Herne Bay 1-3 Ramsgate - To come here and beat teams like this everyone has got to play well, says Ramsgate boss Matt Longhurst

Tuesday 02nd November 2021
Herne Bay 1 – 3 Ramsgate
Location Winch's Field, Stanley Gardens, Herne Bay, Kent CT6 5SG
Kickoff 02/11/2021 19:45

Isthmian League South East Division
Tuesday 2 November 2021
Stephen McCartney reports from Winch’s Field

RAMSGATE manager Matt Longhurst says his side must reach the heights more often after becoming the first side this season to come away from Winch’s Field with a win over their fellow promotion chasing rivals Herne Bay.

Impressive right-winger Joshua Ajayi, 19, scored twice to take his goalscoring tally up for 12 to give hard-working Ramsgate a 2-0 lead at the break.

However, Herne Bay’s left-winger Kieron Campbell drilled in a 35-yarder to pull a goal back early in the second half, before Ramsgate sealed the victory through Lee Prescott’s finish as both of these Kent sides swap places in the Isthmian League South East Division table.

Cray Valley (Paper Mills) are top with 29 points from 12 games, while Haywards Heath Town (28 points from 11), Ashford United (23 points from 11), VCD Athletic (21 points from 12) and Ramsgate (20 points from 11) are in the play-offs.

Herne Bay have slipped down a place into sixth with 20 points from 10 games, while managerless Hastings United are seventh with 19 points from nine.

Herne Bay went into this game having lost 2-0 at home to Binfield in The FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round, while Ramsgate thrashed bottom-side Phoenix Sports 4-0 in what turned out to be Paul Bryon’s last game in charge of the club.

“I thought we were very good tonight,” said Longhurst.

“I’ve been a little bit disappointed with us of late but we haven’t really made excuses. We’ve had people missing and I’ve not been too worried but people get nervous when one or two results that haven’t quite gone your way but now we’ve got the group back together.

“Herne Bay are decent, they’re one of the best teams we’ve played. They’re constantly a threat but I thought we out-worked them tonight if I’m honest. We worked very, very hard without the ball and then we had a little bit of quality when we had it.”

When he was told that his Ramsgate side were the first to score and win a league game here, Longhurst replied: “I didn’t know that. I don’t think many people will come here and beat them.  That’s a very, very good result for us.  The result was great but performance wise that’s up there. We beat Hastings and we beat these.  To win those games you’ve got to play well. You’re not going to come here and not play well and win, you’re really not, so I’m delighted with it.”

Herne Bay manager Ben Smith cut a bitterly disappointed figure after the game.

“We got what we deserved – nothing out of the game,” admitted Smith.

“I thought they did the basics much better than us tonight and also there’s fine margins in there.  Their keeper had an absolute stormer as well, so could we got something out of the game? Yes, we could’ve. At 2-1 down it swung massively in our favour but then fine margins, within minutes of missing a chance, they go and score.

“You’re going to lose games this season, as disappointing as it was tonight it was a great opportunity for us to make up some grounds but we haven’t taken that so we just have to move forward.

“We’re very quick to press the panic button here as a club, myself and the players included.  Unfortunately, it’s the nature of football, you’re going to lose games in a season. We’re used to winning, it hurts but when you’ve lost a game that’s when you see people’s true colours and you see the true character of people, so it’s an important stage of the season for us to get ourselves back doing the basics well because tonight I thought we were a bit of a soft touch and we can’t be a soft touch.

“The expectations have risen because of what we’ve done. We’ve made our own expectations so it’s not good enough, absolutely not.  I’ll go home, I won’t sleep properly over that. The players will know I’m fuming, rightly so, and I’ll get some stick over that from the supporters.

“That famous old saying ‘never too high, never too low’, that does not apply to Herne Bay Football Club.

“Second half, 2-1 down you heard the fans getting behind us but the timing of their third goal absolutely kills any momentum we gained in that game absolutely killed it dead but expectations at Herne Bay Football Club is to win. We expect better from us. It wasn’t that when we came here. We have to dust ourselves off and go again.” 

Herne Bay created their first opening after only 41 seconds when left-winger Samuel Naiwo was released down the left and his cross was met by Aaron Millbank’s near-post header, which deflected off Ramsgate’s centre-half Callum Emptage and narrowly missed the top of the near post.

“From our angle you’re thinking it’s dropping but at the minute it’s not doing that for us, so a bright start,” added Smith.

However, Ramsgate produced a good move inside the opening nine minutes when striker Ashley Miller played the ball over to Ajayi, who drilled his right-footed shot over the top of the near post from 15-yards, the shot taking a deflection off Herne Bay’s left-back Jack Parter.

Herne Bay’s talisman, Zak Ansah, linked up well with central midfielder Hamilton Antonio through the heart of the pitch before Ansah’s right-footed drilled shot from 35-yards only just cleared the top of the right-hand upright.

