Tunbridge Wells 1-5 Sheppey United - Everyone was two or three out of ten, we didn't turn up, admits Tunbridge Wells boss Jason Bourne

Tuesday 26th September 2017
Tunbridge Wells 1 – 5 Sheppey United
Location Culverden Stadium, Culverden Down, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 9SG
Kickoff 26/09/2017 19:45

The Buildbase FA Vase Second Qualifying Round Replay
Tuesday 26th September 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Culverden Stadium

SHEPPEY UNITED assistant manager Barry Morgan says it will be nice for the club to enjoy a long run in The FA Vase.

The Ites will host Fisher in the First Round on 21 October after thrashing their Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division rivals Tunbridge Wells 5-1 at a murky Culverden Stadium – despite playing the final 30 minutes without a recognised goalkeeper.

Ernie Batten’s side got off to a dream start as they took the lead after only 58 seconds through striker Remmel Davis, before Luke Harvey doubled their lead and then hit the crossbar during a dominant spell for Sheppey United.

Visiting keeper Robert Budd pulled his thigh at the end of the second half and was struggling for the first 15 minutes of the second half, conceding from Jon Pilbeam’s close range finish as the home side recovered from a poor first half performance.

Budd was withdrawn so Harvey took the gloves and he was called upon just the once as Sheppey United rattled in three second half goals from Ian Batten and substitute pair Hicham Akhazzan and Timmy Babbington.

“Decent win, strange game,” said Morgan,  who was sent out by Batten for the post-match press conference.

“When we went 2-1 in the second half, it looked like we’ll crumble but to be fair we stood strong.  Sometimes it’s hard when you’re looking from the dug-out and there’s loads of this going on but we settled down.

“We got over that little spell where they had a couple of free-kicks around the box but didn’t do too much with them and I think it gave us a little bit more, it spurred us on and we went on and done brilliantly in the second half without a goalkeeper and playing players out of position but the overall team performance, what can you say? Five-one in the FA Vase against Tunbridge Wells, a good experienced side, I don’t think you can argue with that can you?”

Tunbridge Wells manager Jason Bourne, who was captain at Wembley in The FA Vase Final on 4 May 2013, admitted: “It’s one of those nights! I think we had a 15 minute interval after half-time when we actually played a bit and put them under a bit of pressure but other than that, it could’ve been 10 if they took their chances.

“As soon as it went three, we went three at the back. In fact their pace hit us and it could’ve been a hat-full!

“We were below par. When you have 11 players on the pitch all having a poor game, that’s what happens, especially against a good side like Sheppey.

“We played some really good stuff in the first game, real good stuff and we gave a good account of ourselves, we gave them a good game. I’m sure they’ll say the same but it was one-way traffic from minute one and we never recouped it, which is really sad to see at home, but it’s building blocks.

“I said to the boys, The FA Vase is for you, it’s your adventure, this ain’t for us. We need to finish as high up the league as we can. We’re realistic about where we could finish of where we will finish. We know we’re not silly but The FA Vase was for them and this is it.”

The two sides were locked at 2-2 after 120 minutes of football at Holm Park at the weekend, but Tunbridge Wells were without six of their centre halves tonight and Danny Moore and Stephen Ikpeme slotted in at the back and the decision backfired on the home side.

Bourne said: “I’m not making excuses or anything but we were makeshift especially in the centre half positions today. We played Stephen Ikpeme, a central midfielder played in there and Danny Moore came in to do us a job. He’s made a few appearances for us and he done well but he’s been playing at left-back but we had him at centre half today.

“We had Scott Whibley got concussed last week so he’s out for at least four weeks. Perry Spackman done his groin on Saturday; Brad Potter is away at a wedding. John Shea, whose played in there for us, he’s had work commitments tonight and Tom Davey is suspended.

“We had six centre halves on our books and not one was available so you’ve got to start from the back, you’ve got to defend well.  The quicker we get a couple of centre halves back, the better.

