Tunbridge Wells 0-4 Glebe - We're hoping for a mini miracle for people to take some points away from the top two sides, says unbeaten Glebe joint-interim manager Adam Flemming

Tuesday 15th March 2022
Tunbridge Wells 0 – 4 Glebe
Location Culverden Stadium, Culverden Down, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 9SG
Kickoff 15/03/2022 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Tuesday 15 March 2022
Stephen McCartney reports from Culverden Stadium

GLEBE joint-interim manager Adam Flemming says his side will push Chatham Town and Sheppey United all the way until the final game of the season.

Chatham Town and Sheppey United are battling it out for the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division title and both are locked on 81 points with seven games remaining, while Glebe are in third-place with 67 points with a couple of games in hand.

Glebe scored twice in the space of 116 seconds just before half-time to silence Culverden Stadium, with holding midfielder Kalvin Morath-Gibbs flicking in his third goal of the season, before left-winger Malachi Hudson getting the feintest of touches to flick home his first goal for the club.

Tunbridge Wells offered very little during a poor second-half performance and Richard Styles’ side are underperforming in ninth-place in the table with 43 points from 28 games, despite winning their last three games against Deal Town (4-0), Holmesdale (4-3) and K Sports (3-2).

With 42-goal striker Jamie Philpot ruled out with a knee injury, Lauris Chin donned the number nine shirt and headed in his tenth goal of the season, before Malachi Hudson walked through a static defence to complete the scoring past Tunbridge Wells’ second-choice goalkeeper Frankie Leonard, who struggled throughout his fourth start of the campaign.

“I thought the boys did really, really well. We stuck to the game plan. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy to play the way that we normally play.  We tried to do it the best as possible,” said Flemming, who alongside Dan Hogan are unbeaten in their seven games in interim charge since the departure of Harry Hudson to Isthmian League South East Division strugglers Sevenoaks Town.

“We’ve got a number of injuries and that’s what a squad is about, just having people that are going to be reliable whether they’re going to be on the bench or starting and the competition is really, really high at the moment so those boys that stepped in they’ve come with a point to prove and I think they really, really did.

“Jamie Philpot is really struggling with his knee. He woke up on Saturday morning sore and stiff and we tried him out in the warm-up on Saturday and he was a no go and we probably missed him on Saturday a little bit and the same thing again today.

“He felt a lot better yesterday and today he was at work behind a desk, he’s done a hard day’s labour and it was difficult for him to come in and play so hopefully we can patch him up and get him in on training on Thursday and have him ready for Saturday.”

Flemming said he was delighted with Glebe’s performance tonight.

“They gave us energy. I think we lost a little bit of our culture with our previous gaffer leaving. In the three or four games the energy has been a little bit weird but I think today it was where it was before the previous gaffer left and I thought that everyone to a tea wanted to fight for everyone beside them and they wanted to fight for the management team and for the players in front of them as well.

“It showed when they did score goals today they celebrated as a team, which they haven’t done previously in the last couple of weeks.”

Tunbridge Wells’ assistant manager Dan Morrin added: “A bad day at the office really. What could’ve gone wrong, did go wrong. All over the pitch we weren’t really good enough. We weren’t at the races unfortunately tonight.

“The fans are fantastic and they support us home and away and their noise is great but I don’t blame them. I don’t think I would’ve sung much if I paid to come in and watched that. It’s not fair on the fans and it’s not the performance we as management set the players and expect.

“We’ve won three on the bounce prior to today, the expectation was there and we just didn’t deliver.

“I just feel all over the pitch we were second to balls. The pitch doesn’t help. Let’s not shy away from it. The pitch is heavy, it’s horrible. It’s not fun to play on it. I just generally think it’s a bad day at the office.”

Glebe created their first opening inside the opening eight minutes when right-back Dami Olorunnisomo (who snuffed out the threat from winger Regan Corke) drove forward towards the by-line before cutting the ball back for Chin to hook his shot on the turn over the crossbar from 15-yards.

