Forest Hill Park 1-2 FC Elmstead - Unless the chairman finds some money from somewhere - because we haven't got any - I ain't doing it next season, says London Senior Trophy winning caretaker manager Fabio Rossi

Saturday 29th May 2021
Forest Hill Park 1 – 2 FC Elmstead
Location Mayesbrook Park, Lodge Avenue, Dagenham, Essex RM8 2JR
Kickoff 29/05/2021 15:30

London Senior Trophy Final (Sponsored by Kick Up Sports)
Saturday 29 May 2021
Stephen McCartney reports from Mayesbrook Park

FC ELMSTEAD caretaker manager Fabio Rossi says it means everything to the club after winning the London Senior Trophy for the first time – but ruled himself out of the running for the vacant managers job.

Forest Hill Park travelled to Barking’s Mayesbrook Park as favourites due to the fact that they were higher in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table (12th with seven points from seven games) before the 2020-21 campaign was curtailed due to the coronavirus health pandemic.

CHAMPIONS: FC Elmstead captain Dan Teeley (orange), who was an emergency signing, celebrates winning the London Senior Trophy for the first time with a 2-1 win over their Southern Counties East Football League First Division rivals Forest Hill Park at Barking's Mayesbrook Park.
Photo: FC Elmstead

FC Elmstead were sitting in the bottom three with four points from eight games at the time and Rossi revealed on the eve of the game that he had to swiftly assemble a squad for their London Senior Trophy campaign after most of their players quit the club after manager Ennio Gonnella stepped down to return to his former side, Kent Football United, on 9 May.

Forest Hill Park beat South Kilburn (2-0), Meridian VP (walkover), Hackney Wick (4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw) and league rivals Bridon Ropes (2-1) to reach the London Senior Trophy Final for the first time.

FC Elmstead got past Phoenix Sports Reserves (walkover) and Metrogas (3-2) before general manager Rossi took charge of their 3-2 win over Balham’s B side before coming back from being 2-0 down at half-time to beat last season’s runners-up, AFC Cubo, by winning 5-2 after extra-time.

Despite their poor preparation, FC Elmstead got off to a flying start, taking the lead after only 36 seconds as striker Kyle Beckford slotted home his seventh goal of the campaign.

Rossi’s men made their early dominance count and doubled their lead after 19 minutes courtesy of an own goal after Ryan Penton’s corner.

However, Forest Hill Park upped their desire levels during a dominant second-half performance.

Club captain Matt Faithorn struck the foot of the post with a 70th minute penalty before central midfielder Flavio Jumo found the bottom corner with their second spot-kick just 10 minutes later but FC Elmstead held on.

“I just want to say thank you to (chairman) Paul Brook because he’s been there all of the way,” said Rossi.

“We’ve both been trying to build the club up for a number of years’ and he’s been there all of the time.

“We’ve won quite a lot of stuff at lower levels, Junior level and we’ve done alright since we’ve come in to the Southern Counties East Football League First Division but this is a little step further now because it really means something.

“I know it’s not the top cup but it’s still a pretty good Senior Cup for us especially these are just waives and strays really that we’ve put together in three weeks or something.

“They’ve done really well. They’ve been brilliant. I had three under 21s that I’ve dragged up. I’ve had three or four of the Sunday side in. I was able to sign Dan Teeley on an emergency signing because we had no goalkeeper and three remained from the first-team as it was.”

Forest Hill Park manager Darrell Queeley said: “Extremely disappointed, gutted. I don’t think it was there for us today. 

“We didn’t turn up for the first 20 minutes and the rest is history really. We expect the boys to roll up their sleeves and dig in for 15-20 minutes and they didn’t.  We didn’t dig deep enough to get us to that stage and that’s why we were punished.”

The impressive Penton, playing at the top of a midfield diamond, picked up the ball in the final third and slipped the ball in behind Faithorn and Beckford slotted the ball past the advancing keeper Dillon Green.

“Kyle’s not really a forward to be fair. He’s been playing all of the time on the wing. We made a commitment to play in the London Senior Trophy so we wanted to stay in it then Ennio Gonnell’a left and we needed players so Kyle was one who was willing to stay,” said Rossi.