“We’ll have Tom Davey available on Saturday, he’ll be coming in, he’s got enough experience and we’ll put another one towards that and we’ll go again.”

Sheppey United set the tone right from the off as Dan Bradshaw raced down the right and whipped in a lovely cross into the box from within the fog, which was controlled by Davis, before he stroked his right-footed shot across the keeper to find the bottom left-hand corner from 12-yards.

Morgan said: “It’s a great start for us, you couldn’t have wished for a better start could you?

“Remmel’s been knocking on the door for a little while. He’s had a little bit of discipline but hopefully he’s over it now. He’s a decent player.   If you get the ball in to the right areas for him he can finish. Luckily tonight to get a start like that was perfect for us.”

Bourne added: “In fact, we had a chance before they had a chance.  They went straight up the other end and scored.

“We’re just giving teams a run on us. We done it at Concord (in The FA Cup), we done it last week at Sheppey, we let an early goal in and we’ve done it again.

“We spoke about it, we’ve prepared for it but it’s still happened. That puts you on the back foot. A great team with a lot of pace like Sheppey in a cup game, then you’ve got to go and ask questions. It left us vulnerable and we were very vulnerable today.”

Sheppey’s holding midfielder Jack Mahoney advanced into the final third before playing the ball out to left-winger Trey Williams, who cut into the penalty box before scuffing his poor shot into Chris Oladogba’s hands.

Sheppey United deserved their 2-0 lead when it arrived with 17 minutes and 11 seconds in.

Impressive striker Davis reached the by-line down the right before cutting the ball back to Harvey, who took a quality touch to beat his man before cracking a right-footed shot on the turn from 20-yards, which deflected off Ikpeme, looped up, clipped the underside of the crossbar before dropping in.

“That will do, won’t it?” said Morgan.  “There’s not much more you can say about that is there?

“It was all about keeping that 2-0 really until half-time and I thought they came on very strongly in the last 10 minutes of the first half. 

“We didn’t do a particularly good job with Jon Pilbeam for the last 10 minutes because he could’ve been a real danger but it got us in at half-time and we were able to re-job, got the boys organised and about dealing with things like that and it worked.”

Bourne said: “It’s a great finish! I don’t think we put no pressure on him and we haven’t started at all well and that was another blow really and for me it looked like it was going to be very hard work early on.”

Tunbridge Wells’ outlet was down the right through Pilbeam but Sheppey’s left-back Darren Cooper, aged 17, kept him relatively quiet.

Ikpeme’s long ball released Pilbeam down the right channel and striker Jack Harris failed to make it into the box and Budd cut out the low cross.

After Mahoney drove his shot into the side-netting, Sheppey United should have been three goals to the good in the 34th minute.

Trey Williams drove forward with the ball before playing the ball inside to Harvey, who cracked a right-footed snap-shot towards goal from 25-yards, the ball crashing against the crossbar and dropping down into Oladogba’s grateful hands.

Morgan said: “Great strike, should’ve had a go at him really for not scoring!

“You can say the worst scoreline is 2-0, it’s a known fact in football when you’re 2-0, anything can happen and they went to 2-1 at the start of the second half but if we had got the third goal, it might well have done it bit you never know.”

Bourne added: “It was a very similar strike to the goal to be honest, a bit fortunate. I thought that might be the tipping point because as the half went on we slightly improved, we weren’t good all night but we slightly improved and I thought maybe if they don’t go in like that, somethings on your side.”

Bourne suggested that was the tipping point in the game and Tunbridge Wells pressed and increased their tempo and desire levels for the remainder of the first half.

Harris latched onto a poor back header from Kwasi Amoah, Sheppey’s right-back who moved across to left-back after 59 minutes, and cut the ball back to Jake Beecroft, who played the ball inside to Jamie Lawrence and his deflected drive was gathered by Budd as the ball bounced once in front of him.

Beecroft floated in Tunbridge Wells’ second corner of the night in the 38th minute but Harris got underneath his header and steered it across goal and past the far post.

