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MATCH REPORT
Macron SCE Challenge Cup - First Round, 2nd Leg
1 Feb 2017
MC
Cray Valley
4
v
0
Lordswood
Kent Reliance Senior Trophy Quarter-Final
Stephen McCartney reports from DGS Marine Stadium

CRAY VALLEY manager James Collins says he wants to guide the club to at least one cup final in his first season in charge of the club since switching from Lordswood.
The Millers join Ashford United, Canterbury City and Deal Town in the semi-finals of the Kent Reliance Senior Trophy, with a flattering 4-0 win over Lordswood.

Cray Valley, in eighth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with 44 points from 24 games – 11 points adrift of leaders Ashford United, defeated a Lordswood side in fourteenth-place on 21 points from 24 games and only six points clear of the relegation zone.

Cray Valley started the game with a 4-3-3 formation and Jason Thompson opened the scoring inside the opening 11 minutes with his fifth goal for the club, before on-loan Dartford striker added a second.

Left-back Danny Smith slotted in his first goal for the club just three minutes and 20 seconds after the interval, before Lordswood had a go at it but Taylor McDonagh scored a flattering late fourth goal with his fifth goal of the season.

“I’m really pleased to get through,” said Collins after the game.

“We had a couple of injuries tonight. We were a little bit makeshift and then Denzel (Gayle) pulled up in the warm-up, he’s pulled his calf. He’s had a bit of a niggle and we’ve been getting him through but he trained on Monday and he struggled tonight so we were making changes as the game was going on.

“I’m well pleased and the boys have done really well.

“It would be really nice to get to a Final in your first season at the club. We’ve said this all along, Cup Finals are great days out, you always remember them and you get to play in front of a bit of a crowd so hopefully we can get there.”

Lordswood boss Richard Styles said: “Very, very disappointed with the result, how the scoreline looks because I think anyone whose watched that game will tell you it was no way a 4-0 game.  We didn’t deserve to lose 4-0 tonight. I’ll be the first one to tell you if we did.

“The boys, especially first half, we were on top. We went 1-0 down to a silly goal and we were dominating.  We were camped in their half for long periods but like I’ve just said to the boys you’ve got to capitalise on them when you’re on top, you’ve got to capitalise and take your chances – we didn’t and we gave away another sloppy goal before half-time which has just killed us really.

“It gave us a mountain to climb but we were still wailing to climb it. Two slips of concentration in the second half and we’re 3-0 down and it’s almost game over at that point.”

Cray Valley missed a glorious chance with exactly 120 seconds on the clock, courtesy of a route-one three-man move.

Goalkeeper Jordan Carey (whose handling was excellent) launched a big kick straight down the middle, the ball was flicked on by striker Austin Gacheru but Francis placed his right-footed shot agonisingly past the foot of the left-hand post from 16-yards with only the keeper to beat.

Collins admitted: “I would have expected him to score that! We’ve been missing big chances and you think is that another big chance? It was at a key time.

“I thought they had a bit of possession, I know that was early on, but in the first 20 minutes and you’re thinking we’re going to need that goal but it was pretty much route one.  Bringing Austin in has enabled us not to go route-one but that man actually holds the ball up and it’s given us a little bit of a different dimension to our play.”

Styles added: “It’s poor! That was an alarm bell and it was very poor and it was a let-off.  One of my defenders has gone for a header, the other one hasn’t come around and it was very basic.  I had a new partnership in there tonight and there’s no excuse, it wasn’t very good and I was just happy that he didn’t score.”

Lordswood’s first opportunity saw left-winger Danny Grant ping a lovely 60-yard diagonal pass to right-winger Sam Hallett, who cut inside and his low cross-come-shot across the keeper forced Carey to dive low to his right to hold.

Cray Valley opened the scoring with 10 minutes and 21 seconds on the clock.

