Sutton Common Rovers 1-4 Corinthian - I think we should be really proud of what we've achieved, says Corinthian boss Michael Golding

Sunday 04th December 2016
Sutton Common Rovers 1 – 4 Corinthian
Location Borough Sports Ground, Gander Green Lane, Sutton, Surrey SM1 2EY
Kickoff 04/12/2016 15:00

The Buildbase FA Vase Third Round
Sunday 4th December 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Gander Green Lane

CORINTHIAN manager Michael Golding says guiding the amateur club to the last 32 of The Buildbase FA Vase is one of his proudest moments of his career.

Sutton Common Rovers – fifth-from-bottom in the Combined Counties League Premier Division with 18 points from as many games – took the lead through Liam Holden’s first half strike.

But the introductions of substitutes Louis Clarke, 17, and Connor Johnson, 18, sent Corinthian – tenth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division with 20 points from 16 games - through to the Fourth Round for the third time in their history.

Clark drilled in his fifth goal of the season to equalise, before Johnson came off the bench in the 69th minute to score a hat-trick to take his goalscoring tally to eight goals.

It should have been six, but Sutton Common Rovers goalkeeper Craig Bradshaw saved two second-half penalties to deny Alexander Jack Billings and Johnson.

Darren Salmon’s side finished the game with ten-men when they lost right-back Aaron Bogle to a red-card for an alleged elbow on Clarke.

“Absolutely delighted, absolutely delighted, really, really pleased for the boys,” said Golding during the post-match press conference at Gander Green Lane, a stadium that staged Sutton United’s 2-1 win over League Two side Cheltenham Town in The Emirates FA Cup Second Round yesterday.

“I thought we were the better side today. Obviously frustrated to go 1-0 down at half-time.  I thought we more than deserved that today.  I thought we were good value for our 4-1 win.”

Corinthian are the last remaining Kent club left in The Buildbase FA Vase as Croydon beat Glebe 3-2 yesterday and Crowborough Athletic travel to Bedfont Sports on Wednesday for a replay after their 2-2 draw after 120 minutes of football.

“I think we should take a lot of pride in that,” added Golding.  “We’re little old Corinthian and I’m really pleased. I’m pleased for the boys, I’m pleased for the club. The club’s run by fantastic people who put in a lot of time and effort into it providing what they can for us.  Yes, I think we should be proud of what we’ve achieved.”

When asked about leading Corinthian out at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, 21 May, Golding replied: “The boys have just been talking about it. We know it’s a long way away yet. We’re just enjoying it. It’s another game of football that we’re ticking off.  It’s obviously the carrot, the light at the end of the tunnel. The boys are happy, they’re pleased with how they played today. I thought we were good.”

There can’t be too many amateur clubs left in the competition.

“I’d like to know how many! We don’t really talk about the budget thing because we don’t have one. It doesn’t affect us but it will be interesting how many of the 32 are without any money. If we’re the last one it’s a little feather in our cap.”

Referee Lee Brennan booked Sutton Common Rovers’ goalkeeper Bradshaw for a handball outside the box from Michael Hagan’s 30-yarder inside the opening two minutes.

“The goalkeeper runs out, is it deliberate handball? Probably! I think what saved him there’s a couple of defenders getting back towards the line.  Whether it was on target or not, it’s difficult to say, but it was a good start,” said Golding.

Sutton Common Rovers’ Bogle played the ball up to Matt Robinson, who released pacy striker Michael Campbell through on goal but he lacked composure to blast his shot over the bar from just inside the penalty area.

“We saw him on Monday, he’s a good player Campbell, he’s very quick, he’s got good movement but I thought Marcus (Evans) and Adam (Cooper) – and it’s the first time Adam’s played centre back this season and I thought Adam was an absolute rock - and Marcus was just himself, we rely massively on Marcus.  I thought both of them handled him well. It was an attacking game in the first half, both sides looked like they could score when they wanted.”

Commoners’ left-back Anson Cousins threw the ball to Campbell, who turned his man but swept his shot into the hands of Corinthian keeper Joe Hagan.

Winger Michael Hagan and Josh James linked up and threaded the ball through to Corinthian striker Brima Daramy, whose shot was blocked by Bradshaw’s body and looped wide.