Beecroft then played the ball inside to Josh Biddlecombe, who hit his left-footed drive screaming past the post from 25-yards.

Bourne said: “Again, it’s a pattern of over the last three weeks! We’ve given teams goals but luckily enough we’ve slowly got back into it and after half-time we sort of perked up and made a good game of things but we had a brief spell before half-time and had a brief spell after half-time but apart from that, it just wasn’t good enough!”

Morgan added: “They are entitled to do (that) aren’t they, you expect that, especially in a cup game when it’s all on one game really.  In a normal game they would’ve scored in that 10 minute spell and you go in 2-1 rather than 2-0 at half-time.

“I think if they had gone in at 2-1, conceding that early goal in the second half, it could’ve been a completely different game but we defended great for 10 minutes there.”

Sheppey United almost grabbed a third in the last minute of the first half.

Luke Girt, who is playing a league lower than he should be, slotted in at the heart of defence and he bent his low right-footed free-kick around the wall from 28-yards and Oladogba dived low to his left to hold onto the ball as it looked destine to squirm under the keeper to nestle into the bottom corner.

“Great save!  It was a great strike from Luke. I thought their goalkeeper had good hands all day really, he’s a decent keeper,” came Morgan’s reply.

“I thought it was a good strike, a decent save. I would expect Chris to save them,” added Bourne.

It was sad to see Budd go down in a heap inside his penalty area as play continued after hitting a clearance forward. He punched the ground in despair and agony and when the whistle blew, he hobbled off the pitch and punched the side of the dressing room wall before receiving treatment during the interval.

Morgan said: “What a killer!  We’re not having a lot of luck with goalkeeper’s at the moment! Blimey!

“He was having a decent game, that happens, what can you do? We had a look at him at half-time, we were hoping that he’ll get through the game.  There were two choices. If he can carry on? It was either Luke Harvey or John Ralph and I think Ralphy was struggling a little bit, he kind of handed it to Luke on a plate.”

It was a surprise when Budd emerged for the second half – and Tunbridge Wells had inspiration to press for a comeback.

Bourne said: “I was absolutely gobsmacked he kept him out there.  I thought they were going to throw a player in goal, which they eventually did and we just tried. We fluffed it up a little bit.

“There’s no point going there and ripping them apart, I think it’s a bit old school. We went in there and worked on the positives, things we’ve done in that last little spell and we re-established it’s a cup tie. If we can nick one, 2-0’s a horrid scoreline to defend. If we can nick one we can put an element of doubt in their heads.”

Beecroft blazed his shot over the crossbar after Harris hooked the ball out to Pilbem on the right and Budd dropped to his knees after gathering Pilbeam’s  cross from the right.

Tunbridge Wells pulled a goal back with seven mites and six seconds on the clock.

Substitute right-back Ian Parsons, who came on for the injured Kieron Tarbie, played a low free-kick into Harris’ feet on the edge of the box and he held up as three Sheppey defenders swarmed around him.  Harris held the ball up and played the ball out to Steven Ita in the left channel and he whipped in a cross towards the far post and Pilmean ghosted in and hooked his shot in from a tight angle that hit the deck and looped in at the opposite corner.

Bourne said: “The keeper was walking wounded. He was lying by then. A (fit) keeper would’ve saved it to be honest with you.  It’s good, that’s exactly what we wanted, exactly the response we wanted. Then from there on we had to keep it tight.”

Morgan said: “I think it was a combination of two things there. The lad, Darren Cooper, has pulled his groin. He’s only 17. That’s a little bit of inexperience but he's groin popped a bit and you’ve got the goalkeeper who can’t move so it was a pretty simple goal really.”

Tunbridge Wells wasted a chance from a free-kick from 28-yards, which Beecroft struck his right-footed effort over the crossbar and Budd held Beecroft’s swerving low drive from 30-yards.

Bourne said: “Before Budd came off, Jake Beecroft had a free-kick and we were saying to him ‘just hit the target’ because the keeper was lame and he blazed it over.”

