Ashford Road, Kingsnorth, Ashford, Kent TN26 1NJ
Kickoff 26/11/2019 19:45

Isthmian League South East Division
Tuesday 26 November 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Homelands Stadium

RELEGATION threatened Ramsgate coach Joe Radford insists his side are having a bad time and something has to change very quickly after losing badly at Ashford United.

Ashford United remain in sixth-place in the Isthmian League South East Division table with 22 points from 12 games, while Ramsgate remain second-from-bottom in the table with 8 points on the board from 11 games and are just three points clear of basement side East Grinstead Town.

Ramsgate put in an unacceptable first-half performance as they allowed Ashford United time and room to boss midfield and the home side raced into a deserved 3-0 lead inside the opening 33 minutes.

Centre-half Matthew Bourne, a recent acquisition from league rivals Faversham Town, scored his first goal for his new club, before winger Aaron Condon drilled in a penalty before central midfielder Tom O’Connor scored from 30-yards.

Ramsgate put in a vastly improved performance after the break and pulled a goal back through striker Kane Rowland, before visiting goalkeeper Jonathan Miles gifted Ashford United their fourth goal, which was tucked home by striker David Smith to score his 16th goal of the season, before Rowland helped himself to his ninth goal of the season but the damage was done during a poor first half.

“Thoughts? Blimey! First half, very poor first half for some reason without instructions the boys wanted to play really deep allowing Ashford loads of room to attack us and get around us but not create too many chances really,” said Radford.

“If you look at all four goals we’ve conceded we’ve had a big part in them ourselves rather than cutting us apart although they did have loads and loads of possession.

“We changed it a little bit in the second half and we started to play a little bit better.  The trouble is the situation when you play a side that’s 3-0 up at half-time are they stepping off the gas or are you playing better?  It is a difficult one.  We did create some chances, scored a couple of good goals.  We should have got it back to 3-2 but unfortunately our goalkeeper made a bad error to make them go four up so yes it was a tough night!

“I’d love to be able to explain it because there was no instruction for the players to go deep. We’ve been talking about it in the changing room, why?  Even the players’ aren’t saying why? Whether they got a call from another player to say ‘lets’ stay deep’, or what, we don’t know!  Once they walk over that white line they’re their own worst enemy at times.”

Ashford United manager Tommy Warrilow saw his side bounce back from their 3-2 home defeat to Whitehawk at the weekend.

“Obviously pleased with the win. A little bit disappointed about how it finished. The second half we were under the cosh a little bit but I suppose when you’re 3-0 up, I said to the boys when you’re 3-0 down it’s a free hit and you’ve got nothing to lose. I’ll do the same, they threw a few things at us and the only disappointing thing was we didn’t really cope with that.

“Listen, the first half performance was, Saturday we were the better team. We’ve been playing really well and got nothing to show for it.

“First half today we should’ve had a few more really but to be fair they caught us on the break a few times that we had to be aware of but overall I was pleased with the football we played and going in 3-0 up it sort of picked the momentum up from where we was on Saturday because we played well on Saturday.”

Ashford United created their first opening with seven minutes and 52 seconds on the clock, following the first of their five corners.

Condon swung the ball in, left-footed, from the left and Ramsgate’s holding midfielder Nick Treadwell swiftly closed down Bourne’s shot inside the area and the ball flew over the crossbar.

Ashford United opened the scoring following the resulting corner, the goal timed at eight minutes and 27 seconds on the clock.

Condon swung the ball in from the right with his left-foot and Jay May rose inside the six-yard box to bury his downward header, which brought off an excellent reaction save from Miles but Bourne was there to nod the ball over the line from the rebound.

“The last two games is the first time I feel like we can score from corners because one, our deliveries have been good and two, we’re beginning to do our runs properly,” said Warrilow.

“I’ve had a go at the lads, we set things up and Danny Walder’s been whipping great free-kicks in and no-ones doing their runs. Today I thought the corners were excellent and we’ve cashed in on one and perhaps we could’ve cashed in on a couple more.”

When asked about bringing Bourne, 33, to the club after making 416 appearances for Faversham Town before leaving the club after nine years’ service at Salters Lane, Warrilow said: “It’s no secret he’s mates with Danny Walder and Danny said he fancied a move so when James Collins got the job, I rang James up and told him I’ve heard Matthew’s on the move or wants a move but he was under contract so we had to do a deal with them.  I’m not happy with the undisclosed transfer fee because people will think we’re buying players.

“To be fair to Faversham, Bourney’s been injured for a few weeks and we’ve just covered that and given them a few quid as a compensation thing but that is an undisclosed fee but I don’t want everyone to start thinking Ashford are buying players because we’re not.

“Two players went out, I’m trying to bring two in, Bourney was one of them and there was another lad who didn’t come off so we’re still out to bring two in and I’m still hoping to bring one in.”

