VCD Athletic 3-0 Bishop's Stortford - Last year it was all about survival for us with what we had. This year I want to have a go, says VCD Athletic boss Keith McMahon

Thursday 19th July 2018
VCD Athletic 3 – 0 Bishop's Stortford
Location Oakwood, Old Road, Crayford, Kent DA1 4DN
Kickoff 19/07/2018 19:45

Pre-Season Friendly
Thursday 19 July 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Oakwood

VCD ATHLETIC manager Keith McMahon says he’s not getting away following their comfortable 3-0 home win over Bishop's Stortford.

The Crayford-based hosts began their pre-season campaign with a 2-0 win at newly-promoted Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division side Punjab United last weekend but suffered a 4-1 defeat at Canvey Island a couple of nights ago.

Adam Flint is preparing his side for life back in the Bostik Premier Division and on this poor display in their first outing he has work to do ahead of their opening league game against Dorking Wanderers on 11 August.

VCD Athletic finished in seventeenth-place last season and on this performance look set for a vastly-improved campaign in the rebranded Bostik South East Division, which kicks off with a home game against Ramsgate.

Australian winger, Alex Gaggin, capped off an impressive home debut, by scoring the only goal of the first half.

Vickers deservedly added a couple of late goals in the final 15 minutes, through model-pro, Charlie MacDonald, 37, and central midfielder Dominic Odusanya, who has taken his chance to shine at a higher level of football.

“Really pleased, good run-out, everyone’s going to keep saying, ‘it’s only pre-season’, but we’re a week in now, three games, which is a bit not normal for me for the first week of the season, but we’re trying to put a new squad together and we’re trying to put the fitness in.

“I thought we’d be very good going forward and it’s just more defensively tonight because we played fairly well against Punjab with a different side and I thought we played very well against Canvey and I thought we deserved something from the game.

“We’ve had no defenders for the three games, they’re away and we are missing them.  I’m a centre half short so we threw Jack Steventon back into centre half with young Temi Emeka and I thought they were solid.

“No disrespect to Bishop’s Stortford, I thought it could have been a few more.  I was pleased. The pitch is beautiful out there and we zipped it around in good areas, a few bad habits but we’re bang on track.”

VCD Athletic took only seven minutes and 44 seconds to open the scoring.

Former Chipstead (Surrey) left-winger Leon Lalor-Dell drove at the Bishop’s Stortford defence on a 30-yard run before slipping the ball through the heart for Gaggin, to keep his composure by skipping past the advanced keeper to slot the ball into the empty goal with his right-boot from four-yards out.

“Alex was tremendous all night,” hailed McMahon.

“I saw him a few times last year and he was one of the first people I wanted to sign.  He’s an Australian lad, he’s fairly young, untold pace but his work-rate is brilliant and it was a great move on the break.

“I wanted to sign Leon as well, another winger, from Chipstead, who impressed me last year, put him through and it was a good finish.”

Bishop’s Stortford had no end product in the final third.  Number nine Chi Osadebe linked up well by holding the ball up but it proved to be a frustrating night for him, as well as the trialist targetman that replaced him in the 63rd minute.

Elliot Ronto played a free-kick down the line for winger Younis Farah – the cousin of Olympic gold athlete Mo – to loop in a cross from the right which Vickers keeper Joe Mant palmed away towards safety stretching high to his right.

Sloppy defending from Bishop’s Stortford should have resulted in McMahon’s men doubling their lead in the 33rd minute.

Midfielder Jack Stevenson played the ball into unmarked striker Moses Ashikodi, who drilled his left-footed shot past the near post from inside the penalty area.

McMahon said: “Listen, I felt sorry for Moses tonight because Charlie MacDonald was running a little late with his work and with his professionalism and rightly so, he didn’t want to start and Moses played a full 90 minutes against Canvey in the week and he’s had one training session and he ran himself into the ground on Tuesday.

