Cray Valley (Paper Mills) 1-0 Tunbridge Wells - We want to win everything, says Cray Valley boss James Collins

Sunday 27th November 2016
Cray Valley (Paper Mills) 1 – 0 Tunbridge Wells
Location DGS Marine Stadium, Middle Park Avenue, Eltham, London SE9 5HP
Kickoff 27/11/2016 15:00

Kent Reliance Senior Trophy Second Round
Sunday 27th November 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from DGS Marine Stadium

CRAY VALLEY manager James Collins says he wants to lead his side to the Kent Reliance Senior Trophy Final in his first season in charge of the club..

The Millers booked their place in the Quarter-Finals courtesy of Jamie Miller’s first goal of the season as a crowd of 118 were treated to an entertaining game that should have produced more goals.

Collins handed debuts to left-back Timi Osibodu (on loan from Cray Wanderers), winger Tom Youngs (signed after leaving Chatham Town) and winger Dajon Golding (on loan from Phoenix Sports), who impressed in his man-of-the-match performance.

“I’m pleased to get through to the next round of the Cup,” said Collins, who has guided Cray Valley to a top-seven position in the Southern Counties East Football League table with 28 points from 15 games.

“I would’ve taken a 1-0 before the game. Just pleased to get through to the next round, that’s what Cup games are aren’t they? It’s all about winning, it doesn’t matter about the score.”

Tunbridge Wells manager Jason Bourne, who featured in the middle of the park for the last 20 minutes, has guided his home-town club to seven places and 13 points adrift of their hosts.

Bourne said: “It was a little bit of a bizarre one for us today really. We lost Alfie Hall in the warm-up with a hamstring injury. We knew he might be touch and go.  We also had two other players, for reasons beyond our control, didn’t turn up so we were a little bit short today but the boys worked really hard. 

“Luke Hackett played with a tummy bug and he was struggling in the warm-up but he completed the 90 minutes but he was a little bit wary.

“It was a good game of football. Both sides showed a lot of endeavour. It could so easily have been 6-5 to either side.  There were a lot of chances. Both defences were throwing their bodies on the line. We were quick to counter and we made chances through Charlie Cornford and Josh Biddlecombe and equally they did the same with their two wide players and centre forward.

“It was a good game.  Given the circumstances it wasn’t a bad day at the office. We were after a reaction. We didn’t turn up against Holmesdale – all credit to them they did - so today was most important that we got a reaction.”

Cray Valley’s first chance of the game – after only 135 seconds – set the tone for the rest of the game.

Captain Jason Thompson released Denzel Gayle – Tunbridge Wells keeper Steve Lawrence decided to stay on his line – and Gayle twisted and turned Kieron Tarbie, the ball bouncing off the right-back on the by-line before Lawrence made the block before gathering the ball.

Tarbie then played the ball up to Charlie Cornford, the impressive Tunbridge Wells’ striker, whose shot from the edge of the box deflected off Ashley Sains and was gathered by Jordan Carey, who is on loan from crisis club Margate.

Lawrence pulled off a fine double save to prevent dominant Cray Valley from scoring inside the opening seven minutes.

Youngs released Denzel down the left and he whipped in a cross and Golding’s shot was blocked by Lawrence’s legs, who recovered brilliantly to deny Taylor McDonagh following up and tucking the ball home.

Collins said: “Loads of chances, where do you want to start?”

“We tried something different today and I just wanted to see how it worked and I thought we created quite a few chances early on.

“I said to the boys at half-time you score a lot of goals in this league out of mistakes and their chances, for me, in the first half particularly, I felt came from our mistakes where I thought we worked decent openings in the first half. That’s really pleasing and it shows the quality that we’ve got.

“But saying that it was a good save. Their keeper made some good saves, they made some great, great blocks. I think you get that with Tunbridge Wells. I went to watch them against Holmesdale and they threw bodies on the line. They’ve done it for years and years and that’s what they’re about so they’ve blocked a lot and they defended well but we should’ve scored a few more.”

Bourne added: “Steve’s come on a lot in the last 12 months for sure. He’s really developed as a keeper. The club’s been good to him and visa-versa, he’s been good to us.  The kid’s come along. He made a couple of good saves today and that was probably a pick of them.”

Tunbridge Wells weathered the early storm and Ryan Crandley stole the ball from Thompson in midfield before Josh Biddlecombe swept a diagonal cross into Brad Large’s feet, who cracked a first time drive sailing just over the crossbar from 15-yards.

