Worceseter City 2-1 Greenwich Borough - It would have been great to be in the hat, says Paul Blade

Sunday 26th October 2014

The FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
Sunday 26th October 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Aggborough Stadium

GREENWICH BOROUGH assistant manager Paul Blade says he feels gutted that the club are not going to be picked out of the velvet bag during The FA Cup First Round Draw.

The lowest ranked club left in The FA Cup put up a brave fight away to Vanarama Conference North side Worcester City and they were seven minutes away from taking them back to Dartford for a replay.

Worcester City, who went into the tie unbeaten at home, enjoyed plenty of possession and they took the lead with nineteen minutes on the clock through Ellis Deeney’s deflected shot, which looped over the despairing Craig Holloway.

But Greenwich Borough silenced the home fans inside Aggborough Stadium, the home of Vanarama Conference side Kidderminster Harriers, on the hour mark when substitute Billy Bennett scored his third FA Cup goal of the season.

But Worcester City broke the hearts of the Southern Counties East Football League side when substitute Daniel Nti scored so send his club into the First Round for the fifteenth time in their illustrious history.

Blade said: “Their management were very complimentary after the game. He said to us “we would have taken a draw,”

“Once we got ourselves into it, I thought we could get something here but at the end of the day sometimes you only get another chance. The teams at the higher levels get one opportunity and they can hurt you and that was it.

“It would have been good to bring them back to Dartford for a replay. That would have been really interesting and we would have really fancied that.

“It would have been lovely just to take them back to our place on Wednesday and the opportunity to be in the hat and when the pro sides com into it and everything else. It would have been a proper scenario then with all of the big boys coming in.  That would have been a good thing. That would have been a massive thing. But it’s done now. It’s finished. We’ll just concentrate on what’s coming up.”

This was the first time that Greenwich Borough had reached The FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round and boss Ian Jenkins’ tactics were to keep Worcester City at bay.

Diminutive striker Lewis Wood worked tirelessly up front on his own as his team mates sat back to try to keep their opponents quiet and shooting from distance.

However, it was Greenwich Borough who created the first chance after only 58 seconds.

Gary Alexander floated over a cross from the right and Paul Vines, who was playing on the left-hand side of midfield instead of his accustomed central striker role, was left in acres of space from 20-yards but headed down and allowed Worcester keeper Nathan Vaughan to gather.

Worcester City’s first of many chances arrive shortly afterwards.

Right-back George Williams launched a long throw into the penalty area and Wayne Thomas came up from the back to send his near post header straight into Holloway’s hands for a comfortable catch.

Greenwich Borough were hit on a counter attack following their first of only two corners.

Chris Edwards’ corner from the left failed to beat the first man and City broke down the right through Jordan Murphy, who beat two defenders and played the ball inside to striker Nick Wright, who stroked his right-footed shot across the diving Holloway and past the far post.

Worcester City linked up well with Deeney, Tyler Weir and Thomas and midfielder Sean Geddes was given time and space to crack his right-footed drive which whistled just over the bar from 30-yards.

It was one-way traffic and Holloway was forced into making his first save with sixteen minutes on the clock.

Williams cut the ball back to Deeney in space, who stroked a left-footed drive towards goal from 25-yards, but the goalkeeper dived low to his left to make a smart save, holding onto the ball.

Blade said: “We set our stall out. We had a game plan, which we sort of stuck to. Yes, they were always going to have more possession. Apart from that though, they didn’t really hurt us.  Craig didn’t have a lot to do.”

But Holloway was beaten in the 19
th minute as Worcester City received a slice of luck.

Weir progressed into the Greenwich half from left-back and played the ball into Geddes, who played the ball to Murphy on the edge of the box.  Murphy turn left Joe Vines on his backside and he stabbed the ball inside to Deeney, whose left-footed shot from 20-yards took a deflection and looped over Holloway’s outstretched arm and dropped into underneath the crossbar.

Blade said: “If he hit it cleanly Craig would have kept it out because it went straight through the middle of the goal. It’s deflected and it’s looped up over the top of him so there’s no way you can blame anyone for that.

“We could probably blame us before that giving the ball away but what can you do with a deflected shot that loops over the goalkeeper?

“There’s nothing you can do about that! You have to accept it and get on with it.”

