Sunday 04th December 2005

Kent League have bent the rules, blasts Palmer

Beckenham Town stalwart Peter Palmer has accused the Kent League of trying to hijack his club's promotion bid after the points from an abandoned game were awarded to their opponents, reports The Non-League Paper.

The league leaders are eligible for promotion having spent £141,500 on ground improvements over the last two season's, but Palmer believes the sixteen-club league is trying to keep hold of his club.

In a remarkable outburst after a disciplinary hearing, Palmer said Beckenham would fight their case with the Football Association, accused the league of a "stitch-up" and trying to "engineer a way to keep us down."

The controversy arose after Beckenham arrived for a game at Erith Town with a kit which match referee Paul Kelly said was too similar to the home side.

Beckenham's press officer Ian Muir drove to Holmesdale FC at 2:30pm to get replacements - with the referee setting a 3:35pm deadline for the match to go ahead.

Palmer insists the kit arrived at 3:38pm, but the referee stood by his decision and called off the game.

As well as awarding the points to Erith Town, the hearing also fined Beckenham Town £500 and ordered them to pay the Dockers' £580 expenses.

"It's unprecedented and brutal," Palmer said.  "I went into the hearing expecting a slap on the wrists and got knocked out.

"According to the League handbook you can only have points deducted if you show no intention of trying to play.  We went to every effort.

"We are appealing to the FA and hopefully sense will prevail - these are the sort of things that send clubs under and I'm flabbergasted.

"I think the Kent League don't want us to go up and because they don't want to lose a member are trying to engineer a way to keep us down.

"This is a stitch-up.  I'm sure we were found guilty before I went to the hearing.  We are ambitious to climb the Pyramid, whereas most clubs in our league wouldn't qualify for County standard.

"We did everything we could to get a replacement kit and everything we could to get the deadline extended.  There is nothing in the rule books of either the FA or the Kent League that specifies when a match has to kick off."

Meanwhile, the Kent League title race was left wide open as second placed Maidstone United moved within three points of Beckenham following their dramatic 3-2 win at Eden Park Avenue yesterday.

Beckenham took the lead after 38 minutes, against the run of play.  Stones' former Beckenham defender Mario Celaire failed to control a long clearance and Ryan Martin took full advantage and fired past Maidstone goalkeeper Pat Mullin.

But with 12 minutes remaining, the Stones were on level terms when Sam Tydeman closed down a defender after a long free kick from within the Stones' half and his left-footed 30-yarder flew into the top corner.

And when Martin scored his second goal of the game five minutes later it appeared Beckenham would move nine points clear of their nearest rivals.

However, Lyndon Rowland had other ideas, scoring two dramatic goals inside injury time. 

Having picked up a long clearance from his goalkeeper, Rowland latched onto the ball and slotted home past Rob Tolfrey.

Rowland sealed the three points for Lloyd Hume's men when he headed home Nick Hegley's corner, despite Beckenham claiming the ball didn't cross the line.

Beckenham, who have now suffered two league defeats this season, travel to Tunbridge Wells next Saturday, whilst Maidstone host Broxbourne Borough in the third round of the FA Vase.

Unbeaten Stones will have two games in hand, but they do play Lordswood twice over the festive period.