Didcot Town 3-1 Thamesmead Town - We’ve just got to get over it, it’s like in life, in anything, you’ve just got to keep going, as soon as you stop, you give up, says Alex O'Brien

Saturday 29th September 2018
Didcot Town 3 – 1 Thamesmead Town
Location Loop Meadow Stadium, Bowmont Water, Ladygrove, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 7GA
Kickoff 29/09/2018 15:00

The Buildbase FA Trophy Extra Preliminary Round
Saturday 29 September 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Loop Meadow Stadium

THAMESMEAD TOWN assistant manager Alex O’Brien says his struggling team need to bring quality, work-rate, desire and hunger to the table to turn around the clubs fortunes.

The Mead are rooted to the foot of the Bostik South East Division table with three points on the board after six games and were dumped out of The FA Trophy at the first hurdle by a Didcot Town side that are now unbeaten in eight games.

Thamesmead Town were gifted the lead seven minutes before half-time when a poor clearance from Didcot keeper Leigh Bedwell was tucked home by hard-working striker Trey Williams from outside the box.

But the game turned when Stuart Cattell came up from the back to loop a header and into the far corner from a very tight angle with virtually the last piece of action of the first half.

Andrew Ballard’s side booked a home tie with sixth-placed Bostik South Central Division side Hertford Town in the Preliminary Round courtesy of lone striker David Murphy and central midfielder Callum McNish.

“We created a lot of chances today, I think we probably created seven good chances and we’ve come away with one goal,” said O’Brien after Thamesmead have now lost eight of their 11 games in all competitions.

“It’s not good enough! Defensively we let them in, we haven’t cleared our lines properly, we didn’t attack the ball properly and they’ve won the game 3-1.  I’m a little shell-shocked because I thought especially at half-time we were well within the game and we had a real opportunity to win today but we didn’t!

“We’re fragile, I get that, we haven’t won and it’s anyone’s fault and it’s warm-ups and it’s balls and it’s the floodlights and the grass and it’s the lighting and it’s everybody’s fault but the bottom line is the players have to dig themselves out of holes and they have to get characters and they have to drive each other.

“I said you have to put the effort in for 95 minutes of a game and you’ve got to take your chances, you have to defend properly, every single side sets up like that. At the minute we’re just getting punished and I think we’re feeling sorry for ourselves, which is not a trait of me and Tom.

“They are feeling very, very sorry for themselves but the mentality of me and Tom it takes us until next Saturday to get over it and then we get over it. We’ve just got to get over it, it’s like in life, in anything, you’ve just got to keep going, as soon as you stop, you give up!”

Both teams struggled to get the ball down and play on a poor playing surface that had several grid lines running across the pitch and possession was lost on many occasions and the ball was bouncing around like a hand grenade.

“Wow-we, wow-we, yes for a start you can’t see the lines. I think it’s shocking,” said O’Brien.

“The pitch is poor, very, very poor but I’m not blaming that at all.  They’ve got to play on it, they’ve scored three goals on it. It’s not a problem but do I want to come back here? No, not really!”

Thamesmead Town were guilty of missing several chances, while Didcot Town – in eleventh-place in the Evo-Stik Southern Division One Central Division table with seven points from five league outings but having drawn their last three games in all competitions – were clinical in front of goal.

Thamesmead Town’s opening chance should have been taken by the returning striker Richard Pacquette after only 80 seconds.

Right-back Matt Bodkin threw the ball into the box, Trey Williams cut the ball back to Pacquette, who dragged his right-footed angled shot across the keeper and past the far post from eight-yards.

“We’ve missed Pacqs to be fair.  It’s his first game back for a while and you sort of think he’s a little bit rusty,” said O’Brien.

“I thought we created a lot of chances today, we weren’t deadly enough in the penalty area.  I thought they had three or four, ok maybe four or five and they’ve scored three goals.  I think we had seven or eight and scored one.  The ratio, it’s not good enough!”

