Lewisham Borough 1-6 Sevenoaks Town - We was a shambles, admits Lewisham boss Kevin Harris

Tuesday 08th July 2014

Pre-Season Friendly
Tuesday 8th July 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Chapel Farm Road

SEVENOAKS TOWN manager Micky Collins says he is targeting a top half finish in the Southern Counties East Football League after comfortably beating ten-man Lewisham Borough in his first game in charge.

Both clubs have changed their management teams during the close season after Sevenoaks Town finished in the bottom two, while Lewisham Borough finished in the bottom three in the Kent Invicta League.

Collins gave 25 players a run-out, whilst newly-appointed Lewisham Borough manager Kevin Harris looked at 19 players during his first game in charge.

Sevenoaks Town opened the floodgates after only 153 seconds when impressive left-winger Kieron McCann scored, before striker Andy Constable, who got through 62 minutes, scored upon his return to the club.

Lewisham Borough pulled a goal back through striker Kieran McMahon, 16, before Jack Howlett powered home a header to give Sevenoaks Town a commanding 3-1 lead at the break.

Lewisham Borough faced an uphill struggle when Adam Small was booked for a challenge on Constable, which resulted in his brother Chris voicing his dissent towards referee Valentine Anekwe, who issued the midfielder a yellow, swiftly followed by a red-card, on the stroke of half-time.

Sevenoaks Town, who made nine changes at the break, punished Lewisham Borough further with three second half goals, a couple from Tom Skelton and a brilliant 35-yard chip from former professional footballer Simon Osborn, 42.

“I take some positives out of it,” said a pleased Collins afterwards.

“We set-up well, we played at a really good tempo and it was a good exercise.  Pre-season, it’s about getting fitness and minutes and getting little positions to gel and the two teams I played, first half and second half, both did what we asked.

“It was a good exercise all round.” 

Lewisham Borough boss Harris, 35, added: “They sort of laid it onto us but it showed us a lot about what was going on out there.

“I had a couple of youngsters in the squad, a couple of sixteen-year-olds out there today, one of them got a goal so yes it proved a lot tonight, not how I wanted it to go but quite positive how things are moving forward.”

Sevenoaks Town were excellent down the left, with former Bromley and Croydon left-back Luke Turner feeding Kieron McCann, who caused Lewisham Borough’s new player-coach Jamie Leggett problems during the first half.

Collins said: “Luke comes highly-recommended. He’s been at Bromley as a young lad and it’s not worked out there for him for one reason or another. He’s come in and he’s a lad that I’ve had on my radar for a while so we brought him in and he looked very comfortable.

“Kieron’s a quality player. I said when I signed him a few weeks’ ago I was excited by that. He knows how I play and I think he’s showed his quality tonight.”

Turner initially played the ball down the line to release striker Jack Howlett, who cut the ball back to Turner, who drilled the ball into the penalty area and Constable’s flick was pushed away by Lee Haywood’s strong left hand.

Russell Bedford launched a trademark long throw over the Lewisham Borough defence towards the far post for Kieron McCann to stab the ball into the bottom left-hand corner from close range.

“I didn’t know that Russ possessed a throw like that until before the game and we discussed it and we said if it’s big enough let’s get someone in on the far post,” said Collins, who won the Kent League double with Erith & Belvedere with a direct style.

“We just called Kieron to make that run. It was a great throw and he just tapped it in. It was perfect.”

“Abysmal defending, that’s all I can say,” added Harris.

“Long throw, the ball’s come 50-60 yards from a throw. We’ve had eight players that have not reacted. They’ve had one player that has reacted.  Stupid errors all over tonight to be honest with you.”

Lewisham Borough squandered an excellent chance to swiftly restore parity when Emmanuel Kadiki threw the ball into the penalty area for striker Tim Beckford to plant his header over the bar.

Adam Small then picked the ball up inside the Sevenoaks Town half before sweeping a speculative right-footed drive, curling just wide from 35-yards.