However, Tunbridge Wells were to be denied an eighteenth-minute lead following the first of their seven corners.

Winger Kyron Lightfoot swung the ball in from the left into a crowded goal-mouth and the ball came out to Josh Froggatt, who was in a pocket of space on the edge of the Glebe penalty area.

He drilled a right-footed shot towards goal, only for Glebe’s six-foot-six giant goalkeeper George Kamurasi to stride towards him and used his chest to make the block.

“Good save, a really good save. I think we caused a bit of a problem from the corners delivering it under the crossbar,” said Morrin.

“It’s come out and Josh has got there and George has made a good save.  Unfortunately, when you’re playing a top team those are chances that you’ve got to take.”

Flemming added: “Listen, we know what George is about. We know what his strengths are.  Those saves there, he’s one of the best in the game at it.  He just flew at it didn’t he? He just jumped at it and he took all the impact. If that’s hit him in the chest, fair play to him because it ended up on the half-way line. He done really, really well to smother that ball and it was a great strike.”

Tunbridge Wells were playing on the front foot during this stage of the game and their two wingers combined to create their next chance.

Regan Corke played the ball along the 18-yard line to Lightfoot, who swept his shot trickling past the foot of the left-hand post, past the diving goalkeeper.

However, Kamurasi pulled off an outstanding save to frustrate Tunbridge Wells in the 24th minute.

Right-back Frank Griffin squeezed the ball into Connor Pring’s path and the diminutive central midfielder was left in space to unleash a right-footed drive towards the top left-hand corner from 30-yards, only for Kamurasi to dive high to his right to use a strong right-hand to tip the ball around the post.

Morrin said: “Fantastic save and what a hit as well.  Connor’s caught that really sweetly and on another day and another keeper that would’ve gone in.”

Flemming said: “He just flicked it around the corner. Listen, these guys work really, really hard in training and for him he probably says it’s his bread and butter but others who aren’t goalkeeper’s, we’re going to feel it was an outstanding save.”

Lightfoot’s resulting corner was dipping towards the top far corner and Kamurasi flicked the ball over his crossbar before Lightfoot’s third corner was an outswinging delivery and Froggatt cracked a first-time right-footed drive just over the crossbar.

Glebe then started to edge themselves back into the game on a heavy playing surface.

The outstanding Solomon Baugh, who played behind Chin, chipped a right-footed free-kick into the penalty area which was glanced wide by centre-half Daniel Flemming.

Baugh, Tom Hever and Morath-Gibbs all linked up outside the penalty area before the ball was played over to Chin, who shifted the ball onto his right-foot and from a tight angle drilled a shot just past the foot of the near-post on the half-hour mark.

“I felt they defended really well in the first 25-30 minutes but it came down to us having a little bit of success in what we wanted to do in terms of getting the ball wide,” explained Flemming.

“We built a couple of chances from there.  I think with you getting in behind their back line, you do gain territory and when you do gain territory and you start higher up the pitch, you’re closer to the goal to create goalscoring opportunities.”

Chin and Malachi Hudson linked up superbly inside the Tunbridge Wells penalty area but Leonard stood tall beside his near post and made a vital block to prevent Malachi Hudson scoring from a tight angle.

Griffin launched four long throws into Glebe’s penalty area and from his second one, the looping throw was headed away by Hever at the near post and the ball was smacked on the half-volley by Pring, which screamed over the crossbar from the edge of the box.

However, Glebe snatched the lead with 42 minutes and 43 seconds on the clock.

Sam Johnson threw the ball to Malachi Hudson, who easily cut past Griffin to reach the penalty area before putting it on the plate for Baugh, who drilled his shot against the base of the right-hand post, via a deflection off the pressing Ryan Cheek.

Wazir (Lanre) Azeez kept the raid alive and from inside the six-yard box teed up Morath-Gibbs, who flicked his shot looping over the crossbar at the near post.

“We didn’t know who scored but the most important thing the ball went over the line,” admitted Flemming.

