Whyteleafe 4-2 Hollands & Blair - I'm proud of them what they've given me effort wise for the team's first trip in to The FA Cup, says Bryan Greenfield

Tuesday 23rd August 2016
Whyteleafe 4 – 2 Hollands & Blair
Location 15 Church Road, Whyteleafe, Surrey CR3 0AR
Kickoff 23/08/2016 19:45

The Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round Replay
Tuesday 23rd August 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Church Road

HOLLANDS & BLAIR manager Bryan Greenfield says he’s feeling proud despite tasting the club’s first ever FA Cup defeat.

The Gillingham-based outfit kicked-off their new campaign with a historic 3-2 win at Horsham YMCA on their FA Cup debut and they held Ryman League Division One South side Whyteleafe to a 1-1 draw at Darland Avenue on Saturday.

Hollands & Blair’s hopes of pulling off their greatest ever result were high when striker James McDonald scored Goal of the Season so far inside the opening 13 minutes at Church Road tonight.

Whyteleafe levelled through striker Karl Parker, but Hollands & Blair took the lead again through Adam Thompson’s own-goal after Sam Prescott’s powerful header hit the underside of the crossbar before hitting the man on the line.

Parker scored his second goal of the night and Whyteleafe upped the tempo for the second half.  John Fowler’s side took the lead for the first time in the tie in the 81st minute tonight, Bentley Graham drilling into the bottom far corner.

Parker’s attempts of a hat-trick were denied when he had a penalty saved and he was on his backside and swept the ball towards goal, only for 16-year-old Blair midfielder George Hadley to slice the ball into his own goal at the death.

Whyteleafe will now travel to their league rivals Ramsgate in the First Qualifying Round on 3 September.

“I’m proud of them for the effort they put in,” said Greenfield, 37, who also tasted his first defeat in his fifth game in charge of the club since taking over from Paul Piggott.

“I think we’ve done well considering they were a league above us. To take them to a replay, the way that we did Saturday, obviously it’s disappointing to be knocked out of any cup competition but I can’t fault them. The work-rate is very good. I think second half we tired towards the end and their fitness came through and showed in the end.”

The club finished runners-up to promoted champions Greenwich Borough in their debut Southern Counties East Football League season last time out and have come a very long way, very quickly.

“Ten years, I would say (I’ve been here for), I can’t remember the exact time but it’s got to be about 10 years. It’s come a long way from local cup competitions to The FA Cup. It doesn’t get much better than that really for the club itself,” said Greenfield.

“For people like Plum (Laurence Plummer), who has run the club for 40 years, he’s just come into the changing room and said a few words how proud he is of all the boys. For someone to run a club for 40 years and take them from local cup competitions to The FA Cup is night and day.  I’m as proud of them as what Plum is.”

Hollands & Blair created the first chance on a balmy night after only 197 seconds into this Preliminary Round Replay.

Right-back Lewis Taylor cut in from the right, fed the ball to striker Ben Brown, who swept the ball out to McDonald on the right hand side and his angled drive forced Luke Colquhoun to make a low save to his right.

“You’ve seen Macca quite a few times and you know the boy loves a shot,” said Greenfield.

“Macca is not one of those strikers who has a shot from any angle and tends to put them out for goal-kicks. He’s one of those boys that fancies hitting the target from any position in and around the 18-yard box and nine times out of ten he does and he came close there.”

Whyteleafe central midfielder Graham swept the ball out to right-back Nathan Daly, who was given time and space to put in a deep cross into the Blair box for Parker to nip in front of Tom Staff to poke his shot past the near post while stretching.

Whyteleafe were keen to play an ugly long-ball style to get the ball up to striker Moses Ashikodi at every opportunity they could. 

Parker flicked a long ball forward with his head to put Ashikodi through on goal but his poor shot comfortably rolled into the hands of Tom Benham.

Hollands & Blair grabbed the lead – against the run of play - with 12 minutes and 59 seconds on the clock.

You will not see a better goal than this all season!

Prescott was inside Whyteleafe’s half when he clipped the ball down the right channel for McDonald, who was on the right-hand side of the penalty area with the white line underneath his feet.

McDonald cracked a stunning, outrageous dipping volley, which screamed over the keeper’s head, dipping into the top far corner of the net.

