Sevenoaks Town 0-1 Cray Valley (Paper Mills) - It's heart wrenching because I felt we've done enough to take something from the game, says Sevenoaks Town assistant manager Adam Flemming

Monday 01st January 2024
Sevenoaks Town 0 – 1 Cray Valley (Paper Mills)
Location Greatness Park, Mill Lane, Seal Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 5BX
Kickoff 01/01/2024 15:00

Isthmian League South East Division
Monday 1 January 2024
Stephen McCartney reports from Greatness Park

SEVENOAKS TOWN assistant manager Adam Flemming says he wants the club to be in and amongst the Isthmian League South East Division play-off picture come the end of the season.


The Oaks have given the two big-spending clubs a run for their money over the holiday weekend, with two single goal defeats.

Tijan Jadama scored an 89th minute winner for Ben Smith’s Ramsgate on Saturday, while Cray Valley (Paper Mills) extended their unbeaten league run to 15 games as central midfielder Danny Waldren buried a free header in stoppage time to seal the victory at a wet Greatness Park today.

Sevenoaks Town picked up a couple of injuries at the weekend with centre-half Corey Holder (hamstring) and 11-goal striker Daniel Carr (quad) sitting out.

“We’ve played the two teams that we feel will challenge for the top and we feel we should be in the race and both games we’ve conceded very, very late,” said Flemming, who has been in charge for the past two games with manager Mark Dacey away on holiday.

“It’s heart wrenching, it’s heart wrenching because today we’ve done enough, I felt we’ve done enough to take something from the game.  Exactly the same thing happened on Saturday but football has an unkind treatment sometimes and if you don’t capitalise on when you’re doing well, someone else will and both games we’ve done the same thing.

“Mark was away for the two games so he’s having a baby soon so his missus booked them to go away, obviously not knowing that it would clash with the football unfortunately, so he’ll be back for training on Tuesday, back in the dug-out on Saturday.”

When asked about his role in charge (alongside Junior James) against the top two sides, Flemming replied: “It was stressful but listen this is our job. I do this seven days a week (Kinetic Academy), so in terms of stepping up to the plate, we all do it. We have done it for the last three years whether we were at Glebe, whether we’ve been here, everyone chips in and it’s just a different voice that echoes the same messages across the board.”

Cray Valley raced out of the traps, creating their first chance through former Sevenoaks Town striker Freddie Parker after only 48 seconds.

Right-winger Calvin Ekpiteta hooked the ball out to Barney Williams out on the right and the holding midfielder cut into the box and floated in a cross towards the edge of the six-yard box but 12-goal Parker steered his header over the crossbar.

“It was a good chance, it was a good chance,” said Flemming.

“Listen, I’ve worked with Fred since he was 16. We had him at Cray Wanderers. I had him at college and so on and so forth.

“We knew what threats that he can pose but yes it was a good chance. I feel like he will think he should’ve done better with it but once again we defended well leading up to it and then we had to build for a couple of minutes but then the game did open up.”

Waldren then flicked the ball on to Parker, who easily shrugged past Sevenoaks’ recalled centre-half Jahmal Howlett-Mundle some 35-yards from goal before putting the ball on a plate for attacking midfielder Matthew Vigor, whose first time right-footed curler sailed just past the top of the far post from 16-yards.

Sevenoaks Town weathered the storm, however, and former Miller, holding midfielder Matthew Attenborough-Warren coming close to scoring against his old club in the eighth minute.

Nine-goal central midfielder Daniel Bennett floated the ball into the penalty area for Attenborough-Warren to flick his header towards the bottom right-hand corner, which forced visiting goalkeeper Max Ovenden to dive low to his left to hold.

“Once the game opened up, it was a good battle. We both created chances.  I still feel like we had the better chances of the game,” added Flemming.

Sevenoaks Town were to be denied the lead in the 15th minute, courtesy of another fine save from Ovenden.

Attenborough-Warren and right-winger Fumnaya Shomotun linked up well down the right playing a couple of one-twos before Shomotun cut into the middle of the pitch before hitting a left-footed shot towards goal from 25-yards, which forced Ovenden to dive to his left to push around the post.

“Great save, great save.  He cut in off the (right), which he does well and we’ve really, really been working with him in training to get more success for him cutting in and it was a great save with two hands from the goalkeeper, so it was routine for him,” added Flemming.

Cray Valley’s right-back Kiki Oshilaja drove into the final third before playing the ball inside to an unmarked Waldren, who hit a first-time shot which was saved low down by Sevenoaks Town goalkeeper Daniel Colmer.

“Dan’s done well. He’s stepped in and he’s done what’s required of him since coming in.  Amadou Tangara needed some time out from football and it’s been big shoes to fill and I feel that Dan’s done it well so far,” said Flemming.

“Once again, two games on the bounce, he deserves something from it from his performances. He’s claimed for crosses, his kicking was more consistent today and he’s made saves, he’s made a number of saves today and he really has stepped up to the plate and long may it continue.