Worcester City went close to killing the game off when Murphy slid the ball into Jackman, who played a fine ball in behind the Greenwich Borough defence for Wright, who drilled his right-footed shot over Holloway’s outstretched left arm and over the top of the near post.

But the longer the first half went, the more resilient the Greenwich Borough team were and no further first half goalscoring chances were created by the home side, although Greenwich Borough didn’t look like scoring either!

“We just sort of said to them just stop chasing silly areas, stop chasing silly balls, just be tight and solid, keep your shape and when we have got the ball try to get people pushed on more than we have done.

“We didn’t create a lot in the first half so we wanted to try to turn them a little bit and obviously being 1-0 down, we have to score.

“Obviously their game plan had to change as well because we had to be a bit more attacking.  That’s why we changed it and put Gary (Alexander) up top.  It worked. It worked straight away. We were a different side and all off a sudden they couldn’t deal with it.”

Greenwich Borough lost Paul Vines to a hamstring injury within four minutes of the second half, so Jenkins brought on Billy Bennett to play in midfield and pushed Alexander further forward alongside Wood.

Worcester took 12 minutes to create their first chance of the second half when right-back Williams cut in from the right and his angled drive was well held by Holloway at his near post.

But Greenwich Borough silenced Aggborough Stadium when they snatched an equaliser on the hour mark.

A cry of “Come on Borough” came from behind the opposite end which was packed with Worcester supporters before Edwards whipped in his free-kick from the left-flank.

Worcester City failed to deal with the threat and the ball dropped into Bennett’s feet, who turned and clipped a left-footed shot past Vaughan to find the near corner from eight-yards.

The dream was back on!

Blade said: “Brilliant! He’s got a knack for that one. It was a great ball. He put great balls in all day today from free-kicks, we were dangerous from set-pieces.

“He puts a good ball in the box. We’ve got people who will attack it. We got back in the game, which is what we had to do.

“We were (debating) to actually start Billy today so he was so close on the decisions really. It wasn’t a problem but we can change it at any time. We can put players on the bench who can fit straight in with what we’re doing.”

Bennett’s third goal of the season silenced the Worcester City faithful.

“That’s the thing when you’re playing against sides in a higher league that have got crowds, it is important that you then turn the crowd against their own side in a way that they’re not buzzing and they’re not signing their names or cheering.

“All off a sudden you feel the panic in them and that hopefully goes onto the pitch and the players sort of half listen to it. All off a sudden their game plan sorts of changes a little bit and the idea is if you can change the crowd a bit and get them onto their own players, it helps us.”

A shell-shocked Worcester City now knew they had a game on their hands. Greenwich Borough went into the game on the back of eleven straight wins and there was a spell when the Kent side were starting to get themselves back into the game, without looking like they were going to score.

Blade said: “We got ourselves back in to the game. We could see how they’d react to that. At one point I thought they had gone. We was well on top. We broke them down and we worked hard.”

Murphy’s left-footed speculative drive from 35-yards sailed over Holloway’s bar as nerves crept in the home camp and terraces.

Connor Gater’s run forward ended in a left-footed drive from 22-yards, which stung Holloway’s fingers, before the former Arsenal stopper gathered at the second attempt.

Jackman then played the ball into Geddes, whose right-footed chip sailed over the crossbar and into the nervous crowd from 25-yards.

Worcester City created a great chance from distance as the game entered the final 20 minutes.

Deeney and Geddes linked up and played the ball out to Weir, who cut in from the left and unleashed a stunning right-footed curler, which forced Holloway to dive high to his left but he was relieved to see the 30-yarder sail just over the top of the far post.

Worcester City went close again in the final fifteen minutes when Wright played a one-two with Gater down the right cut into the penalty area and floated over across which was met by Nti, who hung his header across the keeper and just past the far post.

Holloway made another fine save when he clawed the ball away high to his left to prevent being chipped by Nti, who beat two Greenwich Borough players before Gary Borrowdale came across.

“You’ve got to accept that they’re going to be dangerous on attacking.  They were just shots, being a goalkeeper like him they weren’t going to trouble him,” said Blade.

“It was a great tackle from Garry Borrowdale there. He managed to just get himself back and get a toe onto it which Craig dealt with after that, but Gary’s a solid defender. It was a great tackle from the centre half.”

