Sevenoaks Town 2-2 Hythe Town - I’m pretty sure we’ll be in and around it but it’s so early, we won’t get carried away but equally we want to build on what we’ve got, says Sevenoaks Town assistant Jason Bourne

Wednesday 07th October 2020
Sevenoaks Town 2 – 2 Hythe Town
Location Greatness Park, Mill Lane, Seal Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 5BX
Kickoff 07/10/2020 19:30

Isthmian League South East Division
Wednesday 7 October 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Greatness Park

SEVENOAKS TOWN assistant manager Jason Bourne says his unbeaten side will be in and around it come the end of the season.

Manager Micky Collins was ruled out with a back injury, so Bourne, Julian Leigh and Terry Groom were put in charge of this 2-2 draw against the Cannons.

Sevenoaks Town extended their unbeaten league run to four games and remain in second-place in the Isthmian League South East Division table with 8 points, four points behind leaders VCD Athletic, who beat a very impressive Chichester City 4-1 at Oakwood 24 hours earlier.

Hythe Town have gone up a place to fourteenth with four points from three games after bouncing back from their 4-0 home defeat to Phoenix Sports at the weekend.

This Kent derby was played at a frenetic pace during the entire game with the ball going from one end to another very quickly and no one had any time to put their foot on the ball.

Hythe Town took the lead through Frannie Collin’s fifth goal of the season, before Sevenoaks Town equalised just four minutes later through winger Tyrell Richardson-Brown, 29.

Sevenoaks Town felt they had snatched the lead with 10 minutes remaining through Kyle De Silva’s penalty, but Hythe Town right-back Liam Smith popped up from a corner to loop in a header to ensure the honours were even.

“Overall summary, I thought it was about right,” admitted Bourne, the former player and manager of his home-town club Tunbridge Wells.

“We edged the first half. I thought we played some terrific stuff first half, played between the lines well and opened them up.

“Second half, they probably edged it in terms of being direct and getting second balls and stuff, so I think if both managers are being honest a draw is probably about right.

“It was a good game, played at a good pace, sometimes a little bit too stretched for both managers liking I’m sure but it was a good entertaining game.  I think anyone that paid their money tonight will go home fairly pleased and being totally honest a draw is about right.”

Hythe Town manager Steven Watt said: “Disappointed we didn’t come away with three points really.  I thought Sevenoaks started really bright and lively, like they do, but as the game went on I thought we became the better side without creating a lot of opportunities.

“But I thought we dominated the game in terms of territory but for me it’s two questionable goals that’s stopped us winning tonight.

“I thought the clearance in the first half looked well over the line from where I was but the lino wasn’t up to play with it, so we’re unfortunate not to score there.

“But overall, Sevenoaks is a tough place to come. We’ll take a point and we’ll move on.

“I didn’t think it was a penalty because I think it was a foul on Tom Wynter and it’s a poor clearance from Dean Beckwith that lead to their second goal so from our point of view we’ve given away two goals and Nathan Harvey (goalkeeper) hasn’t had nothing to do all night really, so that’s the disappointing thing from my point of view.”

Both were asked whether this was a point gained or two points dropped.

Bourne said: “Definitely two points were lost.  Obviously, we go and take the lead with 10 minutes to go.  It’ obviously going to feel like two points lost.

“You look at the fixtures at the beginning of the season and these guys (Hythe Town) will be there and there abouts but from the position that we was in, I thought they weren’t going to hurt us.

“I thought the two centre-halves played really well and it was a set-piece, which is always disappointing, so it feels like two points lost. 

“I’m sure at the end of the season it will be a valuable point as well.”

Watt added: “I think two points dropped if I’m being honest because of the two goals.  If Sevenoaks would have been all over us, I’d be like ‘yes, it’s a point gained,’ but the two goals we conceded but I think it’s two points dropped from our point of view.  For me we looked comfortable.”

Sevenoaks Town shaded the opening exchanges and Smith earnt a yellow card for scything down Stefan Wright and left-back Joseph Taylor cracked a left-footed dipping drive just over the crossbar from 25-yards after five and a half minutes.

“Joey hits such a sweet ball in general so any time he gets it anywhere near the box you think it could be a goal,” said Bourne.

