Snodland Town 1-1 Sutton Athletic - Sutton got promotion from our league last year so to beat them on penalties is a good achievement, says Snodland Town boss Luke Wallond

Saturday 24th September 2022
Snodland Town 1 – 1 Sutton Athletic
Location Potyn's Sports Field, Snodland Community Centre, Paddlesworth Road, Snodland, Kent ME6 5DP
Kickoff 24/09/2022 15:00

(Snodland Town win 4-3 on penalties)
The Isuzu FA Vase Second Qualifying Round
Saturday 24 September 2022
Stephen McCartney reports from Paddlesworth Road

SNODLAND TOWN manager Luke Wallond says his side gave everything after beating Sutton Athletic in The FA Vase Second Qualifying Round for the second successive campaign.

Snodland Town beat Daniel Kelly’s side 4-1 here last season but progressed today by holding their nerve in a penalty shoot-out after being held to a cagey draw by their newly-promoted opponents.

Snodland Town went into this game in third-place in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table with 15 points from nine games, while their Hextable-based opponents were in the bottom three in the Premier Division with five points from as many games.

The home side grabbed the lead through Edward Rosetti’s deflected first-half strike, before Sutton Athletic talisman striker Arlie Desanges flicked in his fifth goal of the season just past the hour-mark.

Snodland Town held their nerve from the penalty spot, winning 4-3 on penalties to reach The FA Vase First Round for the third time in four years.

“It was a very tough game.  We took the lead, we played compact, condensed, tried not to give them too many chances,” said Wallond, whose side are unbeaten at home this season.

“They’ve had one chance and Arlie Desanges scored.  They had a lot of ball and a lot of possession and looked dangerous and at that point if I’m honest, I was starting to think towards penalties because we wasn’t getting a lot of clear-cut chances, they wasn’t really either but they were in possession quite a lot. 

“They were far better than us today on the ball.  They controlled it a lot more than us but our work-rate, our effort and our tracking and not switching off helped us massively today.

“You don’t get many opportunities to do it (play in The FA Vase) as a player or a manager, you have to be at a certain level, so when it comes around, you’ve got to make the most of it.  You’ve got to give everything you can and that’s what the boys done today.

“Sutton got promotion from our league last year so you expect them to strengthen because they’re in the league above, so we expected them to come here stronger than last year, if not more.  To beat them, whether it was on penalties or in 90 minutes, is a good achievement.”

Sutton Athletic coach Tristan Cropley added: “It’s always disappointing to go out of a cup competition and by that manner, penalties.  I would have preferred extra time.  I don’t think the players would but I would’ve preferred extra time and hopefully we might have been able to do something.”

When asked whether he felt a 1-1 draw was a fair outcome on the 90 minutes, Cropley replied: “I guess if you look at shots on target, probably. I don’t think either side had a lot of shots on target.   Possession doesn’t always win football matches.  I think we matched that but in terms of actual chances, yes, I think one-all was very fair.”

The first half proved to be a very cagey affair with Snodland Town creating their first opening after only 196 seconds, building down the left.

Desanges’ flick-on was intercepted by Snodland’s left-back Daniel Ashton who drove forward before feeding left-winger Joshua Jackson, who held the ball up close to the by-line before prodding the ball back to Ashton, who drove his shot into the base of the side netting from a very tight angle.

“At that point, we were all getting a bit excited because from the other side of the pitch it looked like it was going in. It always does when it’s the side netting but it was not a bad start,” said Wallond.

Cropley added: “A shot off target. It never looked like it was going in. I think the keeper dived just to make sure of it.”

Five-goal Jackson was forced off through injury after only 11 minutes, being replaced by former Tunbridge Wells winger Regan Corke.

“He had a bit of swelling on his knee from last week.  He said ‘he was alright’ because everyone wants to play in The Vase. He’s been scoring goals so we had to start him and then he got a whack on his knee, which made it swell a bit more,” revealed Wallond.

Sutton Athletic created an opening with six minutes and 13 seconds on the clock.

Kelly’s men build up patiently and slowly by passing the ball around the back and on the deck and they ventured forward and played the ball into Daniel Watson, who slipped a 10-yard through ball into Desanges inside the box.

The striker’s first shot was blocked, his second drive from 12-yards was comfortably saved by Shaun Wicks at his near post.

“It’s just unfortunate.  In the first half we kept the ball well but not in dangerous areas which meant Arlie was living off scraps and at times he was isolated in their half but as the game wore on in the second half he got more involved in the game and we created chances for him,” said Cropley.

