Long Lane 3-2 Margate - It was a cup final at a very, very high standard and I think the Kent Youth League will be proud of that, says Long Lane treble-chasing manager Joe Ford

Thursday 12th May 2016
Long Lane 3 – 2 Margate
Location Priestfield Stadium, Redfern Avenue, Gillingham, Kent ME7 4DD
Kickoff 12/05/2016 19:30

Kent Youth League Under 18 KitToFit Challenge Cup Final
Thursday 12th May 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Priestfield Stadium

LONG LANE manager Joe Ford hailed his players after they pulled off a giant-killing to win the Kent Youth League Under 18 KitToFit Challenge Cup on a special night for the club at Priestfield Stadium.


The Kidbrooke based club, whose first team play in the NRG Gym Kent County League Division One West, which is six levels below Vanarama National League South side Margate, won a pulsating game at League One club Gillingham.

CUP DOUBLE WINNERS: Long Lane celebrate winning the Kent Youth League Under 18 Kit To Fit Challenge Cup after winning a pulsating game against Margate at Priestfield Stadium.
Photo: www.esaphotos.co.uk

The two clubs would not meet at first team level but the two clubs are evenly matched at under 18 level.

Margate have already won the Kent Youth League Premier Division One title and will receive their silverware against Sittingbourne at Hartsdown Park on Sunday, while they have already won the Kent Invitational Cup with a 2-1 win over hosts Corinthian seven days ago.

Long Lane will claim a treble if they win the the Kent Youth League Central Division title by collecting at least a point against second-placed Rusthall on Sunday.

Long Lane have beaten Deal Town (5-0), West Wickham (5-2), Bearsted (10-2), Welling United (2-0) and Dover Athletic (2-0) to reach the Final.

Margate defeated Long Lane’s Northern Section side (4-1), Dover Athletic (5-0), Dulwich Hamlet (7-0) and Sittingbourne (2-0).

All three of Long Lane’s goalscorers have all sampled Southern Counties East Football League football at Erith Town this season.

Anthony Adesite gave them the lead, before a brilliant strike from Max Williams gave them a 2-0 lead at the break.

Pacy winger Merrick Simms made it three early in the second half, leaving Margate with a mountain to climb.

But champions Margate pulled a goal back through Mitchell Laing’s stunning free-kick, before Samuel Munday came up from the back to head home a corner.

But the high quality football played in the first 86 minutes turned sour when Margate’s goalscoring pair disgraced themselves when they were both red-carded.

Munday, who was substituted in the 82nd minute, collected his second yellow card for joining in an ugly melee, which resulted in two stewards walking onto the pitch as referee Chris Myatt blew his whistle several times in an attempt to restore order.

Laing was shown a straight red card for aggressive behaviour after the final whistle as both sets of players clashed again.

Winners Long Lane receive £300 in vouchers, while Margate scoop £150 in vouchers to spend with the competition sponsors.

“Terrific performance from the boys, made hard work of it a little bit in the second half, switched off a couple of times, gave away a couple of silly free-kicks in dangerous areas but I’m so proud of all of them,” said Ford, 25, afterwards.

“It’s been sort of three or four years’ in the making. They’ve been under Andy and Stuart Stotesbury before they came to me and we took them on from there.

“We sat them down at the start of the year and we said ‘boys, this is the year we’ve got to start producing. We’ve always been the nearly-men’ but tonight we weren’t.

“Every single of them were a credit to Long Lane Football Club tonight.  It was a cup final at a very, very high standard and I think the Kent Youth League will be proud of that.”

Margate manager Paul Robinson said: “Fantastic game. We couldn’t find our way through in the first half, their keeper kept us out.

“If we’d have scored in the first 20 minutes it would’ve been a different result.

“Second half we came out with full guns blazing. We had three up front, then we went with four up front and we found a way through. As you could see we weren’t far away.”

It appeared that both sets of players were inspired playing at Priestfield Stadium. Long Lane were the home side so were inside the Gillingham changing room.

