Sevenoaks Town 1-1 Rochester United - There was just not much quality in the game at all really, admits Sevenoaks Town boss Micky Collins

Wednesday 14th October 2015
Sevenoaks Town 1 – 1 Rochester United
Location Greatness Park, Mill Lane, Seal Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 5BX
Kickoff 14/10/2015 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League
Wednesday 14th October 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Greatness Park

SEVENOAKS TOWN manager Micky Collins admits his side fought out quite a boring draw against struggling Rochester United.


A crowd of 65 people watched an uninspiring dull Southern Counties East Football League stalemate at Greatness Park.

Rochester United opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time when striker Sam Parrish scuffed his shot into the bottom far corner to score his first goal of the season.

Sevenoaks Town restored parity after only 176 seconds into the second half through a quality strike from highly-rated central midfielder Chan Quan, his third goal of the season, but the final whistle could not come quick enough.

“We got what we wanted,” admitted Rochester United manager Matt Hume, who climbed up one place into the bottom four on 8 points from 10 league games.

“Towards the end of the game I thought we had the last 10-15 minutes. We had a great opportunity towards the end to nick it but we didn’t play quite as well as we did against Corinthian.

“We’ve moved forward a bit.  I said to them after, we’ve been playing well for the last three or four games. It’s no coincidence. We had an awful lot of players unavailable for about a month ago and it cost us dearly in certain games.

“It’s actually made us stronger as a squad now because we had to introduce some players into the side that have showed they’re capable of playing for us and tonight we had three or four who weren’t available from Saturday’s game and we’ve filled those places and still fielded a strong side.

“I think a month ago we wouldn’t have got the draw today.  We would’ve probably lost the game and that’s why I think we’ve come as a side and we feel we’ve got stronger.”

Sevenoaks Town, meanwhile, leapfrog over local rivals Tunbridge Wells into the top 10 with 15 points from 11 games.

Collins gave a more honest assessment of the game.

“It wasn’t the greatest game of football to watch,” said Collins. 

“I thought first half we kept possession well and then story of our season, we give away a sloppy goal right on half-time and find ourselves 1-0 down.

“Second half I thought we came out and showed a bit more authority, a little bit more quality on the ball. We tried to pass it a bit more and got the equaliser and then really with chances created, we should’ve gone on and won it, but we didn’t tonight.  Two points dropped in my opinion.”

Rochester United won themselves a free-kick on the left and the ball was whipped in to the box by Ricky Grundy, the ball bouncing in front of keeper Richard Stroud, who moved low to his left to spill the ball before gathering the loose ball inside the opening six minutes.

The shooting lacked quality for both teams, although Sevenoaks Town looked lively down the left flank through Martin Debrah throughout.

Tom Skelton played the ball down the line to Debrah, who cut into the box but his right-footed drive sailed over the Rochester crossbar.

Rochester United created an opening at the halfway point of a poor first half.

Grundy cut inside from the left flank and played the ball inside to Tony Whitaker, who swept the ball out wide to Rob Alderman on the right, who cut inside and drilled his left-footed angled shot into Strood’s hands for a comfortable save at his near post.

Hume admitted: “Not a great half from both points of view! I think we had a couple of half chances and then obviously we scored but it was very even an I feel there wasn’t a great deal of football being played but it was quite competitive as well, that was making it like that.”

With the temperature dropping, so did the quality in the first half.

“Just for the neutral it was two quite poor sides on show,” admitted Collins.

“It’s just one of those things at this level, it happens. The guys go to work on a Tuesday or a Wednesday or whatever it is and then come out and it just gets a bit scrappy and there was just not much quality to the game at all really.”

More good wing play from Debrah down the left saw him play the ball into Michael Fahm’s feet, who set-up Adrian Stone, who drilled his shot high and wide of the target from 20-yards.

Sevenoaks Town should have smashed the deadlock with a great chance after 34 minutes.

They linked up brilliantly down the left through Ross Ibertson and left-back Gilbert, who whipped in an excellent cross into the box but an unmarked Fahm rose and steered his header over the bar from four-yards out.

Collins said: “I think we had the most clear cut chance with Fahm’s header.

“We played ourselves down the left, great cross, open goal, header and missed it!

“It was a Josh Gilbert cross in, they worked well down the left.  Martin Debrah squared the ball back. Josh Gilbert delivered and Martin Fahm went in with the header and should’ve scored!

“That’s a different game then, you’re 1-0 up quite early in the game. It’s a little bit different. Again, we haven’t taken our chances and that’s how it is.”

Hume added: “They had a good chance in the first half when the ball got whipped across and we didn’t defend very well.  If he had headed the ball then he would’ve scored. It weren’t a great header from the lad so I think on the whole, very even first half.”