Daramy jumped up to slap the crossbar in despair after he should have given the Kent side a 12th minute.

Billings picked up a loose ball and played the ball out to Oscar Housego down the left, who flashed in a great low cross which Daramy failed to get a touch at the far post.

Golding said: “We were expecting the net to bulge. It was a great ball by Oscar, he’s got that ability and it goes to the back post.  Brima has scored five in his last three so he’s got a little vein of form at the moment, with that form he’s in, you expect him to score.”

The same thing happened to Sutton Common Rovers following their first corner, two of Holden’s team-mates failed to get the decisive touch from a quality whipped in low delivery from the left in the 24th minute.

Slick passing from Corinthian on the artificial pitch saw James and Daramy link up in the home side’s half and Michael Hagan swept his first time shot across Bradshaw and past the far post from 12-yards.

Billings picked up a loose ball and drove forward before drilling his right-footed shot over the crossbar from 30-yards.

Bogle’s deep free-kick fell to Campbell on the by-line who put the ball back in and Owen Davies and Andrew White both got in each others way at the far post when one of them should have tucked the ball into the back of the Corinthian net.

Corinthian were denied the opening goal when they hit the crossbar in the 36th minute.

Central midfielder James swept the ball out to Michael Hagan on the left, who cut into the penalty area and drilled a right-footed shot which screamed over Bradshaw’s right shoulder and hit the top of the near post.

Golding said: “We probably had four or five very good chances. I thought we deserved at least one goal in the first half, but our attacking play particularly getting in behind the full-back which we felt we could do, we gave ourselves an opportunity to do so.

“We asked him to make a decision, he’s decided to put it near post. Again, if he rolls it far post Brima or Junior (Alade)’s at the back post but he’s hit the post. You can’t ask for any more than that.”

Sutton Common Rovers went into the break with the lead, which was timed at 38 minutes and 39 seconds on the clock.

Jack Bath failed to clear Bogle’s free-kick from the right and the ball fell at Matt Robinson’s feet and his driven shot was superbly blocked by Joe Hagan.

Holden’s corner from the right was cleared away and he was given time and space to drill a low right-footed shot through a crowd of players into the bottom far corner from 30-yards.

“I thought the save before the corner went in, the goal went in, from Joe was world class, I thought it was a fantastic save, his reaction was there,” said Golding.

“The goal was disappointing. It’s difficult for me to see, I almost missed the shot. I was expecting it to be hung up. We cleared it on the front post and not got close enough to then stop the second cross or shot so that’s probably the criticism is once we’ve dealt with the first ball, we didn’t get out quick enough to deal with the second ball and it’s nestled in the back of the net.”

A goal down at the break, Golding expressed his thoughts.

“We’re a bit frustrated to be honest because we felt we were the better side on the ball.  They were a threat on the long ball. The boomed it into our half over and over again and we knew exactly what to expect from them, but we just wanted the boys to have  a little bit more belief and a little bit more desire because we felt if we could get on the ball and we actually moved it like we can then we would actually start to get on top of them.

“I also think at the start of the season when we were drawing three-all and four-all with teams and being a couple of goals down, I think in a roundabout way that’s given the boys some belief that if we do go 1-0 or 2-0 down it doesn’t really effect how we play.

“We’re still going to play the same way. We still want to get the ball out. We were frustrated that we didn’t do it more in the first half but I think we’ve learnt from that and have grown as a side and we didn’t panic. 

“We continued to play and we knew what we needed to do second half to get the result – and thankfully we did!”

Sutton Common Rovers had a chance to kill off Corinthian when Holden’s free-kick from the right was headed over by Robinson from 10-yards.

But the introduction of right-winger Clarke scared the living daylights out of Sutton Common Rovers’ left-back Anson Cousins.

“Louis is a good kid, he’s absolutely electric,” added Golding. “He started on Tuesday against Orpington (a 7-0 home win in the Macron Challenge Cup) and got himself a goal and again he’s come on and within four minutes he’s scored himself a good goal.

“Junior Alade done a good job in the first half, he worked the full-back hard. We were quite lucky where we can bring someone like Louis on who is a threat in behind and I’m really pleased for Louis today.”

