Cray Valley (Paper Mills) 4-1 Ashford Town (Middlesex) - The FA Cup is the most prestigious competition that many of these lads are going to play in, says Cray Valley boss Kevin Watson, who targets a record breaking run

Sunday 26th August 2018
Cray Valley (Paper Mills) 4 – 1 Ashford Town (Middlesex)
Location Badgers Sports Ground, Middle Park Avenue, Eltham, London SE9 5HT
Kickoff 26/08/2018 15:00

The Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round
Sunday 26 August 2018
Stephen McCartney reports form Middle Park Avenue

CRAY VALLEY (Paper Mills) manager Kevin Watson says he wants to guide the club to their furthest run in The FA Cup after humiliating Bostik South Central side Ashford Town (Middlesex).

The Millers reached the First Qualifying Round for only the second time in six years playing in the competition after an impressive 4-1 win on a wet day, watched by a crowd of only 87.

Watson’s side are in the top-five in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with 7 points from four games and have now scored 21 goals in their first six games and their three front men easily got on the scoresheet against Ben Murphy’s side.

Joe N’Guesan opened the floodgates inside the opening nine minutes before Denzel Gayle doubled their advantage before the break.

Kevin Lisbie, 39, added a third just before the hour before Ashford Town rallied and pulled a consolation goal back from attacker Bradley Wilson.

Lisbie slotted in his eighth goal of the season to send Cray Valley through to the next round, where the Bostik Premier Division sides enter the competition.

Ashford Town (Middlesex) arrived in Eltham with their third person in goal, having opened their Bostik South Central campaign with a 1-1 draw against Hertford Town, before winning 4-2 at Chipstead.  Watson watched their 1-0 home defeat to Hayes & Yeading in the Velocity Trophy in midweek.

Watson picked up that Ashford Town’s back four were slow, their players lacked desire when things quickly went downhill for them and Cray Valley’s football on the deck was a joy to watch and their higher-league opponents just didn’t have the quality to prevent a FA Cup upset.

“Pleased to progress in the competition, that was our target, to win two games in the competition and see what draw we get because that was what the club done last season,” said Watson, during the post-match press conference from inside the physio room.

“We didn’t really do ourselves justice last season in the sense we went to Leatherhead and got stuffed 6-0 but I think we’re a completely different outfit this season in many respects so if we get such a fixture it will be interesting to see how we do.

“Ashford Town are in the league above.  We played some opposition in the league above, we played Folkestone (two levels above), Sittingbourne and Cray Wanderers in pre-season. One of the reasons you do that is because I do think when you play teams in the league above the style is sometimes quite different, I think the physicality is sometimes quite different.

“I went to watch them in preparation for this. I don’t think they were a poor team.  I think we was good in some aspects of our game.

“What’s pleasing for me is we are improving and the players are starting to understand and believe information that’s being given to them.  We put quite a lot into the preparation in terms of this so I’m pleased that we’ve got a clear conscience in terms of our preparation and showed certain aspects worked.”

Cray Valley have now scooped £5,140 in prize money, having beaten Eastbourne Town (3-2) and Ashford Town (Middlesex) in The FA Cup so far.

“The club haver been very good, they haven’t said to me there’s any pressure to do anything in the cup competitions, it’s not priority,” revealed Watson.

“As a manager it’s important in competitions like this where we talk about the sort of moments in a players’ career that they can have and the memories and I think cup competitions can bring that, especially The FA Cup.  It’s the most prestigious competition that many of these lads are going to play in.

“We’ve got some experienced lads who have been very successful in their careers up to this point.”

Cray Valley opened the scoring with their first attempt, the goal timed at eight minutes and 28 seconds on the clock.

Ryan Flack, who was a right wing-back but it was obvious for the 69 minutes that he was on the pitch he preferred attacking rather than slotting in a defensive position.

Flack slipped a ball through, he received a lucky deflection and the ball flashed into N’Guessan’s path and keeper Tyler Tobin went to ground too early and the striker slotted his first time right-footed shot sweetly into the bottom far corner from 16-yards on the angle.

“Really good finish.  The important thing, the position he plays in and it’s something he aspires to add goals to his game,” said Watson.

“He’s a phenomenal player in many respects, technically extremely good but he’s enjoying his football. He’s one of those players that spent a long time in the game from a youth level and progressing and aspiring to play as a professional etc and done so to a certain extent but these sort of players you have to be patient with them.  He can be one of the best players out on the pitch and he thrives of that.”

Cray Valley almost doubled their lead just five minutes later when Flack strode forward before releasing Gayle down the right. He cut inside Ben Bowers and put the ball on a plate for N’Guessan, who swept his first time shot towards goal from 10-yards, forcing Tobin to make a block with his left-leg.

“I don’t think Joe done a lot wrong with that one,” said Watson.

