Stansfeld 3-1 Frimley Green - Who would've thought a little club from Bermondsey with no home in the last 32 of The FA Vase, says Stansfeld joint-manager Jamie Phipps

Sunday 12th December 2021
Stansfeld 3 – 1 Frimley Green
Location Foxbury Avenue, off Perry Street, Chislehurst, Kent BR7 6SD
Kickoff 12/12/2021 15:00

The Buildbase FA Vase Third Round
Sunday 12 December 2021
Stephen McCartney reports from Foxbury Avenue

STANSFELD joint-manager Jamie Phipps says his side will keep believing they can go all the way to Wembley Stadium until they are knocked out of The FA Vase after pulling off a second shock enroute to the last 32 for the first time in their history.

Stansfeld have beaten Bagshot (3-1), Worthing United (5-1) and their league rivals Staplehurst Monarchs United (3-1) before two wins over Combined Counties League Premier Division South sides in Badshot Lea (2-1) and here against sixteenth-placed side Frimley Green on a sticky pitch at Foxbury Avenue has kept the Wembley dream alive.

Jointly-managed by Steve Brown and Nicholas Thumwood, Frimley Green have beaten Shrivenham (3-0), AFC Aldermaston (3-0), Rochester United (2-1), and United Services Portsmouth (5-1) and both sides were aiming to reach the Fourth Round for the first time.

Stansfeld went into the game sitting a point clear at the top of the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table and they showed great character to fight back after Frimley Green drilled in a 12th minute lead through striker George Keenan’s sixth goal of the season.

Stansfeld were kicking down the slope during the second half and they dominated for a large chunk of it and striker Ollie Milton notched his 13th goal of the season to restore parity 10 minutes in.

Sam Smith scrambled in the second, while substitute central midfielder Ross Morley scored from 30-yards, as visiting goalkeeper James Ferguson was at fault for Stansfeld’s first and third goals.

“A fantastic achievement for the whole club, not just the first-team. It’s a collective as a club.  As you know, everyone does it for love and for no money and to pull the run together like we’ve done is a great achievement and testimony for the boys as well,” said Phipps.

“They (the players) didn’t give us a great start. I thought we were really slow to begin with but then we grew into the game.  We conceded a poor goal. To be done with a straight ball – we pride ourselves on our defending – was disappointing but then after about 20-25 minutes we grew into the game and they looked a bit leggy.

“They were going down the hill, we knew we couldn’t concede a second goal because chasing two goals would’ve been really, really difficult but we knew we could turn around one goal going down the hill with the quality and the fitness that the guys have got. We knew we always had a chance.

“Dave Mehmet and I watched them, we knew they were going to be fairly physical but we can hold our own in the physical world.”

Frimley Green were a physical outfit during the opening exchanges but Stansfeld created their first opening inside the opening seven minutes.

Casey Killilea’s hanging free-kick was headed away by Frimley Green centre-half Ben Hutchings inside the box and a poor clearance from right-back William Neville saw Macey Malyon scuff a first-time drive straight at Ferguson from 18-yards.

“Good hands from the keeper because you see a lot of them split.  We never really threatening him to be fair. It didn’t look like it was going in,” added Phipps.

Malyon had a second chance just 59 seconds later but he scuffed a poor right-footed drive past the left-hand post from 30-yards.

Frimley Green grabbed the lead with 11 minutes and 35 seconds on the clock through direct play.

Holding midfielder Zac Hawker split open Sam Jeal and Killilea with a raking left-footed drive through the middle of the pitch and Archie Johnson laid the ball off from just inside the penalty area for Keenan to drill a first time left-footed shot into the left-hand corner from 18-yards, with goalkeeper Jack Rankin getting a hand to the shot.

“It’s disappointing to be done by a straight ball but one thing we did note the forwards cross over quite well. We did notice that when we went to watch them. We pride ourselves on being decent winning our headers but to be done by a straight one, no, we weren’t happy,” added Phipps.

Frimley Green seemed content to sit on their one-goal lead for the rest of the game, instead of trying to score more goals and paid the price.

Stansfeld went close in the 17th minute when Dan Parkinson floated in a free-kick towards the edge of the Frimley Green penalty area and Killilea went up from the back to glance his header across the keeper and just past the far post.

The outstanding Dan Parkinson went close to levelling halfway through the first-half, drilling a low right-footed free-kick just past the foot of the far post from 28-yards, past the scrambling goalkeeper, diving low to his right.

Frimley Green’s second shot on target arrived on the half-hour mark when Hawker’s weak left-footed shot from 25-yards was comfortably gathered by Rankin, who was making his first start of the season.

Dan Parkinson called Ferguson into making a good save when his right-footed free-kick from the edge of the D went around the wall and the visiting goalkeeper dropped to his knees and held the ball into his midriff as Stansfeld went in search for an equaliser.

