Holmesdale 1-4 Banstead Athletic - I don't know where the application and desire was today, says frustrated Holmesdale boss Ian Varley

Saturday 24th September 2016
Holmesdale 1 – 4 Banstead Athletic
Location 68 Oakley Road, Bromley, Kent BR2 8HQ
Kickoff 24/09/2016 15:00

The Buildbase FA Vase Second Qualifying Round
Saturday 24th September 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Oakley Road

HOLMESDALE manager Ian Varley says he has threatened to wield the axe if he sees a repeat of this poor performance from his side.


Banstead Athletic arrived at Oakley Road sitting in third-place in the Combined Counties League Division One table on 16 points from eight games, a couple of points behind leaders AC London, who made the switch from the Kent Invicta League.

Holmesdale went into this FA Vase Second Qualifying Round tie in fifth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table with 17 points from nine games, eight points behind leaders Rusthall.

But Holmesdale defended like a pub team, regularly giving the ball away and clearly missing their two central defenders Jack Hooper and Jamie Rawsthorne, who were both on holiday.

Banstead Athletic set the tone when a cross from winger Anthony J Morrison from the right went in off the far post to give the visitors’ a deserved early lead – and Holmesdale lacked quality, heart and desire for large parts of the first half.

James Cameron’s side deservedly doubled their lead through Sonny Ayres in the 28th minute and poked in a third on the hour through Billy Frost.

Holmesdale pulled a goal back with nine minutes remaining through striker Jamie Williams from inches from the goal-line, before Banstead Athletic striker Martin Smith drilled in his 12th goal of the season to ease the Surrey club through to the First Round.

Banstead Athletic declined to play this game on Friday night and to add insult to injury for the hosts, only 30 people bothered to watch Holmesdale put in their worst performance of the season after suffering relegation under hapless manager Byron Beard last season.

“I haven’t got any complaints really, we were just poor today, not good enough, not good enough all over the pitch,” said an honest Varley, after his fourth defeat in his first 13 games in charge of the Bromley-based club.

“I’ve no idea where it’s come from, no idea. After the results (we’ve had), suggest we’re better than that – which we are – like I said, I have no idea where that performance came from.

“I couldn’t put my finger on it. We got beat here on Tuesday (3-1 to Kent Football United), first defeat for a while, today was just nothing, nothing, no one wanted to run, no one wanted to work hard, they didn’t do the basics. The goals were still poor but they deserved to be in the lead first 20 minutes, maybe one, two or three. I have no complaints with the result.”

Holmesdale created the first opening after only 148 seconds when right-back Jordan Clarke (who continually gave the ball away) clipped the ball out of defence to put in Aaron McCallum down the right channel but he dragged hit shot across the keeper and past the far post when he should have called the keeper into action.

A poor crossfield pass out of defence by Clarke went to Morrison, who cut inside and rolled the ball to play Ayres in behind a flat back four, the striker was denied by a fine block from Alfie George, who seconds later saw Frost’s shot sail over his crossbar from 25-yards.

“Good save. We were a bit flat, giving the ball away in your own half, you’re going to be in trouble but Alfie bailed us out early on, which he did a couple of times in the first half,” said Varley.

“First 20 minutes we wasn’t good enough, we gave the ball away, didn’t run to get it back and caused our own problems.”

Banstead Athletic produced another sweeping move which saw Frost put Ayres in behind Neil Spackman again but George used his left leg to make another vital block.

Banstead keeper Sam Johnson-Freeman pumped in a free-kick into the Holmesdale box and Smith’s free header from 16-yardss sailed past the right-hand post.

Holmesdale’s defensive line of Clarke, Spackman, Dan Palfrey and James Theodorescu were poor collectively.

Therefore, it was no surprise when Banstead Athletic deservedly opened the scoring, timed at 14 minutes and 8 seconds.

The A’s swept the ball from left to right through Frost, Robert Webbe and Lewis Jackson, who played the ball out to right winger Morrison, who was given time and space to dink his cross into the box.  The ball sailed over George’s head and Clarke just stood there to watch the ball clip the far post and bounce into the net.

