Beckenham Town 1-2 Chatham Town - When you go into battle when you’re going to a war, little battles you lose but you don’t lose the war, says Beckenham Town assistant Billy Walton

Saturday 04th January 2020
Beckenham Town 1 – 2 Chatham Town
Location Eden Park Avenue, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3JL
Kickoff 04/01/2020 15:00

Sea Pioneer Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Saturday 4 January 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Eden Park Avenue

BECKENHAM TOWN assistant manager Billy Walton insists his side may have lost the battle but they have not lost the war in this gripping four-horse title race.

A crowd of 345 were at Eden Park Avenue and they were treated to another game of high-quality that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Isthmian League Premier Division, as Chatham Town sealed vital back-to-back wins against Sheppey United and Beckenham Town to keep their title push on track.

Chatham Town's Jon Pilbeam (right) scores the winner at Beckenham Town to keep their title aspirations on track.
Photo: Alan Coomes

Leaders Beckenham Town took the lead through striker Shameek Farrell’s seventh goal of the season.

However, Chatham Town winger Matt Bodkin, 36, equalised with his fourth goal of the season early in the second half before referee Dan Friar harshly sent-off Beckenham Town’s holding midfielder Junior Kaffo in the 58th minute and this put the visitors’ in the ascendancy.

Chatham Town sealed a vital victory when their right-wing-back Jon Pilbeam bent a shot into the bottom corner to win it with nine minutes remaining, finishing off a move following their eighth and final corner of the game.

“I think the best team lost to be honest with you,” said Walton, who was in charge of the team with Phil Wilson as manager Jason Huntley was away.

“I thought we’ve created five really good chances against a very good side and we’ve restricted them, a footballing side to having to go long through 75% of the game.”

Chatham Town manager Scott Lindsey added: “Obviously very pleased with the result. On reflection on the game pleased with a lot of it.  I think that we can be better.  I think we didn’t really show our true dominance today as much as we have done in the past.

“I thought the first half was end-to-end. I thought the second half we had a little bit more control.  I still think that we gave a lot of chances to them and I still think it could’ve gone either way but I’m delighted.

“We stuck at it, we blocked crosses, we headed things, we threw our bodies on the line in the box. We defended resiliently and we created quite a lot of chances ourselves as well.

“We played some good football but I don’t feel as if we controlled the game as much as I kind of wanted to and the players’ know that so to cap it off I’m delighted but I know we can do better.

“We’ve gone against a real strong Sheppey team and got the win and played really well and we’ve come up against a real strong Beckenham team and got the win and kind of done ok, so yes I’m delighted.”

Lindsey handed Ryan Palmer his debut and played him in a number 10 role behind striker Paul Vines and he almost scored just 13 seconds into his debut.

Ian Draycott played the ball out to Pilbeam, who skipped past Beckenham centre-half Kiki Oshilaja down the right and he whipped in a great cross into the box but Palmer sent his free header over the crossbar.

Lindsey said: “We worked on him making the box as the ball goes wide.  The two number 10s that we play, Ian Draycott and Ryan Palmer to make the box and we kind of worked on a few actions like that at training on Thursday night and in actual fact he’s not the biggest in the world but he’s quite good in the air Ryan and I would expect him to go and score there.”

When asked about the former Canterbury City’s man’s 76 minute debut, Lindsey replied: “I thought he done well. I thought as the game kind of opened up a little bit when they were down to 10 men he got a little bit more space and a little bit more time to get on the ball and play.

“I felt that he needs to get up to speed with things. There was a couple of times when he got caught in possession but that’s normal. We have to try to find that calmness within the chaos when there’s a lot of things going on and a lot of bodies flying about.  He has that calmness but there has to be a fine line about being calm and not getting caught on the ball.  He’ll get used to how we’re playing.  He’s only just come in last week so we’ve got a lot of work to do with him on the training ground in terms of positioning, distances and things like that but I thought he done ok.”

The opening exchanges were a frenetic affair and Beckenham Town went agonisingly close to scoring with only five minutes on the clock.