Wallond was pleased that his defence put in a decent shift, which often left Desanges isolated and a lone figure up front on his own.

“Everyone knows how good Arlie is, so if you can keep him quiet, you’re halfway there,” said Wallond.

“We had to work hard, we had to be compact, defence was solid. We have leaked a few goals (15 in nine games) in the league, something that we’re working on right now.  If you cannot concede as many as we have been in the past, you’ve got more of a chance.”

Snodland Town grabbed the lead with 31 minutes and 23 seconds on the clock, with a well-worked three-man move.

Central defender Bradley Webb found space on the edge of the centre circle inside his own half and drove forward with the ball for some 25-yards, before playing the ball into Robert Denness’ feet.

Striker Denness, who was making his first appearance for five weeks after a hamstring injury, swept the ball out to Rosetti, who skipped past Sutton Athletic’s left-back Kieran Hughes (who was to be forced off with an injury to his left ankle) and his shot from outside the box took a deflection of Sutton centre-half George Wishart and looped over debutant goalkeeper Danny Coxall.

Wallond said: “I think it was going on target.  It took a little deflection. It always helps when you strike one from the edge of the box because the keeper might not be right-footed but good start, 32 minutes in to take the lead against a side from the league above.  They’ve got promotion from our league so that shows how good they are.

“Most clubs would like to have Rob Denness,” added Wallond. “We’re lucky to have him. He’s big, he's strong, he’s experienced and he’s also a big team member as well.  Rob’s come back from injury, he’s just a massive (signing) and it raises the boys to have somebody like that up front.”

Cropley added: “Wicked deflection, there’s nothing much you can do about it. If it's a straight shot, it’s at the keeper and the deflection took it away from him.

“I’m just more concerned about Kieran. It wasn’t a foul, he’s gone in for a 50-50 and withdraw and he’s gone over on his ankle.  I thought he was playing really well until he came off.”

Neither side could create a further chance going into half-time with Snodland’s resilient back four in a 4-3-3 formation well-marshalled by Chris Webber and Adam Hooper, while Sutton Athletic’s two centre-halves Charlie Plummer and Wishart were also not giving too much away either.

“I said to keep switched on, watch the runners, make no mistakes and hopefully we get to the end. The game is not done at 1-0,” said Wallond.

Cropley was keen to be more of a threat during the second half.

“That’s something that we talked about at half-time.  We’re very comfortable on the ball and even more so when they scored, they really banked up then.  Our defence and our two midfielders could move the ball left to right, looking for those pockets of space but the forward pass just wasn’t on in that first half and it was very condensed, whereas in the second half we looked to change that and played forward first and if we can’t play forward, then go back round.”

Snodland Town were more direct in their approach play and created a half-chance inside the opening seven minutes of the second half.

Ashton drove forward before playing the ball out to Corke who from within the left-channel whipped in a low cross, which was gathered by Coxall at his near-post before Rosetti could nip in and stab the ball over the line.

Sutton Athletic’s holding midfielder William Muckle launched a long throw into the Snodland Town box, the home side had three chances to clear their lines and the ball came out to substitute Theodore White, who hooked his right-footed half-volley sailing over the crossbar from 22-yards.

Snodland Town then created a couple of chances with shots from outside the box, without troubling the goalkeeper who is on loan from Dartford’s Academy.

Solomon Taiwo, 37, who has had a glittering career and is playing at his lowest level in the football pyramid, played the ball into Webb, whose right-footed speculative drive from 35-yards flashed past the scrambling goalkeeper and past the left-hand upright in the 55th minute.

Then just 79 seconds later, Denness held the ball up before laying the ball off to Corke, who swept his right-footed shot across the diving keeper and just past the post from 25-yards out.

“They had a lot of the ball and looked good with the ball.  I don’t think we strike those shots that well but we got shots off and other times you hit the target and you never know,” said Wallond.

Cropley added: “Chances were at a premium.  I think that George Wishart and Charlie Plummer were excellent at the back.  You know what you get from Charlie, he’s a beast and he loves to defend and Wishart has been outstanding since he’s come in and he defended his box really well.  I don’t think our debutant goalkeeper Danny Coxall had much to do.”

Sutton Athletic started to up their tempo and went more direct on the hour mark and missed a good chance to equalise.

They enjoyed a spell of possession football inside the Snodland half before substitute White (who played in front of the back four) sprayed the ball out to Plummer, who was in acres of space just over the half-way line.

Plummer launched a ball towards the edge of the Snodland box, which was chested down by Desanges, before heading it to Conor Evans, who hit a weak right-footed shot into the ground just a yard inside the box and Wicks made a comfortable save to prevent the ball nestling inside the bottom left-hand corner.

