FC Elmstead 2-0 Sporting Club Thamesmead - It may just be too little too late to get anything near the top five, says FC Elmstead boss Marc Bentz

Wednesday 17th January 2018
FC Elmstead 2 – 0 Sporting Club Thamesmead
Location 68 Oakley Road, Bromley, Kent BR2 8HQ
Kickoff 17/01/2018 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Wednesday 17 January 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Oakley Road

FC ELMSTEAD manager Marc Bentz says it may be too late for his side to get anywhere near the top five in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table.

They went into this game on a run of five games without a win but goals from central midfielder Chan Quan and winger Dexter Babalola saw them leapfrog over Sporting Club Thamesmead into tenth-place in the table on 32 points from 22 games, seven points adrift of fifth-placed side Kent Football United.

Sporting Club Thamesmead have now lost three games on the spin and drop down a place into eleventh with 30 points from 21 games.

Bentz said: “Happy with that! We’ve been having a little bit of a blip at the moment, we haven’t won in five so it was important to get a win out of it today and it was one of our games in hand as well so that puts us above them as well, so I’m happy.

“I had to make a few changes as well just to try to freshen it up a little bit.  The last five games, I know we’ve had two draws and three losses and the losses have been against some of the better sides but in each of those games there’s been mistakes throughout.

“We’ve brought in some new players to try to strengthen the squad and I thought it was about time to give them a chance to start.  It was a bit touch and go at the end, there were a couple struggling for legs but it worked out.”

“Just a poor all-round performance really tonight,” came Lee Hill’s honest assessment of his Sporting Club Thamesmead side.

“We just couldn’t get going, heavy pitch, everything was sticky, we just couldn’t get going tonight!”

This was a poor game of football on a sticky pitch on a chilly night in Bromley.

Sporting Club Thamesmead were to be denied the lead after only 22 seconds when striker Josh Patrick came close to scoring his 30th goal of the season.

Striker Jojo Ogunbiyi released winger Sodiq Badru down the left and his cross was met by Patrick’s rasping left-footed drive at the near post, which crashed against the crossbar from six-yards.

“Josh hit the bar! He generally buries them but I can’t moan too much really,” said Hill.

“It would’ve been a great start if we had gone 1-0 up and it probably would’ve changed the game straight away.”

Patrick had a quiet night and Hill suggested: “He’s carrying a bit of an injury, one or two lads are tonight and he just played through it really.  He didn’t get a lot of service either tonight to be fair to him.”

Bentz admitted:” Massive let off! I don’t think we heard the whistle that started the match! A massive let off in the first minute and if that had gone in it would’ve completely changed the game.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead created more chances than FC Elmstead but the hosts had more of the possession on the night.

Ogunbiyi was tripped by Elmstead right-back Harry Brockman on the edge of the D and Tony Hill came up from the back to place his right-footed free-kick towards the bottom corner, only for the ball to deflect off the wall and behind for a corner.

FC Elmstead grabbed the lead, however, with 22 minutes and 49 seconds on the clock, courtesy of a brilliant moment of vision.

Winger Ben Lockett chased a long ball through the heart of defence and visiting keeper Charlie Martin rushed off his line and failed to initially clear his lines just outside the box and the ball came out to Quan who struck a sweet first-time right-footed volley from 40-yards towards goal and sailed into the roof of the net after dipping at the last moment.

“Fantastic! Great finish! He’s been a great addition, he’s sort of one of the five or six that we’ve brought in recently,” said Bentz.

“Believe it or not we actually brought him up from the reserves! I don’t know what he was doing there with that sort of talent that he’s got and the vision that he’s got.  He’s played higher and he’s come in and settled in well.  Another good performance from him, man-of-the-match performance.  He’s far too good (to be playing Kent County League Division Two West football).  I didn’t even realise he was in there until six weeks ago when Rob Curtis played with him before and said we get him in!”

Hill said: “I thought Charlie should’ve dealt with that one! He’s been playing well all season so the last couple of weeks confidence is low. We’ve lost three on the trot and we’ve just got to get out of the rut really.

“I think the shot was going over the top of the net but it was a great technique to score from there, on a heavy pitch. He was their best player by far tonight.”

Despite the goal the game was a midtable scrap.

Bentz said: “I was more pleased with the boys because of the hard work that’s come in from the boys that have come in and the boys that have been here. They deserved that lead, not necessarily on the performance, just the hard work that they done.  They deserved to take the lead and get in front and win a game so I was really happy for them.”