Left-winger Stefan Cox whipped in a cross from within the bottom left-channel and right-winger Steve Townsend swept his shot on the turn from 16-yards, which kissed the crossbar and the ball came out to Kaffo, whose right-footed half-volley from 20-yards was comfortably saved by visiting keeper Dan Ellis.

“What I was pleased about, disappointed about the result like we all would be, because I’m so pleased with how many chances we’ve created against a good side and if we do that next week hopefully they’ll go in the back of the net and we’ll win the game,” said Walton.

Lindsey added: “They had enough opportunities throughout the game really. We got a little bit of luck there.  I haven’t got much to say about that really. It’s just an opportunity for them to score and they didn’t take it!”

Beckenham Town certainly did their homework on Chatham Town, preventing Ellis to play out from the back as Cox and Farrell cut out the supply chain by marking Chatham Town’s defenders inside the final third, which forced keeper Ellis to often hit the ball longer than he did against Sheppey United.

Beckenham Town also, in the main, kept Chatham Town’s midfield play-maker Jack Evans quiet but he was given a chance to score from a 30-yard free-kick, which bounced once and was easily gathered by Michael McEntegart.

Evans made a hard but fair challenge to stop Harvey Brand in the middle of the park before releasing Pilbeam charging down the right. His deep cross was flicked away by McEntegart, flying high to his right to push the ball away, only as far as Bodkin, who cut the ball onto his right-boot before lacking composure to rifle his shot high over the bar from 15-yards.

Beckenham Town were to be denied the lead when McEntegart’s resulting goal-kick was flicked on by Farrell and played in Townsend, who only had Ellis to beat.  Ellis moved off his line, made himself big and made a vital block, to his right.

Walton said: “We talk about it all the time, it’s another good chance for us to get on the scoresheet. I thought we done really well to be honest with you.”

Lindsey said: “Dan does that well, obviously he’s a big lad and when a player goes through on a one-v-one with him I normally back Dan to make the save. He’s a big lad and he stands up really well and he did that in that action as well and of course made the save.”

Chatham Town created an opening on the half-hour mark when they forced a free-kick inside the bottom right-hand channel.

Evans swung in the delivery with his right-boot and Palmer found a pocket of space in a central position and swept his first time shot across the keeper and past the far post from eight-yards.

Beckenham Town drew first blood when they took the lead with 32 minutes and 53 seconds.

Archie Johnson, who started on the left in a three-man central defence, played a first time through ball, which released Cox in behind centre-half Reece Butler and he reached the by-line before cutting the ball back for an unmarked Farrell (whose run wasn’t tracked by Chatham’s centre-half Justyn Roberts) to sweep the ball into the bottom left-hand corner from eight-yards.

Walton said: “You personally go and watch all levels of football, that is a top level goal for all the people here today. They’ve seen a top, top goal here. There’s a little bit of good football, a great bit of wing play, a fantastic low cross and come in. Bang! First time goal. That is top notch football.”

Lindsey added: “We got done down the left-hand side.  Cox runs freely down the left-hand side and Justyn Roberts has to go and engage, which kinds of leaves a man spare in the box and it was almost an easy finish for them to score from them on.

“We were three-v-three at the back and we had to make sure that we stayed with our men and I suppose he got the other side of Reece Butler, Justyn had to made that kind of run to try to stop him scoring but then of course by doing that he leaves his man in the middle of the pitch. That’s when we needed maybe George Sheminant or Jack Evans or one of the midfield players to take that man in the middle of the pitch and it was kind of an easy finish for him really.”

Chatham Town called McEntegart into making a save at his near post inside the final five minutes of the half.

Evans slid in to win the ball off Luke Rooney in midfield and released Pilbeam down the right.  He exchanged a one-two with Evans and the angle was too tight for Pilbeam and the Australian keeper made a comfortably block at his near post with his knees.

Lindsey said: “I felt Pilbeam did really well getting into that position. I just felt that the execution was wrong. I felt he could’ve possibly gone across the goal as apposed to the near post. If he could’ve gone across the goal it’s a bigger target for him to hit and possibly we could’ve had bodies in there to probably put it away.”