“Kalvin’s a breath of fresh air. His desire to defend and desire to be a man that drives the team forward and he found himself at the right place at the right time and it was brilliant for us just before half-time.”

Morrin added: “We haven’t really got to the ball quick enough and reacted.  I think someone’s dived in trying to close it down and not stayed on their feet and we got punished unfortunately. We haven’t defended it as well as we should and expect to.”

The home fans in the crowd of 183 were stunned to silence when their Chislehurst-based visitors’ doubled their lead.

Referee Chris Bowdery and his assistant Daniel Geary both confirmed that Malachi Hudson did get a touch to the ball inside the box from an onside position.

Tunbridge Wells’ central midfielder Jonathan Shea switched off and allowed Baugh time and space to whip in a sublime cross with his left-foot some 35-yards from goal and Malachi Hudson jumped and got the slightest of touches to flick his header looping over goalkeeper Leonard and into the top far corner.

“Malachi is adamant that he touched it. Solomon is adamant Malachi didn’t touch it so they can fight it out in the changing room for that one,” said Flemming.

“It just makes the half-time team-talk a lot easier when you do score two when we did. It was quite a shock for them as well. That’s the last thing you want going into half-time and you concede two goals.

“Solomon Baugh was outstanding today. He managed the non-league side of football so much better than he has previously.  I thought he helped the ball into good spaces today. I felt he done well to support the striker when the ball did go long and he was on the second ball.  I felt he was quite industrious, which is something that we’ve been trying to add to his game for the last couple of years.”

Morrin added: “It’s a terrible bit of defending and football from us really, all round we’ve got to do better in those positions.

“You don’t want to come in losing but if you are 1-0 down you weather that storm for the last couple of minutes and see it out and rebuild at half-time.  Unfortunately, at 2-0 it’s a completely different team talk.”

When asked about goalkeeper Aaron Lee-Wharton not being selected, Morrin revealed: “Aaron’s got a knock and he couldn’t play today. Frankie’s come in, he's played a few times this season. He’s only just recently turned 18 so he’s a real young lad but bags of talent and he’s going to be a really, really top goalkeeper one day.  These are little opportunities that he’s got to take and learn from and he’s been thrusted in tonight and against a real top team so he’ll take a lot from this and a lot of experience from it.”

When asked about his thoughts at the interval, Morrin replied: “We were disappointed at half-time with the way we conceded right before.  You can concede one but don’t concede two, so we were really disappointed on that front.

“But what we said we’re a team that aren’t ever down and out and we’ve proved that in various games. We’re never really down and out and we keep fighting until the end and what we did say was the next goal is crucial and unfortunately it didn’t go for us. Had it been then you’ve got something to fight for and something to work with.”

Styles took off centre-half Ryan Cheek at the interval and brought on natural left-back James Nurden, while Robbie Bissett, who started at left-back, slotted in at centre-half alongside Freeman Rogers, while Griffin stayed at right-back.

Glebe increased their lead in the 57th minute, following a deflected set-piece.

Baugh floated a free-kick into a crowded penalty area and Chin rose to flick his header towards goal and the ball dropped on the goal-line and the hapless keeper Leonard tried to grab hold of the ball low to his right but failed to prevent the ball trickling over the line.

Flemming said: “We also told the boys at half-time that we had to score the next goal.  Sometimes we do find ourselves in a position when we do concede. I thought it was a great time for us to score in the second half and it settled us.

“It’s been very difficult over the last couple of weeks.  We’ve played games and we haven’t played well in the second half so it was good to get a good start and Sol put a great ball in and Chinny headed it and it deflects past the goalkeeper but listen, as long as the ball goes in the net we don’t care who it is and we saw the togetherness today when they did score, they all celebrated together.”

Morrin added: “You could say would Aaron have saved it? I’m not sure but it’s one of those. It’s come in, it’s flicked across and you see them all the time.  You’ve got to defend the first ball better and we’ve got to prevent him being able to flick it on so easily.  We’ve got to do our jobs in terms of defending correctly really before it even gets to Frankie.”

