Holmesdale 1-3 Cray Valley (Paper Mills) - I've got a great supportive commitee behind me, says Cray Valley boss Paul Gross

Wednesday 28th October 2015
Holmesdale 1 – 3 Cray Valley (Paper Mills)
Location 68 Oakley Road, Bromley, Kent BR2 8HQ
Kickoff 28/10/2015 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League
Wednesday 28th October 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Oakley Road

CRAY VALLEY player-manager Paul Gross says he has the support of the club’s committee despite struggling in the bottom six after 13 league games.

The Millers suffered a 5-0 home defeat to Ashford United at the weekend but they bounced back to beat fellow strugglers Holmesdale at Oakley Road tonight.

The Bromley based outfit are struggling in the bottom three in the Southern Counties East Football League table with 8 points from 11 games.

Byron Beard’s side took an early lead through much-travelled Rikki Cable, before Gross capitalised on a goalkeeping mistake to bring Cray Valley back on level terms.

The game seemed destined to peter out into a draw but former Cray Wanderers midfielder Rory Hill scored twice in the space of 142 seconds to ease the pressure on Gross.

He said: “It was tough after Saturday. You look for a reaction from the boys. We needed to bounce back. We spoke before the game. It’s just not me that felt humiliated Saturday, it’s the whole team. We let down the club but tonight we’ve dug deep, just matched them.

“I asked the boys to give me everything they’ve got tonight and then you say to them our bit of quality should come out on top and you saw that with Rory Hill’s goals at the end.

“Saturday is not forgotten. That will stick in my mind for a long time. That’s the worst feeling I’ve ever had as a manager and as a player to be honest but that goes some way repairing a bit of damage.

“But again I just said to the lads that means absolutely nothing unless we take that into a run of games now because we’re just not where this squad should be in the league and it’s frustrating at times.”

Reflecting on the club’s league position with 13 points, Gross said: “It’s not good enough!  We know that, I know that, the boys know that.

“It’s one thing I’ve got, one thing I’m lucky enough to have, I’ve got a great committee behind me, which they’ve been nothing but supportive.

“They can see it is a false position because we’ve had games where we’ve dominated and we’ve just switched off and lost but that can’t happen with the players I’ve got in that changing room and the experience they’ve got, the levels they’ve been at that shouldn’t happen, so tonight, hopefully, that’s the start of a little turnaround for us.”

Former Orpington boss Beard took charge of his first game on Saturday when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Deal Town but went down to the club’s seventh league defeat after 11 games tonight.

Holmesdale assistant manager Ross Mitchell said: “We went 1-0 up and didn’t really threaten after that and that’s the disappointing thing.  That’s quite a reoccurring thing this season.

“We’ve gone 1-0 up and we haven’t pushed on from there. It’s all about game management and I don’t think we’ve sussed that one just yet.”

The Bromley outfit are only two points clear of bottom-placed neighbours Croydon.

“There is relegation, let’s not beat around the bush. We’re not talking about that just yet but we’ve got to be realistic and we are where we are,” said Mitchell.

“It’s not that we’re playing bad, it’s not that we’re an awful team. We’ve got good players. It’s just game management and a bit of savvy throughout the game and we haven’t quite sussed that one yet.”

Cray Valley created the first chance inside the opening nine minutes.

Byron Walker danced his way into the Holmesdale penalty area before his driven shot was blocked by Gio Fullone and the ball came to Hill who drove a right-footed shot which was blocked by the legs of goalkeeper Joel Hannington.

Mitchell explained why Jack Yerlett, 17, has been dropped for Beard’s first two games in charge of the club.

“The problem with these kids you can throw them in and you can ruin them,” said Mitchell.

“Jack came to us when Wilfs (John Wilfort) was in charge and we made a conscience decision to take him out the team and rest him – whilst he was playing well – so he’s come out on a good note but Jack will get his chance again no doubt.”

Reflecting on the save, Mitchell added: “He’s good at that! He’s good at shot stopping Joel. He’s made some vital saves as he did on Saturday against Deal.”