“He practices them all of the time at training.  From the bench it was something to get excited about – I thought it was going in.  I thought it was a great effort and that set the tone for the game.”

Collin, who played behind targetman Alex Flisher, whipped in a free-kick some 40-yards from goal from the right aiming for Flisher, who steered his header across goal and past the far post from a central position just inside the penalty area.

The frenetic pace continued as Richardson-Brown played the ball inside to striker Jason Thompson in the middle and he strode forward before unleashing a powerful left-footed drive from 25-yards, which was comfortably saved by goalkeeper Nathan Harvey, 18, in his midriff.

“He’s obviously a youngster playing in goal.  He did alright today but we wanted to test him,” Bourne said of the goalkeeper, who is on loan from League One side Charlton Athletic.

“It was a little bit further out so it’s more JT’s (Jason Thompson) range.  He left the safety on a little bit.  We wanted to put it on the keeper and follow it up, so we had runners collecting any bits, but he held on.”

Watt said: “That’s something that we work on. We don’t mind people shooting, we don’t let people shoot, we kind of control where we can allow people to take shots from.

“I don’t see that’s a lot for Nathan to do, it’s straight at him from outside the box. It’s not really testing our really good chances in my opinion.

“For as bright Sevenoaks were in the first half, I thought in terms of chances they didn’t really create much really of any note to worry us. They caused us a bit of problems in terms of the rotation and movement in the front line but it was something that we corrected second half and we were comfortable from then on.”

Hythe Town struck the crossbar in the 20th minute when centre-half Dean Beckwith drilled a diagonal ball out to right-winger Kaka Dembele, who cut onto his left-foot before whipping a shot towards the top far corner from 25-yards, forcing keeper Ben Bridle-Card to dive high to his right and tip the ball onto his crossbar and behind at full-stretch.

Watt said: “Great save, again it’s a good chance, I don’t think it’s a great chance. I think it’s a good save, but you’ve hit the bar.  I wouldn’t say I expected Kaka to score.  It’s a shot that we’ve done very well to get and it’s a good save. If it goes in, it’s a brilliant goal and everyone talking about that finish but it’s a good save from Ben but I wouldn’t call it a great chance.”

Bourne added: “It was a great save from Ben.  Having him back is a big bonus.  He’s come in for the last couple of games and he’s done well.

“Max Huxter is injured, so he’s come straight back in to the side, a natural for that to happen, but I think that’s what Ben is capable off.”

There was controversy in the 24th minute when assistant referee Matthew Charles failed to spot the ball crossing the line following a Hythe Town set-piece.

Collin delivered his right-footed free-kick from close to the left by-line into a crowded goal-mouth and Nicki Dembele’s hooked shot was cleared by Dean Gunner, although there were claims that the ball had crossed the line.

Bourne said: “Wow! Unbelievable bit of defending. How he’s kept that out, I don’t know.

“Gunner’s been a great addition, not only for the changing room but in terms of the football. He’s very athletic and it was a great bit of defending and he read the danger.”

Watt added: “From where I’m standing, I can’t see, if I’m honest. It looked over, how close the player was too the line. The kind of speed of the shot, it just looked over.

“I first checked the linesman, who wasn’t up with play, that was disappointing. I thought it was a goal that should’ve stood but we didn’t get the luck there.”

Hythe Town grabbed the lead with 26:01 on the clock, following a direct three-man move.

Beckwith launched the ball out of defence, Flisher flicked the ball on and Collin took a touch inside the box before spinning and hitting a fierce low right-footed shot from 15-yards, which Bridle-Card got a hand to but couldn’t prevent the ball nestling into the back of the net.

Watt said: “Good goal. We’ve spoken about Flish now. We’ve missed that presence up top in recent weeks and you’ve seen tonight, he’s not anywhere near fit and I couldn’t tell you the last time Flish even played a game, it was well at the beginning of pre-season, so it’s all about getting minutes in his legs.

“I thought he was effective tonight and it gives you hope that when he’s actually properly fit, he’s going to cause people a lot of problems.  I thought all night he caused their back four an untold lot of problems and his flick goes to Fran and Fran does what he does best.

“He gets a chance in the box, it’s not even a chance for most players. We’re not creating chances like we have in recent weeks but Fran popped up with a goal there at an important time.”

