Faversham Town 1-0 VCD Athletic - The start couldn't have gone any better, says unbeaten Faversham Town boss James Collins

Tuesday 27th October 2020
Faversham Town 1 – 0 VCD Athletic
Location Salters Lane, Faversham, Kent ME13 8ND
Kickoff 27/10/2020 19:45

Isthmian League South East Division
Tuesday 27 October 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Salters Lane

FAVERSHAM TOWN manager James Collins says his side’s unbeaten start to their league campaign couldn’t have gone any better.

The Lilywhites climbed up a couple of places into fifth in the Isthmian League South East Division table with 12 points from six games after left-winger Kelvin Ogboe scored against his former club to seal a deserved three points.

VCD Athletic have slipped down a couple into fourth-place with the same record but have now lost three consecutive games in league and cup.

“Absolutely delighted.  We had a really tough game on Saturday against Whitehawk (1-1 draw) and I said to the boys before the Whitehawk game I would’ve taken two points. I didn’t want to win one and lose one so to win one and draw one I’m over the moon with that.

“The boys put in another great shift on the back of a really hard game against Whitehawk and we dug in.

“We’ve conceded three goals this season, but we’ve had a tough start so to be unbeaten and a win is massive in this league so I’m absolutely delighted.”

VCD Athletic boss Nick Davis – who was Collins’ assistant here last season – endured a bad night as his side put in a disappointing performance.

“I think they set up really well, to be fair to them. They’re a counter-attacking side, they’re direct in their approach but it works well for them,” he said.

“We certainly didn’t do enough to win it but I don’t think we deserved to lose it but every time you go a goal down away from home, we just ran out of ideas a little bit, I think, unfortunately.

“Horses for courses, I think.  It depends where you play, who you play against and what pitch.  They’re well-organised so it’s difficult to break them down.”

The Crayford-based outfit started the game on the front foot with Ayman El-Mogharbel pulling the strings during a dominant personal performance during the opening 15 minutes before being placed back inside Lewis Chambers’ pocket.

Faversham Town maintained their solid defensive record of conceding only three times in the league so far this season due to the dominant form of centre-halves Matthew Bourne and Joe Denny.

However, a mix-up at the back saw goalkeeper Luke Watkins hit the ball straight at the pressing El-Mogharbel inside the Faversham penalty area and Vickers’ striker Paul Vines squandered the chance by drilling his low shot harmlessly wide of the goal from the right-hand side of the box after only 72 seconds.

Davis said: “We had a few of those early on. I thought they defended really well, fair play to them.  Ayman did start really well. We was on the front foot from our kick-off. It wasn’t to be and we move on to the next one.”

“I’ve had him before and I thought that was a goal to be fair,” admitted Collins, who managed the 37-year-old striker at Chatham Town in the league below.

“He usually tucks them away but we we’re a little bit sloppy.  We thought they would come out of the blocks, they didn’t have a game on Saturday as well, so we were trying to make sure we did the basics right and teams have to earn goals against us.”

Faversham’s holding midfielder Chambers launched four long throws into the Vickers box but Sam Bewick steered his header wide of the mark after the ball came back out to him.

VCD Athletic called keeper Watkins into making a smart low save at his near post inside nine minutes.

Left-back Ashley Probets’ corner from the left was cleared out to Vines, who cut the ball onto his left-foot before sweeping his shot towards the bottom near corner.  The ball took a deflection and forced Watkins to dive to his left and use his left hand to push the ball around his post.

Davis said: “I think he miss-hit that as well. I don’t know if it was going in, apparently it was.  Watkins, bless him, pulled off a brilliant save towards the end. Another day Vinsey puts that away.”

Collins added: “I thought their deliveries from set-pieces was really good all night. It was a worry standing on the line every time one went in. 

“Luke hasn’t had to do a lot this year, he made a couple of good saves against Whitehawk, he spilled a couple tonight.  You do interviews with me all the time and I think goalkeeper’s shot save shots. It was a good save and that’s what he’s there for and he’s rewarded with a clean sheet.”

El-Mogharbel continued to force the issue, driving at the Faversham back-four only to see his right-footed 30-yarder trickle into Watkins’ gloves for a routine save.

Denny was naturally a threat in the air at attacking set-pieces and he glanced his header across goal and past the far post after Bewick swung in a corner from the right.