Thamesmead Town started the game on the front foot and Pacquette cushioned his header out to right-winger Tariq Ossai, who hit a poor cross which should have been cleared by Didcot right-back Sam Barder, but he failed to clear his lines and left-winger Nassim Dukali cut inside and his right-footed deflected drive from 25-yards was initially spilt by Leigh Bedwell, who gathered the ball at the second attempt.

“Again, another player that needs to show his quality because he’s got a lot of quality, the ball at his feet, he’s deadly but he’s over-thinking, he’s over complicating his things. He’s definitely can beat a full-back and deliver.  He can beat a full-back, cut inside and have a shot. He needs to go back to basis and then find confidence and the magic will come from it, I’m sure of it.”

Thamesmead kept the ball on the floor when they created another opening in the ninth minute.

Holding midfielder Scott Kinch played a diagonal pass to Pacquette, who played the ball inside to Bode Anidugbe, who rolled the ball to Dukali, who cut inside and drilled his right-footed drive high over the bar from 25-yards.

The Railwaymen took 19 minutes to create their first chance but Seth Humphries failed to test the diving Will Godmon as his right-footed dipping free-kick from 30-yards cleared the crossbar.

Anidugbe nipped in at the near post to send his header across goal and bouncing past the far post after he met Williams Danquah’s corner from the right.

Didcot Town almost grabbed the lead in the 31st minute following their first attempt on target, following their first corner.

Matthew Woodley’s out-swinging corner was met by a downward header by centre-half Adam Learoyd on the edge of the penalty area and Thamesmead keeper Godmon produced a great diving save low to his left to get a strong hand to the ball to push it behind for another corner.

“Great save, good save, great save, I expected it to be fair, he’s a good goalkeeper and that’s what you need,” explained O’Brien.

“You need your centre-halves when they’re needed to do their job. You need your goalkeeper when he’s needed to do his job and fair play, the lad has put in a great header and it’s matched by a fantastic save.”

Thamesmead Town went up the other end as right-winger Ossai got in behind left-back Cameron McNeil to reach the by-line and he cut the ball back for Pacquette to hook his shot towards the bottom right-hand corner, only for Bedwell to dive to his left to parry.

“On another day that goes in,” added O’Brien, who then praised Ossai.

“We’re pleased with Tariq, his attitude and his work-rate and his deliveries have been exceptional and I feel for him a little bit because he’s in and around a side that are feeling a little bit sorry for themselves.  I’d like to see him express himself a little bit more and he’s a little bit tentative but I’m telling you now that is a player that can easily play at a level above.”

Another chance for Tommy Warrilow’s men went begging when Danquah rolled the ball towards Trey Williams, who let the ball run across him before he cut inside a couple of Didcot players to roll an angled pass to Ossai, whose cross was met at the far post by a hooked volley by an unmarked Dukali, which went wide of the near post from eight-yards.

Thamesmead Town certainly deserved their lead when it was gifted to them with 37 minutes and 22 seconds on the clock.

Didcot keeper Bedwell was on the right-hand side of his penalty area and his clearance lacked height and distance and a poor first touch from Trey Williams some 35-yards out gave centre-half Cattell a chance to clear but his reaction was slow and Trey Williams nipped in, took a touch before slotting his right-footed shot into the back of an empty net from 25-yards.

“I’m pleased for Trey, he’s worked hard,” said O’Brien on Williams’ third goal for the club this season.

“The last couple of games he’s been up front on his own and he’s worked his socks off but the one thing he will do is put himself about.  For a small man he’s very, very good in the air, he’s very strong and it just shows he persevered and he got himself a goal.”

Didcot Town responded immediately as Humphries slipped the ball through to Brett Gardner, who drove in a cross-come-shot from the right, which Godmon pushed away low to his right.

But referee Andreas Anastasiou blew for half-time as soon as Thamesmead Town restarted the game following Didcot’s equaliser just 39 seconds into time added on.

McNish clipped a free-kick into the penalty area and Thamesmead centre-half Jake McIntyre failed to win a header and Cattell latched onto the ball to loop his header over Godmon’s right shoulder to drop into the bottom far corner.