The signs of recovery came when Billings stroked a right-footed shot towards the bottom right-hand corner from a central position from 25-yards, which was tipped around the post by Bradshaw, diving low to his left.

“Good effort from Jack. He scored a hat-trick from full-back away at Bearsted the other week and we know he’s got quality and we try to get Jack on the ball as much as we can but a good save from the goalkeeper, I thought he was ok.”

Corinthian deservedly equalised with nine minutes and 57 seconds on the clock through Clarke’s finish.

Michael Hagan was released down the left channel and centred low towards Daramy in the middle, who either missed the ball or played a dummy, and Clarke showed composure to drill his shot into the bottom far corner from 12-yards at the far post.

Golding said: “Brima’s got himself in the middle of the area, which we asked him to do.  Louis got inside the full-back and you make your own luck. We just felt today with a couple of referee decisions and being away from home, we weren’t going to get anything today, we have to make it ourselves and Louis got himself in the area.  He’s asked a question and got that little bit of luck that’s fallen to him and he’s got that little bit of composure to put it away.”

Sutton Common Rovers’ central defender Sam Blowers tripped Clarke inside the penalty area and was thankful to Bradshaw for saving his bacon.

Billings stepped up and his penalty was at a good height for the keeper, who dived to his right to make the save to deny Corinthian in the 61st minute.

“It was a good save,” added Golding.

“Jack struck it relatively well. He scored his last few penalties so there’s no blame there.  Just thinking if we got that goal it relaxes everyone a little bit and settles a few of the nerves but it wasn’t to be – but a good save.”

Sutton Common Rovers’ central midfielder Holden saw Joe Hagan was off his line but his first time 35-yard chip dropped onto the roof of the net.

Joe Hagan’s kick found Michael Hagan down the left, the winger cut inside to curl his right-footed shot just around the far post.

But dominant Corinthian deserved their lead, with the clock showing 26 minutes and 21 seconds.

James played the ball out to Michael Hagan, who cut inside to stroke a shot across Bradshaw, who got down low to his left to parry the ball into Clarke’s feet, who set-up Johnson to slide the ball into the bottom right-hand corner from six-yards.

“Conor’s another under 18, probably frustrated not to start today but Conor is a young kid trying to learn his trade,” said Golding.

“He’s got goals in him. He struggles with the physicality at times but his pace and his link up play is very good. I’m very pleased that he’s come on and scored a goal.”

Corinthian raced into commanding 3-1 lead, with 32 minutes and 41 seconds on the clock, courtesy of poor defending from Sutton Common Rovers’ left-back Cousins, who was poor.

He was caught out of position as Billings played the ball forward and Johnson beat the offside trap to sprint down the heart of the pitch to bury his shot past Bradshaw from 18-yards.

HAT-TRICK HERO: Super-sub Conor Johnson, 18, scores Corinthian's third goal as Corinthian reach The Buildbase FA Vase last 32 with an impressive 4-1 win at Sutton Common Rovers.
Photo: Alan Coomes

Golding said: “Good awareness from Jack, he’s seen that Conor’s through and once Conor gets ahead of the defender you fancy him to get his body there and get his shot on target and left-footed from 18-yards he’s put it past the keeper.”

Sutton Common Rovers created a chance when substitute Miguel Anderson whipped in a cross form the right for Holden to loop his header comfortably into Joe Hagan’s hands.

Blowers gave away his second penalty of the game when he fouled Johnson, who took penalty taking duties off Billings because he was on a hat-trick.

Johnson stepped up and his right-footed penalty nine minutes from time was saved by Bradshaw, diving to his left and Johnson poked his follow-up shot past the foot of the right-hand post.

“It wasn’t the greatest penalty to be honest,” admitted Golding.

“I’m frustrated with the boys, they’ve all got their set jobs and Jack Billings is the penalty taker. He’s missed one, obviously Conor’s on a hat-trick. You don’t want to deny him that opportunity but it wasn’t the best penalty.”

The home side were reduced to ten-men with five minutes left when referee Lee Brennan spotted Bogle’s elbow on Clarke but what was to follow was awful.

