Corinthian 0-2 Beckenham Town - I need a new challenge, says Matt Longhurst

Monday 05th May 2014

Macron Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Final
Bank Holiday Monday 5th May 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

CORINTHIAN manager Matt Longhurst says he needs a new challenge after resigning after the club went into the record books for becoming the first to suffer three successive Kent League/Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Final defeats.

The news overshadowed Beckenham Town’s Cup double after Jason Huntley’s side sealed a comfortable 2-0 win over Corinthian in Longhurst’s last game in charge of the Gay Dawn Farm club.

Beckenham also won the Kent Senior Trophy for the first time only 22 days ago after beating Ashford United 4-0 at Longmead Stadium in Tonbridge.

Beckenham Town, who like Corinthian have suffered two League Cup Final defeats before today, dominated this one at Bromley’s Hayes Lane and sealed only their second piece of silverware since their reformation 43 years’ ago, courtesy of goals from Jamie Humphries and Jake Britnell.

Beckenham Town assistant manager Dean Harrison said he was pleased with the club’s end to their campaign.

“I don’t know what to say! It happened, didn’t it?  This year it all came together,” he said. 

“It’s taken us a little bit of time to get going at the start of the season. I think we lost the first six, but we were still doing the right things, we just weren’t scoring.  We weren’t winning games and it’s just come together.  We pushed up the league, finished eighth and won two cups.

“I’m over the moon, absolutely delighted how far we’ve come in the league. We’ve had such a young, inexperienced squad, brand new. I’m absolutely delighted for the boys and the attitude they’ve shown.”

Corinthian keeper Richard Stroud scooped the man-of-the-match award for making a string of fine saves to prevent Beckenham Town winning by a much larger margin, but the keeper couldn’t prevent Longhurst resigning after three years in the job.

Longhurst, 33, who held talks with his chairman after the game, issued this statement at 20:22 this evening.

“We’ll basically I’ve been thinking about it for a while, over the last four or five weeks really to be honest,” he said.

“Since I’ve taken over we were in around the bottom three.  I’ve been there three years now.  We’ve got to three cup finals.  It had nothing to do with today at all whatsoever and I want to make sure everyone is made aware of that.

“The club ethos has been fantastic.  For me, I’ve got nothing but a good word to say about the club, how the club’s run. The people there have been absolutely fantastic and I will go back there with my head held high and go and speak to them and stay involved. I only live around the corner so I’ll be going to their games staying involved and keeping a close eye on their results next year.

“I just felt that I need, perhaps, a new challenge. I maybe have got to where I can get with them. We’ve finished fourth and fifth. The League will be more competitive next year. It looks like there’s going to be 20 teams in it next year.

“I’ve got aspirations to manage at a higher level. I think I’ve proved myself at a club without a budget. Whether we want to run away from the fact or not, it hasn’t got a budget and we’ve managed to finish above teams with budgets and compete with ones that have got budgets.

“I just feel now that I need another challenge and need to progress and further my career and that remains the reasons behind it.

“I’ve got nothing but good words to say about the club. It’s a brilliantly run club. It’s got a great ethos and loyalty factor there. We’ve had lots of good times there.

“For me now it’s a case of looking and speaking to one or two people and seeing where the next steps lie basically.

“I just feel that perhaps I’ve progressed to where I can within the club at the club that I’m at and perhaps I need a new challenge and an opportunity to go do something slightly different somewhere else.

“I could be making a mistake and step back from the game and not get back in. There’s lots of managers out there that are looking for jobs and haven’t been offered anything. It may be a little bit of a risk.”

Corinthian went into the game having finished in fifth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League table with 16 wins, 10 draws and 6 defeats, but they simply failed to turn up and their loyal band of followers suffered the same outcome when the club lost to VCD Athletic and Erith & Belvedere in their two previous Cup Finals.

Beckenham Town, who went into the game having finished in the top eight, with 15 wins, 4 draws and 13 defeats, should have won the game more comfortably in the Bank Holiday Monday sunshine.

They created their first of many opportunities inside the opening seven minutes, against a Corinthian side that froze on the big stage.

“So disappointed in us today,” said Longhurst after the game and before he broke the news of his resignation.

“I would say there’s probably two or three of our players that haven’t come out of that game with any credit whatsoever, but I’m the manager so the blame lies at my door.  We just weren’t good enough today. They were better than us. They had more desire than us.

“The pitch wasn’t great, so it’s difficult to pass it on but if you’re lacking desire and character it doesn’t really matter really.

“Some of these young lads have been here a little while now and I think when it comes to the bigger games at times they let themselves down and they’ve done that today. I think that includes myself today. 

“Yes, very disappointing. We just weren’t good enough today. They were the better side.”