Radford said: “A great save! A great save! Disappointment there’s no one challenged for the header. He got a free header after the save.  We was a little bit stationery and didn’t attack the ball like we should’ve done.  That was disappointing after such a good save.”

Ramsgate created an opening following Jude Arthur’s free-kick from the right. The diminutive Bromley Academy midfielder floated in a deep free-kick from the right but centre-half Liam Friend’s hooked shot at the far post deflected past the near post.

Ashford United should have doubled their lead in the 15th minute.

Ramsgate failed to press any of the Ashford United back four or midfield and sat back during the first half and let the home side do what they wanted with the ball.

Bourne had time to play the ball into O’Connor’s feet and his sublime diagonal pass split open Robert Saunders (centre-half) and (left-back) Jack Morrell for Jerald Aboagye to whip in a quality delivery from the right for May, whose free header slipped through Miles fingers and bounced just past the foot of the left-hand post.

Josh Wisson teed up Condon, who cut inside his marker on the edge of the penalty area and from a central position he sliced his left-footed shot harmlessly wide.

Ashford United doubled their lead with 21 minutes and 15 seconds on the clock.

Left-back Jake McIntyre looped in a throw from the left and Ramsgate winger Tyrell Mitford was guilty of making a poor touch inside his penalty area and clipped May with a high foot and referee Kane Dempster pointed to the spot.

Condon grabbed hold of the ball and drilled his left-footed spot-kick just right of centre as Miles dived to his left.

Warrilow said: “We’ve not had much luck with the pens this year. Dave Smith he’s unfortunately missed three so I’ll be honest they said ‘whose taking it?’ I said I don’t know.  I said if Dave wants to take one he could, but let them decide, it’s up to them but I’ve got every belief in Dave but Aaron picked the ball up and he’s buried them so obviously he’s on the pens now.”

Radford added: “I thought that the defender could’ve actually gone and headed the ball rather than stick his foot up in the air.  I think that’s bad defending personally and on many occasions tonight we were found wanting defensively.

“Two-nil down, I’m thinking now we don’t want to concede another one. If we can take a 2-0 through to half-time and come out and change a few things at half-time, come out with maybe a different formation or attack minded then if you score the next goal then you’ve got half a chance but unfortunately we conceded another one and now you’re looking at a mountain to climb.”

Ramsgate turned defence into attack and they should have done better in the 25th minute.

Condon swung in his forth corner, which was headed away by Treadwell at the near post and Bode Anidugbe broke away down the right.

Instead of going full pelt, Anidugbe slowed the play down and allowed Ashford to get men behind the ball, before the ball was played over to Arthurs, who played a one-two with Ashley Miller, before Arthurs skipped past Wisson before lashing his left-footed drive over the crossbar from 25-yards.

Ramsgate created another opening on the half-hour mark.

Miller’s hooked pass released Rowland, who sprayed the ball into Mitford, who played a first time pass into the box for Rowland, but he took too many touches inside the box and by the time he teed up Anidugbe, Wisson got back to make a sliding tackle on the edge of the box and the chance was gone.

Ashford United scored their third goal of the night with 32 minutes and 43 seconds on the clock, leaving a poor Ramsgate side with a mountain to climb.

McIntyre lofted a ball up field from around 10-yards from the halfway line and poor defensive play from Anidugbe saw the ball drop kindly for O’Connor, who cracked a left-footed shot on the turn which screamed into the top right-hand corner, as no one in a Ramsgate shirt could be bothered to close him down.

Warrilow said: “Tom’s come back in, that’s his second game that we’ve had out of him on the spin. If we can get him fit, we know what we can get out of Tom. It all depends on us keeping Tom fit.

“Listen, I’ve had him for a few years but he’s had a year out and I’ve been keeping in touch with him. We’ll push him a little bit now but at the same time we won’t kill him because we want to get him in the side because you can see what an influence he is.”

Radford added: “Again, we’re not charging the ball down. He got a nice run-up, a free run to it and a strike, a great strike, a good goal. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve got to die for the cause and there wasn’t enough there tonight to die for causes.”

Ramsgate CEO Paul Bowden-Brown walked over towards the away dug-out to have a quiet word with his management team but Ramsgate’s first half performance lacked heart, passion, pride, failed to close players down and their fans deserved much better.

“I thought we were a handful up top,” added Warrilow.

“The movement in midfield was good, the full-backs were getting on and we looked solid so I thought great.”

Both Warrilow and Radford were asked their thoughts at the break.

Warrilow said: “I was happy with everything at half-time! We played really well, moved the ball well, created chances, apart from the odd counter-attack I was well happy.  I was gutted because it would’ve been nice to have a couple more but 3-0 at half-time is good.

