We will again be complete underdogs for the Hebburn FA Vase Semi-Final match, but we have shown a steely resilience and determination again this season and I would not put anything past this group of players, says proud Corinthian boss Michael Golding
CORINTHIAN manager Michael Golding says he is feeling immensely proud of his players after keeping their Wembley dream alive at the weekend.
Corinthian booked their place in The Buildbase FA Vase Semi-Finals for the first time after beating Leighton Town 4-3 in a pulsating clash at Gay Dawn Farm.
“I am immensely proud of the fact that we have guided Corinthian into the last four of a national cup competition,” said Golding.
“I think you always hope that you can have a good run in the Vase, but you never really expect it to get this far. Particularly when you look at the run of games we have had and the calibre of opposition we have faced, we have been the underdogs in every round so far except against Leighton, which sums up how hard we have had to work to get to where we are now.
“The overriding feeling and emotion at the moment is just how proud I am of the players and everyone at the club for the efforts they have put into this run.
“Special mention must go to the management team (Sam, Jon, Jake, Meghan and Ellie), the time and effort they have put into not only the Vase run but the whole season has been immense and it is a privilege to have such a good team around me and it certainly would not have been possible without them.”
Reflecting on the game, Golding said: “The match against Leighton was a pure rollercoaster of emotions, we started very well with Jack Billings scoring a fantastic goal, but then immediately didn't defend a long set-piece to go back level.
“Luke Tanner then scored immediately from the restart and despite having the goal advantage, we never really got going and Leighton dominated the half.
“It must be said that for me Leighton are the best side we have played this season and the front four in particular were full of quality and it was a great battle with our defenders throughout.
“To concede straight after half-time was disappointing and then to go 3-2 down (although replays have shown this goal was offside) with just 25 minutes remaining, it looked like we were beat, the match reminded me of the Fisher SCEFL Challenge Cup Semi-Final Second Leg from last season, where nothing really happened or fell for us until the 90th minute.
“Sam Groombridge made the call to make the two subs, bringing on Josh Stirman and George Snelling which gave us a massive lift and then when we equalised through Jack Bath, it felt as though the momentum of the game changed and there was only going to be one side to go on and win it.
“The pure joy and relief when Emmanuel Oloyede scored in the 90th minute was incredible!
“It was tough for Leighton to take, as it was a fixture that both sides will argue they didn't deserve to lose.
“It was a somewhat strange feeling at full-time, Sam and I were clearly delighted to have progressed and ultimately that is what cup football is all about, but the performance levels left us feeling a little flat, however, to win and progress playing nowhere near the level we are capable of, is the sign of a good side and I would certainly rather have played how we did and progressed than play well and go out at this stage.
“I am delighted for everyone at the club, I have said over and over again, the Vase isn't about me or the management team, it is for; the players, the people behind the scenes at the club and ultimately our small band of supporters that follow us each week.
“I know the players appreciate them all giving up their time to come and watch us and cheers us on, so to celebrate with them at the final whistle was special and will live long in the memory. You could see how much it meant to each of them and I was just so happy to be able to share that moment with them.”
Corinthian return to the bread and butter of a domestic title race as they welcome Chatham Town to Gay Dawn Farm tonight.
Beckenham Town are sitting at the summit of the Sea Pioneer Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with 57 points on the board with 10 league games remaining.
Chatham Town are in second-place with 53 points (with 10 games remaining).
Corinthian are in third-place with 52 points (with 12 games remaining) and Sheppey United (51 points with 11 games remaining) and Tunbridge Wells (43 points with 14 games remaining) are also involved in the title race.
“The focus for the next seven days will very much be SCEFL orientated with three incredibly tough fixtures, starting with one of the favourites to win the league Chatham Town,” said Golding.
“They have hit a great run of form since we beat them in the FA Vase back at the start of January and tonight will be an incredibly tough fixture for us.
“All we can do is hope that we continue our recent run of good results and get back to performing at the level I know we are capable of, the pressure in this game is on Chatham and the emphasis is very much on them to have to come and win the game.”
Corinthian then play home games against Bearsted (14 March) and Fisher (17 March) before their make-or-break FA Vase Semi-Final two-legged showdown with Hebburn Town.
Hebburn Town are currently in third-place in the Northern League table with 61 points from 30 games, 16 points adrift of leaders Stockton Town.
The first-leg takes place at Gay Dawn Farm on Saturday 21 March, while the second-leg has been made an ALL-TICKET affair seven days later.
The winners will play Bitton or Consett at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 17 May 2020.
“We have the prospect of Hebburn Town in a two-legged Semi-Final, which could not be any tougher, they are the overwhelming favourites to win the competition,” said Golding.
“We will have done our homework on them by the time the fixture comes around and we will just need to hope for that little bit of luck and quality in the first leg that will give us something to play for when we travel north the following week.
“Hebburn have been in contact with us and instructed that due to the international break, it is highly likely the event will be a 3,000 capacity sell out, which will be a great platform for our players to go and experience.
“We will again be complete underdogs for the match, but we have shown a steely resilience and determination again this season and I would not put anything past this group of players.”
Corinthian v Chatham Town
Sea Pioneer Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Tuesday 10 March 2020
Kick Off 7:45pm
at Gay Dawn Farm, Valley Road, Fawkham, Longfield, Kent DA3 8LY