Beckenham Town 7-0 Meridian VP - We’ve got a very strong squad and it’s going to be very hard to pick a starting 11 for Saturday, admits Beckenham Town assistant Billy Walton

Tuesday 30th July 2019
Beckenham Town 7 – 0 Meridian VP
Location Eden Park Avenue, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3JL
Kickoff 30/07/2019 19:45

Pre-Season Friendly
Tuesday 30 July 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Eden Park Avenue

BECKENHAM TOWN assistant manager Billy Walton says it’s going to be very hard to pick the starting 11 for their opening Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division game here against Punjab United on Saturday.

Jason Huntley’s side finished in fifth-place in the table last season, while Meridian VP finished at the foot of the Southern Counties East Football League First Division.

Beckenham Town dominated from start to finish and rattled in seven goals at the end of their pre-season campaign.

It took them 27 minutes for the floodgates to open when former Bromley, Merstham, Welling United and Eastbourne Borough attacker Ryan Hall, 31, drilled in the first goal of the game.

Harvey Brand then pounced on a poor mistake from Meridian VP centre-half Alpha Bah to double Beckenham Town’s lead.

The second half belonged to substitute striker Steve Townsend, 20, who scored five of his six attempts on target as Beckenham Town completely destroyed Meridian VP.

Walton said:  “Yes, very good. We’ve been really, very good all pre-season.

“No disrespect to Meridian whatsoever, but we’ve played a lot better against the likes of Dover Athletic (of the National League) and Cray Wanderers (Isthmian Premier), so it was very tough for them tonight.

“We’ve done really well against top, top opposition. If we perform like that this is what will happen to you. If we can do what we do!

“I think some of our play would’ve hurt a lot of teams.  We’ve done that, not all the time but we’ve done a couple of things like that against a very good Cray Wanderers side, so fair play to Meridian, they stuck at the job and everything we’ve done it came off. It was one of those nights.”

On this clinical display, you would have expected Townsend to have come from a much higher level of football. In fact he scored 63 goals in the Orpington & Bromley District Sunday Football League Second Division for Farnborough Old Boys Guild’s Reserve side last season.

Townsend’s clinical precision in front of goal reminded you of a Jon Main in his prime – when everything he touched flew in to the back of the net and on Townend’s brilliant performance tonight, Beckenham Town face a fight to keep him at Eden Park Avenue.

Meridian VP started the opening 10 minutes in resilient mood as Beckenham Town enjoyed keeping the ball and playing a lovely brand of carpet football on their pristine playing surface.

It took the home side almost 12 minutes to create their first opening when Micah Banton slid in to foul Mathieu Ramsamy and striker Hall drove his left-footed free-kick flashing along the carpet and also past the right-hand post from 25-yards.

“Ryan’s going to bring a lot of experience to us, a lot of quality and when he gets an opportunity, invariably he’ll hit the target and he’ll make the keeper work or he’ll score,” said Walton.

“All round we’ve added a lot of quality and a lot of experience to our team this year and the pre-season has gone exceptionally well.”

Brand threw the ball into Stefan Cox, the right-winger cut into the penalty area before drilling a low left-footed shot towards the bottom near corner from 16-yards, which was held by Ben Ashton, low to his left at his near post.

“Stefan’s another one, get you one-on-one and there’s only one outcome, he’s going to go past you! He’s got a powerful shot on either foot, so he’s going to do the same thing. He’s a massive threat up front.”

Meridian VP created their only opening of the first half in the 18th minute.

Joe Richardson’s driven ball over the top released Douane West charging down the left and his pace took him past holding midfielder Junior Kaffo. He reached the by-line to whip in a cross, which was cleared out by Mudiagha Wanogho and Brandon Hobbs took a couple of touches to control the ball before clipping his third touch sailing over the crossbar from 20-yards out.

“I don’t think it was much of a threat for us but that was their only attack of the first half,” added Walton.

Beckenham Town’s attacking football was excellent and a joy to watch and Archie Johnson’s short corner was played to Cox, who whipped in a great cross from the right towards the far post but Brand’s shot on the turn was driven past the left-hand post from 10-yards at the halfway point of the half.

“It was one of those ones where I’d expect him to hit the target from where he was, rather than slip it wide, so we can’t hit the target all of the time. We’re going to hit some wide,” added Walton.

It took Beckenham Town 26 minutes and 45 seconds to make the inevitable breakthrough.

Left-back Jamie Brown played the ball into Cox, who raced down the left and cut into the box but ran into a brick wall just inside the Meridian box. The ball broke free for Hall, who drilled his first-time drive over the goalkeeper’s head crashing into the roof of the net from 12-yards in a central position.

“Right position at the right time. It falls for him and he’s going to put that away all day long,” came Walton’s reply to the breakthrough.

Visiting keeper Ashton was then twice called into action.

Johnson broke down the left and released Hall down the left-channel and he cut the ball back for Ramsamy, whose first time shot was parried behind for a corner by Ashton.