Left-back Danny Smith slipped the ball into Thompson’s feet, who drilled his left-footed shot towards the foot of the near post. The ball caressed the upright and rolled along the line and nestled inside the foot of the opposite post.

Collins said: “It was a good finish and he gives you that added bit of quality.  He wasn’t fit when he came here at the beginning of the season. He went away and went to Guildford on loan and got some games in and he’s come back and he gives you that bit of quality – it was a good finish.”

Styles added: “Again, they hit us on the break a little bit really. We couldn’t deal with it. We gave the ball away and it was a little pass and he hasn’t hit the shot well. He’s miss-hit it and it’s gone in, which sums it all up really.”

Cray Valley right-back Peter Smith clipped the ball up to Gacheru, who cut inside his marker and his left-footed shot from the edge of the Lordswood box was easily saved by Ryan Chandler.

Manager Collins revealed why right-back Peter Smith was withdrawn after only 19 minutes into the game.

“He’s been really good for us all season and he got put in a position today where he doesn’t usually play and there was an exchange and I haven’t got time to have that exchange in the middle of the game.”

When asked what was said, Collins kept his cards close to his chest, adding, “That’s between me and him. It doesn’t really matter. It’s just one of those things. It can’t happen because we were trying to sort things out.  Look Smudger’s been there and done it and he’s been brilliant for us this year. It’s one of those things. We’ll talk about it in the week.”

Lordswood were awarded a free-kick in a central position but set-piece specialist Josh Wooley failed to keep his shot down from 27-yards.

But an even better chance arrived in the 24th minute when Lordswood caught their hosts on the counter attack following the Miller’s first corner of the game.

Hicham Akhazzan, who is on a dual-registration with Ryman League Division One South side Sittingbourne, collected the ball in midfield before sweeping the ball out wide to Wooley, who sprinted down the left, cut inside and floated in a cross which was headed over by Akhazzan (who continued his untracked run through the heart of the pitch) from eight-yards.

“It was a chance and what a great break that was because that came from defending a corner so that was really pleasing to see,” said Styles.

“It was good link-up. Hicham’s only little. But he got the header, unfortunately couldn’t hit the target.”

Collins added: “They broke from us from our corner and I thought they caused us problems. I thought they hit the switch really well. The two wide boys had a lot of pace in behind and they caused us problems. 

“Actually Austin should’ve took a foul on the edge of the area but they broke and I don’t know if you feel he should’ve scored. You always look at it differently when you’re a manager. You don’t think it’s a big chance but you expect your players to score so if he scores that it’s one-all and it’s game on!”

It proved to be a big miss because Cray Valley doubled their lead with 30 minutes and 11 seconds on the clock.

Thompson swung in a corner from the left and McDonagh guided his free header down and Francis swept the ball under Chandler from six-yards.

Collins revealed: “Funnily enough, I was saying in the changing room, can we try to score a goal from a corner? I mean JT’s delivery has got to be the best in the league. He puts balls in such good areas and we work on corners and it’s actually nice to see one come off, which was just as nice than scoring a goal.”

Styles added: “Poor! Very, very sloppy. Could’ve been avoided by far. Defenders have got to be better in that position and they’ve got to clear their lines and get rid of it, win a header, clear the ball.  You can’t defend like that!”

Cray Valley midfielder Jamie Miller won the ball despite a sliding dual with Shane Uings and Thompson cut inside onto his left-foot and flashed his 30-yard drive some six-yards past the far post with his left-foot.

A quickly taken free-kick from Lordswood’s Wooley released Danny Grant down the line and he cut the ball back to Akhazzan, whose driven shot deflected off McDonagh and looped over the top of the near post.

Both camps were asked their thoughts at the break.

Cray Valley boss Collins, who used at least two different formations during the game, replied: “Firstly, we was trying to manage as we’re going through. We worked on something that Denzel got injured and things were out of sync a little bit so we said ‘fantastic for seeing it through’ but we felt in the second half we could make things easier for ourselves and we took the sting out of the game and I was pleased with that.”