FC Elmstead midfielder Christian Howell fed the ball into Lockett and the ball was bouncing underneath his feet by the time the winger sliced his right-footed shot harmlessly wide from 25-yards.

The home side were edging the game in the possession stakes.  Visiting keeper Martin often found touch with his goal-kicks in the wind but the away side created the goalscoring chances and they should have restored parity in the 36th minute.

Right-back Elliott Johnson floated over a cross, the ball was flicked on by Ogunbiyi’s foot to find Jamie Williams in space on the right-hand side of the penalty area but his right-footed volley lacked power and Dan Teeley comfortably held the ball low to his left.

Hill added: “Easy save! He was stretching a bit from there Jamie, comfortable save for the keeper really.”

Bentz said: “It was comfortable, they didn’t really challenge him. There was one that really pushed him and that was in the second half. He’s a great goalkeeper and he knows what he’s doing.”

Referee Abdulaziz Olol had a poor night.  He failed to punish Badru for a bookable challenge on Brockman and the rest of the first half was to be a feisty affair with tackles flying in.

Patrick managed to sweep the ball forward from the deck on the half-way line to put Ogunbiyi through but he sliced his shot past the far post.

Hill was penalised for handball but Victor Okisor blazed his right-footed free-kick high over the crossbar from just outside the corner of the Acre penalty box.

Both manager’s were asked their thoughts at the break.

Bentz said: “We’ve been in this position a few times and we come out in the second half and threw it away so we couldn’t afford to do that!

“We spoke about what we’ve been doing well, maybe that we’ve not been doing so well where they’ve caused us issues and how we’re going to take that forward.

“We had to bare in mind that we had the wind against us that half so it was always going to be a bit harder with the wind.”

Hill said: “I just said to them, we’ve got 45 minutes to turn this around! We can’t play no worse than we’ve played tonight!  We’re still in with a chance really going in 1-0 down. There weren’t a lot of chances at either end in the first half, apart from the goal they scored and we hit the crossbar.  It was always going to be in it and I thought we would come stronger in the second half.”

The referee failed to award FC Elmstead a penalty in the 57th minute when Babalola played in Okisor through on goal and he went on the outside of the keeper but he was tripped and was honest enough to stay on his feet and the referee failed to point to the spot because of that honesty.

Both managers were asked their thoughts on the poor performance from the referee.

“I think he had a difficult game,” said Bentz.

“He seemed to let the game play a lot, which led to a lot of confusion from the players’ and that sort of riled them up a little bit because he didn’t make it aware that he was going to let the play go but I don’t know if he was letting the game go or just missing incidents all together.

“I’m my opinion there was a penalty shout for us in the second half.  Our striker has tried to be honest and stay on his feet but the keeper stopped him getting to the ball and having a shot so for me that’s a penalty!

“But also he made a couple of bad decisions for them as well. There was one that went off for a corner but he gave a goal-kick so he didn’t get everything right today but I don’t think they were big decisions. He got all the big decisions right.”

Hill simply added: “I do comment on the referee’s.  Again Saturday until now both poor! Poor, poor, poor, poor decisions tonight, not just for us but for both teams.  He didn’t manage the game at all.”

The away side wasted a good chance to score just before the hour-mark.

Left-back Veejay Miller strode forward, played a one-two with Patrick but stroked his right-footed shot from 22-yards into Teeley’s hands for a comfortable save.

Hill said: “It was probably the only bit of football we played in the first 60-odd minutes really.  Veejay took the ball in his stride, played a one-two and it was a comfortable save, again, for the keeper.”

Bentz added: “Not really the shots that are going to trouble him.  A keeper at that standard you’ve really got to put it in the corner to really trouble him.  It was a good move from them, he’s managed to get a shot off and it was an easy save for him.”

Miller cut a corner back to Badru, who whipped in a quality cross from the right and Williams’ back-header was blocked inside the six-yard box and Teeley grabbed hold of the ball.

“Another half-chance really, always comfortable for the keeper,” added Hill, who treated Williams for what appeared to be a knock to his shoulder after falling.

“Jamie leaned back, stretching for the header, got it on target but a comfortable save for the keeper.”

Teeley pulled off a great save to deny Sporting Club Thamesmead an equaliser with 71 minutes on the clock.

Keeper Martin punted a big kick straight down the middle of the pitch to put Williams through on goal and his dinked shot was brilliantly clawed behind for a corner by Teeley’s oustretched right-hand.