“He would have liked to have hit it better, anyone would in that circumstance,” said Cropley.

“Chances were at a premium and when they are at a premium, you have to try to take them.”

Wallond said: “They’re going to get shots. As I said, we worked hard, we were probably tiring a little bit.  We stayed compact, you can’t stay compact all of the time.  The odd little gap that opens up and they take advantage of it and that’s what they do well.”

Sutton Athletic restored parity by equalising with 17 minutes and 22 seconds on the clock, which upon reflection was a fair outcome on proceedings.

Evans and White linked up inside the Snodland half before Muckle poked the ball out to right-winger Neil Spencer.

Spencer shifted the ball past Ashton inside the box and reached the by-line and cut the ball towards the near post where Desanges’ first-time flicked shot trickled across Wicks and nestled into the back of the net.

“That 30 seconds of football pretty much sums us up in terms of our attacking play,” said Cropley.

“Neil Spencer is very good, beats his man, hit the by-line, got the ball across and Arlie does what Arlie does and beats the keeper.

“Arlie’s target is always to score one more than the second person in the league, so he always looks for the golden boot.  Even after the first game at Canterbury where he scored a hat-trick. He came off and he said ‘I should be at the top now and that’s where I want to stay!’

“He’s actually been away for a couple of weeks so for him to get five goals is actually very good considering he hasn’t played every game.”

Wallond added: “We said that’s all it takes, one chance for Arlie and he scores them, that’s why he’s renowned as a good goalscorer.

“The lad on the right (Spencer) that played against Dan (Ashton), first half Dan kept him under wraps.  Second half (Spencer) came into the game a lot and he was dangerous, he was lively, he was fast.”

Taiwo’s 30-yarder was charged down and Coxall stepped to his right to make a comfortable save as this game seemed likely to be settled by a penalty shoot-out.

With Sutton Athletic pressing late on to win the game, substitute Lorenzo Cuozzo dragged a shot across the keeper and past the far post with a first time right-footed drive from 16-yards after being set up by White.

Cropley revealed why strike pair Ijah Currie-Wilson and Akolawole Salami both remained on the subs bench.

“We had to change our left-back twice.  We had two strikers on the bench and they’ve both scored this season.

“We just couldn’t get them on because oddly you can have seven subs in the Vase, which we knew and only three can come on, whereas in the league and other competitions you can name five and have five, so because we had to keep changing our left-back we wanted to make offensive chances and we couldn’t because we had to plug the gaps at the back.

“It is a shame because the plan was for players like Ijah and Kola to come on and give us that threat going forward.”

Snodland Town created a couple of late chances to snatch the victory on the counter-attack.

Corke whipped in a cross from within the left-channel towards the penalty spot where substitute wide striker Harry Bradford jumped up and steered his free header over the crossbar with 44:37 on the clock.

Froggatt drove forward and unleashed a low right-footed drive towards the bottom near corner, only to be denied by Coxall, who dived low to his left and tipped the ball behind for a corner to take the game to a 10 penalty shoot-out.

“They weren’t 100% chances, they were three quarter chances, half chances. Sometimes you make the most of them, sometimes you don’t.  It would have been nice if we did, we didn’t have to worry about penalties but we went to penalties,” said Wallond.

Cropley added: “A young lad on his debut and he stayed alert. It’s very easy in the dying embers of a game, people think about who’s going to take penalties etc, he’s not had much to do. He could’ve switched off. He didn’t and I think he had an excellent game on his debut.  He couldn’t have done much about the deflection and he saved one of the penalties.”

Snodland Town went up first with Hooper hitting a left-footed penalty in off the underside of the crossbar, as he aimed for the top right-hand corner.

White stepped up to level for Sutton Athletic, stroking his right-footed penalty into the bottom left-hand corner, with keeper Wicks diving the same way.

Coxall dived to his right and got a strong hand to ensure he pushed Froggatt’s right-footed penalty around the post.

Desanges gave Sutton Athletic a 2-1 lead with a clinical right-footed finish into the bottom left-hand corner, sending the keeper the wrong way.

Taiwo held his nerve by firing his right-footed penalty into the bottom right-hand corner, despite the keeper diving the same way.

Cuozzo’s right-footed effort was saved by Wicks, who dived to his left to make the save.

Snodland Town went 3-2 up when Bradford’s right-footed penalty found the bottom left-hand corner, despite Coxall diving the same way.

It was 3-3 when Sutton Athletic’s right-back Tony Hill rifled his right-footed penalty into the top left-hand corner with the keeper well beaten.