“But I knew when you’re 3-0 up at half-time you’re going to expect an onslaught.  I expected the two wide boys to stay up higher and things like that.  That’s what we’ve got to deal with. We had to start winning the ball back and playing in areas. I was happy with the 3-0 and disappointed with the second half but at the same time we got three points!”

Radford admitted: “I can’t really repeat that, like a few home truths really trying to inspire the boys and ask them really why we were dropped so deep and giving Ashford so much of the ball?!”

Ramsgate put in a vastly improved performance during the second half by clawing some pride back by winning it by two goals to one.

Ashford striker Smith was allowed to run some 45-yards with the ball at his feet without any Ramsgate players attempting to put in a tackle but his driven shot smashed into the side netting inside the opening seven minutes.

Ramsgate showed signs of recovery in the 54th minute when Morrell floated in a deep cross aimed towards Rowland inside the box but the ball fell to Mitford, who took a touch before sweeping his left-footed shot across the keeper and past the far post from 15-yards.

Ramsgate kept three men up front during the second half with Miller out on the left, Rowland in the middle and Mitford on the right and this caused Ashford United more of a threat after the interval.

“Tyrell is quite new to us, we haven’t had many training sessions with him yes so I don’t know if it’s in his locker to be able to strike those home or not so it was a good chance but not taken,” added Radford.

Conlon was allowed to stride through midfield with the ball before lacking power with a left-footed shot from 30-yards, which rolled along the artificial turf and was comfortably picked up by Miles.

Ramsgate pulled a goal back with 15 minutes and 11 seconds on the clock.

Arthurs whipped in a cross from the right channel and Mitford was in a central position and his free header was tipped onto the underside of the crossbar by keeper Sam Mott and the ball dropped down and was tapped over the line by Rowland.

“I think actually as well you have to give some credit to Sam Mott, who got a touch to it I think and put it onto the crossbar so it was a good save. Kane, that’s what he does best when he’s sniffing round on those sort of chances and stuck it in, good on him,” added Radford.

Warrilow said: “That’s what I’m on about, about midfield. I just felt we lost our discipline because we all marked no one in the box and everyone should be staying out on the edge of the box so when it’s set back to the lad to deliver we should be on him and we weren’t so I was disappointed with that.”

O’Conner then cut in and whipped his left-footed shot sailing narrowly wide of the right-hand post, before Ramsgate keeper Miles gifted Ashford United the decisive goal with 17 minutes and 13 seconds on the clock.

Ramsgate keeper Miles took a goal-kick and it was hit so poorly and low that the ball went straight at Smith’s feet some 35-yards from goal and the Ashford striker charged into the box before slotting the ball into the bottom right-hand corner in a one-on-one.

Radford said: “I’ve just asked him what he was doing because the only thing I could get into my head was he changed his mind at the last minute what he was going to do rather than strike a ball long. He just said he sort of slipped over and that was it really, what can you do?”

Warrilow added: “He’s obviously changed his mind. He’s gone to go long and got caught in two worlds and he’s stumbled it to Dave.  Dave one-on-one, he’s buried it, which I’m pleased and hopefully it’s given him a little bit of confidence to take into the next game.”

The former Sittingbourne and Dover Athletic striker has now bagged 16 goals for Ashford United this term.

“Listen, we’ve just got to work on parts of his game but he’s a centre-forward, I’ve told him I want to get 30 goals, not all this 20 rubbish because we create enough chances as you’ve seen tonight to score goals.

“Dave’s a young lad and we’ve given him his first run of games that he’s ever had because he’s been in and out of teams and he’s got lots to do to his game but I want him to come here and enjoy it and not put himself under too much pressure and keep scoring goals.”

Ramsgate punished some sloppy defensive play from Ashford United by scoring their final goal of the night with 18 minutes and 40 seconds on the clock.

A mistake from right-back Aboagye let in Arthurs down the left and he played in a low cross towards the centre of the box to Mitford, who put it on a plate for Rowland, who tapped the ball into the bottom right-hand corner.

Radford said: “I think things like that was actually what we can do! We’ve created in the game of 90 minutes, we’ve created as many chances that they’ve scored to get a result out of the game but unfortunately first half we didn’t get strikes on when we should have done.

“We’ve gifted them three goals so I think we could’ve got something out of the game but sometimes you don’t really deserve it and I don’t think we deserved it on our first half performance.”

Warrilow added: “We gifted him a chance in trying to play at the back, played it too short and the lads nipped it off Mohammed Kamara and crossed it for a tap in.

“I do mind conceding but it’s the way we conceded them, not marking for the first one and the second one was just lazy really, tried to lay it back to my centre-half and it was short and he’s nipped it in front and crossed it for a tap-in.”

Ashford United had a chance to kill the game off once and for all when O’Connor teed up McIntyre, who latched onto the ball to hit it first time over the bar from 25-yards.