“I needed someone who was quick and can play the striker role so I stuck him up there. He actually pulled his hamstring scoring the goal, it was only a slight hamstring so he done well to see out the rest of the game, hobbling on through but he done alright.”

Queeley admitted his side’s “passive start,” was to be their downfall.

He said: “Just a very passive start from us. The first press, passive. Then we won the ball and we gave it away and then the press again was passive and then they managed to make two passes and be on goal. It just wasn’t good enough!”

Penton played a delightful diagonal pass with the outside of his right boot to release Beckford down the right channel and his cross found fellow striker Paul Lee who turned his man before dragging his shot across the keeper and tricking past the far post.

Penton will claim FC Elmstead’s second goal but it will go down as an own-goal as his corner from the right was headed against the near post by a defender on the line (left-back Adrian Brown) and trickled over the goal-line after bouncing off another Forest Hill Park player within a crowded goal-mouth.

“I think for half-an-hour we were the better side,” highlighted Rossi.

“It was a bit of a fluky goal, I suppose, but they happen. There was a bit of a breeze and I didn’t think we made enough of the first-half. We really needed another goal. 

“They played really well, they did have a spell for 10-15 minutes where they got on top of us but we wrestled it back until the end of the first-half.”

Queeley repeatedly admitted Forest Hill Park lost this Cup Final in the first 20 minutes.

Rossi added: “That was the complete opposite to what I told them to do in the changing room because I actually said after going 2-0 up against AFC Cubo in the week, I said I don’t think we’ll be able to do that if we go 2-0 down today. I asked them to be a bit more disciplined rather than everybody get forward but they didn’t take notice and just went forward an scored!”

Queeley added: “Very similar to the first one. We haven’t done enough. The press, again, was passive. That’s what lead to them winning a corner. 

“We didn’t work hard enough. People are closing one man but weren’t doing the second man. They’re doing a minimal amount of work instead of the most.

“It’s a good corner, a few ricochets and those things go in their favour. If you’re passive those things go in the back of your net.”

It was exactly what FC Elmstead deserved as they flew out of the traps but Forest Hill Park almost grabbed a goal back in the 24th minute, as they offered very little going forward during the first-half with Alimm Sesay sitting in front of FC Elmstead’s back four offering them plenty of protection.

A big kick from keeper Green wasn’t dealt with by FC Elmstead’s centre-half Briggs Ojemen and was hit with a left-footed shot on the turn from 35-yards, which sailed over Dan Teeley’s head and caressed the top of the crossbar before dropping behind for a goal-kick.

“It was our first glimpse. I don’t think we deserved to get a goal back at that point to be honest. We weren’t in the game at all so it was a decent effort from Alvin but it hasn’t really helped,” admitted Queeley.

Rossi added: “Alvin was great for us, three years ago I think it was.  Alvin can do that. He can turn a game. He’s got a bit of a shot on him.”

Forest Hill Park’s holding midfielder Kris Queeley gave the ball away inside the final third and Beckford took a touch before dragging his right-footed shot well wide of the left-hand post from 25-yards.

FC Elmstead were keen to hit the channels with Lee a keen runner down the left and the tall target-man won his fair share of flick-ons.

Penton’s ball down the right channel, this time released Beckford, who turned Brown at ease but his left-footed drive was comfortably saved by Green low to his left.

Rossi said: “I thought Ryan Penton was really good. He was instrumental in the way that we played. He played at the head of the diamond trying to get on the ball and trying to make things happen so he’s got through and passed the ball to Kyle. It was good work.

“Ryan’s a good player. I’m really pleased for him. He was one who was not getting in the team. He drifted away. We’ve had him on loan from Cray Valley’s under 23s and they allowed us to use him in this cup and I think he will go on and do good things.”

FC Elmstead left-back Abdul Aziz-Sankoh and Fenton linked up well down the left before the ball was delivered into the penalty area but Lee glanced his towering header across the keeper before trickling past the far post.

Queeley revealed his half-time team-talk gave his side the kick up the backside that they desperately needed.

He said: “I just said some swear words, a lot of shouting! Tactically, I changed the formation. They played a diamond shape in midfield in the first half and what was happening was our full-backs kept running out to press no-one and they kept pinging it behind us, down the sides and then getting in, so we changed to three at the back so we could deal with their two forwards and we dominated the second half and we were unfortunate not to get an equaliser.”

