Sevenoaks Town 3-1 Hythe Town - I'm fully confident that we'll stay up, insists Hythe Town player-manager James Rogers

Monday 03rd January 2022
Sevenoaks Town 3 – 1 Hythe Town
Location Greatness Park, Mill Lane, Seal Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 5BX
Kickoff 03/01/2022 15:00

Isthmian League South East Division
Bank Holiday Monday 3 January 2022
Stephen McCartney reports from Greatness Park

HYTHE TOWN player-manager James Rogers says he is fully confident his side will stay up after losing a relegation six-pointer at Sevenoaks Town.

The Cannons have slipped down a place in the Isthmian League South East Division pecking order into fifteenth with 22 points from 21 games and four of the five sides below them in the table all won.

Whitstable Town (21 points from 21 games), Sevenoaks Town (20 points from 21) and East Grinstead Town (18 points from 20) follow, with Lancing (16 points from 21) and Phoenix Sports (12 points from 21) in the relegation zone.

Both teams put in a dire first-half but thankfully the second-half produced more quality for the 183 fans inside Greatness Park.

Hythe Town took the lead just 67 seconds into the second half through right-winger Jordan Sarfo’s sixth goal of the season.

However, Sevenoaks Town equalised through Kyle De Silva, before striker Louis Collins notched his tenth goal of the season to ease the pressure on his dad Micky Collins, who declined a post-match interview as he was “too busy” socialising in the clubhouse.

Substitute Fjord Rogers – who came on at the interval and changed the game in the home side’s favour – scored a last-gasp third.

“I’m disappointed actually.  I thought at times we controlled the game but final third, final balls, we just weren’t good enough defensively,” admitted James Rogers.

“It’s just individual mistakes that are killing us at the moment, week-in-week-out. 

“We’re missing key players and experience, especially at the back. It goes a long way, so I’m not best pleased today with the performance.  We controlled the game at times but we’re too weak, especially the goals we conceded.”

Rogers has been in charge for nine games since Steven Watt departed Reachfields Stadium on 15 November 2021 and Hythe Town have now lost five of them, while Sevenoaks went into this crucial game having lost all of their previous five.

“Since we’ve taken over, it’s been tough.  My first game in charge we won 1-0 at Lancing but after that game we lost four players, quite big players for this football club,” said Rogers.

“I lost (centre-half) Tom Wynter – whose a big player – with a bad knee injury and (striker) Tom Walmsley as well with a bad knee injury, so I’ve just had no luck so far but that’s no excuse.  Everyone goes through these sort of stages.

“I’m still saying it, we’ve still got a good side in there and once I get the players back from injury, we’re going to kick on.”

James Rogers’ cushioned down a header for left-winger Tyler Sterling, who cracked a shot harmlessly wide of the near post from 35-yards after 14 minutes, while he was being pressed by Sevenoaks’ combative central midfielder Stephen Ikpeme.

Sevenoaks Town striker Steve Smith played the ball in from the right-channel and the ball came out to Ikpeme, who took a touch before stroking a right-footed drive from 22-yards, which bounced into the hands of visiting goalkeeper Henry Newcombe just 47 seconds later.

Luke Leppard – one of three Sevenoaks central midfielders – threw the ball into the Hythe Town box where Freeman Rogers came up from the back to flick his header past the near stick.

However, the first real clear-cut chance was created by Sevenoaks Town in the 21st minute.

Freeman Rogers launched a long 60-yard diagonal, which split open Hythe’s right-back Jack Mayhew and centre-half Scott Doe, and De Silva cut into his box and his fierce drive was parried by Newcombe at his near post.

“Harry done alright today, he’s conceded three goals but I don’t think he’s got much chance with any of them to be honest,” said Rogers.

“He’ll be key for us, he’s a big lump. I think they’ve had a few shots that he’s saved but other than that everything that goes against us at the minute seems to go in.”

Hythe Town created an opening just 89 seconds later when the threatening Sarfo pounced on the ball some 35-yards from goal and sped past three defenders to reach the penalty area and his left-footed shot stung the fingers of Sevenoaks goalkeeper Daniel Colman, who has a very big kick on him.

“Jordan’s a threat but again it’s no end product,” said Rogers.

“If you want to push on in this game that separates the real player.  At higher levels it’s end products sometimes.  National League South, maybe National League, they go through and they score nine times out of 10 and that’s the difference.  I still feel he can offer more than what he’s offering but he knows I think the world of him and I think he’s got a good chance of pushing on.”

De Silva won himself a free-kick, which he floated into the penalty area where Freeman Rogers jumped up at the far post to flick his header wide.

Sevenoaks Town’s left-back Jason Fregene played the ball inside to an unmarked Ben Davisson, who stroked a low right-footed drive flashing past the left-hand post from 35-yards in the final six minutes of a poor half of football.

Hythe Town created a couple of late first-half chances, however.

