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Herne Bay 1-0 Larkhall Athletic - We can't let the Vase slip through our fingers, says Simon Halsey PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 18 February 2012

The FA Carlsberg Vase Fifth Round
Saturday 18th February 2012
Stephen McCartney reports from Winch’s Field

HERNE BAY manager Simon Halsey says he wants to be remembered as the manager who brought success to Winch’s Field.

Bravehearts Herne Bay, who had left-back Tom Parker red-carded for an alleged head-but during an ugly first-half melee, booked their place in The FA Carlsberg Vase quarter-finals for the very first time in their history thanks to James Campbell’s winner five minutes from time.

The treble chasing Kent Hurlimann Football League leaders will now travel to Gloucestershire in two weeks’ time to tackle Hellenic League side Shortwood United, with Wembley now clearly on the horizon.

“Absolutely superb, that’s what they’re all about,” a proud Halsey, 47, said of his players after they ground out a glorious 1-0 victory against all the odds.

“I thought we knew that from the time the money went that they were committed to the club, that they’ve got big hearts for the club and that showed today, playing with ten-men for so long.

“It wasn’t going to be (a good game), it’s a one-off Cup competition.  Throughout any competition in the world, Cup games become just one-off games.  You’ve got to go for it.  It’s sometimes not the best football that’s played but we’ve come out winners, so I’ll take it all day!”

Bath based Larkhall Athletic, who arrived in Kent sitting in third-place in the Toolstation Western League, were a poor side and failed to impress despite playing against ten-men for 61 minutes, as Halsey’s credentials as a tactical genius increased.

Herne Bay created the game’s first real chance in the fourteenth minute when 21-goal striker, Byron Walker was chopped down by Larkhall central defender Nick Hudson.  Michael Jenner stepped up and his driven right-footed free-kick from 22-yards was blocked low down by visiting keeper Chris Snoddy.

A half-chance followed within two minutes when hard-working winger Michael Turner played the ball inside to Jenner, who chipped the ball into the Larkhall penalty area but the stretching Dave Soutan stabbed wide.

Larkhall’s first chance came in the 19th minute when Sam Allison got in behind the Herne Bay defence down the right and his driven cross was headed away and the ball was nodded wide by Ben Horan from eight-yards.

Horan then put through lone target-man Nathanial Auckland, who lashed at an angled right-footed drive from an acute angle, which screamed across Eason and past the far post.

Herne Bay skipper Toby Ashmore then gifted possession to Horan in the 25th minute who played the ball inside to Jamie Lyons, who was left unmarked at the near post, but the left-winger’s left-footed shot lacked power and rolled into Eason’s gloves.

The flashpoint came when Michael Turner sliding challenge left Ross Beazer writhing in agony, which brought together around 20 players in an ugly melee and Parker was red-carded for an alleged head-but towards Lyons.

Halsey wasn’t best pleased with north London based referee Mr Ashvin Degnarain and stormed: “It wasn’t a foul to start with, which led to the melee.  The referee had an absolutely poor game.  That’s the poorest refereeing that I‘ve seen in two and a half years in The Vase!  He was awful!

“The melee came from a poor decision from him.  Their seven (Lyons) and my 3 (Parker) had an altercation and how he (the referee) picked that someone’s head butted someone out of it, I don’t know!

“The referee let them get away with loads.  Every time we did something he booked us.  Whenever their player done something he pointed to four and five (and didn’t book them).  He was awful!

“But we got over it.  We kept our shape.  We just went to a 3-4-2.  We didn’t panic.  We just went for it.  We just carried on playing.   We said at half-time what we had to do and it paid dividends.”

Larkhall failed to take advantage of their extra man and Auckland’s shot when put through on goal was simply embarrassing!

Jenner issued Larkhall a 37th minute warning, when his free-kick from midfield was knocked down by Soutan and Turner cracked a half-volley wide from 25-yards.

Larkhall squandered an opening shortly after when Allison’s scissor kick across the penalty area fell to Auckland, who hooked a volley wide.

