Kennington 4-2 Crowborough Athletic - Wembley is a long way away but any lad who doesn't think about it is daft, says Kennington boss Dan Scorer

Sunday 13th October 2019
Kennington 4 – 2 Crowborough Athletic
Location Homelands Stadium, Ashford Road, Kingsnorth, Ashford, Kent TN26 1NJ
Kickoff 13/10/2019 15:00

The Buildbase FA Vase First Round
Sunday 13 October 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Homelands Stadium

KENNINGTON manager Dan Scorer says it means a lot to the club after reaching The Buildbase FA Vase Second Round in their debut campaign in the competition.

The Ashford based outfit have come away from Epsom & Ewell (4-1) and Sidlesham (4-2 after extra time) and this was billed as the clubs biggest game in their 120-year history and The Ton delivered on their biggest stage, so far.

Crowborough Athletic heave beaten Shoreham (3-0) and Midhurst & Easebourne (2-0) on their travels before crashing out at Homelands Stadium.

Watched by their second largest ever crowd of 277, just 11 people short of their biggest crowd, Kennington were miles better than a struggling Crowborough Athletic side that went into the game sitting in the bottom three in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with six points from 10 games.

Kennington were in eighth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table with 14 points from eight games, eight points adrift of surprise package leaders FC Elmstead.

The outstanding Tom Scorer, 26, gave Kennington a two-goal lead inside the opening 20 minutes, punishing a Crowborough Athletic side who were second best for the first half-an-hour.

The one bright spark in Crowborough Athletic’s wretched start to the campaign has been the form of pacey striker Kieran Scantlebury, who chipped in his ninth goal of the season to bring his side back from the dead.

Kennington took five minutes to increase their lead at the start of the second half through George Latham’s near post header before their captain, left-back Robert Greenfield smashed a penalty against the crossbar during the time when Crowborough lost Sam Carrington to a sin-bin offence.

The Crows were reduced to 10 men for the final 10 minutes when they lost centre-half James White who felt dizzy after the ball smashed into his face and centre-half Tom Boddy volleyed in a late goal to decrease the deficit before Gary Clarke tapped in an injury-time fourth goal to send Kennington through.

“Delighted obviously, with it being such a big occasion for the club. It’s just nice for the players’ to get the reward for all their hard work and also for myself and my management team and the backroom and the chairman and people like that, that have worked hard to get us to this point so I’m really made up,” said Dan Scorer.

“Two years’ ago we were playing in the Kent County League so this tops of the rise of Kennington in my time and hopefully it’s a good indication of where we’re going.”

Crowborough Athletic assistant manager Steve Ives was in charge today as manager Sean Muggeridge was watching his son Henry play for England’s six-a-side team, managed by ex Crow Jamie Leggett, in Crete.

“Firstly, congratulations to Kennington. I spoke to their manager for quite a bit before the game and it’s a good project going on here for them so they deserve their success so credit where’s credit’s due,” said Ives.

“As far as we’re concerned they were just too long a period of that game where we were second best and that combined with a little bit of misfortune, maybe you’re not going to win many games like that.”

It is embarrassing when a Crowborough Athletic player turns up at the wrong Ashford, Ashford Town (Middlesex) in Stanwell, the venue of Southall’s 4-4 extra-time FA Vase draw against Tunbridge Wells today.

“I think the better side won,” admitted Ives.

“We can talk about bad luck stories. We’ve had one player go to Ashford (Middlesex), another player not arriving on time for kick-off. We’ve had a sin-bin, we’ve had a guy (White) have to go off with a ball in the head. We’ve hit the bar twice so we can paint a bad luck story in we wanted to but ultimately we’re playing a side the league below and no disrespect to them intended, we should’ve won that!

“But maybe at the end of the day being out of The FA Vase it isn’t the end of the world for the club because trying to stay in the league is priority and maybe now we can 100% focus into that but I’m clutching a little bit. It’s very disappointing. It’s a game we could’ve won and we haven’t so fair play to them.”

Kennington played with three central defenders with Calvin Sedenu (right), Adam Phillips (centre) and Tom Penfold (left) and the home side created their first opening inside the opening seven minutes.

Phillips pinged a fine diagonal 50-yard pass over to Sam Conlon on the right and he played the ball on the overlap to right-wing-back Harry Stow, who put in a great cross which was flicked across goal by striker George Latham, who slid in at the near post after getting the better of centre-half James White.

