Greenwich Borough 1-0 Hythe Town - There’s plenty of football to be played so tonight’s result doesn’t make or break a season, admits Greenwich Borough boss Gary Alexander

Monday 20th February 2017
Greenwich Borough 1 – 0 Hythe Town
Location DGS Marine Stadium, Middle Park Avenue, Eltham, London SE9 5HP
Kickoff 21/02/2017 19:45

Ryman League Division One South
Tuesday 21st February 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from DGS Marine Stadium

GREENWICH BOROUGH manager Gary Alexander says tonight’s win over fellow promotion hopefuls Hythe Town will not make-or-break their season.


Mohamed Eisa notched his 17th goal of the season to win the game for Greenwich Borough with 14 minutes remaining to keep the club in fourth-place in the Ryman League Division One South table going into their final 12 league games of the season.

Tooting & Mitcham United lead the table with 77 points from 34 games and they are followed in the play-off zone by Dorking Wanderers (74 points from 34 games); Carshalton Athletic (67 points from 36 games); Greenwich Borough (66 points from 34 games) and Hastings United (64 points from 34 games).

Corinthian-Casuals (63 points from 34 games) and Hythe Town (62 points from 34 games) are both waiting to pounce to grab a place in the play-off zone as the season enters the business end.

“It’s a massive win. Hythe are up there competing, they’re a good side with good quality within their squad so it’s pleasing to get a 1-0 win and a clean sheet,” said Alexander, following his side’s 21st league win of their first season at this level.

“It’s difficult conditions for both. First half they were going with the wind and put in some dangerous balls. Second half we had a similar situation, put in some dangerous balls. The wind definitely played a part.”

Hythe Town’s assistant manager Mark Lane took part in the post-match press conference, which was held out of the wind inside the clubhouse.

“Disappointed today. I didn’t think it was a very good game all round.  I thought the ball spent a lot of time in the air from both sides if I’m being perfectly honest,” said an honest Lane.

“I suppose the only bit of quality at the end was the goal when he scored and won it.  I think we huffed and puffed.  I think probably a draw would’ve been a fair result.  I’d say the quality at the end when they scored the goal, not long from the end.

“It was a very physical game (Hythe committed 19 fouls, Greenwich 13). The ball spent a lot of time in the air. People were heading it, kicking it into areas.  There wasn’t a lot of passing quality and movement and it was very difficult to get going. There was a swirling wind all over the pitch that made it difficult for both sides to play decent football and it was typically two teams going at each other and not having a lot of quality but trying to get a win.”

A crowd of 141 witnessed a tight affair which was played in windy conditions at the DGS Marine Stadium in Eltham.

Greenwich Borough created the first opening in the 15th minute.

Striker Charlie MacDonald cut inside before playing the ball inside to Bradley Pritchard, who found Jake Britnell on the right, he cut inside and his low shot at the second attempt from just inside the penalty area was scuffed into Joe Mant’s hands.

“I don’t think there were that many chances at all.  Brits has scuffed his shot and he’ll be disappointed not to connect well,” added Alexander, who did his post-match press conference inside the physio’s room.

Hythe Town’s first chance of the game arrived in the 21st minute.

Sam Adams played the ball out to right-winger Kieron Campbell, who strode forward before whipping in a cross for striker Jay May to guide his downward header into Craig Holloway’s hands from 10-yards.

“I think that typically subs the game up,” admitted Lane, who is now Clive Cook’s assistant after Will Graham left.

Alexander added: “Craig isn’t going to get beat from 10-12 yards from a header.   It was a bit of a distance out.  We’ve had contact, Nathan (Paul) was backing in and for him to score from that range it’s got to be some header so it was comfortable for Craig.”

But with both sides playing 4-3-3 formations and both sets of players not giving anything away, the first half produced an uninspiring stalemate.

That, however, was almost broken in the 29th minute, when Mant and Josh Burchell denied Greenwich Borough taking the lead.

Bradley Pritchard delivered the ball in from the right and it hung in the wind as Mant tried to grab hold of it underneath his crossbar, he managed to palm the ball up rather than away and MacDonald’s header was clawed away by the keeper and Eisa’s drive was cleared off the line by Burchell.

“Again, we looked dangerous. I think that came from a set-piece whipped in but we looked dangerous and one week we will get one that just goes over the line,” hoped Alexander.

“Again, it’s a half chance. Charlie’s done well to compete with the keeper to create the chance and on another day that might go in but it wasn’t to be this time.”

Lane added: “That summed it up! I don’t think either goalkeeper’s were flying across the goals in the first half making saves left, right and centre!

“The ball came in, I think Joe got caught underneath it and tried to punch it and in the end punched it higher than out and we cleared it off the line.  By then the first half was over and nothing else happened!”