Tunbridge Wells hit Glebe on the counter-attack with Shea playing the ball up to frustrated striker Matthew Gething, who fed Pring in the final third before Lightfoot drilled his shot from 25-yards whistling past the right-hand post in the 54th minute.

The home side failed to create another opening as Glebe’s back four were well marshalled by Daniel Flemming and Antone Douglas.

Baugh swung in a great corner from the left – Glebe’s eighth of 11 flag-kicks – towards the near post which was steered over the crossbar by Morath-Gibbs, before Glebe completed the scoring in the final 16 minutes.

The Foxes produced a sweeping move within the final third as Malachi Hudson played the ball to the outstanding Baugh, who fed the ball back to the former Sheppey United winger.

Malachi Hudson walked past a static defence and Rogers failed to press him and the winger had plenty of time to pick his spot, finding the bottom right-hand corner from 10-yards.

“Listen, Malachi is a player, he creates his own time. His flair is unreal,” said Flemming.

“He started the move on the right-hand side of the pitch and finished on the left and he still managed to stop and start in the box and tuck the ball away. It was an outstanding goal and he’s an outstanding player.

“It’s nice for him to open his account for us and also get a great performance in and see what our changing room is actually like.  He’s come in in the back end of craziness and today was the day he saw what our changing room is about.”

Morrin added: “We were right behind it and he literally walked through the defence and we were watching it and I could’ve told you where he was going to put it because it was just a very wide open space. It was disappointing defending really from us on that one.”

Glebe should have made it five inside the final 10 minutes with another sweeping move.

Hever played the ball in from the right, Baugh laid the ball off to substitute Ainsley Everett, who took a touch before lashing his shot high over the crossbar when he only had Leonard to beat.

“It was another great worked move. Ainsley scored another outstanding one on his left in the warm-up and I think he had that one in his head when he sliced at it,” admitted Flemming.

“We played loads of combinations and it opened up and he’ll regret taking the shot how he did but it’s one of those things.”

Morrin admitted: “We did lack firepower, we certainly did. Jordan Wells didn’t play today, he’s feeling a bit tight.  Fjord Rogers has come in and hit the ground running (scoring six goals). He’s gone off for a few days on holiday so we’re up against it and we’re also the walking wounded second half and we did have a few bodies that were starting to feel the test of the pitch. It does take its toll as you can see how heavy it is.”

Tunbridge Wells’ attacking midfielder Froggatt hit a shot on the turn inside the Glebe penalty area which deflected over the crossbar late on, during the time that they had 10 players on the pitch after Bissett was thrown into the sin-bin for showing dissent towards referee Chris Bowdery after a free-kick was taken in the wrong position inside the Tunbridge Wells half.

Tunbridge Wells must improve for Saturday’s visit of league leaders Chatham Town, with striker Dan Bradshaw on a very impressive 49 goals for the season.

“It doesn’t get easier at all. We’ve just got to do what we do. We’ve had reports from their games, we’ve had people watching their games.  I know they’ve seen our last couple as well.  I don’t think they’ll fear us after watching us tonight,” admitted Morrin.

“We’ve just got to be a lot better all around the pitch and really step up to it and perform to our highest. We can match anybody and give anybody a game but we’ve got to have those days. We just can’t roll over like we have second half today.

“But look, the boys will brush themselves off. We’ll do a recovery session on Thursday with them ahead of Chatham with some shape work. We’ll be ready to go, make no bones about it.

“You’ve got the top boys who are going to get promoted and be in the league above next season so those are the games you should want to be involved in and should relish and put themselves against that and see where we are.

“They’re the games they should’ve need us to get them up for.  They should turn up here on Saturday lunchtime and know what’s ahead and want it and turn up on Saturday and have a reaction and get themselves going, they shouldn’t need any motivation from us.”