Varley said: “Cross-come-shot, obviously not a shot, a cross. It’s one of those could the keeper done better? Or has it just literally dropped? It’s probably just dropped top corner back in the net.

“We’ve got to get nearer to stop the cross. I don’t know. Alfie might say he could do better, I’m not sure. It’s always difficult for me to say. Poor goal.”

Banstead Athletic easily got in behind Holmesdale defenders again when Frost cut into the box to his an angled drive which was caught by George, the only player who could come out with any credit in the first half.

Holmesdale’s first opening arrived in the 20th minute when Justiniao Junior fed Ismail Ismail, who dragged his shot past the post from 25-yards.

Smith was given freedom to drop deep and turn and drag his shot past the far post from 25-yards, when the Holmedale defence was non-existent with Spackman having a shocking game in the heart of Holmesdale’s defence.

Varley said: “It’s a bad trait for us to have today because that’s not like us and you know watching us last year (at Glebe) with a similar group we like to play football.  We gave it away, it’s one of those days. I just said to them after, it can’t happen again! I’d be more concerned if we weren’t winning games and we were struggling in the league but I have no idea where that’s come from!”

But Holmesdale showed no heart or desire from the first minute until minute 35 and Banstead Athletic doubled their lead in the 28th minute.

Holmesdale’s pub-side defenders failed to clear their lines with Ismail the last player to gift the ball to Banstead, which resulted in Morrison playing in Ayres in behind to sweep his right-footed shot across George to find the bottom far corner from 10-yards.

“It started from a poor clearance from the centre back. It came back in, then too many touches on the edge of the box and it came back in and they scored.  Too many people weren’t on it today,” added Varley, a full time football coach with The Kent Football Association.

Holmesdale striker Williams cracked a drive across the keeper from the right-hand corner of the box, which whistled past the far post and behind for a goal-kick, before Nuttall played a one-two with Danny Gannon and hit a left-footed drive over the crossbar from 25-yards.

It was much better play from Holmesdale and they were denied by the far post in the 38th minute.

McCallum collected the ball in space down the left channel and he cut the ball back to Ismail, who cut inside and his curler sailed around the keeper and clipped the far post and keeper Johnson-Freeman got down low to his right to save Williams’ follow-up drive.

Varley said: “We livened up, I say livened up, but they let us back in.  I think it was too easy for them.

“From 35-half-time we did alright. We got in around the box, we had a few chances. Ismail hit the post, Williams had one blocked. Williams again had a shot.

“From 35-45 we were better. That wasn’t us being much better, I think it was too easy for them and they dropped off.”

Johnson-Freeman got down low to his left beside his near post to prevent Holmesdale skipper Palfrey bending his left-footed free-kick from 30-yards into the bottom near corner.

Varley added: “Comfortable save, I think, no issues with that.”

Palfrey played a sublime 50-yard diagonal pass out of Holmesdale’s defence, which was brought down well by Gannon, the striker cutting into the box to drill his angled drive past the far post.

When asked what was said at the break, Varley replied: “What wasn’t said?! It’s the first time I’ve had to go mad at them because I don’t really generally like doing that. It wasn’t anything tactical or anything. We showed no desire, no one wanted to run, they were giving the ball away, five-yard passes, we weren’t able to do that. I just gave it to them at half-time and see what we could do second half.”

When asked whether he got a reaction from his side, Varley replied: “Not really! Not at the start. I think we started poorly again.

“Once we started making changes it seemed to help. Maybe in hindsight those changes should’ve happened at half-time. I like to give people a chance. Once we made the changes it livened us up, a little bit.”

Banstead’s left-back Tom Drinkwater clipped the ball up to Smith, who once again gave Spackman the run around to cut into the box and steer his shot towards goal, on the angle from ten-yards, which stung George’s fingers after only 107 seconds.

Banstead Athletic called George into action following Banstead’s second and third corners of the game.