“It was good move and I think that partnership down the right between Sam Conlon and Harry Stow was exceptional all day and George is renowned for just scoring goals,” said Scorer.

“It doesn’t always have to be the best goal. He does a very good job of putting himself in the best position and unfortunately it was just too far.”

Crowborough Athletic went agonisingly close to taking the lead in the 10th minute when Jason Barton struck the crossbar for the first of two occasions during the first half.

Sam Saunders swung in their third corner of the game (both sides won six corners each) and Barton found a pocket of space at the near post to guide his header over a crowd of players and against the crossbar from eight-yards.

Ives said: “In fairness, Barts hit the bar twice from set-pieces. Maybe there’s a crumb of comfort there because that is something we have worked on.  Ultimately I thought we were really poor first half-hour and I think that’s where we probably lost the game.”

Scorer added: “People will talk about Crowborough’s league form and things like that but none of that matters going into a game like this and the magic of the cup and the luck of the cup certainly plays it’s part.

“We addressed the issue at half-time and second half they certainly weren’t as much of a threat as we made sure we had someone sitting in that pocket at the front post.”

Kennington took the lead with 16 minutes and 39 seconds on the clock, courtesy of a superb goal from Tom Scorer, the driving force in midfield.

Tom Scorer found space in between White and Barton inside the Crowborough half, cut inside before unleashing a low left-footed drive which nestled into the bottom right-hand corner from 35-yards, with the keeper beaten.

“He’s one player in the team if you want something magic to happen he’s the sort of player whose capable of doing it,” said Dan Scorer.

“He can sometimes be head and shoulders above this standard and at times he shows that in glimpses.  He’s certainly capable of that and I’m sure he’ll do that two or three more times this season.”

Ives added: “I mean again Tom Scorer is a good player. We said before the game he’s more than capable of striking from distance and I challenged my midfielders to make sure they got pressure on him but he slipped through the net that one and credit’s due where credit’s due, it’s a great strike!”

Kennington were in dream land when they deservedly doubled their lead with 19 minutes and 37 seconds on the clock.

Sedenu walked the ball out of defence with the ball at his feet and wasn’t pressed for about 40-yards, before feeding Tom Scorer, who easily skipped past the poor White before playing the ball out to left-wing-back Greenfield, who whipped in a great cross and Tom Scorer buried his header into the roof of the net from three-yards out.

Scorer said: “To be quite honest it just shows how well the boys played for formation because we spoke about shifting the ball from side-to-side and controlling the tempo of the game.

“Any of the lads can pick the ball up in the middle of midfield and just spread the play. We’re always going to be dangerous. It was a fantastic delivery and Tom’s fantastic in the air so you knew as soon as the ball was flung towards him, it was going in.”

Ives said: “Again, it’s that man again, unmarked, getting himself in dangerous positions and we’ve really got to be better than allowing someone to do that to us, run through and have a free header, it’s not good enough.”

When asked what he was thinking at the time, Ives replied: “It’s going to be a long day! I thought we were a shambles in all fairness!

“I thought the route of the problem was we were just sitting off and allowing their three centre-halves to hit diags and hit long-range passes at will. I was screaming out at them from the bench to get pressure on higher up the pitch.”

Kennington were bossing the opening half-an-hour and it should have been three against a poor Crowborough Athletic outfit who on this performance are favourites for relegation at the end of the season, having leaked 35 goals in 10 league games.

Phillips pinged a diagonal ball out of defence, Stow cut in the from right and cut past Rory Salter and his left-footed drive from 19-yards was parried by Billy Johnson, low to his right and the ball was cleared.

Crowborough Athletic accepted a lifeline with 31 minutes and 2 seconds on the clock.

A poor clearance from Kennington keeper Tom Barnes was controlled by Crowborough winger Elliott Wood, who clipped the ball over the top of Phillips to put Scantlebury through and his right-footed chip bounced into the empty net from 15-yards.

Ives said: “The thing I will say, I thought around the half-hour mark we woke up and we did start pressing them from the front a little bit more and actually I felt we finished the half stronger.

“I think it was really the first time we had put their back three under any sort of pressure when they’re playing out and we got our rewards.

“It’s frustrating because that was the game plan from the start, for reasons best known we didn’t manage to do it until we were giving them a two-goal head start.

