Otford United 3-1 Ide Hill - I'd say we probably got lucky tonight, admits Otford United boss Jim Gillan

Wednesday 29th April 2015
Otford United 3 – 1 Ide Hill
Location Otford Recreation Ground, High Street, Otford, Kent TN15 5PG
Kickoff 29/04/2015 19:15

NRG Gym Kent County League Division One East
Wednesday 29th April 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Recreation Ground

OTFORD UNITED manager Jim Gillan admits his side were lucky to win their final game of the season against Ide Hill.

The O’s finally ended their midweek curse underneath the floodlights at the picturesque Otford Recreation Ground to leapfrog over their local rivals into sixth-place (of ten teams) in the NRG Gym Kent County League Division One East table on 27 points from 18 games, three more than Ide Hill, who have two games remaining.

Josh Holland scored his goal for Otford United to give his side the lead against the run of play, before Ide Hill captain Craig Jackson had a penalty saved by Jordan Busby.

Ide Hill deservedly equalised with 21 minutes remaining through Tom Wright’s fifteenth goal of the season, before Otford United sealed the victory with two late goals.

Striker Luke Blackaby, 24, who plays cricket for MCC and Sevenoaks Vine, drilled in his 33rd goal of the season (for both first team and reserves), before substitute Adam Bunyan found the far corner following an impressive move.

Gillan was happy that his side’s eighth league win of the season which smashed their long midweek curse.

“Finally! I thought we flattered to be honest. I thought we weren’t on our game but got the points, got the goals, it’s all that matters!

“They shut us down really well and stopped us playing in the first 20 minutes and then we changed it a little bit and got back into the game and got the goal and the penalty save turned the game a little bit.”

Ide Hill joint-manager Keith McGinn also admitted his side’s penalty miss proved costly.

“The possession that we had in the game the first 20 minutes and we didn’t capitalise on our chances,” he said.

“We had a number of good chances that we should have finished – it came back to bite us!

“They broke, a bit of poor defending gave them a 1-0 lead, which most people would agree was against the run of play.

“We had a penalty, the captain took it – he doesn’t normally miss but unfortunately today he did and their goalkeeper got across to it. Unfortunately it wasn’t a good penalty.

“Second half we came out determined to make amends. Again, we had a lot of possession, played the ball around well, but just lacked up front.

“We didn’t get the right opportunities and sadly they caught us on the break again twice.

“I think a draw might have been a reasonable result but very disappointed. It loses our chances of getting up to third position which was an outside chance but I hope we win our last two games and hopefully still end up above Otford – that’s our aim now – but it’s going to be midtable for us.”

Ide Hill, who went down to a 3-1 home defeat to Otford United only 11 days previously, dominated the early exchanges.

Left-back Rob Piper played a superb diagonal pass to release Jack Edmeads who found striker Wright, who curled his shot around the far post after only 94 seconds.

It was then time for Jackson to curl his left-footed shot around the same post from 25-yards.

Ide Hill’s central defender Charlie James had a couple of headed attempts inside the opening 12 minutes.

Firstly, he met Columb Grant’s inswinging corner from the right with a near post header, which was blocked by the combination of defender on the line and Busby.

Just over a minute later, Shaun Boyle whipped in a free-kick from the right, which was headed back across goal by Wright and James ghosted in at the far post and his header was saved low down by Busby.

Grant swung in another corner but Jackson glanced his header across goal and past the far post.

Otford United opened the scoring – against the run of play – following their first attempt on goal after 24 minutes.

Left-back Jamie Shields, who pushed himself into Ide Hill’s half of the pitch, threaded a lovely through ball along the deck to put Holland through on goal, who drilled his left-footed shot across Conner Mcllravey, the former Otford United keeper, to find the bottom far corner from 15-yards.

“It was Josh’s first goal for the club as well, for the first team anyway,” said Gillan.

“He’s just come up from the third (team) actually. I promoted him two weeks ago and he’s fitted in very well. It was a good goal, a good finish!”

McGinn added: “It was against the run of play. They took their opportunities where we didn’t. It was a good finish.”

Jamie Knight created an opportunity for his home-town club in the 29th minute when he cut inside but his right-footed drive from 22-yards was well held by Mcllravey beside his post.

Gillan said: “Jamie’s not scored that many this year so he was trying a bit hard tonight, I think, as usual!”

Gillan explained why Knight dropped back into left-back during the second half.~

“With Knelly (Steve Knell), whose getting on a bit now and I think he was getting caught on the ball too often for me and playing the wrong ball so I had to strengthen it up.

“Jamie’s a natural left-back anyway and he’s good getting around and getting on anyway so he can do the job from left-back as well.