Lordswood boss Styles added: “Again, it was a difficult one because I thought we was on top. I felt we were the better side, I felt we played the better football. I felt we really had the better chances as well so there wasn’t a lot wrong. But in terms of the scoreline that’s obviously what the game’s about and you’ve got to score goals if you’re going to win games.

“Again it wasn’t a 2-0.  I thought we could’ve gone in ahead if we’d had taken our chances.  I said it was still there and if we get the next goal it’s the important one and I said to us to have a go, unfortunately for us that didn’t happen.”

Cray Valley killed the game off with their third goal, just 200 seconds into the second half.

Francis played the ball in from the right to centre to an unmarked Thompson, who laid the ball inside to Danny Smith, who slotted his left-footed shot into the bottom left-hand corner, despite Chandler sticking out his right leg in an attempt to make the save.

“Firstly, we sort of said to Ben ‘you’re turning your back on things’ and then you’re going in and still nicking it. If you can be that one step ahead and he went in, nicked a ball. Jamie Miller then played the ball back to Ben and that little flick on the edge of the area from JT, he gives you that bit of quality. It was a good finish as well. It’s Danny’s first goal of the season and I thought he was excellent tonight so we’re pleased that he got a goal.”

Styles added: “Before that it’s come from our free-kick that I wanted to go direct but we decided to play, they passed it and then the balls gone ahead. They’ve played it out for a corner down in our corner and we couldn’t get out of it. A poor touch from one of my players, they’ve crossed it and it’s given them that opportunity. 

“That’s a right kick in the teeth after the half-time talk, after every effort we’ve put in, that was an absolute killer and that was the telling tale, goal out of the game, I think.”

Cray Valley then created a couple of chances before the hour-mark before seemingly declaring.

Laurence Collins, who was now playing on the left-hand side of three central defenders, clipping a long ball over the top to put Francis through on goal, but Chandler advanced off his line to make a vital block.

“Lau’s been injured since the Glebe game. He got seven minutes the other night and that’s what he gives you.  He gives you that quality ball and we said to Ben at half-time ‘look, you’re a good striker, how far do you want to go in the game?’ Stop waiting for things to happen and make decisions and he made the run in behind and Lau’s found him. He was a bit unlucky but it was the intent that really pleased me with Ben.  That desire to tell people where he wanted the ball instead of reacting.

“I said that’s what you should be doing! If you keep doing that chances will become goals and he will score goals. He’s a really good player and he just needs to be a bit more horrible really and have a little bit more belief in himself.”

Chandler made an even better save when he dived to his left to prevent Francis sweeping his shot high into the corner when he only had the keeper to beat.

“That’s why Bogdan’s there and I can’t put many goals down to him tonight. I thought he had a good game. He’s got safe hands and I’m happy with him,” added Styles.

But Lordswood were by far the better side for the last 30 minutes of the game.

Styles said: “I said to the boys before the game regardless of what happens we will not stop. We kept playing the game plan and we kept getting in and having chances but we had no end product, we had no goals.”

Central defender Jason Hollick played the ball up to Akhazzan (who had dropped deep) and he swept the ball out to winger Hallett on the right and his dipping cross was palmed over the bar by Carey, high to his right.

Lordswood winger Grant then cut onto his right-foot before hitting a 35-yard drive, which was saved comfortably by Carey.

Lordswood won the corner count by 10-5 and from their sixth, Wooley’s deep corner from the right was met by a bullet far post header from substitute Jack Howlett and Carey done well to get across his goal to tip around the post.

The former Brentford goalkeeper then tipped Grant’s low cross around the post, low to his right and pulled off a dive for the cameras high to his right to deny Bode Olajide heading in Grant’s delivery from the left.

Styles was full of praise for winger Grant.

