Cray Valley (Paper Mills) 5-0 VCD Athletic - We’ve got players that thought they were Premiership players and they ended up looking like Sunday players tonight, says dumbfounded VCD Athletic boss Keith McMahon

Tuesday 28th January 2020
Cray Valley (Paper Mills) 5 – 0 VCD Athletic
Location Badgers Sports Ground, Middle Park Avenue, Eltham, London SE9 5HT
Kickoff 28/01/2020 19:45

Isthmian League South East Division
Tuesday 28 January 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Middle Park Avenue

FURIOUS VCD Athletic manager Keith McMahon insists he will not put up with a repeat of his side’s “dog sh*t” performance after suffering a humiliating defeat at promotion-chasing Cray Valley (Paper Mills).

McMahon swore nine times during his seven-and-a-half-minute post-match interview after his side put in a performance that was lacking “fight and determination” and he issued an apology to the club in what will go down as the worst performance from a McMahon team in his entire management career.

Cray Valley (Paper Mills) climbed up a place into fourth in the Isthmian League South East Division table with 39 points on the board from their 22 games, while their Crayford based visitors' are languishing in thirteenth-place with 29 points from their 23 league outings.

The Millers raced into a two-goal lead inside the opening 23 minutes, courtesy of Denzel Gayle and an own-goal from Vickers centre-half Temi Eweka, who was withdrawn at the interval.

McMahon changed his formation to three-at-the-back for the second half but his side easily fell apart as striker Gavin Tomlin, 36, scored twice before centre-half Ashley Sains used his head to score following their seventh and final corner of the night.

“Absolutely s**t! There you go, simple as. I think that’s all I can say.  I think the score line flattered us,” admitted McMahon, whose side have now lost three games on the spin.

“Over the whatever years I’ve been here, I don’t think I’ve seen a performance like that!

“I said over the last few months we’ve been playing well. One bad game against Hythe (losing 3-0 on 14 December), we weren’t as bad as that!

“We set-up with a game plan and no one followed it. I think the only one that tried was Jack Steventon at the back and Nick Blue’s kept us in it. They got five but they should’ve got another five. 

“We gave them five back-passes, clear on goal, one-on-ones, FIVE in a game, f****ng ridiculous!

“I don’t know what’s gone on. I’m sitting there scratching my head. I’ve just said to them the first time in 23 years’ I’ve sat down for the last 20 minutes of the game because whatever I tried telling them, they’ve just done the opposite and it ain’t good enough!

“I’ve apologised to the club. If I was the chairman now I’ll be sitting there watching that going what the f*** has just happened!

“We’ve got some good players and they just didn’t follow anything that we’ve asked them to do and I don’t even think they had to do much to beat us.  I can’t say they were good, we were just absolute dog s**t, simple as!”

Cray Valley boss Kevin Watson added: “Pleased first and foremost to get three points. I think the score line, I know goal-difference and things like that can be important but you win 1-0 or you win 5-0 it’s still three points, isn’t it?

“Look, we’ve had a tough time recently, we’ve obviously had quite a good start. We always look at the performance over the result. It’s been frustrating recently but the last three performances, including tonight have been quite good.

“Faversham (0-0) was quite good.  I thought we probably deserved to win the game if you look at the performance and missing chances and then we was good on Saturday (beating Ashford United here 3-1), so it was important after Saturday playing against Ashford that we could keep that desire up. Desire has been a key word for us recently.”

McMahon gave Bode Anidgbe his debut having snapped him up from struggling league rivals Ramsgate and he set the tone for a miserable night for VCD Athletic after only 170 seconds into the game.

Anidugbe played a disastrous back-pass from the left-wing back towards his goalkeeper Nick Blue, which let in Francis Babalola, who dinked the ball over the advancing keeper, before the ball was cleared towards safety before it dropped over the line.

McMahon said: “I think Bode put them through one-on-one, that’s what I mean! We had five back passes, FIVE!  Four of them from our own half on the halfway line!  Just tried to roll it back to Bluey and gave it straight back to their centre-forward on the edge of the box.

“Listen, it’s pointless going through all the chances because you’re going to get the same answer to every question! We were f*****g s**t and you can write that down, I ain’t going to paper over that.  I can’t, I can’t.  There is no excuse, I’m just dumbfounded.”

Cray Valley were on the front foot as they attacked down the slope during a one-sided local derby.

Left-wing-back Danny Smith cut the ball back to Kelvin Morath-Gibbs – who plays on the left-hand-side of a three-man defence and he took a touch before whipping in a cross towards the edge of the box. The ball was flicked on by Gayle and Tomlin’s right-footed chip from 14-yards was caught by Blue, high to his right.