Frost swung in a corner from the right and winger Morrison steered his header straight at George from inside the six-yard box.

Frost then swung in a deeper corner which Holmesdale failed to track Smith’s run around the back and his planted header was pushed over the bar by George’s outstretched left hand.

“They had chances, they had more than what they scored today, just too easy,” admitted Varley.

“We were just getting engaged in defence today. Let them turn too much, didn’t get tight enough, free headers. Alfie made a couple of good saves. The third goal was coming in terms of play but once they got in and around our box they looked like scoring, which is not like us.”

Drinkwater clipped another ball down the left-channel and this time it was Frost who was allowed to cut inside to lash his shot across goal and harmlessly past the far post, as Clarke and Spackman went missing again.

Smith’s lay-off was hit first time by Morrison, a left-footed angled drive from 30-yards, which bounced into George’s hands for a comfortable save.

Holmesdale midfielder Nuttall cracked a first time drive from 30-yards, which stung Johnson-Freeman’s fingers so much he had to grab the ball at the second attempt.

More embarrassing defending allowed Banstead Athletic to score their third on the hour-mark.

Frost slipped the ball to Smith, who easily turned Spackman in the box, cut his run towards the left-hand side of the penalty area to centre low for Frost to poke his first time shot across George to roll the ball into the bottom far corner from six-yards.

“Easy goal. They got in behind too easy, no one tracked the runners and he’s just poked it in,” said Varley.

“They haven’t celebrated any of their three goals, it was that easy! They didn’t celebrate at the end because they haven’t had to do anything! They’ve just turned up and given goals and been given the game.”

Holmesdale left-winger Ismail cracked a right-footed drive which was gobbled up by Johnson-Freeman.

When asked what he wanted from his side, Varley replied: “Just try to get back in the game, obviously we made a few changes to see what we could do. It’s difficult when you’re playing as poorly as we are. We’ve just got to keep doing. No one wants to give up. I didn’t think we did give up. We just weren’t good enough on the day.”

Big target-man Anthony Fenech passed a pre-match fitness test on his groin injury and the substitute almost scored with his first touch in the 68th minute.

Palfrey swept a free-kick into the Banstead box where Fenech glanced his header past the left-hand post.

Banstead sub Christopher Gregson played the ball to Morrison, who cut inside and floated in a cross towards the far post which wasn’t cleared by Adriano Lawson and Smith hooked his shot past the near post from eight-yards.

Holmesdale were to be denied a lifeline in the 70th minute when assistant referee Stephen Wilson rose his flag.

Ismail twisted and turned his man down the left and his deflected cross fell at Williams feet, who tapped the ball over the line from close range, only for the flag to go up, much to the striker’s disgust.

“Didn’t look offside, didn’t look it but I’m miles away so the linesman’s got a better view than me,” said Varley.

“It looked like Ismail pulled it back actually but it goes for you or not. I’m not going to complain about one goal because I don’t think it would’ve made that much difference at the time.

“We started to get into it a little bit at that point, once the subs had been made.”

Banstead were awarded a free-kick on the left-hand corner of the box and Frost tried to find the near corner, but George had time to get across to catch the ball at the second attempt.

Williams laid the ball off for Ismail who cracked a right-footed angled drive from the left from 25-yards, which was screaming towards the top far corner, which forced Johnson-Freeman to make a great save, high to his left to push the ball around his post with his outstretched left-hand.

Holmesdale scored a consolation goal from the resulting corner, with nine minutes remaining.

Palfrey floated in a corner from the right and Fenech rose to plant his powerful downward header towards goal, which was touched in by goal-poacher Williams on the goal-line.

“It was Williams, he nicked it on the line, even Fenech’s said that,” said Varley, who agreed that Fenech’s 22 minute cameo role was a positive.

“Anthony’s been injured, you can see he makes a difference. He gives us a different option. He’s very strong and it means we can play a little bit direct up to him. He’s not been fit for two or three weeks so it’s good to get him on the pitch.  He had a couple of chances as well. That was probably the only positive from today, we got him back on the pitch for 20 minutes.

