Greenwich Borough 1-1 Dorking Wanderers - I keep believing my team are capable of winning 14 games in a row to win the league, says Greenwich Borough boss Gary Alexander

Saturday 04th February 2017
Greenwich Borough 1 – 1 Dorking Wanderers
Location DGS Marine Stadium, Middle Park Avenue, Eltham, London SE9 5HP
Kickoff 04/02/2017 15:00

Ryman League Division One South
Saturday 4th February 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from DGS Marine Stadium

GREENWICH BOROUGH manager Gary Alexander says he does not want his side to be the “nearly team” in the Ryman League Division One South promotion race.

The Borough were held to their first home drawn game in the league when Dorking Wanderers got exactly what they came for – a point – as third-met-second at the DGS Marine Stadium.

Highly-rated winger, Matt Briggs, gave Dorking Wanderers the lead with his 12th goal of the season, which sparked Marc White’s side going on to dominate the first half.

But Greenwich Borough dominated the second half and deservedly equalised through Glenn Wilson’s finish with 20 minutes remaining, the 30-year-old central midfielder’s second goal of the season.

Tooting & Mitcham United remain at the summit with 71 points from 32 games, while Dorking Wanderers (65 points from 31 games), Carshalton Athletic (61 points from 33 games), Hythe Town (61 points from 32 games) and Greenwich Borough (60 points from 32 games) all vying for promotion.

“Disappointing, rather have three (points) but first 45 minutes we started off well,” said Alexander after stepping off the pitch.

“They probably score a goal against the run of play, which changes it. My players’, you could see it in their body language but they went down a little because we were on top when we conceded the goal.

“We haven’t had many draws this season, it’s our first draw at home and it’s disappointing we’ve not come away with three points but do you know what, we’re playing a team in second, we’re probably playing the favourites or one of the favourites to go up and sometimes you’ve got to accept it’s going to be nip and tuck so being 1-0 down at half-time would I take a draw? I would’ve taken a goal and we got a goal but looking back over the second half I’m a little bit disappointed we didn’t get three points.”

Greenwich Borough kicked up slope during the first half and they created the first chance of the game after 103 seconds.

Peter Sweeney floated in a free-kick from the left and striker Robert Denness made space at the near post to steer his header over the crossbar from eight-yards.

“He should score, he’s got to believe he’s going to score,” said Alexander.

“At the moment, obviously in front of goal we’re not scoring the goals we should with the chances we keep creating and we have to keep believing we’re going to score that goal.

“It’s a great chance!  I think Rob will be disappointed looking back at it that he didn’t score the goal.  I’m not saying nothing out of turn, but he should score a goal!”

Dorking Wanderers goalkeeper Slavomir Huk played the ball to Anthony Oaks, but Sweeney pressed him quick, stole the ball off him and his left-footed chip from 30-yards was tipped over by Huk’s left-hand as the keeper back-peddled.

Alexander said: “We pressed them.  Listen, we know Dorking are going to try to play football, Marc’s team plays football.  The times I’ve watched them this season they played football and give credit to them, they don’t stop doing that and we knew that.  We knew if we pressed them down at the right tempo we’d get chances from it and Sweeney has created one there.”

Greenwich Borough lined up with four at the back, three in midfield and three up front, with Dorking Wanderers playing three men at the back (Dean Hamlin at the heart of defence was outstanding), two wingers, three in central midfield and two men up front. Obviously, both had a goalkeeper!

Dorking Wanderers took nearly 16 minutes to fashion their first opening as striker James McShane played the ball to Anthony Oaks, who swept the ball out to striker Tom Tolfrey, who cut inside and stroked his shot bouncing once into Craig Holloway’s hands for a comfortable save.

But Dorking Wanderers grabbed the lead with 16 minutes and 36 seconds on the clock.

Alexander was disappointed with his defenders who allowed Briggs to collect the ball at his feet in a deep position and was given the licence to stride forward before hitting a low right-footed drive from 25-yards, which deflected off Callum Donaghey and nestled inside the bottom right-hand corner of the net, much to Alexander’s anguish.

He said: “We showed Briggs’ inside, he walked past two tackles. We said at half-time ‘we’re not winning enough 50-50 tackles.’  I think there were a couple of tackles in there where we should’ve won the ball before he managed to get that shot off.  We couldn’t do nothing about the deflection, I think it’s come off Callum Donaghey, who for me was probably MOM today in terms of head it, volley it and putting in a warrior like performance.”

When asked his thoughts at going 1-0 down in a game his side could not afford to lose, Alexander replied: “Keep believing! I’ll never stop believing while the points are there to play for and things like that.  There’s 17 minutes gone, let’s do my maths, there’s 73 minutes to go, 78 minutes to go whatever it is with injury time. You’ve seen us, we create chances, it’s about taking them!”

Last season’s Ryman League Division One South runners-up squandered another chance to double their lead in the 28th minute.

Tolfrey was released down the right channel, he cut into the box and pulled the ball back to McShane, but his left-footed drive was parried by Holloway, diving low to his right at his near post to make a comfortable save for a keeper of his stock.