If it wasn’t for Blue’s heroics in the VCD Athletic goal then Cray Valley would have scored at least 10 goals tonight, quite easily.

Cray Valley hit their opponents on the break as Gayle broke down the heart of the pitch before playing the ball out to Tomlin on the right.  His cross was horrendously dealt with by Alastair Gordon, who used his chest in an attempt to play the ball back to Blue.

Babalola had three bites of the cherry to score but on each occasion Blue made fine saves, once to his right, then to his left and then to his right.

“We had some good chances. We have been creating chances and we haven’t been finishing them so it’s been frustrating for us,” added Watson.

“Francis Babalola works very hard; Gavin Tomlin has come into the fold, missed the early part of the season and he’s gaining his match fitness and we can be a threat going forward.”

Gayle released Babalola down the slope with a through ball from the right-wing but this time the striker cut the ball on to his left boot before driving his shot just past the foot of the near post.

Poor defending from VCD Athletic, this time it led to Cray Valley taking a deserved lead with 20 minutes and 21 seconds on the clock.

Smith hit a ball over the top and a poor back header from Vickers’ centre-half Jack Steventon from the edge of the box, saw Blue get his hand to it and as the ball rolled back Gayle won a foot race with his marker to bundle the ball over the line, the ball nestling into the bottom right-hand corner, to score from inside a yard.

“It was like he didn’t want to score it! Denzel scored on Saturday so it was important for him,” said Watson.

“The way we want him to play and his goal record is something that he needs to focus on. It’s pleasing we’ve got a goal from Ashley Sains from a corner so it’s important that people score goals from different areas.”

McMahon said: “Listen, they turned us. We had someone miss-judging the ball.  I thought first half Jack Steventon was outstanding. He was nearly on his own.
They turned us and for the first time he struggled and he got caught ball watching, naïve.

“Listen, fair play to them for getting the game on, they’ve done well with the pitch and with the conditions but it was sticky and we didn’t play the conditions. 

“I think sometimes you think we’ve got players that thought they were Premiership players and they ended up looking like Sunday players tonight and I’m disappointed!

“It’s not a side I put out and tell them what to do but I’m very frank and honest and that performance wasn’t good enough!”

Dominant Cray Valley doubled their lead just 124 seconds later.

The ball was worked over to winger Ryan Flack, who drilled his left-footed shot towards Blue from 20-yards, only for Vickers’ centre-half Eweka to slid in and poke the the ball against the base of the left-hand post and watch his own-goal nestle into the back of his own net.

Watson said: “It was quite good play leading up to that in terms of Flack getting the anticipated (cross) and getting the knock down and you take those goals don’t you.  You shoot, it’s on target, it’s not a bad strike. Ok it takes a deflection but that old cliché, you don’t shoot, you don’t score.”

McMahon added: “Listen, they’ve shot, again they’ve turned us, picked the ball up, shot. It’s hit the kid and gone in the opposite corner. It’s the only one I could maybe say it summed Bluey’s night for him.

“But I felt stick to what we’ve asked, get a goal and you’ve got a chance but I just weren’t happy with the way we were playing. I thought we were trying to play stupid football in stupid areas and they thought they could play five yard passes and it was just awful!”

It should have been three-nil in the 26th minute when Tomlin split open the Vickers defence to put Babalola through on goal but this time Blue stuck out his right leg to make a vital save.

“Nick Blue’s a good goalkeeper. His distribution is one of the best at this level isn’t it. He’s got a bit more about him.  We squandered some chances in the first half, which was frustrating. I thought we could’ve had a couple more,” admitted Watson.

VCD Athletic were so poor that they created just the one goalscoring chance during the first half and it came in the 33rd minute.

Anidugbe played the ball out to left-winger Henry Ikeije, who whipped in a low cross and the ball came out to Gordon, who drilled a first time right-footed drive towards goal from 17-yards, which forced Andy Walker into making a fine reaction save, low to his right.

“He should’ve scored! It was the only chance. The only three passes we’ve put together and he should’ve scored but he didn’t.  It suddenly could’ve got us back into the game,” said McMahon.

Vickers’ holding midfielder George Monger was the next player to be guilty of playing a poor back-pass as his poor pass was intercepted by Babalola, who skipped past keeper Blue and the angle was too tight and his shot was cleared off the line by Eweka, who got back and made a vital block on the near post.

“They should’ve scored to be fair. Every back-pass, when they’ve got a clear one-on-one at our goalkeeper running through with no one to beat they should’ve scored,” admitted McMahon.

