Beckenham Town 2-3 Canterbury City - It's a shock and I hope the lads feel as much pain as I do because I don't like losing football matches, not the ones we're expecting to win, says Beckenham's Billy Walton

Wednesday 05th December 2018
Beckenham Town 2 – 3 Canterbury City
Location Eden Park Avenue, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3JL
Kickoff 05/12/2018 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Wednesday 5 December 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Eden Park Avenue

BECKENHAM TOWN assistant manager Billy Walton questioned his players’ mentality after suffering a shock home defeat at the hands of Canterbury City which blew the title race wide open.

Beckenham Town missed the chance to leapfrog over their bitter rivals Fisher to return to the top of the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table but they lost courtesy of a Jordan Casey hat-trick, which ended Canterbury City’s miserable run of league form.

Beckenham Town took the lead through Jesse Darko’s quality finish but Casey swept home an equaliser ten minutes before half-time.

Casey curled in a sublime goal into the top far corner from 30-yards, before Richard Atkins lashed in his 15th goal of the season, scoring from the penalty spot inside the final 19 minutes.

Canterbury City, who arrived at Eden Park Avenue on a winless run of six league games, snatched the last-gasp victory when Casey notched his hat-trick, taking his goalscoring tally for the season to 13.

“Obviously delighted, absolutely ecstatic,” said Canterbury City boss Ben Smith.

“When you’re on a run that we are, you come here and think maybe nick a point we’d be really happy with.  I’m over the moon to get three points!

“It’s come at a time really with the players we had out we didn’t expect it but sometimes things like that happen don’t they?

“You turn up late and you put a really good performance in.  We rode our luck at times and you have to because they are one of the better sides in the league. They’ve got some excellent players so you have to ride your luck and we did that, we sort of hung in there.

“When they scored you’re thinking here we go, here comes the Alamo but we just grounded it out.

“There’s been a lot of talk about us losing six in a row in the league and suddenly we’re a bad side overnight! That doesn’t happen! We’re not a bad side overnight. There’s been fine margins and tonight we’ve had the fine margin go our way. 

“That happens through work. It happened Saturday (beating Southall 1-0 after extra-time in The FA Vase) through our hard work and it happened today through our hard work so I think we deserve it through the work-rate that we put in.”

There are seven clubs who are in with a shout of winning the league title.

Fisher lead the way with 37 points from 17 games, followed by Beckenham Town (36 points from 18 games); Corinthian (32 points from 16 games); Chatham Town (31 points from 15 games); Cray Valley (30 points from 14 games) and Sheppey United (30 points from 15 games).

“Very disappointing performance, just wasn’t acceptable or good enough! Poor night all round,” admitted Walton.

“I wasn’t expecting that. I was expecting us to perform and do all of the things that we’ve done in the last 2 or 3 games when we played some nice football and scored quite a few goals tonight. It was just terrible! In every department we were woeful and well below the standards that we expect!”

Canterbury City started the game on the front foot and created an opening inside the opening six minutes.

Central midfielder Brett Ince released debutant striker Leroy Hlabi – an 19-year-old who is on a 28-day loan from League One side Gillingham – but Beckenham keeper Michael McEntegart rushed out of his box and cleared the ball with his left-leg but Casey’s poor touch allowed the home side to clear their lines.

Beckenham Town took 18 minutes to create their first chance, through patient build-up.

Billy Bennett fed Atkins who set-up Jake Rose, whose right-footed low drive from 35-yards was comfortably saved by visiting keeper Jack Delo.

Walton said: “I just don’t think we did anything to be honest with you to hurt them in all fairness.

“I don’t really know what to say to you. I just think it was a poor game all round from our point of view, an absolutely poor, poor game!

“When I got here I said mentality, mentality and mentality is needed for the next four or five weeks and if our mentality is right and we’re all up for it, we win games but as soon as we drop our mentality and our standards drop, you get beat!”

Canterbury City wasted a glorious chance to take the lead following a slick move in the 19th minute.

Casey played the ball into Kyron Lightfoot, who played the ball out wide to Hlabi on the right and he cut into the box before drilling his shot into the top of the side netting from 15-yards.

Smith said:  “Leroy’s come in, he doesn’t know anyone. It’s his first day on loan from Gills. He’s got to go across the goalkeeper if we’re being brutally honest. He done well to get in behind and he was a handful all night.  I was really impressed with his running and his movement off the ball was really good. It looks like we’ve got a good player for 28 days!”

This miss proved costly as Beckenham Town took the lead with 23 minutes and 19 seconds on the clock.

Holding midfielder Stefan Wright played a sublime through ball which zipped off the lush wet pristine playing surface to put Darko through on goal straight through the heart of the pitch and he smashed his right-footed shot over Delo’s right shoulder to score from 15-yards.

“After that nice little bit of football I thought we would go on and take the game to them,” admitted Walton. 

“You’ve got to get after them! They’re in a poor position Canterbury, they’re on a run of bad results and when you go 1-0 up to a team that’s challenging at the top of the table then you accelerate and work harder and just absolutely nail them but we just eased off!”