“He (Williams) headed it in from the line, that’s what the boys are saying, so I’ll go with that.”

Frost’s shot on the turn was too hot for George to handle and there could be no complains when Banstead Athletic rattled in their fourth goal in the 84th minute.

Smith turned Palfrey on the right-hand side of the penalty area and drilled his shot across George into the bottom far corner from 15-yards to add to his impressive run of goalscoring form.

Varley added: “Too easy again, too far away from him. Too many players let him finish. The third goal got us back in it but it was soon all over. No complaints.”

But to Holmesdale’s credit, they didn’t throw in the towel and created three late chances.

Williams and Gannon linked up and Fenech cracked a powerful left-footed angled drive, which forced Johnson-Freeman to dive high to his left to make another fine save.

Lawson floated in a cross and Fenech showed desire to go in head first to plant his header over the bar.

And a spell of pin-ball in and around the Banstead box saw Gannon play the ball into Williams, whose powerful drive was palmed around the post by the keeper at his near post.

“We had a few (chances) and we did keep going. It was definitely not good enough today but we didn’t give up,” said Varley.

“I think it wasn’t us playing well towards the end, I think they saw the game out. They weren’t going to concede three in the last two minutes so those chances tend to happen when it’s like that.”

Varley has threatened to axe players should he see this shockingly poor performance again from his side.

“I don’t know where that’s come from! One defeat in ten and then we do that. You were expecting us to be better than that today, I’m sure. I didn’t have a massive go at them at the end because it’s not every week. If you’re bottom of the league and getting battered like that every week, then it’s a concern. I just can’t put my finger on it, same prep, we had a game on Tuesday, came in today, very similar team to Tuesday night.

“We’re missing our centre halves Jack Hooper and Jamie Rawsthorne, it doesn’t help when you both go on holiday but I don’t know where the application and desire was today, it’s frustrating!

“If it happens again, there’s got to be changes.”

Meanwhile, today’s referee was Phil Miles, the former manager of Slade Green, Greenwich Borough and Waltham Forest - and The Football Association should do more to get former players and managers to take up the whistle.

“I think he was alright. I don’t remember me shouting at him so I think he was alright,” said Varley.

“I think it’s better when you’ve got people that have actually played. He’s played before he managed, at least he’s been involved in football, rather than people that don’t play football.  You get some referees who don’t watch or play football, yet still referee a game.

“I had no problems with him today. He talked to players, he let a few things go. He knows more what a 50-50 is because he’s managed and players so yes it makes sense.”

When asked whether he would take up the whistle in the future, Varley inevitably replied: “It’s a hard job. I don’t think so, I don’t think so! I’d like to try it just to see. It’s so difficult.  I don’t know how hard it is. You just have to make the right decisions, can’t be that hard. I had no problem with the ref today, I thought he was fine.”

Holmesdale: Alfie George, Jordan Clarke, James Theodorescu, Dan Tolfrey, Neil Spackman, Jaie Nuttall (Anthony Fenech 68), Ismail Ismail, Justiniao Junior (Liam Rosenfield 58), Jamie Williams, Danny Gannon, Aaron McCallum (Adriano Lawson 58).
Subs: Connor Charlton, Deji Adeosun

Goal: Jamie Williams 81

Banstead Athletic: Sam Johnson-Freeman, Joseph Hill, Tom Drinkwater, Robert Webbe (Ben Drewett 64), Matthew O’Brien, James King, Anthony J Morrison (Joel Atkins 77), Lewis Jackson, Martin Smith, Billy Frost, Sonny Ayres (Christopher Gregson 64).

Goals: Anthony J Morrison 15, Sonny Ayres 28, Billy Frost 60, Martin Smith 84

Attendance: 30
Referee: Mr Phil Miles (Upminster, Essex)
Assistants: Mr Gary Caley (Hornchurch, Essex) & Mr Stephen Wilson (Rainham, Essex)

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