“Kieran Scantlebury, Elliott Wood and Trey Masikini are explosive forwards, they’re quick forwards. You’ve got to play to your own strengths.”

Scorer added:  “I was hoping to get to half-time without conceding, unfortunately we did concede.

“I just think the goal-kick didn’t reach as far as we expected and it dropped down and our midfielders were perhaps the wrong side and it dropped down nicely for him to play the ball through and it was a very good finish.

“I thought the back three were exceptional today, as were the two in midfield.

“I think the wind took over or the last 10-15 minutes and it did cause us a bit of an issue and it’s their players being in the right position at the right time and fair play to the lad, it was a fantastic finish.”

The goal sparked the Crows into life and they finished the first half on the front foot.

“I think they got a bit of a foot-hold on the game. They controlled the tempo for the last 10-15 minutes.  I think it was about us just seeing the half out at that point and we did it well. We got ourselves to half-time 2-1 up, which was the most important thing,” said Scorer.

They went close to grabbing an equaliser when Carrington’s diagonal pass released the pacey left-winger Trey Masikini, who cut into the box past Sedenu and his dinked shot from eight-yards went just past the foot of the near post as Sedenu closed down the space.

“I think when we’re on the front foot, when we were putting them under pressure, we looked a much better side,” admitted Ives.

Kennington were given a massive let-off when Johnson’s big kick was flicked on by Wood and this released Scantlebury down the left. He cut past Phillips and rolled the ball across to the far post towards an unmarked Masikini, but he slipped over before the ball rolled to him.

Wood swept a long diagonal over to Masikini, who cut inside Stow before hitting a right-footed angled drive from the edge of the box, which was comfortably saved by Barnes on his knees.

Scorer said: “Ten to fifteen minutes before the end of the half their manager told his two wide players just to hang out because that’s where they were going to be a bit more effective.

“I think the first half-an-hour they were more concerned about what our wing-backs were doing and were tracking them but if they played their game from the off they might’ve had a bit more joy but another good save from Tom in goal.”

Crowborough Athletic struck the crossbar for a second time in the 42nd minute, following their fourth corner.

This time it was left-back Salter who drove the ball in and Barton’s near-post free-header bounced off the top of the crossbar from a similar position than his first slice of bad luck.

“Small margins isn’t it,” agonised Ives.

“Whether we come in equal at 2-1 or whether we come in 2-1 down, I don’t think it would’ve made a big amount of difference on our mindset. We were still bitterly disappointed with our first half-an-hour.”

Both camps were asked their thoughts at the interval.

Scorer said: “Just to be composed again because I thought we controlled the tempo of the game quite comfortably on the ball at the back and moving the ball from side-to-side.  We’ve been a bit guilty in recent weeks trying to go on the attack straight away and then the ball’s coming back and it’s not working for us, so it’s about being a little bit more composed, taking the sting out of the game when it needs to be and looking to play in the right areas.”

Ives added: “We knew we had to sort our act out and make sure the second half was played in the same vein as the last 15 of the first.

“We just said the first half-hour was embarrassing! Too many people didn’t get out of the blocks. We shouldn’t be sitting off. We need to be on the front foot.

“Sean Muggeridge and I have played three at the back quite successfully for a couple of years’ so we know exactly how to undo it and it’s really disappointing that we didn’t manage to carry out our own game plan there.”

Crowborough Athletic were facing a mountain to climb when Kennington scored their third goal with four minutes and 22 seconds into the second half.

While Barton struck the bar twice in a similar position, Latham scored his fourth goal of the season.

Craig Calvert floated in a corner from the left and Latham flicked his near-post header over several players – eight yards out - and the ball bounced several times before nestling into the bottom far corner.

“It seemed to be moving for ages, sort of a bit of a delayed reaction,” said Scorer.

“But I’m really happy for George. Last season he was in and out,  a stop-start season for him but he’s a goalscorer, he is a goalscorer and he’s come in for the last three games and he’s scored in every game so hopefully it will do his confidence the world of good to keep going because he’s a striker who will score goals.”

Ives added: “I don’t want to do an Arsene Wenger but I was talking to one of the subs at the time so I generally didn’t see it!

“But from what I understand from the rest of the management team it was another free header which someone caught on video so I’ll get to have a look at that.

