K Sports 2-1 Crowborough Athletic - We need to start turning it around but we'll be working hard trying to do that, says Crowborough Athletic boss Sean Muggeridge

Monday 02nd September 2019
K Sports 2 – 1 Crowborough Athletic
Location Cobdown Sports & Social Club, Station Road, Ditton, Aylesford, Kent ME20 6AU
Kickoff 02/09/2019 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Monday 2 September 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Cobdown

CROWBOROUGH ATHLETIC manager Sean Muggeridge insists his side have got to pick themselves up after losing a relegation dog-fight at K Sports.

The Paperboys delivered their first league win of the season to climb four places to fifteenth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with four points from five games, while the Crows slumped into the bottom three, having collected three points from their first five league outings.

Both sides progressed through to the Second Qualifying Round of The Buildbase FA Vase with wins at the weekend. K Sports came away from Little Common with a 2-1 win, while Crowborough Athletic eased to a 3-0 win at Shoreham.

The first half was played at a frenetic pace and the game lacked quality as both sides kept giving the ball away and the football on show for the 103 people at Cobdown was of poor quality.

Crowborough Athletic winger Kieran Scantlebury slotted in his sixth goal of the season to give his side the lead just before the hour-mark.

K Sports had plenty of the ball during the second half and holding midfielder Jason Perry scored twice in 190 seconds to claim a morale boosting victory, the winning goal a powerfully hit bicycle kick.

K Sports coach Sonny Gladdish was delighted with his side getting points on the board.

“Pleased overall, pleased with the win. Maybe not the complete performance that we were looking for but we had a lot of injuries, a lot of things that have gone against us that you couldn’t write in the build-up to the game so we were stretched down to the bare bones.

“I thought the young lads that came in – and they are young, 18-19 – I thought they done well with both sides of the game, both aspects against a physical side and I think in the end their footballing ability outshone and won us the game ultimately.”

Muggeridge added:  “According to plan, they started really well, had a couple of chances. They had a lot of the ball in the first half.

“We had just as many chances as they did, ours we’re a bit more clear-cut.  They didn’t go to the plan that we said before the game. 

“Second half we did, we sat in there and frustrated them. We didn’t give them anything. We got the goal and it’s just a silly mistake again and we’ve got to stop doing them and we’ve let them back in the game.

“Then we’ve had chances to win it, we’ve had chances to be out of sight to be honest with you but it’s just not going for us at the moment.  I don’t know what it is, we’re working hard enough and trying to do the right things.

“It’s a blatant penalty at the end and we don’t get them anymore. We get penalties against us.

“Did we deserve to win it? Probably not! Did we deserve to lose it? No we didn’t, so I think a draw was probably a fair account.

“It was going so well tactically sucking them in, hitting them on the break. We went 1-0 up, a free header on the back post, is just not acceptable!”

On the frenetic, poor football on show, both camps said this.

Gladdish was pleased with the desire aspect from his side.

“Effort and desire that’s all that we asked of them. We know they’re not always necessarily going to be fantastic and on top of games, at the moment it’s just not where we’re at, so we just ask for complete desire, commitment and dedication to the cause, so I think that’s what we got.”

Muggeridge said: “I think it’s two teams down the bottom trying to get a victory really, however they did it but these things do change.  It’s not going for us at the moment, so that win on Saturday in the FA Vase was good.  Both teams played in the Vase so you can’t make any excuses on that. We looked a bit tired at the end but I think we were a bit unlucky tonight.”

Crowborough Athletic nearly took the lead with eight minutes on the clock when right-wing-back Jack Funnell’s free-kick from 40-yards sailed over the head of Paperboys goalkeeper Daniel Smith and kissed the top of the crossbar before dropping behind for a goal-kick.

Muggeridge added: “I’ve been at the top of this league and they hit the bar and go in.  We’ve just got to keep working hard and they will go in.”

Gladdish said: “We’re looking at our goalkeeper a little bit there but it’s one of those things, luckily it’s gone our way.”

K Sports striker Austin Edwards’ debut lasted only three minutes and 51 seconds after picking up a thigh injury and Harry Towner came on and impressed before he made way for emergency target-man Ashley Cooper on the hour mark.

“Austin pulled up. We had to call him in and last minute this morning with injuries, you can’t make up what’s happened to us in the build-up to the game,” said Gladdish.

“We’ve called Austin up from the second team. In the warm-up he felt his thigh a little bit and he thought he’d be ok from the off but unfortunately he couldn’t get through 45 for us so we had to change it and put Harry in and he done well for us.

“The reasons to change Harry again was just a little bit of a tactical thing.  We thought maybe we could get it into more of a hold up player.  Ashley Cooper is not a centre-forward but we brought him in just to do a job really and he done well when he came on.”

