Bearsted 2-1 Banstead Athletic - The FA Cup and The FA Vase are massive for us. If we can have little runs in both it will be great for the club, says Bearsted boss Kevin Stevens

Tuesday 17th August 2021
Bearsted 2 – 1 Banstead Athletic
Location Otham Sports Ground, Honey Lane, Otham, Maidstone, Kent ME15 8RG
Kickoff 17/08/2021 19:45

The Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replay
Tuesday 17 August 2021
Stephen McCartney reports from Honey Lane

BEARSTED manager Kevin Stevens says having a little run in the FA Cup this season will be great for the club.


The Bears welcome Isthmian League South East Division side Burgess Hill Town to Honey Lane on Saturday, looking to reach the First Qualifying Round for the very first time after getting past opponents, like them, that are sitting in the bottom three in their league at this early stage.

Bearsted opened their Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division campaign with a 5-0 home defeat to Glebe before bouncing back to claim a 2-2 draw at home to Crowborough Athletic three days later.

They came away from Merland Rise with a 2-2 draw in The FA Cup before losing 2-1 at Chatham Town at the weekend.

Banstead Athletic kicked off their Combined Counties League Premier Division South campaign with a 1-0 defeat at Walton & Hersham before hosting Bearsted before losing 3-2 at Frimley Green at the weekend.

Bearsted dominated the entire first-half of this Extra Preliminary Round Replay and should have gone into the interval with more than a goal advantage.  Centre-half Lekan Majayegbe, 19, capped off an impressive performance by heading in following a well-worked set-piece.

Left-winger Samuel Stace won and converted a penalty just 88 seconds into the second half to give the Kent side the advantage.

Banstead Athletic manager Carl Taylor cut a frustrated figure in his technical area during the first-half and he made a double substitution on the hour mark and his side upped their tempo and desire levels and deservedly pulled a goal back by striker Don de Dieu Tamtale with nine minutes remaining.

“I thought we made hard work of it for the last 15 minutes but really happy to get a win on the board after a couple of defeats and a couple of draws, which we probably deserved more out of those couple of games,” said Stevens, whose club scoop £1,125 in prize money, with Banstead Athletic picking up a payment of £375.

“I think we were the better team (at Banstead Athletic) last Tuesday, they had a very soft penalty against us. I think the ref was the only person in the ground who thought it was a penalty!

“We should’ve put them to bed last Tuesday so it was good to get the two goals and relax a little bit – until they nicked one back.”

Bearsted striker Jordan Ababio and their two wingers, Stace (left) and Charlie Hatton (right) were a threat, especially with their pace and Bearsted’s midfielders often pinged precise 60-yard diagonals so their wide-men could work the visiting full-backs.

The Bears created their first opening inside the opening eight minutes when left-back Tom Penfold fed Stephen Hafner, who rolled the ball out to Hatton on the right and his cross was met on a hooked half-volley from Harrison Hatfull, which bounced once and was gathered at the second attempt by visiting keeper Billy Wilson.

Stevens said: “We wanted to go out and set the tempo and be on the front foot and press them high.  They play quite a high line and we kept on turning them and I thought we were really good and we should’ve come in three or four up.”

Bearsted continued on the front foot and Penfold’s deep cross from the left was cut back by Hatton and a first-time cross from right-back Giorgio Russo gave Hafner a chance to tee up Ababio, who poked his shot past the foot of the near post from six-yards.

Ababio passed up a glorious chance to give his side a deserved lead at the half-way mark and will need to work on his shooting before the weekend as the standard of the defenders that he will be facing will be going up a notch.

Hatfull was inside the Bearsted half and his through ball split open the Banstead right-back Kailan North and centre-back Stephen Newman.

Last defender Alex Stingelin came across and Ababio rode his last-ditch sliding tackle but Ababio lost composure once inside the box with only the keeper to beat, lashing his woeful right-footed shot high and wide and into the horses field behind the goal.

“He’s a young lad Jordan and he went off to Faversham for a little while during pre-season and he’s come back to us after being here last year but he’s a young lad who will get better and better.  We’re working with him a lot, on that finishing part of his game,” said Stevens.

“I used to watch him play for our under 18s every Sunday and he had loads of chances and not put them away but he’s getting better and better at that so that will come.”

Bearsted kept knocking on the door and Stace’s mazy run saw him weave past three defenders before he was chopped down by Newman on the edge of the box.

However, Russo’s curling free-kick from 24-yards went around the four-man wall and bounced in front of the keeper, who spilled the ball but Hatfull couldn’t pounce on the loose ball.

Banstead Athletic offered very little in an attacking sense during the opening 30 minutes but good wing-play down the left by Emmanuel Akitou saw him draw a foul from Russo.