Alexander said: “Again, 17 minutes gone, it’s probably all us and we concede a goal and they get a couple of chances.  Comfortable save again, it’s not really a chance where you go ‘you should score!”

Holloway screamed at his defensive shield after they allowed McShane to glide through them like a knife through better as the keeper got down low to his right to flick the ball away from the striker’s feet.

Greenwich Borough failed to get past the solid wall of Hamlin, as Dorking Wanderers created the last chance of the first half.

They built-up down the left and the ball came out to McShane, who played the ball inside to Guiseppe Sole (playing on the right of a three man central midfield), who drilled his shot harmlessly past the far post from 25-yards with his right-foot.

When asked about what was said to his troops during the half-time break, Alexander replied: “Keep doing what we’re doing, raise that tempo, go out there, don’t be a nearly team where we nearly get on the end of something, where we nearly win a tackle. Let’s go out there and show us that we can win tackles, we score headers, we can pass the ball and don’t be that nearly team and the boys showed that in the second half with tremendous character.

“We allowed the boys to have a chat but if we say something probably wrong we expect them to say something back and have a conversation about it but they didn’t disagree in terms of tackles. We were nearly there, we were nearly picking up second balls and we was nearly getting on the end of things and that’s the difference between winning and losing football matches and they all agreed.

“In the second half we saw by that performance they never nearly, they went and got the second half.”

Dorking Wanderers failed to call Holloway into action after 124 seconds into the second half following a fine sweeping move.

McShane played the ball down the line to Tolfrey, who cut the ball back to Sole, who swept the ball across the face of the penalty area to an unmarked Briggs, who powered his first time right-footed drive past the near post from 15-yards.

“Listen, Dorking are always going to create little chances like those,” said Alexander.

“They moved the ball quickly and they’ve got some outstanding forwards, McShane, Briggs, Guiseppe Sole, he’s played at a good level, so you’re never going to keep them quiet for 90 minutes but the chances we allowed them, I wouldn’t say they were clear cut.”

But Greenwich Borough woke up from that let off and went on to dominate for the rest of the second half.

Sweeney swung in the second of his seven corners which was met by Donaghey’s towering header, which was cleared off the line by Thomas Summerfield. Donaghey had a second bite of the cherry, but Huk caught the ball above his head underneath his crossbar.

Greenwich Borough left-back Lewis Clark pinged a diagonal ball into the Wanderers’ penalty area, which was poorly dealt with and the ball dropped to Charlie MacDonald, who hooked his volley towards goal from 12-yards, Huk making a vital body block.

“Bodies it well, bodies it well,” said Alexander on the save.

“Charlie turns the fella, catches it too well, doesn’t he? Like I say Charlie’s got a good connection. He gives the keeper a chance. If he scuffs it, it’s a goal!”

Dorking Wanderers’ left-back Chris Boulter chopped down Sweeney on the corner of the box and Huk plucked Sweeney’s in-swinging free-kick out of the air.

Sweeney’s fifth corner of the game was swung in from the right with his left-foot and Denness’ glancing header at the near post flashed across goal and past the far post.

Greenwich Borough’s deserved equalising goal was coming and it arrived from a set-piece with 20 minutes left.

Sweeney swung in his sixth corner from the right, the ball was flicked on by Denness at the near post, the ball sailed across goal and Wilson hooked his right-footed shot into the top left-hand corner from six-yards.

Alexander said: “The goal was coming. I think anyone who watched the game today will say are Greenwich disappointed not to take the three points? I think we are!

“From set-pieces, we looked dangerous all day but it goes down to that belief – are we going to get on the end of it? Who’s going to cut their nose? Who’s going to cut their eye to get on the end of the ball and Rob’s put his head on the line. It's fallen to Glenn Wilson who’s put it in but we had to believe that we were going to score form that situation because we’ve created numerous chances from it.”

White made his intentions known when he replaced Summerfield, a left-sided midfielder, for left-back Dean Gunner and seemingly parked the bus for the final exchanges.

Greenwich Borough missed a glorious chance to win it with 13 minutes left through central defender Danny Young.

Once again, Sweeney swung in a corner, the home side’s last flag-kick, Young made space in the box and planted his free header across goal and past the right-hand post from 12-yards.

“Again, it goes down to that belief of wanting to score the goal,” said Alexander.

“If he looks back again, disappointed that he’s not scored a goal. He’s got to at least hit the target but again it’s another chance wasted, a clear cut chance.”

Dorking Wanderers’ right-back Rob Sheridan played the ball down the right channel for Briggs to run onto and the winger drilled his low shot into Holloway’s hands for a comfortable save from 22-yards.

Greenwich Borough substitute winger Mohammed Eisa was bundled over by Oaks on the corner of the box. Eisa composed himself before arrowing his free-kick towards the top far corner from the very edge of the box on the left-hand side, which Huk punched the ball away despite pressure coming from Wilson.

Dorking Wanderers had two late chances to snatch victory at the end of an entertaining day of football on a welcome mild sunny Saturday afternoon in early February.

Briggs was chopped down by Clark down the right, McShane floated in a free-kick, which skimmed off Donaghey’s head and Sheridan cut onto his right-footed and drove a shot over Holloway, smacking against the crossbar. 

