VCD Athletic 4-1 Chichester City - 12 points from a possible 12, yes I pinch myself a little bit but we'll take it, says table-topping VCD Athletic boss Nick Davis

Tuesday 06th October 2020
VCD Athletic 4 – 1 Chichester City
Location Oakwood, Old Road, Crayford, Kent DA1 4DN
Kickoff 06/10/2020 19:30

Isthmian League South East Division
Tuesday 6 October 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Oakwood

VCD ATHLETIC manager Nick Davis admits he has to pinch himself with the successful manner that he has started his reign in charge of the Crayford-based club.

The Vickers sit proudly at the summit of the Isthmian League South East Division table with 12 points from four games, five points clear of Sevenoaks Town, who host Hythe Town at Greatness Park on Wednesday night.

However, the scoreline doesn’t tell the actual story of the game as Miles Rutherford’s side were miles better than VCD Athletic on the night, especially during an impressive first-half showing on the pristine playing surface at Oakwood.

The 4-1 scoreline was harsh on Chichester City, who strangely have lost all three of their opening league games and sit second-from-bottom in the league table tonight.

Chichester City played an attractive brand of carpet football, playing out from the back, with centre-half Connor Cody comfortable on the ball and crossing the halfway line with the ball at his feet.  Holding midfielder Matthew Axell pulled the strings but the away side went longer as soon as he was substituted.  Central striker Devon Fender often drew out Ashley Probets to play wide right as the away side’s passing game and movement was of a very high quality.

Chichester City deservedly opened the scoring inside the opening 11 minutes but they went route one and left-back Robert Hutchings smashed in a stunning volley.

VCD Athletic grabbed an equaliser just eight minutes later through Anthony Adesite, who glanced home a header from a free-kick.

The Vickers were ruthless during the second half, scoring three times during a devastating eight minutes.

Adesite lashed in his second on the night before midfield enforcer Lea Dawson notched with his head before striker Paul Vines, 37, drilled a brilliant angled drive into the bottom corner.

“I’m obviously delighted with the result,” said Davis, who started his playing career with the club aged 16.

“The first half-an-hour I just couldn’t believe how good they were.  We just couldn’t get near them. Their movement, the way they passed the ball, they’re a very, very good side but we were a threat wasn’t we on the counter-attack so to go in at one-all, I thought we was quite lucky.

“But second half, there’s moments in games that change games and I always said if we stayed in the game, we’re a new side and we get stronger and stronger as the games have gone on.

“Kiki Oshilaja’s last-ditch tackle was unbelievable, when we overplayed and they caught it and from then on I thought we dominated for 20 minutes and we scored the goals that we did and we could have got a couple more.

“You can’t read too much into the league table at the moment but I’d take four wins baring in mind we’ve only been together for 12 weeks as a team, with only two players signed from last season, so 12 points from 12 points is remarkable.

“They are a very good side, unbelievable, I must admit.  We’ve had them watched, we knew about them but I didn’t think they were as strong as that! Our pitch helped them, the way they played football.

“But we showed a huge amount of character.  We’ve come from behind in a game, it’s the third game, Whitehawk, Whitstable and now Chichester.  We’ve got some massive characters in this changing room and it’s an enjoyable place to be at the moment.”

Chichester City set the tone by creating their first of many chances after only 24 seconds.

Lone striker Fender and winger Kaleem Haitham linked up before Hutchings whipped in a cross, which was cleared at the near post and central midfielder Lloyd Rowlatt took a touch before flashing his 25-yard drive past the foot of the left-hand post.

“I mean, they started really brightly and we were a yard behind them at times and it took us a while to get to grips with their formation and how we went about things. It wasn’t a great start was it? They had a shot early on and it seemed how it go for the next 20 minutes,” admitted Davis.

VCD Athletic created their first opening with only 184 seconds on the clock when the pressing Ayman El-Mogharbel picked up a loose ball in midfield and drove into the box and watched his left-footed shot trickle across the keeper and past the foot of the far post.

“He scored on Saturday, he’s got so much ability and he’s a great ball carrier and he gets into areas and he needs to join in with the number nine Vinsey today. He was unlucky. He’s got that in him. He’s a fantastic ball carrier and he’s getting stronger and stronger in that position,” said Davis.