Ansah fed a square pass inside to Campbell, who cut the ball towards the near post where attacking midfielder Aaron Millbank nipped in front of his marker to poke his shot past the foot of the near post from inside the six-yard box.

“I thought the game was a little bit basketball like at the beginning and I felt we didn’t want it to become like that,” said Longhurst.

However, despite those flurry of early Herne Bay chances, Ramsgate snatched the lead with 13 minutes and 39 seconds on the clock.

There was, however, a foul in the build-up with Herne Bay centre-half Laurence Harvey (who was forced off with a hamstring injury later on) being fouled.

Miller swung the free-kick in from the left and the ball was cleared out to Denzelle Olopade just outside the box.  Ajayi got away with fouling Harvey before running through and keeping composed to slot his right-footed shot past the diving keeper and into the net from 12-yards.

“We left Joshua out a couple of games ago against Corinthian because he hadn’t been great for a couple of games but he’s only 19.  He played well on Saturday and got a hat-trick and he’s followed it up with another two and it’s a composed finish as well for a young player,” said Longhurst.

Smith added: “It’s a blatant foul! There were about three or four players all together but I thought it was a foul – but it wasn’t (given) and they went through and scored.  You can’t just dress it up as a foul, a lot of people did think it was a foul, even neutrals behind me. It is what it is. It’s a bit of a hammer blow early on and you’ve had a couple of chances yourselves.”

Ramsgate goalkeeper Jacob Russell, 20, put in an outstanding performance and he was called into action to frustrate Herne Bay in the 29th minute.

Ansah played the ball inside to Campbell, who teed up an unmarked Bode Anidugbe, who unleashed a right-footed dipping drive from 35-yards, which was destined for the left-hand corner, only for Russell to dive to his right to push the ball out for a throw-in.

Smith said: “Story of what was to come from the keeper. Good strike, good save. I thought we looked dangerous when we went forward but not often enough.”

Longhurst added: “He’s going to be a great goalkeeper.  He had a real tough start against Three Bridges first game.  He pretty much cost us two points there (in a 2-2 draw). 

“Since that game it just shows the advantage of playing football at this level for these young players because he’s just got better and better and I thought tonight he’s made two or three saves that probably not many goalkeepers at this level make, so I’m pleased for him.”

Ramsgate swiftly went up the other end and twice struck both uprights.

Miller swung in another free-kick from the left and no one in a Herne Bay shirt picked up attacker Tijan Jadama inside the box, steering his free-header across the keeper and clipping the far post (left).

Herne Bay failed to clear their lines and just 21 seconds later, Miller’s shot on the turn trickled across goalkeeper Jordan Perrin and clipped the foot of the far post (right).

Longhurst said: “We were a little bit annoyed that we haven’t followed it in because Josh is standing around the edge of the box as it’s come back off the far post and he should really be in there tapping it in to make it two. We’ve hit the post twice in a matter of seconds.”

Smith admitted: “At that stage Laurence Harvey had been off the pitch. We looked very unlike ourselves, very ragged.  The basics weren’t being done. We lacked a bit of leadership at that point.”

Herne Bay faced a mountain to climb when referee Gerry Heron pointed to the spot when Daniel Johnson was penalised for a foul on Jadama on the right-hand side of the penalty area.

Ajayi stepped up and stroked his right-footed penalty into the bottom left-hand corner, although Perrin dived the same way, but couldn’t prevent Ramsgate doubling their lead in the 35th minute.

“I hate the way that he takes penalties, it drives me insane but he’s scored them all so far, touch wood. It’s not for me. It’s not for the feint hearted but his record is good so he can carry on doing that,” said Longhurst.

There were scouts at the game and Ajayi certainly caught the eye in this derby match.

Longhurst said: "Look, Joshua's a talented boy.  When he came here he couldn't get a club so we took an opportunuty on him. He scored twice on his debut against Burgess Hill the season before last. He's a good player, a talented player.  We put him on a two-year contract during lockdown and he's got a great future in the game but he's getting better and better.

"He's a young boy and there are games when he maybe doesn't involve himself and there's things where he can still add to it but certainly to have 12 goals by the beginning of November at 19 years of age at this level of football is excellent!"

Smith claimed it was a “very soft” penalty decision.

“We didn’t deserve to win the game, let me get that right, but I felt both the first two goals were very soft decisions, very, very soft.

“You want to see some character (at 2-0 down). I saw enough to think we could threaten the other end.  We’ve got it in us to come back.  You want to see some character from the players.”

Russell pulled off an outstanding world-class save three minutes before half-time to maintain Ramsgate’s two-goal lead going into half-time.

