Greenwich Borough 3-2 Tooting & Mitcham United - Whenever you beat a team at the top of the league, it’s a great result, says Greenwich Borough boss Gary Alexander

Tuesday 06th December 2016
Greenwich Borough 3 – 2 Tooting & Mitcham United
Location DGS Marine Stadium, Middle Park Avenue, Eltham, London SE9 5HP
Kickoff 06/12/2016 19:45

Ryman League Division One South
Tuesday 6th December 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from DGS Marine Stadium

GREENWICH BOROUGH manager Gary Alexander says he’s feeling more than happy with his side after they beat league leaders Tooting & Mitcham United to keep their title winning hopes alive.

The Ryman League announced this afternoon that Tooting & Mitcham United manager Frank Wilson had scooped the Division One South manager of the month award for November so it was inevitable the club’s eight match winning streak would come to an end here tonight as the curse struck.

Wilson has guided the Terrors to the summit with 52 points from 22 games and his impressive side have scored the most goals in the division with 65 going into tonight’s game.

This was a vital must-win game for Greenwich Borough, who went into the game in third-place on 44 points from their 22 league games and defeat would have put them 11 points adrift of their opponents.

Tooting & Mitcham United showed exactly why they’re sitting proudly at the top of the table with a pleasing brand of football and they deserved their lead through a powerful free header from central defender Sol Patterson-Bohner halfway through the first half.

Video evidence was used post-match to work out that it was Liam MacDevitt who got the final touch to Greenwich Borough’s equaliser on the stroke of half-time.

Rob Denness tucked away a clinical penalty to give Greenwich Borough the lead, before Tooting & Mitcham United equalised through striker Michael Dixon’s 11th goal of the season from close range.

Greenwich Borough were the better side after the break and Denness scored his 16th goal of the season to win it – one minute and 24 seconds into time added on at the end of a high-quality game of football that was watched by 201 fans at the DSG Marine Stadium on a mild night in Eltham.

“Obviously, it’s a massive game. They sit there top, it’s a difference between an 11 point gap or a five point gap and tonight we’ve closed the gap to five so we’re more than happy,” said Alexander.

“Every team in this league is a decent side and they’ve got decent players who can perform on their day.  If you up it, you can win games. If you drop your percentage you’ll get beat and Tooting are no different.

“Fair play to Frank Wilson, he’s won eight games in a row, he deserves manager-of-the-month, full credit to him for where he’s put Tooting. He’s done a fantastic job and he’s got some very good individuals and they’re a good side, a very good side, one of the best sides in the league. Obviously their league position doesn’t lie at the halfway stage for us both. They obviously deserve to be up there from their performance. Fair play to him.

“But my boys’ have shown character tonight, determination and known what it meant and we’ve come away with the three points.”

Tooting & Mitcham United started the game on the front foot and forced Craig Holloway into making a couple of saves inside the opening six minutes.

Terrors’ central midfielder Chase O’Neill threaded the ball in behind Liam Hickey and Lewis Clark to put Dixon through on goal but his angled drive was palmed away by Holloway high to his right.

Talented left-winger Taurean Roberts then cut in from the left wing and unleashed a right-footed dipping drive towards the top left-hand corner from 25-yards, which the Greenwich keeper pushed over with his outstretched right-hand.

“We started slow,” admitted Alexander.  “We said that at half-time. It wasn’t a good enough start first 15 minutes. To be fair to Tooting, they came out of the blocks and they got at us but we rode that storm and I think after the first 10-15 minutes we dominated possession.”

Tooting & Mitcham United produced a sweeping move from right, left to centre in the 14th minute.

Dixon swept the ball out to Roberts, who played the ball inside to striker Billy Dunn, but he couldn’t add to his 24-goal haul as his left-footed shot from 25-yards was comfortably gathered by Holloway.

Greenwich Borough could have grabbed the lead with their first attempt in the 17th minute.

Central midfielder Peter Sweeney cut the ball on to his left foot and his shot curled around the goalkeeper and bounced off the foot of the far post from 25-yards – after playing a one-two with Denness down the right.

“It’s the first time he’s put a bit of pace on the ball,” said Alexander. 

“I keep moaning at him but we know what he’s capable of with his left-foot. It doesn’t surprise me hitting the target from that sort of range.”

Tooting & Mitcham United deserved their lead when it duly arrived with 21 minutes and 15 seconds on the clock.

Jordan Wilson swung a corner in from the left and Patterson-Bohner came up from the back to power his header into the roof of the net from six-yards.

