Anslow's Town hold the champions at Bay
SEVENOAKS Town turned the screw to hold newly-crowned champions Herne Bay to a draw on Tuesday night.
The point gained in the final game of the season ensured Darren Anslow's men ended their campaign on a positive note after Saturday's abject 4-0 defeat to Fisher and the rollicking which followed.
Anslow revealed he would continue doing the job next year, but at the weekend warned his players in no uncertain terms that they needed to show a lot more to remain there alongside him.
But after the Herne Bay draw, he said he was delighted with the commitment displayed as Town came back from a controversial early goal to level before the end of the first half, defending diligently thereafter.
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"I told the boys they were fantastic against Erith Town and Beckenham, but on Saturday I told them exactly what I thought of them, that wasn't good enough at any level – and that I had plenty of players lined up for next season," said Anslow.
"But tonight was much better. Our defence was good again and our record against the top teams has been good. The season was lost when we played the teams around us."
Herne Bay arrived at Greatness Park with a team of mostly reserve players, though still opted for class up top through Ashley Baverstock and Jamie Turner.
As the opening ten minutes' intensity petered out the runaway league champions began to grab a foothold, enjoying plenty of possession and territory.
However, the same way they did against top five outfits Erith and Beckenham Town in recent weeks, Town looked resolute at the back and incisive on the counter.
On the half hour mark Herne Bay made the breakthrough. A long ball found Baverstock three yards offside to no flag, the striker using only one touch to lob it perfectly over Matt Bailey to add another to a hefty goal haul this term. Moments later Jamie Turner gathered a long ball from Joe Kennett beautifully, turning and releasing Baverstock with a through ball, who skewed just wide.
Herne Bay were beginning to play the level of football expected in such a heavily-invested team, but Town were still creating as Mike Bishop scuffed a brace of opportunities.
Then, shortly before half-time, a long throw from Mark Bishop gave Town the perfect Stoke goal. Launched in from the sideline, Sean Brown attacked it and powered his header home.
The second half contained fewer chances for both, but Herne Bay continued to enjoy all the possession and nearly nicked the result. Town were nearly stung yet again with a late winner as Frazer Cronin diverted it inexplicably over with his head.
Another dubiously awarded free-kick in a dangerous position left Anslow shaking his head again, remembering only too sourly the dagger that cost his side three points eight days ago against Beckenham. Toby Bryant stepped up from 30 yards out and struck it towards goal, bouncing awkwardly in front of Bailey as he parried away. The referee blew his whistle as it was cleared.
In the end, a season of frustration was finished with optimism. Town regularly showed glimpses of potential to become a solid Kent Premier League force, but threw in too many poor performances to ever make it stick.