Gross said: “He had a couple tonight, Rory. He could’ve walked off with five or six tonight and there’s no one more disappointed. We had to pick him up at half-time.  He’s got what his performance deserved. He’s got the two goals for us in the end.  You know with him, he’ll keep plugging away for you and he will come good at the end – and it did!”

Cray Valley central midfielder Jimmy Rogers then floated a free-kick in from the right which was met by a header from Gross, which was saved by Hannington low to his right.

But Holmesdale opened the scoring – against the run of play – with 12 minutes and 18 seconds on the clock.

Cable, playing out wide on the left, picked the ball up on the edge of the box and stroked his left-footed drive, which took a wicked deflection off Brad Potter, deceived the diving goalkeeper and nestled into the bottom near corner.

Mitchell said: “Always fancy Rick when he gets in those positions. He’s always a threat and always looking to score, so when he’s one the edge of the box and doing a bit, then we always hope he’s going to score.”

Gross said: “That’s just our luck! I lose it on the half-way line, not good enough from me, still got to do a lot but that’s our luck.

“It goes in off a deflection and the keeper’s wrong-footed and that’s just the way it’s been for us, but what do you do from that? Do you feel sorry for yourself and go in your shell, which a team in our position, the way things are going for us, we could’ve or do you man up and go and get something out of the game?

“As I said to the boys, if it ain’t going for you, go and make it happen and to be honest the first goal, we made it happen and that put them on the back foot because we dominated the first half.

“They had a five minute spell, we totally dominated it and we just couldn’t turn our chances.”

Rogers released Hill down the left and he cut inside and whipped in a cross which bounced off the onrushing Gross at the near post, the ball bouncing wide.

But a mistake from Hannington gifted Cray Valley an equaliser, which was accepted by Gross, with 28 minutes and 46 seconds on the clock.

Lee Craig clipped the ball out of defence to hit the left channel but Hannington rushed off his line towards his right hand corner of the penalty area.

He grabbed hold of the ball at Gross’ feet, spilt the ball and the Millers player-manager took a couple of touches before steering his right-footed shot past two men on the line to find the bottom near corner.

Reflecting on his second goal of the season, Gross said: “He fumbled a couple didn’t he?  Like I say, I’m always banging on the lads about working hard and that.

“Listen, people can say I’m in the team because I pick it. It couldn’t be any further from the truth!

“When the time’s right, I don’t pick myself when I have to pick myself. I like to think myself as a leader, sometimes you’ve got to lead, so I’ve done what I’ve asked the boys, work hard and tried to get myself in a position to get the team a goal.”

Mitchell admitted: “I praise Joel but he’s got to do better there and he’ll be the first one to tell you he’s got to do better and he’s apologised to the boys at half-time.”

Cray Valley were the better side throughout the game and they created chances to increase their lead before the interval.

Holmesdale may have had former TOWIE actor Dan Osborne playing with the number 9 shirt on his back but he offered very little for the 65 minutes that he was on the pitch.

“You get what you deserve in football sometimes,” said Mitchell.

“Sometimes there’s harsh results, sometimes there’s fair results. I thought that was a fair result and tonight when you have one shot on goal and don’t really test the keeper after that, you don’t deserve to pick up much.”

Mitchell revealed that the club has lost five-goal striker Marcus Cassius, while Paul Springett has returned to Erith & Belvedere.

“We’ve kept the majority of the season together, only a couple of the boys have left and that’s understandable.

“Marcus, I believe is going to another club but I’m not sure what one yet.  They’re experienced players, like any player in this league they’re replaceable.

“Geordie had a good engine on him and worked hard. Cass was always a threat in front of goal. On their day their good players and good lads. Any player of that experience level is some loss but there’s plenty more out there.”

Gross was put through on goal after a miss-placed pass but his right-footed chip was palmed away by Hannington, high to his left just past the half-hour mark.

Joe Matthews penetrated the Holmesdale defence and his deep cross sailed over Gross’s head at the far post and fell at Warren Whiteley’s feet but the right-winger dragged his shot past the far post.

Hannington kept Holmesdale in the game after pulling off a great save in the 36th minute.

