Beckenham Town 3-3 Chatham Town - We've made things hard for ourselves and shoot ourselves in the foot, admits Chatham Town boss James Collins

Wednesday 03rd April 2019
Beckenham Town 3 – 3 Chatham Town
Location Eden Park Avenue, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3JL
Kickoff 03/04/2019 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Wednesday 3 April 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Eden Park Avenue

CHATHAM TOWN manager James Collins says it’s going to be tough to win the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division title after slipping up at Beckenham Town.

Chatham Town were leading 2-1 at half-time and 3-1 after 67 minutes but they had to settle for a point in a six-goal thriller at Eden Park Avenue.

Collins’ charges got off to a dream start with left-winger Michael Hagan rifling in his tenth-goal of the season after only 110 seconds.

Beckenham Town grabbed an equaliser through striker Luis Medina’s 13th goal of the campaign before Matt Bodkin, who played as a striker to replace the rested 39-goal striker Paul Vines, scored twice.

Beckenham Town – who were thrashed 4-0 at the home of their bitter rivals Fisher at the weekend – showed great character to bounce back and grab a draw, courtesy of the unmarked Carlos Urquiza and a curling cross from winger Stefan Cox at the end.

Corinthian remain at the summit with 75 points with six games left; Fisher are in second-place with 74 points with five games left; Cray Valley are third with 73 points with six games left; Chatham Town are in fourth-place with 70 points with five games left and Beckenham Town remain in the top five with 61 points with four games left.

“We just seem to be getting punished for every little mistake we make. We’re on a run at the minute, we don’t seem to be getting the rub of the green, it’s frustrating,” admitted Collins, who was then asked about his side’s title bid.

“It’s going to be tough. You’ve just got to keep going. You never know what’s going to happen, we’ve just got to try to win games. We’ve lost two games in 22 now, it’s three games without a win and it’s come at the wrong time really.

“I think we’ve been slightly unlucky in the last three games. We seem to be getting punished for the mistakes we’ve been making. I don’t think anything’s gone drastically wrong. Every team has its weakness, maybe our weakness is just a little bit bigger than the other teams around us and that’s perhaps why we’ve fallen a little bit short at the end really.”

Beckenham Town coach Billy Walton started the interview by expressing his best wishes to Joe Ford, the manager of Sporting Club Thamesmead, who is currently ill in hospital.

“First and foremost, my thoughts are with the Ford family at the moment so I’m not really even thinking about football,” said Walton.

“I really want to say the whole of Beckenham Town want to get behind Joe and his family and try to support them through a difficult period so my thoughts are with their family rather than the football.”

Chatham Town bossed the opening 20 minutes and got off to a flying start as they looked to bounce back from their 1-1 draw at basement side Croydon and a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of AFC Croydon Athletic at the weekend.

Goalkeeper Henry Newcombe launched a big diagonal free-kick forward and this gave Hagan the licence to speed past Beckenham Town’s right-wing-back Nathan Paul.  He cut the ball back to Matt Parsons, the left-back cut inside and his low shot was blocked by Calum McGeehan and Hagan swept a first time right-footed shot into the top left-hand corner from 25-yards, leaving the keeper rooted to the spot.

“I had a feeling for Michael today, it was his kind of game,” said Collins.

“He hasn’t played for a while, he’s scored quite a few goals this season and not had a lot of starts. It’s a great return for someone who’s not started a lot of games. It was a great goal and I was well pleased for him.”

Walton was asked whether he wanted to be asked questions about tonight’s game.

“I think it’s poor defending from our point of view, when you let someone cut inside you and pick out a shot from distance.  I think two things. We could’ve defended it a lot, lot better and I thought our goalkeeper could’ve made a save. I don’t know whether he was unsighted from it. He would normally save shots like that so it was a little bit disappointing.”

Beckenham Town took nearly 11 minutes to create their first opening when Billy Bennett swept a free-kick into the Chatham Town box and Medina glanced his header past the near post from 12-yards.

Chatham’s left-back Matt Parsons linked up well with Hagan down the left as they saw the space left in behind Paul and Lugman Adenisi.

Parsons whipped in a low cross and a poor clearance from Nathan Daly fell to the quiet Byron Walker but he snatched at the chance and lashed his first time drive over the crossbar from 10-yards.

Chatham Town hit Beckenham on the break as Walker swept the ball across to Hagan, who burst forward and cut the ball back to Parsons, who drilled a low left-footed drive towards the bottom near corner from 16-yards, forcing goalkeeper Michael McEntegart to make a vital block with his right leg.

“I thought we started off really well and we could’ve gone 2-0 up or possibly 3-0 up possibly,” admitted Collins.

