Kennington 1-1 Sutton Common Rovers - We’ve shown we can compete with the teams in the league above us and I think that’s vitally important for a club that is pushing for promotion, says proud Kennington assistant Sam Fisher

Saturday 19th December 2020
Kennington 1 – 1 Sutton Common Rovers
Location Homelands Stadium, Ashford Road, Kingsnorth, Ashford, Kent TN26 1NJ
Kickoff 19/12/2020 15:00

(Sutton Common Rovers win 4-1 on penalties)
The Buildbase FA Vase Third Round
Saturday 19 December 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Homelands Stadium

KENNINGTON assistant manager Sam Fisher says he is feeling proud of his players after they took Sutton Common Rovers all the way in their first ever FA Vase Third Round tie.

The Ashford-based side have beaten Erith Town (1-0); Shoreham (7-0); Fisher (5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw) and Glebe (2-0) and are in second-place in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table with maximum points from their six league outings, three points behind leaders Sporting Club Thamesmead but with a couple of games in hand.

Darren Salmon and Ryan Lock’s side beat their Combined Counties League Premier Division rivals Southall 4-0 in the Second Round and arrived in Ashford sitting unbeaten at the top of the table with 35 points from their 13 games, seven points clear of Badshot Lea.

Sutton Common Rovers’ striker Shawn Lyle notched his fourth goal of the season to give his side the lead six minutes before the break.

But Kennington dominated a large part of the second half and Gary Lockyer headed in his 15th goal of the season to force a penalty shoot-out.

Seven penalties were taken and the visitors’ booked their place in the Fourth Round for the third time in six season by holding their nerve to win 4-1 as Ryan Philpott and Gary Clarke missed for Kennington, leaving former Beckenham Town and Croydon holding midfielder Adam Allen to tuck home the winning kick.

Fisher and Mark Wallis were in charge of team affairs today as Kennington’s manager Dan Scorer, a school teacher, was told to stay at home as he was self-isolating (Covid-19).

“A bit of heartbreak.  I wanted to come in and do justice for Dan,” said Fisher.

“Dan Scorer has been amazing this season, for Kennington as a whole.  I just wanted to help the club progress to the next round.

“It’s the furthest we’ve ever been in this competition as a club and I think we’ve set ourselves out really well.  We’ve given a good account of ourselves, a good account of the league, a good account of the standard of the league.

“Obviously disappointed to lose on penalties.  We grew into the game. We were under pressure for the first 10 minutes of the first half but second half I think we dominated the game to be honest.

“I think we’ve made plenty of chances. Their goalkeeper made two fantastic saves, a bit of better finishing, a bit of luck, I think we could’ve won by a couple of goals so I think that’s what hurts as well.”

Before today, Kennington’s only defeat came on opening night when they were knocked out of The FA Cup by Erith & Belvedere, who came away from Homelands with a 1-0 win and have remained unbeaten in 10 games.

Sutton Common Rovers were 12 games unbeaten, one defeat (also in The FA Cup) in 18 and have kept 11 clean sheets this season.

“They gave me everything!,” added Fisher.

“They’re a league above us, they’re top of the league. They haven’t lost a game all season, so we knew it was going to be tough.

“Even in the warm-up I knew the boys were ready. I knew the boys would give me everything.  There was no fault I can lay at the boys at all. It was just one of those days.”

Kennington created their first opening after only 98 seconds when centre-half Adam Phillips rolled the ball inside to goalkeeper Joe Mant, who drilled a ball straight down the middle of the pitch and Lockyer cracked a right-footed half-volley high over the crossbar from 35-yards.

Fisher said: “It was a good chance early on.  We’ve seen Gaz put them away. It wasn’t even a half-chance.  A player of Gary’s calibre, we’ve seen him score two or three goals like that so we knew we could create chances against them.”

Kennington played out from the back with Mant often playing the ball to Phillips and everyone was doing their best to win their own personal battles all over the pitch.

However, there was one player who stood out and that was Sutton Common Rovers’ talented and pacey right-winger Ollie Twum.

They hit Kennington on the counter-attack in the 11th minute when Allen rode Robbie Dolan’s strong challenge in the centre-circle before playing the ball out to Twum, whose pace gave Kennington’s left-back Harry Stow problems during the first-half.

Twum cut the ball back to Lyle, who hit a right-footed drive towards the top right-hand corner from inside the D but Mant pushed the ball up while moving to his left and caught the ball as it dropped.

“We don’t know these players, we don’t play against them week-in-week-out so it’s a different threat for us,” Fisher said of Twum.

“We’ve had a wide threat before when we played Fisher in the Vase so we’ve played against tricky wingers. 

“I think Luke Hughes and Harry Stow held their own today, although he (Twum) was quick, he was dangerous.  I think we were able to nullify him quite competently.”

