Sevenoaks Town 2-1 Longlevens - It's another thing we've done at the club that hasn't been done before, says history-making Sevenoaks Town boss Micky Collins

Saturday 21st October 2017
Sevenoaks Town 2 – 1 Longlevens
Location Greatness Park, Mill Lane, Seal Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 5BX
Kickoff 21/10/2017 15:00

The Buildbase FA Vase First Round
Saturday 21st October 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Greatness Park

SEVENOAKS TOWN boss Micky Collins has achieved another milestone at the club after reaching The FA Vase Second Round for the first time in their 134-year history.


The Oaks started in the First Round after Collins guided them to their highest ever league placing of third in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division last season.

However, they made hard work of getting past Gloucester-based Hellenic Premier side Longlevens, who arrived at Greatness Park in eighth-place in the table with 19 points from 14 games, scoring 25 and conceding 29.

Sevenoaks Town were top of the table with 25 points from 10 games and Croydon missed the chance to leapfrog over them after losing 4-1 at home to Corinthian today.  Collins’ side, however, now have four games on hand.

Sevenoaks Town scored the early breakthrough when striker Byron Walker slotted in his eighth goal of the season inside the opening  thirteen minutes.

The Oaks hit the woodwork on three occasions during the first half and a second goal would have killed off their amateur opponents.

Controversy occurred in the second half when substitute winger Tom Youngs drilled a low shot into the bottom far corner – referee David Joseph nor his assistant Nigel Eagelton failed to notice and this blunder of judgement nearly cost the home side.

Inevitably, Mark Moore’s side grabbed an equaliser with 43 minutes and 17 seconds on the clock, courtesy of Bradley Vanstone’s deflected drive to score his fifth goal of the campaign.

When the draw was made both club’s agreed that the game would be settled on the day to keep down expenses and Youngs, 23, notched a deserved winner, timed at 47 minutes and 35 seconds on the clock.  The Hastings based referee blew for time with the time showing 48:54.

“Relieved at the final whistle to get the win and get into the next round,” said Collins, who’s side have won eight of their nine games on the newly-laid 3G pitch at Greatness Park.

“Relieved we’ve made history for the club again, Second Round, I’m chuffed with the boys.

“On the run of play, looking at it, chances created we should’ve won and we should’ve won it more comfortably and we haven’t and fair play to them. They made a long journey, came down and gave a good account of themselves. They haven’t let many goals in against us and give them all the credit.  I hope they spin their season around and go on and do really well.

“On the day, we’ve played below par in my opinion and I’ve just told our boys that but we’ve won and we’re in the next round and if we do progress and get a bit further people won’t look back at this game and look at the scoreline and they’ll just see we went through.”

Sevenoaks Town started the game on the front foot and Walker was released down the right, cut into the box and scuffed his shot just past the foot of the near post after only 111 seconds into the game.

Sevenoaks Town then produced a slick move involving left-back Greg Benbow, winger Rory Hill and Billy Bennett, who fed Brett Ince through on goal but brave goalkeeping from Ashley Wintle, smothering the ball at the midfielder’s feet some eight-yards from goal.

Benbow’s throw was flicked inside by Walker and Hill hooked the ball from left-to-right out to talented winger Harrison Carnegie, who cut inside and stroked his left-footed angled drive from 22-yards, which brought a comfortable low save to his left from Wintle.

“We play like that anyway, we start all games quite quickly so we knew they didn’t have the greatest time of it, unfortunately for them they’ve conceded quite a lot of goals,” said Collins.

“We said can we get at them and can we create something early? I thought we started ok, I thought we came out lively, I thought we did ok.  I thought we bossed the game to start with and I think once we got the goal we sat off, we sort of let the pace drop.”

Sevenoaks Town won the corner count by 12-3 and were to be denied a deserved opener inside 10 minutes of dominance.

Benbow swung in a left-footed corner from the right and the ball fell at Bennett’s feet at the far post and his low drive was kept out by Wintle, who stuck out his left leg to block the shot.  The ball came out to Carnegie, lingering on the edge of the box and his left-footed drive bounced off the top of the crossbar and dropped behind for a goal-kick.