Walton added: “It was a very tight angle, I wouldn’t expect Macca to get beat from there but I thought it was one of the rare chances they had in the first half.”

Cox squandered a glorious chance to put Beckenham Town in the driving seat at the end of the first half.

Right-wing-back Jamie Brown played the ball down the line to release Harvey Brand, who cut inside towards the edge of the penalty area before playing the ball inside to Farrell, who swept the ball over to an unmarked Cox.  He only had Ellis to beat from 10-yards but he lacked composure and lashed his left-footed shot over the crossbar.

Walton said: “You’re talking about moments in games in football matches, we had two moments either side of half-time, I wouldn’t say sitters but absolute stonewall goals that you would expect to score and that literally puts them to bed and you would go on and see the game out and you win comfortably.

“We didn’t take two or three chances of our five or six we created and they weren’t half chances, they were very good chances.”

Lindsey said of Cox, “Listen, he’s a player that gets supporters’ on the edge of their seats. He’s fast and exciting. He lashed at that one and didn’t show much quality on that one.”

Both camps were asked their thoughts at the interval.

Walton said: “I was really pleased, really pleased. The game plan that we worked on in training it literally worked to a tee.  We watched them and they’ve played against us and I’ve seen them cut open teams to pieces when playing out from the back. When you see a footballing side and their goalkeeper is kicking it up the pitch our tactics worked absolutely bang on!”

Lindsey added: “I just felt we needed to be braver on the ball. I didn’t think we played particularly well in the first half. I felt we hit a lot of longer passes and that was probably due to the fact that we didn’t have enough people running hard to get into position to receive a shorter pass so I wanted to see a little bit more dominance.

“We had two number 10s playing either side of Kaffo because they were playing 4-3-3 against our 4-2-3-1 so we felt our two number 10s would potentially be the key to unlick their door.”

Beckenham Town missed another glorious chance to score just 74 seconds into the second half – and it came back to bite them.

Johnson fed Cox, who sprinted down the left with the ball before he cut the ball back for Rooney, who drilled a first time right-footed shot just past the near-post from eight-yards.

Walton was left to rue that missed chance from the 29-year-old central midfielder.

“For me, it’s game over, purely and simply game over. You go 2-0 up and I don’t think if their heads would’ve gone down? I don’t really know them as a group but you’re 2-0 up straight after half-time and you’re in a very strong position and perhaps Junior wouldn’t have got sent off. It’s all ifs, buts and maybes.”

Chatham Town struck the crossbar in the 51st minute when Bodkin hung over a cross from the right and Paul Vines’ diving header looped against the crossbar before the home side cleared their lines.

Chatham Town, on the balance of play in the second half, scored a deserved equaliser with six minutes and 15 seconds on the clock.

Draycott, who played in a deep role behind Palmer and Vines, played the ball out to Bodkin, who cut in from the left wing, reached the penalty area and from a very tight angle whipped his right-footed shot past the diving keeper into the far corner of the net to score a sublime goal from ten-yards.

Lindsey said: “With our wide players, what we try and do we try to get them into positions where they just put in crossing positions but they’re also in position where they can go and score themselves.

“We work on those little moves where rather than play the ball out wide to them for them to cross it, we try to get them in off shape a little bit so we can slide them in and we can get them into goalscoring positions and that’s exactly what happened and it was a good finish.”

Walton added: “Very good finish! What’s disappointing form our point of view is they’ve scored from a throw.  We can get everyone behind the ball and defend at all costs and we’ve left them throw the ball, a little one-two and he gets in. It’s a very good finish, a very good finish, good player, good player.”

Walton was angry when Kaffo was shown a straight red-card by referee Dan Friar in the 58th minute.

Video evidence showed Evans appeared to have made contact with Kaffo first, less than a second before Kaffo slid in to try to win the rolling ball off his opponent.

Evans did his opponent no favours when he rolled over about three times and members of the Chatham bench jumped off their seats and appealed.

Walton revealed he will use that video footage and will consider appealing against the red-card.

“I don’t think it was the turning point because I think when Junior got sent-off, which was a real, real debatable challenge, I think the referee was so quick to get his red card out without even speaking to the linesman, who had a proper view of it,” said Walton.