“I think he will just get better and better with his confidence getting higher and playing more minutes.”

Oshilaja reverse pass inside the Cray Valley defensive third wasn’t kept in by Ovenden and this gifted the home side a 27th minute corner.

Kieron Cadoagan swung in a corner from the left, the ball came back out to the five-goal striker whose cross from the left was palmed away by Ovenden underneath his crossbar.

Emmanuel Mensah started the game at left-back and he was asked to sit in the holding midfielder role in front of the Sevenoaks back four, while Dominic Morgan Griffiths slotted in at left-back, before substitute Karn Miller-Neave operated in that position when he came off the bench for the final 12 minutes.

Williams rode Howlett-Mundle’s challenge in midfield before the ball was played up for Parker, who fed winger Ekpiteta, whose dipping left-footed drive sailed over the Sevenoaks crossbar from 25-yards.

“I was very pleased with the first half performance. I still think we was wasteful in possession when we didn’t need to be,” said Flemming.

“As you can imagine, in the second half we got the bits right that we got wrong in the first half and we did that control of the game, I’ll be brutally honest with you.

“We just had to stop being wasteful with the ball and take a little bit more control. We gave them (our players’) the solutions that we feel will help take control of the game and I totally agree that we did.”

Cray Valley missed a glorious chance to take the lead four minutes and 41 seconds into the second half following their seventh of 11 corners.

Williams drove the ball in from the right and Waldren sent his free header across the keeper and just past the far post from 12-yards.

“So he found himself free, not sure how, but he did find himself free at that moment and luckily for us he did head it wide from that one,” added Flemming.

The game then turned into a stalemate with Sevenoaks resilient until Cray Valley manager Steve McKimm hooked Ekpiteta then 21-goal left-winger Kyrell Lisbie (who offered nothing and was kept quiet by Sevenoaks’ right-back Jerald Aboagye) and Vigor.

The introductions of right-winger Denzel Gayle, left-winger Michael Ademiluyi and attacking midfielder Lyle Della-Verde increased the tempo and urgency of the Millers and they finished the game on the front foot.

“They changed their shape and changed their personnel and they had more legs where we nullified their threats and at some point they’re going to change that and I do believe those individuals that came on, they came on with a purpose and they did what was required of them,” said Flemming.

“They stretched our back line, it then freed up Fred (Parker) a little bit, I think, to then drop into spaces and service wide and so on and so forth so that’s when the game did open up and it turned into a game of attack-v-defence, which I category hate because you don’t have no control.”

The second half was 29 minutes old when Parker dropped deep and once again shrugged off Howlett-Mundle, before the ball was swept out to Gayle, who took a touch and drilled a right-footed angled drive towards the bottom corner from 15-yards, forcing Colmer to dive to his left and get his fingertips to the shot and push it behind for a corner.

Flemming said: “As I said to the boys, I don’t think they were knocking on the door because they were pressing hard or anything like that, they were knocking on the door because the game was open and they got a little bit closer to our goal then we did when we had our attacks.

“It then forced Dan to make some saves. It then forced the back line and the midfield to have to make blocks.”

Cray Valley centre-half Arthur Lee recycled the ball back into the Sevenoaks box, Gayle cut the ball back for Della-Verde, who found a pocket of space inside the box and his shot was saved by Colmer’s legs to prevent the ball nestling inside the bottom right-hand corner.

Della-Verde floated a free-kick into the penalty area and centre-half Cem Tumkaya’s free-header sailed across the well-beaten goalkeeper and just past the far post as the Millers’ kept knocking on the door.

Waldren played the ball into Parker’s feet, who swept the ball out to Gayle, who cut inside and teed up Waldren, who took a touch in a central position and his right-footed drive was saved by the busy Colmer, low to his right before the ball was cleared towards safety.

It was only a matter of time when the dominant Millers would get the breakthrough that their attacking deserved.

Aboagye received treatment from Carly Payne and screamed over to grab the attention of referee Joel Lamping on the sidelines but he had to wait to re-enter the field and Cray Valley almost took advantage (41:58) of Sevenoaks being a man short temporarily when the excellent Waldren fed Ademiluyi, who cut onto his right-foot and drilled his shot over the top of the far post.

The board for six additional minutes was held aloft and Cray Valley continued to press.

Oshilaja played a short free-kick to Della-Verde, who floated the ball into a crowded Sevenoaks penalty area and Lee looped his header towards goal from 16-yards, which Colmer stretched high to his right to flick the ball onto the top of his crossbar before dropping behind.

However, Sevenoaks Town’s resilience was broken, as Cray Valley grabbed the deserved victory, the goal coming with 49:57 on the clock.

Oshilaha played a first time 40-yard pass out of defence to release Gayle down the right and he cut in before whipping in a great cross in behind the two centre-halves for the unmarked Waldren to bury his header into the far corner from 12-yards.

“Once again, it came from us playing basketball. We wasn’t set and to be fair he generated power of that header and it was pretty similar to the chance that he put wide earlier in the half but this time he took no prisoners,” said Flemming.