Kaffo played a ball along the deck into Hall, who cut onto his left foot, shifted the ball onto his right foot and drew a holding save out of Ashton, low to his left, from the very edge of the penalty area.

“It was a good move, a good bit of football, a nice move and he made a good save the lad actually, a very good save,” added Walton.

Beckenham Town fully deserved their two-goal lead when it arrived with 33 minutes and 55 seconds on the clock.

However, it was gifted to them, as Alpha Bah, who played in the centre of Meridian’s back three, played a poor pass forward, which was intercepted by Brand, who strode forward before drilling his right-footed drive into the right-hand corner of the goal from 25-yards, helped in by the hands of the goalkeeper.

“I think if you put certain people under pressure and you close them down very quickly which we’ve done, I would say seven, eight, nine times out of 10 the fella will make a mistake and they’ll pass it to you and that’s what they’ve done.  You put them under extreme pressure and they pass it to us and we counter-acted and buried the chance,” said Walton.

The crossbar saved Meridian VP in the 43rd minute when Brand released Cox down the right channel, easily beating Dan Akintimehin to reach the by-line and floating over a great cross which was met by Brand’s looping header, which bounced off the top of the crossbar and dropped behind for a goal-kick.

Walton said: “I was hoping he’d put that in the back of the net because that was another good move, another great cross in, a good header. Unfortunately he couldn’t get over the top of it to head it downwards. It was quite a shame that but it was a very good move from us.”

At half-time, Walton said: “We didn’t really say too much really. We were just annoyed at certain people that didn’t really stick to what we asked them to do.

“All of those boys who are playing for us at the moment, they’ve done exactly what we’ve asked them to do so we was a little bit annoyed.

“We said just stick to what we’ve worked on, don’t do your own things, stick to the game plan and that’s what we asked them to do at half-time, to do what we’re good at.”

Meridian VP created the first opening of the first half when right-back Harvey Brinkley swept in a free-kick from the right, the ball was cleared out to Akintimehin, who smacked his right-footed volley through a crowded penalty area and screaming just past the far post from 22-yards.

But the second half belonged to a uncut gem of a striker who put in a brilliant clinical performance in front of goal, which destroyed Meridian VP as Townsend scored a nine minute hat-trick.

Beckenham Town produced a good move as they raced into a 3-0 lead with three minutes and 41 seconds on the clock.

Shameek Farrell played the ball out to the left and Jamie Humphris (who was later forced off with a knee injury) who delivered a deep cross which was put back across goal by Malik Nosike and Townsend tapped the ball over the line from close range.

There’s a lot of unearthed talent in the Kent County League, players’ who need to break out of their comfort zone of playing football with their mates to test themselves at a higher level and they may produce performances like this one!

“Well, first and foremost, I’ve probably coached him for about a week and he’s taken on everything that I’ve asked him to do and all his traits that he does have all come from myself with the way I used to play, so he’s taken a lot of board from what I used to do,” revealed Walton.

Beckenham Town raced into a 4-0 lead with only four minutes and 52 seconds on the clock.

Farrell was released down the left channel and he played in a low cross which was met first time by an unmarked Townsend, who had the simple task of tapping the ball into the back of the net, as Meridian’s VP’s defence went missing again.

“There again, a good move. The lad gets into positions between the goal posts and if it comes into that area, he’s going to score,” added Walton.

Meridian VP captain Tim Moffatt rallied his troops to “raise it” with his side 4-0 down but Townsend completed his hat-trick with 12 minutes and 41 seconds on the clock.

Malik Nosike impressed for Beckenham Town having come on at the break and played down the right wing, having played Isthmian League football for Waltham Abbey last season and has previously played for Croydon and Gillingham.

“Another young lad that we’ve managed to pick up. He was released from Gillingham maybe a year ago and we’ve just picked him up.  He’s right up my street the lad, I like good footballers and he’s a good footballer,” said Walton.

Townsend charged through the heart of the field before rolling the ball on the outside to Nosike, who played the ball back to Townsend, who took a touch before driving his right-footed shot into the bottom left-hand corner.

Walton said: “Was it Andy Townsend or Andros Townsend or was it Steve Townsend?

“There again, the lad’s a goalscorer pure and simple. That’s why he’s here!

“At 5-0, I think the game just petered out. You could see the difference in the fitness come into play.  They just basically were out on their feet and we were passing the ball willy nilly, it became a training session.”

Beckenham Town were now outclassing Meridian VP – who played a passing game along the deck – and Ashton pulled off a fine save at the halfway point.

Farrell twisted and turned on the right-hand side of the penalty area before cutting the ball back for Billy Martins, who drilled a first time drive towards the bottom right-hand corner from 30-yards, but Ashton got down to his left to parry.

“Billy had a great shot. Bill hasn’t had a lot of opportunities but he impressed me tonight,” said Walton.

“He scored a good goal here a couple of weeks ago, was man-of-the-match and he scored a very similar goal when he pinged it and he hit the target and he scored that day.

“The goalkeeper made a good save, a great shot to get it on target from that distance with power and he’s another good find, I think.”