“I thought he was excellent. He was a little bit tired but I thought he could’ve gone across the keeper and it was a good chance.”

Bishop’s Stortford were off target four minutes later when a ball out of defence by substitute Jack Thomas released Osadebe through on goal but after skipping past Mant, the angle proved to be too tight for the striker and his shot sailed into the side netting.

“He went quite wide, didn’t he?  We spoke about it at half-time, Joe didn’t really need to come out because we had cover from our young left-back (Regan Wiley) and he skipped past and it was a really acute angle. It seemed a half-chance and I thought we got back in numbers.”

Farah, who started on the left-wing, before switching to the right flank, before slotting in at left-back after the break, played a low pass inside to Ryan Charles, but the winger flashed his left-footed drive past the left-hand post from 25-yards.

VCD Athletic then missed a glorious chance to double their lead in the 43rd minute and their eye-catching brand of football deserved to create a second goal.

The impressive Gaggin played the ball down the line for Stevenson, who released Gaggin on the outside and he whipped in a lovely cross towards the near post but an unmarked Lalor-Dell lacked the finish by looping his left-footed shot over the diving keeper from 10-yards.

McMahon said: “Again, it was another brilliant ball from Jack Stevenson, threaded a great ball through. Alex, with his pace put a first time cross and Leon knows he should’ve scored it.  It was a great bit of movement, again, from us.”

Reflecting on his thoughts at the break, McMahon said: “I said I was pleased with the way we played. I thought we defended well. I thought our shape was good. We forced them into a few longer balls and I thought we dealt with them trying to play out from the back.

“I said if we want to be picky, we should be three-up but we’re creating chances.  I knew who we had coming on at half-time and I thought we’d keep moving the ball quickly and play the way we were.”

Bishop’s Stortford missed a glorious chance to grab an equaliser as they started the second half on the front foot and should have buried a free header inside eight minutes.

Johnville Renee released substitute winger Alfie Mason and his right-wing cross was excellent and picked out an unmarked Osadebe, who hung in the air and placed his header across Mant and past the far post from 12-yards.

McMahon said: “Again, down to us! We had the ball in the middle of midfield and we played a square pass, looking for feet when we shouldn’t have and they’ve pinged the ball wide and a decent cross and they should’ve scored from a free-header.”

MacDonald went close to opening his account within four minutes and once again Gaggin was the provider.

Full-back Jeffery Gyamfi fed Gaggin down the right and he whipped in a low cross towards the near post for MacDonald, to cut across his marker, take a touch and sweep his right-footed shot across the substitute keeper and past the far post from a tight-angle.

McMahon said: “Listen, that’s what Charlie’s about. Alex gets wide and puts in a lot of great first time crosses in today and Charlie comes alive anywhere in the box and it was a great touch and he was unlucky.  That’s why we’ve got him in for this year and I think he’s going to do alright for us.”

Ronto’s deep free-kick was met by Alfie Mason’s header, which proved to be meat and drink for the Vickers keeper, Mant.

Vickers captain Alastair Gordon rolled the ball inside to Gaggin, who scuff his weak shot which was picked up by George Mortimor in the Stortford goal.

VCD Athletic finally doubled their lead with 29 minutes and 7 seconds on the clock, courtesy of MacDonald’s first goal for the club.

MacDonald cut the ball back from the edge of the penalty area to Aymun El-Moyhalbel, before cutting past his man to find space inside the box, skipped past the keeper and from a tight angle produced a classy finish, dinking his shot into the bottom near corner from inside the six-yard box.

“It was a great finish,” McMahon said.

“I just said to him as we were coming off the pitch, I don’t think some of our 17 or 18 year-olds would’ve got to that. He just skipped round, first time, acute angle. It was a brilliant finish!”

McMahon raised many eyebrows when he signed the former Greenwich Borough and Cray Wanderers striker, putting him on a contract.