Sevenoaks Town’s right-back Tom Skelton fed Fahm down the right and he played the ball inside to Debrah, whose deflected shot sailed over.

But Rochester United grabbed the lead with 45 minutes and 10 seconds on the clock.

Collins pointed the finger of blame at two of his young central defenders during the build-up, which resulted in Alderman cutting in from the right and rolling the ball across for Parrish to place his shot across keeper Stroud into the bottom far corner from six-yards.

Hume said: “I thought we did quite well in the first half. We was asking questions. 

“You can’t say it was a well-taken goal or anything. It was a goal that came from pressure and players having that bit of desire and that’s what I talked about at half-time. We’ve got to be doing more than that. Picking up the second pieces and gambling on things and the fact that we got bodies in the box when the ball came from outside and it bounced kindly for us. I don’t know if it was a scuff or not, you’ll have to ask him that!”

Collins added: “I saw that our centre half (Jack Mills) totally miss-kicked it, never cleared it and then they’ve gone in on the right channel.

“Josh Gilbert, the left-back, young again, stood off the guy too much and they’ve got a shot away and he’s half blocked it and then Alfie Kitt, another young centre half has had a chance to clear it, we haven’t cleared it!

“It’s dropped to their guy and the guy’s tapped it in. I think it was more the error of our three players more than their good play but fair play, they’ve scored the goal and they’re 1-0 up!”

Sevenoaks Town created the last chance of the first half when Gilbert progressed  down the left again to whip in a cross but central defender Jack Mills planted his header over the bar.

Both managers were asked whether the goal changed their half-time team-talks.

Collins said: “Yes, disappointing because we’ve had a couple of things this year where this season I’ve been disappointed with their immaturity and they need to start stepping up, even though they’re young, they need to step up at the right times in games.

“I’ve moaned continuity about conceding before half-time and switching on and to be honest that’s such a scrappy goal to give away because if we clear the ball initially then the chance does not happen.

“They’re man enough to put their hands up to say they got it wrong but it happens too much so you’ve got to have a moan and you have to address it because they are kids some of them and if they don’t get told where they’re going wrong, they won’t look to put it right for their future development as players. 

“You have to put it right in the right way. Some of them can take a bit of a telling of and some can’t so you just have to try to address it in the right way.”

Hume admitted: “No, not really because I think you’ve got to be balanced when you go in at half-time, even though you were 1-0 up. I felt it could’ve been either way. It could so easily have been one-all, that’s for sure, but the team talk was still the same.

“I emphasised what our strong points were and we had to keep doing it.  We worked on trying to talk to them about not going to sleep for any length of time because any team we play, if you drop your level down slightly they’re capable of scoring against you and that’s what we had to be concentrating on.”

The crowd hoped for more excitement during the second half, although Sevenoaks Town looked the more threatening going forward.

The home side squandered an excellent chance to equalise after only 42 seconds.

Fahm reached the by-line on the right hand side before floating a cross over the goalkeeper towards the far post but Debrah rose to plant his header just past the top of the near post from a tight angle from two-yards out.

“I thought they were a little bit more than half-chances,” said Collins.

“The cross to the far post, Martin Debrah, open goal. He’s got to score! He’s not hit the target!”

But Sevenoaks Town equalised through a fine finish from a player that is highly-rated by Collins.

Hume said Whitaker was at fault for a mistake that allowed Chan to pick the ball up and run forward with the ball and space opened up in front of him, before unleashing a left-footed drive from 25-yards, which looped over Shaun Wicks’ outstretched hand to sail into the top right-hand corner of the goal.

Collins said: “Chan is a real quality footballer. I’ve watched him this season with us and at times he’s the difference.  He could probably go and play one league higher minimum definitely!

“He hit a free-kick on Saturday at Fisher for the first goal, absolutely top quality.  You’ll see it four league’s higher and tonight the goal was a little bit of a class act. The game needed it really and he’s done it again the kid and fair play to him. He’s a nice lad as well, a really lovely kid.”

Hume said: “It came from a mistake off Tony Whitaker. We talked about it in there. He didn’t deal with the situation.  He had the ball, he had an opportunity to get rid of it and get it into good areas.

“That highlighted to me not just Tony doing that but I felt as aside we were doing that for 10 minutes. We weren’t holding onto the ball for well enough and he took an opportunity and took it.

“I don’t know if he’ll score a goal like that again – he scooped it into the corner. It’s a disappointing goal. I was disappointed with the whole team at that point because I felt we dropped and we weren’t controlling the game, like we had spells in the second half.”

Rochester United striker Regan Payne was released down the left and he cut the ball back for Alderman, who took a couple of touches before his driven shot was blocked by Sevenoaks’ central defender Alfie Kitts.

Rochester United created themselves a chance in the 59th minute.