“I was standing next to Hodgy (Damien Hodge) in the dug-out. I’ve played with Macca now for a good few years. I play with him on a Sunday still. I’ve seen him do it so many times. It’s not a fluke that the boy finishes a ball like that! As soon as it sat up I said to Hodgy ‘hit it!’ and he did and I’m glad he did because it’s a wasted opportunity if the ball sits up as nice as that and he doesn’t take it on.

“Nine times out of ten players wouldn’t take it on but Macca’s Macca and Macca’s probably the only player on the pitch that could put the ball in the back of the net like that – at any level!”

But Whyteleafe equalised with 18 minutes and 37 seconds on the clock, courtesy of good wing play down the right by talented Scott Johnston.

He sped down the right and played the ball inside to Ashikodi, who drilled a powerful angled drive towards the far corner, which Benham pulled off a fine save, diving low to his right. 

Parker pounced on the loose ball to lash the ball into the left-corner of the net.

Greenfield said: “Obviously the boy Ashikodi has some space on the edge of the box.  He’s played a decent level of football and if you give him time and space he’s going to get a decent strike off, which he did.

“Our keeper Tom Benham – and I couldn’t have asked any more of him – the normal thing he could’ve done was tip it around the post but because of how fierce the strike was, he just had to go and save it, which he did. Unfortunately, one of our centre halves had closed down Ashikodi, which has left the boy to get on to pounce on the rebound.

“I won’t take anything away from the finish because he’s put it in the roof of the net and he’s not hit the keeper with it so if Macca had done the same, I’d have been happy with the finish!”

Hollands & Blair rode their luck when Conal O’Leary swung in their first corner of the game from the right towards the far post and Thompson came up from the back to head down and against the crossbar from six-yards.

“Something that we had said in the changing room before the game was that they were quite strong on set-pieces on Saturday,” said Greenfield.

“I never got a chance to get to watch them before we played on Saturday purely because of commitments elsewhere, otherwise I would’ve got to watch them.  We could see after Saturday they had the long throw from the right-back (Daly) and they looked dangerous from set-pieces so we knew what to expect from that.  However, it’s one thing expecting it and another thing dealing with it!”

Clinical Hollands & Blair grabbed the lead again, with 27 minutes and 27 seconds on the clock, following their only corner of the game.

Louis Valencia’s outswinging corner from the right came out to the unmarked Prescott, who powered his header towards goal from the edge of the box.  The ball clipped the underside of the crossbar and bounced off Thompson and assistant Joshua Godfrey waved his flag to confirm the ball had crossed off the line – via the central defender.

“You’re giving it as an own goal, are we? I’ll let him know, he’ll be chuffed to bits with that,” added Greenfield. 

Goals are credited as own-goals if the ball hits the woodwork, hits a defender and goes in, so Prescott’s goal is chalked off and goes down as an own-goal.

“We tried something different with the corners. We’ve lost some things over the summer, which the team’s still adjusting to and I think the in-swinging corners that we’ve had this season haven’t been hitting the right areas.  We’ve maybe hit the front post too many times or the guy marking the front post or straight into the goalkeeper so we tried something different tonight by trying an out-swinging corner.

“I told him to put it in to decent areas, give the boys something to attack and they’ve done that.  Sam Prescott is very good in the air, he’s very under-rated, he's got a great leap on him and he’s got a good contact on the ball and I couldn’t tell you who put it in if the truth be told.”

Whyteleafe produced a fine sweeping move which Ashikodi held the ball up, played the ball inside to O’Leary, who laid the ball off to Johnston to drill his first time shot over the crossbar from 15-yards.

Hollands & Blair squandered a great chance to kill the game off on the stroke of half-time.

Referee Peter Killip judged Thompson’s foul on McDonald was committed just outside the box but McDonald wasted the chance by powering his free-kick high over the bar from the corner of the D.

When asked what he told his troops during the half-time break, Greenfield said: “Try to learn from Saturday because we were 1-0 up on Saturday at the break. I thought they reacted to what their manager said at half-time and they came out like a different team on Saturday and we said it will be the same and try to learn from it and manage the game a bit better by slowing things down.

“Basically what they did all night really was turn our defence around and around and around and it gets tiring when you’re part of the back four. 

“We just asked them to learn from Saturday and try to put it into game practice tonight.

