Sevenoaks Town 3-1 Cobham - They made it really hard in both games for us and credit to them, they've got some good players and it was a tough day,

Wednesday 11th August 2021
Sevenoaks Town 3 – 1 Cobham
Location Greatness Park, Mill Lane, Seal Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 5BX
Kickoff 11/08/2021 19:30

The Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replay
Wednesday 11 August 2021
Stephen McCartney reports from Greatness Park

SEVENOAKS TOWN manager Micky Collins says Cobham made it really hard for his side in two tough games in The FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round.

Two goals from former Dover Athletic striker Louis Collins, 20, should have been enough to beat their Combined Counties League Premier Division South hosts at the weekend but Sam Merison’s side grabbed a second bite of the cherry with a late equaliser.

However, Sevenoaks Town sealed their progress by comfortably sealing a 3-1 replay win on their 3G pitch at Greatness Park.

Louis Collins claimed two assists as Cobham scored two own-goals, firstly from centre-half Michael Dart and then goalkeeper Lee Norman, before Sevenoaks’ central midfielder Stefan Wright opened his goalscoring account for the 2021-22 campaign.

Cobham, in eighth-place in the table after drawing 1-1 at AFC Croydon Athletic in their only league outing, scored a late consolation through a header from  striker Ryan Debattista.

“Tough game. They made it really hard in both games for us and credit to them,” said manager Collins.

“They’ve got some good players and it was a tough day and we’ve managed to get over the line and through to the next round, which is all I wanted.

“It’s early days for us, we needed the extra game from Saturday. I thought we were miles off it on Saturday and tonight was a bit better.”

Sevenoaks Town’s direct style of football had them on the front foot from the start and Collins latched onto a big kick from his goalkeeper Ben Bridle-Card before hitting a left-footed shot on the turn from 20-yards, which flashed just past the foot of the near post after only five minutes.

Reece Deakin swung in a left-footed corner from the right and Sevenoaks’ centre-half Dean Gunner came up from the back to rise inside the penalty area to plant his header over the crossbar.

Collins said: “It was a bit like Saturday. We came out of the blocks and we looked lively and quite sharp and the game just petered out.  It’s like both styles just cancelled each other out and it just ends up a bit like a nothing game.  We managed to get the first goal from a set-piece and that said it all really because we scored from two set-pieces on Saturday so we were mindful of that and we tried to work on it.”

Cobham created their first opening in the 11th minute when right-back Ryan David threw the ball to Craig Lewington and David fed Monty Everett, who turned before drilling his left-footed angled drive across the keeper and past the far post from 25-yards.

Cobham linked up well outside the Sevenoaks box – dominating the middle of the park when the score was 0-0 – but failed to create much inside Bridle-Card’s penalty area.

“They’re good at it, very good at what they do. They rotate it (their midfield) round and people come from further up the pitch to come in and overload it,” said Collins.

“They’ve got some good players in there. If you look at the pedigree, I know some of them are getting on a little bit and they’re tidy on the ball and they keep the ball well and they move in and you’ve got to be on your mettle to actually deal with it.”

Cobham remained resilient as the clock ticked past the 20th minute mark before the home side created a couple of chances.

Collins reached the by-line down the left-hand side and cut the ball back for Wright, who struck a first-time shot wide of the target, before quiet central midfielder Bradley Schafer’s corner from the left eventually came to Gunner, whose shot on the turn flashed just past the foot of the near post.

A poor clearance from Gunner at the other end should have been taken advantage off by Debattista after cutting in onto his left-foot before drilling his shot high and wide from 25-yards.

Poor defending from Cobham’s central midfielder Craig Lewington saw him push over Sevenoaks’ right-winger Lamin Bah down the right channel.

It proved to be a costly mistake as Sevenoaks Town scored from the resulting free-kick in the 32nd minute.

Deakin swung in a quality left-footed delivery, which was flicked on by Collins at the near post and Dart sliced his attempted clearance at the far post, the ball shaving the near post before hitting the back of the net.

Senior assistant referee James Beadle raised his flag and referee Andrew Simmonds trotted over and realised that an own goal was scored so the goal stood 16 seconds after the ball went in.

“Louis has come in and flicked it on and we’ve been telling him where we want the set-pieces to be.  He scored a good header on Saturday from it so he’s got the flick on and he’s put the geezer off and he’s (Dart) put it in.

