VCD Athletic 4-0 Burgess Hill Town - With the squad that we've got here, we're looking to win it, says title-chasing VCD Athletic boss Keith McMahon

Saturday 16th November 2019
VCD Athletic 4 – 0 Burgess Hill Town
Location Oakwood, Old Road, Crayford, Kent DA1 4DN
Kickoff 16/11/2019 15:00

Isthmian League South East Division
Saturday 16 November 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Oakwood

VCD ATHLETIC manager Keith McMahon says the Isthmian League South East Division title is up for grabs and insists he wants to win it.

The Crayford-based Vickers romped to a convincing four-nil victory in what was Jay Lovett’s third game in charge of Burgess Hill Town. 

The Hillians’ began with a 6-3 home defeat to basement side East Grinstead Town in the Sussex Senior Cup before beating Guernsey 3-0 at home last weekend but they were put to the sword by an impressive VCD Athletic side at Oakwood today, as McMahon’s men extended their unbeaten start at home in the league to their opening five games.

The Vickers’ raced into a 2-0 lead inside the opening 24 minutes through left-winger Courtney Barrington, 19, and substitute striker Kelvin Ogboe’s penalty.

VCD Athletic added two further goals during the second half through central midfielder Dominic Odusanya and Ogboe’s second of the game, although he struck the post with a penalty later on in the game.

“We were very good, against I think a good side. They’ve improved massively since Jay Lovett’s gone in there, caused us a few problems early. I think we got it bang tactically right and our last few weeks we’ve really started to click and it was four and it could’ve been a few more and that’s no disrespect there, I thought we were outstanding,” said McMahon who said the word “great” 19 times during the 18 minute interview.

VCD Athletic created their first opening after only 56 seconds.

Bradley Simms, who was switched over to left-back for the game, played the ball into Charlie MacDonald’s feet, close to the half-way line down the left and his reverse pass released Barrington charging down the left at pace.

The winger cut into the box before bending his low shot around the foot of the far post from 12-yards on the angle but Barrington was a threat to Burgess Hill’s right-back Drew Matthews and centre-half Harry Pollard during the entire first half.

“Great move! We’re lively going forward. We made some changes. Alex Gaggin didn’t start today, he had a little knock and our wide two were Kevin Ogboe and Alex for most of the season and at the moment we’re playing Henry Ikeije and young Courtney and it hasn’t changed us. Courtney looked lively all game and it was great to have him back from a long lay-off,” said McMahon.

The opening exchanges were very open, frenetic and end-to-end and Burgess Hill Town wasted a glorious chance with five minutes and 19 seconds on the clock.

The ball was played down the line to left-back Tom Cadman, who reached the by-line, before cutting inside and floating in a great cross, which was flicked on by Patrick Harding at the near post but central striker Max Miller failed to keep his header down when left unmarked near to the penalty spot.

“I thought they were dangerous, they put some great balls into the box today and were a handful going forward,” said McMahon.

“I watched them the other week and I did make a tactical change for that (switching over his full-backs) and it worked.  They’re going to cause some teams problems and we had to defend properly today.”

VCD Athletic opened the scoring with seven minutes and 20 seconds through a sublime strike from the impressive Barrington.

Centre-half Temi Eweka pinged a quality ball out of defence, a diagonal pass that found Barrington down the left channel. He cut into the box and curled a sublime right-footed shot into the top far corner from 15-yards on the angle.

“Listen, the kids been out injured for nine months and he came in the squad last year, I think he’s 19 now and he’s got that in his locker,” said McMahon.

“When he cut inside and it just left his foot from just inside the box you knew it was flying in the top corner.  It was a great finish. The skill he showed today was exceptional.”

Burgess Hill Town almost capitalised just 73 seconds later when central midfielder Andrew Biggs played the ball into the feet of Miller but his right-footed drive from 25-yards was comfortably controlled by keeper’s Matt Funnell’s feet as the striker tried to find the bottom left-hand corner.

Burgess Hill were to be denied an equaliser in the 11th minute when Matthews released Miller down the right channel before the ball was played inside to holding midfielder Michael Wilson before Briggs found Harding in space inside the box and was certain to score but for a saving slide tackle from Eweka.

