Tunbridge Wells 2-5 Kennington - I want to follow in my brothers' footsteps - EXCLUSIVE

Thursday 21st September 2006

Thursday 21st September 2006
John Ullmann Under 18 Cup First Round
Stephen McCartney reports from Culverden Stadium

Andrew Ward wants to follow in the footsteps of his older brothers by playing Kent League football.

The seventeen-year-old Kennington striker scored two goals as the Kent County League club dumped Tunbridge Wells out of the John Ullmann Cup at the first hurdle at Culverden Stadium tonight.

The home side, still searching for their first win of the season, dominated proceedings during the first half and deservedly took the lead in the 34th minute through sixteen-year-old striker Charlie Sharman, whose already played first team football for the west Kent club.

Skipper James Lyell whipped in a cross from the left and the unmarked striker glanced a header past the goalkeeper and the ball bounced once before creeping into the far corner.

But their joy was short lived, however, as the Ashford based visitors levelled proceedings with a stunning goal, within two minutes but against the run of play.

Striker Aaron White left-footed shot from 25-yards, curled into the far corner, leaving goalkeeper Dan Briesfer rooted to the spot.

But Kennington dealt the sucker punch by stealing the lead on the stroke of half-time.

White’s low centre from the right wasn’t dealt with by defender Matthew Thompson and Ward fired his shot into the bottom left hand corner.

Ward’s older brothers Michael and Steve, who currently play for Hythe Town, played for Tunbridge Wells under former boss Kevin Metcalf.

But the Wells, who have collected just one point from their first three league outings, squandered plenty of chances and were caught offside on an embarrassing number of occasions.

There best chance came on ten minutes when Tom Willers latched onto a pass, beating the offside trap, and centred for Sharman, whose right-footed shot brought a fine diving save from Charlie Adams, who pushed the shot around his near post.

Another excellent chance fell to the same player but he planted his header over the bar just six minutes later.

Briesfer, meanwhile, made two comfortable saves from Kennington’s James Gardner and White before he was beaten twice later in the half, stunning the home side who dominated proceedings against a side that lost their last game 6-0.

Things got even better for Kennington when they increased their lead further inside the first three minutes of the second half when Jay Wynter bundled White’s shot across the line from close range.

But substitute Jason Pring made an instant impact for the home side with a clinical finish in the 50th minute. After being played in, and with the goalkeeper to beat, he kept his composure and slotted home.

Kennington netted their fourth goal in controversial circumstances nine minutes later.

Briesfer found touch with a clearance from the corner of his penalty area, but was penalised by the assistant referee for handling the ball outside his area.

But Chatham referee Mr Brian Smith awarded Kennington the free-kick clearly in the wrong position - some 15-yards along the edge of the penalty area.

Although Joe Spicer’s free kick was driven against the wall, the referee awarded Kennington another free kick for a dubious handball - by a Kennington player.

Ward collected the loose ball, and right-footed, curled a 20-yard shot past a diving goalkeeper and into the far corner.

Kennington’s skipper was desperately unlucky not to round off an impressive night in the 67th minute when his shot from the right-hand side of the penalty area, smacked off the angle of far post and crossbar.

Wells substitute Anthus Davis, one of nine players booked in the match, played a through ball for Sharman down the middle of the pitch, but the striker with first team experience drove a shot straight into the goalkeeper’s chest with 22 minutes left.

Ward’s hanging near post corner was nodded just wide by substitute Matthew Lightfoot before Kennington sealed their second round trip to Deal Town next month when Lightfoot rifled home the fifth into the roof of the net with ten minutes remaining.

Before the game, however, one father of a Kennington player refused to hand over the £1 admission charge to watch his son, and fumed that he would sit in his car throughout the match instead.

However, he finally gave in and slammed down the coin at the turnstiles.

But what he has to realise is it cost Tunbridge Wells Football Club £50 (floodlights) and £71 (match officials) just to stage the match that was watched by just 51 paying spectators.

The father did bemoan that he has to pay £5 so his son could play football for Kennington Football Club, and although Tunbridge Wells don’t charge their players to play for the club, his words were: “why should I have to pay to watch my son play?”

Well, Kennington play on a park pitch and a Kent League club has more overheads.

But Ashford based Ward hopes his days playing on windswept park pitches is a short-term prospect.

“It’s good to play at Tunbridge Wells,” he said EXCLUSIVELY to www.kentishfootball.co.uk  “My brothers were here for a good season and I came down and watched them. It was good to come here and score a few goals as well.

“Tunbridge Wells are a good side and it’s good to play against teams like this because we are in a different league than them.”

The younger of the trio of Ward brothers hopes a Kent League club will pluck him out of Kent County League obscurity.

He added: “That’s where I want to play in a couple of years. I’ve got one last year in junior football and then I can move on and play Kent League (football) definitely.”

Wells’ youth team manager Gary Sharman felt his side were the better team during the first half but admitted that his side “lost it a little bit” after the interval.

He said: “I think first half we were dominating the play, just unfortunately it went against us.”

With so many offside’s sprung against his team, Sharman will work on the training field to iron things out.

“It’s obviously something we’ve got to work on and develop,” he said. “That was obviously a team that played the offside rule.

But he insists his side will bounce back when Erith Town visit Culverden Stadium on Sunday morning.

“We’ll bounce back from that,” he insisted. “We’ve got players that are off from injuries so hopefully they’ll be back ready for this game.

“Unfortunately we’ve lost a very good defender (Justin Shea), to the first team but that’s what they are here for to develop and move on to the first team.

“We have got a scout within the club whose looking for player so if they move on we are bringing new players in.

“But obviously we need to still gel as a youth team. Unfortunately at the moment we’re losing players.”

Tunbridge Wells: Dan Briesfer, Bradley Inglis, Jacob Martin (Alex Lane 65), Dominic Hanley, Matthew Thompson, Kyle Haines, James Buckley, James Lyell (Capt), Jack Parfitt (Jason Pring 47), Tom Willers (Anthus Davis 53), Charlie Sharman.
Subs: Michael Banks, Dan Summons.

Goals: Charlie Sharman 34, Jason Pring 50

Kennington: Charlie Adams, Oliver Lewis, Frank Comaretto, Luke Brown, Joe Spicer, Hayden Slade, James Gardner, Jay Wynter, Aaron White (Ryan Norman 63), Andrew Ward, Danny Hall (Matthew Lightfoot 63).
Subs: Ryan Strand.

Goals: Aaron White 36, Andrew Ward 45, 59, Jay Wynter 48, Matthew Lightfoot 80

Attendance: 51
Referee: Mr Brian Smith (Chatham)
Assistants: Mr Andy Cowan (Strood) & Mr Andy Butler (Maidstone)