But Greenwich Borough’s hearts were broken and their record breaking six-match FA Cup run ended in the final seven minutes.

Deeney swung in a corner from the right, there was a crowd of players inside the penalty area and Nti steered his right-footed drive into the bottom left-hand corner.

“It’s hard to see really. The boys are gutted because they’re adamant that it should have been a free-kick,” claimed Blade.

“He took his legs away before he tried to clear the ball away from Billy Bennett and Danny Phillips tried to hook it away and he said he took his legs away as he tried to clear the ball away.

“We couldn’t see that but at the end of the day were quite disappointed.”

Holloway made a low save to his left to prevent Deeney scoring with a right-footed drilled shot from 35-yards.

But Greenwich Borough could have snatched a replay inside injury time.

Edwards whipped in a free-kick from 40-yards out on the right towards the near post where Alexander directed his header sailing agonisingly past the right-hand post.

“We put Gary up front and he was excellent second half. He caused them so many problems. I don’t think they could deal with them,” said Blade.

“That’s Gary’s trademark. He put a great ball in. Gary Alexander flicks it on – that would have been nice. Icing on the cake. It’s done now.”

Holloway frustrated Worcester again at the death when he made a brilliant save to prevent Wright scoring with a right-footed drive when he dived low to his left to ensure the ball looped over the bar.

Greenwich Borough’s FA Cup run has banked them £18,425 in prize money but they have now fallen behind in the Southern Counties East Football League. They now lie in fifteenth-place in the table, having played only seven league games, and are 24 points adrift of league leaders Erith & Belvedere, but with seven games in hand.

Greenwich Borough are at home to Hailsham Town in The FA Vase First Round next Saturday, before travelling to Park View Road to play the league leaders on 8 November, which is FA Cup First Round day.

“We knew that we were never going to win it (The FA Cup), so we wanted to go as far as we can,” said Blade.

“The First Round would have been brilliant.  Our aim was to get into the First Round. That would have been really good for the club but it’s all done and dusted now.

“We’ve got The FA Vase next week, which we’ll concentrate solely on and at some point we’ll play a league game. I’m not quite sure what a league game is all about, so it will be nice to get a few league games as well.

“We’ve put a great little run together and that’s gone right through the club and the players have responded to that. Winning is a great habit, training’s lively and everyone’s buzzing when you’re winning so there’s been a great feeling around the club. All we need to do now is take that on.

“It just so happens that our eleven-game winning run has been involved in The FA Cup and not league games. If we’d won eleven on the spin in the league we’d be top of the league but we haven’t. We’ve won the games we have in the cup games so that’s put us out there as well but I wouldn’t change it for one bit.”

Greenwich Borough can be proud of their run in the Cup, which included beating higher league sides Beaconsfield SYCOB and Redhill.

“That’s it. It’s all over now. We’ve got our rewards from doing what were doing. The publicity for the club and everything else. The boys gave more than 100% for today and you can’t ask no more than that as a manager.”

Worcester City: Nathan Vaughan, George Williams, Tyler Weir, Wayne Thomas, Jacob Rowe, Danny Jackman, Jordan Murphy (Daniel Nti 64), Ellis Deeney, Nick Wright, Sean Geddes (Tristian Dunkley 77), Connor Gater.
Subs: Graham Hutchinson, Shabir Khan, David McDermott, Michael Taylor, Chris Gemmell

Goals:  Ellis Deeney 19, Daniel Nti 83

Booked:  Daniel Nti 89

Greenwich Borough: Craig Holloway, Aaron Day, Danny Young, Chris Saunders, Joe Vines, Gary Borrowdale, Lewis Wood (Jack Mahon 77), Gary Alexander, Paul Vines (Billy Bennett 49), Danny Phillips, Chris Edwards.
Subs: Frankie Beale, Reiss Powell, Jack Clark, Jamie Wood, Ricky Bennett

Goal: Billy Bennett 60

Booked: Joe Vines 15, Chris Saunders 18, Danny Young 86

Attendance: 896
Referee: Mr Derek Eaton (Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire)
Assistants: Mr David Sallis (Hereford, Herefordshire) & Mr Stephen Oakey (Cheltenham, Gloucestershire)
Fourth Official: Mr Chris Smith (Leominster, Herefordshire)