K Sports 2-0 Lordswood - We've had a couple of poor results and I thought everyone manned up today, says K Sports coach Mark Irvine

Wednesday 06th February 2019
K Sports 2 – 0 Lordswood
Location Cobdown Sports & Social Club, Station Road, Ditton, Aylesford, Kent ME20 6AU
Kickoff 06/02/2019 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Wednesday 6 February 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Cobdown

K SPORTS coach Mark Irvine praised his side’s character after claiming the local bragging rights over a toothless Lordswood side at a rain lashed Cobdown.

The workmanlike Paperboys rose to seventh-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with 37 points on the board from their 25 league outings after bouncing back following heavy defeats to title-chasing sides Cray Valley (0-5) and a 9-0 humiliation at Chatham Town last time out.

Lordswood remain in thirteenth-place in the table with 32 points from 23 games after they suffered back-to-back defeats.

Lordswood started the game on the front foot but they lacked quality in the final third to cause many clear-cut goalscoring chances.

K Sports grabbed the lead against the run of play in the 32nd minute through striker Matthew Gething, scoring his seventh goal of the season.

Lordswood manager Richard Styles – who didn’t make himself available for interview after the game – lost centre-half Ryan Cheek after making a nasty challenge with 20 minutes remaining, which paved the way for K Sports to seal the points through Jason Perry’s hooked finish with four minutes left to score his ninth of the campaign.

“Well, I thought we deserved the victory tonight,” said goalkeeper coach Irvine.

“We had a game plan before the game. We knew they were going to come at us. We knew they were a good side.  The game plan was to soak up the pressure and try to get it forward as quickly as possible and press at the right times and we done that and the game plan worked.

“I thought Lordswood were the better side first 20 minutes but saying that they didn’t really threaten us but they had more of the ball than what we did.

“We pressed them at the right times, got the goal and came in at half-time and we were looking comfortable.

“At half-time we said ‘don’t change it, we didn’t need to change it’.  There were a few nasty tackles going out there but we said keep on pressing, don’t stop the way we’re playing.

“They didn’t have a game plan really once we pressed them. All Lordswood tried to do was knock the ball long and they ran out of ideas but that was by the way we pressed them.  We didn’t give them a chance to do anything different.”

K Sports’ right-back Tom Skelton threaded a pass through to winger James Alderman, who hit a poor looping shot that almost scaled the caged fencing behind the goal inside the opening nine minutes.

K Sports keeper Adam Highsted launched a big kick forward, which was flicked on by Regan Corke and Gething brought the ball under control before he cut the ball back for Skelton to whip in a low deep cross which Alderman flicked his shot wide of the mark.

Lordswood had plenty of possession but their finishing was not up to the level.

Halfway through the half, central midfielder Adam Hooper played a short free-kick inside to Jordan Wells, who took a touch before drilling a right-footed shot high over the crossbar from 30-yards out.

Lordswood’s best chance of the night came in the 24th minute when Hooper found winger Ben Allen in space and he drove an angled drive flashing across the keeper and just past the foot of the far post from 25-yards.

“Of course, there’s always going to be chances in games of football but at the end of the day they didn’t have many chances did they when you look at 90 minutes of football played,” added Irvine.

“We had more chances than what they did and maybe we could’ve got maybe three or four.

“After two games where we’ve had a couple of poor results, I thought everyone manned up today and it was a very, very professional performance by everybody.”

Lordswood left-back Frankie Griffin, who was their defensive weak-link, whipped in a cross, which was flicked on by Hooper and striker Ricky Gundry took a touch before drilling his shot over the crossbar from the edge of the D.

Gundry found himself out wide on the right and he played in a cross which was swept towards his own goal by Paperboys’ left-back Jack West, who was relieved to see the ball sail narrowly over the top of the near post from the edge of his box.

Hooper swung in the resulting corner in from the right and Cheek rose to steer his header wide of the left-hand post.

However, K Sports grabbed the lead, against the run of play at the time, with 31 minutes and 59 seconds on the clock.

Skelton swept a free-kick into the Lordswood box and visiting keeper Tony Coxall’s poor punch away was always going to put his side in trouble.

Alderman was lurking on the edge of the box and drove in a shot, which Coxall dived to his right to parry but it fell nicely for Gething to steer into the bottom left-hand corner from a tight angle.

Irvine said:  “Well, I didn’t think their keeper had a very good game. He was flapping around a little bit. He didn’t look comfortable and that’s what we said, try to get balls in at them. He didn’t look very comfortable for 90 minutes and that showed.

“If I was Lordswood’s manager I’ll be a bit disappointed with my goalkeeper there. He should’ve done better, definitely should’ve done better.  He had two bites of the cherry and he didn’t get to either of them and that’s what Gething’s there for to knock them in and score.”

The goal clearly knocked the former Dartford keeper’s confidence as he unconvincingly dropped West’s deep cross into his penalty area before gathering at the second attempt.

K Sports missed a glorious chance to increase their lead a couple minutes before the interval.

Caine Smith released fast winger Regan Corke down the right and he delivered a great low cross into the corridor of uncertainty but Gething failed to supply the finish, flicking his first time shot past the left-hand post from inside the six-yard box.

“Regan whipped it across and it just needed a touch at the far post,” added Irvine.

“It was good play again.  Regan’s always a threat running at people and he’s excellent and it was a good move. A good few passes to Regan and he’s knocked the ball in there and it just needed a toe poke.”

At half-time, the K Sports management team said: “To keep on, don’t change! I thought as the game went on we looked better and better and we looked in control.  Statistically they didn’t have many chances really. I can’t think of many shots at goal from Lordswood tonight.”