“The pressured was there, they’re the moments when you want to put it over the line and then get a cushion.  They’ve got to come out and then we can go and exploit it.  Unfortunately today we haven’t done that,” said Collins.

Longlevens created a chance when a long-ball out from defence by left-back Ellis Sausman was played inside by Bradley Martin and holding midfielder Dave Merrick made a run forward to loft the ball into the box where Vanstone drove his shot across goal from eight-yards and the ball was cleared away to safety.

Sevenoaks Town hit Longlevens on the break to open the scoring with 12 minutes and 47 seconds on the clock.

Benbow released Hill down the left and he raced down the flank for about 30-yards before hitting an inch-perfect cross-field pass over to Walker, who took a touch, kept composed to dink his left-footed shot across the keeper, nestling into the bottom far corner from six-yards.

Collins said: “It’s a great pass from Rory, it’s good build-up play, it’s a great cross field pass but to be honest a lot of strikers would’ve probably lashed at it and Byron’s had the composure to take a touch and bring it down and then just dink it into the goal.  We needed that, we needed that little cushion to move forward.”

The small crowd of 66 expected Sevenoaks Town to go on from there but they played by far better at 0-0 than they did when in front.

Longlevens were a hard team to break down, playing with four in defence and two in front of them and the game turned into a scrappy stalemate in blustery conditions at Greatness Park.

Longlevens should have done better when left-back Ellis Sausman launched the first of his five long throws into the box. The ball was knocked down by big targetman Bradley Martin but Merrick skied his shot high over the bar from 16-yards.

The same three players combined in the same manner in the 34th minute, this time goalkeeper Ben Bridle-Card, who is on a dual-registration deal with Bostik South side Greenwich Borough made a comfortable save, diving low to his right.

“I was disappointed with that,” said Collins, who watched Oxford City Nomads thrash Longlevens 5-1 on a 3G pitch on Friday 13 October in the Hellenic League.

“I drove up to Oxfordshire to watch them play so I went up there, paid them the respect I should and I explained to the boys exactly what they do. Merrick does that ghost run and we had to pick it up and we didn’t. We switched off and it nearly cost us.”

Sevenoaks Town were cursing their luck in the 37th minute when right-back Chris Edwards fed the ball to Walker, who cut onto his left-foot and thumped his drive sailing across the keeper and against the far post from 25-yards.

“We were playing well, so we were doing ok,” said Collins.

“We were getting the ball in the right areas, I just thought our passing wasn’t good enough all over the park at times.  I know the wind didn’t help at times. It was a bit blustery.

“We’ve got to be a bit more clinical and I said to Byron, he passed one earlier when there was a shot on.  I said you turn like that you’ve got to try to pull the trigger and he did.  I think it got a slight deflection, which took it onto the post but it was a good effort and at the time we were in the ascendancy.”

Sevenoaks’ second corner was played in towards the near post by Edwards but central defender Jack Miles flicked his shot past the near post from ten-yards.

It looked like it was going to be one of those days for Sevenoaks Town when they struck the woodwork for the third time in the final couple of minutes.

Carnegie played the ball out to Hill, who cut inside Merrick and drilled a right-footed shot, which crashed against the top of the crossbar and behind for a goal-kick from 30-yards.

Collins said: “It’s a great strike, the wind was behind him and he’s hit that from 30-yards, the goalie is never going to save that!  It’s just whether it dips or not but it’s a great effort.”

Somehow, it was only 1-0 to Sevenoaks Town at the break and when asked what he said to his troops during the interval, Collins said: “I wanted better quality all over the park.  I thought we could pass our way in.  When I watched them play the team that played against them that night, Oxford City Nomads were very, very good, slick passing side and they opened them up with good passing and I thought for the first 15-20 minutes we tried to do it and after that it got a bit sketchy and some of the passing wasn’t accurate enough.  I just said to them we have to up the quality and ultimately don’t concede.”

Sevenoaks Town should have doubled their lead inside the opening seven minutes of the second half.

Carnegie went on the outside of Sausman to reach the by-line down the right and he wrapped his foot around the ball to whip in a great cross towards the far post for Bennett to steer his header past the post from eight-yards.

“I think Bill’s got to score, he knows that,” said Collins.

