Snodland Town 2-0 Staplehurst Monarchs United - We've had a nearly, nearly season, admits Staplehurst boss Luke Wallond

Sunday 03rd May 2015
Snodland Town 2 – 0 Staplehurst Monarchs United
Location Potyn's Sports Field, Snodland Community Centre, Paddlesworth Road, Snodland, Kent ME6 5DP
Kickoff 04/05/2015 14:45

NRG Gym Kent County League Premier
Bank Holiday Monday 4th May 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Potyns Field

SNODLAND TOWN’S temporary assistant manager Spencer Bates says it was nice to finish their campaign with a win over ten-man Staplehurst Monarchs United.

Snodland leapfrogged over Holland Sports, Fleetdown United and Erith 147 Sports into ninth-place (of fifteen clubs) in the NRG Gym Kent County League Premier Division table with 33 points from 28 games after winning a feisty affair at Potyns Field.

Snodland Town opened the scoring through Lee Sturgeon’s tenth-goal of the season, capitalising on an error from Staplehurst Monarchs United’s player-manager.

Staplehurst Monarchs United squandered a chance to equalise when James Matthews’ penalty was saved by Jack Pigden.

Staplehurst were reduced to ten-men when forward Jason Tharp was red-carded following a 40th minute melee, which also saw two other players booked.

Staplehurst lost their goalkeeper Grant Ince through a troublesome knee injury and left wing-back Daniel Ashton took the gloves and he was beaten through Nicholas Young’s finish twenty minutes from time.

“It was a good win,” said Bates, who is in temporary charge with manager David Jeal – a late substitution – after Ross Mitchell (not the one at Holmesdale) quit the club last month.

“Obviously being the end of the season it’s always going to be a bit scrappy with people’s attitudes so it was nice to finish the season. It’s been a long, tough one but it was nice to finish with a win.”

Staplehurst Monarchs United’s player-manager Luke Wallond admitted he was disappointed with his side’s penultimate league game of the season.

“Not a great game! Poor refereeing to be fair and the team looked like it was the end of the season,” said the 30-year-old.

“We struggled to put a couple of passes together at times and myself gave away a couple of f*****g stupid mistakes. It didn’t help with me!

“We missed a penalty, which was a bit of luck to be fair. I’m not sure if it was a penalty. If Jim had put it away, obviously we’re out of the dog-house!”

Snodland Town were the dominant force against a Staplehurst Monarchs United side that have not trained for about a month.

A poor clearance from Grant Ince was collected by Sean Adams, who whipped in a cross from the right and striker Sturgeon glanced his header wide after only 155 seconds.

That set the tone for the rest of the game and a mistake by Wallond gifted Snodland Town the lead with 06:15 on the clock.

The former Tunbridge Wells and Lordswood player, who was one of three central defenders, tried to play a back-pass to his goalkeeper but Sturgeon latched onto the ball to drill his right-footed shot into the bottom far corner.

Bates said: “You can always rely on Sturge, he’s seasoned isn’t he? He’s been around a bit but you can always rely on him and put the ball in the back of the net. He finished it off well. Fair play to him.”

It’s very rare that a player-manager makes a mistake that leads to a goal, but Wallond held his hands up and said: “I brought it down alright. I felt I was in two minds whether to just clear it. I just never connected with it to be honest with you.

“I put it within two or three yards’ away from him and laid him in so there wasn’t a lot I could do about it. I gave him a goal truthfully!”

But Staplehurst Monarchs United failed to accept an eleventh minute lifeline when James Matthews went down too easily inside the box following Jack West’s tackle.

Matthews stepped up and his right-footed penalty was parried up in the air and caught by goalkeeper Pigden to his right.

Wallond said: “He should have tucked it away and one-all we’re back in the game so to speak, a lucky escape.

“He just never tucked it away but that happens sometimes, it’s unfortunate.”

Bates added: “It’s one of those things! All season we’ve been a little bit scrappy at the back and it showed again today, the story of our season really! We’ve been inconsistent every week.”

“We had a few new faces today, these things happen, but Jack pulled off a good save, which we were relying him for.