VCD Athletic talisman striker Charlie MacDonald, 38, whom has scored nine goals this season, was forced off with a groin/hip injury with 22:09 and his replacement Ogboe had a dream introduction by scoring with 23 minutes and 56 seconds on the clock.

The turn from Barrington on the right-hand side was Premier League-esque as he dazzled his marker before putting in a low cross for Ogboe, who was sent to the ground by Pollard and referee Craig Barnett pointed to the spot.

Goalkeeper Joshua James dived to his left but Ogboe lashed his right-footed penalty high into the top left-hand corner.

McMahon said:  “We just lost Charlie through injury, it’s a hip, a bit of a groin as well. He struggled last Saturday against Ashford on their pitch. He does struggle on the 3G surfaces. He didn’t train and we looked after him. We threw him in, not take a gamble because we don’t want to lose him. We just brought him off more as a precaution.

“Kelvin’s come on and within a minute the skill from Courtney was a joke!  I think every single player on the pitch, including ours, went one way and he went the other.  I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that at this level. He rolled it across and Kelvin’s got brought down and he’s despatched the penalty like he has been really well.”

It should have been 3-0 in the 27th minute when Barrington split open Pollard with a 20-yard pass along the deck to put Ali Fuseini through on goal and his right-footed curler was destined to nestle sweetly inside the bottom far corner, only for a strong left hand from a diving James ensured the ball was cleared to safety.

McMahon said:  “It was a great save. It was a great move as well. It just come about from a few one-twos and it’s come out to Courtney and it was a great, great, great little pass. I keep saying great but it was! It was a great pass into Ali Fuseini and he bent it into the bottom corner, it’s a very, very good save.”

Left-back Raphe Brown found himself inside the centre-circle before he cut open Pollard again with a sublime through ball but Ogboe’s right-footed half-volley flashed just past the foot of the right-hand post when he only had the visiting keeper to beat from 15-yards.

McMahon said: “That was the tactical change we made because Bradley Simms is our right-back and Raphe Brown’s the left-back and we changed it until the last 15 minutes to counter them. I thought it worked great.  Kelvin has come in and he’s snatched at it and it was chance where we maybe should’ve come in three up at half-time.”

Burgess Hill Town’s striker Miller endured a frustrating afternoon but he did have an opening in the 34th minute.

Briggs swung in a free-kick from the right and Miller did well to flick the ball over his shoulder from close to the penalty spot but the ball looped up and was comfortably caught by Vickers’ keeper Funnell, who had a shaky couple of minutes, especially with dealing with a low cross from Matthews.

Funnell’s kicking failed to get over the centre-circle and Burgess Hill Town failed to capitalise on that as VCD Athletic bossed the midfield with Odunsanya and Alastair Gordon in dominant mood.

“Alistair Gordon has been out for a few weeks and he’s missed a few big games for us and he came back last Saturday against Ashford (4-1 win) and I threw him straight in and he was exceptional,” said McMahon.

“We played a lot of youngsters at Sevenoaks on Tuesday (Velocity Trophy) and he completely ran the show and then again today as well, he’s a big, big player for us.

“Young Dominic Odusanya, at the beginning of the season, was one of our best players and he went off the boil and lost his place and he’s come back in for the last three or four games and was just unreal. He’s been brilliant so we’ve got great, great competition for places and we’ve got a really strong squad.”

Briggs floated in a cross into the Vickers box, the ball was palmed away by Funnell but Burgess Hill Town’s centre-half Junior Baker failed to make a good connection to his attempted hooked scissor kick when left in space on the corner of the six-yard box.

VCD Athletic created the last chance of the first half when Brown played the ball into Odusanya before Gordon fed Fuseini who drilled a left-footed shot from the edge of the box which was comfortably saved by James on his knees.

“I came in at half-time and the lads went to me ‘we ain’t conceding’ and you could see it, you could feel it last week,” said McMahon.

“I just said to the lads, come on, we need to just do the basics today, be big and strong, big and be solid and stop them going forward, and we will get another one.

“I said keep playing how we’re playing, we’ll get more chances. We were creating too many, we were playing too well.  I thought we came off it for the last five or 10 minutes of the first half, we were a bit complacent and I told them don’t let them in and go out there and start very quickly and I thought we were solid.”

Lovett certainly gave his players a gee-up during the half-time interval as Burgess Hill Town came out with all guns blazing for the opening 10 minutes.