Phipps said: “Dan’s got better and better every week.  We know we’re lucky to have a lot of these boys. They could probably go and ply their trade elsewhere but once we get them into our club, we’re a community as well, the togetherness of the whole club is fantastic and some of our second, third and fourth team boys were out there cheering them on when we scored.

“Dan’s been really, really good for us the last four or five games as he got fitter and fitter. He’s come back from quite a nasty injury and he’s been fantastic for us. He’s a very good player.”

When asked what he told his troops at the break, Phipps added :”Just believe, just believe in yourselves. We’re a good side and sometimes I don’t think we always believe that. We’ve lost once this year (in the league, conceding 15 goals in 16 league games) and we knew their legs had gone so going downhill (in the second half) we knew we could turn it around.

“I told them at half-time to keep calm, don’t go chasing the game too early because you haven’t got to score in the first 10 minutes, you can score in the last minute and you’re back in the game, so I told them to keep calm and carry on playing.

“We knew the longer the game went on our fitness, which has been really good this year, will tell and in the end it did.  I thought we could’ve run out five or six if I’m honest.”

With the momentum of kicking down the slope during the second half, Stansfeld created their first opening after just 220 seconds.

Midfielder Alex Foord released Milton down the right and his cross found Malyon inside the box and the winger had two bites of the cherry. His first shot was blocked and his second attempt flashed just past the foot of the far post from 12-yards.

Smith floated in a cross from the right towards Malyon inside the box and his towering header was plucked out of the air by Ferguson, stepping to his right.

Stansfeld deservedly equalised in the 55th minute.

Dan Parkinson’s sublime through ball split open last defender Ben Hutchings to put Milton through on goal down the left and his left-footed shot from 12-yards beat the slipping goalkeeper at his near post.

“A great ball from Dan and he’s done that a lot this season for us. His through balls are really good. He puts good weight on them as well, especially going down the hill,” said Phipps.

“In fairness, I think the keeper slipped, which probably helped.  I don’t think Ollie hit it the best but the keeper did slip and didn’t have a chance to re-set himself when Ollie took the shot quite earlier. It was a good finish from Ollie. He’s done that all season, he’s scored 13 goals and he’s been really good as well.”

Dan Parkinson was controlling the middle of the park and his cross was cleared out to Milton, whose right-footed shot on the turn from 18-yards was comfortably held by Ferguson in his midriff on the hour-mark.

Centre-half Billy Parkinson came up for a set-piece and his angled drive was bravely smothered around the post by Ferguson, diving to his right to tip the ball behind as Milton slid in at the far post.

Stansfeld deservedly took the lead in the 65th minute, following the resulting corner, their fourth and final one of the game.

Dan Parkinson swung a great ball in with his right-foot from the left and right-back Smith scrambled the ball over the line at the near post from close range to score his seventh-goal of the season from his advanced right-back role.

“I think it’s the third time, correct me if I’m wrong, that we’ve gone behind in the Vase and every time we’ve come back. There’s a belief in the team, if we go behind we can still come back and do well,” said Phipps.

“We’ve changed our corners a little bit. We used to do the same corner but now we mix them up so if you put the ball in right under the crossbar, a touch from anybody can take it in.

“I had no idea who it had gone off and scored but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter as long as it goes in, we don’t really care!”

There was to be no reaction from that set-back from a Frimley Green side that just didn’t fancy it on a Sunday afternoon in Chislehurst.

Stansfeld kept probing and should have scored in the 70th minute.

Smith whipped in a deep cross from the right, the ball was knocked down by Rob Hughes at the far post and Dan Parkinson sliced his attempted shot into Milton’s path who sliced his shot past the right-hand post.

“It’s a swinger. He could’ve taken a touch, I think, could’ve brought it down in the box and side-footed it in but he went for the spectacular left-foot volley and I think it threatened the corner flag more than the goal,” added Phipps.

Frimley Green right-back Neville was in acres of space some 35-yards from goal and his speculative right-footed shot screamed past the right-hand post.

Killilea hit a long diagonal which split open the Frimley Green defence and Milton cut the ball onto his left foot but Ferguson rushed off his line and made a fine reaction save from close-range.

Phipps said: “Ollie could’ve had three or four today, I think he will on a different day but he works hard for the team. Our forwards work really, really hard. That’s the one thing we’ve instilled this season, we want to defend from the front.

“Our midfield applaud our front players when they work so hard.  Ollie’s work-rate is fantastic.”

Stansfeld wrapped up the victory, as they delivered on their biggest game in their history, with eight minutes remaining.

Dan Parkinson fed the ball into Morley, who was left in space and he drove a right-footed shot from 30-yards in the middle, which should have been gathered by Ferguson, but he allowed the ball to flash past him and into the back of the net.

“Ross is quality as well. He’s been missing as well for the last four or five games injured but we know Ross’s quality,” said Phipps.

