Horley Town 1-3 Greenwich Borough - We will get stronger as the season goes on, says Paul Blade

Saturday 06th December 2014

The FA Vase Third Round
Saturday 6th December 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from The New Defence

GREENWICH BOROUGH assistant manager Paul Blade says his side can go up another two or three gears after the club booked their place in the last 32 of The FA Vase.

Ian Jenkins’ side reached The FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round where they went down to a 2-1 defeat away to Vanarama Conference North side Worcester City, who went on to stun League One side Coventry City with a 2-1 away win in the next round.

The Kent side booked their place in The FA Vase Fourth Round – when it goes national – after coming away from struggling Horley Town with a 3-1 win on the coldest Saturday of the season so far.

They will be joined by league rivals Erith & Belvedere, Phoenix Sports, Tunbridge Wells and Ashford United (who welcome Littlehampton Town to Homelands for a replay on Tuesday after a 3-3 draw after extra time) in Monday’s Fourth Round Draw.

Horley Town, who went into the game sitting in the bottom four in the Combined Counties League Premier, were enjoying their best ever run in the competition, but Greenwich Borough opened the scoring against the run of play through striker Lewis Wood’s fourteenth goal of the season.

Midfielder Billy Bennett netted his fifth of the season to double their lead before Paul Vines smashed home a well-executed volley early in the second half.

Horley Town pulled a goal back through long-throw specialist Ryan Brackpool, but failed to prevent Greenwich Borough extending their unbeaten run to eight games.

“I think overall the 96 minutes we deserved the win on the chances we had,” said Blade afterwards.

“Three-nil, you’re thinking you’re comfortable. It could have gone 4-0, the keeper’s pulled off a great save off and (the referee’s given) a goal-kick.

“We gave away a sloppy pass in the middle of the park and that’s got them back in the game.  The momentum’s ended up going back on them, they’ve got nothing to lose and are going to throw everything at you and you’ve got to deal with it and deal with the pressure that they’re going to put on you after.”

Reflecting on Kent’s success in The FA Vase this season, Blade added: “Not bad is it? Good. There’s a lot of Kent League sides in it, which is really good. It shows how strong the league actually is.  I don’t think it gets enough credit so it’s good.  All the other teams got a good result but we’re happy that we’re in the hat on Monday.”

Horley Town kicked off and nippy winger Ayden Richards tried his luck with a speculative right-footed drive from 25-yards, which was comfortably caught by visiting keeper Craig Holloway after only six seconds.

Horley Town enjoyed plenty of early possession on a bobbly surface, not helped by a morning frost.

Greenwich Borough’s first opening arrived in the tenth minute when Gary Borrowdale clipped the ball out of defence and Gary Alexander held the ball up before releasing left-back Frankie Beale, who whipped in a deep cross, which clipped the back-edge of the crossbar and dropped behind for a goal-kick.

But Horley Town rued an excellent chance to cause an upset when they missed a sitter at their first corner.

Callum Attword swung in a corner towards the near post from the right and skipper Tom Winsor came up from the back to plant a free header wide of the right-hand post from six-yards.

Blade admitted his side should have been a goal down inside eleven minutes.

“He had a free header.  You can say we should have been 1-0 down but you’ve got to hit the target!  He didn’t hit the target so therefore you sort of take that and move on from it.  Things like that happen in a game and from then we sort of came into it then and we took over.

“We started first ten minutes and they sort of put it on us a little bit.  We struggled to deal with the pitch. The pitch was a bit sticky, the ball got caught under our feet a few times. 

“Once we got into the next quarter we came into it a little bit and going forward, looked quite lively.”

Greenwich Borough started to play when the sun went down and the floodlights came on.

Blade added: “Sometimes you look for a reaction and something happens in a game where it’s a tackle or a late challenge or someone getting hurt and it gives you a little wake-up and that free header woke us up a little bit.

“All off a sudden we started to get on the front foot and keep the ball and break a little bit quicker than we have done.”

Jamie Wood swung in a corner from the left, which sailed over Alexander’s head and Paul Vines drilled a low volley towards the bottom near corner, which was pushed around the post by goalkeeper Ian Chatfield.

Horley right-back James McElligott clipped the ball out of defence, which was flicked on by Brackpool, but Holloway came off his line to smother the ball from Nadesan’s feet.

Greenwich Borough grabbed the lead in the 27th minute, totally against the run of play.

Lewis Wood rode a sliding challenge from Horley’s central defender Corbin Turner to play the ball inside to Alexander, who played a reverse pass back to the striker, who steered his left-footed shot across Chatfield into the far corner from eight-yards.

“When we went 1-0 up, good move, play and we went 2-0 up. I think they’ve gone,” said Blade.