McMahon made a double substitution at the break by taking off ineffective right-winger Alex Gaggin and Eweka and bringing on Kelvin Ogboe (striker) and Rob Bartley (centre of a back three).

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break.

Watson said: “Look, 2-0 is not always comfortable is it, so we spoke at half-time and we didn’t speak so much about the first half. We spoke about what we could do in the second half to try to be better and try to improve.

“Going in at 2-0 at half-time was important, they were going to change things weren’t they? They were going to throw stuff at it, like you would when you’re 2-0 down.

“It was a concern because if we didn’t apply ourselves right, there’s a slight slope on the pitch and they had that to their advantage in the second half and we knew that the tempo of the game would be quite strong from their perspective so we had to make sure we had to manage the game.”

McMahon added:  “Listen, just do what I ask!  We changed our shape, we changed the formation, tried to stop the way we played and they didn’t listen so I thought if we could do something and get a goal we’d have a chance.”

Either side of Bartley were Raphe Brown (left) and Steventon (right).

Cray Valley created the first opening of the second half inside the opening seven minutes when they produced a sweeping move.

The impressive Gayle swept the ball over to Matthew Warren, who laid the ball off to Flack, whose right-footed drive from the edge of the box took a deflection as the ball curled around the far post.

Smith delivered the resulting outswinging corner from the right, which was headed away by Bartley and Tomlin cut the ball onto his right boot before rolling a shot into Blue’s hands from 15-yards.

Cray Valley increased their lead by scoring a well-worked goal with nine minutes and 36 seconds on the clock.

Gayle fed Warren down the right channel and he played in a low cross which saw Tomlin nip in front of a sleeping Bartley to sweep his shot into the bottom right-hand corner from six-yards.

Watson said: “Good finish! Decent move, a good ball in from Matthew. That was probably one of the moves in the game where everything went for us. It wasn’t a chance squandered. It was actually a good finish from quite an acute angle.”

McMahon added: “Again, all the same. They just turned us, got into good areas and poor defending.  Like I said we can go through every single goal and it was just dog s**t so we’ve got ourselves away with a 5-0 beating!”

Some majestic play from Tomlin almost saw the home side notch goal number four just 12 and a half minutes into the second half, following corner number four.

Smith played a short corner back to Tomlin, who controlled the ball before using his right boot to chip the ball over Blue from just inside the corner of the box, only for the ball to kiss the top of the crossbar before dropping down and being cleared by a poor VCD Athletic defensive line.

“Gavin’s got that hasn’t he? He’s got that little bit of quality and that was unlucky and was one of the times when he’s made the right decision. Slightly better execution and then it goes in,” said Watson.

VCD Athletic’s second chance of the night came in the 61st minute and 38-year-old goalkeeper Walker was called into action.

Gordon conned the referee by diving over Cem Tumkaya’s challenge in a central position 28-yards from goal and set-piece specialist Monger stroked his left-footed free-kick around the wall and the ball dipped just in front of the diving Walker, who dived to his right to tip the ball around the post for a corner.

“I’ve not got much to say about it. I’m surprised we hit the f*****g target if I’m honest,” snapped McMahon.

“I wouldn’t expect that to go in,” admitted Watson.

“George is a very good set-piece taker but I felt if that goes in from that distance you question things, it’s got to be something very special. It’s a sensible free-kick from George. He’s got good quality when it comes to set-pieces.”

Moor poor defending from Bartley saw him fail to deal with a 30-yard pass which put Tomlin through on goal and Blue pulled off another find save by dealing with the chip.

“He’s done well considering he’s conceded give goals, he’s made some good saves. He did from Francis Babalola in the first half and he did from a few in the second half, he’s a good goalkeeper,” Watson said of Blue, who won the Isthmian League South East Division title with Cray Wanderers last season.

Steventon was guilty for bringing down Millers’ substitute midfielder Emilano Hysi on the very edge of the penalty area inside the D and Tomlin’s right-footed free-kick caressed the top of the roof of the net with 30:29 on the clock.

However, Cray Valley raced into a 4-0 lead with 31:01 on the clock through route-one football, which wasn’t cut out by Steventon.

Millers’ centre-half Tumkaya hit a long ball over the top of Steventon to put Tomlin through on goal and he produced a composed finish by slotting his right-footed shot underneath Blue to roll the ball into the bottom far corner.

Watson said: “He has missed recently, he hasn’t missed that one. It was a very clever finish. He’s hit it first time, he’s side-footed it.

“We know what Gavin’s about don’t we, in terms of his quality in certain areas. I’m pleased for him. No matter where a players’ played and what he’s done previously, they thrive of that energy of scoring goals and he’s a forward so it’s important.”