As the game approached half-time, Eason made a comfortable save from Beazer, who tried a speculative right-footed drive from 35-yards and then the highly-rated keeper made a comfortable catch from Lyons’ looping header after Beazer drilled in a cross from the right flank.

With Tommy Sampson (a FA Vase winner with Deal Town in 2000 and Herne Bay treble winning manager back in 1996) barking out words of encouragement to Halsey during the game, the current Herne Bay boss got his tactics spot on.

Hasley said: “I thought the way the wind was going and we were playing slightly up the slope in the second half and being down to ten men we couldn’t play our normal football.

“I told them to get Byron (Walker) on the end of it.  They were fouling Byron all over the place.  It was going to be inevitable that Byron would either get away and score a goal or one of them would foul him and get sent off and equal it up.

“The game plan in the second half went exactly how we planned it at half-time today. A 3-4-2 formation and we just got on with it.”

Larkhall kicked down the slope during the second half, but the prolong spell of pressure from the Somerset side failed to materialise until the final moments.

Allison and Auckland combined down the left and Allison floated in a cross, which was cleared out to Lyons, whose left-footed shot sailed over from the edge of the box.

Herne Bay’s best chance, however, finally came in the 56th minute.  Turner spread the ball from right to left to find Rhys Lawson down the left and after twisting and turning he played the ball low across the penalty area and Jenner drove a right-footed shot just wide from 20-yards.

Herne Bay twice called visiting keeper Snoddy into action just past the hour mark.

Walker, who was signalled out by a physical Larkhall defence, stung Snoddy’s fingers with a rising left-footed drive from 30-yards, which the keeper caught high above his head in the 63rd minute.

Walker and Soutan then combined to carve up an opportunity for Lawson, who stroked a right-footed curler on the turn, which was heading towards the top far corner, but Snoddy stretched high to his left to turn the ball around his post just 60 seconds later.

Halsey added: “He ain’t a bad goalie to be honest.  I thought he was ok.  He had more to do than our goalie!”

Larkhall almost snatched the lead with nineteen minutes left when Lyons cut in from the right and floated a cross towards the far post which central defender Gary Thorne met with a downward header, which was acrobatically hooked away from underneath his own crossbar by Ashmore.

With an excellent crowd of 612 behind them, it was evident that Herne Bay would go on and win this scrappy affair.

Walker almost scored with a rare header when he met Lawson’s cross from the left with a glancing header, which sailed agonisingly wide of the far post, when he was left unmarked inside the box.

Larkhall substitute Ryan Bath was wasteful after he splashed his way straight down the heart of the Herne Bay defence but his shot from 25-yards was woeful, trickling wide of the left post by some distance.

But Winch’s Field erupted into sheer celebration as Herne Bay deservedly scored the winner from a set-piece with 39:25 on the clock.

They were presented with a free-kick some 35-yards from goal and midfielder Jenner drove his right-footed free-kick into the penalty area. The ball sailed across a stranded Snoddy and Campbell ghosted in at the far post and from just one yard stabbed the ball into the bottom left-hand corner to score his third goal – most important goal – of the season.

Halsey said: “He kneed it in, in the end but I don’t care what it came off!  It’s a goal and we’ll take it all day!

“I was begging for a goal when they (the fans) were standing behind that top goal.  That stand was full.  I thought if we score now it’s going to erupt and that’s just a great feeling!

“I think he’s scored at Upton Park, he’ll tell you, when he was with Peterborough against Joe Cole (West Ham United). 

“It’s great.  That’s why he (and Dave Soutan) came here.  A set-piece.  A bit of fortune at the end of it.  What did I say to you last week?  You always need a bit of luck on the way!”

The only time that Larkhall looked like scoring was from the 89th minute onwards.

Substitute Thomas Welch cracked a left-footed free-kick from 35-yards, which forced Eason to dive full-length to his left, but the ball bounced off the top of the crossbar and out to safety with 44:02 on the clock.

And Eason made an excellent save with 46:27 on the clock when he saved low to his left to prevent Welch scoring with a right-footed drive, which was destined to nestle into the bottom right-hand corner.