“I think if we got the third (before the break) it would have been a different story but I was happy going in at 2-0 at half-time.”

Blade was delighted with his two forward players linking up well in and around the box.

He said: “That’s what they’re good at.  They’re experienced and everything else.  Lewis doesn’t seem to strike the ball as in he’s got a bullet shot but what he does he knows how to pass the ball in the back of the net. It was a good move and a good finish.

“Fourteen goals is what you want from your centre forward.  Our forwards could have a lot more at this sort of time of the season but you’ll take 3-1 away in The FA Vase all the time.”

Lewis Wood should have tucked away a second after his side played a slick passing game.

Jamie Wood, Bennett, Paul Vines all linked up and Jamie Wood fed the ball into Bennett’s feet, who flicked his pass through to an unmarked Lewis Wood, who hooked his left-footed volley over the crossbar from 12-yards.

“I thought he may have been able to bring that one down and just popped it over the keeper, but forwards are in their own little zone at the minute and they do what they see fit, so when you’re sitting on the side-line you can see what they probably could have done but at that particular time that’s what he thought he’ll do. You have to deal with that and take that and wait for him to have another chance.”

But Greenwich Borough didn’t have to wait long for a second goal, with 36 minutes on the clock.

Lewis Wood played the ball inside from the right flank to Alexander, who cut the ball back to Bennett, who swept his right-footed shot past the despairing Chatfield to find the left-hand corner.

It was the 21-year-old’s fifth goal of the season and another impressive performance for a player who should be playing at a higher level of football.

Blade agreed, saying, “Billy’s been brilliant! He’s come on from the bench the last couple of games and come on and scored and he’s got a few goals this season as well, so it’s good.

“We’ve got a good squad and we’re beginning to change the players. We can leave players out and bring players in. We can rest players and it doesn’t really affect us so it proves what the squad is capable at the moment.

“He’s got a lot to learn. He’s only a young lad, you don’t realise he’s only 21, so he’s got a long time ahead of him. 

“He reacted well to being left out, he’s reacted well to going on the bench and he’s reacted well when he’s come off the bench and gone on the pitch. He’s scored. He had the opportunity to start today and he’s taken the chance.”

This was a good spell for Greenwich Borough and man-of-the-match Alexander flicked another reverse pass to put Jamie Wood through on goal but he dragged his left-footed shot across Chatfield and just past the foot of the far post.

“He probably could have passed it (into the net) instead of striking it and thought about it a little bit more but you’re players are in that position and that would have been game over.”

Alexander was denied by a goal-line clearance on the stroke of half-time after cutting in ahead of his marker to head Jamie Wood’s near post corner towards goal.

When asked his thoughts at half-time, Blade replied: “You’ve got to manage the game, haven’t you? We’re 2-0 up and the next goal’s a massive one.  You think if you give them a little bit and we start like we did in the first ten minutes, the onus could go on them and you’ll be under a bit of pressure.

“The idea was keep it tight, get us pushed up a little bit more, squeeze the midfield, manage the game and don’t make silly mistakes.

“When you need to clear, deal with what you need to deal with and if you get an opportunity, take it and that should see them off.

“That sort of happened. We got the third and you think the game’s over but at the same time you can make a mistake.”

Greenwich Borough created the first chance of the second half after 100 seconds.

Aaron Day’s throw-in, was flicked on by Alexander inside the box, but Kinch cracked his left-footed volley sailing harmlessly wide of the far post from 20-yards.

There was uproar from the Greenwich Borough dug-out when Alexander was denied his 12th goal of the season by a combination of Chatfield and the far post.

Beale’s clearance from left-back put the former Crawley Town striker through on goal after a brilliant touch to bring the ball down off his chest.

The 35-year-old expertly stroked a right-footed angled drive which a diving Chatfield tipped onto the foot of the far post and behind.

“The keeper made a great save and the referee gave a goal kick, which was a bit harsh,” admitted Blade.

“Gary’s ball retention is brilliant. Everything sticks to him.  He’s an ex-pro, players can learn off him and he holds the ball up and he knows how to nudge into people to get himself a yard. He’s brilliant. He’s great for us.”

Horley Town then enjoyed a dominant spell of pressure and striker Brackpool latched onto a ball over the top of the defence but Holloway came off his line to make a vital block.

Richards then skipped past four Greenwich Borough players before unleashing a right-footed dipping drive narrowly over the crossbar from 25-yards.

Jamie Wood swung in the away side’s sixth corner of the game towards the far post, where Alexander peeled off his marker to head across goal to watch the ball roll past the far post.

It proved to be a warning for Horley Town, as they appeared to be killed off with Greenwich Borough’s third goal in the 56th minute.