McMahon added: “Maybe we can look at the starting position but listen the game was dead and buried and it was the same carbon copy. It was the same ball we didn’t deal with. It was just so poor. I’ve got nothing to say!”

Cray Valley claimed the local bragging rights by scoring their fifth goal of the night with 38 minutes and 4 seconds on the clock, following a set-piece.

Hysi delivered a deep corner from the right towards the far post and no one tracked Sains, who buried his free header across the keeper and into the far corner from inside a crowded penalty area.

Watson said:  “Lovely delivery from Emilano and good timing from Ash. Ironically, I said to Ash coming out at half-time ‘a clean-sheet is your priority but a goal would be nice as well’.

“It’s important, we had a few corners and it’s important you’re a threat from corners.”

McMahon said: “Should’ve done better, defending that. I thought we chucked it in at the end and that’s what I’ve said to them.

“It’s the first time I’ve sat here and done an interview and I’m just shocked, you just don’t know what to say. There’s going to be a lot of thinking over the next day or so and there’s going to be a lot of words said at training on Thursday and we’ve got to try and go back to the drawing board but if people ain’t going to listen I don’t expect the club to put up with that – and I definitely won’t!”

It could and should have been six at the death but Blue dived to his left to parry Hysi’s left-footed shot and watched Babalola drag his shot across the keeper and past the far post as the ball fell to him inside the box, completely left unmarked.

This was the worst performance from any McMahon team that he has put out and there has to be a reaction from the players for their trip to Hastings United on Saturday.

Hastings United are top of the Isthmian League South East Division table with 49 points from 22 games.

The four sides in the play-off zone are Ashford United (43 points), Whitehawk (42), Cray Valley (39) and Herne Bay (37 and with a game in hand).

Ben Smith’s Herne Bay came away from Hastings with a goal-less draw tonight.

“I don’t know where that came from, no, not at all. No fight, no desire,” McMahon said on his side’s failure.

“I don’t mind losing games, if we put the effort in. We’ve been playing really well and not getting the rub of the green but tonight I don’t even think they deserve to even wear a shirt, half of them and the club deserves better from what we’ve just got there.

“I stick up for my players’ all season and you can and you’ve got to have fight and determination and listen and we didn’t.

“We’ve got a tough game at Hastings. We ain’t going to play any worse than that are we? Otherwise it would be treble figures!

“We just need to pick ourselves up and get ourselves back on track where we were. I think a lot of people have to have a look at themselves and decide what they want to do.”

Cray Valley, meanwhile, are in a position of winning back-to-back promotions, having clinched the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division title on the last day of the season and are enjoying life playing at this level for the first time.

Watson, meanwhile, takes his side to Whyteleafe on Saturday, a side in sixth-place in the table and with 36 points on the board.

He said: “It is pleasing to get a result like that because we haven’t for some time.  We could have, there’s been potential to but it’s three points and we move on.

“We’ve got some really tough fixtures, we’ve got Whyteleafe coming up and the league table is quite tight, so three points is important.

“The club’s aspirational but realistic. We’ve very aware of where we are. It’s the club’s first experience of this level and we need to try to win games, game-by-game. Wherever we end up at the end of the season as a result of that, I don’t know at this point.

“I think every team in the league goes into the season with the goal to try to get promotion don’t they? I think they generally do.  As the season pans out it becomes a reality for some more than it does others, we don’t look too far ahead – yes, of course, we would like to get promoted.

Cray Valley (Paper Mills): Andy Walker, Denzel Gayle, Danny Smith, Ashley Sains, Cem Tumkaya, Kalvin Morath-Gibbs, Ryan Flack (Emilano Hysi 74), Paul Semakula (Lewis Cotter 83), Francis Babalola, Gavin Tomlin (Kweku Ansah 77), Matthew Warren.
Subs: Abdul Sankoh, Tommy Osborne

Goals: Denzel Gayle 21, Temi Eweka 23 (own goal), Gavin Tomlin 58, 77, Ashley Sains 84

VCD Athletic: Nick Blue, Bradley Simms, Raphe Brown, George Monger, Temi Eweka (Kelvin Ogboe 46), Jack Steventon, Henry Ikeije, Alastair Gordon, Ali Fuseini, Bode Anidugbe (Ayman El-Mogharbel 71), Alex Gaggin (Robert Bartley 46).
Subs: Courtney Barrington, Charlie MacDonald

Booked: Alastair Gordon 49, Jack Steventon 90

Attendance: 81
Referee: Mr Rhys Battye
Assistants: Mr Andrew Simmonds & Mr Liam Giles