Briggs released Miller down the left-channel and his low cross flashed across the face of the penalty area to Harding, who teed up quiet winger Aaron Smith-Joseph and his first time drive from 18-yards deflected just past the foot of the right-hand post after only 109 seconds.

An even better chance came their way from the resulting corner, their fifth of seven corners.

Briggs cut the ball back to Harding, who teed up Matthews and his drilled shot took a wicked deflection and found Baker in space on the corner of the six-yard box but the former Vicker dragged his shot across the keeper and past the far post.

“It wasn’t a chance, it was a deflection that went straight into his path so we’ve defended our lines and it’s just hit someone on their knee and ricochet straight to him,” said McMahon.

“Listen, I love Junior. I was gutted to see him go this year and it was our decision. He’s a centre-half and if he takes it we’re under the cosh and he didn’t, he dragged it wide.”

Burgess Hill Town kept knocking on the door and an even better chance came their way with five minutes and 51 seconds on the clock.

Smith-Joseph woke up and produced a great low cross in from the left channel which was poked towards goal by the sliding Harding, which forced Funnell to dive to his left and used a strong hand to push the ball away.

“I said to the lads at half-time, listen they’re going to come at us, they had to in the first 10 minutes but I thought we weathered it,” said McMahon,

“They’re a good side. Teams at this level are going to have chances, you’re not going to go out and limit them. They’re going to take a lot of points off people. Jay Lovett and Steve Sutherland are decent people and they’ve got them pretty well-drilled in a really short period of time.”

VCD Athletic went on to dominate the rest of the match.

Ten minutes in, Simms threw up towards Fuseini’s head, he cushioned the ball down for Gordon to drill his shot from the edge of the box in a central position, which was comfortably saved by James.

VCD Athletic killed the game off by scoring their third goal with 17 minutes and 9 seconds on the clock.

Gordon ran with the ball at his feet straight down the heart of the pitch in midfield before splitting open Burgess Hill’s left-back Cadman with a through ball that put winger Henry Ikeize through. 

The winger cut into the box and his drilled shot was beaten away by James at his near post and the ball dropped for Odunsanya to smash the ball low into the centre of the net from six-yards out.

“After the first 10 minutes I thought it was just a matter of time when we were going to get another,” said McMahon.

“I thought we started to dominate, we started to completely boss the midfield and run through them and it was just a matter of time when we were going to score really.

“It was another good move. I thought Henry was brilliant again and he kept getting in behind them and he’s hit a great cross in and the keeper’s had no option other than to try to put something on it and it’s fell to Dom and he’s done it last week and he’s finished it really well.”

VCD Athletic scored their fourth goal of the game with 19 minutes and 59 seconds on the clock, courtesy of Ogboe’s seventh goal of the season.

Odunsanya played the ball into now central striker Fuseini’s feet on the edge of the box and his clever pass played in Ogboe, who stroked his left-footed shot across the keeper to find the bottom far corner of the goal.

“All four goals were good. It was a really good move and good football on the edge of the box. We moved it quick and a good finish from Kelvin,” added McMahon.

Barrington was a lot quieter during the first half but Vickers stamped their dominance on the game inside the final 20 minutes.

Odunsanya drove through the heart of the pitch before playing the ball out to Ikeije down the right and he cut inside before setting up Fuseini, whose shot on the turn was parried by James as he dived to his right.

VCD Athletic should have scored a fifth goal from the penalty spot on the 76th minute when Gordon was tripped inside the box and Ogboe’s right-footed penalty was tipped onto the left-hand post by James’ fingertips as he dived to his right and Fuseini blazed the rebound high over the crossbar.

“We was on top and we was enjoying ourselves by then,” added McMahon.

“A great move again. I keep saying great move but we opened them up with some really quick passing and Ali Fuseini has rolled Ali Gordon in and he’s been brought down and he would’ve scored!

“It was a good struck pen again. It’s not the best area down the bottom (at that end of the ground) and it’s come back and Ali Fuseini’s put it over the bar.

“You’re sitting there thinking five? It would’ve been harsh on them but on chances maybe not but it just capped a great performance.”

Substitute holding midfielder George Monger pinged a sublime 60-yard pass to release Ogboe down the left and his cross was excellent and Ikeije nipped in
front of Cadman only to hit the left-hand post from 10-yards.