It was gripping stuff.  Budd lasted 59 minutes before Harvey took the gloves and Tunbridge Wells went to pot as Sheppey United took control on the break.

A mistake from Tunbridge Wells keeper Oladogba gifted Sheppey United their third and decisive goal in the 63rd minute.

Captain Ian Batten played a low free-kick into Davis’ feet, with his back to goal, and he played the ball back to Batten, who thumped his right-footed free-kick straight down the throat of the Wells keeper, who allowed the ball to sail through his fingers into the roof of the net.

Morgan said: “It was a great strike, he’s hit it. It’s what we call a miracle goal because he scores one every four years!  No, to be fair, he scored twice last year, It was a great strike!

“I think they kind of lost their shape a little bit and it was all about us being disciplined until the end really and the boys were.”

Bourne added: “I just thought it weren’t going to be our night and then they go down the other end and hit one down the middle and it flies in and at that point it was pretty much curtains for the cup.

“I expected him to save that really. I’m not sure he’ll say the same. When you’re having a bad day at the office in football, we’ve all been there, we’ve all played in it, we’ve all watched our teams all play brilliantly one week and terrible the next. Everyone was two or three out of 10, we didn’t turn up and Chris was no different.”

The goal knocked the stuffing out of the home side and the vocal travelling fans housed in the terracing within the stand were enjoying their night.

“The fans deserve a massive, massive thank you because it’s hard to come here on the pitch and compete with Tunbridge Wells, but I think they competed with the Tunbridge Wells fans,” said Morgan.

“It was a great night for them, it’s a long way to come. They’re over the moon, brilliant, absolutely brilliant, it’s the 12th man.”

Beecroft swung in the home side’s fourth corner of the night, Bradshaw and Girt failed to clear their lines and the ball came out to Pilbeam, who blazed his shot over the crossbar from 16-yards.

Harvey was having an untroubled night in Budd’s yellow jersey and made his only save in the 71st minute.

Moore fed the ball to Ita, who cut inside and stroked a weak right-footed shot from 25-yards and Harvey stepped to his right to gather comfortably.

Morgan said: “He was tremendous! He had one save to make. It was a dolly though, it was a decent save to be fair but having Luke in there you know he’s going to do the right things. He’s been around enough to know what goalkeeper’s do and he kind of just copied them, I think.”

Sheppey United hit Tunbridge Wells on a devastating counter-attack and made it 4-1 in the 79th minute.

Substitute Akhazzan screamed for the ball from Davis, who played a diagonal pass and found the former Sittingbourne man, who drilled his shot across the keeper into the top far corner of the net from 12-yards.

“Brilliant! Hicham has got composure. He’s been around donkey’s years, he’s scored two goals for us not last week but the week before, brilliant composed finishes and that was equal to them.  He’s got great composure Hicham, he’s great to be around the boys, a great experienced player and his decision making is great.”

Bourne said: “We went three up top, three at the back, so we knew we was going to be vulnerable to the counter-attack, but we didn’t want to close up doors and say 3-1 was enough.  We just wanted to have a go at it. As soon as we opened up they had three high, three against three, they was always going to cut us open if we hadn’t nicked one.”

Williams, who will be playing against a former club in Fisher in the next round, produced a solo run, before Oladogba saved his shot, low to his left.

Substitute Babbington was given time and space out on the left to crack a right-footed drive crashing against the crossbar from 30-yards.

Morgan said: “That’s Timmy for you!  He can do that. It was great to have him on.  We’ve got a few injuries now so these players that didn’t start tonight, they’ll be a few of them starting Saturday, that’s for sure.”

Batten swung in a free-kick from the left channel and Williams’ stooping header cleared the crossbar.

Most Tunbridge Wells fans were out of the stadium by the time Sheppey United scored their fifth goal in the 87th minute.

Amoah, now left-back, floated a deep cross into the penalty area where 12-goal Bradshaw was left unmarked at the far post.  He headed the ball back across goal and Babbington swept the ball home from eight-yards.

