FC Elmstead 1-2 Beckenham Town - I don't think we got much out of the game, admits Beckenham Town coach Billy Walton

Tuesday 01st August 2017
FC Elmstead 1 – 2 Beckenham Town
Location 68 Oakley Road, Bromley, Kent BR2 8HQ
Kickoff 01/08/2017 19:45

Pre-Season Friendly
Tuesday 1st August 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Oakley Road

BECKENHAM TOWN coach Billy Walton says his side can be dark horses this season after escaping relegation by the skin of their teeth in April.

Beckenham Town finished third-from-bottom in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division with 29 points from their 38 games, beating the drop by just one point.

FC Elmstead completed their 36-match campaign in the First Division in eleventh-place having bagged 43 points.

Both sides begin their campaign at the weekend.  FC Elmstead travel to Gravesend on Friday night to play newly-promoted side Punjab United, while Beckenham Town travel to Tunbridge Wells in The Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round on Saturday.

However, going by tonight’s line-ups, Jugjt Sian nor Jason Bourne will not know who will face them at the weekend with Elmstead keeper Ben Ashton the only player in his team to get through the entire 90 minutes, while Beckenham Town used eight substitutes.

Beckenham Town enjoyed plenty of possession during the first half without any real end product.

Pacy striker Lekan Bakare scored against his old club to give FC Elmstead an early lead from the penalty spot.

Jamie Humphris scored a big contender for Goal of the Season to bring Beckenham Town level, who won it early in the second half through Richard Atkins’ near-post tap-in following a good move.

“To be honest with you, I don’t think we got much out of the game,” admitted Walton after the local derby at Oakley Road.

“To me it was a pretty boring game, lots of possession, a lot of things to work on, on Thursday before we play Tunbridge Wells, so yes it was a run-out but I’m a bit disappointed with the way we played.

“We had 99% of the ball in their half, we just didn’t kill them off and get good balls into the right areas in the final third.  I think they had one shot in the second half but I know Fabio changed his whole team for the second half so I don’t know who they were second half.”

When asked whether he knows his starting 11 for their opening game at Culverden Stadium on Saturday, Walton replied: “We’ve got a rough idea of who we’re going to play but tonight a few people put their hands up for positions.

“It’s difficult. We’re being a bit more negative and play much stronger, physical players.  We’ve got loads of talent at the club. We’ve got some very, very good footballers, talented footballers that want to play as you’ve seen in the second half today.”

FC Elmstead manager Fabio Rossi said he was “happy” despite closing their pre-season campaign with a defeat.

“I’m going to give you the old clichés as normal, they were all getting minutes, there was a lot of players out there.  We’re in a little bit of disarray, we have lost quite a few players and you can tell there were a lot of trialists out there tonight.”

Kick-off was delayed for six minutes as Walton had to pick up Italian goalkeeper Christian Billanucci from nearby Downham and lenient referee Dave Goldstone failed to tell Jason Huntley that he had to start the game without their second-choice keeper in goal.

Beckenham probed early but their technical players failed to trouble Ashton in goal.

Walton said: “That’s what we just said to them in there, what you heard me shouting out in the game.  We get to 25-yards out, we’ve got to be a bit more clinical with our passing and our moving.  Most of the players don’t know each other still.”

FC Elmstead squandered a great chance to grab the lead in the 12th minute when Steven Strotten flicked a pass into Mark Axell’s feet, who swept the ball out to Jaydon Campbell but he lost composure when left in acres of space just inside the box and drilled his left-footed shot over the crossbar.

Rossi said of his left-winger: “Jaydon is out of Club Langley’s youth. We’ve had to, we haven’t split with our reserves this year but because they are too far down the ladder we were always having difficulty in having players coming up so what we’ve decided to do, we’ve had a couple of tie-ups with some Academies and one being Club Langley and Jaydon’s out of Club Langley.”

The home side played a long ball up to Strotten, who hooked in Bakare, who was denied by the advancing Billanucci, who smothered the dinked shot at goal.

FC Elmstead deserved their lead when it arrived with 16 minutes and 32 seconds on the clock.

Bakare cut across from the left and played a cross-field pass out to Jordan Samuels on the right and the winger was body-checked by Carlos Branco and referee Mr Goldstone pointed to the spot.

Bakare stepped up and lashed his unstoppable right-footed penalty high into the top right-hand corner, despite Billanucci diving the right way.

“Lekan was very good tonight. He was a thorn in their side all night. He probably wanted to do well against his former club, I guess that normally happens that way,” said Rossi.