Rossi added: “I knew the wind was going to be a factor.  We made more of the first half than they did of the second half but they had a lot of the ball and we defended well in the second half and it wasn’t as comfortable as I thought it was going to be.”

Forest Hill Park has the wind in their favour during the second half and they put in a much improved performance.

Nine minutes in, Queeley hit a long diagonal down the right which was flicked on by Turyatemba and substitute winger Atta Gyan played the ball inside to Jamal Batchilly, the wing-back playing the ball in behind for Turyatemba who drilled his shot just over the crossbar as Teeley attempted to flick the ball over the crossbar.

“The changes worked and the boys were more hungry. The press was less passive and we were more aggressive. We made a few changes and that seemed to change the game towards us a little bit,” explained Queeley.

At this point, however, FC Elmstead were comfortable but Forest Hill Park cranked up their desire levels at the half way mark, so much so that Rossi’s side were holding on.

Gyan’s out swinging corner from the right was laid off by Batchilly and substitute left-winger Chibuike Ejennolim unleashed a low left-footed drive from 20-yards, which was comfortably saved by Teeley, who is a very good goalkeeper in the tenth tier of English football.

Queeley said: “You just want those to go in. It just didn’t work out for us. I guess they wanted it more in the early stages of the game but I can’t moan too much about that one.”

Rossi said: “Dan Teeley has been with us for years and he went off to Erith & Belvedere to win a couple of cups and won the league. He’s still quite young to be fair. He’s only 31 now so he can still play for a few more years. He’s been with me since he was 16, he was quality then and he’s still quality now.”

Forest Hill Park were given a lifeline when Tuyratemba chased a lost cause following a long ball out of defence from Faithorn and was rewarded when Ojemen was penalised for handball inside his penalty area.

However, Faithorn’s penalty struck the base of the left-hand post, with Teeley diving the right way and Faithorn was penalised for having a second bite of the cherry with the rebound.

Queeley defended his central defender for missing a crucial penalty.

“Matt’s been outstanding for us all season, since I’ve got to the club, he’s been outstanding.  He’s not put a single foot wrong. He’ll take that hard because he’s been Mr Forest Hill Park for many years now.

“I would’ve put my house on him scoring but when it comes to the final, there’s things that play. It was unlucky.”

Rossi added: “I’m not having none of that because I don’t think it was a penalty! Briggs is telling me it wasn’t a penalty so these things happen in games.

“Matt Faithorn is our under 21s manager and he was really good today and I told him if he scored he’d be sacked so that’s maybe why he hit the post, I don’t know,” laughed Rossi.

Forest Hill Park continued their dominance in warm conditions on Barking’s recently-laid artificial pitch.

Ejennolim swung in a corner from the left and Gyan got in front of his marker at the near post to sweep his first-time shot past the foot of the near post.

Queeley said: “It was really frustrating. We deserved to be back in to the game. You can’t really quite moan after that first 20 minutes.  I’m going to keep throwing back to that first 20 minutes where we really didn’t put enough of a shift in.

“I felt that we were a stronger team than Elmstead today but only one team turned up for 20 minutes and it was too late after that.”

Forest Hill Park deservedly pulled a goal back with 10 minutes remaining.

Queeley played the ball out to Gyan, who cut in from the right with the ball at his feet and he was on the receiving end of a wild kick from Bethel Gboda.

Referee Maros Valko ignored penalty shouts initially but went over to his assistant referee Thomas Nicholls who decided that the offence took place inside the box.

Jumo placed his right-footed penalty nestling into the bottom right-hand corner despite Teeley guessing the correct way and so close to getting his fingertips to the ball.

Queeley said: “Definite penalty for me.  He skipped past the first man and then he’s taken two steps inside the box and then Bethel has put his leg out and clipped him right in the box.  For me it was a clear pen from where I was standing.  I wasn’t quite sure what all of the debate was about but thankfully the lino was closer and he bailed us out.”

Rossi claimed: “That’s completely rubbish again because it looked outside. I suppose we would say that but I can only go by what the players are saying.

“Briggs did say the ball did flick his hand but there was no way he could move his arm and Beth was saying the touch was outside, although the geezer throw himself inside but it doesn’t really matter now.”