Axell pinged a ball over the top from inside the Chichester half to release Gicu Iordache, who got in behind Probets, who plays on the left of a three-man defence, and the winger played the ball inside to Fender, who took a touch before lashing his shot high over the bar from a yard inside the box.

Chichester City went route one as they opened the scoring with 10 minutes and 38 seconds on the clock.

Right-back Emmett Dunn received the ball closer to the halfway line than the by-line and launched a long diagonal 50-yard pass which was smashed into the top left-hand corner by Hutchings, a stunning left-footed volley from 16-yards, which gave keeper Nick Blue no chance.

Davis said: “I was looking where our right-back was but it was their number three (Hutchinson) so it was actually our right-sided player who didn’t track him.

“We shouldn’t be done by one ball but what a finish from him as well, so 1-0 down and up against it, definitely.

“They deserved it, without a doubt. They were the better side in the first half but we had the better chances in the first half.”

VCD Athletic had claims for a goal chalked off by the officials in the 17th minute.

Probets swung in their first corner in from the right with his wand of a left-foot and keeper Steven Mowthorpe appeared to be behind his goal-line at the time that he punched the ball out.

“We’ve heard it’s a yard behind the line, it’s gone directly in,” claimed Davis.

“All the guys in the box, even their midfielder said it but we didn’t get that decision. Luckily it didn’t cost us today,”

Chichester City’s left-winger Haitham whipped in a deep cross which found Fender in space down the right-channel and his cross deflected off Vickers’ left-wing-back Malachi Hudson and Blue easily made the save at his near post.

VCD Athletic grabbed the equaliser following a set-piece with 18 minutes and 11 seconds of an frenetic start to the game.

Right-wing-back Chris Edwards’ free-kick delivery from the right was of a very high standard and Adesite applied the necessary touch with his head, the ball sailing into the top far corner of the net.

Davis said: “Anthony won the free-kick. We pressed them.  We pressed on their left-hand side where we thought they were weaker. We tried to force the play that side. He nicked the ball and they fouled him and then we crossed it for our goal.

“It was a great goal. He could’ve had a couple on Saturday (during our 4-0 win at Three Bridges) and he didn’t so I’m pleased he’s got a couple tonight.”

Chichester City were getting joy down the right as Iordache’s cross was played in behind Probets but a poor touch from Rory Briggs inside the box allowed him a second bite of the cherry as he was left in space.  However, he swept his left-footed shot towards the bottom near corner but Blue wasn’t going to be beaten from that angle and got down low to his left to grab hold of the ball before it nestled into the corner.

“A good save wasn’t it?  He’s been great Bluey to be honest,” said Davis.

“It was near post, similar to Vinsey’s goal when their keeper got caught. We just wobbled. We just needed to stay in the game. The longer the game goes on the stronger we’ll become and that’s just the theme of our play really since we’ve been together.”

Chichester City’s other centre-half, Ben Pashley, played the ball out of defence and Rowlatt found plenty of space in front of Dawson and Joe Bingham to unleash a right-footed drive from 30-yards.  The ball appeared to be heading over but Blue stuck up his right-hand to push the ball over his crossbar and behind for a corner.

Davis said: “We didn’t know if it was going over or not but I think he just made sure didn’t he?

“He’ll do well to score form that sort of distance. If we’re restricting teams to that then that’s not a major concern.”

Chichester City turned defence into a blistering counter-attack just three minutes before half-time as VCD Athletic got away with one.

Edwards’ corner was cleared and came back to him and his left-wing cross was deep and was cleared and Chichester hit them on the counter attack as Fender sprinted straight down the middle of the pitch. 

However, Blue hesitated and resisted the temptation to race out of his penalty area and Fender sprayed the ball out to his right to Haitham, who was in an offside position by the time he cut the ball back to Fender, who smashed the ball into the net from close range.

“The major concern was when they broke from our corner. Oh my God! He should’ve come shouldn’t he. It was a let-off and luckily there were passages of play hence that went our way.”

Chichester City went into the half-time break somehow on level terms against a side that were on the end of a footballing lesson during the first half.

“We felt they were strong down one side and not so the other so our press was to try and direct the play down their weaker side and I think it worked second half,” said Davis.