Webb capped off a fine day’s work by sending the keeper the wrong way with his right-footed penalty, which once again nestled inside the bottom left-hand corner.

Plummer, who took the captain’s armband when Dan Gunner was forced off through injury, had his low right-footed penalty smothered by Wicks, as the centre-half tired to slot the ball just left of centre to send Snodland Town through.

Reflecting on their penalty success, Wallond said: “I don’t think I’ve won one at Snodland since I’ve been here. I think we’ve had three penalty shoot-outs and lost all three.

“I was looking towards penalties with 10 or 15 minutes to go, so I was hoping we’d get through the game for penalties. It was a bit of a gamble but it paid off.

“The club wants to do the best it can this season and who knows what will happen?  The FA Vase is good for everyone. You never know who’s going to go far and whose not.  You can be the best side in it and lose in any round so you never really know.  We’ll just try our best and hope for a bit of luck.

“The local community is backing it,” added Wallond, when asked about the crowd of 215 attending the game.

“Everyone wants to support us and I think everyone believes the club will go on and on and that’s from the juniors up. It’s a community club and there’s a great support at the club and I’m enjoying being here.”

Cropley added: “The dreaded penalties and it’s a cliché, they are a lottery and we didn’t win the lottery today. 

“Last year I think we won every penalty shoot-out and we had three last year and won all three of them.  This year we’ve had one and lost it.

“It’s fine margins.  Danny went the right way four out of five and saved one of them. It just wasn’t to be.”

Wallond welcomes his old club Staplehurst Monarchs United here for a league game next Saturday, 1 October (15:00).

Paul Atkins’ side are in 12th place in the table with seven points from six games and thrashed Premier Division strugglers 5-0 Canterbury City at home in the Challenge Cup today.

“Evert team we’ve played this season wants to compete with us, wants to beat us. A lot of people have put our name out there to be up there at the end of the season, so we’ve got a target on our shoulders so everyone will try to beat us,” said Wallond.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s Staplehurst, or not Staplehurst. They’ll come here and try to beat us.”

With one of the highest budgets in the league, Wallond is under pressure to deliver promotion at the end of the season, having missed out to Stansfeld and Sutton Athletic – both clubs without playing budgets.

“I think every club believes every manager and team has got a good vide there’s always pressure.  The one good thing is we’ve got the backing of the club so hopefully it goes well on the pitch.”

Sutton Athletic, meanwhile, welcome Welling Town to Lower Road on Wednesday night.

Kevin Oakes’ side were dumped out of The FA Vase with a 3-1 defeat at Peacehaven & Telscombe today and Sutton Athletic last tasted a home league defeat back on 6 November 2021 when champions Stansfeld claimed a 2-1 win.

Cropley said: “I think we’re a different animal at home.  We’ve gone 326 days without losing at home in the league, which is a good stat. That is some record. I just hope it’s not broken on Wednesday night.

“We’ve got to sort out a couple of injuries that we’ve picked up today. We’ve got a big enough squad to cover that, so we’re confident at home.  We technically didn’t lose in 90 minutes today, so I’m confident we can get a positive result at home against Welling Town.”

Sutton Athletic have now gone six games without a win in all competitions and Cropley added: “Nobody likes that to happen but it’s been a really stop-start for us.  We were due to play Kent Football in the Vase and that didn’t happen and we had The Queen sadly pass so we’ve had a couple of Saturday’s without a game.

“The table is ridiculous at this stage. We’ve played five games, some have played eight and some have played nine. I think it will settle down in a couple of months.”

Snodland Town: Shaun Wicks, Sammy Swift, Daniel Ashton, Solomon Taiwo, Adam Hooper, Chris Webber, Joshua Jackson (Regan Corke 11), Edward Rosetti, Robert Denness (Harry Bradford 69), Bradley Webb, Joshua Froggatt.
Subs: Cameron Woottom, Kieran Rufus, Harley Gorse, Jordan Payne, Harry Main

Goal: Edward Rosetti 32

Sutton Athletic: Danny Coxall, Tony Hill, Kieran Hughes (Theodore White 35), William Muckle, Charlie Plummer, George Wishart, Daniel Watson (Lorenzo Cuozzo 67), Dan Gunner (Harry Lawrence 75), Arlie Desanges, Conor Evans, Neil Spencer.
Subs: Ijah Currie-Wilson, Akolawole Salami

Goal: Arlie Desanges 63

Attendance: 215
Referee: Mr Wayne Horsfall
Assistants: Mr Simon Cutler & Ms Alison Wade