“It’s really disappointing if that’s the case. Just when you want to come out and put a good account of yourselves, you almost shoot yourself in the foot before you get going.”

Johnson made a vital save within three minutes when holding midfielder Clarke released Tom Scorer, who found some pace to sprint into the penalty area and only had the keeper to beat, who used a strong right-hand to ensure the ball dropped over his crossbar.

“Fantastic save, absolutely fantastic save because I thought that was the game dead and buried to be honest,” said Scorer.

“It’s just about how we move the ball in the final third, which I thought we did a lot better today, as we did against Snodland (a 3-1 win) on Wednesday night.”

Ives added: “Bill is well capable of making quality saves.”

Crowborough Athletic were reduced to 10 men with 13:18 on the clock when Carrington was sent to the sin-bin for showing dissent towards the referee, who had awarded him a free-kick.

“Carra getting sin-binned just knocked our momentum,” admitted Ives.

Kennington missed a glorious chance to increase their lead with 16 minutes and 39 minutes on the clock when their captain Greenfield missed a penalty.

Tom Scorer released Stow in behind the Crowborough defence and was tripped by Wood inside the box and referee Matthew Goldsmith pointed to the spot.

Greenfield rifled his left-footed penalty against the crossbar as his attempt to find the top-left hand corner went horrible wrong.

“I was gutted for him because I thought Rob had a really good game,” said Scorer.

“He took one (at Sporting Club Thamesmead on 21 September) and literally put it in the top corner and he was trying to do the same again.  Unfortunate to hit the bar but I was really impressed how he kept his head after that and he didn’t really let that moment affect him too much. He still led by example until the end so I was really happy about that.”

Ives admitted: “It was a left-off.  Elliott’s said he didn’t touch the guy, I don’t know whether he did or not but ultimately it doesn’t really matter. We’ve had a let off, albeit a temporary one.”

Halfway through the half, substitute midfielder Sam Brown pinged a driven cross over to Greenfield, who played the ball into Tom Scorer, who cut into the box and his deflected shot clipped the near post and went behind for a corner.

Dan Scorer threw on Charlie Owen and the winger almost scored with his second touch of the ball inside the final 20 minutes.

Brown’s diagonal pass found Greenfield, who played the ball into Owen, who took a touch before curling his right-footed shot over the crossbar from 25-yards.

Centre-half Penfold was given time and space to play a one-two with substitute Joe Fisher before flashing a first time left-footed drive just past the foot of the far post from 30-yards.

Crowborough Athletic played the final 10 minutes with 10 men on the pitch as centre-half White went off after the ball hit him in the face.  The same thing happened to Owen but he showed enough desire and character to play on despite suffering a black left eye after keeper Johnson smashed a clearance into Owen as he closed him down on the edge of the Crowborough box.

As a result of White’s withdrawal, central midfielder Barton dropped back into the centre of a three-man defence alongside Salter and Boddy.

Ives said: “He took a ball in the face, which obviously their lad did as well.  Their lad managed to keep going but Jim said he was dizzy. Sods law, you’ve already made the three subs.

“We’ve gone into that period where we’re playing with 10 men but we’re chasing the game and it’s a cup game so what do you do there?  You either let the clock run down trying to be compact or you just try and keep being aggressive, which is what we’re trying to do.”

Kennington keeper Barnes was at fault for Crowborough’s flattering second goal, timed at 39 minutes and 57 seconds.

Substitute Tom Pearson launched a long throw into the Kennington box from the right and keeper Barnes poor punch wasn’t dealt with by his team-mates and Boddy hooked his volley into the far corner from 15-yards.

“That just showed, if nothing else, the boys didn’t fold, which is maybe some consolation we can take from the day,” admitted Ives.

“I thought we kept chipping away. Granted with not a massive amount of success but Bods getting his goal, it’s a token gesture really but perhaps it does show we carried on going until the end.”

Scorer added: “Quite sloppy.  I think perhaps we were a little bit fatigued towards the end. We played Wednesday night, we had a few days rest but it does tend to make a difference if you do play midweek. 

“I think there was perhaps a mishap. Tom has come out and punched when perhaps he could’ve caught but he’s made that decision and it’s down to the defence at that point to then try to clear the ball away, which unfortunately, we didn’t do.”