“I think it gives us a bit more depth. When I brought Scott (Ellison) on, a bit more holding in the middle, because they was over-running us a little bit.”

Ide Hill missed a decent opening when referee Danny Roberts awarded them a free-kick just outside the box but Grant’s left-footed kick sailed over the bar.

McGinn added: “We had a number of opportunities where we could have done better and we could have got them on target.

“I think there keeper wasn’t really tested properly. For some reason we like kicking it over the top of the bar!”

But Ide Hill’s 34th penalty miss – after Knight was penalised for handball inside the box – proved costly.

Jackson stepped up and his right-footed penalty was at the right height for the diving Busby, who dived to his right to push the ball around the post.

Gillan said: “It didn’t look handball to me!

“It was the right height weren’t it, I’d say. I’ll be generous. He showed him, he said go on play it that way and left him more the other side knowing he was going to play the way he did – it was a good save.”

McGinn admitted he was expecting Jackson to find the back of the net.

“Mr Reliable normally. You see the effort he puts in, in the centre of midfield. He’s by far one of our best players.

“Everyone misses a penalty now and again. It wasn’t a good one. It was the right height for the keeper. It should have been low. He was a big keeper. It should have been in the corner. Sadly, we didn’t do that!”

Otford created their last chance of the first half in the 38th minute when a grounded Rory Catt hooked his shot over the bar after Holland’s inswinging corner from the right fell to him at the far post.

Grant played a sublime through ball to put Edmeads through on goal and his left-footed angled drive from 16-yards was expertly pushed around the post by the diving Busby at his near post.

Otford emerged from their dressing room after Ide Hill and Gillan revealed that was said to his troops going into their last half of football for the season.

“We were fortunate to be one-up, I think,” admitted the Otford boss.

“It would have been fair to have come in level. Maybe they edged the first half as well but I felt we were physically fitter. They looked like they was physically tiring towards the end of the first half.

“I said to the boys’ just hold your time and work the ball and put them under pressure that they was putting us under and we came out and they got the goal so things changed a little bit but then we went back to how we were playing.”

McGinn, who runs the team alongside Wally Paxton, added: “Didn’t have to say too much, they knew! They knew themselves. Their heads were down. They knew they should have been better off and in the lead by half-time.

“We told them to keep doing the same things, come out and keep passing the ball about and keep doing it the way we do it, on the floor and keeping possession. We came out and we did the same things but it wasn’t to be.”

Mcllravey made a smart block to keep Ide Hill in the game after just 101 seconds into the second half.

Shields was on in the act again when his perfect through ball put Blackaby through on goal but Mcllravey moved swiftly off his line to make a smart block.

Ide Hill went close through another set-piece when James came up from the back again but his close-range header looped over following Boyle’s free-kick from the right.

“He had a really good goalscoring opportunity early on in the second half. He got underneath it and it went totally over the bar,” said McGinn.

“He made some good decisions at the back. He also got caught a couple of times at the back as well.”

Otford United midfielder Catt found himself in acres of space down the left channel and his cross was cleared out to Mark Lampard, who controlled the ball before drilling his right-footed volley over the bar from 18-yards.

Otford’s defence failed to clear their lines from within their penalty box and the loose ball came out to Grant, whose right-footed drive from 22-yards brought a comfortable save from Busby, who was then forced to tip away a dangerous inswinging corner from the left from Boyle.

Ide Hill deservedly equalised with 69 minutes on the clock following a well-worked set-piece.

Substitute Jason Miles-Lomas whipped in an inch-perfect free-kick from inside the right channel, which was helped on by fellow sub John MacDonald and Wright reacted at the far post to hook his volley into the top far corner from six-yards.

“When we equalised we felt confident that we might push on from there and we actually believed we might go on and win it,” said McGinn.

“For the first time we played a decent ball in!  If you noticed for most of the game a lot of our crossing was going far too long and were wasteful.

“We tried to say to them today to take more shorter corners and free-kicks because it’s better for us. We’re not a big side so Jason came on, took a free-kick and played it in the right position, which was low and hard and it came off John MacDonald and it basically ended up with Tom following in and he managed to scoop it into the top corner.”

Gillan admitted: “I was a bit disappointed with the goal to be fair! I know they probably deserved it because they were putting us under pressure.

“What I liked about it was we didn’t moan about it. We picked the ball up and got on with it. Normally we can go one or two ways when we’re under pressure like that.

“The game plan was try and stop them scoring - and score! They scored and we didn’t let it effect us. We carried on and I said they’d tire and we’d get our chances and I was pleased to see that’s what we did.”

Otford cracked a couple of efforts towards goal from outside the Ide Hill penalty area inside the final fifteen minutes.