Substitute Dijon Golding and Alderman combined to release Grundy down the left, who cut inside and his left-footed angled drive brought a comfortable save from the talkative Sevenoaks keeper Stroud.

The game then returned to a midfield battle, with the ball spending an awful lot of time up in the air.

But Sevenoaks Town pressed for a winner within the final 20 minutes.

“I didn’t see it particularly like that,” said Hume.

“I felt a lot of their attacks had fizzled out. We defended quite well and the system we’re playing at the moment it does enable sides to have a bit more possession going forward.

“I felt like in the last 10-15 minutes we was pressing. We had good balls and deliveries in areas where we maybe could have done something, I felt.

“To be honest to Sevenoaks they defended very well today as well, as a whole I felt it was a fair result one-all.”

Quan released Ibertson down the left and Debrah whipped in a cross and Stone’s last action of the game was to loop his header over.

Kitts clipped a free-kick from inside Sevenoaks half, which was cleared out to Quan, who hit his first time drive flashing past of the foot of the left-hand post from 25-yards.

Substitute Reiss Powell then played the ball into fellow sub Austin Gacheru, who dragged his shot wide of the left-hand post.

Sevenoaks Town produced a good move with 15 minutes remaining.

Quan played the ball into Fahm on the edge of the box, who laid the ball into Gachero’s feet, who drove his left-footed shot past the left-hand post.

Rochester United ‘s right-back Dilan Yucetan pumped a long ball into the Sevenoaks box but Dan Wells, who came up from the back, looped his header into Stroud’s hands.

Sevenoaks Town should have won it when they were awarded a free-kick in a central position, only 20-yards out, but Fahm blazed his left-footed effort high over the bar and in to the grass banking behind the goal.

Gilbert played a lovely pass in behind the Rochester defence to Debrah, who cut inside and his initial shot was blocked before Debrah floated over a cross towards the far post but Kitts’ directed his header wide from a tight angle.

Both sides squandered a chance each to snatch victory at the death.

Rochester United’s left-back Steve Rothery pumped a long free-kick into the Sevenoaks box.  Wells rose to direct his header across the face of goal towards the far post but Grundy sent his header straight into Strood’s hands from six-yards.

“The best chance was literally right at the death when Ricky had a lot more time on his hands,” said Hume.

“If he had been a bit more composed, that was a goal all day long.  They’re the little things sometimes. Sides at the top of the league, they punish sides for things like that and we don’t seem to do that sometimes.

“I don’t know whether he thought he had more time on his hands but he didn’t have much time on his hands.  He could’ve easily directed the header but maybe got it down and struck it first time but there you go.

“We were creating the better chances, we were looking to maybe nick something out of it but they were clearly dangerous as well, so it was important.”

Collins added: “He should’ve (buried it).  On the balance of it, when you look at it, would it have been fair for them to get a winner? Probably not! Would it been fair for us to get a winner? Probably not!

“Yes, it wasn’t a great spectacle. I’ve got to be honest after about 55 minutes I sat in the dug-out and watched it from there because I wasn’t excited about it!”

Sevenoaks Town then produced the best move of the night.

Ibertson played the ball inside to substitute Gary Stock, who fed Fahm on the edge of the penalty area and he cut the ball inside for Gacheru, who hit a first time right-footed drive straight at Wicks from 20-yards.

Collins said: “The best chance of the game – they had one late on –but we had one where we’ve played some good football, got into the area, squared it and on the edge of the box Austin’s got a shot on goal and he’s just tickled it into the keeper’s arms.

“Disappointed. It feels like two points dropped tonight but on the balance of it, did we do enough to go and win it? I don’t think we did. Did they? I don’t think they did. I just think on the night it was two quite average sides fighting out quite a boring draw.”

Sevenoaks Town: Richard Stroud, Tom Skelton, Josh Gilbert (Reiss Butler 46), Steve Camacho, Alfie Kitts, Jack Mills, Ross Ibertson, Chan Quan (Gary Stock 87), Adrian Stone (Austin Gacheru 69), Michael Fahm, Martin Debrah.
Subs: Andy Constable, Reiss Powell

Goal: Chan Quan 48

Booked: Tom Skelton 54, Reiss Butler 77, Steve Camacho 90

Rochester United: Shaun Wicks, Dilan Yucetan, Steve Rothery, Tom Carr, Dan Wells, Ricki Holmes, Rob Alderman (Jason Long 84), Tony Whitaker (Dijon Golding 57), Regan Payne (Vince Collis 71), Sam Parrish, Ricky Grundy.
Subs: Steve Earle, Cyril France

Goal: Sam Parrish 45

Booked: Tony Whitaker 33, Ricki Holmes 76

Attendance: 65
Referee: Mr Ross Alexander (Maidstone)
Assistants: Mr Mark Cheeseman (Teynham) & Mr Mark Pollington (Paddock Wood)