Kennington came within inches to grabbing the lead just 117 seconds later.

Right-back Luke Hughes hit a volley towards the edge of the penalty area and the ball was cleared out to Callum Peck, who brought the ball down and swept his right-footed shot across the diving keeper and just past the foot of the far post from 25-yards.

Fisher said: “Very good chance! I think that sums up how we play.  The link-up we can get from going right-to-left, left-to-right, I think we made multiple chances that way, half-chances, full-chances. That’s how we play, that’s what worked well for us.”

Sutton Common Rovers then started to dominate the game, with Twum the architect.

Allen played the ball out to Twum on the right and he drilled in a low cross which caught Lyle off balance at the near post and a poor touch allowed Mant to pounce on the loose ball.

With Stow getting to grips with Twum’s trickery, Twum switched flanks with their other winger, Kyle Henry at the halfway point for 12 minutes before switching flanks again.

An example of Kennington’s desire was on the half-hour mark when Sutton Common Rovers’ centre-half Aaron Goode hit a diagonal ball out of defence which was controlled by the chest of right-back Aaron Bogle right on the touchline inside the Kennington half.

Bogle played the ball down the line to Henry, who put in a cross and the ball bounced up in front of Lyle and in came Kennington’s right-back Luke Hughes on the edge of the box and took one in the face as Lyle tried to hook his shot towards goal in the middle.

Sutton Common Rovers deservedly opened the scoring with 38 minutes and 41 seconds on the clock, following their second of five corners.

Brendan Murphy-McVey (who dropped deep and plays a long way behind striker Lyle in a 4-2-3-1 formation) floated in a corner from the right towards the near post.

Henry flicked the ball on at the near post, Allen headed the ball back across the face of goal and Lyle swept his shot across Mant into the bottom far corner from five-yards.

“I think that’s the one thing that disappointed me today from our performance, that one moment we switched off,” admitted Fisher.

“I felt like we switched off. I don’t feel like they had a particularly good set-play. They put the ball into the box, they headed it down, it bounced off a player, bounced off another player and the striker ended up sweeping it home.

“I think on another day when we’re switched on we deal with that.  We dealt with all of their set-pieces apart from that one.”

Kennington almost responded immediately and struck the crossbar for the first time just 84 seconds after going behind.

Left-winger Joe Fisher played a corner shot to central midfielder Robbie Dolan and Fisher whipped in a deep cross towards Clarke at the far post and Fisher’s looping header kissed the top of the far post and dropped behind for a goal-kick.

Fisher said: “We’re threatening in wide areas, it’s what we’re good at.  We work on it regularly at training.  I think that shows any individual who comes and watches us as a team, sees we make those chances and see that we are threatening in those areas.”

Murphy-McVey whipped a cross in from the right towards the far post but a poor first touch from an unmarked Henry some 10-yards from goal gave Mant a chance to pick the ball up, rather than the ball nestling into the bottom left-hand corner.

“They’ve got to keep going, we’ve got to be positive! My chat with them at half-time wasn’t too dissimilar to how it was at the beginning of the game,” said Fisher.

“We knew they’re a very good side. We had to be positive and we had to put them under pressure to make them make mistakes and we knew if we were on the front foot we could be dominant and win the game.

“We made a few changes position wise, we changed the full-backs around and I felt that worked really well.  I think we put them under the cosh a lot more.”

Sutton Common Rovers lost centre-half Nathan Ayling, who picked up an injury as he swept away a dangerous ball into the box from Peck, who started to get into the game on the left.

Also, a tactical switch by putting Luke Hughes in at left-back (Stow was now at right-back) to cut out the dangerous supply from Sutton Common Rovers’ pacey wingers, also helped, another big factor of Kennington's dominance was the away side putting their right-back Bogle at the heart of their defence following Ayling's withdrawal.

“We changed it around because Luke Hughes then went to deal with him (Twum) and Luke Hughes, in my opinion, is one of the best one-on-one defenders that is in the league. He dealt with him very well.

“Harry Stow dealt with him well in the first half but Harry Stow then made us more of an attacking threat going down the right-hand side in the second half, so I think that balance that we needed to address was addressed.”

Kennington started to dominate proceedings and came agonisingly close to equalising with 12 minutes and 24 seconds on the clock.

The Ton produced a good move as Hughes fed Clarke, who slipped the ball into Craig Calvert who set up Lockyer, who cut inside and curled his right-footed shot just around the top of the far post from 25-yards.

“That was a very good move. I was right behind it. I thought it was in at one point,” admitted Fisher.

“A bit of luck, better finishing, we could’ve scored multiple goals today.”

Sutton Common Rovers’ substitute striker Ryan Bywater fouled Clarke and Phillips swung the free-kick into the penalty area and Clark guided his header down and across the face of goal and just past the far post and the Kennington captain, just like Lockyer before him, held his head in his hands in despair.