Towner played the ball out to winger Regan Corke on the right and he cut the ball back for Connor Pring to hit a first time right-footed drive dipping over the crossbar, as he tried to curl his shot into the top far corner from 22-yards.

K Sports centre-half George Benner hit a long ball out of defence to release Corke down the right channel and his lovely cross was missed by both Towner (near post) and Alfie Bates (far post), who both slid in but couldn’t get the touch to poke the ball into the corner of the net.

K Sports missed an even better chance to smash the stalemate in the 18th minute.

Right-back Adam Hooper released Beau Landau down the left channel and he cut the ball back to Hooper, who took a touch before putting it on a plate for Towner, who sent his free header straight at visiting keeper Billy Johnson from six-yards, the Crowborough keeper initially dropping the ball before gathering it.

“It was a goal written all over it really,” said Gladdish.

“Harry’s come in and done a job for us today. He’s not a centre-forward but he’s come in and played there for us so we can’t be too critical but we’re pleased with the build-up play that created the chance.”

K Sports’ right-back Jack West gifted possession to Crowborough’s left-wing-back Adetokunbo Adeyemo, who sprinted forward before curling his shot around the far post from 22-yards.

Crowborough Athletic missed a decent chance in the 21st minute when Funnell whipped in a free-kick, the ball was chested down by K Sports’ centre-half Huw Mitchell and the ball dropped kindly for Luke Leppard, who drilled his left-footed shot on the turn over the crossbar from penalty-spot range.

The impressive Towner released Corke in behind Adeyemo and Tom Boddy and he played in a low cross to Bates, who teed up Towner, who hit a first time right-footed drive from 20-yards, which kissed the very top of the right-hand post, before hitting the cage.

Gladdish said: “A great effort, great play. Alfie was a real bright young player, learning his trade and I felt the way that he held the ball up first of all, which isn’t his game and then brought Harry into the game, Harry’s unlucky, he’s hit the stanchion on the wrong side of the post unfortunately.”

Crowborough Athletic wasted another opportunity in the 34th minute.

Adeyemo used his pace to charge forward some 40-yards with the ball at his feet before spreading the ball over to the other side to striker Leppard, who took a touch before scuffing his low shot which was comfortably held by Smith, low to his right.

Muggeridge said: “One day they will probably all go in to the back of the net so we’ve just got to pick ourselves up really. It’s a disappointing result – we did have loads of chances.”

Gladdish added: “We’re working hard on our shape off the ball and trying to make things difficult. I thought although we were scampering a little bit, I thought we done well enough to affect him not to get a clean shot away as he would’ve wished so we were happy with that as well.”

Mitchell released Perry, who found space down the left-channel and he hung over a cross into the Crowborough box for Towner, who rose while heavily marked and the ball looped into the hands of visiting keeper Johnson.

Crowborough Athletic called Smith into making a smart save just before half-time when Leppard released Matthew Moody down the left, the midfielder cut into the box and couldn’t slot his shot past the Paperboys’ keeper.

Neither side could find a breakthrough before the interval and everyone hoped to watch better football in the second half.

Muggeridge said: “They didn’t implement the plan we was trying to do that we did on Saturday, so it was about re-shaping, reshuffling and I think the game plan was brilliant. 

“Second half, I thought we frustrated them. They had the ball where it wasn’t hurting us and every time it went long they had to go long and it went out of play.

“It did improve when they brought on the guy (Cooper) up front and he was good in the air.  They tried to find him and we nullified what they had really.”

Gladdish said: Ultimately we had to bed into the game. We were young, we were raw, we had people making debuts, we’ve got people playing out of position.  We’ve got people literally dying for the cause for us now so we couldn’t really overly impact the game from the bench.  We only really had like-for-like changes but I thought the first half was frantic and the message at half-time was try to calm it down!

“We’ve got young technical footballers so we wanted that to try to come out in the second half because we thought that was going to be the best way to win the game in the second half.”

Crowborough Athletic created their first opening after only 82 seconds.

Keeper Johnson launched a big kick upfield, Benner’s poor back-header was latched onto by Leppard, who swept a weak shot from 20-yards, that rolled into Smith’s hands.

“That was the chance! We always knew we would get chances with Luke and Kieran up front. It’s just unfortunate, they went in on Saturday,” added Muggeridge.

Gladdish admitted: “We got caught cold unfortunately, so something we’ve got to look to work on but luckily Dan made the save for us.”

K Sports played out from the back, spraying the ball across their defensive line but when they did play it forward, the wrong pass was made and the move broke down as Crowborough Athletic were content to sit back and protect their point.