Morrin insists the current Tunbridge Wells squad need to start showing that they want to be at the club next season and challenge for promotion alongside Glebe, Deal Town and Erith & Belvedere.

“Ten games to go, we’ve got to keep going and see where we end up and finish as high as possible.

“We are already looking into next season. We’ve written down our targets of players who we’d like to target and make us into a better outfit next season.

“We’ve got to make sure that we don’t slip into a mediocre last 10 games and just see it out and it means nothing because it does.  You have the fans pay their money and they turn up expecting to see a performance.

“Some of these players really have to show us they deserve to be with us next season on the journey we hope to have.  They’re playing for what they want to next season and for us and fight for what we are and what we really, really want.

“After Saturday, every team we play in the next nine are teams lower than us in the league, so that’s a fantastic opportunity for us to get some momentum going into the end of the season and stand us in good stead to have a good pre-season for next season.”

Glebe travel to Crowborough Athletic on Saturday to contest a Challenge Cup Semi-Final First Leg, with Sheppey United or Sutton Athletic waiting in the Final.

“We know the magnitude of the fixture and how the season has unfolded,” said Flemming, whose side were held to 1-1 draws by Welling Town and Canterbury City in their last two outings.

“I think the bare minimum that we have to take is a cup final from this, even if we don’t get promoted.

“The chairman (Rocky McMillan) has invested a lot of money and I just feel that we’ve got to pay it back in some way and if we can do that by winning two semi-finals and getting into a cup final he’d be elated with that and the boys will be too.  It will be brilliant as a young management team to go into a cup final.”

When asked about the promotion race, 27-year-old Flemming isn’t giving up.

“We’ve got to win games, whether we like it or not, we’re under a bit of pressure.  We’re pushing as much as we can and trying to push to the final day.  Obviously, it’s a little bit out of our hands in terms of not being able to play those two teams that are above us again.

“We’ve done well in fixtures against both teams so we’re hoping for a mini-miracle for people to take some points away from those two sides.

“Listen, we’re disappointed with the last two draws that we’ve had. We were very, very disappointed with the results and you could see it in the dressing room that the boys were a little bit deflated so that was why we were key on culture and energy today.

“Listen, all we can do is keep plodding along and keep winning every game in front of us and apply the pressure the best we can and hope that one of the sides are going to do us a service and beat one of those top two.”

Former Sevenoaks Town manager Micky Collins was in attendance tonight and Flemming and Hogan have not been told what the club’s plans are for next season.

“When we came in we just spoke about just taking the team as far as possible that we can this season and when we get to the point when it’s finished then we have a conversation then,” revealed Flemming.

“We’ve got the support of the directors and chairman so all we can do is keep repaying him with good victories and good performances and I think that’s the most important thing and see the players they’ve invested in and brought to the club and running their hearts out for the name on the shirt.”

Tunbridge Wells: Frankie Leonard, Frank Griffin, Robbie Bissett, Connor Pring, Freeman Rogers, Ryan Cheek (James Nurden 46), Kyron Lightfoot (Johnny Phillips 62), Jonathan Shea, Matthew Gething, Josh Froggatt, Regan Corke (Cameron Wootten 70).
Subs: Jordan Wells, Harry Hudson

Booked: Ryan Cheek 45, Jonathan Shea 77

Temporary Dismissal: Robbie Bissett 83

Glebe: George Kamurasi, Dami Olorunnisomo, Sam Johnson, Kalvin Morath-Gibbs, Daniel Flemming, Antone Douglas, Malachi Hudson (Bradley Mitchell 78), Tom Hever, Lauris Chin, Solomon Baugh, Wazir Azeez (Ainsley Everett 65).
Subs: Charlie Penny, Reginald Rose, Ryan King-Elliott

Goals: Kalvin Morath-Gibbs 43, Malachi Hudson 45, 74, Lauris Chin 57

Booked: Antone Douglas 17

Attendance: 183
Referee: Mr Chris Bowdery
Assistants: Mr Daniel Geary & Mr Kevin Greenhead