Cornford clipped the ball into the Cray Valley box for Biddlecombe, who was forced into chipping first time over Carey’s head and narrowly wide of the far post as the goalkeeper rushed off his line.

Tunbridge Wells’ central midfielder Tom Mackelden played the ball inside to winger Crandley, who was given time and space to hit a swerving right-footed drive into Carey’s hands from 35-yards.

Bourne added: “Ryan strikes a lovely ball and I think their keeper saw it a bit late and it moved a bit. Their keeper was wrong-footed for a while. He ended up making a good save.” 

A poor clearance from Carey went straight over to Large on the left and he cracked a right-footed dipping drive from 35-yards, which only just missed the target.

This was a good spell from Tunbridge Wells, but Cray Valley scored the decisive goal with 25 minutes and 16 seconds on the clock, started and finished off by Miller.

The holding midfielder won the ball in his own final third and played the ball out to Youngs on the left.  He released Gayle, who shrugged off Hackett on the edge of the box, cut into the box and cut the ball back for Miller to roll his shot into the back of the net from four-yards.

“Jamie Miller actually won the ball back just on the edge of our box just before it went out to Tom, so that’s what we asked him to do. ‘Can you do the box-to-box role today?’ He done exactly what we asked him to do.  I was well pleased for him. He hasn’t been playing recently, he’s found himself out of the side but he’s trained hard. I’ve wanted to get him in for a couple of weeks.”

Bourne added: “A little bit disappointed in the way we conceded really. It’s a midfield runner, I expect us to deal with that. They attack with pace. Tom Youngs’ is a good player and so is Denzel Gayle. We know we had to be at our best to stop that threat  but a midfield runner is a little bit cheap, but it was a good finish.”

MATCH WINNER: Jamie Miller scores his first goal of the season to help Cray Valley reach the Kent Reliance Senior Trophy Quarter-Finals, winning an entertaining game against Tunbridge Wells.
Photo: Alan Coomes

Cray Valley were to be denied a second on the half-hour mark.

Thompson curled his left-footed free-kick towards the top near corner from 30-yards, only for the ball to crash against the crossbar before Tunbridge Wells cleared the ball away.

Collins was full of praise of the former Whyteleafe midfielder.

“I was going to let him have a shot there, he’ll score one of those.  I think he’s made a career out of it and he hasn’t scored one for us yet!

“That was probably his best game for us. He came at the beginning of the season. He went to Guildford to get some games and he’s come in and he died at the end a little bit but he got another 90 minutes now and I thought he showed some touches of real class today.”

“I’m not sure if Stevie got a piece on that but it was a nice strike,” said Bourne.

“It never looked like it was going to go in, but it came off the bar and fell kindly for us for the rebound.”

Cornford put in an impressive performance up front for Tunbridge Wells.  He cut inside towards the edge of the Miller’s penalty area and his left-footed drive brought a full-stretch save out of Carey, diving low to his left.

Bourne said: “Charlie is a real find. He was literally playing park football in Hastings. Mark Stapley lives down there and he’s picked him up from there. He came in last season briefly but it wasn’t for him at the time due to personal circumstances but he’s come back and he’s a real livewire. He’s raw, presses. He was great in the air and two or three times today he got something out of nothing and hit some well struck bits from the edge of the box.”

Large hung over a cross into the Cray Valley box from the left and Crandley steered his header towards the far post and Biddlecombe just couldn’t bundle the ball over the line despite his best efforts as Carey scrambled the ball away.

Cray Valley striker Gayle swept his 20-yard shot bouncing into Lawrence’s hands as the game edged towards half-time.

Tunbridge Wells’ left-back Joe Adams floated in a free-kick but central defender Hackett’s back-header from 18-yards sailed into Carey’s hands for a comfortable catch.

Cray Valley squandered a glorious chance to double their lead in the 40th minute.

Thompson, who bossed the middle of the park, released Gayle through on goal after he shrugged past Hackett on the edge of the box.  He skipped past the advancing keeper, took the ball wide and lacked composure as he steered his left-footed shot past the near post of an open goal from a tight angle eight-yards out.

“I’m always more critical of defenders than I am strikers because you can’t expect them to score every chance, but he should’ve done better and he should score more goals,” said Collins.

