Faversham Town 3-3 Herne Bay - When you're 3-1 down not many people would've given us a prayer and we dug something out from somewhere, says Herne Bay boss Ben Smith

Tuesday 11th February 2020
Faversham Town 3 – 3 Herne Bay
Location Salters Lane, Faversham, Kent ME13 8ND
Kickoff 11/02/2020 19:45

Isthmian League South East Division
Tuesday 11 February 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Salters Lane

HERNE BAY manager Ben Smith says his side dug something out from somewhere after fighting back from 3-1 down with seven minutes remaining to claim a deserved point.

Herne Bay went into this game sitting in fifth-place in the Isthmian League South East Division table and they were on course of suffering a shock defeat at seventeenth-placed Faversham Town, who have only won two of James Collins’ 18 games in charge in all competitions since taking over.

The outstanding Zak Ansah gave Herne Bay an early lead to score his 25th goal of the season – which is one more than Faversham Town have scored in 25 league games.

Faversham Town turned the game on its head with winger Kelvin Ogboe scoring a hat-trick in only his second game for the club since his move from league rivals VCD Athletic, where he scored nine goals for Keith McMahon’s side this term.

However, the controversial sending-off of Faversham Town striker Emmanuel Oluwasemo 85 minutes into his debut put Herne Bay back on the front foot and they sealed a draw with substitute left-back Simon Kabamba scoring his first goal for the club before substitute Mobolaji Dawodu slid in a dramatic last-gasp equaliser from close range.

“A good point. A good point at the end of the day,” said Herne Bay boss Smith.

“I thought we started really lively, we caused them all sorts of problems going forward. It was very much a game of two halves, or three thirds. Just swung a few ways didn’t it, some big moments but yes it was a good point.”

Faversham Town boss Collins said he was feeling, “robbed,” at the final whistle after his side threw it away so late in the game.

“The penalty looks as clear as day, to go 4-1 up and we end up having a player sent-off for diving!  I’m not happy with the referee’s performance tonight at all!

“We had a really good performance against Whitehawk (2-2 draw) and then we’ve had three really disappointing performances (losing to Sevenoaks Town, VCD Athletic and Burgess Hill Town) and we had a lot of soul searching and you question why things aren’t going the way you want them to go.

“I wanted a reaction tonight and I wanted to get the ball down and play a bit more than we have been and I got a response from the players’.

The crowd of 290 braved a bitterly cold Tuesday night to witness a Kent derby which saw Faversham Town put in a spirited performance despite their poor form under Collins.

Herne Bay’s attacking play was a joy to watch during the first half with Ansah putting in some silky skills that bamboozled the Faversham Town defence, mainly right-back Ryan Cooper.

Herne Bay built-up down the left with left-winger Keiron Campbell playing the ball inside to Ansah, who teed up Tom Carlton and his left-footed angled drive from 18-yards forced Luke Watkins into making a fine diving save to his left and using a strong left hand to push the ball away after only 105 seconds into the game.

Smith said: “Sort of a sign of things to come in the first half.  I thought our combination play in their half was really strong and they struggled to live with it.”

Collins added: “I think they were very good going forward, they’re arguably the best team we’ve played going forward. I thought they were very, very good. It was a good save and I think we restricted them to a few chances in the game.”

Faversham Town felt they had taken the lead with seven minutes and 45 seconds on the clock but Harry Wager flagged for offside.

Ogboe reached the left by-line before whipping in a cross, which was cleared away and former Bearsted striker Oluwasemo drilled a 25-yards shot towards goal, only for the ball to skim off Stefan Wright’s head outside the six-yard box and into the net from an offside position.

“I think we’ve had three goals disallowed here. Yes, it looked like it was going in but I don’t want to keep bemoaning our luck because you’ve got to take responsibility but since I’ve come in here we do not seem to get the rub of the green,” admitted Collins.

Smith added: “I don’t think there were many complaints from them, he was offside, but it was a little wake-up call that they were a threat going forward.”

Oluwasemo, who scored 12 goals for Bearsted this season, went close to scoring 12 minutes and 14 seconds into his debut.