Walker was released down the right and from the by-line he cut the ball back towards Gross, who allowed the ball to run through his legs into Hill’s path and his right-footed rasping drive was palmed over by the keeper, high to his right.

Mitchell said: “Great save, strong hand there and he was big there and done really well. It was a great save!”

Gross added: “We had a lot of good chances.  The keeper made another great save off Rory.

“He managed to get to mine, one I tried to catch him off his line. We had a few half chances but that’s what we do, that’s what we’ve been doing all season. We do create, the problem is turning it into goals, but tonight we’ve turned it into a few goals. I’m more than happy.”

Cray Valley squandered another chance just before the break.

Hill released Gross down the left and he waited for Rogers to make a late run towards the edge of the penalty area before hitting a first time right-footed shot which was saved by Hannington, low to his left.

Both camps were asked their thoughts at the break.

Mitchell said: “We just said to them, it wasn’t a good half. We’re lucky to be where we are and you have to take the positive from that and go out and kick on and we just didn’t get going tonight for some reason and that’s not acceptable.”

Gross added: “I told them I wasn’t happy! Apart from the opening five minutes, we dominated the game.

“It’s one-all and I’m not happy. I said keep doing it and it will come good, which it did, but I just felt maybe working a bit harder and just a bit more quality and that did come so I’m happy in the end.”

Holmesdale brought on former Orpington midfielder Josh Froggatt at the break and he was their best player during the second half, a threat down the right wing.

Froggatt cut along the edge of the penalty area with the ball before playing the ball inside to Cable, whose shot was blocked and Michael McKenna’s half-volley was caught by Stevie Sutton inside the opening eight minutes.

Mitchell said: “New addition from Orpington to us. He looked dangerous. I thought he could’ve probably pulled the trigger a bit earlier on a couple of occasions but looked to get in to good areas and was our out ball in the second half.

“That was probably the one bit of play we created in the second half. On another day that might sneak in and we’re 2-1 up!”

Cray Valley had a game of head tennis inside the Holmesdale penalty area.

Hill floated in a free-kick from the left towards the near post which Gross headed back across goal and Potter directed his header straight at Hannington for a comfortable catch.

Holmesdale then had their best spell of the game after the hour mark.

Right-back Sean Mason found himself down the middle of the pitch inside the Millers half and he played the ball out wide to Brandon Hobbs, who found Mason with a square pass but Mason’s shot was hit straight at Sutton for a comfortable save.

Fullone then decided to venture forward from his central defensive slot and played a one-two with Hobbs but drove his angled drive just over the top of the far post from 25-yards.

Froggatt then went on a 30-yard run with the ball and once inside the box his shot deflected off Potter and went behind for their first corner.

Left-back James Teodorescu swung in the corner form the right towards the far post which was met by Fullone’s header, which sailed across the face of goal and agonisingly just past the far post.

“We could’ve (scored) but I think there was a few of them that could’ve done a bit more,” said Mitchell.

“We talk about that second phase of play and to be alive. It’s not the first header, it’s the second and we didn’t react to it.

“We’ve created a lot of goals this season and done well and we always look like scoring but we have to shore things up at the back.”

Gross said: “They livened up when they brought the 16 (Froggatt) on. He livened them right up before that they couldn’t get in behind us.  They didn’t have a lot. He came on and he really done really well, dragging players all over the place. It was a good substitution from them.

“At one-all they had a little spell and we was under the cosh for five or ten minutes but rode it out, defended well and we go up the other end.

“All teams are going to have 5-10 minute spells in games aren’t they? That was theirs but we know if we can get through that and defend it, I’ve had enough at the other end to go and score more.”

Teodorescu then swung in a free-kick which was headed across goal by skipper Aaron Day but Fullone’s right-footed half-volley screamed wide from 25-yards.

Cray Valley took the lead with 32 minutes and 5 seconds on the clock, just 32 seconds after Gross went close to scoring his second of the night.

Gross slipped past the advancing  Hannington on the right-hand corner of the penalty area and took a touch but his driven shot was excellently cleared off the line by Mason.

Gross admitted: “Again it was nothing fancy was it? It was just their defence left it, goalie struggled to come, went round him. Maybe a better striker than me might have put that in the net with a bit more composure, but its chances again, half-chances, so maybe we should’ve won by more.”