“The venue is absolutely incredible,” said Ford.  “For a Cup Final the Kent Youth League have done themselves proud with the venue tonight. It’s been absolutely amazing for the lads to turn up, go inside the changing room and walk out of the tunnel into a professional ground. Some of them might never do it again, hopefully there will be a few who go on and do it. It’s a lovely venue.”

Robinson added: “They enjoyed it. It’s a lovely surface, obviously a good arena for two good teams.  The majority of the game, I would say a good 85-90% of the game both teams played football.”

Margate striker James Mileham looked odds on to open the scoring but for an excellent tackle by Long Lane’s central defender Mason Simms inside the opening three minutes.  The Simms brothers, Mason and Merrick were both outstanding.

Ford said: “Fantastic defender Mason, another player that should go on and play at a very good standard when he’s older. He wins his headers, strong in the tackle. The recovery tackle he made in the first few minutes was unbelievable as well. He’s the captain and he leads by example game after game and I can’t speak highly enough of him - he was fantastic tonight!”

Margate started the game on the front foot and they were to be denied by a brilliant save from Long Lane’s goalkeeper Henry Edwards in the seventh minute.

Harry Holden launched a long throw into the penalty area and the ball fell to Jamie Barnett, who cracked a right-footed shot on the turn towards goal from 22-yards, which was palmed over by Edwards, high to his right.

Ford said: “Henry is the only first year in the squad so he’s just turned seventeen believe it or not. He’s got another year at under 18. Phenomenal goalkeeper, phenomenal shot-stopper. His distribution tonight was different class. It was a great save. If that goes in the game’s completely different so that set us up really.

“We said we wanted to keep a clean sheet tonight. Unfortunately we couldn’t do that but what a fantastic save to keep us in the game.”

Robinson added: “Great strike. The only thing the keeper didn’t do was hold it. He pulled off a great save. If he had held it, it would’ve been the save of the year wouldn’t it?

“I was pleased with the start. I was pleased with the way we came out. We came out of the starting blocks and then we went asleep for a little bit then we gave away a sloppy goal that put us down 1-0 and then the second one galvanised it for them to come out and give us a bit of energy to come out for the second half.”

Edwards made a brave save at Laing’s feet as the Margate skipper latched onto a flicked pass from his strike partner Mileham.

Long Lane’s first opportunity arrived in the 13th minute when Williams’ left-footed dipping free-kick narrowly went over the crossbar from 30-yards.

Margate were to be denied by Edwards’ second great save of the night.

Alfie Foster floated in the ball from the right towards the far post and the ball bounced off Laing’s shoulder and was sailing towards the top far corner, but Edwards moved to his left to stick out his left hand to push the ball around the post.

But it was Long Lane who drew first blood, taking the lead with 18:43 on the clock.

Williams, Merrick Simms and Cicero Viera Gleadall linked up well down the right ad Gleadall played the ball into the box to find Williams in space.  His left-footed shot was saved well by Joe Twyman, diving swiftly to his left and winger Gleadall’s shot appeared destined to roll into the back of the net. But the ball bounced off Adesite, who was standing alone some ten-yards from goal and rolled into the bottom left-hand corner.

“Anthony’s scored goals at all levels this year. I think that puts him on over 30 goals for the season, an incredible achievement, that’s both playing senior football for Erith Town and playing for Long Lane as well,” said Ford.

“He’ll take that one. A great little bit of work by Max. He was unlucky to get his shot deflected by Cicero’s on the rebound, he’s hit it against Anthony. They’re having a bit of banter in there about whose going to claim the goal but I’ll tell Anthony when I go in it’s his one.”

Robinson’s response to the opening goal was a strange one.

He said: “Football innit. It’s what happens unfortunately. When the balls on the pitch it can go in can’t it? We can have a stray dog run on the pitch and head it and go in so it’s a game innit.”

This quote, however, made more sense.

“We was all over them weren’t we in that period of time, we had the game didn’t we?”

Margate were a threat all night from set-pieces, while Long Lane used their pace to hit them on the break.

Foster clipped a free-kick from midfield into Long Lane’s penalty area and Munday rose to send his header into Edwards’ arms.

Margate corner taker Joshua Peachey swung in a corner from the left and right-back Sebastian Rowland ghosted in at the near post to send his deflected header past the left-hand post.