Right-back Jones played a diagonal cross, which sailed over Ryan Cooper’s head and Ogboe put the ball back into the box.  A slip from Herne Bay centre-half Callum Adonis-Taylor gave Oluwasemo a chance, hooking a shot on the turn inches over the crossbar from penalty spot range.

“Yes again that was a corner, the referee didn’t see it,” said Collins.

“He made his debut tonight and he looked really lively. I was really impressed with him.  I thought he was excellent.  I thought he worked the line well. He was a willing runner and he’s got pace in behind. He’s someone I’ve liked all season and I’ve seen him a couple of times and I’m really pleased to get him on board.”

Despite Faversham Town’s promising start to the game, Herne Bay grabbed the lead with 13 minutes and 56 seconds on the clock.

Campbell sprinted from the half-way line and just inside the corner of the penalty area and was chopped down by Jones, who got away with it, but the ball fell kindly for Ansah, who placed his right-footed shot across the keeper to find the bottom far corner of the net from 16-yards.

“Well, we were screaming for a foul! How the referee does not see that was a foul, the defenders the wrong side, he’s got nowhere near the ball. He’s just wiped him out.  I didn’t really see too much of the goal, before we knew it, it was in the back of the net. You give Ansah the ball in the box, he’s going to score,” said Smith.

Collins added: “Look, firstly it’s a great finish, credit where credit’s due, it’s a great finish but I thought Donvieve done really well.  I’d like to see it again. I thought we could’ve done a little bit better but it was a good finish. I think Donvieve needs a little bit of help and we were a little bit slow getting out to Ansah.”

Herne Bay keeper George Kamurasi kept his side’s lead intact by making a great save exactly 124 seconds later.

Faversham left-back Matthew Parsons floated a free-kick towards the far post for Oluwasemo to bury a downward header towards the bottom left-hand corner, only for the demanding keeper to get down low to his right to push the ball around the post.

Collins said: “A great save, a great ball, great save.  He’s a good goalkeeper. We looked a bit more dangerous going forward tonight, which was pleasing.”

Smith added: “G’s in good form so yes, a good save. A good delivery in, we knew they’d be a threat at set-pieces today and it showed.”

Anthony Edgar hasn’t hit the high notes that he did regularly for Cray Valley before his move to Herne Bay and he had a chance to increase the away side’s lead in the 21st minute.

Carlton’s run through the heart of the pitch was ended by a bookable trip from tough-tackling Lewis Chambers but Edgar’s weak right-footed free-kick from 25-yards rolled into the hands of Luke Watkins for a comfortable pick-up.

Faversham Town changed formation to 4-1-3-2, with disappointing striker Paul Hayes dropping into midfield alongside Tom Loynes, while Oluwasemo and Ogboe ventured up front.

Loynes slipped a clever free-kick into Hayes’ feet inside the Herne Bay box and he played the ball back to Loynes but the winger dragged his first time shot past the near post from 30-yards.

Herne Bay suffered similar fate just 117 seconds later when Ansah showed more skill down the left wing before playing the ball inside to Campbell, who continued the sweeping move into Edgar, but he dragged his shot past the post from 20-yards.

Smith said: “I don’t think we hit too many clean ones from 18-yards tonight. The pitch is horrendous for both sides so everything was bobbling up so I don’t think anyone caught anything too clean, which is disappointing. We got into some very good positions in the first half.”

Collins added: “Some of their play in front of us was really good, really intricate but I thought we restricted them largely to shots outside the area so I was pleased with the way we defended against a good side.”

Faversham Town, who got the ball forward as quickly as possible, created the final opening of the first half in the 38th minute.

Parsons floated a free-kick into the Herne Bay box adjacent to the centre-circle inside the Herne Bay half and a poor back-header from Edgar gave a chance for centre-half Aaron Ibe at the far post but he steered his header straight at Kamurasi.

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break.

Collins said: “I thought we played well. I thought we were a little bit unlucky to be 1-0 down. We felt that the next goal was going to be key, whoever gets it.

“I just wanted more of the same. I don’t think we’ve given any of the supporters anything to really shout about, certainly at home.  I thought we played well in the first half and said make sure that second half makes people go away and feel excited about the rest of the season.”