The goal would have been unjust at the time when it arrived with 44:24 on the clock as Greenwich Borough were the more likely team to score before then.

Alexander said: “They’ve got players who are capable of attacking at pace. Briggs, McShane, Guiseppe (Sole), the fella that hit the bar. They’ve got players capable of doing that, producing that moment of magic.

“You’re saying they’re parking the bus but they sat in there to counter us, which they did, because we were pushing for the win.

“But he’s hit the bar. That’s taken until the 90th minute where they had a decent opportunity where you go ‘should win it’.  It’s taken them 90 minutes or 45 minutes to create that opportunity.  I’m disappointed that they’ve had that opportunity but they’re going to with the quality that they have.”

Holloway kept Dorking Wanderers at bay with a smart save 76 seconds into time added on, diving to his left to prevent substitute Gareth Chendlik scoring from a free-header from 12-yards.

Alexander said: “It’s a good save. Again, it’s a header, it’s a free header. It’s a chance in the box where we shouldn’t allow that but we’re hanging on in there in the last 30 seconds.

“We’ve got Callum Donaghey, he’s holding his arm, but I say how he battled on. Craig made a save, it’s a good save but we’re in the 90th minute now, they’ve had not much of the game and they’re entitled to have their couple of minutes at the end.

“Listen, they’re a team of men, they’re a team of hunger, desire, they’re all up for it. They know the challenge they’re in but the pleasing thing for me, I think they’ll be sitting in that dressing room and they’re more than happy to go away with a point. They know they’ve been in a game in that second half.”

Despite being 11 points adrift of league leaders Tooting & Mitcham United, Alexander insists he is not going to throw in the towel to just settle for a play-off place, although Lewes are a couple of points behind and looking to join the play-off quartet.

“Fourteen game to go, 14 games to go, points on the board, we’re not mathematically out of it where you can’t win the league,” said Alexander, who won the Southern Counties East Football League title last season.

“I keep believing my team’s capable of winning 14 games in a row until that goes to 13, I’ll keep believing that we can win 14 in a row so while there’s points on the board, there’s everything to play for, there’s a lot of swings and roundabouts to happen.”

Alexander revealed that striker Billy Dunn has left Greenwich Borough to re-join his previous club, Tooting & Mitcham United.

“Tooting have just taken Billy Dunn back, that’s the reason why he wasn’t here today,” he said.

“I think his heart was with Tooting to be fair, even when he came across here.  Billy Dunn leave us, a great lad, nothing bad to say about him, a good lad, wish him all the best. As one door closes, another one opens.

“There might be one or two surprises, there might be one or two come in and we’ll see what happens next week but we’ve got to make sure we bring the right people in, can play football, are willing to work, willing to graft, have ability and we’ve just got to make sure they come in and bond with our team. We don’t want someone to come in and not bonding with that team.  Hopefully we’ll get the right person in.”

Alexander has promised to make changes for Tuesday night’s home London Senior Cup (Sponsored by Coventry Scaffolding) Second Round tie against Hanwell Town.

The two sides played each other for 15 minutes on 24 January and was abandoned after 15 minutes due to a frozen pitch and the highlights of Greenwich Borough kicking off, the final whistle blowing, Alexander shaking hands with his opposite number and the players heading towards the tunnel proved to be an internet hit worldwide.

Hanwell are presently in the top eight in the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central and came away from Chalfont St Peter with a 2-0 win today.

Alexander revealed that he is likely to give younger members a chance.

He said: “We’ll see how the boys are come Tuesday. It’s a London Cup game, it’s probably going to be an opportunity for the youngsters to show that they can play at this level against a good opposition so it will be an opportunity to show what they can do. We’ll make a few changes, pending on the lads in there because I don’t have the biggest of squads so that’s the way I want to work and the way we will work.”

Greenwich Borough: Craig Holloway, Nathan Paul, Lewis Clark, Glenn Wilson, Callum Donaghey, Danny Young, Peter Sweeney, Bradley Pritchard, Charlie MacDonald (Liam MacDevitt 75), Robert Denness, Jake Britnell (Mohamed Eisa 65).
Subs: Luke Miller, Cameron Reardon, Makhosini Ryan-Khanye

Goal: Glenn Wilson 70

Booked: Charlie MacDonald 33, Glenn Wilson 89, Lewis Clark 90

Dorking Wanderers: Slavomir Huk, Rob Sheridan, Chris Boulter, Jerome Beckles, Dean Hamlin, Anthony Oaks, Thomas Summerfield (Dean Gunner 77), Guiseppe Sole (Jake Beecroft 65), James McShane, Tom Tolfrey (Gareth Chendlik 69), Matt Briggs.
Subs: Danuel Mahoney, Sam Beard

Goal: Matt Briggs 17

Booked: Dean Hamlin 33, Matt Briggs 58, Chris Boulter 62

Attendance: 217
Referee: Mr Jack Packman (Margate)
Assistants: Mr Matthew Pollington (Paddock Wood) & Mr Simon Cutler (Sheerness)

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