“I thought he was on the floor, he didn’t jump in, he was on the floor and he slid in.  It was late but he hasn’t gone in over the top. He’s got a fair bit of the ball. He’s caught the player as well as he’s going through but Junior Kaffo is one of the nicest politest fella on the pitch that you’d ever wished to come across. I’ve never seen him hit a bad tackle in my life! There was no intent there, there was no intent to hurt the player, the intent was to win the ball.”

Walton revealed he will look at the video footage and see if the club can appeal the decision to send Kaffo off – who now faces a three match ban.

“We’ll try and do that and try to have a look.  Listen, I might be totally wrong but it happened so quick. I just thought that with 15 people out of their bench jumping out and screaming at the same time, the referee just brandished a red as quickly as he could without thinking about it.”

Lindsey added: “I think it was, I think it was a red-card. I think he’s gone in with two feet, you can’t do that now, you just can’t do it now. They’re the rules so I think it was a red card.”

Rooney struck a right-footed angled drive screaming across the keeper and past the far post from 30-yards after substitute Ashley Carew played the ball in from the left.

Chatham Town were now on the front foot and they called McEntegart into making a comfortable save in the 67th minute.

Evans swung a corner in from the left, the ball was then recycled back towards where it came from and Roberts’ looping far-post header was tipped over the bar by McEntegart, stretching high to his right.

“It was one of those loopy headers, I don’t think it would’ve beaten Macca that sort of power and pace and I thought it was quite a comfortable save for him,” added Walton.

Beckenham Town looked content to keep the score on level terms but with Carew now on the pitch, the former Dulwich Hamlet star was capable of making something happen.

Carew put a low cross in from the left wing by-line and Cox swept his shot past the near post from the edge of the six-yard box.

Chatham Town were to be denied the lead in the 71st minute when Evans split open the Beckenham centre-halves to put Vines in on goal but McEntegart made a vital save, by using his chest to make the block and juggling the ball towards safety.

Lindsey added: “You expect Vines to finish that off. I thought the keeper did well there.

“Of course, the space opens out a little bit more, they’re down to 10 men and we’re a team that uses the ball really well so it made it hard for them.

“Although I felt they still had a few opportunities but it’s a top-of-the-table sort of clash, they’re not going to sit in and let us have all of the ball. They still had a go. I thought it was a good contest, even with 10 men.”

Walton added: “Perhaps Macca should go to the circus and be a juggling act! Just catch it for god sake! It was a very good save, a very good save. He’s a top goalkeeper the lad.”

Vines started to get into the game inside the final 20 minutes as Beckenham’s players started to switch off through tiredness.

George Sheminant threw the ball in behind Archie Brown to put Evans in and his low cross was met first time by Vines, which he swept over the bar, despite being put under pressure from his marker.

Chatham Town kept banging on the door and scored their winning goal with 35 minutes and 27 seconds on the clock.

Evans cut a right-wing corner back to Bodkin, who whipped in a deep cross into the box towards Roberts, who was superbly tackled hard and fair by Beckenham centre-half Rob Carter.  The ball rolled out to Pilbeam, who placed and bent his right-footed shot through a crowd of players into the bottom right-hand corner from 17-yards.

Lindsey said: “It was a good finish. We tried to work the ball and it kind of went across the face of goal and it’s just came out nicely for Pilbeam and there was still a lot of bodies in front of him and he had to put it into the corner of the goal and it was a real calm finish so it was a good goal.

“There was still time to go so you know it’s not all over. We’re delighted to score and we were pleased but we still knew we’ve got a job to do.”

Walton added: “That goal is where the extra man came from and if Junior would’ve been on the pitch we would’ve had an extra man on the pitch and he would’ve had that area blocked, someone would’ve been making him.

“Rob’s done a great tackle to win it and then the balls fallen to their spare man, who ain’t marked and he slotted it away. 

“They scored a goal like that in the FA Vase tie here down the same end, they side-footed it into the corner.