“It’s a nice surface and it suited our game. We got a bit of joy down that side and Matty and Michael linked up well.”

Walton admitted: “There again, just sloppy from us. You can’t defend things like that and expect to get away from it. It was just poor defending from us.”

Referee Christopher Price stunned both teams after he disallowed a Chatham goal in the 20th minute.

Centre-half Ben Wilson floated in a great free-kick from the right towards the near post and central midfielder Reece Butler buried his header but the referee claimed he climbed over his opponent.

Collins said: “It’s not a foul! No one saw it as a foul. It’s not a foul!

“The linesman our side (David Hooker) said he didn’t see it as a foul, it’s not a foul. It’s a good goal. We don’t feel like we’re getting any rub of the green. We looked a bit tired, I thought, for the last 20 minutes as well. We’ve played a lot of games.  You ask me to put my finger on it, maybe that’s it? Maybe a bit tired.”

Walton admitted: “I don’t know why he disallowed it! I thought it was for offside but he was left in so much space on his own, he must’ve been offside?

“I didn’t see any foul so I don’t know why he disallowed it. It was a big let-off.  I don’t know what they see, I couldn’t see whether there was anything wrong with it from where I was.  The only thing I could think off, it was offside?”

Beckenham Town rode the early storm and snatched an equaliser – totally against the run of play – with 21 minutes and 46 seconds on the clock.

Hagan was penalised for a foul on Paul some 35-yards from goal and Bennett played a low free-kick into Medina’s feet.  After bringing the ball under control, the striker cut onto his right-boot and slid the ball into the bottom far corner.

Walton said: “It was a good time to get back into the game really because I thought we were under pressure for the first 20 minutes of the game so to sneak one really against-the-run-of-play, I thought it kind of got us back in it.”

Collins added: “Well, previously to that James Fray should’ve cleared the ball, cleared the channel. Ben Wilson got caught on the ball, which then lead to the free-kick and the free-kick’s gone straight in where the ball’s gone to feet, which isn’t good enough!

“But it was completely against-the-run-of-play. It’s the first time they got anywhere near us. I thought we started off really, really well and we’ve got punished for it, as seems to be the way at the minute. We seem to be punished for our mistakes at the moment.”

Bennett drove through the heart of the pitch before spraying the ball out to Cox on the right and he cut inside and his cross was cleared out to Jimmy Rogers, whose right-footed half-volley from 35-yards was comfortably saved by Henry Newcombe, stepping to his left.

Collins said: “They scored and it buoyed them and it gave them a little bit of a lift and we stopped picking up second balls and they got on top and had a little spell but I thought we rode that spell out ok.

“I was pleased because it showed a little bit of steel to us that sometimes games swing and turn and we managed to ride it out without them creating too many clear cut chances really.”

After the half-hour mark, Beckenham enjoyed a spell of dominance. 

Medina appeared to be pulled back inside the box but he still managed to get his shot away, which Newcombe blocked with his legs.

Urquiza floated in the resulting corner from the left and Bennett found a pocket of space at the near post to steer his header wide from six-yards.

Bennett drove forward at the Chatham defence and pulled the trigger from 25-yards, hitting a rasping drive which was pushed away by Newcombe and Brogan Britton’s angled drive from the right was cleared away.

“We’ve been asking Bill to have a lot more shots and that’s the type of thing he can do and the goalkeeper’s made a great save,” said Walton.

“From that shot and the one that Brogan had, the one cleared off the line but that’s what defenders are there for, to stop the ball going in the net.”

Beckenham Town then produced a slick move, which included Bennett pulling the strings and Rogers put in a cross from the left which was met by Medina planting his near post header wide from six-yards.

Chatham Town went route-one as they took the lead with 39 minutes and 21 seconds on the clock.

Centre-half Avery launched a long ball over the top of Beckenham’s three centre-halves and Bodkin brought the ball down under his spell before placing his left-footed half-volley across McEntegart to nestle nicely inside the bottom far corner.

“Vinsey (Paul Vines) is obviously our number nine. I felt he needed a little bit of a rest tonight and I thought it was Bodkin’s game and that got Michael Hagan in the team,” explained Collins.

“I just had a feeling for him. It was a tactical decision. Bodkin has scored two in that sense so that’s pleasing but I remember Henry making one save!”

Walton admitted: “That was possibly one of the poorest goals I’ve seen us concede, since Saturday!

“A long ball from the half-way-line, over the top of us, on the edge of our area. The centre-half misses it and the geezer’s flown past us and scores, it’s a joke!”

Both were asked their thoughts at the break.