Crowborough switched off again when Phillips rolled a 20-yard pass into Clarke, who was given oceans of space by Boddy, cutting the ball onto his left-foot before stroking his 22-yard drive which kissed the top of the bar on its way over.

Kennington scored their fourth goal, 63 seconds into stoppage time when Greenfield released Owen, who burst past Boddy to cut into the box and he put it on a plate to roll the ball across to Clarke to tap the ball over the line from six-yards.

“A really good move. The game got stretched at that point. Crowborough were doing what they could to try to get back into the game,” said Scorer.

“Charlie Owen is a player whose come in and really delivered on some big occasions this season and he’s been unfortunate not to start today. He came on and effected the game, put himself in the right area. It was a good ball from Robbie, the captain and Charlie’s done well to pull that ball back and Gary Clarke, whose supposedly a defensive midfielder or a box-to-box midfielder, has done very well to put himself in the right position.”

Ives added: “We’re ragged at this point and we’re back down to 10. We’ve had to pull Jason Barton back into defence to try to shore that up because we know we have to make an attacking threat.

“We’re telling Alexx Kendall at right-back to really try to get high so there’s some tired legs on there where the midfield have almost done 20 minutes of that half a man light with a combination of Sam Carrington and then James White. We were just ragged and fair play to them they took advantage.”

For a Step Six side to reach the Second Round of The FA Vase (2 November 2019) is a great achievement and Scorer wants his side to believe they can go all the way to Wembley Stadium now that they are in the last 128.

“It means a lot for me, for the club, for the players and as I’ve said to the players’ there’s no expectation on this competition. We’re not expecting to get to a certain round,” said Scorer.

“It’s just about the players’ enjoying themselves and with the pressures of the league this year because we are expected to go up this year and we fully hope too. It’s quite a nice distraction and I’m just glad they’ve all enjoyed themselves today.

“I said to the boys before the game, Wembley is a long way away but any lad who doesn’t think about it is daft.  I think it’s going to be in the back of everyone’s head. If you’re not thinking about it, you’re in the wrong dressing room for me but we’ll see how further this journey takes us but I’m glad they’re enjoying themselves today and we’ve got another opportunity to go again.”

Kennington are at home Rochester United in the Kent Senior Trophy First Round next Saturday, while Crowborough Athletic return to League action with a home game against AFC Croydon Athletic.

“We’re more than capable of putting some results together,” said Ives.

“We’ve got a couple of players’ signing on, hopefully, this week, so we can bolster personnel a little bit but you’re right, Croydon Athletic is a big game for us.”

When asked what message he has for the Crowborough Athletic fans tonight, Ives replied: “For those of you that have travelled, I say thank you very much, we always appreciate the support. 

“At times like this, we’ve had good times with Crowborough when we’ve been up at the top of the league and we’ve had runs in the Vase and it’s always brilliant when you’re the ones singing songs and banging on the wall in the changing room at the end.

“But when things aren’t going so well you need your fans to stay with you and they’re a positive bunch and I’m sure they’ll stick with us but we’re just hoping we can turn the corner for them.”

Kennington: Tom Barnes, Harry Stow, Robert Greenfield, Adam Phillips, Tom Penfold, Calvin Sedenu, Craig Calvert (Charlie Owen 70), Gary Clarke, George Latham (Sam Brown 57), Tom Scorer (Joe Fisher 76), Sam Conlon.
Subs: Ryan Philpott, Luke Hughes, Jordan Tomsett, Harry Goddard

Goals: Tom Scorer 17, 20, George Latham 50, Gary Clarke 90

Booked: Robert Greenfield 87, Tommy Penfold 87

Crowborough Athletic: Billy Johnson, Alexx Kendall, Rory Salter, Sam Saunders (Jason Stripp 63), James White, Tom Boddy, Trey Masikini (Jack Funnell 51), Jason Barton, Kieran Scantlebury, Sam Carrington, Elliott Wood (Tom Pearson 74).
Sub: Harvey Killick, Max Carbune, Sam Murray, James Spear

Goals: Kieran Scantlebury 32, Tom Boddy 85

Booked: Jason Barton 60

Temporary Dismissal:  Sam Carrington 59

Attendance: 277
Referee: Mr Matthew Goldsmith (Hastings, East Sussex)
Assistants: Mr Stuart Ramsay (St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex) & Mr Marcin Indyk (Maidstone)