Tunbridge Wells 2-0 K Sports - We're second on merit and we're there for a reason and it's important we keep working hard to maintain that, says Tunbridge Wells boss Richard Styles

Wednesday 14th October 2020
Tunbridge Wells 2 – 0 K Sports
Location Culverden Stadium, Culverden Down, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 9SG
Kickoff 14/10/2020 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Wednesday 14 October 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Culverden Stadium

TUNBRIDGE WELLS manager Richard Styles says it’s important to keep working hard to maintain their unbeaten league record after sealing a comfortable victory over K Sports.

The Wells leapfrogged over Chatham Town into second-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table after attackers Miles Cornwell and Euan Sahadow scored in the first half to extend their unbeaten record to eight games to move to within a point of leaders Corinthian, who have a game in hand.

K Sports remain in the bottom five with six points from their opening eight games and offered very little in an attacking sense at Culverden Stadium as Paul Atkins’ side extended their winless run to five games in all competitions.

“Job done. Three points, that was the objective tonight, to win the game, to get points on the board. Clean-sheet, we always want that. It’s a case of job done really,” said Styles.

“Probably the last half-an-hour of the first half we started turning the screw a little bit taking it to them, getting it into areas and playing how we’re capable on our day.

“We should’ve really, if we’re being honest, it should’ve been more at half-time than 2-0. It should’ve been three or four really.”

However, the workmanlike Paperboys were a hard outfit to break down during the early stages of the game, as their back three of Adam Hooper (left), Joe Lewis (centre) and Chris Carcary (right) protected their goalkeeper Matt Palmer and Tunbridge Wells had to be patient.

“They set-up in a way
to try to frustrate us and try to hold us and they weren’t really coming out too much,” said Styles.

“We had a lot of possession, we must’ve had 80% of the possession first half but it was just a case of getting our flow, getting our rhythm and asking questions of them really.”

K Sports created an opening inside the opening eight minutes when Hooper looped a long throw into the box and striker Ben White flicked his near-post header wide.

K Sports went route one in the 13th minute as Palmer’s kick was flicked on by White and the impressive Bradley Large controlled the ball before cracking a right-footed volley, which screamed over the crossbar and behind for a corner from 35-yards.

“It sort of explains their game plan really, any sight they got, they were going to have a little go and that’s what he’s done. It’s a good effort. I don’t know how much Aaron touched it but I wasn’t really ever in far at that point that they were going to score,” added Styles.

Tunbridge Wells started to dominate proceedings during the second half of the first half, calling Palmer into making a comfortable save in the 21
st minute.

Left-back James Nurden, who likes getting forward to support winger Sahadow, whipped in a cross towards Cornwell, who turned away and the ball bounced off his shoulder and was comfortably caught by the visiting keeper.

Cornwell played a cross-field pass from one side of the penalty area to the other to pick out Sahadow, whose low angled drive was comfortably saved by Palmer.

K Sports’ striker Michael-Frazier Osunkoya endured a frustrating night, hooking a volley past the near post after meeting a long throw into the box by right-wing-back Harvey Killick.

Regan Corke’s left-wing corner was cleared out to Nurden, who went on a 20-yard mazy run with the ball at his feet before curling his left-footed shot around the top of the near post as Tunbridge Wells started to pin their opponents in their half.

Tundridge Wells took the lead with 28 minutes and 47 seconds on the clock.

Sahadow swung in a corner from the right towards the far post where Jordan Wells planted his header towards the near corner, which was well blocked by Palmer, standing beside the upright.

However, K Sports switched off in the second phase as James Huggins floated the ball back into the box and Cornwell buried his header past Palmer to score his second goal of the season.

“Just a case of just a matter of time really. We just wanted to get the first goal to settle us down a little bit,” said Styles.

“A great header, a great goal. A good cross. Miles has put himself in that area and it was a good finish. I was happy with that.”

K Sports were guilty of a glaring miss just 110 seconds later following the second of their eight corners.

Lewis swung the ball in from the left and White held his head in his hands in despair after steering his free header back across goal and past the far post from a couple of yards out when it seemed easier to score.

“We’ve been let off there,” admitted Styles.

“That’s the one let-off we’ve given in the first half to be honest. That’s the one proper sight that they’ve had at our goal but they didn’t score and we’re thankful of that.”

The miss proved costly as Josh Froggatt pinged a diagonal pass out to Corke, who easily won a foot race down the right- wing and teed up Froggatt, who leaned back and skied his first time shot over the crossbar from the edge of the box.

Styles said: “We know that Regan and Euan could cause problems with their two full-backs. We knew they would do that and it was a case of keep getting them on the ball and getting on at their full-backs and getting deliveries in the box. Froggy should’ve hit the ball a little bit better, probably should’ve hit the target to be fair.”

Tunbridge Wells sealed the points by scoring their second goal, with 37 minutes and 59 seconds on the clock through Sahadow’s seventh goal of the season.

Jack Hope threw the ball in from the right and Jordan Wells cut along the by-line, embarrassing one defender with trickery, before putting it on a plate for Sahadow, who steered a low left-footed shot through a crowd of players to find the bottom far corner from eight-yards.

“He’s more than capable of that. He’s a player we’ve worked on and worked on for a period of time to get better and better,” Styles said of the impressive left-winger Sahadow.