“Denzel, that’s him to a tee, that’s his trademark sort of thing, one-on-one.  Not only beats his man, gets the other side of him, got his head up, which was pleasing. A good ball to the edge of the box, Joe got good contact on the ball and I think it’s a good save by the goalkeeper. He’s used his trailing leg, he’s gone the wrong way.”

Ashford Town were enjoying plenty of possession but Cray Valley were clinical in front of goal.

The visitors created an opening in the 14th minute when Wilson centred from the right-hand side of the penalty area and striker James Cottee’s swept shot at the near post was gathered at the second attempt by Andy Walker, low to his left.

Watson said:  “Walks is important for us, a good save there. I think we limited their chances in the first half, especially as they were going down the slope, with a little bit of momentum with the wind.”

The Millers produced a nice move down the left, involving N’Guessan, Danny Smith and Anthony Edgar before left-wing-back Smith cut into the box and pulled the ball back for Jack White to flick his shot across the keeper and past the far post from a couple of yards inside the box.

Cray Valley doubled their lead with 36 minutes and 5 seconds on the clock.

Lisbie fed the ball into Flack, who split open Tom Dilloway (left-back) and centre half Bowers to put Gayle through on goal and he slotted the ball across and underneath the keeper from 15-yards.

“Good finish from Denzel,” added Watson.

“It’s difficult from those angles sometimes as a forward but I’m pleased with him.  I think that was always going to be a threat and we done that quite often today.  We’ve got that ability from midfield positions to play those sort of passes and if we time our runs right, I think they were quite square at times at the back and possibly lacked a little bit of pace and that was something that we wanted to exploit.

“Some of our players can play at their level that Ashford are playing at.”

Walker made a vital save literally three seconds before the half-time whistle was blown by referee Christopher Myatt.

Kofi Lockhart-Adams found space inside the penalty area and played a fine diagonal pass to an unmarked Tommy Brunton on the other side of the box and he hit a left-footed angled drive from 15-yards, forcing Walker to dive to his left to push the ball towards safety.

“You’re never going to go through a game without teams having some moments and I think that was important at half-time that I got that message across,” said Watson.

“The game will change in certain aspects and we have to go out there.  The performance the other day against Tunbridge Wells (winning here 5-1 in the league) was more of a complete performance than today but people will look at today, 4-1 against higher opposition and they’ll assume we played better.

“Defensively, Ashley Sains was absolutely outstanding! Everything that came into the box he headed and cleared but you still need your defenders. They will have opportunities and you still need your defenders and goalkeeper to be on it.”

When asked about his half-time prep-talk, Watson replied: “We spoke about the tempo that we needed to start the game in the second half, that’s clear.  We spoke about the way we were playing out from the back and how we could possibly be less risky and what was working for us.

“It’s more mentality with players.  If you’re 2-0 up, if they relax and you go in and you tell them how well they’ve done, the human response is more relaxed so it was important for them to understand yes, while they’ve done well to get to that position, it is only that, half-time.”

Cray Valley raced into a 3-0 lead with 13 minutes and 38 seconds on the clock.

N’Guessan slipped a through ball through the heart of the Ashford defence to put Lisbie through on goal.  His pace easily took him past last-defender Baigens and showed composure to dummy the keeper before slotting the ball into the empty net from 10-yards.

“The moment Joe put that through to a certain extent you’re confident he’s going to score,” added Watson.

“It’s not that easy what he’s ended up having to do because you’ve got the defender chasing back and the defender’s gone one way so if he goes the wrong way around the goalkeeper and the defender recovers there but the composure is what it is.  It’s what he does well, a great finish and good play from Joe, the timing of the ball was very good.”

Murphy’s men upped their desire levels despite the scoreline and started to have a go and they pulled a goal back with 18 minutes and 57 seconds on the clock, thus denying the Millers their first clean sheet of the season.

Cottee fed Lockhart-Adams, who cut past substitute centre half Tommy Osborne and he curled the ball over the stretching Walker and Wilson nipped in front of Flack at the back post to slide the ball into the bottom right-hand corner.

“Frustrating that we’re not keeping clean-sheets.  That’s something that we spoke about. We set ourselves a target of how many we need to keep but we’re scoring goals, it is frustrating,” said Watson.

“I was expecting a game where they were going to throw things forward and that’s why the game opened up and we had more chances and we should’ve had more goals.

“I think there were a couple of minutes where possibly we have to learn and get our shape but something we’ve started doing is videoing the games and that’s been really helpful as a management team to reflect and show the players.”

Gayle comfortably sped past Bowers down the left and cut into the box only for his shot to be blocked by Tobin’s left-leg as he came out to narrow the angle.

Watson said: “Denzel was unlucky there.  I think he’s been quite intelligent in terms of his touch got away from him a little bit. We’ve had quite a few chances at the end that we should’ve finished.”

Brunton rolled the ball to outside the D and Ashford right-back Steve Loveridge had a burst of energy to get to the ball first, only to hit a woeful shot high over the crossbar.