Irvine heaped plenty of praise on his two centre-halves Connor Morgan and George Snelling, who slammed shut the door so that Lordswood’s front three looked ordinary.

“Snelling’s loud, big and strong and he organises. He always presses and tells people to press on. He’s very demanding in there and that’s what we need and Connor is a young lad and he gets better and better every week,” said Irvine.

Coxall was called into action just 62 seconds into the second half.

Referee Rob Columb was guilty of failing to award free-kicks for four handballs during the course of the game and Perry got away with it as the ball clearly bounced up off the 3G surface and struck his hand before he played the ball out to Corke, who cut in from the right wing and curled his shot towards the far corner, which forced Coxall to dive to his right to tip behind for a corner.

Corke, who impressed for Rusthall before his switch to K Sports, should be plying his trade in the Bostik League (First Division).

“But again, that’s what Regan does. He likes to take players on. People are frightened of him and you could see that tonight. He created a few for us and he does that week-in-week-out.”

Both sides won four corners each and Lordswood should have done better when Hooper’s corner from the right was cleared out to Wells, who sliced his shot past the left-hand post from the edge of the penalty area in a central position.

Alderman was released down the right and he floated a cross towards the far post for Caine Smith, who threw himself at the ball but couldn’t make contact with his head, with an open goal gaping in front of him.

“Again, we knocked the ball down the right-hand side, the ball has come across and it was just unlucky. We had two or three of those tonight that were little touches and they’re in the back of the net and it could’ve been three or four,” added Irvine.

K Sports built up well on the hour-mark through West, who played the ball inside to Perry, who set-up the unmarked Grant Mcllheron, who lacked composure and sliced his shot wide from 25-yards.

Lordswood were reduced to 10 men with 20 minutes left when Alderman was on the end of a nasty tackle from Cheek in the middle of the park.

“Definitely! There were some tackles going out there that were nasty and that was a definite! It was high and that deserved to be sent off for that. It was a nasty challenge,” said Irvine.

Lordswood almost snatched an equaliser with nine minutes remaining when substitute left-winger Euan Sahadow floated in a deep free-kick from the left for centre-half Freeman Rogers to rise to steer his header just wide of the right-hand post.

“You can pick and choose how many chances they had. They’re not going to have many chances and they didn’t but that comes down to us, that’s the quality of us tonight,” said Irvine.

“Give Kris (Browning) and Graham (Martin) their due. They had a game plan that they wanted to stick by and the boys done that so credit to the boys and to Kris and Graham for sticking to it. The players have got to believe in the management side a little bit more. When you’re asked to do something, go out and do it and they’ve done it tonight.”

K Sports produced a good move as they claimed the victory with their second goal, timed at 41 minutes and 15 seconds on the clock.

Alderman played the ball in from the left to substitute Reece Gillies, who rolled the ball out to Corke in acres of space on the right and he put it on the plate for an untracked Perry, who hooked his shot into the net from four-yards out.

Irvine said:  “We knew that we were going to have more chances over the 90 minutes.  Let me see, they probably only had two chances? We’ve had six or seven good chances where we could’ve scored so it was comfortable and again it was a good ball into him from the right and he just slots it away, a good finish.”

Evidence of Lordswood’s toothless display up top came deep into injury time when left-back Griffin cut inside Alderman and as space opened up but he drilled his shot over the crossbar from 30-yards.

Irvine was delighted that his players showed great character to bounce back following two thrashings.

“Exactly, you’re spot on there! Nobody was nervous and after those two defeats we needed to get that win tonight and it pushes us up the table up to seventh tonight so that’s credit to everybody involved with K Sports right through the management right through to the players.

“We’ve done a professional job and before we went out there tonight we did say to them ‘you’ve got to give us a reaction tonight’. 

“We’ve had a little blip with those two games but those two teams will be challenging for the title at the end of the season.

“We’re a new club, everybody thought we were one of the favourites to be relegated but that just shows how far K Sports have come this year, we’re sitting seventh.”

K Sports and Lordswood are both without a game at the weekend but both play Hollands & Blair next. 

Third-from-bottom Blair travel to Lordswood next Tuesday, 12 February, before hosting K Sports on Saturday 16 February.

Darren Blackburn’s side have 12 points on the board and are six points clear of Croydon and Rusthall.

Irvine said:  “That’s going to be a tough game, they’re fighting for their lives.  Hollands & Blair away is always a tough fixture but we’ve got enough in the locker to go and get something out of the game.”

K Sports: Adam Highsted, Tom Skelton, Jack West, Jason Perry, Connor Morgan, George Snelling, Regan Corke, Grant Mcllheron (Reece Gillies 72), Matthew Gething (James Jeffrey 79), Caine Smith (Sam Stace 73), James Alderman.
Sub: Harrison Hatfull

Goals: Matthew Gething 32, Jason Perry 86

Booked: George Snelling 56

Lordswood: Tony Coxall, Joe Kane, Frankie Griffin, Jordan Wells, Freeman Rogers, Ryan Cheek, Ben Allen (Alfie Bates 66), Adam Hooper, Andy Irvine (George Blake 77), Tom Carter (Euan Sahadow 46), Ricky Gundry.
Subs: Jake Creed, Fred Rogers

Booked: Euan Sahadow 65

Sent Off: Ryan Cheek 70

Attendance: 67
Referee: Mr Rob Columb (Rochester)
Assistants: Mr Steven Tunnicliffe (Maidstone) & Mr Danny Roberts (Maidstone)