“It was important (to score first) because on Saturday we didn’t and we let them in and they calmed the game down, slowed it down so we knew they had to come out tonight, at some point they’ve got to come and have a go and try to do it.  We went in at half-time and said the same, which was be patient, I think we’ll get another chance and they did.”

Cobham created a couple of openings inside the final couple of minutes of the first-half.

The Surrey side produced a sweeping move just outside the box when Debattista played the ball into Hood who teed up Everett on the outside and he drilled his low shot towards the bottom right-hand corner, forcing Bridle-Card to dive to his left to tip the shot around the post. 

Lewington swung in the resulting corner from the right and no one picked up Dart who buried his header across goal and past the far post from 16-yards.

“We had to be careful because if they had got one back you’re up against it. I thought we coped with it quite well and I thought defensively we were solid,” added Collins.

“There were bits (during the half-time interval) that I wanted to pick on and I thought we could improve on our shape, which could’ve been a bit better and we came out and delivered it and I thought when we made the changes we just got the impetus.”

Sevenoaks Town put in a vastly improved performance in the second half and started in a dominant fashion, creating three good chances inside the first five minutes.

Deakin played the ball into Collins, who took a couple of touches, headed towards the right-hand side of the penalty area before cutting onto his right-foot to drill a right-footed angled drive which forced Norman into diving to his right and use a strong right hand to turn the ball away after just 87 seconds.

Eight seconds later the ball came to left-back Bryan Delgado Morales, who curled his right-footed angled drive across the keeper and just past the foot of the far post from 30-yards.

“That’s a great save. That’s a great hit from Louis, a really good hit.  He’s hit it from a long way out and he’s got low and the keeper’s made an excellent save,” added the striker’s proud father.

Winger Bah then cut in from the right wing and tried his luck from 30-yards. His shot took a deflection and keeper Norman was well beaten and was relieved when the ball kissed the top of the far post.

Collins said: “He’s come back from a big injury so we’ve chucked him out there for pace and I think he was a bit nervus to come in and play at this level so for him he was great, got in some good positions but end product probably wasn’t as good but he did ok.”

Cobham were to be denied by the woodwork in the 13th minute of the half when their left-back Tommy Williams cut in from the left to drill a cross/shot from 30-yards, which also took a deflection and bounced off the top of the far post with the keeper well beaten.

“That was close, that was a looper.  We never shut the cross down and at the end of the game that’s how they’ve scored because we haven’t got out and shut the cross down. We allowed them to have the shot,” added Collins.

Sevenoaks Town continued their dominance and Charlie Holmes delivered a cross from the right and Collins nipped in front of his marker at the near post to steer his header wide.

Sevenoaks Town deservedly doubled their lead in the 65th minute, courtesy of an own goal from Cobham’s goalkeeper.

Holmes launched a long ball forward, hitting the right channel and Collins chased it, and drilled a shot towards the bottom near corner. The ball kissed the base of the post, bounced off Norman, now on the deck after diving to his left in an attempt to save the shot, and the ball nestled into the bottom near corner.

“He’ll claim that all day long, Louis. He’ll claim it. He’ll say it hit the keeper, hit the post and gone in so he’ll claim that one all day but we’ll see what goes down,” added the manager.

“We had a lot of offers, a lot of offers to go to different places, National South, a lot of good clubs wanted him.

“For the moment he’s not driving, it makes it a bit of a headache driving to places so he said for the moment he wants to be here and ply his trade, which you can see he’s too good for this level. He just wants to play and enjoy his football. He’s loving it, he really does enjoy it.

“There were clubs here tonight watching hm.  When the right move comes in for him and someone takes that chance on him then he’ll go with our blessing but for the moment he just needs to enjoy his football and stay fit.”

Eighty seconds later and Sevenoaks Town were in the next round as substitute striker Jason Thompson released Wright, who raced into the penalty area and from a tight angle from the corner of the six-yard box, drilled his shot in off the foot of the near post and nestling into the back of the net.

Collins added: “A good goal. Stef’s got that pace, that electric pace where he drives into the box and it’s a great shot from him and then the game’s deal then.

“We managed to create some good chances. At the end of it you would, 3-0 up the tie’s done really.”

Striker Thompson stung Norman’s fingertips with a left-footed free-kick from 28-yards, which went over the wall and was gathered at the second attempt at the halfway point of the half.

Cobham created an opening, courtesy of good industry from substitute midfielder Zac Le Stauri, who stole the ball off Gunner, before feeding Debattista down the left before the striker dragged his left-footed shot across the keeper and past the far post from 22-yards.