Sterling played in a poor corner from the right towards the near post for centre-half Liam Smith to sweep a first-time shot over the crossbar from six-yards out whilst under pressure.

Woodhouse took a touch before calmly playing the ball out to left-back George Sibley, who played Woodhouse in on goal and from a tight angle his shot was palmed behind the post by Colman at his near post.

“Luca’s 17-years-old, we’ve got him (on dual-registration) from (National League South) Tonbridge Angels.  Macca (Steve McKimm) thinks the world of him.  I know the Academy down there as well, Tom Parkinson, they think he’s a real player and I’ve seen him twice now. He scored at Herne Bay (2-1 defeat) at the weekend and he hit the bar as well so he’s a dangerous player.

“We put him out wide because we wanted to give him a little bit more space, so that was the reason for putting him out there (in the second-half).  I think he caused their right-back issues. He got around him a couple of times.  It’s just that final shot that let us down but he’s going to be a real talent and he’s got a real chance of pushing on.”

Reflecting on the first-half, Rogers said it how it was.

“I thought the first-half was poor, both sides couldn’t keep the ball. We got in dangerous areas at times and the final ball was letting us down. 

“I felt sorry for the spectators paying actually, it was that bad but at times we did control the game but it’s final balls.”

Rogers added: “I just said (at half-time) to keep it tight, keep playing but just improve in the final third.  I think that’s where we let ourselves down today.

“I know we’ve conceded three but you defend from the front. If you’ve got balls going up there and it’s coming back at you straight away and you’re not holding balls in areas and getting throws and corners and picking up little bits and pieces and free-kicks, it comes back at you pretty quickly and the shape that you’re in the transition, sometimes it can kill you.

“I felt we needed to hold balls better in final third and our decision making needed to improve and that’s just not the front boys, that’s the midfielders, that’s me when I go forward, Webbo (Charlie Webster) who sat next to me today. We all need to improve but it will come.”

Micky Collins withdrew centre-half Dean Gunner at the break so Steve Smith slotted in beside Freeman Rogers in the heart of defence for the second half, while Fjord Rogers played wide left in attack.

Steve Smith played a major part in Hythe Town smashing the deadlock after only 67 seconds.

James Rogers clipped the ball down the right channel and Steve Smith slipped over just outside the corner of the penalty area and this put Sarfo in on goal.

He has two bites of the cherry and his first attempt on goal was cleared back to him by Freeman Rogers and Sarfo rifled his right-footed shot into the roof of the net – over the keeper’s right-shoulder  - from the corner of the six-yard box.

Rogers said: “It’s unfortunate for the centre-half, he’s got his legs tangled up and it’s probably hard going. He was a centre-half first-half and he’s gone centre-half so to adjust at half-time it’s probably tough on him, to be fair to him but he’s slipped and Jordan’s gone in.  I thought the first ball Jordan put in was poor and then he redeemed himself and he’s put it in the back of the net.

“That’s five in eight for us now, he’s on a good little spell but I feel he can improve and do better for us but he knows I think the world of him and I think he’s got a good chance of pushing on.”

De Silva unleased a left-footed drive towards the bottom near corner from 35-yards, which forced Newcombe to get down low at his near post to gather at the second attempt.

But Newcombe was beaten by De Silva with five minutes and 9 seconds on the clock.

Colman launched a big kick straight down the middle of the pitch, the ball was flicked on by Louis Collins and De Silva kept composed by cutting inside before drilling his left-footed shot into the top left-hand corner from 10-yards, just as Hythe’s right-back Mayhew slid in.

“He’s (De Silva) got a bit of experience and he’s calm on the ball and maybe that’s the difference. He’s got a bit of experience about him and he held on to the ball and did what he needed to do,” said Rogers.

“I’m disappointed and it’s not the first time that it’s happened where we’ve scored and conceded soon after so it’s something that we need to be working on and we will improve.”

Both sides won four corners each and Newcombe made a comfortable save from Steve Smith’s downward header after the versatile player met De Silva’s third delivery.

Hythe Town missed a glaring chance on the hour-mark.

The impressive Woodhouse started the game in the number 10 role behind ineffective striker Riley Alford but Woodhouse got more into the game playing wide on the right.

Woodhouse cut the ball back from within the right-channel for Sterling, who swept a first-time shot just past the foot of the far post from the centre of the penalty area.

“That’s a chance, we’ve had a big chance there and Tyler will be disappointed with himself,” said Rogers.

“He’s good on the ball and he’s got good quality on the football so I think he’ll be a little bit disappointed there.  Great play from Luca, he’s a real talent.”

Hythe Town missed another decent opening in the 65th minute when Sarfo cut into the box and put it on the plate for Woodhouse, who hit a first-time shot which flashed just past the foot of the far post from 20-yards.

However, those missed chances proved costly as Sevenoaks Town took the lead with 26 minutes and 35 seconds on the clock.