Holmesdale failed to clear their lines and the ball came out to Hill down the left, who cut inside and powered a magical right-footed angled drive across the keeper into the top far corner of the net from 35-yards.

Gross said: “We needed a stroke of a bit of magic, a bit of luck for us, because things were getting cleared off the line. We were just so close with things, so there’s you’re bit of magic from Rory and it put us back on the front foot.”

Mitchell added: “Great goal! You can have three goalkeeper’s in goal, you’re not going to save that! It’s a great goal, a great finish!

“Still one of those games, we rode our luck a little bit. Another goal and you’re back in it, even at 3-1 with ten minutes to go. If you can nick one here and we’re going to go for it and throw a few up but we just didn’t look like scoring in that second half, which is the disappointing thing.”

Hill capped off his man-of-the-match display by adding his tenth goal of the season.

Whiteley’s pass was destined to roll out of play down the left hand side but Hill chased a lost cause and kept the ball in.

He cut inside and from a tight angle, 12-yards from goal, smashed his right-footed shot past Hannington at his near post to find the bottom corner.

Mitchell added: “If I’m being critical, Joel’s got to do better there at his near post and I think the defenders around him have got to as well.

“You can’t score from the by-line from that angle! That’s just got to be dealt with better!”

Gross said: “Again, two wingers, one crossing, one coming in from the far, just what you want.

“Warren looked really lively tonight. He played Saturday, he hasn’t played for a while so he didn’t get into the game the way we would’ve liked him to, but he looked lively again tonight.

“He put a few good balls into the box, a lot of chances, just happy to get the goals and get the three points. It’s a massive relief after Saturday’s embarrassment.”

The Millers created the final chance of the game when substitute left-back Greg Benbow played the ball inside to Rogers, who hit a right-footed drive straight at Hannington from 30-yards.

Cray Valley travel to near Woking to play Knaphill in The FA Vase First Round on Saturday, with the pressure of them following this win tonight.

Gross said: “Listen, no one’s bullet proof. I’m not an idiot.  I’ve been told to keep doing what I’m doing and I’ve got the full support of them (the committee). 

“They’re not a club that goes around doing things rationally so I could end up with egg on my face and go in a months’ time but all I can do is do what they’re telling me and they’re telling me to carry on doing what I’m doing.

“They’ve watched the games, they can see, baring Saturday and Hollands & Blair, we haven’t been out-fought this year by anyone. The luck hasn’t come down for us.”

Mitchell insists there is no bad feeling with John Wilfort, who takes charge of Erith & Belvedere against his former club at Park View Road on Saturday.

“I just caught up with Wilfs in the bar, there’s  no bad feelings at all. I’ve got on well with him here and still go this day we still talk quite a lot actually.

“People move on and they do what they’ve got to do and Wilf’s got an opportunity to go back to a club that’s connected to him and I can’t knock him for taking that opportunity.”

Holmesdale: Joel Hannington, Sean Mason, James Teodorescu, Aaron Day, Gio Fullone, Jack Saunders, Steven Karkari (Josh Froggart 46), Brandon Hobbs (Jack White 78, Dan Osorne (Daniel McCarthy 65), Michael McKenna, Rikki Cable.
Sub: Ricky North

Goal: Rikki Cable 13

Booked: Aaron Day 21, Sean Mason 59

Cray Valley (Paper Mills): Stevie Sutton, Tommy Osborne, Taylor McDonagh, Joe Matthews, Brad Potter, Lee Craig (Greg Benbow 67), Rory Hill, Jimmy Rogers, Paul Gross, Byron Walker (Alex Chambers 73), Warren Whiteley (Ben Healy 84).
Subs: Ryan Sawyer, Jamie Miller

Goals: Paul Gross 29, Rory Hill 78, 80

Booked: Paul Gross 41, Jimmy Rogers 90

Attendance: 64
Referee: Mr Leigh Judd (Tunbridge Wells)
Assistants: Mr Michael Begley (Battersea, London SW8) & Mr Gareth Garrey (Welling)