“He’s such a threat but he’s been so good for us this year. It was a great run. He caused them problems, particularly in the first half.  Yes, he should’ve done better, he knows that, but no-one means to miss a chance, do they?”

Bourne admitted: “I don’t know what happened there but he’ll probably be able to tell you better!

“He done the hard bit, he probably took it a little bit too wide, took it on his wrong foot and we got away with it a little bit and we were approaching half-time so it was good to go in at one.”

Cray Valley created the last chance of the first half when Steve Springett whipped in a long ball from the half-way line into the box where McDonagh nipped in front of Lawrence to glance his header past the left-hand post.

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break.

“At half-time, I went through the positives first,” said Collins.

“I thought we played some really, really good football. I think if anyone was here would be quite impressed. That’s how I felt and there has been enough games this season where we haven’t been like ourselves.

“I was really, really pleased going forward, I thought we looked good, but we just struggled a little bit with the dirty side of the game. We didn’t defend as well as we could, which is strange because we kept a clean sheet, but usually we don’t concede many chances against us.”

Bourne added: “We said to the boys we wanted them to manage the game.  When the tempo’s high, you sometimes don’t show enough intelligence to slow it down at times and going in at the break at one instead going gung-ho at two.

“I’m pretty pleased with them. It’s all about work-rate today and all about working hard to show what the club means to them and they want to play for me and that’s the most important thing. I saw that today.”

Cray Valley made a tactical change at the break with Peter Smith going off at the break, with McDonagh slotting in at right-back, while Jamie Wood playing the holding midfield role in front of the back four.

Thompson swung in the home side’s first corner of the game after 62 seconds but Ashley Sains came up from the back to send his towering header over.

Please can a club that play in the Ryman Premier League, Vanarama National League South and Premier take a chance on former Dartford Academy winger Golding, who is miles better than this level.

Golding twisted and turned Adams down the right and pulled back a cross for Thompson to smack a left-footed volley screaming just over the crossbar from 20-yards.

“Great technique, great goal that would’ve been if it had gone in,” said Collins.

“Dajon was a threat and JT showed touches of real class today and that would’ve been a great goal. If weren’t to be but it was another shot.”

Cornford also showed that he’s got talent, twisting and turning down the right before drilling a shot towards the top near corner from a tight angle, forcing Carey to beat the ball away high to his left.

Bourne said: “It was a good. Charlie done really well. He got a nice turn in there. Again, he made something out of nothing. Nice turn, found himself an angle. He had no right to shoot there really. The keeper had to work hard to keep it out but it was a good strike, a very good strike.”

Collins added: “He’s a really, really good goalkeeper and a really good lad. He was at Brentford’s under 18s up until last year and he went to Margate and he’s on loan from Margate.  He can be as good as he wants to be but sometimes he gets bored and starts rushing out and doing  things but second half I thought he was excellent.  He got spoken to at half-time and he reacted really well and he made a couple of good saves second half to keep us in it.”

Hackett swept a precise 60-yard diagonal pass out of defence to release Biddlecombe down the right channel and his left-footed angled drive was saved comfortably by Carey.

Wood floated in a free-kick from the half-way line into the Tunbridge Wells’ penalty area but Sains’ back-header sailed into Lawrence’s hands from 12-yards.

Cray Valley missed another glorious chance to put the game to bed in the 62nd minute.

Golding’s pace and skill saw him cut in past four red-shirted defenders before slipping the ball through to Youngs, who just couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet inside the box.  He poked the ball on the outside to Thompson, who left unmarked some 10-yards from goal sweep his left-footed shot straight at Lawrence, who smothered the shot low to his left.

“If it falls to anyone, it would’ve been him.  Nine times out of 10 I think he scores. He hasn’t scored for us yet.  Once he scores I think he’ll go on a bit of a run,” said Collins.

Bourne added: “Again, Steve didn’t have to work that hard really. It was a good chance that they could’ve put the game to bed there at that stage of the game. It was sort of going to-and-throw wasn’t it? We were having an attack and they were.  For me they were the side that put their feet on the ball and dictated play.”

Bourne came on with 20 minutes remaining as Tom Bryant was helped off with an ankle injury and the club’s longest-serving stalwart immediately got involved from within his unusual central midfield position.

He clipped a long ball down the right channel for Biddlecombe to crack a right-footed half-volley from the angle, which was saved low by Carey.