“I think it was a penalty, yes. The ref gave it so it was a penalty.”

Snodland striker Harry Dawes cracked a right-footed drive from 30-yards, which forced Grant Ince to pluck the ball out of the air.

Staplehurst failed to clear away Sturgeon’s left-wing corner and the ball came out to Martin Pett, the central defender looping his header into the keeper’s hands.

Wallond clipped a ball out of the Staplehurst defence towards the edge of the Snodland penalty area but midfielder Will Phillips-Reid sliced his left-footed volley harmlessly wide.

Snodland suffered similar fate seconds later when Stuart West’s ball over the top was hit on the volley by Dawes, which he lashed high and wide.

Phillips-Reid cracked a left-footed dipping volley from 30-yards into Pigden’s gloves on the half-hour mark in what proved to be a rare opening for the Monarchs.

The keeper immediately pumped the ball forward and Ben Seal’s first time shot on the turn, which Grant Ince saved comfortably.

Staplehurst Monarchs squandered an excellent chance to draw level after 33 minutes.

Ashton did well to slide the ball into Peter West’s path despite the left-wing back being taken out by Jack West’s strong bookable challenge.

The referee played a good advantage before going back to make the booking and this decision allowed Peter West to cut into the penalty area but dragged his left-footed shot across the advancing keeper and past the far post from fifteen-yards.

Wallond said: “I don’t think it was totally straight forward. It was a tight angle.  You expect him to tuck it away after last week. He scored a couple, one of them he twinkle toed between about three or four players. When he’s on his game, he’s awesome. He’s one of the best around especially his finishing. You don’t expect him to miss too many times.”

But there was an ugly melee following Tharp’s challenge on Josh Carpenter, and at least two punches were thrown, which the match officials’ appeared to miss.

Once calm was restored, referee Kevin Greenhead sent-off Tharp for the initial tackle, booking Carpenter and a yellow card followed for Sturgeon too, despite one of the punches being thrown at him as he was held.

Tharp illegally took his place on the subs bench until he was asked by assistant referee John Quirke to watch the rest of the game from behind the racecourse type white barrier.

“I think there was a lot of tackles flying in today,” said Bates.

“I think that was one that was a catalyst for handbags in there. I think the referee could have pulled quite a few tackles a bit earlier in the game and that sort of thing wouldn’t have happened.

“It was a tough game for him out there. I think he got it right really. I think we were a little bit lucky to stay with two yellows’ but I’m not going to moan about that!

Wallond felt more players’ should have been sent off.

“Swifty made the tackle and Jason ended up landing on him.

“To be honest this is what I say about poor refereeing. It was then and throughout. I know a lot of people like blaming referee’s and I’m probably one of the worst and sometimes they are awful!

“I don’t think it was his game. The lino said he never saw anyone grab anyone by the throat. If he’s seen Jason as a sending off, that’s fine. I don’t argue that but that’s with two or three other things in the melee then there’s other things that can be done as well.

“To lose one player and they’ve got a couple of yellow cards and when you ask him (the referee) what was the incident and he doesn’t answer you’d like to know an answer sometimes. It helps if the referee talks to you!”

When asked if more players could have been punished, Wallond replied: “I think possibly one, maybe two more, probably one of them, more than us.”

Snodland’s right-winger Sean Adams was guilty of miss-of-the-season on the stroke of half-time.

Carpenter put him through on goal with a fine pass and Adams skipped past the advancing keeper and drilled his right-footed shot over the top of an open goal from six-yards.

“Yes, well there’s not a lot more you can say about that,” came Bates’ reply.

“He had all of the goal to aim at and then misses it!

“He done all of the hard work but we can normally rely on Sean because he’s quite a good finisher but it didn’t happen for him today.

“I took him off. He was just having one of those games today. He put in 60 minutes hard graft, shame he didn’t put his chance away. He’ll be disappointed so there’s no point getting into him but he knows!”

Snodland Town continued to exploit the space in behind Staplehurst’s back three and Stuart West played in Carpenter, whose shot deflected past the far post.