However, James Bell’s right-footed drilled free-kick from within the left-channel bounced comfortably into the hands of untested home keeper Tom Barnes at his near post.

Bearsted deservedly took the lead in the 35th minute, courtesy of Banstead Athletic switching off at a left-wing corner.

Hatfull cut the ball back to Hafner, 38, who was in oceans of space to sweep in a deep cross from the left towards a crowded far post and Majayegbe rose to bury his downward header across the keeper and bouncing in to the bottom far corner.

Majayegbe, 19, formed an impressive pairing at the back alongside Adesina Luqman.  There’s so many talented footballers in the ninth-tier of English football in the ever-so-strong Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division.

Stevens said: “Lekan’s got that in his locker. Again, he’s a young lad who’s getting better and better. He was unlucky to get sent-off (at Chatham Town) on Saturday. I thought he was the best player on the pitch and he was good tonight. He’s always got that in his locker. He’ll come up and gets a lot of chances with his head.

“A couple of teams have had a look at him. He likes it here. He knows he’s going to get better playing here. I think he’s got to get 30-40 games behind him at this level before going off somewhere.” 

Banstead Athletic went close to grabbing an equaliser inside the final couple of minutes of the first-half when Diadier Camara – one of two holding midfielders – slipped in Tamtale, who took a touch before dragging a low left-footed drive across Barnes and just past the far post from 20-yards.

“I thought they had nothing in the first-half and that was really about it,” said Stevens.

“The boys defended exactly how we asked them to. We went there last Tuesday and we limited them to next to nothing but they did come away with a 2-1 lead at half-time, which was disappointing, so we knew we could keep them out.  The boys done really well, stuck to the game plan and they hardly had a sniff other than that.”

There was still time for visiting keeper Wilson to scramble to his left to push away a speculative left-footed drive from 35-yards from Penfold, the Bearsted left-back trying to drill his shot across the keeper and into the bottom far corner.

“That is probably Tom’s best game for us so far this season actually. It’s a shame he had a slight groin strain so we had to bring him off,” added Stevens.

“Tom pops up with goals, before Covid stopped the season last year he had four goals. He can come forward and he can score goals for us.”

Stevens wants his young side to start taking their chances.

“We were happy, happy other than, again, we’re not taking our chances.

“We’ve had chances every game and we’ve just not getting the rub of the green, hitting posts, hitting bars.

“It will happen. We keep saying to each other we’re going to beat a team comfortably one day but yes, it will come.”

Bearsted got off to a dream start to the second half.

Referee Matthew Charles pointed to the spot after Camara was adjudged to have sent Stace crashing to the ground.

Stace got up and drilled his right-footed penalty straight down the middle, which was almost saved by Wilson, who dived to his left and used his legs as he attempted to make the save, as Bearsted deservedly doubled their lead just 88 seconds in.

“Sam’s a young lad who absolutely works his socks off. His work-rate is unbelievable and the work-rate was what got him in that position to get the penalty, which from where I was, I’m not sure it was a pen,” added Stevens.

“I was slightly worried because we had a pen against them last week so slightly worried that the keeper might read it right but again comfortably smashed it down the middle.”

Bearsted produced a sweeping one-touch move inside the final third when Hatfull and substitute left-winger David Baranowski linked up before Stace whipped in a deep cross from the left.

The ball was headed away by Akitou but straight to Russo, who took a touch before rolling a weak shot, which was comfortably gobbled up by Wilson, smothering the shot low to his right.

Hatten hit a ball over the top which Stingelin failed to cut out, inexplicably letting the ball go through his legs, but Ababio drilled his low shot which stung the keeper’s fingers as he grabbed hold of the ball below his knees.

“Young Charlie (Hatten), that was his first start for us tonight.  He’s a 17-year-old who has came from Margate.  Jay Saunders gave him to us for the season and he’ll get better and better so that was a good experience for him tonight,” added Stevens.

Banstead Athletic’s manager Taylor had seen enough by the hour mark and a double substation brought them back from the dead.

Josh-Fitzgerald-Smith slotted in at left-back and pacy left-winger Adrian Markovac proved to be their biggest threat and this upped the performance levels of Tamtale and right-winger Washington Omenyi too.

Stevens said: “That was the only disappointing thing for us at 2-0. I thought we done it at 1-0, we sat back and thought the job was done and I think we started passing it a bit slower and our movement wasn’t good. I thought we done exactly the same at 2-0 and then he (Taylor) made the changes on the hour-mark, brought on two decent players. Actually, I was surprised they didn’t start.”

Banstead Athletic upped their desire levels and tempo and you sensed if they scored one then a second goal would quickly follow, as Bearsted were hanging on for the last 20 minutes or so.