Benner smashed into Scantlebury as the Crowborough winger looked to break away and nearly paid the price as Trey Masikini floated the free-kick into the Paperboys penalty area and centre-half Tom Boddy looped his header just over the crossbar from 14-yards.

The game was desperate for some excitement and Crowborough Athletic drew first blood, the goal being timed at 13 minutes and six seconds.

Sam Saunders played the ball up field from midfield, last man Benner gave the ball away to Scantlebury, who strode forward and once inside the box kept his composure to slot his shot underneath the keeper to find the bottom left-hand corner.

“We was putting a lot of pressure on them when we got the ball because we said five seconds get it forward as quickly as possible to try to get those two strikers in,” said Muggeridge.

“I think Benner was under pressure and he just headed it back. It was a beautiful finish again. He’s scored six goals now Kieran.

“I’m just thinking do we stay the same or do we change it? I decided to stay the same and we did.  They were still not doing anything really.”

Gladdish added: “He’s done all he can do really but I thought it came majorly against-the-run-of-play to be honest.

“In the second half we were really dictating possession.  They were camped in with solid banks behind the ball and we had to try to break them down but they’ve hit us on the counter. A little lapse of concentration and a mistake from George, whose been fantastic for the rest of the game.

“We’ve gone 1-0 down and we just had to remain calm, keep playing football, keep doing the things we think we’re best at doing in the conditions and the players that we’ve got on the pitch today.

“We didn’t want to hit the panic button. We just wanted to get the ball on the surface and move it around and create chances and both of the goals have come off the back of that.”

K Sports manager Paul Atkins responded by throwing on Cooper and his height advantage up top had the desired effect as the home side had an outlet.

The Paperboys took nearly 24 minutes to create their first opening when Benner launched a cross into the box, which was cleared out to Pring, who stroked a left-footed drive towards the bottom far corner from 22-yards, forcing Johnson to dive to his left to parry the ball before gathering at the second attempt.

Gladdish said: “Maybe where we’re missing our out-and-out centre forwards they’d come in and tap that in on another day and that comes naturally. 

“Looking at the build-up play in the lead up to that we’re asking Connor to get on second balls when it does have to go longer and he’s done that so we try to take the positives.”

Muggeridge added: “They’re going to get chances because they were 1-0 down.  They’re going to press and try to get somewhere.  Again, we didn’t really look like we were going to concede.”

Crowborough Athletic squandered a glorious chance to kill the game off with 26 minutes and 49 seconds on the clock – and they paid the ultimate price.

Masikini was released down the right and he hit a deep cross towards the far post towards the head of an unmarked White, who planted his header past the top of the near post from eight-yards out when he only had Smith to beat.

“That was 2-0, they would’ve been gone but we kept them in it by not being clinical enough to be honest with you,” added a frustrated Muggeridge.

Gladdish added: “It was a little bit over him and he’s not quite got over it but it was against-the-run-of-play so maybe a little bit of a soft underbelly but I still think at that point we’ve controlled the game so for us to be dead and buried at 2-0 would’ve been majorly harsh in my opinion.”

Just 47 seconds later, K Sports were level.

K Sports’ right-back West whipped in a deep cross towards the far post, the ball was knocked down by the towering Cooper close to the by-line and Perry slid in to poke the ball into the bottom left-hand corner from six-yards out.

Gladdish said: “We worked the ball from left-to-right, we stayed patient in the build-up, stayed patient when even out wide. Westy done brilliantly, cut inside his man, hung up a great ball up to Coops, who was brought in for those purposes, great awareness just left it on the six-yard box and JP’s doing what we’re asking our midfielders to do, arrive and he’s arrived and tapped it in from six-yards.”

Muggeridge said: “I can’t believe we can have one free player in the box to head it across the goal and then someone to just tap it in. It was just a horrendous goal really to give away!

“The cross shouldn’t have come in. I think Adetokunbo Adeyemo slipped, the wing-back slipped, they put it into the back post and Cooper’s unmarked.  How he’s unmarked, I don’t know because there’s three defenders in there.  I can’t really say anything because it’s just a horrible goal to give away. We gave them both goals really.”

K Sports snatched the victory with 30 minutes and 44 seconds on the clock.

Mitchell whipped in a deep cross from the left which was controlled by Corke at the far post and he hung in a cross into the middle for Perry to smash a stunning scissor kick into the roof of the net from eight-yards out.

“He’s not known for them,” Gladdish said of Perry’s Premier League standard finish.

“Young Huw Mitchell made his debut for us on Saturday away to Little Common and we won the game. He played left-back for us and he’s played centre-half for us today.