Walton said: “I thought at the break we had to re-group and get our shape back. Our shape was not right, we were allowing them too much space in certain areas where they were hurting us.

“We’ve got loads out there who don’t really know each other. I don’t know how we’ve got to that state where players don’t really know each other. We weren’t communicating to each other to get us organised quickly enough to get us out to shut them down at the back when they were coming forward to we did talk about that a lot and we talked about playing higher up the field and getting after them, which we did more in the second half.”

Collins added: “They were arguing at half-time but I was pleased. It’s what it should be like in the changing room!  There should be a bit of passion.

“I think sometimes we’re a little bit pretty and we don’t have that steel so to come in at 2-1 and there was a bit of an inquest it was pleasing.

“But I felt we needed to make the right decisions. I wanted to get Bodkin to the box for crosses a bit more. We needed to really not force things, I guess and be a bit ruthless in front of goal.

“I thought they’ll come at us and have chances and it was just a cause of can we limit them?”

Beckenham Town made a tactical switch at the break. Off came McGeehan for Ike Robinson, the man at the heart of the back three and Urquiza was pushed further up the pitch instead of playing as a left-wing-back. 

However, the second half took a while to get going and it was only when both teams started to make substitutions that the game started to open up.

One of them, Michael Jenner latched onto Butler’s square pass before sweeping his first time right-footed shot on the turn sailing just over the top of the left-hand post from 35-yards, for the half’s first opening inside 19 minutes.

Beckenham’s substitute striker Richard Atkins’ introduction sparked his side into life.

Walton said: “He’s been out injured. Tonight’s team there was six or seven players who weren’t available for us for the Fisher game.  Tonight’s team was totally different.  There’s still players missing through injuries or suspension; Greg Benbow; Stefan Wright and Shameek Farrell. Three key players for us missing so they’ll be back in the fray so it’s important to get them back.”

Atkins rolled the ball back to Daly, who whipped in a cross from the left towards the edge of the Chatham box. The ball was chested down by Medina but Bennett flashed his right-footed drive just past the left-hand post from 25-yards.

Chatham Town stepped 3-1 in front, with 21 minutes and 58 seconds on the clock and the game should have been sown up by that point.

Bodkin took the game by the scruff of the neck on the counter-attack by playing a give-and-go with Carnegie and as Beckenham’s defence went missing, Bodkin drove into the area and his fierce right-footed drive was too hot to handle for McEntegart, getting a hand to the shot but preventing the ball to roll into the bottom far corner.

Collins said: “It was another great finish. He doesn’t shoot enough! We say to him shoot because he’s a great finisher and 3-1 up, you’re thinking let’s pick them off on the break now and we’ve got ourselves in a good position but unfortunately as we’ve done way too many times now this season, we make things hard for ourselves and shoot ourselves in the foot.”

Walton added: “We lost the ball deep in their half, most probably 80 yards up the pitch where we had two opportunities to play the ball.  I’m not going to mention the player who lost it but when he reads this he’ll know who it was. He’s lost the ball twice where he could quite easily played it and they’ve broken and countered on us. It’s a poor goal from our point of view.”

Collins blamed tiredness for his side’s capitulation but Beckenham showed great character to pull a goal back with 26 minutes and 59 seconds on the clock.

Atkins showed great desire to win the ball on the right-hand side of the box, cut inside and roll the ball across the penalty area to pick out the unmarked Urquiza, who had the simple task of drilling his left-footed shot past Newcombe from 15-yards.

There was to be another twist in this exciting title race.

Walton said: “There again, from their point of view that’s a terrible goal because where did their defence go when Branco’s broke and he’s on the edge of their box and totally unmarked?!

“He’s slipped him in and he’s got no one near him and it’s an empty goal and it’s like a tap-in!”

Collins said: “You know they can always score a goal. You feel they’re going to go a little bit gung-ho, they’ve got nothing to lose! I said can we now pick the game off and control it? Unfortunately, we weren’t able to!

“It was a throw that we didn’t react quickly enough from and Richard Avery had too much time and turn and I think we could’ve dealt with it a little bit better. It looked like a foul to me, sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t.

“We should’ve dealt with it a bit better but we got dragged over across the left-side of the pitch and the guys nipped in but we could’ve done better from the throw and dealt with the long ball better and it was a poor goal to concede.”

Jenner slid in to snatch the ball off Urquiza in midfield and the ball released Carnegie through on goal but the winger lashed his right-footed drive over the crossbar from the edge of the Beckenham box.

Beckenham Town threw the kitchen sink at Chatham Town and Newcombe pulled off a brilliant save inside the final five minutes.

Daly rolled the ball out to Urquiza, who whipped in a cross from the left and Medina’s looping header was destined for the top right-hand corner but Newcombe pushed the ball over his crossbar.