The two sides stayed out on the bumpy pitch while the match officials’ made the long walk over the second pitch back towards the dressing rooms.

Bates said: “I just said there’s loads of room out there and they needed to start exploiting it. It’s quite a big pitch. We had a lot of time on the ball, instead of trying to hit 40-50 yard Hollywood passes, pass it 10-15 yards, it’s a lot easier!

“I think they took that on board second half. They played a lot better, the football was a lot better and we came away with three points so I must’ve said the right things!”

Wallond added: “What was said? They (Snodland) were probably rubbing their hands together. They’ve got given a goal, we’ve missed a penalty and we’ve had one sent-off.

“To be honest with you, I’d like to be in their manager’s shoes at half-time with that happening throughout the first half! It’s been given to you!

“I said to them they’ve probably been told to kick on. We’re down to ten. We’re in it because of our mistakes. I said to our boys’, just don’t go out there and let them carry on and trounce us!”

Staplehurst Monarchs United’s finishing in front of goal was poor and after Ashton’s pass Peter West drilled his shot over the bar after 52 minutes.

Grant Ince was told to go down by his management team and was forced off the pitch two minutes later after his knee buckled and Wallond handed the gloves to Ashton.

Wallond revealed: “Would you believe, he’s got an anterior cruciate ligament operation, he’s been waiting six months for it.

“Ryan Chandler, our normal goalie is working today. We were a bit short today.

“Grant’s done alright. He’s stepped in a couple of times this season and he’s done ok but with his knee already gone he only has to twist it slightly.

Bates said: “When their keeper went down I pulled one of the lads (Ben Swift) aside and said to him to get the message out to have a few pops from 20-25 yards.

“He weren’t a proper keeper by the looks of it because they were squabbling on the sidelines who was going to go in goal so they didn’t have one (a substitute goalkeeper).

“You can only try to get the message out there, if they don’t follow instructions…”

Stuart West cut inside before drilling his right-footed 30-yard shot over Ashton’s crossbar, before Ben Seal played the ball up into Dawes, who drilled his left-footed shot past the goalkeeper and post from 25-yards.

Wallond was full of praise for central defender Stuart Wells, who showed commitment and desire to protect Ashton in goal.

“He’s a good player, he’s a great player. I’ve played with him Sunday and Saturday football. He’s a bit of an old head like myself but he’s a great player and he’ll never change.

“He (Ashton) wasn’t really tested. I don’t think they really tested Grant truthfully throughout the game really, apart from when I laid him (Sturgeon) in!”

Bates said: “What we were asking them to do, shorting it up, bring players into play and use our pace on the wings.  They were playing quite a high line trying to play offside’s so we tried to exploit that really with a quick ball over the top because we’ve got plenty of pace to burn up front.  I think it worked, we probably could have scored quite a few more goals.”

But Wallond admitted to being at fault for Snodland’s second goal with 20 minutes on the clock.

Dawes cut a short pass back to Stuart West to play a sublime pass through the heart of Staplehurst’s defence to put substitute Young through on goal, who drilled his right-footed shot past Ashton from 12-yards.

Bates said: “Nick’s a bit of an old seasoned timer, he’s been round the block a bit.

“He’s come on today, he normally plays for the reserves so we rang him last night and said ‘do you fancy it?’

“He started on the bench, came on and took his goal quite well.

“It was quite an unorthodox approach to try to take it around the keeper but he slotted it away well. He put it away well.”

Wallond added: “That’s the way it goes! Ten players and running out at the end of the game. We went three up top. I’d rather lose two, three, four-nil than lose one-nil and not try!

“It’s part and parcel that one. It’s irrelevant really. Two-nil or four-nil, it doesn’t really matter.”

Snodland Town went close to increasing the lead when Dawes’ corner from the right was flicked on at the near post by substitute Ryan Adams and Young took a touch before stroking his left-footed drive past the near post from 12-yards.

Matthews, who was keen to make amends for his earlier penalty miss, drilled his right-footed shot past the Snodland goal from 25-yards.

Young pinged a diagonal ball to Sturgeon, who played Dawes inside the box but a poor first touch forced him towards the by-line with Staplehurst defender Sammy Swift in close attendance.