Morgan added: “Nice, good for Tim. It will be good for his confidence. It’s nice to score five goals.”

Bourne admitted: “We were out on our feet at that point so they probably had in that period five or six other half decent chances. If they were clinical, it could’ve been really embarrassing.”

Mahoney drove forward and Bradshaw laid the ball off to Babbington, who wasted the chance by blasting his shot over when he had Oladogba to beat.

It was a poor performance by the 2013 Wembley runners-up and the terracing behind the goal was almost empty by the time Biddlecombe lashed his shot into the terracing from 22-yards after Harris knocked down Parsons’ cross.

Morgan said: “I’m not going to big us up in any way shape of form but we’re a developing team but we’ve got some experienced players in there and we’ve got some good, younger players so we’re decent away from home.

“Listen, everyone comes to Holm Park and wants to stuff us. They think they’re coming to Wembley. For us, it’s a relief sometimes to get away from Holm Park and our job this year is to make Holm Park a fortress.  It ain’t easy, teams turn up to Holm Park, they’re having selfies on the pitch, they love it, it’s like Wembley really.”

Fisher manager Dean Harrison revealed at the weekend that he has a £300 per week playing budget at the SCEFL First Division club this season, the club’s first ever playing budget.

“It’s all about us doing the job properly, like we did tonight. We’ve got to be disciplined, professional and we’ve got to work our socks off to get in the hat for the next round,” said Morgan, who was then asked about getting to the Wembley Final.

“How about that? It will be nice.  It will be nice for the club. It would be great if we can beat Fisher and get in the next round. That’ll be great, old cliché, one round at a time.

“The boys did everything that we asked of them. To score five goals away from home especially somewhere like Tunbridge Wells, takes a bit of doing really, so we’re pleased with that so hopefully it takes us into Saturday.

“It means we’re in the next round, that’s about it really. It doesn’t mean much more. There’s a few quid (£1,275 in prize money), we’re in the hat and the money is welcome, we’ll be trying to win it.”

Thirteenth-placed Tunbridge Wells travel to Deal on Saturday to play Canterbury City and Bourne said: “I want to see a good reaction from the boys. I want to see us enjoying our football. Tonight wasn’t enjoyable only because we lost and we didn’t perform. We can’t turn it on and off like a tap. Hopefully Saturday is better.”

Sixth-placed Sheppey United travel to Cray Valley at the weekend.  Kevin Watson won his first game in charge after replacing James Collins but has lost his last seven games.

“I think that’s going to be a very, very tough game,” said Morgan.

“Listen, they’re a team that’s going to be fighting for a win. They’re going to be fighting for points so we have to go up there and perform well, if not better than we did tonight.”

Tunbridge Wells: Chris Oladogba, Kieron Tarbie (Ian Parsons 44), Alexx Kendall, Jamie Lawrence, Stephen Ikpeme (Joe Nwoko 65), Danny Moore, Jon Pilbeam, Jake Beecroft, Jack Harris, Josh Biddlecombe, Steven Ita (Rhys Bartlett 78).
Subs: Tom Lawrence, Connor Charlton

Goal: Jon Pilbeam 53

Booked: Josh Biddlecombe 31, Steven Ita 62, Danny Moore 83

Sheppey United: Robert Budd (Hicham Akhazzan 60), Kwasi Amoah, Darren Cooper (David Apekoyo 59), Luke Girt, John Ralph, Dan Bradshaw, Ian Batten, Remmel Davis (Timmy Babbington 76), Luke Harvey, Trey Williams.

Goals: Remmel Davis 1, Luke Harvey 18, Ian Batten 63, Hicham Akhazzan 79, Timmy Babbington 87

Attendance:  223
Referee: Mr Daniel D’urso (Crowborough, East Sussex)
Assistants: Mr Steve Tunnicliffe (Maidstone) & Mr Nick Cornwall (Maidstone)

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