Sevenoaks Town lacked belief during the second half that they could actually become the first eighth-tier side to beat McKimm’s men this season.

“We had lots of possession, we had them in and around the box. They made a lot of blocks, it’s just that final piece of the puzzle.  The attacks that we got they ended on the edge of the box, where their attacks ended into the box so it’s piecing together that last bit, which is the hardest part of putting the ball in the goal,” said Flemming.

The home side’s only chance of the second half arrived with 51:25 on the clock when Shomotun floated the ball into a crowded Cray Valley penalty area and Bray flicked his header towards goal, which sailed into the hands of Ovenden for a comfortable catch.

“Comfortable save from the keeper. That’s when you’re throwing the kitchen sink at it. You chuck your centre-halves up, you get your big men up there and you chuck it into an area and hope something falls for you but it didn’t today,” admitted Flemming.

The referee blew the final whistle at 53:23, with Ramsgate still at the summit with 46 points from their 17 games.

The four play-off places are held by Cray Valley (37 points from 15 games), surprise package Three Bridges (34 points from 18 games), Sittingbourne (33 points from 18 games) and Sheppey United (33 points from 20 games).

Another surprise package, Lancing are now in sixth-place (31 points from 17 games), followed by Sevenoaks Town (28 points from 19 games) and Hythe Town (27 points from 15 games).

“I will always back our side and we see ourselves as one of those teams that should be up there as well,” said Flemming.

“We’re still in a little bit of a transitional phase but I feel like as a collective we’ve done so well so far, not got the results that we wanted but we’re getting the performances and it’s been a little bit sporadic but it will come, it will come after this.

“Listen, as always, we want to push. We take every game in our stride and we want to win every game.

“We back ourselves as a backroom staff and as players and as a club that we want to be in amongst it at the end of the season.

“What you don’t want to do is wilt away as we did last season at the final straw, so we just want to keep pushing and keep getting results under our belts and be in and around it in the late stages of the season.

“You want to be playing for something every single week. What you don’t want is dead-rubber games with five or six games to go because then it’s hard to motivate your players in training and games, so we want to be as high as possible and we want to push those two teams (Ramsgate and Cray Valley) and I think we’ve shown enough in those two last games that we should be in and around it.”

Steve Lovell brings his Herne Bay side to Greatness Park on Saturday (15:00).  They were held to a 2-2 draw by Ashford United today and are in eleventh-place in the table with 25 points (six wins, seven draws and five defeats).

“Listen, we approach the game the same way,” said Flemming.

“We’ll play the football that we want to play and we’ve got to put together today’s performance of what we’ve done in the second half, defend as well as we did against Ramsgate on Saturday and I feel that should be good stead to put us in a position where we put ourselves in the frame to win the game.

“We’ve just got to start converting chances because we are creating them, which is the most important thing. If we wasn’t creating them, then we have to ask questions but we’re getting there. We’re in and around it.

“Listen, you play against the top two teams, we played in front of a thousand on Saturday and we played in front of a good number today and hopefully we still get the same numbers turning up to these games because they are quite exciting and it’s always good when you have people on the side that are going to cheer your team on and give you that 12th man energy, which is required and needed in football.”

There has been no mass exodus since Southampton bound Harry Hudson’s shock departure in November and Flemming explained the reasons why.

“Listen, when we came in, well, we didn’t come in, we just moved up a step. We made it very clear that every single player is wanted because of the backroom staff that we had initially. 

“There was never, ever going to be a change of philosophy or anything like that changing. It’s just a different person at the front of the dug-out.”

When asked what he will say to Dacey upon his return, a laughing Flemming replied: “Have it!  Keep it! He can keep it!”

Sevenoaks Town: Daniel Colmer, Jerald Aboagye, Emmanuel Mensah (Aiden Payne-James 90), Matthew Attenborough-Warren, Rian Bray, Jahmal Howlett-Mundle, Tyrese Osbourne (Rowan Liburd 83), Daniel Bennett, Kieron Cadogan, Dominic Morgan Griffiths (Karn Miller-Neave 78), Fumnaya Shomotun.
Subs: Andrew Norburn, Daniel Carr

Booked: Jahmal Howlett-Mundle 37, Rian Bray 72, Matthew Attenborough-Warren 90

Cray Valley (Paper Mills): Max Ovenden, Kiki Oshilaja, Clement Asiedu, Barney Williams, Arthur Lee, Cem Tumkaya, Kyrell Lisbie (Michael Ademiluyi 74), Danny Waldren, Freddie Parker, Matthew Vigor (Lyle Della-Verde 74), Calvin Ekpiteta (Denzel Gayle 65).
Subs: Tom Chambers, Marcel Barrington

Goal: Danny Waldren 90

Booked: Barney Williams 51, Kiki Oshilaja 81, Lyle Della-Verde 88

Attendance: 176
Referee: Mr Joel Lamping
Assistants: Mr Stephen Gorman & Mr James Black