Hythe Town’s central midfielder Adams was whipping in some delightful free-kicks into the Greenwich Borough box but he cursed as none of his team-mates could get on the end of them.

“I thought some of the set-pieces we delivered in the first half we’re pretty good, we just never seemed to get anybody on the end of them,” said Lane.

“The wind was a factor when balls were being delivered into the top end and they put in some quality balls but luckily for us they didn’t anticipate them and get on the end of them but I thought the boys defended them well,” added the Greenwich Borough manager.

The half-time whistle from referee Zack Ellis could not come soon enough as the half inevitably ended goal-less.

Alexander felt the goal would come in the second half.

He said: “Go out there, keep competing, tough conditions, go out there and compete, match them and we’ll have a little bit of quality.  Any bit of quality and patience in their final third and we’ll create a good opportunity, which we did.

Lane added: “I think the normal things were said.   We thought we done quite well in terms of still being in the game and we thought we could match Greenwich with everything that they could threw at us.  It was just a case of keep going, keep the shape that we put into the lads and worked hard in training and just make sure we didn’t concede early in the second half, which we have done in the past.  We came out and I think we started at the same tempo and so did they and we evenly-matched them.”

Hythe Town created a glorious chance to keep their play-off aspirations alive after only 220 seconds.

Adams rode a challenge and managed to clip the ball up towards May from the half-way-line and the striker brought the ball down well but sliced his volley harmlessly wide of the goal from 22-yards.

“I think that sums it up really,” repeated an unimpressed Lane.

“It was a great first touch, turned and you’re expecting the net to bulge and the only net that bulges is the one in the allotments behind the goal but there you go, that’s the way it is at the moment.”

Alexander added: “Jay May’s a goalscorer, he’s going to cause problems so to keep him quiet for the full 90 minutes is always going to be difficult but we’ve limited him to limited chances as we did.

“We feel we’ve done a good job and my back four have been brilliant tonight with a clean-sheet.”

Glenn Wilson launched his fourth long throw into the Cannons box and the bell fell to debutant Stefan Wright, who dragged his left-footed through a crowd of players and past the far post from 16-yards

Hythe Town’s best chance of the game arrived in the 59th minute.

Midfield playmaker Adams pinged a sublime 50-yard diagonal pass out to Campbell on the right and he won the ball off Lewis Clarke, turned and drove his right-footed angled drive towards the bottom near corner from 16-yards, which Holloway dived low to his left to turn around his near post with his left hand.

“I think that was our really only cut chance in the whole game,” admitted Lane.

“Kevin does well, he’s got good feet and works into little spaces and hit the ball well at the near post and to be fair to Craig, he got down well and saved with his left hand at the near post and put it away for a corner – and that was it!”

Alexander added: “Again, it’s a simple save and he’s turned Lew on the edge of the box and he’s shot from 18-yards on the angle.  I don’t expect Craig to get beat there so it’s a comfortable save.”

Greenwich Borough captain Wilson stroked his right-footed free-kick harmlessly over the crossbar from 25-yards, before he launched his fifth long throw towards the far post where MacDonald turned to roll his shot past the foot of the near post from 12-yards.

Hythe Town striker Dean Grant had a quiet game as he was well-marshalled by a solid Liam Hickey and Danny Young.

Adams’ free-kick from the half-way line was cleared out to Grant, who hooked his right-footed volley over Holloway’s crossbar from 20-yards.

“I think you are (thinking it’s going to remain goal-less) unless someone makes a humungous mistake or somebody has a bit of quality it is going to be a 0-0 draw and you both walk away with a point,” said Lane.

However, the introduction of Robert Denness added a new dimension to Greenwich Borough’s attacking play and they came to life for the 17 minutes that he was on the pitch.

Alexander said he was pleased with his all-important cameo role tonight.

“Rob Denness does his backing in and he’s strong and he’s going to cause anyone problems and we knew if we was competing in the game we were more than a match for them but to bring Rob Denness of the bench is massive for us. He’s played his part in upsetting centre halves there.”

Lane added: “Rob’s a handful.  You know what you’re going to get with him. He’s a big powerful lad, he runs the channels. He gets his elbows in and he makes it uncomfortable for defenders. To be fair to our two centre halves Dave Cook and Craig Cloke, I thought they played very well today.”

Greenwich Borough scored the winning goal with the second half watch showing 30:55 through a fine finish.

Wilson played a low cross field to MacDonald, who turned and flicked his pass to put Eisa through on goal and his right-footed shot from 12-yards rolled across the advancing Mant to nestle into the bottom far corner.

Alexander said: “Charlie’s done fantastic getting hold of the ball. He worked the line hard. It wasn’t easy because he was up there without Rob Denness but he worked it hard.  He got hold of the ball, he kept it and linked it well when he could and one bit of magic from Mo, flicking it into Charlie who’s held it up and set him off for a fantastic finish.