Ford said: “I’ve watched them a couple of times and we were ready for that.  We spoke to the two centre halves – every long ball they hit us we dealt with and we caught them on the break and played some great football.”

But Long Lane should have doubled their lead in the 33rd minute.

Central midfielder Jamie McMath sprayed the ball out to Merrick Simms down the left. He sprinted 40-yards with the ball to easily win a foot race against his man.  He cut into the penalty area and dragged his left-footed shot across the keeper and agonisingly past the foot of the far post.

“He’s quite slow Merrick, isn’t he? No, absolutely great! That’s what’s Merrick’s got in his locker.  We keep telling him to go one-on-one and isolate defenders, especially full-backs being a winger and when he’s got a run on someone nobody, I think, at this standard even up to Ryman League standard that would catch up with him. He’s a fantastic runner but close but no cigar!”

Robinson (with Merrick Sims walking past) joked: “The number 11 is a good player, young Merrick. He’s an ugly sod but he’s a good player.  I know him well, I know half of them.”

But they managed to double their lead with 42:48 on the clock – with a brilliant strike from Williams.

Left-back Nathan Horrigan played the ball down the line to Merrick Simms, who picked the ball up on the halfway line and sped down the wing again. He reached the by-line, cut the ball back to Williams, who took a touch to flick the ball up and crack a stunning volley across the keeper to find the top far corner of the goal from 15-yards.

Ford hailed the strike, saying: “We all know Max. Max has been playing all year in the SCEFL for Erith Town. He's been pulling up stumps in senior football. That was a bit of magic. That’s why you play him in these sort of games. He’s found a little bit of space and the finish is phenomenal, especially with his weaker foot as well! To find the top corner from there is absolutely disgusting. Yes, what a great finish!”

Robinson added: “What can you say? Wonderful finish, absolutely wonderful finish, dream of a goal. I’d like to think he’ll score more goals like it but in a final I mean it was picture perfect weren’t it? Picture perfect goal, absolute wonderful goal.”

Margate squandered an excellent chance to score just before the break but Mileham sliced his shot into Edwards’ hands after latching onto Laing’s knockdown.

Both managers were asked their thoughts at half-time.

Ford said: “Even though we were 2-0 up, I felt a couple of times they got in behind us, which was always going to happen with the long ball.

“I just felt we needed to be a little bit more solid, a bit quicker on the counter attack.  I thought a couple of times we slowed things up.

“I just said that to them and credit to them they went out in the first 10-15 minutes of the game and they found Merrick, a great little counter attack there and listened to every word we said at half-time from both myself and Martin (Ford) and they took it on and scored the third goal.”

Robinson added: “Come out, get behind them, get the ball on the floor. The ball’s that we were dropping in weren’t working. The balls that we were trying to beat the number 5 (Mason Simms), he was soaking the pressure up.  We went to three up front quite straight away, we got the ball down and we ran at them and then we score.”

Long Lane seemingly though that they had killed the game off with a third goal, timed at 10:06 in the second half.

Harry Wooten played the ball along the deck to cut out Margate’s two centre halves Holden and Munday to release Adesite, who played the ball into Merrick Simms’ path.

Margate’s keeper Twyman came off his line but Merrick Simms’ dinked the ball over him with his left-foot from 20-yards, the ball nestling into the left-hand corner of the Margate net.

“Again, he isolated somebody and when you isolate one-on-one with his speed there is only ever going to be one winner,” warned Ford.

“I said this when the ball was played through from Anthony and I had every faith in him scoring. He’s got there before the keeper. It was a superb finish and it set us on our way.”

Robinson added: “Against the play to be fair, we were pressing all the time. Joe Twyman, he hasn’t made a mistake all game really. He could’ve come out a little bit earlier but it wasn’t there.”

It should have been four when Williams sped past two Margate defenders to cut into the penalty area but he drilled his shot against the top of the near post.

“Again, with his weaker foot. He came inside and great drilled strike. One inch to the right it’ll probably hit the post and gone in,” added Ford.

Robinson added: “He hit the bar from the side. I don’t think it was pressure to be fair.  I thought we had it covered again.”