“Sums it up really to be fair. We gave away a sloppy free-kick and then the balls up in the air and we don’t really dominate. We’ve got four lads that are easily six foot and I wanted a better header there. He didn’t get it and there’s a header that’s nestled in the bottom corner and it’s just like Jesus! We didn’t even get time to restart the game. That’s a sucker blow because going in 1-0 up is still weren’t great but we’re in a better position.”

At half-time, O’Brien said: “We told them to forget the goal quickly and to continue turning them, getting in and around their box and getting the ball moving quicker supporting the front two better from the midfield.  We asked our defenders to clear their lines. It’s not a pitch where you want your defenders having three touches on the ball, you want them looking up and hitting the front men and squeezing the play.”

Warrilow was forced into making a change at half-time as Kinch was withdrawn for Mohammed Oshilaja.

“Kinchy had a real nasty gash on his leg and Kinchy being Kinchy wants to play, that’s fine but you could see the blood wasn’t stopping coming from his leg and we took the decision to sort of call it. He’s not happy with it because he wants to run through walls but his leg looked like a shark had bit it to be honest,” revealed O’Brien.

“John Coker has just come back, he’s got a tight hamstring. We always knew if we could get 60-70 minutes out of him that’s a real work in progress because he’s been struggling with a hamstring and as soon as he felt it, it was the decision to bring him off.”

John Coker slotted in as a holding midfielder but Oshilaja’s slender build was not one of a centre-half and he lost the ball with powerfully built Didcot lone striker Murphy.

Thamesmead started the second half on the front foot.  Coker released Trey Williams down the right channel and his low cross was hit by Pacquette but his scuffed low shot towards the bottom left-hand corner was cleared off the line by Humphries.

The Mead wasted another glorious chance shortly afterwards after Pacquette crossed low from the right and Coker’s left-footed shot from 20-yards was held by Bedwell, low to his right.

“Cokes will probably be gutted because he’s had a couple of headers and he’s had that and he’s come away not scoring.  I can’t keep saying I thought we created a lot of chances, we just didn’t take those chances,” added O’Brien.

Bedwell kept his side in the game during the early exchanges and he pulled off a flying save to prevent Bodkin flicking his right-footed angled drive into the far corner, the keeper diving to his right to tip the ball around the post with a strong right hand after Bodkin Jake McIntyre’s free-kick was headed out by Learoyd.

“Again, the pleasing thing is a full-back getting in their penalty area forcing a save from the goalkeeper but another day he probably doesn’t hit it as good and it goes in,” said O’Brien.

“It’s so frustrating for us as management because we saw glimpses of what we’ve got but the facts don’t lie, we only scored one goal!”

Didcot Town grabbed the lead with eight minutes and 8 seconds on the clock when Oshilaja failed to deal with a ball over the top.

Oshilaja was easily shrugged off the ball by Murphy who drove his left-footed shot across the keeper to find the bottom right-hand corner.

“We started the second half really well, we got at them and they had their first opportunity and scored and it was just like deflating a balloon, it’s absolutely killed us but that’s our luck at the minute,” admitted O’Brien.

“One long ball, didn’t deal with the first header, we didn’t defend it well and he’s just hit it and it’s gone in and it took the wind out of our sails.

“Up until that point I thought we were in and around their box.  Everyone was looking that way but we should’ve defended it better to be honest.”

Didcot then brought on two wingers in the shape of George Reid (right) and Morgan Williams (left) and the Oxfordshire side had a dominant spell as visiting players’ heads dropped and when asked what O’Brien demanded from his players at that point, he replied: “Character, real character, work-rate, desire and any manager or any coach or anyone in football wants their players to show will and determination and that’s what you’re looking for.

“I saw a couple today, the body language already told me that they’ve stopped and the game had gone and I don’t like that. I don’t buy into that.”

Trey Williams scrapped with his marker Learoyd and got the better of him but his right-footed shot from 25-yards was poor and rolled into Bedwell’s hands on the hour-mark.

Oshilaja was penalised for handball and Humphries floated in the free-kick, which was knocked down by Learoyd and Murphy stooped down to flick his header straight into Godmon’s hands from inside the six-yard box.