“Probably our best chance of the second half,” highlighted Hill. 

“Jamie got into a great position.  The defender couldn’t tackle him and he tried to dink the goalkeeper with a little chip but it was a great excellent save from Dan. He’s always been a good goalkeeper, it’s a great save really.

Bentz added: “That’s what he can do! A little bit of switching off at the back, which can be costly at this level.  Dan Teeley was nice and sharp, a little bit of switching off from the back for to let that come route one. Thankfully he was aware.”

Despite defending deep, FC Elmstead grabbed a second goal with a slice of luck with 33 minutes and 54 seconds on the clock.

Johnson failed to shut down Babalola, who from the left-channel cut inside to whip in a curling cross into the box.  Substitute winger Ola Kukoyi put off the keeper and the ball curled into the far corner.

“Make sure you put that down as a cross because he’s claiming it was a shot,” revealed Bentz.

“His work rate is phenomenal! He didn’t have a good game last game. He done us a bit of a favour playing centre mid but out on the wing is where he needs to be playing and I thought he had a very good game today. He worked hard and he deserved a goal. He’s worked hard for a number of weeks, so I’m happy for him.”

Hill added: “Again it got down out wide on the left and he kept that position really well. He cut inside but we stepped off and we should’ve gone and closed him and try to cut the cross down.  The cross had come in and I think it went straight in.  I don’t know if anyone touched it.  Their player was there in the way with Charlie. I don’t think he touched it and it went straight in.  We didn’t get tight to him really.”

It wasn’t going to be Sporting Club Thamesmead’s night in front of goal.  Patrick endured a frustrating night, suffering a knock to his ankle and seemed like he was carrying his team-mates who rely on him too heavily to win games of football when they need to pull their socks up.

Hill floated a free-kick from left-to-right to Mason Simms, who played the ball into Badru inside the box and he cut the ball back to Hill, who looped his shot over the bar from 25-yards.

Jamaldeen Jimoh and Joe Hart were excellent at the heart of the home side’s defence tonight and the home side wasted a glorious chance to score a flattering third inside the final five minutes of normal time.

Howell swung in their sixth corner of the night and Babalola got underneath his header to loop it over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box at the near post.

Bentz said: “Game management has been an issue a few times this season where we had the lead and maybe a goals gone in in the last minute because we haven’t managed the game properly so it’s just to make sure they managed the game and saw it out.”

Both of these clubs must improve if they are to win their Quarter-Final ties on Saturday.

FC Elmstead travel to their league rivals Erith & Belvedere in the London Senior Trophy, while Sporting Club Thamesmead travel down to the Kent coast to Deal to play Canterbury City in the Kent Reliance Senior Trophy.

Bentz, meanwhile, says he is targeting a higher league position.

“We need to be really in that top half.  When I last spoke to you we wanted to be going towards the top of the also rans of the teams without the budgets so we really are aiming for seventh or eighth so if we can get any higher, brilliant!

“The squad that we’ve got can actually push on and get a little bit higher but it may just be too little too late to try to get anywhere near the top five.”

Hill added: “I’m really disappointed.  Elmstead are a good, hardworking team but if we wanted to push up like them they’re the games we have got to win. Confidence is not good at the moment but hopefully we’ll rally round.

“We’ve got to start picking up points.  A couple of weeks ago we weren’t in the driving seat but looking to finish in the top six but now we just want to consolidate and try to get a win and get our performance back and try to push up the league.”

FC Elmstead: Dan Teeley, Harry Brockman (Ola Kukoyi 76), Cameron Shields, Christian Howell, Jamaldeen Jimoh, Joe Hart, Ben Lockett, Robert Haines (Mark Axell 39), Victor Okisor (Jordan Samuel 69), Chan Quan, Dexter Babalola.
Subs: Daniel Carpenter, Marcus Howell

Goals: Chan Quan 23, Dexter Babalola 79

Sporting Club Thamesmead: Charlie Martin, Elliott Johnson, Veejay Miller, Mason Simms, Mudiaga Wanagho, Tony Hill, Oscar Hall (Joseph Rojas 61), Jamie Williams, Josh Patrick, Jojo Ogunbiyi, Sodiq Badru.
Subs: Emmanuel West, Harry Weaver, Anthony Fenech

Attendance: 49
Referee: Mr Abdulaziz Olol (Elmers End)
Assistants: Mr Ronald Albert (Catford, London SE6) & Mr Paul Webb (Bromley)

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