Some good wing play from Turyatemba down the right saw him whip in a deep cross towards the unmarked Ejennolim, who cracked his volley screaming across the keeper and past the far post as he tried to find top bins to score what would have been a deserved equaliser for Forest Hill Park.

“It gets to that point when you realise it’s not your day.  We lost the game in the first 20 minutes and then nothings fallen for us, nothing’s flying in when things that normally would. It’s just one of those days,” admitted Queeley.

“We’ve got to take our hats off to Elmstead who also dug in and didn’t allow us to get into the game. It was difficult for us so we’ll have to march on from here really.

“We threw the kitchen sink at it so you can’t really complain about the plumbing when you’re throwing the kitchen sink!

FC Elmstead called Green into making a fine save at the death on the counter-attack as Beckford teed up Penton, who drilled his left-footed shot from 25-yards, forcing the keeper to get down quickly to his right to make the save before gathering at the second attempt.

“I didn’t know where all of the time came from but then when you come to that point and they’re piling forward, it’s difficult,” said Rossi.

“We didn’t really create much in the second half. We should’ve got on the ball better. We were trying to encourage them to get on the ball and pass it around to kill them off and break their heart but they kept coming and the wind was with them. We should’ve scored (a third goal) earlier and it would’ve been game over.”

Good riddance to the two Covid-19 campaigns of 2019-20 and 2020-21 and let’s hope next season actually finishes so we can celebrate league and cup success where it should be achieved – on the football pitch.

When asked how it feels to celebrate their success today, Rossi said: “Fantastic! It means a lot for the club. Maybe we can try to move on to the next step.

“We’ve won the Kent Intermediate Shield a number of years’ ago but this is the next step, we’ve won what I call a Senior trophy.”

Rossi revealed the club has received 16 applications for the role of manager, one who has to operate without a playing budget, with the Chislehurst based outfit sharing Sutton Athletic’s Lower Road ground in Hextable.

“Chairman Paul Brook has just come up and said ‘we can’t change now,” but I’ve just said I’m not doing it without a budget!

“People quite often said I’m a soft manager but I don’t believe that. I don’t ever think that.  I have true belief in my own ability but I think money pays a bit part in our League and it’s always a struggle if you haven’t got money.

“We’ve had 16 applicants and I think people can apply now so we’re going to sift through them over the next week or so and then we’ll be interviewing.

“Unless Paul finds some money from somewhere – because we haven’t got any – I ain’t doing it!

“We’ve had a lot of applications, some good, some bad, so we’ll just wait and see who takes over.  We’re running out of time basically. We wanted to get this final out of the way before settling down with a new manager, so hopefully he’ll come in and we’ll go from there. 

“I don’t really know what our aspirations are for next season, until we get the man.”

Reflecting on their first London Senior Trophy Final defeat, Queeley said: “Its very painful. I can’t even tell you how painful it is today to lose and to lose because we didn’t give it enough in the first 20 minutes.

“They deserved what they got in the first 20 minutes because they worked harder than us.  I can’t describe to you how I’m feeling but I’ll go inside the changing room now and pick the boys up and we’ll go again next season.”

Forest Hill Park: Dillon Green, Jamal Batchilly, Adrian Brown, Kris Queeley, Matt Faithorn, Cairo Duhoney-Burnton, Albert Garcia (Atta Gyan 30), Flavio Jumo, Leon Thomas, Alvin Turyatemba, Reece Cain (Chibuike Ejennolim 54).
Subs: Hafeez Abdulkadri, George Fisher, Benga Jubril

Goal: Flavio Jumo 80 (penalty)

FC Elmstead: Dan Teeley, Russ Carter-Thompson (Brayden Shephard 84), Abdul Aziz-Sankoh, Alimm Sesay, Briggs Ojemen, Ahmed Deen, Jaden Campbell, Bethel Gboda, Paul Lee (Luke Alliband 75), Kyle Beckford, Ryan Penton.
Subs: Dave Mott, Fuad Adeba

Goals: Kyle Beckford 1, Adrian Brown 19 (own goal)

Booked: Alimm Sesay 86

Attendance: 77
Referee: Mr Maros Valko
Assistants: Mr Thomas Nicholls & Abdul Olol
Fourth Official: Mr Steven Walsh