“Beckenham had a lot of the ball and we were trying to keep our shape within a 4-4-2 and they had some very technical players but we were always threatening on the break.”

Branco, a ball-playing central defender, received criticism from Walton following the foul.

“As much as I like Carlos, things like that the fella ain’t going to take him on. He’s just committed to a silly foul, why do that?  Just stand him up, he ain’t going nowhere, a bit disappointing to be honest with you.

“Pleased for Lekan. He was with us last year. He’s a handful. He caused us a few problems with his pace.”

Beckenham Town grabbed an equaliser with 28 minutes and 29 seconds on the clock – and you will not see a better goal scored by a semi-professional football who plays in the ninth-tier of English football in the next nine months!

Taiwo Edun floated in a free-kick from the left, which was meat and drink for Joe Hart, Elmstead’s central defender, who planted his header away.

Humphries smacked an exquisite right-footed hooked volley from 22-yards, which screamed into the roof of the net.  It rocketed so fast that keeper Ashton didn’t even blink!

Walton hailed the strike, saying: “That, without a shadow of a doubt, is the best strike you’ll see until this time next year! That has come off the sweet spot on a golf club. As soon as it left his foot, that’s in without a shadow of a doubt!

“That’s an Andy Carroll volley at West Ham, Alan Shearer’s volley. It’s just like one of them. As soon as it leaves his foot that’s in! What a great finish, pleased for Jamie.”

Rossi added: “Not much you can do when someone scores as good as goal as that!

“If I’m really going to be critical I thought Joe probably should’ve headed the ball back the way it came. Instead he tried to put it back up the pitch, which kind of teed it up. Yes, still got to execute what he did. It was a fantastic goal, brilliant!”

Shameek Farrell had a couple of low drives that were comfortably gobbled up by Ashton during the first half, while Humphries hit another volley, this time a lot closer in, but his near-post effort was sliced wide after Jamal Willer’s cross from the left.

FC Elmstead squandered an excellent chance from a corner when Billanucci failed to put anyone on either post at a corner.

Ben Lockett floated the ball over from the left and all Hart was to do was bury his free-header from four-yards, but the ball bounced over the crossbar.

Rossi said: “It was a chance! What can you say? It was one of them, he should’ve put it in!  I think he said he didn’t see it until late because it passed somebody and then as it stooped down, it just went over, just bounced over.”

Walton revealed: “At the moment Christian our goalkeeper is our reserve goalkeeper. He’s Italian so he doesn’t speak English either so to get your point of view across, we did talk about having the players on the posts, it’s not something that we don’t do. It's just a mistake on his behalf, I think.”

Rossi made 10 changes at the interval and sloppy assistant referee Mark  Jenkins allowed Axell, Campbell and Aaron Hayles re-appear after being substituted.

Rossi said: “I know you don’t want to hear it because you hate pre-season as much as I do.  You’re losing players, teams come in but we just wanted to give the trialists, the players we had out there a view.  We’ve got in mind that we’re playing Punjab on Friday night.

“We played two teams basically to give everybody 45 minutes so everybody’s got minutes under their belt and we’ll be picking a team going forward from that really.”

When asked whether he knows his starting 11 for opening night, Rossi replied: “I do, baring one player!” 

Huntley made five changes at the break and Beckenham Town were a much better outfit in the second half.

Walton said: “We just weren’t quick enough with our passing. We’ve played some top sides in pre-season and that’s how they move the ball. It’s got to be quick. That’s what I try to say to them, try and let’s do things quicker.  We just wasn’t quick enough!”

Beckenham Town scored the winning goal with only four minutes and 28 seconds on the clock.

Jake Britnell controlled the midfield at ease and FC Elmstead just couldn’t get near him!

The former Greenwich Borough man played a sublime defence splitting pass that released Carlos Branco (who moved from central defender to left-wing) and he cut the ball back for Atkins to nip in front of George Barratt at the near post to roll the ball into the bottom near corner from four-yards.

Walton added: “For me I’d like that goal better than the first, than Jamie’s goal. He won’t like that because for me that was a footballers goal, that’s passing and moving at its best so what a nice finish, near post.”

Reflecting on Britnell’s return to Eden Park Avenue, Walton said: “You ain’t got to say nothing about him have you? He’s a top, top player so to have him in our team, he’s going to cause a lot of problems so very pleased he’s signed.”