Bourne added: “It was their pattern of play, hit Flish on the diags.  Flish hangs well, Frannie’s clever, knows he can gamble off it and it was something that we spoke about but speaking about it and stopping it is harder than talking about it.

“Flish is decent in the air, Frannie is clever and obviously those sort of chances don’t go unpunished.”

Harvey dropped to his knees and comfortably gathered Thompson’s left-footed free-kick from 32-yards, which went around the wall and bounced once on its way into the hands of the visiting keeper.

Sevenoaks Town restored parity with their equaliser, timed at 30 minutes and 23 seconds on the clock.

They built-up nicely down the left with De Silva playing the ball inside to Thompson, who cut the ball back to Taylor, whose attempted ball inside to Richardson-Brown was intercepted by Beckwith.

However, the central-defenders clearance went straight to Richardson-Brown, who cut along the penalty area before stroking his right-footed drive into the bottom near corner, despite the keeper getting down low to his right and getting his right-hand to the shot.

“It was exactly what we deserved,” said Bourne.

“Their goal didn’t stifle us at all. We still carried on playing in the final third and I thought we were really dynamic in the first half.

“I thought we played some really good stuff around the box and when Tyrell faces someone up and drives at them, he’s hard to stop.

“There was some great interplay leading up to that goal and we was really pleased, not only with the goal but the character in the game to not let the goal deflate them.”

Watt added: “It’s come from a poor clearance from Dean Beckwith. They built-up nicely, they’ve crossed it and Dean’s gone to clear it and he’s not got enough on the clearance and it’s gone straight to Tyrell, whose cut inside and does what he does. He’s a very good finisher so disappointing from our point of view.

“It was a more than avoidable goal because nine times out of 10, Dean connects with that and it goes 60-70 yards down the pitch but it’s come off the bottom of his studs and fell to Tyrell so it’s unfortunate for us because it’s an unfortunate goal that we shouldn’t concede really but you’ve got to give Tyrell credit, it’s a good finish.”

Smith produced a sublime defensive splitting pass which split open Gunner to put Collin through on goal and after skipping past the advancing keeper he lacked composure as his shot sailed over the crossbar from 20-yards out as he tried to find the top far corner from the right-hand side of the penalty area.

“He was too honest, there was definite contact with Ben coming flying out but maybe a little bit too honest there Fran,” said Watt.

“We don’t like to try not cheat, I wouldn’t want to use the word cheat but I wouldn’t want to buy a lot of things. Many strikers go down in that instance and force the ref make a decision but he’s tried to go around and stay on his feet, which he has done.

“I don’t know if it was a cross or a shot. I just think he’s over-ran it but the pace of the ball forced him into a rushed final ball decision.

“It was a great ball from Liam that cut them open and it looked a half-chance, not a chance we should be scoring.”

Bourne knew it was a lucky escape.

“Someone like Frannie, that’s normally punished, you get punished for that.  It was a great ball through, a clever run from Frannie but he doesn’t connect so we got away with that one.  The game started to open up for both sides then, I think.”

De Silva hit a left-footed drive from 22-yards, which deflected off Beckwith and was caught by Harvey, stepping to his right as both sides went into the half-time break on level terms.

Bourne said: “Just basically keep doing the same things. We play a certain way but in the final third we want them to express themselves and we wanted them to continue to do that.

“It looked like the boys were enjoying themselves, our shape was good, very disciplined, so we wanted to build upon that really.”

Watt added: “I was more than happy really. I was more than comfortable. We needed to calm down a little bit. I thought we played at their tempo really where they’re a bit erratic and fast and they really got after you and put you under a lot of pressure.

“We just lacked that little bit of composure to get the ball where we knew where we needed to get it to.

“Kyle De Silva caused us a little bit of a problem floating off the line but we addressed that at half-time and fixed that and you saw the benefit of that in the second half.

“We took a foot-hold of the game, grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck. I could see the goal coming but unfortunately we went behind before the goal did come.”

Sevenoaks Town’s right-back Reion-Noel McFarlane whipped in a cross, which should have been caught by Harvey but his poor punch went straight to Ryan Fowler but the Oaks’ midfielder sliced his shot wide of the right-hand post inside the opening five minutes.