Smith admitted: “We were nowhere near good enough! I thought we dropped to their level massively and we needed to liven up quickly!

“I said at half-time we can’t use the pitch as an excuse at all, both teams have got to play on it and our style of play was opening them up so we can’t really have too many excuses in that sense.  I just thought we were way too open and we weren’t as assured as we have been recently.”

Herne Bay created the first opening of the second half after 128 seconds.

Holding midfielder Danny Lawrence drove forward and played a one-two with Ansah outside the box and the ball was met first time by Edgar, which was comfortably saved by Watkins.

Faversham’s central midfielder Wright drove through the heart of the pitch, lost the ball and won it back almost immediately before setting up Oluwasemo, who dragged his right-footed shot across the keeper and past the far post from 25-yards.

Faversham Town went their trademark route-one style to equalise with 13 minutes and 46 seconds on the clock.

Chambers launched his third and final long throw into the Herne Bay box, Laurence Harvey flicked the ball on and it landed kindly to an unmarked Ogboe, who placed his right-footed angled drive through a crowd of players to nestle inside the bottom far corner of the net from 16-yards.

Collins said: “The long throw is something that we like to use, it’s another weapon in our armoury and we scored from it at the weekend and scored from it again today so it was a good finish.”

Smith added: “The boys were saying there was a push in there. Laurence has flicked it on for them. I don’t know if there’s a push or not. They’re insisting it was but it wouldn’t surprise me if there was but then who’s marking at the far post? 

“For that to go in there and get them level, when they haven’t been in the game, was very disappointing. It was criminal really.”

Faversham Town produced a fine sweeping move to take the lead just 96 seconds later, which left Herne Bay shell-shocked.

Central striker Oluwasemo swept the ball over to Loynes out on the right flank and he whipped in a great cross to pick out Ogboe and he produced a sublime right-footed curler into the far corner of the net from 20-yards.

Collins said: “What a goal! What a great goal! He’s scored quite a few goals at VCD and I’m not really sure why he was available really with that record and he came on as sub on Saturday and he did have a disappointing debut but certainly tonight we saw the other side of his game. It was a great, great goal!”

Smith said he wasn’t best pleased with the defensive work from his centre-half Adonis-Taylor.

“Our centre-half, he’s got into five minds on the halfway line with no real pressure on him at all.  Too many touches, he got caught underneath the ball and then suddenly the counter-attack is on and we’ve got bodies up the pitch, the wrong end of the pitch and we’re all at sea.

“It was a disastrous goal. We end up getting bodies back and we still don’t put any pressure on the ball.  I’m fuming with that to be honest, absolutely fuming!

“It’s a great finish, take nothing away from the boy, it’s a great finish but how are we conceding that goal?!

“We’ve been in fantastic form and we were very comfortable in the first half. We looked like we could step up a gear at any point and put a foot down and at half-time I expected the boys to go and do that.

“But when you get sucked-punched like that, it takes a lot of test of character and our character hasn’t been tested recently so we had a good look at ourselves there.”

The introductions of central midfielder Luke Griffiths (56 minutes) and right-winger Izzy Adebayo seven minutes later inspired Faversham Town to brighten up their performance.

Herne Bay squandered a glorious chance to equalise with 28 minutes and 8 seconds on the clock.

Carlton chipped a free-kick into the box towards the far post and centre-half Harvey came up from the back and steered his free header straight at Watkins from eight-yards at the far stick.

Smith said: “Very good save. You’re starting to think we’re not going to have too many of those chances.”

“You could see from the side what they were going to do and we had the wrong people picking up the wrong man,” admitted Collins.

“We’ve been a little bit naïve and they are the things that can punish you.  We’re talking about little fine margins.  Certainly in this league I’ve noticed more than the league below you do get punished for a lot more mistakes.”

However, there was controversy in the manner that Faversham Town scored their third goal of the night with 32 minutes and 9 seconds on the clock.

Loynes threw the ball to Griffiths, who smashed his cross towards the centre of the box and referee Peter Conn adjudged Cooper committed a handball as he stumbled.