Reid hooked the ball on and an unmarked McNish hooked the ball over his shoulder to loop the ball over the crossbar from 12-yards.

The impressive Reid received the ball in space and he cut inside and teed up Morgan Williams, who dug the ball out from his feet to clip his left-footed shot screaming past the left-hand post from inside the D.

“We needed to somehow get back into the game so we changed the formation a little but we know you’re going to get caught on the break and you just have to deal with it and you just have to be brave,” said O’Brien.

Didcot Town sealed their passage with a third goal with 23 minutes and 40 seconds on the clock.

McNish played a lovely through ball along the deck to put Reid through on goal but Godmon made a fine block with his legs and tried to kick the ball towards safety.

Reid latched onto the loose ball and played the ball inside to Murphy, who put it on a plate for McNish to drive his shot into the bottom far corner from 12-yards.

O’Brien said:  “No desire in the box for us to help Will out there. He’s made the save, we’re flat-footed and the lad scored the goal. That disappointed me more because we had players to defend and go and press the ball and we didn’t.”

Thamesmead lost Coker through a hamstring strain so Anidugbe slotted in as the third occupant of the holding midfield role as The Mead changed formation to 4-1-3-2 to match their opponents.

Anidugbe trotted up to hurl a throw-in from the left and substitute Danny Parish flicked the ball up to smack a right-footed volley, which clipped the base of the near post from 25-yards with seven minutes left.

“Good to see Dan back, we’ve missed Dan Parrish, we’ve missed him,” said O’Brien.

“He’s hit it on the volley and he’s hit the post. He’s got magic in his boots and we just need him to be fully fit and raring to go.  He’s a goalscorer.  I’ve said it before he reminds me of Jon Main.  I’ve played with Mainy and coached Mainy and he can score a goal from anywhere, so I expected big things from Dan.

“I’ve said to them in there, it takes a second to score a goal and then you’re back into a game. It’s when you give up, that’s when you give yourselves no chance.”

Humphries put the ball into the Thamesmead box from the right and Oshilaja headed the ball out to Morgan Williams, whose drive was destined to nestle inside the bottom far corner, but Godmon dived full-length to his left to prevent another goal.

Didcot Town created one final chance as Morgan Williams whipped in their final corner of the game and Cattell rose to plant his header over the crossbar from eight-yards.

Guernsey suffered a 5-3 home defeat to Phoenix Sports today and are in the bottom four in the table with six points from their eight league games and arrive at Princes Park next Saturday (13:00) for a game that Thamesmead cannot afford to lose.

“Listen, the bottom line when you’re bottom of the league, you just have to work, you’ve got to work and I don’t care if we beat Guernsey 1-0 with an own goal,” said O’Brien, who demands more from his players.

“Stick with it, work as hard as you’ve ever worked in your life, bring your quality, bring your work-rate, bring your desire, bring your hunger and get on with it and that is the bottom line.”

Didcot Town: Leigh Bedwell, Sam Barder, Cameron McNeil, Lewis Hayden, Stuart Cattell, Adam Learoyd, Brett Gardner (Morgan Williams 55), Callum McNish (Ollie Thomas 80), David Murphy, Seth Humphries, Matthew Woodley (George Reid 55).
Subs: Luke Carnell, Andrew Ballard

Goals: Stuart Cattell 45, David Murphy 54, Callum McNish 69

Thamesmead Town: Will Godmon, Matt Bodkin, Williams Danquah, Scott Kinch (Mohammed Oshilaja 46), John Coker (Danny Parish 72), Jake McIntyre, Nassim Dukali, Bode Anidugbe, Trey Williams, Richard Pacquette, Tariq Ossai.
Subs: James Pass, Jack Godfrey, Merrick James-Lewis

Goal: Trey Williams 38

Attendance: 136
Referee:  Mr Andreas Anastasious (Hendon, London NW4)
Assistants: Mr Dajour McKenzie-George (Tottenham, London N17) & Mr Charles Martland (Barnet, Hertfordshire)