Hythe Town went route one as a big kick from Harvey was flicked on by Kaka Dembele to put Flisher through on goal but his left-footed angled drive flashed across the keeper and past the far post from 25-yards.

Charlie Webster, who was playing in Hythe’s midfield rather than out wide, played a diagonal out to left-back Nathan Gordon, who cut the ball onto his left-boot before curling his shot around the far post.

An even better chance came Hythe Town’s way in the 12th minute when Smith whipped in a great cross into the penalty area and Nicki Dembele rose above the keeper to plant his header over the crossbar from eight-yards.

“Liam’s put a fantastic cross in and Nick’s got up really well and he just needed to get over the ball,” said Watt.

“He gets there before their keeper and (my assistant manager) Nathan Elder said on the bench ‘he wishes he was on the end of that cross,’ as it was food and drink to Elds.

“It was a fantastic run from Nick and he was unfortunate not to get a goal from it.”

Bourne said: “I thought they came out a little bit sharper.  They played a lot more direct in the second half.  They basically by-passed us when we were bossing them in the middle of the park but there was a little flurry of chances, none of them clear-cut but we just didn’t get our foothold after half-time.  We didn’t build anything and put any pressure off the back four.”

Hythe Town’s first corner of the night was taken by Collin and the ball came out to Webster, who hooked his shot just past the right-hand post from 18-yards.

However, Sevenoaks Town produced a slick passing move down the right in the 62nd minute.

McFarlane sprinted down the right and linked up well with De Silva before Thompson got in on the act and played the ball inside to Fowler in the middle and his right-footed curler was pushed around the post by Harvey, using his left-hand.

Taylor’s resulting corner kick came back to him and he whipped in a great cross from the right which was flicked onto the top of the crossbar by an unmarked De Silva from 16-yards.

Bourne said: “When Fowler’s on fire and playing there’s no one with better feet in the league.  He played exceptionally well today and Reion started the move off and was the catalyst for a lot of stuff that we did today. 

“Reion was very, very solid defensively, got forward and asked the question as well.  I think it was one of his best appearances for the club.”

Bourne added: “Kyle’s good in the air for his size. He normally has somebody picking him up, so it’s something that we try and target and use it and it was very nearly 2-1.”

Watt added: “It’s a shot from the edge of the box, a comfortable save. It’s a save I expect Nathan to make.

“The resulting second phase, we just switched off a little bit but Nathan had it covered if it didn’t hit the bar. If it goes in I would question my keeper really how that’s gone in but we have to react better in the second phase.”

Direct Hythe Town wasted a chance at the halfway point when a long ball was flicked on by Flisher and Kaka Dembele sprung the offside trap to hook his volley floating just past the top of the far post from 20-yards.

Collin launched a deep free-kick from just outside the corner of the box, Nicki Dembele knocked the ball down for Beckwith to flick his shot over the crossbar from close range at the near post.

However, Sevenoaks Town felt they had grabbed the winner when they converted a penalty with 34 minutes and 20 seconds on the clock.

Dan Parkinson’s cross struck the hand of Hythe’s centre-half Tom Wynter and referee George Warren pointed to the spot.

Expecting De Silva to drill the ball into the net as he had a long run up to the ball, Harvey dived to his left and De Silva placed his soft left-footed penalty straight down the middle to score his third goal of the season.

Bourne said: “It’s a great penalty, never, ever in any doubt for me.  It was a little bit of a harsh award if we’re being brutally honest.  You see them given in the Premier League with VAR.  If we had it against us, I’d be fuming but it’s hit his hand, it was in the box.  We asked the question and the ref gives it.

“Karl was never in any question he goes and converts for 2-1 and from there I thought the way the boys were giving it everything, I thought we’d be ok for the three points.”

Watt, naturally, disapproved of the controversial decision.

He said: “It’s a foul on Tom.  Tom’s gone to clear the ball and been pushed in the back and set him off balance and the ball’s hit his hand.

“I said to the ref ‘what’s he meant to do in that situation?’  It doesn’t matter if it’s deliberate any more if it hits your hand, it hits your hand. It’s a ridiculous rule (Laws, not rules!).

“The frustrating thing from our point of view, Tom’s clearly been fouled in the build-up. He doesn’t need to handle the ball, he’s going to clear it. It’s not a desperate attempt to clear the ball.  He’s going to clear it and he’s been pushed in the back.”

