Colliers Wood United 3-1 Beckenham Town - Tonight could be a blessing in disguise - sometimes a little slap in the face might be a good thing for you, says Beckenham Town assistant manager Billy Walton
Colliers Wood United 3 – 1 Beckenham Town
|Location||Wibbandune Stadium, Robin Hood Way, West Wimbledon, London SW20 0AA|
COLLIERS WOOD UNITED 3-1 BECKENHAM TOWN
Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Premier Division South
Wednesday 30 March 2022
Stephen McCartney reports from Wibbandune Stadium
BECKENHAM TOWN assistant manager Billy Walton believes losing their third game of the season will be a blessing in disguise but insists his side will not throw away the league title with seven games to go.
Jason Huntley’s men missed a glorious chance to leapfrog over Walton & Hersham and return to the summit of the Combined Counties League Premier Division South table after suffering a shock 3-1 defeat at fifteenth-placed side Colliers Wood United.
Walton & Hersham – who were held to a 1-1 draw at Horley Town last night – remain top of the table with 78 points, while Beckenham Town remain in second-place with 76 points and with two games in hand after suffering their first defeat since losing 3-2 at Sheerwater on 3 January 2022.
Beckenham Town arrived in south-west London on an impressive 15 match unbeaten run and left-winger Steven Townsend gave Huntley’s men an early lead with his 21st goal of the campaign.
However, AFC Wimbledon loanee, striker Aron Sasu produced a sublime curling finish to level things up for Jamie Decruz’s side before left-winger Ali Fofanah rifled in his eighth goal of the season to give Colliers Wood United a deserved 2-1 lead going into half-time.
Beckenham Town dominated most of the second half but Colliers Wood United’s former Fulham Academy goalkeeper Ben Roberts, 17, produced an outstanding performance to keep out the Kent side, who leaked a third goal late on through Joe Healy’s own-goal from 25-yards.
Colliers Wood United climbed up three places into 12th place with 38 points with four league games to go but Walton insists his side will still go on to clinch promotion into the Isthmian League at the end of next month.
“A hugely disappointing night for us but in terms of the game I don’t think personally it was a 3-1 game,” said Walton.
“I’m not going to make excuses about the pitch and this, that and the other, it’s testament to Beckenham these days, a team like Colliers Wood bring in players from Wimbledon to play us tonight.
“Everyone went up to their goalkeeper at the end, he’s pulled off maybe, two, three or four really top class saves. Admittedly, they were in his area to go and save, a foot wider, it’s in. Fair play to the lad, he’s only a young lad and he’s pulled off some great saves and saved them.
“The third goal is most probably the best own goal you’ve ever seen in your life to chip your own keeper from 25-yards is absolutely fantastic! I think it’s the best goal Joe Healy’s ever scored – apart from the one he scored for Welling United (at Grimsby Town in 2013).
“Winning the championship is never going to be easy. We’re going to have these little bumps in the road and tonight was one of them. We’ve just talked about it in (the changing room). Every time these boys have been beaten they’ve come back and gone on a run.”
Beckenham Town raced into the lead after only 141 seconds, courtesy of route-one football.
Beckenham’s right-back Harvey Brand rolled the ball back to his goalkeeper Nick Blue – who has quality distribution – launching a big kick straight down the middle of the pitch.
Colliers Wood’s centre-half Daniel Decruz sliced his clearance straight to Townsend, who raced into the penalty area and placed his shot across the flat-footed goalkeeper to find the bottom far corner from 12-yards.
“I mean, it’s not the best move in the world in terms of football, it was route one and Steve absolutely finished brilliantly, what a finish that was,” said Walton.
“Yes, we got off to a perfect start and then really I think a combination of quite a few things. People will tell you the games come thick and fast and its difficult conditions out there. A bounce here, an odd bounce there, with the state of the pitch and how hard it was, little things go for you, little things don’t go for you. We made a couple of little mistakes.”