Margate pulled a goal back with the clock showing 21:22.

Laing was fouled and the ball was positioned on the edge of the D and Laing stepped up and stroked his right-footed free-kick into the top right-hand corner, leaving Edwards rooted to the spot.

“He’s scored 12 of them already this season, absolute purler. Around the box from that angle there’s no one better in the league,” said Robinson.

Ford added: “Fantastic free-kick. The kid’s a talent, there’s no doubt about that.

“I would obviously question his attitude towards things because he doesn’t need to behave like that. He’ll go on and play at a very high level – if he controls that because his set-plays and the way he goes about himself on the pitch is different class.

“But I think he let himself down tonight if I’m being honest. He kicked out a couple of times and created (a scene) at the end but that’s not my place to say, that’s down to the Margate dressing room. Fantastic finish, a great free-kick, he left the goalkeeper standing on his toes.”

With the large Margate contingent in the crowd of 194 raising the volume of their support, the goal galvanised Margate and Long Lane was now hanging on.

Margate scored a second goal with the clock showing 31:57 and inevitably it came from a set-piece.

Peachey swung in his eighth (of nine) corner of the night from the right, which was deep and Munday rose to loop his header over a crowd of players from 15-yards, the ball dropping into the bottom far corner.

Robinson added: “Yes, he’s good for a goal as well, so again we were pressing, we put numbers in the box, good.”

Ford added: “I suppose that’s a game of percentages. Every corner in the first half today they put right on us and we defended it resolutely.  It’s always going to be one set-play. I said to the boys before the game that if they’ve got a strength it’s putting the ball in the box and getting people in there to go and head the ball in the back of the net.

“They’ve done that tonight, eventually although I think for the first seven corners we were absolutely superb and picked up our men and cleared the ball every time.”

Margate then turned the screw and looked certain to take the game into extra-time.

You could tell Margate were up for it and they went close when Foster turned on the edge of the box and drilled his shot over the crossbar from a central position.

Laing failed to repeat his earlier finish, drilling his right-footed free-kick into the wall from 28-yards.

But all the cracking football that was played in the opening 86 minutes turned to an ugly flashpoint when Foster lunged in on McMath, sparking an ugly melee.

Two stewards wearing orange vests walked onto the pitch as referee Chris Myatt tried to restore order with several blows of his whistle as both sets of players clashed close to the Long Lane dug-out.

Referee Myatt booked a couple of Long Lane players first, right-back Matthew Khizzah and Merrick Simms.  He then booked Foster for the initial tackle and then Munday, who had been substituted, picked up his second yellow card, then a red having earlier been booked for a foul on Adesite.

Ford said: “Silly tackle, late tackle. I spoke to their bench about it and we all agreed that it was just a late tackle, probably the occasion, all of the fans cheering them on.

“The ball was there to be won. Jamie got their first and it was a bit of a late tackle.  Listen, it happens in cup finals, that’s how much both teams wanted to win.  While I’m talking about Jamie McMath, I thought he was absolutely superb tonight, absolutely brilliant, brilliant performance.”

Robinson claimed Long Lane’s assistant manager Martin Ford was at fault for Laing’s embarrassing reaction.

“You can put in your report that he tried to throw a fist at Mitchell. Their (assistant) manager raised his hand to him, that’s why Mitchell went mad!

“It was a late challenge, total late challenge, very, very late. It’s what happens, criminal challenge and it just got over-heated didn’t it. It got overheated but it was a very, very late challenge.”

Reflecting on Munday’s red-card, Robinson said: “He came on, heat of the moment. He should never have entered the field of play. I’ll deal with that when I see him!”

Reflecting on Laing’s response, Robinson claimed: “He did get a red card. He got a red card because all through the game unfortunately the Long Lane (assistant) manager (Martin Ford) decided to give him abuse from the line, unfortunately.

“It soured the event of what I consider a typical and a quality cup final really, being 3-0 down and coming back to 3-2. It was anyone’s game then really.”

Now in stoppage time, Long Lane could have killed Margate off when Adesite played a sublime diagonal pass from right-to-left to put Merrick Simms through on goal, but the man-of-the-match dragged his shot across the keeper and past the far post.