Smith said: “Good sides punish you and they certainly punished us there! We think we’re in the game, bang! Goal!  I think the one thing we were saying what we didn’t want to do was play inside because they’ve got quality that can hurt you in those areas and they did that.

“They’ve got good quality in central areas that they can cut you open and they did that and they were a couple of times where they threatened to do it again and we’ve just held our ground.”

Beckenham built patiently again with Bennett, Atkins and Rose all linking up in the final third and substitute striker Darko whipped in a low cross from the right, which Delo initially spilt at his near post before grabbing hold of the ball as Atkins was ready to pounce.

Canterbury City equalised with 34 minutes and 55 seconds on the clock.

Hlabi was released down the right and he cut into the box and pulled the ball back from the by-line and put it on a plate for Casey, who swept his first time shot across the keeper, nestling into the bottom far corner from eight-yards.

Smith said: “Good little bit of football from us.  One of the things I wanted to see from us tonight is some quality.  It was a lovely passage of football, which we’ve done in the past and all off a sudden we’re losing games and have been fine margins, which really knocked the confidence so it’s good to see we can actually play again so it gives us a lot of confidence going forward.”

Walton added: “We had possession and lost possession when they weren’t putting us under much pressure. It’s just a poor goal. I keep saying it, it’s just poor!”

Bennett was pulling the strings in the Beckenham engine room and he fed Luis Medina, who turned on the edge of the box before skiing his right-footed shot over the crossbar.

Walton added: “It was a good opportunity for us, a good move but there again put the ball in the net!”

“Whenever we play Billy Bennett, he causes problems,” said Smith.

“I’ve been with him at Herne Bay, he’s a cracking lad and a quality player and he can hurt you if you give him time and space and that’s what he did.”

Both camps were asked their thoughts at the break.

Walton said: “I just thought we weren’t close enough to our men. Billy Bennett and Jake Rose weren’t pushing on past their midfield players. It was all lacklustre. The tempo of the game we’ve got to up it and get at them. Get the ball in behind them and turn them and do what we’re good at basically. We just never done it!”

Smith added: “Keep positive! I was concerned that we were starting to lose our shape in midfield a little bit. I showed them a few things and they came back out and done exactly what we wanted. When we kept our shape we were forcing them back and we were then robbing them off the ball in areas where we can hurt teams so that was really pleasing.”

Canterbury City centre-half Quinn had an outstanding game.

Smith said: “We signed him expecting that! We went a month without conceding, I can’t remember what month it was.  We had no Laurence Harvey tonight.  Liam’s experienced, we had a back four that hadn’t played together before He led the team and showed some b*****ks, which we haven’t done at times this season.”

Beckenham Town squandered a glorious chance to take the lead inside the opening nine minutes of the second half.

Bennett and left-back Greg Benbow linked up down the left and Bennett floated in a cross which was met by Wright’s diving header from 12-yards, which flew straight at Delo, who grabbed hold of the ball.

Walton added: “Big chance, big miss! There’s nothing more to say, you’ve just got to put them in the net!”

Smith added: “They’re going to have chances but we’ve got a good goalkeeper in there for a reason and if he moves it’s a goal so he’s done the right thing and waited for that.”

Canterbury City took the lead on the counter-attack with 11 minutes and 52 seconds on the clock.

Ince released Casey with a nice ball along the deck and Casey cut inside and onto his right boot to curl a beautiful shot around the rooted goalkeeper into the top far corner.

“What a goal!  That’s what he’s capable off and that’s why he’s played at the levels he’s played at,” said Smith.

“Yes, it might’ve only been Academy football but he’s been at Premier League clubs Stoke and Chelsea and played for England Under 18s so he’s played at a level.

“At times you see him hitting these balls and you think he’s trying to hit it too hard. He just caressed it. It’s a great strike but he does that a lot in training. In games he snatches at things sometimes, he’s trying too hard.”

Walton added: “Great goal from them but if you have a video of it I would say 90% of the players in this league are right-footed. He’s one of them!  We let him get the ball, cut inside and hit a great shot with his right-foot.  You block out the right-foot, send him out wide on his left. He kicks it out of play, it’s just poor!

“I was annoyed, frustrated, disappointed but I thought to myself the way we are, we will create a chance and get back into the game which we did so I didn’t panic, we didn’t panic. There was plenty of time to go and we just got ourselves back in the game.”

Canterbury City were then given a couple of chances to score from free-kicks.

Firstly, Ince stroked a right-footed free-kick from 35-yards, which bounced just in front of McEntegart, who got down on his knees to make a comfortable save.

Lightfoot then curled his right-footed free-kick around the wall and just past the right-hand post from closer in.

“We’re jumping up, we thought it was in, we were really going for it,” admitted Smith.

Walton added: “They had some good efforts, what can I say? Some good efforts from them, not outstanding, but good efforts.”

Rose played the ball inside to Bennett, who swept his first-time drive over the Canterbury City crossbar from 25-yards.

Referee Jack Owen gave Beckenham Town a lifeline when he pointed to the spot after Canterbury right-back Michael Turner tripped Rose on the by-line just inside the penalty area.