One of the home club’s management team threatened Corinthian assistant manager Sam Groombridge pointing down the players tunnel shouting “let’s go outside!” as the pair clashed verbally, from their position within their own technical areas.

Thankfully, the presence of stewards prevented a flashpoint down the players’ tunnel after the match.

“Louis tried to get across the two (Bogle), who I actually thought was a very good player, I thought he done very well and he’s just put his arm across Louise and caught him.  I thought it’s probably a fair red card and then I think both benches got a little bit excited with the emotion of the day. They were frustrated that they were 1-0 up and then getting beat. It was a mixture of that. It was handbags really.”

Corinthian wrapped up the impressive victory with a fourth goal, timed at 44 minutes and 19 seconds, with a pacy counter-attack.

Clark sprinted down the right again and reached the penalty area before squaring a low pass to Johnson, who completed his hat-trick by sweeping his shot into the corner.

“He got his hat-trick. I’m really, really pleased for Conor, but I thought Louis was an outlet. I thought the pace scared them and Michael Hagan on the other side as well was a threat all game.

“We’ve been working on Louis’ decision making and he got himself into the area and he’s put a great ball across the six-yard box and Conor’s on the end of it as he does.”

Corinthian are renowned for producing home-grown talent of the conveyor belt and they will do very well to keep Clarke and Johnson at Gay Dawn Farm.

“We enjoy coaching the young players. They are frustrating at times and we do struggle when we come up against a physical side when we don’t press the ball well enough,” said Golding.

“But what these boys haven’t got is they don’t really care about reputations. They go out and play their football. We care massively about winning but we also care about progressing these players individually and collectively.

“Being in the last 32 of a national competition is huge kudos for me, the club and it gives the boys the belief that we are doing the right things.”

Corinthian have beaten Sevenoaks Town (3-2), Alton (2-0) and Alresford Town (3-2) and now Sutton Common Rovers, banking £3,000 in prize money and go into tomorrow’s National draw and begin planning for their next game in this competition on Saturday 7 January 2017.

“It all goes to the club, we don’t see a penny of it.  We spoke previously about going out or some dinner and we’ve got a go-cart evening lined up between Christmas and New Year that the club have kindly said they will support us with.

“It goes back paying towards the boys’ tracksuits and footballs and stuff like that.  I want to give back to the club as much as we can and that obviously helps.

“I think if you ask the boys they’ll probably want an away tie up north, somewhere like Newcastle. The boys want a weekend away.  I want someone at home.  Without a budget we’re probably the lowest ranked side still in the competition so I’m sure if you ask all the other managers they’ll want to play us but we’ll back ourselves.  I want a home game against the second lowest ranked side, whoever that might be.”

When asked what this run means personally, Golding replied: “The unity the squad has got, how much this club means to me personally and to all the boys that have stuck through it, it’s not been the easiest of seasons and it’s been frustrating at times, but I certainly think personally it’s one of the proudest moments that I’ve had in football, definitely.

“Wembley? Let’s dream. Let’s keep dreaming, let’s keep dreaming.”

Sutton Common Rovers: Craig Bradshaw, Aaron Bogle, Anson Cousins (Joe Mead 46), Liam Holden, Sam Blowers, Owen Davies, Elton Gjoni (Matt Auletta 59), Charlie Emery, Michael Campbell, Matt Robinson, Andrew White (Miguel Anderson 79).
Subs: Ross Bedding, Ollie Ellaway

Goal: Liam Holden 39

Booked: Craig Bradshaw 2, Charlie Emery 60

Sent Off: Aaron Bogle 85

Corinthian: Joe Hagan, Alexander Jack Billings, Jamie Taylor, Jack Bath, Marcus Evans, Adam Cooper, Michael Hagan, Josh James, Brima Daramy (Conor Johnson 69), Oscar Housego, Junior Alade (Louis Clarke 51).
Subs: Joe Brown, Louis Pearce, Sam Groombridge

Goals: Louis Clarke 55, Conor Johnson 72, 78, 90

Booked: Marcus Evans 81

Attendance: 120
Referee: Mr Lee Brennan (Westminster, London SW1)
Assistants: Mr Jair Alzate Guzman (Southfields, London SW18) & Mr Connor Griffin (Hanwell, London W7)

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