Beckenham Town’s 14-goal striker Louie Theophanus – who otherwise had a quiet night – almost doubled their lead, turning his man on the edge of the box before cracking a right-footed drive towards the near corner, only for Roberts to beat the ball away at his near stick.
Playing with three men in attack, Sasu was released down the left and his pace took him into the penalty area before he cut the ball back for Fofanah, who swept a first-time shot towards the bottom near corner from 10-yards, which was blocked by Blue’s legs.
Sasu produced a piece of brilliance to bring Colliers Wood United back on level terms, with eight minutes and 59 seconds on the clock.
Fofanah penetrated down the left before bringing left-back Harry Murphy into the game on the overlap and he fed Sasu, who took a sublime touch to bring the ball under his spell before sublimely curling his shot in off the top of the far post and into the back of the net from 20-yards, with his second touch.
“It’s a great finish wasn’t it from the lad. You could see why he’s playing at Wimbledon – it’s a great finish from him,” said Walton.
“I wished we were a little bit tighter to him though and didn’t give him that opportunity for him to get his head up and curl it into the far corner.”
The goal stunned Beckenham Town, who struggled to play their usual eye-catching attacking game on a poor, bobbly playing surface and Colliers Wood United started to take control of proceedings.
Bradley Williams – one of three central midfielders – drove into the Beckenham half before splitting Archie Johnson to play in AFC Wimbledon loanee Morgan Williams, who placed a right-footed angled drive across Blue and flashing just past the foot of the far post.
Roberts was called into making his second save of the night in the 24th minute.
Healy and Johnson linked up well down the left before Healy hooked a diagonal pass over towards Brand on the edge of the box and his stinging volley from 20-yards was superbly kept out by Roberts, diving to his right to make another save.
“From where we was, I thought it was in. He’s made a great save, one of his four or five saves that he made all night. He’s done a fantastic save from a great effort, from a great volley,” added Walton.
Colliers Wood United took a deserved lead with 32 minutes and 24 seconds on the clock.
Murphy threw the ball short to Rmarni Blankson, who prodded the ball back to Murphy, who put the ball towards the near post and Fofanah superbly turned Johnson at the near post before rifling his left-footed drive into the roof of the net from eight-yards.
“You do look at the defending. He’s a good player the lad. As a forward myself it was a good touch from him. He controlled it, turned and got a perfect shot off,” said Walton, 59.
Colliers Wood’s holding midfielder Alfie Huckle clipped the ball into the Beckenham box and the ball was cleared out to Morgan Williams, whose right-footed volley from 20-yards left Blue rooted to the spot as the ball flashed just past the post.
Beckenham Town missed a glorious chance to bring themselves back into the game.
Freddie Nyhus, who started behind Theophanus before playing out wide on the right and failed to impress like he usually does, clipped the ball up to Tunde Aderonmu, who struggled out wide on the left for the 55 minutes that he was on the pitch.
Aderonmu’s reverse hooked pass teed up Townsend who drove a first time right-footed drive flashing just past the foot of the left-hand post from 18-yards.
Johnson bundled over Morgan Williams, who was heading towards the by-line and referee Connor Fanelli awarded the home side a free-kick within the right channel.
Morgan Williams floated the ball in, Blue palmed the ball away and got down low at his near post to hold Blankson’s right-footed drive from 16-yards, which was heading towards the bottom near corner.
Walton added: “That’s what Nick’s done all season like, he certainly did save us there, it was a great save from him.”
“We just said (to the boys at half-time) tactically, we weren’t really at it to what we was on Saturday (3-0 win at Badshot Lea). Our energy levels were pretty low, we didn’t get close enough to people and our full-backs didn’t get on as much as we’d like to see them get on.
“We just asked them to give us a little bit more in terms of energy and shutting people down and getting the full-backs further up the pitch and I think we did second half, we probably most, dare I say, dominated most of the second half and played how we would play from the start normally, so yes, it’s one of them. If we would’ve done that in the first half we would’ve won the game.”