Substitute Tim Iles’ right-footed dipping drive sailed just over from 25-yards, before Mcllravey made a comfortable save from Catt’s bouncing effort five yards further out.

Ide Hill’s quiet striker George Kensell followed suit, cutting into the box but drilling his right-footed shot just over the bar from sixteen-yards.

But Otford United completed the double over Ide Hill with two goals in the final eight minutes.

They went route one in the 82nd minute when Busby launched a big kick straight down the middle of the pitch. Blackaby brought the ball down under control with his chest before drilling his left-footed shot underneath the goalkeeper from 25-yards.

“The good thing about it now is we’ve got a striker now who doesn’t need that many chances,” said Gillan.

“He created the goal himself, from a brilliant chest down, run through and scored. I knew Luke would get one. I just felt confident all night, give him the ball in front of goal, eventually he will score.

“I thought it was a fantastic goal, just by the way he took it out of the air and took it onto his chest and at turned at the same time and ran at them.

“It sums up Luke’s season. He’s been spectacular for us. I think he’s scored for the club – he’s played for the reserves for the first five our five games. He scored eight for them and 33 in total plus cup games. He’s had two in the cup as well so he’s done alright.”

Blackaby has a very interesting sporting background.

“He plays a high standard of cricket,” said Gillan.

“He was at the MCC Academy and he’s a very good cricketer and he goes touring with them and played at Lord’s yesterday.

“I’m going to be without him for the first three weeks of next season. He will be in Australia playing cricket on tour.”

The Ide Hill joint-manager added: “You can’t blame the young keeper. He’s transferred from Otford. He’s come to us this season and he’s been playing for the reserves and this was his first real game for the first team.

“He had a really good game in the first half and much of the second half. Sadly with a shot from long distance bobbling along the bouncy floor and just slipped underneath him sadly.

“I know it was from nothing really on the edge of the box. We didn’t close it down right. It was a shot, it was low, it was fairly hard but it should have been scooped up but sadly it bobbled underneath Conner but we can’t blame him. He had a good game anyway.”

Ide Hill missed a good opening when James played the ball inside to substitute Jon Sims, who flicked a pass in behind the Otford defence for Jackson, but he lacked composure and lashed his shot high and wide from fifteen-yards.

Otford United wrapped up a rare midweek victory with their third goal with 50:19 on the clock.

They produced an impressive move down the right where Catt played the ball into Blackaby inside the box and he cut the ball back for Bunyan to clip his right-footed shot into the right-hand corner.

“Adam’s come back, he’s been out for most of the season injured. He popped his collarbone out and he’s only been back five or six weeks and that’s encouraging as well,” said his manager.

McGinn added: “Obviously by that stage we were throwing everything forward trying to get the equaliser.

“They broke again. It came out to each of them, they played the ball out wide and from them they kept it and they had numbers on us and did the right thing. They passed it between the four of them, they outnumbered our back line and that was it. It was a tap in really for them.”

Reflecting on the outcome of his club’s final game of the season, Gillan admitted: “Great! We’ve taken six points of them this year, 3-1 both times!

“The away victory was more pleasing than the home one because I thought we deserved to beat them there overall.

“I’d say we probably got lucky tonight but we definitely deserved to win at theirs so that was the better one of the two.

“Tonight was good because it’s a night fixture and (we’ve) broken the spell.”

Ide Hill can return to sixth-place should they claim at least four points from their next two games – at East Kent College on Saturday, followed by the visit of Deal Community Sports at Wrotham School on 9 May.

“I think we’ve lost a bit of direction and it’s been a bit of a sad end of the season for us really,” admitted McGinn.

“It will be a hard game down at East Kent College. I think we’re a bit short at the weekend as well, which doesn’t help.

“We’ll be back to full strength against Deal Community on the following Saturday – if they turn up of course!”

Otford United: Jordan Busby, Steve Knell (Scott Ellison 46), Jamie Shields, Rory Catt, Ryan Lee, Sean Ellis, Josh Holland, Callum Hill, Mark Lampard (Adam Bunyan 63), Luke Blackaby, Jamie Knight.

Goals: Josh Holland 24, Luke Blackaby 82, Adam Bunyan 90

Ide Hill: Connor Mcllravey, Rob Piper, Craig Holder, Craig Jackson, Phil Alteirac (Jon Sims 88), Charlie James, Columb Grant (Jason Miles-Lomas 63), Jack Edmeads (John MacDonald 63), Tom Wright, George Kensell, Shaun Boyle.
Subs: Matt Bunn, Steve McGinn

Goal: Tom Wright 69

Attendance: 36
Referee: Mr Danny Roberts (Aylesford)