Kieron McCann then turned provider when he chipped the ball into Bedford, who whipped in a cross which was miss-kicked by Lewisham Borough defender Jerimiah Efe and Howlett rolled his shot just past the foot of the far post.

Kieran McCann was then given another chance to take a shot at Haywood’s goal, but his right-footed curler bounced just wide of the far post.

It was therefore no surprise when Sevenoaks Town doubled their lead inside 18 minutes.

This time the play came down the right and Bedford played the ball into Morgan Jenden, who played the ball back to Bedford, who played the ball inside to Constable.

Constable turned Efe inside the penalty area with quick feet before drilling a left-footed shot past the diving Haywood to continue his prolific goalscoring form at this level.

Collins said: “I quite liked the link-up play we found. We done well. We got the ball up to where we wanted it to and the midfield linked well and we passed it well into areas.

“You throw your hat on Andy all the time. He’s in great shape at the moment as well and he took it well, good finish.”

Harris added: “Constable done tonight what he’s been doing for years’. Great, great player Andy.  I think our two centre halves got an experience from him tonight.  Jerimiah had his first game in there tonight. He’s a young lad. I threw him in at centre half last minute. He was up against it but he done ok.”

Jenden then floated over a cross from the right but Howlett planted his header straight at Haywood.

But Haywood was to play a major part in Lewisham Borough pulling a goal back in the 25

He launched a big kick straight down the middle of the pitch, which was chased down by McMahon, who from fifteen-yards caressed his left-footed half-volley over the exposed Paul Agu to find the near corner.

Harris said he has high hopes for the sixteen-year-old.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen him play.  Kieran was with the under 21’s last year. I think he’s one of the hottest prospects at this club. It was a fantastic finish. He deserves it.  He’s been training well in pre-season.

“I’m excited about him.  I’ve chatted to his parents, he’s fully committed to the season and if we can get a season out of him before a big club comes in for him we’ll be very lucky and we’ll go with that.”

Collins added: “Good finish by their lad, a very good finish, but poor defending from us.

“I said before the game in pre-season you don’t switch off in situations, because we haven’t played for weeks.

“Lee in goal, who I know well, he’s got a great kick and they just caught us on the hop. We haven’t covered each other defensively and possibly our keeper could have had a better starting position.

“I can’t argue about the finish. It was a great finish.”

Turner whipped in a quality free-kick from the right which swung towards the far post which saw Kieron McCann ghost into the six-yard box to guide his header against the crossbar from close range, as once again Leggett didn’t pick up his man.

The impressive Turner played a sublime diagonal pass from right to left to pick out Kieron McCann, who brought the ball down under his spell off his chest before whipping in an excellent cross from the left which resulted Howlett to plant his header into the top left-hand corner after 35 minutes.

“Again, we played ourselves in great positions. It was a four or five passing link-up, a great cross and Jack deserved his goal,” said Collins.

“Jack’s a lad that came to us for trials and he’s been a gem so far. I’ve been really pleased with him. He deserved it. He worked very hard, he had some great movement so I’m pleased with him.”

Harris added: “Same thing again. He was the only fella in the box. A cross came in, we’ve decided again that we’re going to switch off at the back, all four defenders and he’s come in between all of them and not one of them has reacted defensively tonight.

“We was a shambles. We half knew that we were pulling out some inexperienced players but you’ve got to learn from that and we’ll learn from that tonight and we’ll be having some harsh conversations with some people tomorrow and we’ll see a couple of players leaving the club.”

Howlett then played the ball inside to Constable, who looped his right-footed drive over the Lewisham Borough crossbar from the edge of the penalty area.

The Sevenoaks Town striker then nipped in front of his marker to glance his header wide, before he shrugged off Efe to stroke his shot wide after being put through by Jenden’s fine pass.

Constable was involved in a tussle with Adam Small in midfield, which resulted in the Lewisham Borough player being booked for his second bad foul of the half.

His brother Chris, however, took offence and voiced his anger towards the referee and the midfielder deservedly picked up a yellow card, followed by a red and Lewisham Borough played the rest of the game with ten men.

Both managers were asked their thoughts on the flashpoints.