“We score goals from set-pieces, we work on it a lot. I thought Lewis Chambers’ could’ve got on the end of that as well, so it was a good delivery but it wasn’t to be,” added Collins.

Attacking midfielder Benedict Bioletti broke with pace down the middle of the pitch before playing the ball out wide to Abdul Lyoubi out on the right and he whipped in a cross towards the far post which saw Ogboe cut inside and whip his right-footed shot high towards the top far corner of the net, only for the ball to curl agonisingly against the angle of far post and crossbar in the 18th minute.

Collins said: “I thought it was in as well! I was willing Kelvin to score because he puts in such a shift for us and I’ve been on him a lot.  I’ve been wanting a lot more quality.

“I think he had his best game tonight, maybe the old club thing that helps. It was a good effort.  We’ve been looking for a little bit more quality in the final third. Defensively we look ok as a whole unit from one to 11. It was a good move, unfortunately the crossbar just stopped us.”

Bioletti, meanwhile, has literally come through the ranks at Salters Lane.

“He’s 16, he made his debut for us in pre-season at 15 and he’s come all the way through the youth ranks at the club all the way through,” said Collins.

“I think he’s been at the club since the age of five or six. It’s his first year in the under 18s this year and he’s come in and done pre-season with us.  We had seven or eight boys from the under 18s and a lot of them impressed.

“We’ve been holding him back a little bit and we threw him in against Hertford in The FA Trophy because they were a younger side and we felt it was a game that we could.  He came in a baptism of fire against Whitehawk.  He’s actually a right-back but we’ve been playing him wide right and we played him as a 10 tonight and I thought he had a really good game. He’s got a really, really promising future.”

Davis added: “They caught us on the break, they soak it up, let us have the ball and then on a difficult pitch at times, we give the ball away and they caught us.  We weren’t quick enough in transitions to get our shape back.

“I’ve worked with Kelvin last year and I knew he had that right-foot as well. We showed him on that right foot and luckily it’s hit the bar.”

Chambers’ second long throw was met by Denny’s looping header, which visiting goalkeeper Nick Blue clawed out from underneath his own crossbar in the 19th minute.

Faversham Town were now the better side and a great piece of defending from Vickers’ centre-half Geof Okonkwo denied Harry Harding his sixth goal of the season.

Bioletti hung over a cross from the right, which Blue flicked away with his outstretched right-hand but the ball fell to Ogboe inside the box and he teed up Harding who was certain to score from close range, only for a last-ditch goal-line block from Okonkwo.

Collins said: “I think it was great defending.  We were starting to grow into the game a little bit. They looked a threat going forward but we started to look a threat going forward.”

Davis added: “A good block from Geof, they got in down that right-hand side, which happened to be for the goal wasn’t it?”

VCD Athletic won the corner count by 9-2 and Watkins suffered a shaky moment following the away side’s fourth flag-kick.

El-Mogharbel’s corner from the left was played short to the otherwise quiet winger Malachi Hudson, who cut the ball onto his right-boot and his drive bounced in front of Watkins, who spilled the shot before the ball was cleared towards safety.

Faversham Town produced a sweeping move on the counter-attack after El-Mogharbel gave the ball away and Faversham’s right-back Donvieve Jones drove forward before winger Stephen Okoh played the ball into Bioletti, whose angled drive from 25-yards was comfortably saved by Blue down on his knees.

Boletti impressed on the counter-attack for Faversham and he played a major part in the winning goal, which was timed at 39 minutes and 24 seconds.

Bioletti superbly brought a long ball down under his spell inside the centre-circle before playing the ball out to Okoh out on the right. He sprinted on the outside of Probets before whipping in a great cross which was tucked home by Ogboe at the far post, a left-footed volley which gave Blue no chance from eight-yards.

Collins said: “Something that we’ve been working on, getting the winger on the far side in to the box and can we get bodies into the box, wingers beating full-backs. We haven’t done it enough but we’ve tried to work in training a couple of times and when things you work on in training come off it makes it all worthwhile.

“He scored a penalty the other day but he just wanted a goal but I didn’t think he got into the game in the first 20 minutes. 

“I think once we got our wingers into the game we looked more of a threat but I’m delighted for him because he’s such a good lad.  A couple of games haven’t gone right for him but he never moans, he just gets on with it and works harder and I’m delighted for him that he’s got the winner.”

Davis added: “Again, they caught us on the break.  Bioletti broke, put the ball out wide. I sort of said to Chris Edwards, he’s put his hands up, he was on the wrong side. To be fair it was a good finish to be fair to him, I thought, first time with his left-foot.”

Faversham Town deserved their lead going into the half-time interval.

Collins said: “I just felt they were dangerous but I felt they would get bored on the ball. I felt chances would come.  We had one off the line in the first half, we’ve hit the bar and we’ve scored a goal. 

“As much as they looked a threat in and around the box Luke’s made his only save in the first half but I felt if we switched off any time they had good quality.  They’ve got people who can score goals and they’ve got pace going forward and they play some nice football.

“What I actually said was the second goal kills the game off but don’t go chasing the second goal but as the game opened up I think we should’ve killed it off but it wasn’t to be.”

Davis added: “I never thought there would be a lot of goals in this game, obviously we’ve scored a lot (15) and they’ve not conceded many (3).

“I just sort of said we need to up the tempo more, especially when they were breaking, they were dangerous. That’s when they were dangerous, when we had the ball and when we lost it they broke in numbers and caused us problems, not in open play but it worked really well for them.”

VCD Athletic squandered a glorious chance to draw level inside the opening nine minutes.

The ball bounced over Bewick’s head on the half-way line and El-Mogharbel played the ball out to Chris Edwards. The right-back played the ball down the line to Adesite, who floated in a cross towards an unmarked Vines, who steered his header across goal and harmlessly past the far post from 15-yards.

Davis said: “I don’t know if he could’ve brought that down on his chest and had a shot?

“I don’t know how far he was out actually, you still expect him to hit the target.  Vinsey is exceptional in the air, one of the best I’ve come across.  You expect him to hit the target but it was from distance.  Maybe he could’ve taken a touch and brought it down and there was no one near him actually but it wasn’t to be.”

A relieved Collins added: “Not like him is it? He’s had an unbelievable career. He was brilliant for me at Chatham and I watched him put them away every week so actually when the cross came in I actually said ‘oh no, it’s going in’, so I was just relieved to see that one go wide.”

Both sides then cancelled each other out during a cagey second half and Davis made a tactical switch in the 66th minute to bring on Emiliano Hysi, to sit in front of their back three as Jack Barry (who was one of two defensive midfielders, the other being Lea Dawson) dropped back in the heart of a three-man defence alongside Probets and Mohamed Oshilaja.

“We changed it around quite early as well. Geof got booked and then we put Jack Barry back in and Milly’s our ball player in there and we knew about their long throw, hence why we played another centre-half to try to deal with that.

“Milly gave us a little bit more on the ball, even though he dwelled on it a couple of times.

“I sort of said let’s have a reaction. We’ve come back from being a goal own, I think, four times this season and won games so we thought we would always be in the game and we thought if we scored we’d go on and win the game but it wasn’t to be.”

Faversham Town hit VCD Athletic on the counter-attack as the game approached the final 20 minutes.

Hudson lost the ball to Bewick in midfield and he played the ball out to Ogboe on the left and he put in a great low cross which was controlled by Bewick inside the box but his second touch saw the ball flash past the foot of the post.

Collins said: “It was a great touch, which was the hard bit and the finish I thought was the easy bit but his energy was brilliant. He’s been a real addition to us. We’ve brought him in a couple of weeks back, we tried to sign him in pre-season but he opted for Herne Bay but we stayed in touch but he’s made a massive, massive difference to us.”

Davis added: “Again, it was the counter-attack, it was the pattern of the game. 

“You’ve got to give it to James, he’s done a great job here with their organisation and some of the results they’ve had to beat Cray Valley away, they drew against Hastings here 0-0 and hardly conceding a goal and it’s really working for him.  He’s got a good honest bunch of lads here with pace.

“It’s a tough place to come, I always knew it would be and they caught us on the counter. What was disappointing for me is we ran out of ideas a little bit.”

VCD Athletic were hit on another counter-attack after Faversham won possession on the half-way line before Harding played the ball inside to Bewick, who took a touch before flashing his left-footed drive into the base of the side netting, just skimming the base of the near post.

“You just want him to kill the game off and you’re thinking we’ve conceded a last minute goal against Sevenoaks and we sort of said ‘make sure that doesn’t happen again’, so you live and learn and fortunately we managed to see the game out today,” said Collins.

Faversham Town continued to press and Harding played the ball out to Ogboe on the left. He ignored a potential pass to left-back Lyoubi on the overlap and decided to cut the ball onto his right-foot and pulling his shot past the near post from 25-yards.

Good wing-play from Ogboe saw him cut the ball back from the by-line but Harding couldn’t force the ball over the line at the near post.

A disappointing VCD Athletic side almost snatched an equaliser with 39:15 on the clock but for a world-class stop from Watkins.

Probets progressed within the left-channel before he teed up Adesite in space, who drilled his low right-footed shot from 35-yards towards the bottom far corner.  Watkins, though, got down swiftly to his left and used a strong left-hand to turn the ball around the post.

Davis said: “Anthony’s scored some brilliant goals for us, some absolute worldies, he’s got that in him. It was a great save. It was destined, I thought it was in.

“That’s how it was, it was just one of those days, we weren’t going to score today. We just weren’t going to score. If we did I fancied us getting the second one.  We don’t know, goals change games don’t they but it wasn’t to be.”

Collins added: “You always fear one of your old players that you used to have, Vinsey and Adesite and they had Luke Griffiths (on the bench), so I thought we had to score four tonight because they’re all bound to score.

“It was a great save. Luke done all of the hard stuff well tonight and some of the easy stuff I thought he looked a bit shaky. 

“He’s been a different goalkeeper since last season and took some really big catches. That was a great save and one you don’t expect him to save.”

VCD Athletic threw the kitchen sink at Faversham Town in a search for an equaliser.

Probets’ corner from the right was flicked away by Watkins’ right hand and the ball came out to Adesite, who looped his shot over the bar while under pressure 25-yards from goal.

Edwards’ corner from the left was knocked towards goal by El-Mogharbel at the far post and the ball was headed back out to substitute striker Marcus Elliott, whose header was grabbed by Watkins.

Hysi squandered a last-gasp chance for the Vickers but his right-footed free-kick from 30-yards dipped just over the crossbar as Faversham Town ran out deserved winners and Collins revealed he’s going to give his squad a night off training on Thursday night.

Collins said: “Absolutely buzzing, we can put the league to bed for 12 days and we’ve got a game here against Haringey Borough (in The FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round) on Saturday, which we can enjoy and see if we can stay unbeaten.

“That’s seven unbeaten now, it couldn’t have gone any better, the start, to be honest, baring not conceding in the last minute against Sevenoaks. We’ve got to keep going and take it game by game but it’s been a great start.”

VCD Athletic, meanwhile, welcome Lloyd Blackman’s Whitstable Town to Oakwood in a league game on Saturday.

Whitstable Town sit in seventh-place in the table with 11 points from eight games and sent Cray Valley crashing back down to earth with a 1-1 draw at The Belmont, three days after Kevin Watson’s side pulled off a FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round shock with a last-gasp 3-2 win at National League side Maidenhead United at the weekend.

VCD Athletic’s last game before tonight was on 17 October when they lost 2-1 at home to Herne Bay in The FA Trophy and Davis claimed this played a part in their performance here tonight.

“Maybe the break on Saturday didn’t help. We played as well as we did all season against Herne Bay, we played really well and sometimes that break, when you’ve got some decent momentum about you, I don’t know. It’s non-league football, it happens sometimes.

“Did we do enough to lose the game? I don’t think so personally that’s my opinion but we didn’t do enough to win it but we need to do more to try and break down a well-organised team with good shape and fair play to them.”

Faversham Town: Luke Watkins, Donvieve Jones, Abdul Lyoubi, Lewis Chambers, Matthew Bourne, Joe Denny, Kelvin Ogboe (Alfie Spiers 89), Sam Bewick, Harry Harding, Benedict Bioletti (Cameron Williams 76), Stephen Okoh (Michael Hagan 90).
Subs: Harrison Pont, Luis Dos Santos

Goal:  Kelvin Ogboe 40

Booked: Sam Bewick 76

VCD Athletic: Nick Blue, Chris Edwards, Ashley Probets, Jack Barry, Geof Okonkwo (Emiliano Hysi 66), Mohamed Oshilaja, Malachi Hudson, Lea Dawson, Paul Vines (Marcus Elliot 70), Ayman El-Mogharbel, Anthony Adesite.
Subs: Taylor Fisher, Luke Griffiths, James Fray

Booked: Geof Okonkwo 50

Attendance: 224
Referee: Mr Valentine Anekwe
Assistants: Mr Wayne Horsfall & Mr Mohammed Uddin