“My left-winger Danny Grant has had a superb game for me tonight.  I want that on record because he was superb. He’s been frustrating in games before but today he’s done everything that’s expected of him and I just said to him in there he should be angry with our strikers because they haven’t got on the end of what he’s put on them. If he wasn’t doing it, I’ll dig him out but he put it on a plate at times, especially second half.”

But Carey pulled off a world-class save in the final nine minutes to frustrate dominant Lordswood.

Wooley’s corner from the right was cleared out to Uings, who drilled his right-footed shot towards the top left-hand corner from 25-yards, only for Carey to dive high to his right to pull off a worldie.

“We kept plugging away and I try to instil that mentality into the boys.  We never gave up and we never die so I wanted the boys to do that and they did. They never gave up, they gave me everything tonight,” said Styles.

Collins said: “We wanted to keep a clean sheet.  We were a little bit out of sync a little bit with formations and stuff and I just wanted to keep a clean sheet.  When we went 3-0 up I wasn’t really too bothered about scoring again and we’ve conceded too many goals this season really giving sloppy goals away so I was really pleased that we’ve kept a clean sheet.”

Collins was really pleased with Carey tonight, who must have been suffering from a culture shock being watched by only 35 people when he harboured ambitions to be a professional footballer at Brentford.

“If he can get his head right he’ll go on and do well on the game, it’s just getting his head right,” said Collins.  “You forget he’s only 18. He looks like a man. When he came in he had a couple of games where he weren’t great and we sat down and spoke to him and he had to get his head down. He’s a good goalkeeper, he’s a very good goalkeeper.

“He’s signed to Billericay (Ryman Premier) but he was with Brentford’s under 18s last season and he didn’t get a pro contract for whatever reason and he went to Margate (Vanarama National League South).

“He’s a character. You want him to do well. He’s a nice lad. He just needs to get his head right and if he listens.  I thought he’s improved since he’s come to us and his technically very good and he’s been drilled right but coming into men’s football is completely different. He’s getting better each game.”

Styles added: “We were screaming out for a goal, just give us one! At that point we’ve done everything, we really, really have.”

Two shots from the left-hand side from Wooley and then Grant curled just around the far post as Lordswood went in search for a goal that their attack minded finish deserved.

But Cray Valley added a flattering fourth goal with 43 minutes and 14 seconds on the clock.

Midfielder Miller produced a sublime defensive splitting 60-yard pass along the deck to put McDonagh through on goal.  He skipped past the goalkeeper and kept his composure to slot his shot into the bottom right-hand corner from 16-yards.

“Again, Taylor plays well in so many positions, you don’t know what his best position is because he plays so well everywhere he plays so that’s what he gives you in the middle of the park, but he also had a very good game at centre half as well,” said Collins.

Styles said: “That was just sloppy really. They hit us on the break. We had tired legs in the last dying seconds has killed us - and that flatters them really.

“Of course it’s frustrating, I’ve come in on the back of a 4-0 and it looks like we’ve been battered and thrashed and we haven’t been at all and that hasn’t been the case. I’d love to see the stats in terms of how many shots we had overall because it’s been a hell of a lot more than we’ve had in recent games.”

Cray Valley (Paper Mills): Jordan Carey, Peter Smith (Ryan Fowler 19), Danny Smith, Jamie Wood, Joe Matthews, Taylor McDonagh, Jason Thompson (Tom Youngs 66), Jamie Miller, Austin Gacheru, Ben Francis, Laurence Collins (Nick Harvey 79). Subs: Ashley Sains, Denzel Gayle

Goals: Jason Thompson 11, Ben Francis 31, Danny Smith 49, Taylor McDonagh 89

Lordswood: Ryan Chandler, Steve Mills, Adam Hooper (Jamie Blunden 57), Shane Uings, Jason Hollick, Bode Olajide, Sam Hallett, Jordan Wells (Jack Howlett 57), Hicham Akhazzan (Tom Carter 79), Josh Wooley, Danny Grant. Subs: Ciro Donadio, Sam Lovage