Harris said: “Chris is an experienced player. He’s reacted to the referee’s decision. No excuses! You can’t talk to the referee like that! You can’t answer back at this level, even though it was a friendly, we’ve still got good officials doing the game.

“Listen, he got sent-off, it’s something that he’s sorry for. He’s apologised for it. I won’t hold him to ransom over that.

“I’ve told him if that happens again – he’s let his players down – and he’s big enough and ugly enough to own up.

“It destroyed the game because we were playing against better opposition and they were fantastic Sevenoaks, they played good football.

“To do it with ten men on our first pre-season game back is tough. It’s hard when you’re down to ten men and they’ve haven’t played a game together before this group of lads so I can’t penalise them.

“I’ve told some of them to look at themselves and say are they ready for this level and some of them will make that decision for them.

“Chris has apologised. He’s held his hands up and he’s apologised to all involved and all we can do is move on from it.”

Collins added: “Ridiculous! It’s not worth discussing because to give someone press coverage about how they behaved liked that in a friendly is just ridiculous! It’s silliness really.

“To be fair I think the ref could have sent their guy off and possibly allowed them to bring another player on, which didn’t happen, which was unfortunate, but discipline starts in pre-season and they let themselves down.  You have to make sure you’re organised and they let themselves down a bit, which was a bit of a shame.”

Sevenoaks Town took only 36 seconds to kill the game off when Skelton picked up the ball in space before curling a right-footed drive around substitute goalkeeper Dan Clarke to find the top far corner from 25-yards.

Collins hailed the strike, by saying, “Tom’s first touch, that’s a great finish, an absolute brilliant finish.  It’s come to him and he’s just bent it into the top corner from 25-yards out.

“That is a great finish! Tom looked lively. He’s come to us to get some minutes and see if we can progress him and I was really impressed with him as well.

“Tom’s been around. He was at Dover early in pre-season on trial there, which never worked out for him unfortunately. Last season he was at Sittingbourne and he was at Dulwich Hamlet and Bromley reserves.

“He’s a good lad and he just needs a run of games to get him enjoying his football again.

“He had Simon Osborn behind him and he had a spring in his step.  I like him. I rate him. He’s a very good player.”

Harris said: “I’m just trying to think back there were so many goals!

“Another lad looks like he’s come on to impress the Sevenoaks management. We backed off and backed off. Well done to the lad, he’s taken his opportunity. 

“It just shows we’ve got a lot of lads not experienced at this level, especially Step Five with Sevenoaks but you can’t back off quality players like that and fair dues to the lad, he’s hit a quality shot and the goalkeeper’s been caught cold but great goal, great finish. You can’t argue about anything like that.”

Lewisham Borough striker Beckford stung the fingers of former Bromley keeper Agu with a free-kick from 25-yards, but they were never really in the game.

Sevenoaks Town went close in the 58
minute when Brad Draper planted his header over the crossbar following a cross in between two slack central defenders.

Sevenoaks Town scored their fifth goal of the night in the 68
minute when Draper played in Skelton, who slammed his right-footed shot past substitute keeper Clarke, who endured a miserable 45 minute cameo.

Collins said: “Brad played well. He came on. He’s lacking a bit of fitness at the moment. He hasn’t managed to be at every session due to work but he knows to knuckle down and get some fitness.

“Brad’s got every touch in the book. Tom’s had a great run and what a finish!”

Harris added: “Dan’s another keeper. It’s the first time that we’ve had a look at him tonight. I think we’re all had a bit of a learning curve.  There’s quality all over the pitch when you’re playing such good opposition.

“For us, we did let him in too easy. Again, a bit of inexperience. The right-back has come in cold. We should’ve shut that down as with most of their goals today. We’ve caused our own problems by switching off.”

Lewisham Borough went close when substitute Andre Famosaya played a great through ball in behind the Sevenoaks defence to play Beckford in but his right-footed angled drive brought a comfortable low save out of Agu beside his near post.

It’s always a pleasure to watch Osborn pull the strings just in front of the defensive line and he produced another moment of quality to score his side’s sixth goal with five minutes left.