Antonio swept a crossfield ball over to left-winger Samuel Naiwo, who fed Ansah down the left hand side of the penalty area and from 15-yards the striker arrowed his right-footed shot towards the top far corner, only for Russell to dive full-length high to his left and use a strong right-hand to push the ball over his crossbar.

“That one is a great save,” Longhurst said of the former Crystal Palace stopper.

“Zak Ansah is one of the best forwards in the league. I felt apart from one or two little bits we kept him fairly quiet. He floats in little pockets in between the lines and he’s difficult to play against and I thought Kieron Campbell is just a constant threat, he’s so quick and they’re a threat.”

Smith simply added: “That’s a great save. As he hit it I’m expecting the net to bulge – fantastic save!”

Ramsgate hit Herne Bay on the counter-attack and just 59 seconds later, the impressive Ajayi cut in from the right and steered his shot towards the bottom right-hand corner, only for Perrin to swiftly get down low to his left and use a strong left hand to push the ball behind for a corner.

Longhurst revealed he was keen to bring Perrin to Southwood Stadium before opting to sign Russell instead.

“Good goalkeeper. I watched him a couple of years ago in a friendly, he played for K Sports and I kept tabs on him a little bit and then I saw him at Sittingbourne and we brought Jacob in. I like him, he’s a good goalkeeper. He’s got a good pedigree, he’s decent.”

Ramsgate created the final chance of the first-half when Ajayi drove in a cross from the right and Miller shot straight at Perrin from a central position on the edge of the six-yard box.

Both managers were asked their thoughts at half-time, inside heated dressing rooms.

Smith said: “Play with a high tempo, simple as that!  The few times we did, we got shots off. We’re at our best when we play at a high tempo. That’s what we’ve been doing all season, so that was it really. That and sort out our basic defending. We had the best defensive record in the league so far. We haven’t got that by luck. It’s by solid, the real basics, doing the basics really, really well from front to back. It’s not just to pinpoint the back four and the goalkeeper. We’ve done the basics really well and tonight the basics eluded us.”

Longhurst added: “We just wanted to make sure the first 15 minutes we didn’t concede. We wanted to put them on the back foot and really spin the game and make sure that we compressed the game in their half of the pitch and they kind of scored so early,” said Longhurst.

“We were 2-0 up a few weeks ago and we lost 3-2 (to Westfield in The FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round on 9 October), with a man sent off so they’re the experiences that these young lads are going through now.  I think at the time you’re thinking it’s a nuisance but it’s a learning curve for the boys and it’s an advantage.”

Smith clearly rallied his troops during the half-time interval and they responded in a positive manner as Herne Bay pulled a goal back after only 199 seconds.

No one in a Ramsgate shirt pressed the unmarked Campbell, who picked up a loose ball and drilled a right-footed shot into the left-hand corner from 35-yards, to the delight of the home fans in the 473 crowd, braving the chilly conditions.

“Deserved for Kieron as well, I thought he had a great game,” said Smith, after Campbell scored his second goal of the campaign.

“He caused their right-back (Jerald Aboagye) all sorts of problems and he is a good player.  You look at the game it’s our left winger (Campbell) or their right-winger (Ajayi) all down this side that’s caused all of the problems.

“Kieron gets kicked all over the place. You’d like to see referee’s protect him a bit more but there you go.”

Longhurst added: “A good finish but disappointed from our point of view. We should be getting up to the ball there. We’ll have a look at the goal. I’m disappointed with that but look when they’ve got players like that they will have a moment of quality now and again and unfortunately for us it’s gone into the back of the goal.”

Herne Bay continued with their momentum and Millbank had no option once inside the Ramsgate box but to cut the ball back towards Parter, who curled his left-footed shot just over the top of the far post from 30-yards.

Herne Bay turned defence into attack as three players were left in Ajayi’s wake down the right before Anidugbe’s fine challenge ended the Ramsgate winger’s progress.

Anidugbe hit a diagonal from inside the final third to release Naiwo down the right and he drilled in a low cross from the right into Ansah, who nipped in front of his marker to rifle his shot over the crossbar from 12-yards.

However, Ramsgate were clinical in front of goal on the night and grabbed a flattering third goal in the 64th minute.

Holding midfielder Olopade played the ball into Jadama, who swept the ball over to Ajayi on the right. The winger raced forward, cut into the box and from a tight angle his shot was parried by Perrin at his near post but the loose ball was smashed first-time low and into the back of the net by Prescott from eight-yards out.

“We’ve got the third and that kind of killed the tie,” said Longhurst.

“It was a good finish from Prescott.  He’s not renowned for his goalscoring but great finish.  We worked it out to Josh well, Josh gets a shot off and anything can happen once it comes back off the goalkeeper and it’s a decent finish and that knocked the stuffing out of them. 

“We weren’t necessarily going to create loads in the second half. We just needed to stay in the game and kept that foot-hold in the game and the third goal killed the game.