Walton explained why captain Danny Waldren was sat on the bench until the 55th minute, replacing the disappointing Aderonmu and Beckenham Town certainly missed the National League South standard midfielder while he was on the bench.
“I think Dan’s played nearly every game and he said on Saturday ‘he’s struggling’, not struggling but he’s got a very stiff tight groin and he thought it would be an opportunity to try to get a rest but you could see the difference when he came on, we just dominated the game.”
Beckenham Town were to be denied an equaliser inside the opening 13 minutes of the second half.
Brand threw the ball to Waldren, who floated in a cross into the penalty area, the ball was cleared out to Healy, who was in a pocket of space outside the box and his left-footed drive saw Roberts jump up and use both of his outstretched hands to fist the ball over his crossbar.
Walton said: “I think that was going to go in but it was the start of a string of about four saves he made so that was the start of it.”
Huckle was booked for a poor challenge on Townsend, whose resulting free-kick teed up Waldren, who placed his first time drive flashing just past the foot of the left-hand post from outside the box.
Colliers Wood United went route one in the 19th minute when a big kick from Roberts was knocked down by Sasu and Morgan Williams turned holding midfielder Healy but his right-footed drive flashed past the foot of the upright from 25-yards.
Johnson floated a deep free-kick from just inside the home side’s half towards the back post where substitute centre-half Callum Henry steered his header past the far post, which was his first touch of the game after coming on to replace Harvey Hanifan.
Colliers Wood United missed a glorious chance to kill the game off in the 69th minute.
Huckle clipped a ball over the top from midfield and poor defending from Rob Carter opened the gate for Sasu, who lacked composure and poked a weak shot straight at Blue in a one-v-one situation.
“I think Rob did get back enough at him to put him under pressure just so he didn’t get a nice free shot off so he sort of toe-poked it back to the keeper,” added Walton.
Beckenham Town pushed both of their full-backs forward as they went in search of an equaliser that their second-half domination deserved.
Johnson nicked the ball off Bradley Williams and his initial shot was blocked before Townsend came alive and turned right-back Wilson and his low drive was saved by Roberts at his near post, diving low to his right.
Beckenham Town then built down the left before substitute Jamie Humphris played the ball out to Johnson, who played in a low cross and Townsend looked destined to score but the brilliant Roberts stuck out his left hand and made another great stop.
Walton said: “I mean that’s what goalkeeper’s are for aren’t they? If that was up the other end, I’ll be going, ‘he’s fantastic’, so I’m not going to deny the lad, he was absolutely exceptional for them, fair play to him. I wish him all the best in his career, he’s only a young lad.”
Beckenham Town were to be denied again by the excellent Roberts inside the final six minutes.
Humphris swung in a free-kick from the left, an unmarked Theophanus flicked the ball on at the near post and Roberts pushed away Nick Curran’s effort at the back stick.
Colliers Wood United hit Beckenham Town on the counter-attack, grabbing a third goal with 41 minutes and 45 seconds on the clock.
Fofanah was just inside the Beckenham half on the left flank and his diagonal cross was intended for the impressive Sasu. However, Healy whipped a volley looping over his own goalkeeper and into the roof of the net from 25-yards to score an own goal and Walton, at least could see the funny side to it.
“I mean, a couple of things. We made a couple of little mistakes in the build-up. I thought Archie Johnson could’ve gone back to Bluey from the half-way line instead of trying to clip it but listen Archie’s been fantastic for us the last four or five games,” said Walton.
“I think everyone knows the volley Joe Healy scored for Welling, that’s all over the internet and everyone can see the great goal he scored at Grimsby.
“I think it was Marco Van Basten in the Euros when he hit it on the volley. I think Joe scored that goal. I think that’s got to be Joe’s second best goal ever and it’s got to be the best own goal of all time, to chip Nick Blue from 25-yards, it's incredible.”