“I said stay in the game, the next goal will be absolutely critical If we score that I think we go on and win the game and they probably felt the same. It was in the balance early on wasn’t it?”

The outstanding Axell ran with the ball with his feet before slipping the ball through to Iordache, who drilled a fierce left-footed drive which stung Blue’s fingers from just outside the Vickers penalty area, inside the opening six minutes of the second half.

“I think they started the better side for the first 10-15 minutes but again if we’re restricting them to long shots, so we’ll take that,” added Davis.

“They were really good tonight and we’ve won 4-1. It’s one of those isn’t it but football is played over 95 minutes.”

Chichester City’s shooting then started to go downhill after that moment with shots being drilled high and wide from outside the box after the introduction of former Staines Town centre-half Geoff Okonkwo, who came off the bench to slot in beside Kiki Oshilaja, pushing Jack Barry into a holding midfield position.

Vines dropped into his own half in the 52nd minute and gave the ball away as he attempted to play an inside pass to release Adesite down the right and Pashley intercepted the ball and drove into the box but lacked composure by producing a centre-halves finish by lashing his left-footed drive over the top of the near post when he only had Blue to beat.

Dunn and Hutchings linked up again in the 56th minute when Dunn’s deep cross picked out the unmarked Hutchings at the far post but he lashed his left-footed volley over the top of the near post from the corner of the six-yard box.

Chichester City were made to pay for being wasteful in front of goal as VCD Athletic showed their ruthless streak by taking their scoring tally to 14 goals in their opening four league games.

They grabbed the lead with 12 minutes and 49 seconds on the clock, courtesy of a drilled finish from Adesite.

El-Mogharbel linked up well with Probets and Hudson down the left before El-Mogharbel – who plays behind Vines in the number 10 role – played a crossfield pass from left-to-right to pick out the unmarked Adesite, who lashed his first-time right-footed shot into the roof of the net from the right-hand side of the penalty area.

It was clear that left-back Hutchings was the away side’s weak defensive link and VCD Athletic exploited this in explosive fashion.

Davis said: “Absolutely fantastic finish, wasn’t it?  He scored 8 goals in about 20 odd games last season for Faversham, he was their leading goalscorer and I felt if we get the part he works hard and he put such a shift in today and that’s the minimum that we expect and a great finish! I’m pleased for him that he’s got his brace.”

Vines played the ball out wide to Edwards, who whipped in a cross with high-quality from within the channel and El-Mogharbel took a touch in the centre of the box, turned and hit his right-footed shot over the crossbar from 12-yards.

Davis added: “We had a real good spell didn’t we in there and some quick fire-goals and Ayman got himself in a really decent position. He worked tirelessly tonight, unfortunately he didn’t score but a couple of goals came in quick succession then.”

It was a shock when Rutherford substituted Axell as the away side ditched their carpet football and started hitting aimless long balls into no man’s land.

Davis said: “What was the big turning point was taking Axell off, he’s an exceptional ball player and we said before the game everything goes through him and when they took him off they went a bit longer and it didn’t suit their play and it suited us more.”

Chichester City keeper Mowthorpe gifted VCD Athletic a third goal by some poor goalkeeping with 17 minutes and 15 seconds on the clock.

Edwards drilled a free-kick into the penalty area from the halfway line and the keeper failed to come and grab hold of the ball and paid the price when Dawson looped his header over the stranded keeper and into an empty net from 16-yards.

“That’s Lea Dawson to a tee. We scored two set-pieces on Saturday, today, another couple. We had a couple against Whitstable,” revealed Davis.

“We’ve got some super headers of a football in this team.  Jack Hopkins is unfortunately injured, the likes of Jack Barry, Vinsey, Dawson, Bingham. They’re all exceptional in air and they’re not the biggest but they’re willing to get on the end of things.”

Mowthrope was then beaten at his near post – a cardinal sin for a goalkeeper – with 20 minutes and 59 seconds on the clock.

Edwards threw the ball towards Vines, whose initial ball was blocked at the near post but he persisted and hooked a drilled left-footed shot from wide on the right of the penalty area straight into the bottom near corner from 16-yards, the keeper too slow to get strong enough hands to a fiercely struck drive.