“I thought overall we deserved to win the game. I think a lot of that was what we did without the ball. We’ve got enough quality to score goals so as long as we keep that work-rate up, which we had when we we’re winning games prior to the little bad run that we had, that’s what we’ve got ourselves back to.”

Smith added: “As I say, you’ve got to take your chances when you’re on top. We were on top, the keeper’s pulled off great saves. It wasn’t like the Alamo at all. We had some chances and we were on top at 2-1. I thought we had them rocking a little bit but you’ve got to take your chances and if you don’t you get punished and that’s what’s happened to us. We’re flooding players forward and it’s going to be a little bit open, so yes, disappointing.”

Herne Bay created a further couple of chances but before the 70th minute mark, as both sides couldn’t get past resilient defences.

“Even tonight, you saw the leadership qualities of what Jamie Coyle brings.  Coylie’s only lost one league games and that game we had three or four players missing and that’s why we brought him in and he does make a difference,” added the Ramsgate manager.

Centre-half Johnson travelled with the ball at his feet and just before he reached the half-way line his long ball released Ansah down the left.  He fed Naiwo, who played the ball back to Ansah, who curled his right-footed shot around the far post.

Referee Gerry Herron awarded a corner.  The ball came in from Anidugbe from the right and the ball fell to substitute centre-half Daniel Carrington, who rifled his shot towards the roof of the goal from six-yards.

Russell pulled off a fine reaction save, raising both of his arms above his head to push the ball over the crossbar, helping Ramsgate claiming the local bragging rights and more importantly the three points that puts them in the play-off zone tonight.

With back-to-back defeats, Smith demands a reaction from his side when 12th-placed side Sevenoaks Town visit Winch’s Field on Saturday, while Longhurst takes Ramsgate to his former club, East Grinstead Town, currently in the bottom four with nine points from 11 games.

“What we have to make sure we do is we have to follow that level of performance on Saturday against East Grinstead, that’s the main priority,” said Longhurst.

“We’ve set our stall out and as I’ve just said to the players just then, if they don’t reach those heights now, then they’ll give me an opportunity to moan.”

Smith’s men, meanwhile, have picked up seven more points than Micky Collins’ outfit.

“It will be a tough game. They’ve picked up, they started the season horrendously but Micky Collins is good manager and he’ll have a side playing for him. They buy into the way he plays.  It’s not an easy game after a loss.  Everyone will expect us to beat them. The league doesn’t work like that does it.  They’re a decent midtable side at the minute.

“It’s 10 games in so the table hasn’t taken shape you. Tonight was an opportunity for us to help make it take shape and we didn’t take the opportunity so we’ve had a good start to the season. All is not lost now.

“We can sulk about it and we can point fingers. I’ll have a look if I need to freshen it up. Sometimes it’s not about signing new players. There’s some basics there that we’ve seen over the last two games that we need to work on. We haven’t had a training session to do that yet so there’s things we need to work on and I saw positives tonight.

“Were we anywhere near our best? Absolutely not! I think Ramsgate had greater energy about them than us for longer periods of the game. We’ve been very good at doing the basics well, we haven’t done that today and if you come up against a very good side there’s half a chance of getting punished and tonight we were.

“We haven’t done enough to win a game. We’ve scored a goal, in my mind that should be enough, the way we’ve been playing, that’s enough to win the game but there was some basic defending today that I didn’t like – from very, very good players by the way, some very good players looked very average tonight and I expect them to improve from that.”

Herne Bay: Jordan Perrin, Ryan Cooper, Jack Parter, Bode Anidugbe, Daniel Johnson, Laurence Harvey (Daniel Carrington 29), Kieron Campbell, Hamilton Antonio, Zak Ansah, Aaron Millbank (Eniyelayefa Amgbaduba 74), Samuel Naiwo (Tom Phipp 80).
Subs: Noel-Reion McFarlane, Lucas Hanley

Goal: Kieron Campbell 49

Booked: Laurence Harvey 26, Bode Anidugbe 82, Jack Parter 87, Daniel Johnson 90

Ramsgate: Jacob Russell, Jerald Aboagye, Jake McIntyre, Lee Prescott, Callum Emptage, Jamie Coyle, Callum Peck (Nico Cotton 90), Denzelle Olopade, Ashley Miller (Jordan Chiedozie 75), Tijan Jadama, Joshua Ajayi.
Subs: Ben Harding, Vinnie Medhurst, George Baker-Moran

Goals: Joshua Ajayi 14, 35 (penalty), Lee Prescott 64

Booked: Jerald Aboagye 63, Ashley Miller 71, Joshua Ajayi 73, Lee Prescott 85

Attendance: 473
Referee: Mr Gerry Heron
Assistants: Mr Michael Butcher & Mr Myles Hewson