Ramsgate squandered a glorious chance to make the game interesting inside the final 18 minutes and Mitford screamed in agony as he realised he missed a great chance.

Ramsgate right-back Jack Paxman, who delivered some poor overhit crosses, skipped past Condon to reach the by-line before wrapping his foot around the ball to pick out Mitford in the middle but he rose to plant his header over the crossbar.

Arthurs’ floated a free-kick into the Ashford box, Anidugbe recycled the ball by clipping the ball back into the box and centre-half Robert Saunders cushioned down his header which forced Mott to get down low to his right to hold.

“Again, another one of those you work on those in training and they seem to be able to finish it in training but in a game they don’t seem to be able to convert it so it’s difficult to take. It was always going to be a tough game,” added Radford.

Mott made an easier save when he danced to his left to smother Paxman’s left-footed shot on the turn from 20-yards, which was tricking towards the bottom corner of the goal.

With a couple of minutes left, Ashford United went close on the counter-attack when May released substitute Levi Gold down the left and he played the ball into Wisson, who waited for Aboagye to join in before teeing up the right-back, who smashed an angled drive just past the foot of the near post from inside the penalty area.

Arthurs, who was involved in many Ramsgate chances, lofted the ball up to put Rowland in, who shrugged off Bourne the last defender, but Mott came off his line to smother the ball.

Warrilow takes his side to bottom-five side Hythe Town on Saturday, level on 22 points with VCD Athletic, who occupy the final play-off berth.

“Listen, I’m not going to be negative on it. We’ve got a 4-2 win. We’re just disappointed with the second half but the way we played in the first half I suppose it’s asking a lot to maintain that standard, I don’t know,” said Warrilow.

“I’m going to enjoy the win because we played well on Saturday and got nothing so I’m not going to come in and start picking all the negatives on it because there’s a lot we can work on and as you’ve seen tonight we’re a team that can create a lot of chances. We’ve taken a few and on another day we haven’t and it’s cost us tonight.  A big three points has pushed us back in the play-offs (contention).”

Cray Valley (Paper Mills) lead the way in their debut season at this level with 28 points on the board from 13 games, while Hastings United (25 points from 11 games), Sevenoaks Town (24 points from 13 games), Whitehawk (23 points from 12 games) and VCD Athletic are in the play-offs.

Tenth-placed Phoenix Sports travel to Ramsgate on Saturday and Radford demands a reaction from his beleaguered side that are clearly missing the likes of Tom Wynter and Ollie Gray, while centre-half Friend was playing despite suffering a dead leg during Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Sevenoaks Town.

“They’ll basically go away and think about the game themselves and it will be back to basics on Saturday,” said Radford.

“We won’t be training now, I don’t think whether the main man is going to have them in training, we’re not sure yet. We may have them in on Thursday for a light session and just get our arms around them and start again on Saturday.

“Phoenix Sports is another tough one. When you’re not doing the business yourselves or your gifting teams goals as we have done in the last few weeks and you’re starting two goals behind it’s a mountain to climb every game.

“You just cannot afford to give teams a head start when you’re down the bottom having a bad time.  Something has got to change and it’s got to change very quickly and hopefully it will be Saturday.

“We’ve got a lot of problems to sort out. We’d like to get a couple more players in to strengthen the squad after losing a few.  The players we feel we need to strengthen the squad in certain areas so it’s down to us as a management group now to have a look around and see what suits.”

When asked whether there is pressure at board room level, Radford replied: “No, but there’s always pressure. I think he’s tried different things with the previous manager that didn’t really come off and now it’s down to us to try sort things out, try to stabilise the team and go forward.”

Ashford United: Sam Mott, Jerald Aboagye, Jake McIntyre, Josh Wisson, Matthew Bourne, Mohammed Kamara, Lee Prescott, Tom O’Connor (Levi Gold 88), Jay May, David Smith (Theo Osinfolarin 77), Aaron Condon.
Subs: Lee Hook, Remell Lake, Ben Binder

Goals: Matthew Bourne 9, Aaron Condon 22 (penalty), Tom O’Connor 33, David Smith 63

Ramsgate: Jonathan Miles, Jack Paxman, Jack Morrell, Nick Treadwell, Liam Friend (Charlie Hallett 88), Robert Saunders, Tyrell Mitford (Matthew Robinson 87), Bode Anidugbe, Kane Rowland, Jude Arthurs, Ashley Miller.
Subs: Daniel Carrington, Daniel Barratt, Tom Roberts

Goals: Kane Rowland 61, 64

Booked: Bode Anigugbe 90, Jude Arthurs 90

Attendance: 118
Referee: Mr Kane Dempster (Deal)
Assistants: Mr Matt Grist (Bearsted) & Mr Michael Butcher (Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey)