Ford wants the plaudits to go to Frost and Wallis - EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
Jubilant VCD Athletic manager Martin Ford paid tribute to his first team coach Dean Frost after winning the Kent Senior Trophy for the first time yesterday, writes Stephen McCartney.
They were taken all the way by Tunbridge Wells in front of 507 fans at Welling United’s Park View Road.
Wells goalkeeper John Whitehouse deserved his man-of-match accolade, making a string of fine saves.
But Tunbridge Wells stole the lead after 72 minutes when Joe Fuller scored his tenth goal of the season from the penalty spot after Dave Hassett was brought down inside the box by Chris Whitehouse.
However, their lead was short lived as Vickers equalised four minutes later when burly striker Danny Penny was given room inside the six-yard box to slam home Ashley Probets’ corner.
Tunbridge Wells squandered four excellent chances in the first period of extra time, the closest when Hassett’s 16-yard shot smacked against the top of the near post so the game was settled by a penalty shoot-out.
Grant Wallis, VCD’s 23-year-old goalkeeper, was their hero, saving from Hassett, Fuller and Andy Garrett‘s penalties. Adrian Hatcher scored for the Wells.
Ashley Probets, Mark Horan and Steve Hogg converted theirs but Whitehouse saved from Ricky Bennett as VCD triumphed 3-1.
But Ford was quick to praise Frost, a defender who played for the club along with Dartford and Bromley.
Praising the London Black Cab driver, Ford said: “The lads conduct themselves and off the park they’re superb.
“We haven’t have to keep pushing them to do this and that. We treat them like adults and they respect the way we run them.
“Let’s be honest Dean Frost, whose come in as our first team coach has been absolutely superb.
“I know that Martin Ford gets all the headlines but Dean Frost has come into this club, he’s taken it by the scruff of the neck and taken a little weight of my shoulders.
“He’s got amongst the lads, made us hard to beat and has got a belief into the lads.
“I told you a couple of weeks ago that we don’t believe we’re going to get beat.”
Ford’s side have had a very hectic run-in, having reached the fifth round of the FA Vase this season.
In fact their 1-0 defeat up at Cammell Laird in the middle of February was their last defeat but following last night’s celebrations, it’s back down to business this week at Sevenoaks Town on Tuesday night, home games against Herne Bay (Thursday) and Deal Town (Saturday) before a grudge match at Maidstone United on Easter Monday.
They end their league campaign with a home game with Erith Town on 22 April before locking horns with the Stones in the Kent League Cup Final seven days later at Folkestone Invicta’s Buzzlines Stadium.
“They’ve come through a hectic period of fixtures and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone,” said Ford.
“We’ve come through to win the cup and the way we did it today to go to extra time and pick ourselves up and win it on penalties - it’s fantastic.”
With his side chasing a top-three finish, Ford admits his side’s league position has to be better next term.
“We’ve always been a good cup side,” he said. I want to see us next year be a good league side.
“I think we’ve got the boys in there with the capabilities on our own patch, people coming to VCD they won’t envy that.
“We really have to push on and try to establish ourselves. You only have to look at the quality within our squad.”
Ford revealed he’d tried to sign Wells goalkeeper Whitehouse at the beginning of the season - but praised his 23-year-old goalkeeper.
“We were going to sign John at the start of the season and it’s funny how it turns out at the end of the day.
“We’ve got a goalkeeper that I’m very proud of and he’s sort of an unsung-hero in the club at the moment.
“He’s producing well, week-in, week-out. A lot of players get the credit, such as Danny Penny, Mark Greatorex and Paul Foley, who get all the headlines but Grant Wallis plods away every week.
“He’s deserved to have the plaudits today, he’s a smashing kid and he hasn’t let me down all season.
“My only regret was we didn’t have him at the start of the season. If we did I think we’d be chasing the treble.”
Both managers patted each other’s back before the game went to a penalty shoot-out and there is a mutual respect between both MF’s - Ford and Wells boss Martin Farnie.
Farnie said: “I have a lot of respect for Martin and I’m probably about one of the people in the league that really gets on with him quite well.
“I take him as I see him and I think he’s allright. He’s got a passion for his club and I think he’s done the best for his football club and if people don’t like it, tough!
“We’ve all got our own ways of dealing with it. I just respect his way of doing it. You look at his Kent League track record and it’s second to none. Hr’s probably the most successful manager in the Kent League.”
Ford added: “I thought Tunbridge Wells were superb. I love Martin as a manager, he works hard at his job and his team were an absolute credit today.
“A lot of people turned up today and I think they were surprised of the quality of the Tunbridge Wells side. I wasn’t because I know Martin’s good at his job.”
Ford is expected to make a few changes for their game at basement boys Sevenoaks Town on Tuesday.
“I’m not kidding myself. Four or five are not going to be available,” revealed Ford. “We’ve got a big squad and we’ll give a few people a game.”
Ford felt it was important to win the Kent Senior Trophy as they aim to complete a cup double this season.
“That’s why today was so important for us,” said Ford. “We wanted to get the first one under our belt.
But is this the chance for the Greatness Club outfit to win only their fourth league win of a very poor campaign against a physically drained side?
“I felt extra time was slipping away. I was trying to get a little bit more effort out of the lads. I thought the extra time performance today caught upon us,” admitted Ford.
“The games that we’ve been playing, I’ve got some good kids in there, some old legs in there but I thought our lads were strong.”
* Greatness Park stages the Kent Women’s Cup Final on Wednesday night between Charlton Athletic and Millwall, which is the repeat of last season’s showpiece final which underdogs Millwall won on penalties.
Then on Good Friday, Greatness Park’s two pitches stages two cup finals. The Sevenoaks Charity Cup Junior Final between Sutton Athletic’s reserves and Westerham Reserves kicks off at 10:30am and then half-an-hour later Otford tackle Westerham in the Senior Final.
Sevenoaks Town v VCD Athletic
Kentish Observer League
Tuesday 11th April 2006
Kick Off 7:45pm
At Greatness Park, Mill Lane, Seal Road, Sevenoaks