“I can’t fault any of the boys today, I’m so proud of them,” added Fisher.

“I had a little bit of a moan at half-time. I think our quality was lacking and I think the quality came out in the second half.

“We were a lot better on the ball, we were a lot more threatening and because those two things came together, we started to dominate the second half.”

Hughes cut in and fed substitute winger Ryan Philpott, who cracked a first-time right-footed drive which only just cleared the crossbar, despite giant keeper Michael Eacott raising both of his hands and feeling relieved that the ball sailed just over.

Winger Peck whipped in a cross towards the far post, which was knocked down by target man Lockyer and Calvert’s acrobatic overhead kick stung Eacott’s fingers.

“We’re listing chances that have happened throughout the game and it’s lovely to hear all of these chances. We’ve created something that we work on and it’s paid dividends – we just have to start finishing them!”

Kennington continued to press for the equaliser and changed formation to three at the back and Sutton Common Rovers’ defence just couldn’t handle five long throws into the box from Reiss Crimmen, who entered the fray in the 77th minute.

Fisher said: “Reiss is a very good player, unfortunate not to start today. We changed it slightly tactically to deal with their wide threat. We did a bit of homework on them and we felt that Luke and Harry’s pace would be beneficial to us in the full-back area, but Reiss was unlucky not to start. He’s played very well for us this season and he came on and did himself proud.”

Crimmen launched his first long-throw from the left towards the near post and the ball skimmed the head of Lockyer at the near post which sailed over the keeper’s left shoulder and clipped the crossbar with 33 minutes and 56 seconds on the clock.

Fisher said: “I think that set the tone. We know how dangerous Reiss is from wide areas having a throw-in is as dangerous as having a free-kick or a corner especially when it’s the first one. Not many teams know how we set up and how many set-players we’ve got within that throw-in.”

Kennington deservedly equalised through Crimmen’s second long throw-in, timed at 35 minutes and 34 seconds on the clock.

Crimmen launched another missile from the left and Lockyer buried his header into the roof of the net and a celebratory roar went up from the Homelands faithful.

“I think Gary just got his eye in with the first one so the second one went straight in,” said Fisher.

“I did celebrate a little bit so I was very pleased with that. It was good to see, definitely a deserved equaliser and I think we pushed on from there as well.

“They couldn’t cope with it. I think a lot of teams call us a bit long ball because they see our long throws.  I don’t think that’s justified. I think we play lovely football, we play the ball into wide areas quickly and we get at teams and we can cross the ball but when we’ve got such a dangerous threat in Reiss Crimmen who can throw the ball as far as he can throw it and we can get ourselves set up to attack the ball like we do, teams can’t deal with it and I think we’d be stupid not to use it.”

Sutton Common Rovers almost snatched the victory with 38:31 on the clock, following their final corner.

Left-back Malachi Robinson swung the ball in from the left, Mant flapped for the ball at the near post and the ball was cleared out to Goode, who came up from the back and sent his acrobatic kick bouncing into the keeper’s hands for a comfortable save.

Sutton Common Rovers’ relied on a smart near-post save from Eacott after Lockyer met Crimmen’s third long-throw with his head.

The away side dealt with Crimmen’s fourth missile, his only from the right, while Kennington came close to scoring with the last action of the game.

And once again it was Crimmen’s long throw and yet again it was met by Lockyer, who flicked over his towering header at the near post.

No extra-time this season but Fisher said he felt “confident” going into the penalty shoot-out, having beaten Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division side Fisher by this method a couple of rounds ago.

“Out of the 11 that started, I think 10 of them would put their hands up and say they’ll be in the first five so it’s then down to us to decide the order and make sure everyone’s comfortable, confident, happy.

“You know what penalties are like, it’s the luck of the draw at the end of the day.”

When asked whether his side have practiced penalties, Fisher replied: “Not specifically. We do have the odd competition after training but it’s not something that we focus on something within our training schedule, no.”

Sutton Common Rovers held their nerve from the penalty spot, however.

Bywater, a 52nd-minute substitution for goalscorer Lyle, drilled his right-footed penalty straight down the middle, as Kennington keeper Mant dived to his right.

Kennington substitute Philpott left Eacott rooted to the spot but his right-footed penalty pinged against the right-hand post.

Sutton Common Rovers doubled their advantage when central midfielder Ryan Dacres-Smith’s right-footed kick nestled into the bottom left-hand corner, despite Mant diving the same way.

Kennington faced a mountain to climb as skipper Clarke – back from a hamstring injury – saw his right-footed penalty beaten away by a strong right-hand from Eacott as he dived to his left to pull off a great save.

Sutton Common Rovers made the score 3-0 when substitute left-winger Leon Lalor-Dell found the bottom left-hand corner with his left-footed free-kick, despite Mant diving the same way again.