“That’s what he brings you. He’s been brilliant for us in pre-season. His leadership, we’ve got so many youngsters here, so many, we’ve got about five 19-year-olds and an 18-year-old in the squad tonight and he’s really took them under his wing and I’m pleased for him. First goal for the club, first of many!

“He’s a massive signing, the club’s biggest signing, my biggest signing.  We knew we had to do something. I spoke to the chairman and he backed me. We needed to go and have a go. I’m an ambitious manager. Gary Rump has done so much for the club over the last two years, taking over the whole club, spent his money wisely elsewhere. 

“Last year it was all about survival for us with what we had. This year I want to have a go.  I’ve not gone silly, whatever money I’ve spent, I’ve got the best centre forward in this level.”

Farah found himself in the final third down the left-channel and he whipped in a deep cross for Mason to cut across his man to glance his header across the keeper and harmlessly past the far post.

“Last year we conceded a lot of goals and this year we’ve had three games now and two clean sheets.  I can’t remember Joe having to make a save,” added a satisfied McMahon.

VCD Athletic’s impressive night’s work on a humid night deserved to have been rewarded by three clear goals and their wish finally came with 44 minutes and 32 seconds on the clock.

MacDonald played the ball inside to Odusanya, who controlled the ball magnificently before drilling a sublime right-footed shot sweetly into the bottom left-hand corner from 30-yards, giving Mortimor no chance at all.

McMahon has high hopes for find Odusanya, who was playing in the tenth-tier of English football for Erith & Belvedere.

“This young kid is going to be a name! We’ve signed Dom from Erith & Belvedere and I know Ravit Anand from Dulwich Hamlet has already Tweeted that he’s over the moon for him.

“He’s just turned 19 and he’s come up from two levels and he’s come on for a massive name in Jack Stevenson, whose coming back from two years absence and he didn’t look out of place.

“I think the result capped what we deserved, I think. It was nice. It’s pre-season so there ain’t no points.  It’s confidence and winning habits are good.  We’re not getting carried away but it’s a result we deserved but anyone watching the game tonight will go away and go ‘they’re not a bad side’.

VCD Athletic have five more warm-up games left to play and travel to Southern Counties East Football League First Division side Rochester United on Saturday.

“All three games I’ve started the same two wide men and their ain’t going to be no surprises come the start of the season if they’ve both playing like they have done tonight,” said McMahon, who has pencilled in Lalor-Dell, Gaggin and MacDonald for the Ramsgate League opener.

“There’s not going to be much of a surprise who I might start up front as well.  You don’t have to come and watch us to work that one out!

“There’s competition for places in the middle of the park and competition for places at the back so that’s what those five games will give us.

“We’ll go to Rochester, which we’re not going to take easy. I’m not going to bring any more trailists in. I am a centre half short, which I am looking for but it’s to win all the games.

VCD Athletic: Joe Mant, Jeffery Gyamfi, Regan Wiley (Jude Adebayo 77), Tyrone Guthrie (Aymun El-Moyhalbel 68), Jack Steventon, Temi Emeka, Alex Gaggin, Alastair Gordon, Moses Ashikodi (Charlie MacDonald 46), Jack Stevenson (Dominic Odusanya 46), Leon Lalor-Dell (Courtney Barrington 68).
Sub: Ricardo Joseph

Goals: Alex Gaggin 8, Charlie MacDonald 75, Dominic Odusanya 90

Bishop’s Stortford: Bobby Mason (George Mortimor 46), Max Bassington (Marcus Crowther 34), Chad Cruse (Alfie Mason 46), Elliot Wright (Jack Thomas 22), Damien Green, Joe Robinson, Younis Farah, Johnville Renee (Jacob Bennett 71), Chi Osadebe (Trialist 63), Elliot Ronto, Ryan Charles (Trialist 63).

Attendance: 60
Referee: Mr Farai Hallam (Ilford, Essex)
Assistants: Mr Jack Owen (Sevenoaks) & Mr Myles Hewson (Sittingbourne)