Alex Wilkes and Damien Ramsamy linked up well on the left before Humphries’ left-footed chip from nineteen yards looped up and Stroud caught the ball high to his left before the ball could sail into the top corner.

Beckenham Town went close again when a long kick from goalkeeper Rilwan Anababa was latched onto by Ramsamy, who robbed former Crystal Palace youngster Malaki Field, before cutting inside to set up Humphries, who stabbed the ball wide of the near post whilst under pressure.

Longhurst said “We’ve got such young players but we say they’re young players but we’re using this excuse a little bit.  We’ve got young players but there’s seventeen to nineteen year olds playing in the Football League so it’s not an excuse.

“They need to grow up a little bit and man up. We just weren’t good enough. We didn’t compete in the opening stages of a Cup Final, which we’ve beaten Whyteleafe this year, we’ve beaten Ashford, we’ve beaten Tunbridge Wells.

“I felt on the day we’ve let ourselves down, all of us as a group.  It’s not good enough.”

Beckenham continued their dominance and James Marshall’s pass released Humphries, whose right-footed curler sailed wide of the far post from 20-yards.

Harrison said: “Dominated for 90 minutes?  I believe so and that’s no disrespect to Corinthian. We know what a good side they are and how organised they’ll be.  We did the right things in the right areas.”

Stroud made the first of his many saves but failed to deny Beckenham Town a deserved 25
th minute lead from the resulting corner.

Wilkes passed to Ramsamy, who cut along the by-line before cutting the ball back to Humphries, whose first time left-footed shot produced an excellent diving save from Stroud, diving to his right to get a strong right hand to push the ball around the post.

Longhurst thanked his goalkeeper for saving him from an embarrassing defeat in his final game.

“Without a doubt,” admitted Longhurst.

“Stroudy was outstanding today, fortunately for us!

“I just don’t think they had to work very hard to get their opportunities. We’ve got two, three, four, five, six players today that really haven’t had an impact on the game!”

Harrison said: “He’s a very good keeper, he had a great game.  Their keeper, which showed our dominance to be fair because he could be up for man-of-the-match.  I thought he had an absolute blinder!”

Jake Hobbs swung in the resulting corner from the left and Humphries was given space at the near post to flick the ball beyond Stroud to score from six-yards.

Harrison said: “Lovely! He got across his man well. He’s only little Jamie, but he makes himself busy. He flicked it in. He done well. Good goal and a great start.”

Longhurst added: “Poor! He’s the smallest player on the pitch! It’s not good enough!

“One of the midfield players lost his man and you can’t afford that to happen if you want to win games. At this level or any level if you can’t pick up players in your own penalty area and you haven’t got the desire to go and win a header in your own penalty box you ain’t going to go very far!

“The two goals that they’ve scored, one of them we can suffer right at the end there but the first goal we should’ve gone in 0-0 because Stroudy has kept us in it with three or four decent saves.”

Corinthian went close to grabbing an equaliser, following their first corner on the half-hour mark.

Lee Woodyard swung in a corner from the right towards the near post but Ryan Johnson – who later went off injured – glanced his header past the near post.

Beckenham Town were to be denied a second, within a couple of minutes and had they scored then there was to be no turning back for Corinthian even at this early stage in the game.

Britnell went on a mazy 30-yard run from midfield and reached the Corinthian penalty area before his left-footed drive forced Stroud to make a low save to his left.

Chances kept being created by Beckenham Town, who shone at the home of their Conference South neighbours.

Britnell released Humphries through on goal – after the striker beat the offside trap – and his first time right-footed dink was caught by Stroud to his left.

It was turning out to being a one-man show as Stroud made an even better save in the 37
th minute.

Attacker Ramsamy progressed down the left before whipping in a low cross, which flashed across the penalty area towards Britnell, who took a touch before stroking a right-footed drive towards the bottom right-hand corner from 25-yards, which Stroud dived to his left to push around the post.

Corinthian, somehow, survived to go into the break still in the game, but they failed to get back into the game much to Longhurst’s clear disappointment.

He said: “I said to them at half-time, you just have to leave the last 45 minutes of your season, you need to leave everything on that pitch!  You have to come of the pitch absolutely drained and you’ve given everything.  We probably got to the last ten minutes and then really had a very good go.”

Harrison admitted his side should have gone into the dressing room with a larger lead.

“We was a little bit disappointed with that,” he said.

“We thought we could’ve wrapped it up. We felt we should’ve gone in maybe at least two goals to the good, if not three, so we told them that at half-time, but we came out second half, done the same thing. We didn’t take our chances!”