However, Hythe Town deservedly claimed the point they deserved when Smith headed in his first goal of the season with 40 minutes and 33 seconds gone.

Collin swung in a very deep corner from the right and Smith found space at the far post and from 15-yards looped his header over the man on the back post (substitute Ben Davisson) and watched it drop into the bottom far corner.

Neither side deserved to win this game, so a point was a fair result.

“A great header from Liam. He’s form has been really good since coming this year and I think he’ll be the first to say he had a good game tonight but it wasn’t one of his best games and I think he’s showed great character going up and getting the equaliser for us,” said Watt.

“I’m happy we’ve got the point because if we’ve come away with nothing tonight, I think it would’ve been really harsh on our part.

“I thought we deserved three points without creating enough. If someone tells me a draw was a fair result, I probably won’t argue with them either,

“I’m more disappointed with we haven’t got three points because of the goals we’ve conceded were more than avoidable because it was a bad clearance and if I see it again, I may change my mind but my initial reaction is the same.”

Bourne added: “A little bit frustrating really because they were hitting deep crosses all day and had runners on the back post and stopping it, it’s such a flat ball. He drives in, an attacker’s ball really, they go and attack it and put it back across.

“Ben Davisson was on the back post but he’s just got drawn into the first ball a little bit and it’s looped over him.

“The boys are disappointed to give away a goal like that, especially a set-piece because normally we’re very good on set-pieces but fair play to them, if we’re being brutally honest, a point is probably fair.”

It’s third-versus-second on Saturday, as Faversham Town welcome Sevenoaks Town to Salters Lane, while Hythe Town welcome Ben Smith’s sixth-placed Herne Bay to Reachfields Stadium.

Bourne said: “Faversham, it’s a James Collins’ team, they’re very well organised and disciplined and he’ll have them drilled a certain way.  We have to be at our best.  Faversham is a very hard place to go with the conditions and all that sort of stuff and we’ll have to battle and fight and hopefully show our quality.”

On Sevenoaks Town’s play-off chasing aspirations, Bourne said: “We’ve dropped some points but we’re still unbeaten. Hythe are full of quality. We’ve won the games that we’ve targeted and thought we should’ve won and as long as we continue to do that and be resilient and work hard them I’m pretty sure we’ll be in and around it but it’s so early, we won’t get carried away but equally we want to build on what we’ve got.”

Bourne admitted to want to hand the reigns back to Collins at Salters Lane at the weekend, fully enjoying managing in the Isthmian League for the first time.

He said: “Hopefully gaffers’ back. All of these boys are Micky’s boys and they would run through a brick wall for Mick and he’s a massive, massive reason why they’re so successful, so hopefully we’ll have him back with us and recover from his bad back.  It was a good experience tonight but the quicker the gaffer’s back, the better.”

On Hythe’s clash against Herne Bay, Watt added: It will be a tough game. Ben has got a good side, invested well again in the off season, obviously playing well and has got a lot of talent there.  We’ll go there and set up and try to get three points like we always do. I expect a really tough game on Saturday and I’m sure Herne Bay are expecting that too.”

Sevenoaks Town: Ben Bridle-Card, Reion-Noel McFarlane, Joseph Taylor,  Dan Parkinson (Charlie Holmes 85), Joe Tennent, Dean Gunner, Stefan Wright (Ben Davisson 63), Ryan Fowler, Jason Thompson (Reece Deakin 67), Kyle De Silva, Tyrell Richardson-Brown.
Subs: Tom Ripley, Duncan Elliot

Goals: Tyrell Richardson-Brown 31, Kyle De Silva 80 (penalty)

Booked: Stefan Wright 41

Hythe Town: Nathan Harvey, Liam Smith, Nathan Gordon, James Rogers, Tom Wynter, Dean Beckwith, Nicki Dembele, Charlie Webster, Alex Flisher (Tom Walmsley 83), Frannie Collin, Kaka Dembele (Alex Brown 83).
Subs: Ryan Botley, Jarred Trespaderne, Darren Oldaker

Goals: Frannie Collin 27, Liam Smith 86

Booked: Liam Smith 5

Attendance: 207
Referee: Mr George Warren
Assistants: Mr Piotr Zachwieja & Mr Matthew Charles