When asked about Branco, who like Britnell and Humphris should be playing in a higher league, Walton replied: “He’s got a lot of ability. He’s naturally left-footed. He’s played at a decent level of football, very, very comfortable on the ball, doesn’t get flustered, good quality, what I’m looking for in a player. The way he passes out from the back, it’s unfortunate he doesn’t speak English, he’s Colombian.”

When asked what made Beckenham tick after the interval, Walton replied: “Footballers come on, footballers that can play, who knew each other. The five that came on all knew each other and you could see that straight away.  The football, the passing and the moving was a lot crispier, a lot quicker, a lot faster so it was pleasing.

“We’ve got a difficult choice because we’ve got some good players at Beckenham this year, some very good players.”

Rossi said: “It was a good goal from Beckenham, a good run across the post. We should’ve defended it a little bit better, getting bodies across that front post.  It is hard to defend against. They were overrunning us at that point, it was difficult.”

Ashton moved to his right to gather Britnell’s first time drive from 25-yards comfortably, before FC Elmstead missed a glorious chance to level inside the final 20 minutes.

Left-back Dean Carpenter hit a long ball over the top of the Beckenham defence and this was chased down the channel by striker Dexter Babalola, who cut into the box but his shot was blocked by the advancing Billanucci from a tight angle.

“Dexter was our top scorer in the end last year and even though he couldn’t make that many games he should’ve finished it really. He’s probably not as sharp as he needs to be, but close,” added Rossi.

“Christian done that three times against Dorking Wanderers so he’s very confident. He’s a very good goalkeeper this young lad so I was pleased with how he pulls of those saves,” added Walton.

Huender Santos played the ball inside to Britnell, who was given time and space to see his right-footed drive from 30-yards bounce past the post.

FC Elmstead should have equalised inside the final four minutes when Carpenter pulled the ball back for Tunde Adermu, who lashed his shot over the crossbar with only the keeper to beat.

“He should’ve done better,” admitted Rossi.  “That little bit of sharpness that you need pre-season, maybe if he would’ve been three games in, they may have gone in.”

Walton added: “There again, at this level if he wants to play he’s got to finish, the lad, got to put those chances away. When you’re under pressure and you get a breakaway and you get that opportunity, you’ve got to score!”

Beckenham Town called Ashton into making a couple of late saves, blocking at the near post to thwart Oliver Milton, after he beat the offside trap, before Adam Wadmore came up from his central defensive role to stroke his free-kick into the keeper’s hands from 30-yards.

“Oliver should’ve squared it though for a tap in. He’s making his debut, he went for a shot. For me I’d like to see him roll that across to Huender Santos to just tap it in the back of the net.

“Adam thinks he can do everything and he’s a great lad. I’ve known him since he was 10 years old. One thing I’ve never seen him do is hit a free-kick.  He definitely won’t be taking no more free-kicks!”

Huntley, Jason Clews and Walton have to sit down on Thursday night and pick 11 players that will aspire to send Tunbridge Wells crashing out of The FA Cup on Saturday.

“We’ve got a job on our hands to pick out the right team out of all that lot. We get that one right we’re going to be dark horses,” added Walton.

Punjab United have been tipped as favourites to secure back-to-back promotions.

Rossi added: “I’m looking forward to that one, obviously they were here watching us, we watched them on Saturday, so we’ll see how it goes.”

FC Elmstead: Ben Ashton, Kamall Reid (Zach Beeden 46), Ben Lockett (Dean Carpenter 46), George Bryan (Mark Axell 58), Dan Doyle (Reece Barratt 46), Joe Hart (Lyndsey Prescott-Kerr 46), Jordan Samuels (Aaron Hayles 46, Jaydon Campbell 69, Aaron Hayles 74)), Mark Axell (Billy Ryan 46), Lekan Bakare (Dexter Babalola 46), Steven Strotten (Tunde Adermu 46), Jaydon Campbell (Ben Ramsden 46).

Goal: Lekan Bakare 17 (penalty)

Beckenham Town: Christian Billanucci, Michak Stanic-Stewart, Taiwo Edun (Jack Hope 46), Pat Campbell (Jake Britnell 46), George Benner (Adam Wadmore 62), Carlos Branco, Jamal Willer (Chan Quan 46), Richard Atkins (Oliver Milton 68), Luwayne Greenwood (Al-Hassan Oshilaja 46), Jamie Humphris (Huender Santos 53), Shameek Farrell (Jos Gonzales 46).

Goals: Jamie Humphris 29, Richard Atkins 50

Attendance: 48
Referee: Mr Dave Goldstone (Gillingham)
Assistants: Mr Mark Jenkins (Welling) & Mr Paul Webb (Bromley)

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