Ashley Sains, who arrived late after being stuck in traffic on the A2, came off the bench at the interval and the central defender’s first contribution was to being booked for a challenge on the edge of the box, which resulting in Marshall blasting his right-footed free-kick over the Corinthian bar from 22-yards after only 82 seconds.

Corinthian should have done better with their first chance of the second half.

Stroud’s long kick was latched onto by Denzel Gayle, but he sliced his right-footed shot over the bar, whilst under pressure on the edge of the Beckenham penalty area.

But Harrison was full of praise for Beckenham’s makeshift back four.

“Absolute fantastic! It was a totally different back four apart from one (Nathan Paul) who started the other Cup Final,” he said.

“We had to shuffle it about through suspensions and injuries and we knew there was enough quality there and they were magnificent, absolutely magnificent!”

Beckenham went close following a short corner from Hobbs, who rolled the ball to Britnell, who set up the former Hythe Town player, who curled his right-footed shot just around the far post from distance.

Corinthian were scrapping the barrel when a half-chance created on the hour mark was to go down as their best chance at that moment in time.

Woodyard swung in a free-kick from the right some 35-yards from goal and Beckenham keeper Rilwan Anababa failed to deal with the delivery and Vences Bola couldn’t steer the ball into the bottom corner, the keeper pouncing on the ball at the last moment.

Longhurst added: “The keeper punched it out, it’s hit Vences and it’s gone straight back to the goalkeeper, but I think in football you’ve got to work hard and fashion chances.  The more chances you create the more opportunities you’ve got to score goals and I think if we’re relying on that to be one of our only chances in a game of football, that’s not good enough!”

Harrison was full of praise for his goalkeeper.

“He done well. He’s been a cat all year.  His shot stopping, ability is second to none!  He’s a young keeper. He’s got lots to learn and I think keep an eye on him. In four or five years’ time he’s going to be fantastic.  He’ll be one to keep an eye on.”

Beckenham Town continued to create – and miss – a number of chances to wrap the game up.

Humphries progressed up the pitch and cut inside and Marshall couldn’t bring the ball down under his spell but the ball fell at Britnell’s feet, who cracked a right-footed drive from 20-yards, which was beaten away by Stroud.

Longhurst felt that his side should have grabbed an equaliser halfway through the second half, but the flag was raised after substitute Adam Marsh rolled his shot across Anababa into the bottom far corner of the net.

“I think Marshy’s goal was possibly onside but it’s difficult to see from where I was standing but I felt he was in front of their player when he’s had his touch and his shot so to go one-all perhaps would have changed the concept of the game.”

Dominant Beckenham Town went close, again, when Hobbs’ free-kick sailed towards the far post where a towering Humphries knocked the ball across the face of goal, yet Marshall couldn’t steer the ball in as he ghosted in on goal.

Corinthian striker Bola sliced the ball into Anababa’s hands from the edge of the penalty area in a rare opportunity for a well-beaten side.

Another chance was wasted by Beckenham in the final seventeen minutes.

Wilkes played the ball into Ramsamy, who did well to hold the ball up before playing a lovely reverse pass to put Humphries through but the striker drilled his right-footed shot just over the crossbar on the angle.

Corinthian ventured forward for the last ten minutes, which left gaps for Beckenham’s lively front line to exploit.

Longhurst said: “I felt the last ten minutes we gave it a little bit of a go.  If I’m honest this is where we probably lack here. We haven’t got those characters and I think that comes from a bit of inexperience, a little bit of quality.”

Anababa claimed the ball inside his penalty area before kicking the ball up field to release Humphries down the left, who beat the offside trap to sweep the ball over to the unmarked Wilkes, who placed his first time shot past the near post from 10-yards.

Harrison admitted this was the one that should have killed the game off.

“Great chance! He just didn’t score!  He was in the right area. He just didn’t finish it!”

Humphries then skipped past a couple of Corinthian defenders to reach the penalty area but his weak shot rolled straight at the keeper.

Corinthian almost snatched an unlikely equaliser in the final four minutes, but Anababa enhanced his reputation by making a quality save.

Corinthian substitute Peter Afolayan stroked his left-footed shot from 25-yards, which was destined to nestle inside the bottom right-hand corner, but the Beckenham keeper dived to his left to parry the ball as it bounced up in front of him before he gathered the loose ball.

Longhurst said: “A good save from the kid.  He’s only young, a decent goalkeeper but we’re on our heels. We’ve got there three or four seconds after he’s dropped it because we’re not gone in on the goalkeeper as soon as Peter’s about to shoot our centre forwards should be on the goalkeeper so if he drops it we tap it in.

“Gary Lineker and people like that earned a living of doing that! That’s about having a bit of desire, going in the box.  Our centre forwards this year haven’t scored enough goals and that’s why we finished fifth and we didn’t finish higher than that.