Peck netted Kennington’s only successful spot-kick when he sent Eacott the wrong way with his right-footed penalty, just right of centre.

The celebrations started to begin when Allen stepped up and found the bottom left-hand corner with his right-footed penalty as Sutton Common Rovers went through 4-1.

“Disappointed to say the least, it felt like it was undeserved,” said Fisher on his club’s heart-breaking exit.

“But I feel like penalty situations are like a 50-50 draw. We missed our first penalty against Fisher last time, so we were always confident, even missing that first penalty. Missing two in a row then gets tricky and it feels like you’re climbing a mountain, especially when they score.

“Joe Mant was close to a couple of them but luck, different circumstances might’ve changed that but it didn’t.”

Kennington can be proud on their achievements so far this season and would definitely be a welcomed addition to the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division next season if they finish in one of the top four promotion places.

The League is suspended until Saturday 16 January 2020 but the UK Government have today put London and Kent into Tier Four restrictions owing to the Covid-19 outbreak, and The Football Association suspended all non-elite football from Step Three to Seven late on Saturday night.

On Kennington’s recent progress, remarkable as they work without a playing budget, Fisher said: “Dan Scorer has got to take all of the plaudits for that along with Jon Lancaster, the chairman. It’s a very well run club, very family orientated run club, a good club to be part of.

“I’ve been apart of it now for three or four seasons and loved every minute of it, enjoyed my time here, been made to feel a part of the Kennington family and everyone who comes here, comes here to play football and it’s such a joy.

“I’ve played football at a high level and I’ve seen people play for money, people play for other things. This is about people wanting to play football, people want to play for a good brand of football, they choose Kennington.

“We’re going to have a rest over Christmas. We’re going to re-group, recharge our batteries.  We’re going to have to prepare that the League is going to start again on the 16 January, that’s what’s been announced, that was the statement released on Thursday, so it’s something that we’ll work towards.

“We’ll give the players a break now over the Christmas period.  It’s unfortunate not to play Lydd the day after Boxing Day but we could do with recharging our batteries. We’ll come back in, we’ll train hard, we’ll try to get a friendly on the 9 January and be ready for the sixteenth.”

If the season does restart, Kennington will have to play 26 league games before the end of the season (currently 8 May 2021).

“We’ve shown what a good side we are.  We’ve still got a lot more games to play.  It’s a long old season and it’s going to be three games in a week and it’s going to be about who can rotate their squad. We’ve got a strong squad so I’m more than confident in the squad we’ve got here and it will just be a cause of managing our squad throughout these games.”

When asked what Kennington will get out of beating three higher division sides in The FA Vase this season, Fisher replied: “I think it can only be positive. We’ve played teams in the league above us and we’ve handled ourselves well.

“We’ve shown that we’re a threat, all being well the season is completed and all being well we’ll get promoted.  We’ve shown we can compete with the teams in the league above us and I think that’s vitally important for a club that is pushing for promotion.

“It’s not going to be a case that we get beat week-in-week-out next year.  We are seriously going to compete next year with teams.”

Meanwhile, Hellenic League Premier Division leaders Flackwell Heath, who beat Stansfeld 3-0 last weekend, pulled off a Third Round shock after beating Chatham Town 1-0 at Maidstone Road this afternoon.

Deal Town  - FA Vase winners under Tommy Sampson in 2000 – are the only Kent side left in the competition and they welcome Hellenic League Premier Division side Binfield in the Third Round (last 64) on a date to be arranged in 2021, hopefully.

Kennington:  Joe Mant, Luke Hughes, Harry Stow (Reiss Crimmen 77), Gary Clarke, Calvin Sedenu, Adam Phillips, Joe Fisher (Ryan Philpott 63), Robbie Dolan, Gary Lockyer, Craig Calvert (Charlie Owen 74), Callum Peck.
Sub: Harry Lavender

Goal: Gary Lockyer 81

Booked:  Calvin Sedenu 43, Harry Stow 77, Charlie Owen 90

Sutton Common Rovers: Michael Eacott, Aaron Bogle, Malachi Robinson, Adam Allen, Aaron Goode, Nathan Ayling (Dom Bates 55), Kyle Henry (Leon Lalor-Dell 64), Ryan Dacres-Smith, Shawn Lyle (Ryan Bywater 52), Brendan Murphy-McVey, Ollie Twum.
Subs: Jay Dunstan-Digweed, Kiyo Brown, Perry Weller, Jack Casey

Goal:  Shawn Lyle 39

Booked:  Shawn Lyle 48, Ryan Dacres-Smith 73

Attendance: 150
Referee:  Mr Harry Wager
Assistants: Mr Ryan Chantrill-Smith & Mr Mohammed Uddin

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