Walker made a fine double save to frustrate Ashford Town.

Wilson floated over a cross from the right and Lockhart-Adams brought the ball down and under control and his right-footed angled drive was parried by Walker, who used his right leg to prevent Wilson scoring from the follow-up, despite shrugging off a shirt pull from his marker inside the box.

“I’ve said that in there and that’s credit to him.  I wouldn’t have another goalkeeper over him that I know off and he’s aware of that,” said Watson.

“Here’s another one here for good reasons and good intensions but that’s his job in the team almost. Everyone has got a job in the team and if he didn’t do that, that would be a bit of a concern but absolutely he filled that out to a really high standard.”

The Millers sealed their victory with their fourth goal timed at 39 minutes and 59 seconds.

Substitute right-wing-back Nathan Palmer released Gayle down the right and he cut the ball back from inside the channel to Lisbie to sweep a first time shot over the keeper’s right-shoulder from 25-yards.

Watson revealed Lisbie, who played eight seasons in the Premier League for his first club Charlton Athletic up until 2007, does not get a goal bonus.

When asked why the star-striker is playing at this level of football, Watson replied: “It’s very difficult to explain and I get asked this question, I think there’s an assumption somebody that has had the career he’s had, he’s maybe could be perceived as arrogant, that’s what people will think.

“I think the important thing with Lisbie is one of the reasons we got him in. He’s always had to work hard in his career and in life and if someone’s had to do that, that’s within them.

“He’s come here to work, you would’ve heard from the side he’s treated no different in a sense.  He misses that opportunity at the end, it could’ve been perceived as not crucial at the point and scoreline of the game at the time.

“He does things properly, he’s 39 and he’s fit and he plays two games a week so some of the younger lads can’t do that and that’s the conditioning of his body and that’s what you need to do. He works extremely hard on that. If you follow him on social media he’s in the gym and he’s working with his sons, coaching his sons all the time and I think that’s a really important message without a shadow of a doubt.

“The boys like his presence in the changing room and he takes it on the pitch as well.

“He wants to win games, he’s here to win games, he’s here to win things with this club. His life would be easier, trust me, it would be an easier option for him not to be here but he’s here for a reason.”

Loveridge floated over a deep cross into the Millers penalty area for Cottee to bring down at the far post before prodding a deflected shot which was gobbled up by Walker, low to his left.

Lisbie was denied a hat-trick when Gayle played a one-two with Smith down the left before playing the ball inside for an unmarked Edgar to sting Tobin’s fingers with a rasping drive from 25-yards but Lisbie clipped his first time shot across the keeper and just past the far post from the rebound.

“It’s not just about what he brings to the game in terms of his all-round game, it’s not just about scoring goals,” Watson said on Lisbie.

“He’s out penalty taker and he gave a penalty to Joe N’Guessan against Tunbridge Wells to score. If he was that concerned about being the top goalscorer, scoring hat-tricks, anything like that, he’ll be asking for a goal-bonus, which he doesn’t get!”

Lockhart-Adams fed Cottee, who dug the ball out from under his feet inside the box, but Walker denied him by making another low save at the end of a very impressive performance and result from Cray Valley.

“When you look at when the draws done, it’s just regret if you’re not through, but we’ll see what it throws up,” said Watson.

“Let’s see what it throws up.  If we get a team in our own level, great, you’d take that all day long but nothings a given. It would be nice to progress another level, that’s what I’d like to do, really like us to go one more round.

“I think the club had no agenda or stage we had to get to but within management if we hadn’t won two games in the competition, regardless who we were playing, we thought we’ve done an injustice but I think deep down we want to go beyond that because the club haven’t in however long.”

Cray Valley (Paper Mills): Andy Walker, Ryan Flack (Nathan Palmer 69), Danny Smith, Ashley Sains, Jack White, Cem Tumkaya (Tommy Osborne 62), Joe N’Guessan (Jake Rose 88), Josh James, Denzel Gayle, Kevin Lisbie, Anthony Edgar.
Subs: Callum Willock, Ethan Okechukwu, Mohamed Deen, Harry Kemp

Goals: Joe N’Guessan 9, Denzel Gayle 37, Kevin Lisbie 59, 85

Booked: Ashley Sains 61

Ashford Town (Middlesex): Tyler Tobin, Steve Loveridge, Tom Dilloway, Scott Weight (Elliott Poley 88), Adam Baigent, Ben Bowers (Leo Decabo 81), Bradley Wilson, Max Webb, James Cottee, Kofi Lockhart-Adams, Tommy Brunton (Warren Thomas 85).
Subs: Nebay Haile, Tristian Noel

Goal: Bradley Wilson 64

Booked: Scott Weight 45, James Cottee 67

Attendance: 87
Referee: Mr Chris Myatt (Dartford)
Assistants: Mr Dean Markwick (Romford, Essex) & Mr Josh Gilham (Welling)