“Mo’s caused problems all season but he won’t mind me saying is he’ll be disappointed he hasn’t got more goals for the chances he’s had but tonight he’s shown composure and the last few games Mo’s been the Mo we know and know he can be. 

“If he’d taken a lot of the chances he’s had this season I’m sure he’ll be a lot higher in the charts but he’s coming back to form now and hopefully at the right time.”

Reflecting on the winning goal, Hythe’s Lane replied: “To be fair to MacDonald, he's played a lovely ball in between two defenders into Eisa and he’s turned and he's one-on-one straight in with Manty and he’s put it around Joe and into the goal. That was the one bit of quality in the whole game.”

Denness passed to Eisa who drilled his left-footed shot just over the crossbar from 25-yards, as Greenwich Borough finished the game on top as Hythe Town failed to threaten at the other end.

Alexander said: “Mo’s hit a great strike but always rising and he was on song then and with the one at the end where Rob Denness goes down the line crosses and it’s intercepted and Wils forces the goalkeeper into making the save.

Eisa’s header put Denness through on goal but Mant came off his line and made the angle tight to ensure that the game-changer did not score by blazing his shot over the crossbar when he only had the Cannons keeper to beat in the last seven minutes.

Lane said: “I think we’re pushing forward then and they’re trying to hit us on the break. He’s got in behind the defence and he’s taken it around Joe and Joe’s managed to block it so well done. He’s kept his concentration and done very well.”

Denness then produced a driving run down the left channel and his low centre intended for an unmarked MacDonald at the far post was cleared out to Wilson, who drove a low shot towards the bottom corner, forcing Mant to dive low to his right to tip around the post.

Alexander added: “Just maybe we should, with a little bit of quality, put it to bed at 2-0 but I thought at 1-0 we were comfortable and we limited them to chances.”

Lane added: “He’s made a very good save right down his right-hand side.  To be fair to Joe, he’s done well on shot-stopping. There’s a few things that we’re working on with him that he’s got to learn but he did quite well today.”

Faversham Town visit Greenwich Borough on Saturday and Ray Turner’s side are in ninth-place in the table following tonight’s 1-1 home draw against Horsham, which leaves them eight points adrift of fifth-placed Hastings United.

Alexander said: “Three points, another three points. We take every game as it comes and while there’s points on the board and we can still close the gap we’ll keep aiming to do that so we just have to concentrate on our job in hand and see where it takes us.

“Listen, tonight’s result, it’s a massive win. It’s massive to get the three points but there’s still 12 games to go. Hythe have got the same amount of games to go.  Carshalton have got 10 games to go and there’s plenty of football to be played so tonight’s result doesn’t make or break a season.  It’s getting to the nitty-gritty side where results matter but tonight means nothing. It’s just a massive three points for ourselves and a confidence booster.”

Hythe Town welcome 12-placed Sittingbourne to Reachfields Stadium on Saturday looking to get back to winning ways after being held to Three Bridges to a 1-1 home draw last weekend.

The Cannons are underperforming in seventh-place going into their last 12 games and the pressure is on to grab a play-off place at the end of the season.

“I think you just have to look at it with the context of the league, we’re still in there.  I think Hastings won tonight and they’re fifth so we’re down to seventh and we’ve got a tough game on Saturday against Sittingbourne,” said Lane.

“It’s like every week in this league, you’ve got to try to get wins together, try to get winning runs together and try to climb up the table.

“It’s not all doom and gloom.  We’re disappointed that we’ve lost. We move forward and go to the next game.”

Greenwich Borough: Craig Holloway, Nathan Paul, Lewis Clarke, Glenn Wilson, Liam Hickey, Danny Young, Jake Britnell (Robert Denness 73), Bradley Pritchard, Charlie MacDonald (Peter Sweeney 90), Stefan Wright, Mohamed Eisa (Callum Donaghey 86).
Subs: Liam MacDevitt, Cameron Reardon

Goal: Mohamed Eisa 76

Booked: Bradley Pritchard 45

Hythe Town: Joe Mant, Jerald Aboagye, Josh Burchell, Ryan Johnson, Craig Cloke, Dave Cook, Frankie Sawyer (Matt Newman 80), Sam Adams, Jay May, Dean Grant (Kenny Pogue 84), Kieron Campbell.
Subs: Ben Wilson, Owen Price, Callum Wraight

Booked: Josh Burchell 44, Jay May 63, Ryan Johnson 66

Attendance: 141
Referee: Mr Zack Ellis (Wimbledon, London SW19)
Assistants: Mr Luke Donaldson (Clapham, London SW9) &
Mr Jair Alzate Guzman (Uxbridge, Middlesex)

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