“Good goal, wasn’t it? Could the keeper get it? I’m not sure. He hit it so early and so hard right in the corner. The near post debate. Fantastic goal. Vinsey only needs that sort of chance and it’s three goals in the four league games that we’ve played so yes, brilliant from him, my number nine,” added Davis.

Chichester City dominated the final 10 minutes and created further chances as the home side’s defensive play started to get sloppy.

Cody drilled a speculative right-footed drive from inside the centre-circle, which screamed past the right-hand post.

VCD Athletic substitute striker Luke Griffiths came on for Vines and had one chance to score.

Adesite played a diagonal ball over to Edwards in space down the right and he took a touch before whipping in another great cross, this time to Griffiths at the near post from inside the six-yard box and his first-time flicked shot was tipped around the post by Mowthorpe, low to his left.

A rare poor clearance from Blue offered Fender and opportunity, one that he failed to take, his shot trickling past the foot of the near post from 20-yards.

“I thought he was a good player Fender. He was a handful. The movement all over was good and he kept going out so do we go with him, do we not? Their movement causes problems,” acknowledged Davis.

Vickers’ substitute Emilano Hysi tried to score from the half-way line when he noticed the keeper was off his line but his speculative shot was comfortably caught by Mowthorpe, on the edge of his box.

A right-wing corner from Chichester substitute Ethan Pritchard was worked towards the far post where Biggs’ cross glanced off Barry and was comfortably caught by Blue above his head.

Rutherford’s men kept plugging away and the impressive Iordache cut in from the left before hitting a diagonal to the unmarked Dunn, who drilled his angled drive across the keeper and just past the far post at the end of this high-quality game of football.

“They got in a couple of times late on down our left and I just didn’t want us to get sloppy,” said Davis.

“I wanted us to do the right things at the right time but they’re coming forward and trying to score.  Luckily, it’s gone wide and it’s something that we have to work on.

“We think the game’s won but it isn’t won until the whistle goes.  Things like that is a bug bear for me because I want to do the right things all the way through.”

VCD Athletic began their campaign with a 6-0 defeat at Cray Valley (Paper Mills) in The FA Cup Preliminary Round on 12 September, but since then have beaten Whitehawk (2-1); Whitstable Town (4-1) and Three Bridges (4-1) but they face a tough test with a trip to Hastings United on Saturday.

Hastings United are ninth-place in the table after thrashing Haywards Heath Town 5-1 tonight and are unbeaten with five points from three games.

“Let’s not talk about The FA Cup,” said Davis, when reflecting on his side’s impressive start to the new season.

“What a fantastic start and we couldn’t even envisage such a great start.  People say with one up top (Vines), we’re not going to score enough goals.  Well, we’re proving that we can score enough goals!

“So far, so good. We’ve not got Hastings away on Saturday so a huge test for us. 

“I was going to give them Thursday off but we’re in such a good place we’re all going to come in, see the physio and go through how we’re going to set up against Hastings.

“At the moment it’s a great place to be at the moment. There’s a real buzz around the place, really good changing room, long may it continue but you enjoy the good times because there’s enough bad times in non-league football.

“Hastings and then East Grinstead, they don’t come much harder than that but 12 points from a possible 12, yes I pinch myself a little bit but we’ll take it.”

VCD Athletic:  Nick Blue, Chris Edwards, Malachi Hudson, Jack Barry, Ashley Probets, Kiki Oshilaja, Lea Dawson, Joe Bingham (Geoff Okonkwo 59), Paul Vines (Luke Griffiths 79), Ayman El-Mogharbel (Emilano Hysi 77), Anthony Adesite.
Subs: Taylor Fisher, Theo McKenzie

Goals: Anthony Adesite 19, 58, Lea Dawson 63, Paul Vines 66

Booked: Chris Edwards 85

Chichester City: Steven Mowthorpe, Emmett Dunn, Robert Hutchings, Matthew Axell (Ethan Pritchard 62), Connor Cody, Ben Pashley (Corey Heath 78), Kaleem Haitham (Theo Bennetts 77), Lloyd Rowlatt, Devon Fender, Rory Biggs, Gicu Iordache.
Subs: Charles Oakwell-Boulton, Jacob Briggs

Goal: Robert Hutchings 11

Booked: Rory Biggs 73

Attendance: 96
Referee: Mr Harry Wager
Assistants: Mr Thomas Fennelly & Mr James Goodman