Townsend’s cross was knocked down by Henry and Theophanus’ header was brilliantly clawed out by Roberts, who on tonight’s heroics needs to be picked up by a higher-league club, instead of playing his 19th game in the ninth-tier.
Colliers Wood United almost snatched a fourth goal on the counter-attack when Healy attempted to whip a ball upfield from the halfway line but the ball was charged down by a pressing Alex Nunes, who broke upfield and put it on the plate for Fofanah, but Johnson showed desire to get back and make a block inside the penalty area to avoid further punishment on a wet and chilly night.
“Archie made up, he didn’t have to make up for it but it shows the character of the team when the game is really over at the time and Archie sprinted back 50-60 yards to get a tackle in and stopped them going 4-1, so fair play to him,” added Walton.
Reflecting on the shock defeat, Walton said: “That’s football. Sometimes things don’t go your way and you don’t get the rub of the green and you’ve got to give credit to Colliers Wood.”
Beckenham Town return to the Eden Park Avenue carpet on Saturday, unbeaten at home in the league all season, and welcome second-from-bottom Banstead Athletic before a trip to fifth-placed Jersey Bulls next Tuesday.
“No one’s panicking, it’s still in our hands. Today’s a blip and I just said to the boys, I don’t think they will lose another game for the rest of the season. I think they’ll win the next seven games.”
Bantstead Athletic have picked up four wins and six draws from their 30 league games and are trapped inside the relegation zone alongside Molesey, eight points adrift of safety.
“Tonight could be a blessing in disguise. You get beat and you want to put in a reaction and I’m very confident in this group and I say to you all the time they will achieve something special and I’ve got no doubt that they’ll go on and do it for us.
“Jersey’s Jersey. I think the boys are all looking forward to going, so we’ll go over to there. I think they got beat tonight (3-1 to Balham at Ascot United) so we’ll go there and they’re out of the running (11 points behind us) so it’s a free hit for us. We can go over there and relax. I suppose they’ll relax, the pressure’s off them and I think it will be a good game.”
Walton insists Beckenham Town will not throw away the league title during the last month of the season.
“No, never in a million years. This group of lads want to achieve something special and I generally do believe that something special will happen this year and I’ve got every faith in them.
“Listen, we’re not going to throw away eight months of hard work with four weeks left. The boys will be ready to go on Saturday and you’ll see a different Beckenham Town side on Saturday, back to their old ways and back to winning on Saturday.
“The players are down, like as if you lose any game, they’re a bit down. As I’ve said to them everything we’ve asked of them, you’ve done since we got beat at Sheerwater, we haven’t lost, so everything that we’ve asked them to do, they’ve gone and done.
“Sometimes a little slap in the face might be a good thing for you.”
Colliers Wood United: Ben Roberts, Callum Wilson, Harry Murphy, Alfie Huckle, Daniel Decruz, Oliver Thompson, Rmarni Blankson (Frankie Scott 80), Bradley Williams, Aron Sasu, Morgan Williams (Alex Nunes 77), Ali Fofanah (Alex Foord 90).
Subs: Sid Dack, McKenzie Foley
Goals: Aron Sasu 9, Ali Fofanah 33, Joe Healy 88 (own goal)
Booked: Alfie Huckle 60, Morgan Williams 73
Beckenham Town: Nick Blue, Harvey Brand, Archie Johnson, Nick Curran (Jamie Humphris 75), Rob Carter, Harvey Hanifan (Callum Henry 68), Steven Townsend, Joe Healy, Louie Theophanus, Freddie Nyhus (Pinto De Niro 67), Tunde Aderonmu (Danny Waldren 55).
Sub: Alfie Bloomfield
Goal: Steven Townsend 3
Referee: Mr Connor Fanelli
Assistants: Mr Adam Absolon & Mr Ashley Carley