However, Ababio could have put the game out of reach when Hafner’s diagonal released Russo down the right and he put in a great low cross towards the near post where Ababio cut across his marker and poked a first-time shot towards the bottom near corner, forcing Wilson to dive to his right to push towards safety.

Stevens said: “Giorgio’s played right-back today but he normally plays higher for us. His balls (into the box) are absolutely top drawer, they are waiting to be tapped into the back of the net. Jordan was a bit unlucky with that. Their keeper was man-of-the-match last week and I thought he was really good today.”

Banstead Athletic deservedly pulled a goal back inside the final nine minutes, as Bearsted switched off following a short corner down the left.

Ben Geraghty played the ball to substitute Omenyi, who whipped in a cross from the left and striker Tamtale took a touch before drilling a swerving right-footed drive into the roof of the net from 20-yards, giving Barnes no chance.

“Absolutely cracking strike. Someone just said to me ‘should the keeper allowed it’? but it moved all over the place. Yes, it was a good strike. It’s one of those, you can’t really do a lot about,” added Stevens, who admitted he was feeling worried at that time.

“If I’m honest, yes.  That’s been our season so far. We have dominated a lot of games of football, a lot of minutes in those games and that goes in and you’re thinking ‘flipping heck.”

The goalscorer missed a glorious chance to take the game into extra time when Omenyi put in another great cross from the left and this time Tamtale got in behind Majayegbe and Luqman and glanced his free header across the keeper and sailing past the far post from close to the penalty spot.

“I thought that was in, if I’m honest. I thought that was two-two, thank god it wasn’t,” added the Bearsted manager.

“Over the two games, I thought we were the better side I would’ve thought, especially first half here.  We should’ve put it out of sight in the first-half.

“We were clinging on a little bit but we’ve played better and come away with nothing, so it’s good, we’re in the next round on Saturday.”

Bearsted successfully navigated through six minutes and three seconds of time added on to set up a home tie against higher league opposition on Saturday.

Burgess Hill Town opened their campaign with a 3-1 defeat away to Tommy Warrilow’s Ashford United last Saturday and come here sitting in the bottom four after just 90 minutes of football.

Stevens will now expect an email from his scout on Wednesday morning.

“We sent someone to do a report on that game on Saturday and I haven’t actually asked him for the report yet because I didn’t want to tempt fate.

“I’ve kept an eye on them since we might have them in the draw so they’ve done well in pre-season. They’re in the league above and I think we can compete with teams in that league for definite.

“We’ve got to be a bit better in the last 30 minutes but we’re looking forward to it. We’re in the next round of the Cup so how can you not look forward to it?”

“It’s massive, it’s massive (winning tonight).  We don’t have much of a budget here, as people know. The FA Cup and The FA Vase are massive for us. If we can have little runs in both, it will be great for the club.

“Because it’s a young side they quite often go out and 15-20 minutes the game plan goes out of the window for 10 minutes and then they get back on it again and then we have to rejig at half-time but if they do it right, we’re a good side. I think we can push anyone, so we’re looking forward to it.”

Stevens wants his side to push on in the league when bottom-six side Rusthall visit Honey Lane next Tuesday.

“We’ve got some games that are in and around us really so it’s games we want to win and hopefully we can go on a roll,” said Stevens, whose club have never finished in the top 11 in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division.

“I think we can finish higher than we’ve ever finished. We’ve lost a couple and drawn one but we’ve probably played two of the title favourites (Glebe and Chatham Town).  I think we can get the highest we’ve ever been and the boys think that.  There’s a lot of energy in the squad so yes, if we can get those wins behind us, we can get on a roll.”

Bearsted: Tom Barnes, Giorgio Russo, Tom Penfold (David Baranowski 46), Daniel Melvin, Lekan Majayegbe, Adesina Luqman, Samuel Stace, Harrison Hatfull (Jonathan Rogers 77), Jordan Ababio, Stephen Hafner, Charlie Hatton (Flavio Petrisor 65).
Subs: Ryan Croucher, Callum McCarthy, Ryan Blake, Joel Wakefield

Goals: Lekan Majayegbe 35, Samuel Stace 47 (penalty)

Booked: Giorgio Russo 87

Banstead Athletic: Billy Wilson, Kailan North, Ben Geraghty, Leks Rivers (Washington Omenyi 46), Alex Stingelin, Stephen Newman, Emmanuel Akitou, Diadier Camara, Don de Dieu Tamtale, James Bell (Adrian Markovac 61), Liam Holden (Josh Fitzgerald-Smith 60).
Subs: Aidan Holland, Aran Ammah, Keiran Newman

Goal: Don de Dieu Tamtale 81

Booked: Ben Geraghty 80, Don de Dieu Tamtale 84

Attendance: 146
Referee: Mr Matthew Charles
Assistants: Mr Miles Hewson & Mr Nick Monkman