Walton said: “He’s very good at that Luis. It’s one of his traits. That is the way he gets across the front of you and he can head the ball. The lad is very good at that, it’s one of his favourite things to do.”

Collins said: “A good save form Henry and that’s the only save he’s made all game to be honest. I can’t think of any other and it was a very, very good save. At that stage they went a bit gung-ho and they went for it. It was a cracking save.”

Newcombe, however, was at fault for gifting Beckenham Town an equaliser, which was timed at 43 minutes and 13 seconds.

Paul threw the ball to Cox, who played down the right wing when Atkins came off the bench. Cox cut onto his left-foot before whipping in a great curling cross from the right. Striker Medina ran across the keeper’s line of vision and tried to glance his header in but he failed to get a touch and Newcombe allowed the ball to land into the far corner.

“Evades everyone and goes in and that probably sums up our last three games to be honest,” admits Collins.

“I just don’t think we’ve got the rub of the green. Ultimately, you finish where you deserve to finish over the course of the season.”

When asked whether that goal has cost Chatham Town the title tonight, Collins replied: “No, no. I don’t think so.  I don’t think that goal has cost us the title.”

Walton added: “We’ve scored one similar down here where the ball gets played in and everyone misses it and it goes in.

“It’s a bit fortunate. I thought at the end it was what we deserved. I thought the last 20-25 minutes for some reason teams who are 3-1 up, they just sit back and let you come back into the game -and we do!

“We’ve been guilty of it and I sensed from then when they got their third goal they thought it was all over. We were finished. All off a sudden you score and you’re backs in the game so it was important to get that next goal.”

Chatham Town almost won it with the last kick of the game (50:42) when Daly’s diving header tried to cut out Parsons’ cross from the left but substitute winger Jon Pilbeam smashed his shot wide from a tight angle.

Beckenham Town are at home to Bearsted on Saturday, while Chatham Town travel to Glebe on Saturday and Deal Town next Tuesday, 9 April before the two sides meet in Maidstone to contest the Kent Senior Trophy Final on Sunday 14 April (14:30).

Chatham Town also lock horns with Corinthian in the Challenge Cup Final in Tonbridge on Saturday 4 May (14:00).

On Bearsted, Walton said: “A bit of a dead rubber. We’re at home. We want to win. A little bit of revenge for them knowing us out of The FA Vase (3-0 in the First Round on 13 October 2018). It seems a long time ago now, so it might be a little bit of revenge getting them back and try to keep the run going until the end of the season.

Both camps were asked about meeting each other again to land the Kent Senior Trophy.

Walton said: “Chatham in the Final. I don’t know what team they’ll put out or what team we’d have out.  That’s another game, another day, a million miles away.

“Our main objective was to win the league and I’m sure that was theirs so we want to win the cup on the day but it’s not the thing we wanted at the end of the season.”

Collins added: “If it’s anything like that, it will be a really good game. I thought it would be a good game tonight. Beckenham are a really good side, they’ve got good players, a nice pitch and 11 days time we’ve got them again!

“Cup Finals are 50-50 aren’t they?  We’re fourth, they’re fifth. It will be who handles the day better. It will be who handles the pitch better and who wants to win it more and who plays better that will be on the day.

“Our aim is to get out of the league this year.  We’ve got to keep fighting until the end. We’ve got two Cup Finals to look forward to but we’ve got to keep going and try to put some silverware on the cupboard this year.”

Beckenham Town: Michael McEntegart, Nathan Paul, Carlos Urquiza, Calum McGeehan (Ike Robinson 46), Lugman Adenisi, Nathan Daly, Jimmy Rogers, Billy Bennett, Luis Medina (Jack Hope 90), Stefan Cox, Brogan Britton (Richard Atkins 63).
Sub: Gassimu Jalloh

Goals: Luis Medina 22, Carlos Urquiza 72, Stefan Cox 89

Booked: Jimmy Rogers 43, Stefan Cox 90

Chatham Town: Henry Newcombe, James Fray, Matt Parsons, Reece Butler, Richard Avery, Ben Wilson, Harrison Carnegie, Zak Henry (Michael Jenner 63), Matt Bodkin, Byron Walker (Tom Fitzgerald 62), Michael Hagan (Jon Pilbeam 84).
Subs: Danny Grant, Paul Vines

Goals: Michael Hagan 2, Matt Bodkin 40, 67

Booked: Zak Henry 45

Attendance: 90
Referee: Mr Christopher Price (Bromley)
Assistants: Mr David Hooker (Bromley) & Mr Robert Nichols (Sydenham)