The impressive Collins was desperately unlucky not to score inside the final 12 minutes.

Divine was just over the halfway line on the right hand side and drilled in a cross towards the penalty spot where the striker rose and guided his cushioned header across the keeper and clipping the top of the inside of the far post before the relieved Norman grabbed hold of the ball as it dropped.

“That was a great leap to get the header back across goal to where it was. He was just unlucky and it’s just come off the post and come out so we could’ve been further ahead,” added Collins.

Collins drove at the Cobham defence before rolling the ball on his outside to substitute right-winger Riley Assam.

Assam had a couple of bites of the cherry to put in a cross and fellow sub Max Walsh’s left-footed low drive from 25-yards was comfortably saved by Norman.

Cobham’s efforts were rewarded as they scored a consolation goal with 42 minutes and 49 seconds on the clock.

Debattista, Le Stauri and Hood all linked up well in and around the Sevenoaks box and the ball was played into Hood, who cracked a right-footed drive against the underside of the crossbar from inside the D and Debattista raced in towards a flat-footed keeper to nod the ball into the centre of the goal from three-yards.

“I’m not disappointed about the nine (Debattista) going in because it’s a great shot but we just allowed the shot. That’s the bit that’s annoying. We haven’t got out there and shut that shot down,” said Collins.

“I’m gutted for the defenders because they’ve done really well tonight and they wanted a clean sheet and that’s not happened but it’s one of those things we need to address.”

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division side Erith Town will pose more of a threat than Cobham when Adam Woodward’s side visit Greatness Park in The FA Cup Preliminary Round on Saturday 21 August.

“We just want to stay in it for as long as you can, financially it would be nice to have a run in it,” said Collins.

“It’s going to be a toughie against Erith Town, that certainly will be. They’ll come here fancy themselves and they’re good friends of ours so that will be a tough ask but we’ve got to get them here and try and get a result.

“It will be a good game. I don’t think there’s much in the level between Step Five and Step Four so it will be a very even game, they’ve got some great players there so it will be tough.”

Before that, however, Sevenoaks Town kick-off their Isthmian League South East Division campaign with a trip to play Lloyd Blackman’s Whitstable Town on Saturday.

The hosts haven’t played a FA Cup tie yet, while Sevenoaks Town have had 180 minutes of competitive football under their belt, which helps at this time of the campaign.

“That will be tough. Blacky will have them organised and that will be a tough trip down there and we’ve got to be on our mettle with that,” said Collins.

“That’s why tonight was important that we got another game because we’ve shown a little bit about of what we are and I was a bit more impressed tonight. Even using the subs, I managed to get some different subs on so I could have a look at them. It will be a good game down there, first league game of the season, I’m looking forward to it.”

The past two seasons did not finish due to the coronavirus health pandemic and Collins wants Sevenoaks Town to be flirting towards the play-offs this season.

When asked about his aspirations for the season ahead, Collins replied: “To finish as high as we can.  If we can flirt with the play-offs that will be fantastic, as long as we’re not in the bottom five I don’t really care about the rest of it.

“It’s one of the seasons when we’re just glad to have football back and we’ll embrace it, we’ll enjoy it and we’ll try as hard as we can and finish as high as we can. That’s all we can aim at.  To see the boys back playing football again is great.”

Sevenoaks Town: Ben Bridle-Card, Danny Divine, Bryan Delgado Morales, Charlie Holmes, Joe Tennent, Dean Gunner, Bradley Schafer (Max Walsh 58), Stefan Wright, Louis Collins, Reece Deakin (Jason Thompson 59, Lamin Bah (Riley Assam 72).
Subs: Hayden Skerry, Dan Parkinson, James Town

Goals: Michael Dart 32 (own goal), Lee Norman 65 (own goal), Stefan Wright 66

Booked: Louis Collins 55, Max Walsh 77

Cobham: Lee Norman, Ryan David, Tommy Williams, Craig Lewington (Zac Le Stauri 66), Michael Dart, Dre Grobler, Will Hellestoe, Niall Stillwell (Miguel Matos 77), Ryan Debattista, Monty Everett (Ben Senior 72), Johnathon Hodd.
Subs: Alex Body, Jack Simms, Dan Parker, Reis Stanislaus

Goal: Ryan Debattista 88

Booked: Dre Grobler 68

Attendance: 144
Referee: Mr Andrew Simmonds
Assistants: Mr James Beadle & Mr Jack Phillips