Margate substitute Harry Alexander hit a first time angled drive from the right-hand corner of the penalty area, which bounced into Edwards hands, before Laing cracked a volley over the crossbar from sixteen-yards.

The final whistle finally sounded and Long Lane celebrated their victory, while the referee showed Laing a straight red-card after blowing his fuse, which marred a great night at Priestfield Stadium.

Ford added: “It’s never nice to see that in a cup final. I don’t think the lad even get his medal now, which is a shame because everyone wants to come here and remember the game.  I hope they do give him a medal.

“The 16 (Munday), it’s a bit silly from him. He’s gone in with his arms up and you know you can’t do that. It was right in front of the dug-out. We’ve got a fourth official there tonight whose seen everything. The linesman (Roger Wells) has seen everything but it happens. It’s unfortunate, it’s the temperament of a cup final isn’t it?”

Ford, who has also guided Long Lane to London Cup glory, now sets his sights on the treble against Rusthall on Sunday.

“Fantastic achievement. The boys are an absolute credit to the club, to me and Martin, to their parents. They’re absolutely fantastic. I could well up about them if I carried on talking about them. I’m proud of every single one of them.

“We set off on a journey seven or eight months ago to go and win as much as we can and to go and press for these things (trophies) because believe it or not for a squad of their quality, they’ve never actually won anything. They were always like the nearly-men.

“So far they’ve done two (trophies), they’ve got one more to go on Sunday. We need a point to win the league, which is going to be a massive tough game. We’ve still got one more to go, one more very important game.”

Robinson hailed his side for winning the double this season, despite feeling disappointed at not winning the treble.

He said: “Disappointed but if someone would’ve said to us we would’ve won the double at the start of the season, I wouldn’t bit their hand off, I would’ve bit their hand off!

“It’s our last game of the season on Sunday, luckily for us Sittingbourne are going to watch us lift the trophy, which is quite nice.

“We’ve had a fantastic season. I’m proud of the boys,” said Robinson, who is employed by Charlton Athletic Community Trust in their Thanet based social inclusion team.

Martin Ford, who retires from football after Sunday’s game, responded to Robinson’s accusations on Friday morning.

“The late tackle by the Margate player is the only thing that caused the melee,” he said in a statement. 

“I think it says it all that the lad was sent off at the final whistle.  He’s totally over reacted. 

“All we done as a management team is to try to get our lads away. To accuse people of raising their hands to under 18s is pretty harsh. 

“Yes, there were a few words exchanged but that’s all part of playing in an intense cup final. It’s not my place but there seems to be a clear discipline issue there. 

“We were congratulated by some officials of the Kent Youth League after the game who said our behaviour was excellent and I said our lads were a credit to themselves, the club and the Kent Youth League.”

Long Lane: Henry Edwards, Matthew Khizzah, Nathan Horrigan, Harry Wooten (Ben Delaney 66), Mason Simms, Carter Hatton, Cicero Viera Gleadall (Harry Wooten 82), Max Williams (Jeremie Tchibo 74), Anthony Adesite, Jamie McMath, Merrick Simms.
Sub: Oluwaseun Oloyede

Goals:  Anthony Adesite 19, Max Williams 43, Merrick Simms 56

Booked: Matthew Khizzah 89, Merrick Simms 89

Margate: Joe Twyman, Sebastian Rowland, Joshua Kelsall (Harry Alexander 73), Joshua Peachey, Harry Holden (Ezekiel Awonusi 65), Samuel Munday (James Mileham 82), Harry Phipps (Thomas McGurik 61), Alfie Foster, James Mileham (Oliver Harris 61), Mitchell Laing, Jamie Barnett (Tristan Jevons 56).

Goals: Mitchell Laing 67, Samuel Munday 78

Booked: Samuel Munday 13, Alfie Foster 89

Sent off: Samuel Munday 90, Mitchell Laing 90

Attendance: 194
Referee: Mr Chris Myatt (Dartford)
Assistants: Mr Roger Wells (Coulsdon, Surrey) & Mr Chris Robins (Ashford)
Fourth Official: Mr Chris Coward (Swanley)