Swift then lost the ball to Dawes on the edge of the box and Sturgeon’s right-footed drive from 18-yards forced Ashton to get down low to his right to make a save.

The impressive Sturgeon then swept the ball to Young on the right hand side and he cut the ball back across goal towards the far post but Ashton smothered the ball at Dawes’ feet.

Staplehurst substitute Brett Ince released Wallond but Pigden advanced off his line to smother the ball at the player-manager’s feet.

Snodland left-back Mitchel Worsley was booked for pulling back Matthews just outside the penalty area on the right-hand side but Brett Ince drilled the resulting free-kick into the side netting, much to his annoyed team-mates.

“I think he was trying to cross it actually,” admitted Wallond.

“We had chances but we’re missing a couple of strikers. If you’re not on your game, we weren’t creating.  We didn’t create a lot.  Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t.”

Staplehurst skipper Mark Swift played the ball into Brett Ince, who unleashed a first time right-footed drive just over the bar from 20-yards.

Ashton made a couple of comfortable saves to frustrate Dawes at the death as Snodland Town ran out comfortable winners.

Reflecting on their campaign, Snodland’s number two said: “Very stop-start to be fair.  I wouldn’t say we’ve had the same eleven two weeks’ in a row and really that doesn’t help any team. We’ve lost some key players to other clubs at the start of the season.

“Last season we done well, maybe we’ve over-achieved. We thought we’d carry it on this year, everybody just expected that we was going to do it and it would just happen.

“It’s been a bit stop-start. We’ll build again next year. We’ll get some players in and go again.

“It’s been tough trying to keep the enthusiasm going and stuff like that. We had a Cup Semi-Final on Saturday, which unfortunately we lost. That would have been nice to round the year off but it wasn’t to be so today I was pleased with the lads’. They gave a lot of effort because it was the last game of the year. They showed a lot of effort and commitment and will to win, which was nice really.

“It’s just rounded off the season nicely. It puts us up three places in the league so it doesn’t look so bad.”

Eighth-placed Staplehurst Monarchs United (on 34 points) complete their campaign with a home game against Erith 147 Sports on Saturday.

Their opponents lie in the bottom four on 31 points after losing 4-0 at home to Borden Village today.

JUMP TO IT: Borden Village (yellow shirts) put pressure on inside Erith 147 Sports' penalty box during their 4-0 win.
Photo: Alan Coomes

Wallond said: “If you look at our results all season we’ve been almost a nearly nearly. If you said to me what was our season I’d say nearly nearly because we beat Metrogas 5-1 who have just walked the league. We drew Stansfeld so we’ve beaten and drew with the top teams. It’s the lower teams we struggle with.

“Nothing against Snodland, I was hoping to get three points and then three points on Saturday again. Nothing’s guaranteed. It’s what you expect from your lads. I was hoping to finish seventh, which is not a bad season in my first season. I would have been happy. Hopefully we’ll finish eighth still, all in all not a bad season and push on for next season.”

Snodland Town: Jack Pigden, Stephen Sharp (David Jeal 90), Mitchell Worsley, Martin Pett, Jack West, Sean Adams (Ryan Adams 71), Ben Seal, Stuart West, Josh Carpenter (Nicholas Young 62), Lee Sturgeon, Harry Dawes.

Goals: Lee Sturgeon 7, Nicholas Young 70

Booked: Jack West 34, Josh Carpenter 41, Lee Sturgeon 41, Mitchell Worsley 81

Staplehurst Monarchs United: Grant Ince (Brett Ince 53), Sammy Swift, Stuart Wells, Daniel Ashton, Jason Tharp, Mark Swift, Luke Wallond, James Matthews, Jakob Anderson (Joe Terry 46), Will Phillips-Reid, Peter West.
Sub: Martin Stapley

Booked: Will Phillips-Reid 44

Sent Off: Jason Tharp 40

Attendance: 40
Referee: Mr Kevin Greenhead (Bexleyheath)
Assistants: Mr John Quirke (Maidstone) & Mr Andy Samways (Sheerness)