“I’m not going to knock (my players). What they’ve given me effort wise for the team’s first trip in to The FA Cup, they’ve given me nearly taking it to extra-time and taking us down to Ramsgate would’ve been brilliant for the club but I’m not going to knock them for it, I just thought we tired in the second half.”

Dominant Whyteleafe were much the better side after the interval and Johnston needs to find a club that utilise wingers instead of watching the ball sail over his head up to the target-man.

Sam Clayton’s diagonal pass was controlled expertly by Johnston, who cut inside and curled a beautiful shot around Benham, the ball agonisingly clipping the far post.  Assistant Mr Godfrey raised his flag as soon as Parker slotted the rebound into the corner in the 51st minute.

“I thought because of a poor retention of the ball we let them dictate the second half,” admitted Greenfield.

“They stuck to the same plan purely much solidly for 90 minutes, pretty much direct, they got us turned around a lot.  I said to the boys that sometimes in football you have to play the percentage football and you have to get it in to the final third and squeeze the game up 40-50 yards.  You do have to do it sometimes. It doesn’t mean you’re a long ball team by any stretch of imagination. There’s more than one way to skin a cat but I thought we knocked it around better than them.  However, I’m not taking anything away from them, but I thought they just played percentage football all night long.”

Frustrated Hollands & Blair striker Ben Brown watched a floated deep cross from substitute Jack Simon drop out of the sky, only to smack his volley into the trees behind the goal at the railway end of the ground.

“I was standing right behind it watching Brownie coming in and I wanted Jack to put a decent ball into the box to give him something to attack,” said Greenfield.

“In fairness he did, as it got to Brownie, it sort of died a death a little bit by the time it reached him. He was kind of half heading it, half volleying it and he didn’t really know what to go with. I have no doubt Brownie would’ve scored if he had gone with his head!”

Parker escaped down the right and whipped in a delicious low centre, which Ashikodi slid in and failed to get a touch.

It was inevitable that Whyteleafe would score an equaliser, arriving in the 59th minute.

Greenfield was clearly unhappy with the manner of the goal.  A downward throw from Daly caught Jack A’Court and Brady Lillis asleep and they allowed Parker to get in behind to drill a low shot across Benham to find the bottom far corner of the net from six-yards.

“A goal like that is far too easy at this level of football,” bemoaned Greenfield.

“We knew (Nathan Daly) had a long throw from Saturday. We should know what to expect. It’s a case of their striker being switched on and alert as well as the boy taking the throw-in and my centre halves not being switched on and covering around and it was far too easy a goal for this level of football. It kind of knocked the stuffing out of us a little bit.”

That goal knocked the stuffing out of Hollands & Blair, although Benham pulled off some vital saves in the final 25 minutes as tiredness crept in to the unpaid footballers from Gillingham.

Johnston cut the ball back to substitute Dean Hamlin, whose deep cross appeared to be curling out of play, but full credit must go to Clayton for keeping the ball in and hitting his shot from a tight angle, which was tipped around the post by Benham.

Hollands & Blair failed to create anything of note in the final third.  Valencia resorted to trying to score from 35-yards, which was initially spilt by Colquhoun, who grabbed hold of the ball at the second attempt without any other player inside his penalty area to punish him.

Benham pulled off another world-class save when he dived high to his right to prevent Johnston drilling in another blockbuster of a shot from the right, which was curling into the top far corner of the net.

“I spoke to (Faversham Town manager) Ray Turner in the summer about a goalkeeper and luckily Tom’s name came up and it came up a few times from talking to people so I was  very interested in getting him down to see him,” explained Greenfield. 

“He’s done nothing but impress me.  He’s one of the most agile goalkeeper’s that I’ve ever seen at this level certainly. He’s got a few things to work on but he’s still a kid, he’s only just turned 20.

“I trust him to make a save.  The only thing he didn’t do was tip it around the post but I can’t ask him to do that considering how fierce the strike was.”

Hamlin’s ball over the top put Ashikodi through on goal again but the Whyteleafe striker lost his composure and sliced his shot wide.

Whyteleafe deservedly took the lead for the first time in the tie with nine minutes remaining.

O’Leary’s corner from the right was cleared out to Ashikodi, who held the ball up on the edge of the penalty area and threaded the ball inside to Clayton, who rolled the ball to an unmarked Graham, who unleashed an angled drive across the keeper to find the bottom far corner from just inside the corner of the box.