Atkins stepped up and lashed his right-footed penalty into the top right-hand corner to equalise with 25 minutes and 50 seconds on the clock.

Walton said: “I don’t know why on earth players tackle or do things like they done to give away the penalty, it’s beyond me! But thankful he did and Richie’s a bit like Danny Maguire really – he never misses!”

Smith added: “I thought it was outside of the box first thing and he’s just gone down so softly, so softly so for it was never a pen but there you go. When you’re down where we are you don’t get those decisions and when you’re up where they are, you do.”

Beckenham Town increased their tempo and desire levels and started knocking on the door for a winner.

Bennett chipped a lovely ball in behind Michael Turner to release Benbow down the left and he put over a great cross but the unmarked Atkins sent his downward header bouncing into Delo’s hands from six-yards out.

Walton said: “Same scenario, great opportunity. Bang! You’ve got to score, simple as that. You’ve got to put these chances in the back of the net!”

Smith said: “They went for it and it’s backs against the wall. We were appealing for everything because of the situation that we’re in.

“Again, it’s food and drink for Atkins at times and tonight it didn’t go for him so we’re really pleased with that.”

Darko hit a deflected drive from 25-yards, which was caught by Delo, before the winger put over a deep cross from the right for substitute Adam Wadmore to guide his header straight at Delo.

Atkins charged down the left and cut into the box before putting in a low cross.  Medina tried to dig the ball out from underneath his feet and when he did, he scooped his shot over the crossbar from 12-yards.

Canterbury City felt their big chance had gone just 10 seconds into stoppage time.

Ince whipped in a free-kick from the right and Casey’s header from the edge of the penalty area was comfortably gathered by Delo.

Smith said: “Again, we’re jumping up because the shape of him where we  were we thought he’s nicked it in but not to be.  At that time I we were just thinking blow the whistle please. I don’t think it was an onslaught but we just wanted to take something home tonight.”

But Canterbury City snatched the victory to end their winless league run, the goal timed at 45 minutes and 26 seconds.

Substitute James Turner was released down the left and he centred low for Casey to drill a low right-footed shot past McEntegart from 12-yards.

“Great finish! Great composure, excellent play from JT. Other players may have taken it on their own and tried to pull it back.  They’ve had a good partnership earlier on in the season,” said Smith, who is without a game at the weekend but are now in 12th place in the table with 22 points from 15 games.

“A great piece of mind to pull it back to him and we go mad then. We just want the whistle!

“We’re on the ref for a while! Let’s get out of London! The hard work we’ve done over the last week or so makes it all worth it. The players have worked increasingly hard in training when it’s pissing it down because we’ve got to turn our form around. We’ve had some dark days in those loses and to turn it around, I’m ecstatic!”

Walton added: “Listen, we’re always going to go for a win. We went for the win. Goalkeeper kicks it, they win the header, it breaks for them, they put them through and they score so from our point of view, frustrating, but it’s not the end of the world!”

Beckenham Town travel to eighth-placed side Crowborough Athletic on Saturday.

Walton said:  “Nothings ever won or lost in December! Even if we would’ve won tonight and gone two points clear if don’t really mean nothing, it’s December!

“It is a shock and I hope the lads feel as much pain as I do because I don’t like losing football matches, not the ones we’re expecting to win in this league and in any league if you don’t work hard and the opposition work harder than you, they’ll beat you

“I want a massive reaction at Crowborough. We have to roll our sleeves up and show a bit of character.  I know Sean (Muggeridge) and for me he’s probably the best manager in this league so he’ll have them well-organised and we’ll up for playing us and we’ve got to go there and show a bit of character for once and roll our sleeves up and stuck our chests out and do a job.

“Sometimes a defeat gives you a kick up the bum! Hopefully that is the little tap on the shoulder and let’s have a wake up. It says we can be beaten by anyone, simple as that!”

Beckenham Town: Michael McEntegart, Jack Hope, Greg Benbow, Stefan Wright (Dean Carpenter 63), Calum McGeehan, Nathan Paul, Shameek Farrell (Jesse Darko 13), Billy Bennett, Richard Atkins, Jake Rose (Adam Wadmore 78), Luis Medina.
Subs: Ike Robinson, Jez Hammond

Goals: Jesse Darko 24, Richard Atkins 71 (penalty)

Booked: Richard Atkins 44, Calum McGeehan 62, Jesse Darko 73

Canterbury City: Jack Delo, Michael Turner, Michael Dowling, Adam Woollcott, Liam Quinn, Ollie Lee, Kyron Lightfoot (Harry Barkaway 85), Brett Ince, Jordan Casey, Leroy Hlabi (James Turner 80), Kane Phillip (Josh Froggatt 46).
Subs: Rob Lawrence, Dan Lawrence

Goals: Jordan Casey 35, 58, 90

Attendance: 85
Referee: Mr Jack Owen (Sevenoaks)
Assistants: Mr Howard Collins (Horton Kirby) & Mr Graham Scott (Gillingham)