“When he went on I said to him ‘go what you did at Alford last year or the year before, go and win us the game.’

“Once Ross picked it up there, if you back off him he’s got the quality, he’s going to find the corner. The keeper didn’t get anywhere near it.  Whether he slipped or what when it took off, I don’t think he did.  I thought it was just a quality strike.”

A mistake from Frimley Green substitute left-back Louie Rogers let in Milton who shot straight at Ferguson with only the keeper to beat inside the final seven minutes as Stansfeld ran out comfortable winners.

Frimley Green’s left-winger Johnson (ironically watched by Beckenham Town left-back Archie Johnson in the crowd 24 hours after losing to Glebe in the same competition) drilled a right-footed shot from 30-yards straight down Rankin’s throat for a comfortable save at the end.

Phipps added: “I’ll be a bit disappointed if your goalkeeper let that one in. It was right at him, a good height, so you’d be disappointed if they scored from there but I thought Jack was good all game. I thought his handling was fantastic.

“I thought he did really, really well, really well. Charlie Cottrell was suspended so for Jack to come in, it was his first game in the third round of The Vase with what was on it for us, I thought he applied himself fantastically well.   His handling was good, he slowed the game down when he needed to, his kicking was fantastic, especially second half. He picks people out, so really pleased with him.”

There are three Kent sides left in The FA Vase Fourth Round, which takes place on Saturday 15 January 2022.

Glebe beat Beckenham Town 4-3 on penalties after a goal-less stalemate at Foxbury Avenue yesterday, while Tunbridge Wells beat Wallingford Town 4-2 at Culverden Stadium.

Phipps said: “Who would’ve thought a little club from Bermondsey with no home in the last 32 of the Vase?

“We’ll enjoy the journey that we’re on. We never take days like this for granted as you can probably tell and we’ll just enjoy it and see what the next round brings us.”

When asked about Stansfeld reaching the Wembley Final, Phipps replied: “If we get a favourable draw, you never know? We’ve beaten two Premier sides, not easy games either, so who knows?

“We’ll keep believing until we get knocked out.

“We’ve got a big, big game on Wednesday away at (bottom five side) Rochester United. The results went for us yesterday, so we can do well and set another marker down on Wednesday so we won’t be looking too far ahead.  It will be really tough, Rochester are a really good side.

“There’s no easy games in this league anymore.  You saw yesterday (bottom of the table) Chessington drew with Croydon, Westside beat Bridon, so there’s no easy games. We have to be on it every week, no matter if it’s the Vase or the league because you can easily come unstuck.”

Phipps revealed that the club are going to enjoy a day out at the races next Saturday.

“We’re all at Ascot on Saturday as a team. We’ve decided to have a team day out at the racing. I think there’s 30-35 of us going so that will be a fantastic day,” said Phipps.

“Because we’re all mates off the pitch as well as on it, through Covid we didn’t get a chance to do too much together so we requested to the league not to have a fixture on the 18th because there was a meet.

“The boys have organised it. I’m pretty surprised that me and Billy (Hamlin) are invited to be honest, but we are. It’s not a reward for anything, it’s just a nice thing to do before Christmas to get out together and have a beer.”

When asked what the secret is behind Stansfeld’s success so far this season, this Stansfeld team would run through brick walls for each other and whoever gets them next will be in for a tough game especially at Foxbury Avenue.

“The secret is hard work firstly, commitment. The commitment from these boys is second to none,” said Phipps.

“I had a good conversation last week with some of the guys from Croydon and we had a nice drink in the bar together and they couldn’t believe our boys are all set around together and they don’t get paid. None of us get paid. We do it because we enjoy it and we love our club so the commitment is fantastic.

“The level of commitment from these boys, they turn up to training and matches every week, it’s no secret. It’s just having that commitment and the boys want to do well and they want to do well for each other because they’re all mates.”

Stansfeld: Jack Rankin, Sam Smith, Joe Borland, Casey Killilea, Billy Parkinson, Sam Jeal, Macey Malyon, Dan Parkinson (Cameron MacMillan 85), Ollie Milton, Rob Hughes (Teddie Bailey 73), Alex Foord (Ross Morley 57).
Subs: Greg Summersby, Billy Jolley

Goals: Ollie Milton 55, Sam Smith 65, Ross Morley 82

Booked: Joe Borland 54

Frimley Green: James Ferguson, William Neville, Sam Hutchings (Ross Ewen 77), Zac Hawker (Dylan Averiss 86), Ben Hutchings, Adam Sewell, Balai Antonio Dembele, Cameron Miller (Louie Rogers 69), George Keenan, Nicholas Ciadrini, Archie Johnson.
Subs: Steve Brown, Nicholas Thumwood, Glen Andrews

Goal: George Kennan 12

Attendance: 232
Referee: Mr Alexander McKay
Assistants: Mr Joseph Neanor & Mr Simon Cudner