Osborn sent a sublime chip sailing over the stranded goalkeeper’s head from 35-yards, the ball dropping down into the middle of an open goal.

“Mercurial, is the word. He’s got every trick in the book and he’s a tremendous professional,” said Collins.

“His career is just unbelievable. Everyone who watched the game tonight will just say he absolutely bossed it second half. He pulls players into position and he’s a true professional.

“He’s still got it. Maybe he can’t make 30-40 yard runs anymore but he doesn’t need to – his brain does it!

“He loves it and he plays with a smile on his face and it’s great to have him around me. He’s a good friend and he’s a good player and I’m sure he’ll be an asset to us.”

When asked whether Osborn has signed for the club, Collins replied: “We haven’t signed him yet, not yet.  It’s whether he wants to play or not, that’s the big question. If he’s got the buzz to play and he wants to then he will.”

Harris added: “A good finish, you can’t argue about the finish, it’s unbelievable.

“But that’s come from us having a free-kick on the edge of our box.  We’ve made two touches and gave the ball away and we didn’t need to do it.

“Fair play to him, he’s put it over the keeper’s head. A great goal. A great finish. Again, down to our errors and tonight there were a lot of errors.”

Lewisham Borough substitute Louis Hamilton charged down the right wing but was denied by a comfortable near post save from Agu at the death.

Collins, meanwhile, revealed his positives and negatives and his aspirations for the season at Greatness Park.

“Negatives?  Poor goal to concede.  A bit of a shame that their bloke misbehaved and got sent-off, which caused a bit of an atmosphere for a short while.

“Positives? That my two teams that have never played together gelled very quickly. They listened to instruction.  Fitness levels look ok, a few are a bit short but we’ll address that.

“Impressed with what I’ve put together so far and considering there were three or four that were not available tonight, who were some of our plum signings.”

When asked about the League campaign ahead, Collins wants to do “better than we did last year.

“I think if we look at a top ten finish at the end of the season, I think the club will be very happy and if we gel quickly, who knows what we can achieve?

“There’s a great bunch of lads there and if we can get organised, who knows what we can achieve.”

When asked what he learnt from his first game in charge of Lewisham Borough, Harris replied: “Pick a better eleven!  We’ve learnt a lot about the trialists who we’ve had on show, which is great. It’s what we’re here for.

“Fitness levels are going to be up and that’s the first thing that we’re going to address. All these lads are going to be in tomorrow and maybe we’ve picked two or three who shouldn’t have been here tonight, that’s for sure.”

Lewisham Borough: Lee Haywood (Dan Clarke 46), Jamie Leggett, Bradley Coombs (Ashley McDonald 47), Rob Hicks (Steve Truman 47), Jerimiah Efe (Andre Famosaya 47), Chris Small, Emmanuel Kadiki, (Tom Hammond 52), Adam Small (Ray Knight 47), Kieran McMahon (Junior Adewakun 49), Tim Beckford, Jamie Blundell (Louis Hamilton 47).

Goal: Kieran McMahon 25

Booked:  Adam Small 45, Chris Small 45

Sent Off: Chris Small 45

Sevenoaks Town: Paul Agu, John Lord (Josh Gilbert 46, Rhys Knapp 69), Luke Turner (Jack Miles 46), Andy Constable (Mitchell Clegg 62), Sean Johnson (Adam Pharo 46), Mel McCann (Tom Skelton 46, Marlon Fraser 73), Kieron McCann (Brad Draper 46, Tom Warner 80), Russell Bedford (Tim Osibudu 46), Jack Howlett (Sam Manktelow 46), Luke Coleman (Simon Osborn 46), Morgan Jenden (Greg Palmer 46, Lewis David 73).

Goals: Kieron McCann 3, Andy Constable 18, Jack Howlett 35, Tom Skelton 46, 68, Simon Osborn 85

Attendance: 39
Referee: Mr Valentine Anekwe (Bromley)
Assistants: Mr Andy Simmonds (Grays, Essex) & Mr Mike Sullivan (West Wickham)