“We’ve worked the ball when we’ve got them camped in their own half so that our centre-half is in a position to hang in a cross. Another great ball across and JP arrives and jumps up on a scissor kick and smashes it into the back of the net.

“I thought it was deserved, fully deserved.  I don’t think anybody could argue with the fact that we were winning the game at that point and we’ve won the game ultimately.”

Muggeridge added: “Again, you don’t want to be opened up by teams really. It could’ve been cleared.  You’ve got to give him credit for scoring a goal like that.  I think we had so many chances to clear it and we’ve tried to play out, it’s a disappointing goal.”

There was still time for each side inside injury time to have a player each put in the Sin-Bin as Cooper was binned for saying something to referee Matthew Grist after committing a foul, before White launched abuse at senior assistant referee Andy Butler after Crowborough felt they should have been awarded a last-gasp penalty.

Muggeridge said: “The thing is, I can’t condone my players. I don’t know what he’s said. I haven’t had a word with the ref yet but I can’t condone swearing or whatever it was.

“It was a blatant penalty. It wasn’t even a touch and go 50-50! Did he not give it because of the time left? It’s just so frustrating.  Nothings going for us but I can’t sulk or anything, I’ve just got to get on with it!”

Gladdish added: “White has gone over and got in the linesman’s face. I don’t know if he went too aggressively but these new sin bin rules are such and he’s come off.

“Coops, to the best of my knowledge, has just made a foul, a bit of a professional foul, been booked and left the pitch. Whether he’s said anything or not, he’s adamant he hasn’t, but who knows?”

The best part of this dire game was the final whistle.  Both sides must improve or they will be in for a fight against relegation.

K Sports face another relegation dog-fight on Saturday with a trip to second-from-bottom side Greenwich Borough, who have two points on the board from four games, while Crowborough Athletic host second-placed Chatham Town.

Gladdish admitted the resignation of Kris Browning and Graham Martin just nine days before the start of the season has ruined preparations for the new season.

He said: “Realistically we’re still in pre-season mode where everybody else would’ve started in May, were starting now, so there’s no excuses, no excuses at all. We haven’t started great but we’ve been a little bit unlucky. We’ve hung ourselves a little bit and we seem to be coming out the other side now.

“We come in six days before the start of the season. It was well publicised what happened before hand. We’ve come in and we had a lot to sort out. We had a style of play that we had to try to enforce, which is slightly different to previous and we had to juggle so many things off the pitch.

“I say you couldn’t write it. I’m sure everybody has their problems but we’ve sort of been in the trenches. We’ve been losing games by the odd goal, frustratingly hanging ourselves on occasions but we’ve won two games 2-1 on the bounce now so hopefully we’ve turned that corner.

“We’ve got to improve, we’ve got players to come back and I think we can only get better from this point now.

“We’ll go to Greenwich Borough full of confidence. It will be a tough game. Hopefully we’ll be able to get one or two more bodies back in and go and give a good account of ourselves.”

The last thing you need after losing a game like this is to play James Collins’ Chatham Town side, a point behind 100% leaders Tunbridge Wells.

“It’s going to be a real tough one to be honest with you but we’ve got to pick ourselves up and we can’t make silly mistakes like we have done,” added Muggeridge.

“It might be fresh air for us playing a top side to see where we are because at the moment we’re going to turn it around quite quickly because I know it’s early days but staying around the bottom there, it’s harder and harder and decisions start going against you and you try to snap at things in front of goal and things don’t work out for you, so we need to start turning it around but we’ll be working hard trying to do that.”

K Sports: Daniel Smith, Jack West, Adam Hooper, Jason Perry, George Benner, Huw Mitchell, Alfie Bates (Harry Sheridan 83), Beau Landau, Austin Edwards (Harry Towner 4, Ashley Cooper 60)), Connor Pring, Regan Corke.
Sub: Alex Arif

Goals: Jason Perry 73, 76

Booked: George Benner 56

Temporary Dismissal: Ashley Cooper 90

Crowborough Athletic: Billy Johnson, Jack Funnell, Adetokunbo Adeyemo (Harry Forster 88), James White, Maxim Carbune, Tom Boddy, Matthew Moody (Sam Carrington 90), Sam Saunders (Jason Stripp 81), Luke Leppard, Trey Masikini, Kieran Scantlebury.
Subs: Harvey Killick, Jordan Crush

Goal: Kieran Scantlebury 59

Booked: Trey Masikini 31, Matt Moody 72, Maxim Carbune 85

Temporary Dismissal: James White 90

Attendance: 103
Referee: Mr Matthew Grist (Bearsted)
Assistants: Mr Andy Butler (Maidstone) & Mr Harry Graham (Orpington)