Smith insisted Ogboe’s penalty should not have stood as Kamurasi was sent the wrong way with a double-touched penalty, which went in just left of centre and several Herne Bay players protested to the match officials about the kick.

A furious Smith said: “It’s farcical! Absolutely farcical how that’s a penalty!  Ryan Cooper is lying down on the floor in a straight line and it’s hit his arm in front of his body. How on earth can he move that?! It cannot be a penalty! It’s an absolute farce!

“He’s mis-hit his penalty, he’s hit it with his right-foot, it’s then hit his left foot and then changed the direction of the ball. You can’t have a double-touched penalty! I’m not even sure what the rule would be for a double-touched penalty, whether it’s another penalty, a retake or a free-kick.

“Zak Ansah is standing on the halfway line and he’s sprinted 50 yards down there and as soon as that penalty went in he’s seen the double touch, the players, look at the reaction of everyone!

“It amazes me how the referee can be so close to a penalty and he can’t see that!  We’ve got the lino (Chris Cannon) there as well, I don’t know how he can’t see these situations. That’s not a 50-50, difficult for somebody to pick out.  As an official you have one job. The lino has the line to make sure there’s no encroachment and the referee has the ball. I don’t get it!”

Collins added: “Paul Hayes is on penalties and he came off so Kelvin’s on a hat-trick and we said ‘go and get your hat-trick,’ and I’m just relieved to see it go in the back of the net to be honest.”

Step forward Ansah, who rescued his side with an outstanding response from the injustice.

Space opened up in front of the 25-year-old and he unleashed a right-footed drive from 35-yards, which was tipped around the post by Watkins, diving low to his right.

With Faversham hanging on, Herne Bay deservedly pulled a goal back with 37 minutes and 5 seconds on the clock, when Ansah played the ball into a crowded penalty area and Kabamba drilled his right-footed shot into the bottom left-hand corner from 16-yards.

“I thought Ansah at 3-1 just literally it was like he was playing a game on his school playground. He got the ball, just made things happen. We brought on extra bodies to play up top and he was everywhere. It was if it was five minutes left of lunchtime and he wanted to get us a couple of goals to win the lunch game. I’m gutted for him we didn’t have a couple more minutes because I think he would’ve won us the game.”

“It’s a tidy finish wasn’t it,” admitted Collins.

“We got to the stage when we dropped a little bit too deep there and it sort of pinballed around but they kept good possession in and around our box, as well as I’ve seen any team do.  He’s had a snap-shot and scored a good finish.  You can always do a little bit better but again that’s probably the first time in four games that a team has scored a goal when I can say ‘ok, you’ve actually worked for that’, so it got them back into the game.”

Referee Peter Conn then made a clanger when everyone inside the stadium could see Kamurasi push Oluwasemo over inside the box. It was a clear-cut penalty. However, the referee pulled out a yellow card and with the striker holding his head in his hands, out came a second yellow and a red-card and Faversham Town were down to 10 men with 39:15 on the clock.

Collins said: “The turning point! He’s gone clean through, he’s about to score his first goal for the club. Kamurasi has put his arm across him and he fouls him and it’s as clear as day for everyone! Everyone on the sideline can see it and he sends him off for diving!  It looked like a blatant pen to me!

“For the whole game the decisions were absolutely baffling.  Look, I don’t want to talk about the referee. I want to talk about how well we played tonight and how proud I am of the players and I thought we gave an exciting performance. It’s something that we owed the supporters, so I’d rather talk about that, rather than get dragged into that.

“He’s got to score the penalty but we don’t seem to be getting too much luck at the moment.

“Not only have we not got the penalty, we’re down to 10 men and then they’re in the ascendancy and we’re hanging on.”

Smith added: “Stonewall penalty but I’m 50-yards away. I did think it was a penalty.  Decisions like that you have to be 100% sure he’s simulated. I find it very harsh. If it’s not a pen, it’s not a pen but the yellow card? I mean I feel for the lad.  We’re not caring about the situation but I think it’s ludicrous he sent him off, absolutely ludicrous!”

Herne Bay were in the driving seat for the rest of the game.