De Silva clipped a long ball from inside his own half which was headed down by Louis Collins before he played the ball out wide to substitute Bobby Dunn on the left.

Dunn whipped in a quality delivery towards the far post for Collins to bury his shot past Newcombe.

“I thought Louis Collins was a threat second-half. I thought we allowed him too much space.  We didn’t get tight enough to him and I thought he caused us problems,” said Rogers.

“He’s been at some good clubs, he’s been at Dover (last season in the National League). I don’t know why he’s back here and what’s happened there with him but you can see he’s got something about him and I’m sure he’ll move forward and move onto good things.”

Hythe Town kept plugging away, however, and centre-half Scott Doe clipped the ball towards the back post from the right channel, which Colman stretched to palm the ball away.

Sterling collected the ball and cut into the box and his shot was palmed away by Colman at his near-post and Liam Smith poked the rebound past the foot of the left-hand post while under pressure.

Charlie Webster’s deep cross wasn’t cut out by Sevenoaks’ left-back Jason Fregene and this let in Woodhouse, who cut in to rifle his left-footed shot over the crossbar.

Sibley cut the ball onto his left-foot and his dipping cross forced Colman to push the ball over his crossbar.

With only six seconds of normal time remaining, James Rogers’ dink into the box was headed past the left-hand post by substitute left-winger Jack Nelson.

“We’ve had quite a few chances today. I’ve dinked a ball in and Jack Nelson, I think it was, headed it over. We need to start taking these chances, take a bit of pressure of the defence.”

Sevenoaks Town sealed the deal, however, with 49 minutes and 6 seconds on the clock.

Referee Charles Martland dished out three yellow cards inside injury-time and Hythe’s players switched off from Dunn’s left-wing throw-in and Fjord Rogers brought the ball down superbly, kept composed as he cut along the 18-yard line before placing a shot on the turn across the keeper, the ball rolling inside the bottom far corner.

Rogers said: “We were pushing at that point and taking a few risks to try to get back into the game.  I thought our defending was poor again for that goal but to be fair to the lad it’s a great little strike, it’s gone straight into the bottom corner.

“But again, for me, we were not strong enough, not aggressive enough with him and I think that’s what’s cost us today.”

Hythe Town welcome the side immediately above them in the league table to Reachfields Stadium on Saturday (15:00). 

Both sides have collected six wins, four draws and 11 defeats from their league games this season and Rogers knows the importance of the game.

“I’m still confident that we won’t get dragged into it,” said Rogers, who is still missing centre-half George Crimmen and central midfielder Alex Brown.

“We’ve got a massive game against Whitehawk now.  I’ve just said to the boys they must win. We’re under pressure now to win a game of football on Saturday and I believe we’ve got the players now to go and do that.

“We know we can compete in this league with the team we’ve got. We just need to grow up and we need to grow up because I don’t want to be dragged into a battle down there.

“I’m not panicking, we’ve got good players, we’ve got good players coming back so I’m not at a stage where I’m panicking.  I’m fully confident of beating Whitehawk at home next week, one that we’re going to give everything that we’ve got.

“I know where we need to improve and we will.”

With coach Will Graham and Wynter back in their homes self-isolating with Covid-19 and James Rogers out on the pitch, Hythe had kitman Mick Putman and physio Emily Spray on the bench along with their three subs so it was a quiet away dug-out.

“When I’m on the pitch playing, I feel like I need to be out there at the moment, just for the experience,” said Rogers.

“They obviously see things on the touchline that you can’t when you’re playing so it’s been tough but I’m not making excuses.  I’m fully aware where we’re at and what we need to move forward and I’m fully confident that we’ll stay up with the players we’ve got and the players we’ve got missing, so I’m not panicking.”

Sevenoaks Town: Daniel Colman, Danny Divine (Wesley Jno-Baptiste 80), Jason Fregene, Ben Davisson, Freeman Rogers, Dean Gunner (Fjord Rogers 46), Luke Leppard, Stephen Ikpeme (Bobby Dunn 68), Steve Smith, Louis Collins, Kyle De Silva.
Subs: Dominic Welsh, Lamin Bah

Goals: Kyle De Silva 51, Louis Collins 72, Fjord Rogers 90

Booked: Ben Davisson 90, Bobby Dunn 90

Hythe Town: Henry Newcombe, Jack Mayhew, George Sibley, James Rogers, Liam Smith, Scott Doe, Tyler Sterling (Jack Nelson 83), Charlie Webster, Riley Alford (Jacob Gilbert 75), Luca Woodhouse, Jordan Sarfo.
Sub: Morgan Williamson

Goal: Jordan Sarfo 47

Booked: Jacob Gilbert 90

Attendance: 183
Referee: Mr Charles Martland
Assistants: Mr Andreas Anastasiou & Mr Colman O’Meara