“It’s a great finish, you’ve got to take your hat off for him. He’s passed it through a crowded area, disappointing that’s where the extra man came from, unfortunately. If Junior would’ve been on the pitch, I don’t know, you never know do you?”

Beckenham created an opening following their fifth and final corner of the game.

Rooney swung the ball in from the left and substitute centre-half Mudiagha Wanogho found a pocket of space at the near post but his header sailed across a crowded goal-mouth and past the far post.

Beckenham Town kept plugging away and Rooney floated in a deep cross into the box but substitute striker Ryan Hall punched the ground in despair after the ball skimmed off his head and sailed harmlessly wide.

But their best chance to equalise came just 17 seconds before the end of the game.

Cox drove through the heart of the pitch and slipped the ball through to Carew, who drove his right-footed shot towards the bottom corner from outside the box, but Ellis got down low to his left to hold on to the ball.

Walton said: “I just thought to myself when he put Ashley in, I thought to myself Ash just take it into the box and either they’ll bring you down or you’ll finish it. He took his shot too early. I don’t think it was a particularly great save but he saved it and on another day it could’ve gone in.

Beckenham Town remain at the top of the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with 46 points on the board from their 20 league outings.

Corinthian remain in second-place with 43 points from 21 games and they are followed by Sheppey United (42 points from 20 games) and Chatham Town remain in fourth-place with 40 points from their 21 league outings.

Beckenham Town welcome Sheppey United to Eden Park Avenue next Saturday, while Chatham Town host Corinthian in the last 32 of The Buildbase FA Vase.

“My thoughts are it’s a long way to go and we’re still only in January. We’ve beaten Sheppey and we’ve beaten Beckenham so we’ve put ourselves in a good position,” added Lindsey.

Are Beckenham Town throwing away their chances of winning the league title or do they have the character to bounce back and get past the winning line in first place?

Walton said: “We’ve been top since September, we’re a good side. What I said to them in there when you go into battle when you’re going to a war, little battles you lose but you don’t lose the war do you?  You lose a battle but you don’t lose the war!

“Those fellas in here, like I’ve said to you all along, they want to achieve something. Listen, we’ve got hard games but they’re great, really exciting for this league as well.

“People here have gone and watched an (Isthmian) Premier match and I’m so pleased to be involved in it, to be involved with this group and hopefully we can get a result next week and the week after (here against Glebe in the Kent Senior Trophy Quarter-Finals) and just keep on plugging away.”

When asked how it felt to come up with Linsey, who was assistant manager at League Two side Forest Green Rovers in his last job and Carl Laraman who was a coach at Premier League Arsenal, Walton replied: “I’ve competed against two professional people today, I love it.  They’re nice people and they’re generally nice football people.  I’m a painter and decorator and I do this part-time and today there’s 345 people here and it’s fantastic.

“I personally think we’ll go on and win the league because I know these lads and I know that changing room. I’ve never been involved with a group of lads who are so determined. They are really, really determined to win something and if we don’t finish top whoever finishes above us will be a bloody good side because we’re a good side.”

Beckenham Town: Michael McEntegart, Jamie Brown (Mudiagha Wanogho 84), Archie Johnson, Junior Kaffo, Rob Carter, Kiki Oshilaja, Stefan Cox, Luke Rooney, Shameek Farrell (Ryan Hall 80), Harvey Brand, Steve Townsend (Ashley Carew 61).
Subs: Billy Martins, Bertie Valler

Goal: Shameek Farrell 33

Booked: Stefan Cox 23, Kiki Oshilaja 48

Sent Off:  Junior Kaffo 58

Chatham Town: Dan Ellis, Jon Pilbeam, George Sheminant, Mikey Dalton (Jack Jeffrey 89), Justyn Roberts, Reece Butler, Matt Bodkin, Jack Evans, Paul Vines, Ryan Palmer (Harvey Brown 76), Ian Draycott.
Subs: Jez Hammond, Darren Smith, Jordan Carey

Goals: Matt Bodkin 52, Jon Pilbeam 81

Booked: Mikey Dalton 51

Attendance: 345
Referee: Mr Dan Friar
Assistants: Mr Zack Moules & Mr David Rowland