Greenfield said: “Again, we were at sixes and sevens, I thought, by this stage. The game became very stretched. We gave the ball away and they were getting it very quick and putting it into our last third and I thought we left our defence a little bit too exposed. They moved the ball a little bit to find someone in a lot of time and space and he’s bent it into the far corner and you can’t take nothing away from the finish.”

There was still time for Whyteleafe to be awarded a penalty when Staff was penalised for a foul on Johnston on the opposite corner of the box – Mr Godfrey’s flag was raised and referee Peter Killip pointed to the spot.

Inevitably, Parker stepped up to attempt to score his hat-trick, but his right-footed penalty was smartly saved by Benham, diving low to his right to parry before pouncing on the loose ball.

“I don’t want to say too much about the penalty because I’m in my own half diagonally looking across the pitch at it,” said Greenfield.

“I know Tom’s a very honest lad and he said ‘he didn’t touch him!’ so if my centre half, who is generally an honest lad has said ‘he hasn’t touched him,’ then I believe him. 

“The save, yes, I didn’t think it was the greatest strike for the penalty. I think he gave Tom a chance to save it, which he’s done.”

Valencia went close when he cut in from the left flank and flashed his shot across the keeper and past the far post, before Whyteleafe rattled in a fourth goal, with the clock timed at 48:38.

Parker received a through ball along the deck inside the box, attempted to round keeper Benham, who smothered the ball at his feet.  Hollands & Blair had chances to clear their lines, didn’t, Parker slipped to his backside on a couple of occasions, but still managed to hook his foot around the ball.  Sixteen-year-old central midfielder Hadley walked back to the half-way line with his hands on his hips to suggest that he put the ball into his own goal, thus denying Parker his hat-trick.

Greenfield added: “I won’t give that as an own goal! You can’t give the boy trying to clear off the line an own goal really!

“I mean, again, we were at sixes and sevens. We were chasing the game. We’ve changed the shape to try to equalise and take the game to extra time.

“The boy could’ve finished it and he’s been too cute with it, he’s ended up falling on his backside and somehow it got ricochet around three or four times and it’s still come back to him. Sometimes when you’re on for a hat-trick the balls going to find you and I’ve seen Macca do it plenty of times.”

Hollands & Blair return to league action over the Bank Holiday weekend, hosting Beckenham Town to Darland Avenue on Saturday, before a trip to Corinthian on Monday afternoon.

Greenfield explained why he will be without left-back Jack A’Court for those two games.

“He’s on his way to Heathrow. It was either he played tonight or I had to step into left-back and considering I haven’t done it all season I thought I’ll let him do it, so I managed to talk his parents into going to Heathrow, drop his luggage off there, come back here, get him dropped off for the game and his parents came up to watch him and he’s going to run him off to Heathrow now so he’s going to New York and Las Vegas. 

“He’s been chomping at the bit to play men’s football for a couple of years. He’s only 17, he’s a very good prospect. He’s already had a couple of approaches,” and on tonight’s performance, you can tell why other clubs are taking an interest.

Whyteleafe: Luke Colquhoun, Nathan Daly, Conal O’Leary, Vernon Francis, Adam Thompson, Bentley Graham, Sam Clayton, Jensen Grant (Dean Hamlin 60), Karl Parker, Moses Ashikodi (Scott Simpson 90), Scott Johnston.
Subs: Dylan Ramazani, Ryan Fowler, Daryl Coleman, Will Price

Goals: Karl Parker 19, 59, Bentley Graham 81, George Hadley 90 (own goal)

Hollands & Blair: Tom Benham, Lewis Taylor, Jack A’Court (Lee Armstrong 89), George Blake (Jack Simon 21, Justin Ascheri 70)), Tom Staff, Brady Lillis, Sam Prescott, George Hadley, James McDonald, Ben Brown, Louis Valencia.
Subs: Bryan Greenfield, Josh White

Goals: James McDonald 13, Adam Thompson 28 (own goal)

Booked: Jack Simon 36, Ben Brown 85, Tom Staff 86

Attendance: 130
Referee: Mr Peter Killip (West Norwood, London SE27)
Assistants: Mr Gareth Mays (Epsom, Surrey) & Mr Joshua Godfrey (Warlingham, Surrey)

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