“I think that’s on a plate there and you’ve got to try to head that in. It’s not Bill’s strength, heading the ball, but again Harrison done the business and got a greats cross in. If we had gone 2-0 I think we would’ve gone on and won it more comfortably.”

Longlevens created a chance on the hour-mark when Martin’s hooked pass went out to Myron Turner, who played the ball back inside to Martin, who cracked a left-footed dipping drive just over the crossbar from 35-yards.

Moore brought on a striker Jack Sklenar with 16:16 on the clock and he almost scored with his first touch, twenty seconds later.

Sausman threw the ball towards the near post and Sklenar guided his header straight into Bridle-Card’s hands for a comfortable catch from inside the six-yard box.

Visiting keeper Wintle made a fine diving save to frustrate Sevenoaks Town.

Central midfielder Jason Thompson played the ball into Bennett inside the box and he laid the ball off for Hill, whose left-footed angled drive was pushed around the post by Wintle, diving to his right.

“We kept probing and we kept trying to find our way in and find little areas to go in and try to penetrate. We just couldn’t convert.  They defended for their lives and their keeper’s made some good saves and we haven’t punish them,” said Collins.

Youngs came on for Thompson shortly afterwards so Bennett dropped back into the middle of the park.

Bridle-Card made a comfortable save at his near post from Vanstone’s first time flicked shot after Martin and Sklenar linked up inside the final third.

Sevenoaks Town went route one, a big kick from Bridle-Card put Walker through on goal but he had to wait for the ball to drop out of the grey sky before hooking his shot straight at Wintle, before being substituted.

Collins was enraged when Sevenoaks Town were to be denied a second goal with 31:32 on the clock.

Left-winger Youngs cut in and drilled a dipping right-footed drive from 25-yards, which whistled across the keeper and nestled sweetly INSIDE the bottom far corner of the goal.  The ball crashed against the metalwork behind the goal, but  referee David Joseph nor Nigel Eagelton realised the ball had crossed the line and Sevenoaks’ players protested.

Collins said: “We’ve had a goal ruled out, it’s just horrendous! I try not to berate officials anymore and keep calm but things like that can cost you as a club finically and that ball is at least nine inches, a foot over the line and it’s come off the inside of the goal and out and they’ve not seen it, which is right in front of him, which is amazing! It’s shocking! Unfortunately that’s what happens and luckily we’ve not been punished.”

“Things like that, whether it’s a Vase run or a League game, that can really bite you on the backside and fortunately today justice has been done, even though they’ve gone away and scored and we’ve come back and Tom Youngs’ has won the game and really he should be saying we won 3-1 and Tom’s scored two goals.

“That happens in football, officials’ get things wrong, they pretend they don’t, but they do and today is blatant for the people that were here watching it, it was obvious that it went in and everyone saw it went in.  The guy’s not given it and that’s just shocking in my opinion!

“For me, they’re not held accountable to that bad decision and for me you’ve got to forfeit your fee if you as a ref or a linesman can’t give that goal today then you shouldn’t be collecting your money!”

Sevenoaks were still arguing after Ryan Dunn, Longlevens’ right-back, smashed a 30-yard drive past the far post from 30-yards just 22 seconds later.

Longlevens made a double substitution and pushed men forward during the final 10 minutes as they still had a lifeline to cling onto.

Sausman floated in a cross but right-sided midfielder Vanstone steered his header harmlessly wide at the far post.

Hill put substitute striker Mark Jones through on goal straight down the middle but goalkeeper Wintle used his legs to make a vital block in a one-v-one situation in the final seven minutes.

“I said to him, you’ve put the geezer down, you’ve got to lift it, it’s just gone across him and the keeper made a good save with his feet.  The keeper played really well for them, he played really well, made some really good saves and kept them in it,” said Collins, who knew an equaliser was coming.

Sevenoaks Town wasted yet another chance, this time following their 12th and final corner, from the right.

Edwards swung in the ball and Bennett planted his header straight at the keeper from eight-yards.

Longlevens inevitably went up the other end and completed a smash and grab raid to grab the leveller, timed at 43 minutes and 17 seconds.

They won a free-kick down the right, Martin delivered some 30-yards from goal, Sevenoaks failed to clear their lines and Vanstone’s deflected left-footed drive from the edge of the box flashed across the box and nestled inside the bottom far corner.