“I think we scored 51 goals less than (league champions) Whyteleafe and that’s the difference but when you pay money, which we don’t, you get the quality in the final third and that’s a fact. From the Premiership through to this standard of football, that’s where it counts and we didn’t have that today.”

Harrison added: “Great save, again! He did his job when he was called upon, made a fantastic save.  Not only (did he) make the first save, recovered well. He was brave, put his head in there and recovered for the second ball.”

Corinthian were hit on the break as Beckenham Town wrapped up the game with a second goal timed at four minutes and 33 seconds into injury time.

Britnell’s excellent campaign was capped off with a fine solo goal, picking the ball up on the halfway line before penetrating the Corinthian defence to round the keeper to slot his shot into the bottom right-hand corner from five-yards.

“He’s been brilliant all season,” Harrison said of 22-goal Britnell.

“He’s an absolutely magnificent player. His work-rate, he’s been fantastic. His desire, his attitude and ability is fantastic. From me he’s probably the best player I’ve seen in this league all season.”

Longhurst feels Britnell should be playing in the Ryman League next season.

“If that kid is playing in this league next year then the scouts in the league above are doing something wrong because he’s a player, he’s an absolute quality player.

“They’ll be very fortunate next year if they keep hold onto him because he’s quality.

“I’m not worried about the second goal because we’re throwing caution to the wind but the performance worries me because if it’s me or whether their playing for another club or whatever they might do they need to be able to turn up in big games and today they never did that!”

And just like the London buses that pass Eden Park Avenue, you wait so long for a trophy and two come along in 22 days!

“Great scenes! It was relief more than anything. That’s two cups in a year, that’s not bad – in a month! We’ll take that,” said the delighted Harrison.

“It’s not a bad first season. It’s a brand new squad. It’s a young squad, it’s inexperienced.  We’ve got something to build on.  We’ve got a lot to build on and I think next year, a couple of additions to strengthen the squad, we’ll have a good pre-season, we’ve got a good as chance as anyone.

“It’s a strong league. There’s some great sides but there’s no reason why we can’t push on next year.”

Longhurst admitted Beckenham Town were worthy winners.

He said: “They beat us 2-0 from two poor goals but they should have won clearly. I’m not taking that away from them but the two goals we conceded are rubbish!”

Longhurst was disappointed that he failed to shake off the club’s bridesmaid’s tag.

“I’m not going to sit here and make excuses for us because I take responsibility for the team because I’m the manager and we weren’t good enough today. There’s no hiding from that!

“There’s going to be better teams who lose in Cup Finals then us and there will be worst teams than us win Cup Finals.

“Football kicks you in the private parts at times but you have to accept the rough with the smooth a little bit and today was one of those rough days and you have to move on.”

Longhust admitted this Cup Final defeat proved to be the most disappointing.

“I think in all three finals that we’ve lost, today’s the most disappointing because we didn’t really give it a go.   We really didn’t get going. I’m extremely disappointed for them because they’ve worked really hard all season. They’ve done great. They’ve done brilliant all season.

“I’m not going to sit here and just slag them off because on the day we weren’t good enough. Over the course of the season we’ve been outstanding.

“It’s just disappointing to get all the way to a final and then turn out a performance like that, it’s not good enough!”

And when asked about next season, Longhurst hinted that he wasn’t going to last much longer at the club.

“I don’t know.  I’m going to sit down with the chairman, hopefully this afternoon or tomorrow and go from there.  At the moment we’ll have that conversation and take it from there.”

Corinthian:  Richard Stroud, Malaki Field, Ben Wilson, Lee Woodyard, Sam Groombridge, Billy Parkinson, Josh James (Ashley Sains 46), Ryan Johnson (Peter Afolayan 70), Vences Bola, Sam May (Adam Marsh 46), Denzel Gayle.
Subs: Joe Brown, Charlie Penfold

Booked:  Malaki Field 45, Ashley Sains 46, Richard Stroud 60, Adam Marsh 71

Beckenham Town: Rilwan Anababa, Jake Hobbs (Darren Wise 75), Micah Banton (Kyei Banton 63), Jalloh Gassimo, Nathan Paul, Frankie Warren, James Marshall, Jake Britnell, Damien Ramsamy, Jamie Humphries, Alex Wilkes.
Subs: Malik Forfana, Thomas Ngegba, Sam Percival

Goals: Jamie Humphries 25, Jake Britnell 90

Attendance: 412
Referee: Mr Philip Rowley (Canterbury)
Assistants: Mr Kane Dempster (Hythe) & Mr Joe Kasper (Gravesend)
Fourth Official: Mr Jack Packman (Margate)


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