Eason made a comfortable save to deny Auckland but the final whistle brought wild scenes of celebration and a sense of a job well done!

And with treble holders Whitley Bay crashing to a surprise home defeat to their Northern League rivals West Auckland Town today, the path has been cleared for the Kent League side to replicate Deal Town’s FA Vase success in 2000.

Halsey said there was more than fourteen heroes out on the pitch today.

He said: “The whole club.   The whole squad are heroes not just the fourteen out there today, the whole 22 of them!

“I’m over the moon.  I’ve always said whenever I leave Herne Bay, whether it’s my decision or the other people who will make the decision for me, I want to go away from here that I’ll be remembered as the manager that’s done something, not nearly.

“We’ve done something now.   We’ve made history.   We’re in the Quarter-Finals of The FA Vase.  Quarter-Finals ain’t good enough – now we want to make the semi’s.

“You don’t get Vase runs like this in your life, not very often.  Whitley Bay have been a bit of an exception but not a lot of footballers get this run and we’re on a run in the Vase at the moment and we have to grab it.  We’ve got to take it.   We can’t let it slip through our fingers now!”

“We’ve made history, we’re in the quarter-finals of The Vase.  I said we’ll get through this round,    we’ve got a chance - off to Gloucestershire we go!”

When asked whether his side can go all the way, Halsey replied, “We’re in the Quarter-Finals, so why not?  Three games away, it’s two rounds away now.  Three games, two rounds, so why not?

“We’ve won the game with ten men and it shows what hearts we’ve got. It shows what characters we’ve got.  Why not?  Why not? Why not?”

And with Whitley Bay (who have broken the hearts of Glossop North End, Wroxham and Coalville Town at Wembley over the past three years) now out of the competition, Herne Bay could be enjoying themselves at the home of English football on 13th May.

“It’s getting closer.  Every time we just have to deal with every situation as it comes. We’ve got to climb that hurdle and get over it.  Shortwood are our next hurdle and we have to climb over it – if we want to get to Wembley.”

Halsey added: “I believe there’s a belief there that we could get there.  I’ve got to have belief to get that over to the players to make them believe.  It’s a dream for every semi-professional football club and player to do it and the dream could be a reality.

“I don’t know if (Herne Bay) is written on the Cup, but let’s have a good go at it!”

Writing in his programme notes, Tommy Sampson, whose greatest moment was when Roly Graham’s late strike was enough to beat Chippenham Town underneath the iconic Twin Towers, said: “The further you go in this fantastic competition the harder the disappointment is to stomach.

“I want to go to the New Wembley to support my old club and re-live that ecstasy all over again.”

Herne Bay: Dan Eason, Nathan Eastwood, Tom Parker, Toby Ashmore, James Campbell, Dave Soutan, Michael Turner (Dan Lawrence 69), Michael Jenner, Byron Walker (Steve Hanson 89), Luke Harvey (Jamie Turner 82), Rhys Lawson.
Subs: Rob Lawrence, Brad Ashmore.

Goal: James Campbell 85

Booked: Michael Turner 29, James Campbell 51, Dave Soutan 65

Sent Off: Tom Parker 29

Larkhall Athletic: Chris Snoddy, Andy Gilbert, Luke Scott, Gary Thorne, Nick Hudson, Ross Beazer (Ryan Bath 77), Jamie Lyons (Thomas Welch 75), Jonnie Davoile, Sam Allison, Nathanial Auckland, Ben Horan.
Sub: James Crew

Booked: Ross Beazer 27, Ben Horan 37, Andy Gilbert 83, Gary Thorne 87

Attendance: 612
Referee:  Mr Ashvin Degnarain (Islington, London N5)
Assistants:  Mr Steven Rea (Uxbridge, Middlesex) & Mr Peter Georgiou (Wimbledon, London SW17)
Fourth Official:  Mr Errol Walker (Colliers Wood, London SW19)
Last Updated ( Saturday, 18 February 2012 )
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