“He deserved a goal Henry. It was a great move.  George’s ball was brilliant and the cross was even better. It was a good performance,” added McMahon.

Burgess Hill Town were gifted an opening at the death when Funnell found himself outside his box in the right-back position and his clearance was poor and Miller’s first time goalbound shot was blocked by a brave Eweka and Harding 30-yarder was controlled by the keepers feet to prevent the ball going past the left-hand post.

Cray Valley remain at the summit in their debut season at this level with 27 points from 12 games.

The play-off places are occupied by Hastings United (25 points from 11 games), VCD Athletic (22 points from 12 games), Sevenoaks Town (21 points from 12 games) and Ashford United (19 points from 10 games).

Burgess Hill Town remain in the bottom four with nine points (three wins) from their 12 games and are five points adrift of the bottom side.

McMahon takes his side to fifteenth-placed Sittingbourne next Saturday and wants his side to keep their consistency as they go in search for the title.

“We need to keep this level up. The last two weeks we would’ve beaten anyone, the last two performances,” said McMahon.

“It is going well for us.  In the last few weeks we’ve started to click and we’re in it. We just have to keep going. It’s a long season, a long way, that’s only our fifth home game so we’re good here. We’ve got a really good strong squad.

“Sittingbourne is going to be tough.  We’ve just got to keep playing the way we are. It will be difficult down there. They’re doing well and Chris Lynch has done well over there. We just need to go with a game plan, we’ve got a good week in front of us and let’s see how we go. If we play like we did today, we’ll give them a good game.”

When asked if VCD Athletic can win the league title this season, McMahon replied: “We’re looking to win, with the squad that we’ve got here, we’re looking to win it but is it going to be good enough? Who knows?

“Play-offs will be great whatever people say.  Last year we missed out by one point. We had a really young side. I’m not saying we’re the best side here. I’ve seen most, I think any one of eight or nine sides can win this. The league is well open this year. We haven’t got an outstanding side like Cray Wanderers, who ran away with it last year and deservedly so, they were exceptional!

“This is up for grabs. I think you’ve just got to be confident. I’m definitely confident with the side that we’ve got. One our day we can beat anybody but we need to keep consistent.”

Visiting fans teased VCD Athletic about their lack of support and McMahon’s side deserve more local people coming through the turnstiles because they play attractive football.

“We’ve got a really good footballing side, we score goals, we’re entertaining.  We’ve got a lot of youngsters, we bring youngsters through. If that ain’t bringing more people through the gate, I can’t do no more,” said McMahon.

“It’s down to the club to try to do a bit now, if they can.  We’re getting things right on the pitch.

“But it’s hard when you’ve got Phoenix (around the corner) and they’re struggling for numbers and you’ve got a lot of local sides. I don’t know what the answer is?

“But I don’t care if we’re playing in front of 10 people or 500, we’ve just got to keep doing the same job.

“Burgess Hill have brought a few fans here today, with a good atmosphere, which is good. All I can say is if you’re a neutral and you want to watch exciting football, you’ve got to come down here because you’re watching a side that can do that.”

VCD Athletic: Matt Funnell, Raphe Brown, Bradley Simms, Dominic Odusanya, Temi Eweka, Rob Bartley, Henry Ikeije, Alastair Gordon (Ayman El-Mogharbel 80), Charlie MacDonald (Kelvin Ogboe 23), Ali Fuseini, Courtney Barrington (George Monger 71).
Subs: Alex Gaggin, Jack Steventon

Goals: Courtney Barrington 8, Kelvin Ogboe 24 (penalty), 65, Dominic Odusanya 63

Burgess Hill Town: Joshua James, Drew Matthews (Charlie Bennett 81), Tom Cadman, Michael Wilson (Joshua Short 72), Harry Pollard, Junior Baker, O’Shaye Giraud-Hutchinson, Andrew Briggs, Max Miller, Patrick Harding, Aaron Smith-Joseph.
Subs: Tululope Jonah, Noe Vendrells-Parcerisa, William Robinson

Attendance: 86
Referee: Mr Craig Barnett (Basildon, Essex)
Assistants: Mr Michael Butcher (Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey) & Mr Aaron Conn (Gillingham)