“Unfortunately, it was very much forced upon us. We only had two subs and one of them was me! I’ve never played centre of the park in my life but I had to go in there today. First time I’ve played in a while. It was good. The boys gave me everything. That’s all I ever ask.

“Josh always runs the channels. I pretty much just walked on the pitch. It’s easy to stand there watching and see a pattern of play and people making runs. As it settled down I just hit the channel and Josh was in and we nearly got something out of it.”

Lawrence then made a comfortable save after Gayle cut in from the right towards the edge of the Tunbridge Wells box.

But Tunbridge Wells missed a glorious chance inside the final 10 minutes to equalise.

Cornford released winger Large down the left and he whipped in an inch-perfect cross towards the far post and Biddlecombe found himself in space some 10-yards from goal.  However, his downward header bounced into the grateful hands of Carey.

“He got over it well and he headed it down well, just didn’t quite generate the power,” said Bourne.

“Maybe it goes in either side of the keeper. It makes him work. It was a good chance. We had to take one today and we didn’t. We’re making them, that’s the main thing.”

Collins knew it was a big miss.

“He scores goals as well and I would’ve expected him to score. I mean I didn’t think we were great second half and I think we grounded it out and we lost our way.

“We couldn’t get our foot on the ball. With a few new boys coming in, Dajon (Golding), Tom (Youngs), JT (Thompson) and (Jamie) Miller have not really been playing a lot of football so I thought we looked tired towards the last 15 minutes but you say we should’ve scored. I don’t know how the guy’s kept Tom Youngs’ one of the line! Best goalline clearance I’ve ever seen, I think!”

Tarbie then pinged a diagonal pass to release Biddlecombe down the right channel again but his right-footed angled drive sailed over the crossbar.

Lawrence pulled off a fine low save to his left to prevent Gayle finding the bottom right-hand corner after he cut inside after Youngs’ run and pass.

Bourne floated in a free-kick into the Cray Valley penalty area but saw Hackett glance his header past the left-hand post.

Tunbridge Wells’ left-back Adams pulled off a stunning goal-line headed clearance to deny Cray Valley a late second.

Wood’s long ball sent Golding charging down the left, he cut in (defenders were doubling up on him) and his shot was parried by Lawrence, diving low to his left and Youngs’ shot was destined to hit the back of the net, only for Adams to launch himself at the ball to head the ball off the line.

Bourne added: “Either side of Joe and it’s a goal! Joe done well. He stood up big, he commanded his area and it was a real good block.”

Cornford almost capped off a great performance with a goal at the death but he clipped his shot straight at Carey from the edge of the box after Biddlecombe’s pass through the heart of the pitch.

Collins is looking forward to their Quarter-Final tie and wants to guide the Eltham based club to the Final.

“I’ve said to you before, I want to win everything that we’re in.  We had a little cup run when I was at Sutton Athletic and I said to the boys Cup Finals are brilliant days.  Everyone remembers Cup Finals.  Let’s see how far we can get.  It's a one-off game. It doesn’t really matter how you play. Let’s just make sure we get the win.”

Bourne knows a club on Tunbridge Wells’ stature should not be three points clear of the relegation zone.

“The league’s our bread and butter and we need to just finish as high as we can.”

Cray Valley (Paper Mills): Jordan Carey, Peter Smith (Jamie Wood 46), Timi Osibodu (Danny Smith 75), Taylor McDonagh, Ashley Sains, Steve Springett, Jason Thompson, Jamie Miller (Zac Bryon 57), Denzel Gayle, Tom Youngs, Dajon Golding.
Subs: Max Williams, Tom Fitzgerald

Goal: Jamie Miller 26

Booked: Peter Smith 38, Jamie Miller 51, Ashley Sains 88

Tunbridge Wells: Steve Lawrence, Kieron Tarbie, Joe Adams, Tom Bryant (Jason Bourne 70), Luke Hackett, Perry Spackman, Ryan Crandley (Jay Prem 76), Tom Mackelden, Josh Biddlecombe, Charlie Cornford, Brad Large.
Subs: Connor Pring, Alfie Hall, Michal Czanner

Booked: Josh Biddlecombe 23, Perry Spackman 37, Charlie Cornford 82

Attendance: 118
Referee: Mr Richard Joss (Margate)
Assistants: Mr Ryan Chantrill-Smith & Mr James Paternoster (Sidcup)

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