Jamie Wood delivered a corner from the left and Paul Vines cracked an excellent left-footed hooked volley flying into the right-hand corner, past the diving Chatfield, from 15-yards.

“It’s good to have him back in the side,” said Blade.

“He’s worked hard with his injury. That’s his first game back and (the goal was) brilliant. He’s got great technique and he’s busting a gut to play. He’s desperately wants to play so that’s another good thing. He took that opportunity, it was a great finish.”

But Anthony Jupp’s side gave themselves a lifeline only 124 seconds later.

Full marks must go to Nadesan, who skipped past his marker and slipped a low pass through to Brackpool, who slotted his right-footed shot underneath Holloway.

Blade said: “We gave it away on the halfway line.  Lewis (Wood) has held his hands up, he’s made a mistake. He tried to set Azza (Aaron Day) up and he’s given it away and their momentum is on the front foot. They took over and they’ve broke through us, so we know he’s made a mistake. He’s held his hands up, we deal with it, it’s fine.”

Chatfield made a smart save to prevent Bennett sending Greenwich Borough through more comfortably, before Brackpool’s speculative angled drive from the right bounced once into Holloway’s arms.

Blade said: “Billy’s brought it down, he probably could have done a bit better with it, but the keeper pulled off another good save off.  That would have sown it up but you’re always on edge a little bit at 3-1. If they nick one, 3-2, referee could add on another minute or something like that. That’s all part of The FA Vase, that’s all part of it in Cup games.”

Greenwich Borough’s vastly-experienced side then comfortably saw out the rest of the game.

Substitute Jack Clark cut inside and floated in a cross towards the far post where Paul Vines’ looping header sailed just past the far post.

Horley Town relied heavily on Brackpool’s long throws, which were dealt with by a resilient defence that have played at a much higher level than this one.

Blade said: “We’ve got big players who can win balls, strong centre halves and a keeper who can come and punch things so we’ve got players who can deal with things like that.  Their long throws didn’t really bother us really.

“They’re going to throw things at you and you’ve just got to deal with it.  They’ve had a couple of opportunities, half-hearted headers, a couple of shots that didn’t really worry Hollers. I think we dealt with it ok.”

Brackpool squandered an excellent chance to make the final fifteen minutes interesting.

Nadesan swung in a low tricky corner from the right and Brackpool swept his first time shot narrowly past the foot of the far post.

Brackpool’s long throw was then flicked on and substitute Nathan Jupp steered his shot harmlessly wide of the far post with their last chance with fourteen minutes to go.

Greenwich Borough have scooped £23,425 after winning ten ties in their FA Cup and FA Vase runs this season.

“Not bad,” came Blade’s reply. 

“It’s one defeat in 21 now, so it’s a good run. That’s what it’s all about.  We want to win every single game, every single cup that we go in for so we’ll just keep doing that until it changes.”

Greenwich Borough have slipped down one place to thirteenth in the table with 21 points from 11 games.  They are 20 points adrift of leaders Erith & Belvedere but they do have five games in hand.

The club are now four wins from playing at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 9 May.

“We’re not there yet, there’s a long way to go yet,” said Blade.

“It becomes national now so we can get anyone. We’ll just keep playing whoever we’ll get playing against. We’ll just keep turning up and keep playing the way we’re playing.

“I still think we’ve still got another two or three gears to go into yet.  We will improve and I think we’ll get stronger as the season goes on.”

Before this game both teams lined up together in unison to mark “Football Remembers”, the unofficial ceasefire which saw British and German soldiers across the Western Front play football together in December 1914.

This match report is therefore dedicated to the footballers who have lost their lives during Wartime.

Horley Town: Ian Chatfield, James McElligott, Jack Poplett, Tom Winsor (Charlie West 68), Corbin Turner, Otis Taylor (Liam Giles 55), Ayden Richards, Asa Curtis, Ryan Brackpool, Ashley Nadesan, Callum Attword (Nathan Jupp 63).
Subs: Richard Wetton, Mick Sullivan

Goal: Ryan Brackpool 58

Greenwich Borough: Craig Holloway, Aaron Day, Frankie Beale, Billy Bennett, Joe Vines, Gary Borrowdale, Lewis Wood (Danny Phillips 85), Gary Alexander, Paul Vines (Steve Jerome 70), Jamie Wood, Scott Kinch (Jack Clark 61).
Subs: Chris Saunders, Reiss Powell

Goals:  Lewis Wood 27, Billy Bennett 36, Paul Vines 56

Attendance: 114
Referee: Mr Matthew Lee (Chichester, West Sussex)
Assistants: Mr Ian Homewood (Pulborough, West Sussex) & Mr Philip Surlis (Horsham, West Sussex)