“I had him at Lordswood, he was ok but we knew he had a lot of potential and last year he scored a lot of goals, got a lot of assists and the return we’re getting at the moment in terms of goals and assists is very high again.”

Hope unleashed a left-footed drive from 35-yards, which was spilled by Palmer, before the K Sports keeper grabbed hold of the ball but an even better chance came the home side’s way inside stoppage time.

Not for the first time, Nurden and Sahadow linked up down the left, Cornwell teed up Jordan Wells, who tried to walk the ball in to score his first goal of the season and Palmer made the save and Froggatt lashed the rebound over the crossbar.

Styles said: “Jordan Wells has had one just before half-time. We passed and passed and passed but how he’s not scored? He’s got a little bit of stick in the changing room for that one at half-time. He will get one very, very soon, I’m sure.”

No one from K Sports offered themselves for a post-match interview but when asked what he said to his players at the break, Styles replied: “Two-nil is a funny score so you don’t always think it’s game over at that point. The next goal is the all-important one really.

“I just wanted us to keep our levels up, keep our performance levels up, keep doing what we do, move the ball quickly and keep creating chances. I wanted us to be a little bit more clinical.”

Tunbridge Wells created their first chance inside the opening five minutes of the second half.

Centre-half Robbie Bissett played the ball out of defence and released Froggatt down the left-channel but after cutting inside his stroked shot was comfortably saved by Palmer.

Cornwell was also guilty of missing a glorious chance with his head following another corner.

Corke swung the ball in from the left, keeper Palmer was flapping and Cornwell steered his header over the crossbar from a couple of yards out.

Styles said: I don’t really know how he’s not hit the target or not scored from that because he was that close to the goal, it’s obviously gone over and it is what it is.”

Lewis’ left-wing corner was beaten down by Tunbridge Wells’ goalkeeper Aaron Lee-Wharton at his near post but Killick hooked his shot past the near post from a tight angle in the 65
th minute.

But the second half wasn’t as good as the first and K Sports lacked the quality needed to get back into the game, despite a tactical switch when substitute Flavius Petrisor came on.

Hooper moved up front to partner the ineffective Osunkoya, while Luke Martin dropped into the centre of the back three and Foreman played behind the two strikers.

It took K Sports 37 minutes to ensure Lee-Wharton made a comfortable catch in his midriff after the away side produced their best move of the night.

Hooper, Large and Petrisor linked up well on the left and the ball was worked into the centre for Foreman to drill his right-footed shot from 30-yards, which was hit straight at the keeper.

“Once again we restricted them to not many chances tonight, which is pleasing defensively,” said Styles, whose side have only conceded five league goals in eight games.

“If you’re going to choose a team to have a chance against you, you would choose it from 30-yards and I’m more than confident in my backline and my goalkeeper from 30-yards so we’ll take that one.”

Bissett played a one-two at a set-piece with Jordan Wells but his speculative left-footed chip drifted past the left-hand post.

K Sports offered a late rally with Osunkoya coming to life at the end of the game, hitting a deflected snapshot past the post from 22-yards.

Styles takes his side to Rotherhithe on Saturday to play eleventh-placed Fisher, a side that beat struggling Erith & Belvedere 2-0 24 hours earlier.

He said: “It’s a positive night and it sets up nicely going forward. We knew where we would be if we won tonight, obviously going up into second, whatever that’s worth at this moment in time but we’re there on merit and we’re there for a reason. It’s important we keep working hard to maintain that.

“Fisher is a tough place to go, they’ve had some good results and some good performances and they had a good result last night, so they’ll be going in full of confidence. We’ve got to beat them and play how we can with the levels that we can give and I ask for and do what we can do.”

When asked if this is going to be Tunbridge Wells’ year, Styles replied: “Who knows what’s going to happen this season and how long this season is going to last but it’s all about the now and all that matters.

“Every game is an opportunity to put points on the board, every game we have is a chance to express our levels of performance that we demand and that’s it. We know what we’re capable of, we know what we’ve got in our changing room.

“We know what we can do, it's a case of us doing that. If we do that I believe we can have a good season and then at the end of it we’ll judge on whether we achieve success or not.

“We know within the four walls of our changing room what we want to do this year and what we believe we can do this year and we’ve worked hard since day one of pre-season to put that in place, so it’s important we carry on.”

Tunbridge Wells: Aaron Lee-Wharton, Jack Hope, James Nurden (Samuel Babayale 89), Jame Huggins (Harry Hudson 63), Ryan Cheek, Robbie Bissett, Euan Sahadow (Lucas Murrain 77), Jordan Wells, Miles Cornwell, Josh Froggatt, Regan Corke.
Subs: Matthew Day, Richard Atkins

Goals: Miles Cornwell 29, Euan Sahadow 38

K Sports: Matt Palmer, Harvey Killick, Bradley Large, Joe Lewis (Connor Cheek 88), Chris Carcary, Adam Hooper, Daniel McLaughlin (Phillip Abbott 89), Luke Martin, Ben White (Flavius Petrisor 66), Michael-Frazier Osunkoya, Lewis Freeman.
Sub: Marc Morrison

Booked: Chris Carcary 35, Lewis Foreman 56

Attendance: 300
Referee: Mr Lanray Alapafujah
Assistants: Mr Steven Tunnicliffe & Mr Christopher Middleton