Good wing play from Campbell down the left saw him tee up Ansah, who tried to curl his shot into the top far corner from 25-yards, only for Watkins to pluck the ball out of the air high to his left.

Watkins suffered a bang to the head, immediately after Ansah curled a free-kick around the far post from within the left-channel and Herne Bay grabbed a deserved equaliser with 46 minutes and 45 seconds on the clock. The final whistle blew at 50:23.

Ansah floated a deep free-kick from the right some 40-yards from goal, Harvey came up from the back to knock the ball across the face of goal and Dawodu broke the hearts of his old club by sliding the ball over the line from the centre of the goal, inches from the goal-line.

Smith said: “I knew we’d get chances, it’s a point gained, definitely.

“Forget where we are in the league, Faversham have been a big club in this league and suddenly we’re here and they’re the underdogs. That shows how far we’ve come as a club.

“Have we got a better team? Yes, of course we have! Should we have won tonight’s game? I think we should’ve but I think their 15-20 minute spell in the second half, I think they deserved a point.”

Collins said: “It seemed the ball was in the air for a long time and that’s disappointing. 

“I thought we could’ve done better but I just want to think of the positives tonight. It was a good performance. I don’t want to get dragged into talking about the referee who, where and why we should’ve done a little bit better.  It’s hugely disappointing but I would’ve taken a point before tonight after a couple of performances. I would’ve taken a performance and I think I got a performance tonight.”

Hastings United remain at the summit with 53 points from 25 games, while Ashford United – who came away from Hastings with an impressive 3-0 win at the weekend – are second just a point behind.

Whitehawk are third (49 points); Cray Valley are fourth (48 points) and Herne Bay remain in fifth (45 points).

Faversham Town remain in seventeenth-place with 24 points, while the three teams below them are Three Bridges (18 points from 26 games); Ramsgate (15 points from 25 games) and East Grinstead Town (10 points from 24 games).

Faversham Town travel to sixth-placed Whyteleafe on Saturday, while Herne Bay hold home advantage over thirteenth-placed VCD Athletic.

Faversham Town have now extended their winless run to eight games.

Collins said: “We don’t seem to be getting the rub of the green.  Look, we’ve very much in transition and we’re trying new things and it’s incredibly frustrating at times but tonight I saw a progress.

“We are very much a work in progress and we’ll continue to be for the rest of the season. We just need to keep picking up points, performances are more important than the points, certainly at home.”

Herne Bay have now extended their unbeaten run to seven games.

“I can’t go suddenly knock the boys when we’ve got a point away from home,” added Smith.

“This team is growing, it continues to grow. Moments like that when you’re 3-1 down, not many people would’ve given us a prayer and we dug something out from somewhere so we’ve got to keep taking positives out of things like that.”

Faversham Town: Luke Watkins, Donvieve Jones (Luke Griffiths 56), Matthew Parsons, Lewis Chambers, Aaron Ibe, Josh Dorling, Tom Loynes, Stefan Wright, Emmanuel Oluwasemo, Paul Hayes (Izzy Adebayo 63, Steven Springett 89)), Kelvin Ogboe.
Subs: Callum Edwards, Alex O’Leary

Goals: Kelvin Ogboe 59, 61, 77 (penalty)

Booked: Lewis Chambers 20, Donvieve Jones 36, Emmanuel Oluwasemo 65

Sent Off: Emmanuel Oluwasemo 85

Herne Bay: George Kamurasi, Ryan Cooper, Daniel Carrington (Simon Kabamba 18), Danny Lawrence, Callum Adonis-Taylor (Mobolaji Dawodu 79), Laurence Harvey, Tushaun-Tyreese Walters, Tom Carlton, Zak Ansah, Anthony Edgar (Junior Akionbare 72), Keiron Campbell.
Subs: Kyron Lightfoot, Sam Naiwo

Goals: Zak Ansah 14, Simon Kabamba 83, Mobolaji Dawodu 90

Booked: Kerion Campbell 69

Attendance: 290
Referee: Mr Peter Conn
Assistants: Mr Harry Wager & Mr Chris Cannon