Holding midfielder Andrew Mott played a diagonal pass over to Nosike on the right and the ball was cut back to Townsend, who drove his shot towards the bottom near corner, only to be denied by Ashton sticking out his left-leg to make the save.

Meridian’s only shot on target arrived in the final seven minutes when Victor Oskir’s right-footed drilled right-footed free-kick from 25-yards was held on the line by Michael McEntegart, who got down low to his left to grab hold of the ball into his chest.

Meridian’s substitute goalkeeper Bradley Pyke rushed out of his penalty area to close down an advancing Townsend but his clearance was poor and fell at Johnson, who swept his first-time left-footed drive just past the left-hand post of an open goal from 35-yards.

Johnson, who is on a dual-registration with National League South side Welling United, has long hair and Walton couldn’t resist throwing in a joke.

“I think his hair got in his eyes, that’s why he has it up in a bun! I think it came out of the bun and got in his eyes and it put him off a bit, I think,” said Walton on the left-back who was pushed up further the pitch in the number 10 role tonight.

Beckenham Town scored their sixth goal with 40 minutes and 14 seconds on the clock.

Holding midfielder Andrew Mott chipped a long ball sailing over the head of Meridian centre-half Martin Begg to release Townsend charging down the left channel. He had the talent to look up and see Pyke was off his line and delicately chipped the ball over the overweight goalkeeper’s head from a tight angle and watched the ball kiss the far post before nestling nicely into the back of the net.

Walton said: “What a goal that is! I think Shameek was coming in at the back post so I don’t actually know if he actually meant it for Shameek or he meant the chip but the way the lad is I’d dare say he meant the chip. What a good goal the lad scored.”

Beckenham Town completed the rout with their seventh goal with 42 minutes and 35 seconds on the clock.

Right-back Paul launched a long kick over the top of a poor Meridian back line to put Townsend through on goal and just like Main there was only going to be one outcome, the ball nestling into the bottom corner of the net, when he only had Pyke’s poor resistance to break through.

“He brings it down and runs through. As I said to you when that lad gets you one-on-one and he’s got the goalkeeper to beat, I would say nine and a half times out of 10 he’ll put it in the net,” added Walton.

All this was without former Dulwich Hamlet playmaker Ashley Carew, who was rested and Punjab United – who finished in the bottom four at the end of their debut Premier Division campaign last season – will be concerned about Beckenham’s quality that they will be facing here on Saturday when the real stuff finally gets underway.

“We’ll train tomorrow night, we’ll have a little look tomorrow night and see how the players are and we’ll take it from there,” said Walton.

“But we’ve got Ryan Hall, Jamie Humphris, Mathiew Ramsamy, Stefan Cox, Shameek Farrell and Steve Townsend. Pick any two out of that six and you’ve got two top, top players for this level, so I’ve been scratching my head for three or four weeks now in making decisions. We’ve got a very strong squad and it’s going to be very hard to pick a starting 11 for Saturday.

“It’s pre-season, it’s them old clichés, it’s pre-season. People can read into this result what they want! We know what we’ve got in this club. We’ve got a decent outfit and if we do things right and the players’ listen to us, we’ll be up there.

“Jamie Humphris twisted his knee unfortunately, it’s all swollen up. I don’t think Jamie will be available for Saturday so that’s the one thing I can tell you.

“Pre-season is officially over and I’m at a wedding so I’m not here on Saturday, I’m gutted! My god son is getting married on Saturday so I have to leave it to the others (Jason Huntley, Dave Mehmet and Jason Clews) to do.”

Meridian VP's manager declined an inteview. He walked straight past me while I was waiting for him outside the dressing rooms after I interviewed Billy Walton.

Beckenham Town: Michael McEntegart, Nathan Paul, Jamie Brown, Junior Kaffo (Andrew Mott 46), Mudiagha Wanogho (Billy Martins 57), Kiki Oshilaja (Ike Robinson 46), Harvey Brand (Shameek Farrell 46), Archie Johnson, Ryan Hall (Steve Townsend 46), Stefan Cox (Jamie Humphris 46, Glenn Clarke 64)), Mathieu Ramsamy (Malik Nosike 46).

Goals: Ryan Hall 27, Harvey Brand 34, Steve Townsend 50, 51, 58, 86, 88

Booked: Shameek Farrell 60

Meridian VP: Ben Ashton (Bradley Pyke 82), Brandon Hobbs (Victor Oskir 73), Gideon Acheampong (Ahmed Bangura 64), Alpha Bah (Martin Begg 52), Dan Akintimehin, Harvey Brinkley, Michah Banton (Tomi Alade 46), Tim Moffatt (Joe Richardson 73), Joe Richardson (Jerrome Richards 52), Victor Oskir (Justin Palmer 23, Gideon Acheampong 79)), Douane West (Trialist 73).

Attendance: 50
Referee: Mr Paul Agboola (Walworth, London SE17)
Assistants: Mr Peter Agboola (Walworth, London SE17) & Mr Lanray Alapafujah (Peckham, London SE15)