Collins admitted: “We had the same feeling and it wasn’t the first free kick I was bothered about.  It’s actually the fact that we didn’t react and we didn’t react to someone being unmarked in the box and we haven’t put our body on the line. He struck it, it’s deflected and it’s gone on.”

Carnegie’s diagonal pass was controlled by Youngs, who slipped the ball through for Hill, but Wintle smothered the ball, low to his left.

But with extra-time looming, Sevenoaks Town showed the desire to get the win their play deserved, which was heartbreaking for Longlevens.

Bennett collected the ball and slipped the ball into Hill, whose inch-perfect pass fell at Youngs feet and he drilled his left-footed shot into the bottom near corner before running away to celebrate.

“For me it’s how you react.  A good team, a team that goes and win things and does better reacts in a positive manner and we did,” added Collins.

“I knew we’d get another chance, I knew it. With the way Youngie is playing and Rory and everyone else buzzing in, Jonsey and Harrison, I thought we’d get another chance. It’s whether we take that other chance. Fortunately, it’s fallen back to Youngie and he’s squeezed it in at the near post and cue celebration.”

Collins has delivered a number of firsts to Sevenoaks Town; their longest FA Cup run, highest League finish of third and winning silverware last season and the club are at the top of the table and celebrating getting into the Second Round of The FA Vase for the first time today.

“It’s history again, we’ve made history again.  It’s another thing we’ve done at the club that hasn’t been done before,” said Collins.

“I know because of our league position we got through to the First Round at the first attempt but you’ve still got to go and win that game and we’re in the Draw on Monday and I’m looking forward to that.  It gives us another buzz.  It take a bit of pressure of the league, the next round is in a couple of weeks so we’ll look forward to that and see who we get.”

Youngs, a 67th minute replacement, was delighted with his last-gasp winner.

“The main thing was to get the win but it’s great to score in such a big game,” said the winger, 23, who was at Bolton Wanderers from the age of 16.

“It’s always tough playing in cup games because you don’t really know about the teams.  I think we dominated but we didn’t really take our chances. We could’ve had the game wrapped up early.  At 1-1, we showed a lot of desire to get the win.”

Reflecting on his team-mates hitting the woodwork on three occasions during the first half, Youngs, who was sitting on the bench at the time, said:  ”You’re thinking it is going to be one of those games in the cup? It could go either way, especially when you’re having those chances and they’re not going in! It’s tough.  It went down to the last minute and it was great it went in, which is the main thing.”

Reflecting on his first goal that wasn’t given, Youngs said: “Micky said go and play, do what you do and go and win the game. I think we wrapped the game a bit earlier when it went in and it hit the post.

“I saw it straight on. Everyone in the club saw it but the referee didn’t give it. It’s tough, it’s one of those things.”

And on his last-gasp winner, he said: “It sneaked in at the post. When it goes to penalties it’s 50-50 so when they scored in the 89th minute it was a bit tough but luckily I got the goal to win the game.   It came to me in front of the keeper, it took a deflection to come through to me. I was just thinking hit the target, it should go in. Luckily it did. Last minute, it was great.”

Sevenoaks Town: Ben Bridle-Card, Chris Edwards, Greg Benbow, Brett Ince, Jack Miles, Corey Holder, Harrison Carnegie, Jason Thompson (Tom Youngs 67), Byron Walker (Mark Jones 76), Billy Bennett, Rory Hill.
Subs: Stephen Camacho, Joe Barden, Paul Springett

Goals: Byron Walker 13, Tom Youngs 90

Longlevens: Ashley Wintle, Ryan Dunn (Oliver Long 79), Ellis Sausman, Dave Merrick, Luke Kavanagh, Craig Martin, Shaun O’Connor (David Rich 78), Jaybe Kennedy, Bradley Martin, Myron Turner (Jack Sklenar 62), Bradley Vanstone.
Subs: Jonty Welch, Edward Smyllie

Goal: Bradley Vanstone 89

Attendance: 66
Referee: Mr David Joseph (Hastings, East Sussex)
Assistants: Mr Jack Owen (Sevenoaks) &  Mr Nigel Eagelton (Wrotham Heath)

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