“Not good enough, a poor goal to concede,” admitted Alexander.

“We have to defend better. The centre halves have got to want to defend better but they made that mistake and they learnt from it. They didn’t score from a corner again after that.”

A long ball out of defence from left-back Peter Wedgeworth was latched on to by Dixon, who outmuscled Liam Hickey on the edge of the Greenwich Borough box.  Holloway spilt the ball but Roberts lacked composure hitting his first time shot over the bar from 25-yards.

Tooting & Mitcham continued to have chances to increase their lead but Dixon sent his header over the bar from six-yards after meeting Jordan Wilson’s cross from the left on the half-hour mark.

Denness squandered a decent chance to equalise when he slipped inside the box and managed to get back up and roll a shot into Matte Pierson’s hands from 10-yards after winger Mohamed Eisa found him in space with a low centre from the right.

“It’s a good phase of play. We got Mo away down the right. He picked out Rob Denness who got his feet a little bit tangled up. Disappointed he did not score. It's one of those things. It didn’t affect him, he went on to get….(two goals).”

Greenwich Borough’s central midfielder Bradley Pritchard hit his left-footed volley from 20-yards about 20-yards wide after the ball dropped down to him following MacDevitt’s long throw in from the right.

But Greenwich Borough equalised with 45 minutes and 19 seconds on the clock.

Winger Eisa’s corner had two touches inside the Tooting & Mitcham United penalty area before the ball went in to the top right-hand  corner.

Denness tried to claim the goal – but video evidence showed that the Greenwich Borough striker did not touch the ball.

Eisa whipped in a quality delivery from the left and Lewwis Spence’s flicked the ball on with his head and the ball skimmed MacDevitt’s head from close range as the ball went in.

Speaking before watching the goal back on video, Alexander said: “Rob Denness, he’s run off celebrating, like all good centre forwards do, but do you know what, I’m not really bothered! It’s an equaliser and I’m happy. It was at the perfect time.

“It’s a great corner from Mo. Whoever scored the goal, it’s a great delivery, it’s great movement in the box and it’s a great header and it’s the perfect time to score, which we used that as a little bit of motivation in there at half-time to deflate them having had quite a lot of the ball, they held on in the first half. We should’ve equalised.

“I felt we equalised at the right time and it probably deflated them a little bit. As you saw in the second half, we came out and probably should’ve gone 3-1 up!”

When asked whether the goal changed his half-time team-talk, Alexander replied: “Not really to be honest because we’ve gone in there, we were 1-0 down but I wanted the boys, if we were 1-0 down, keep doing what we were doing. We we’re dominating the football, we were creating chances and it was only a matter of time when we got a clear cut one.

“Like we said, we’ve got lucky at half-time when he’s looped the header in.”

Greenwich Borough were the better side as they attacked down the slope during the second half.

But it was Wilson’s side that created the first opening inside the opening seven minutes.

Wedgeworth threw the ball to Jordan Wilson, who hit a right-footed half-volley on the turn from 25-yards, sailing over the crossbar.

Greenwich Borough then created two decent openings.

Denness threaded a sublime ball through to MacDevitt, who was denied by some quick thinking from Pierson, who rushed off his line to make a fine block low to his left.

The ball was cleared out for a throw-in, which MacDevitt launched in from the right and the ball dropped to Eisa at the far post, but the winger lashed his shot over the crossbar from six-yards, leaving MacDevitt in despair.

Alexander said: “Two chances in two minutes. The keeper, to be fair, did well. He was off his line. He was active and he made some good stops.  Liam probably feels he should’ve scored. Mo will be disappointed not to have scored as well.”

Roberts delivered a deep free-kick from the left wing, which was headed back across goal by vocal central defender Quincy Rowe and Holloway did well to flick the ball away.

Holloway then punched away Roberts’ cross from the left and the Greenwich Borough keeper failed to gather O’Neill’s dinked ball back into the box and as Holloway tried to scramble the ball back into his hands from the deck, he was grateful to Hickey for blocking Roberts’ driven shot.

Greenwich Borough then enjoyed a good spell and MacDevitt whipped in a low cross from the left which was hit first time by Danny Young, the central defender seeing his shot flash past the left-hand post from 25-yards.

Both goalkeepers were then called into action in a matter of seconds.

Eisa played in Denness, who was denied by Pierson, who advanced to the edge of his penalty box to make a vital block.

The quiet Dunn then passed to Dixon, who played in Jordan Wilson, who was denied by Holloway’s legs at his near post.

Greenwich Borough were gifted the lead, courtesy of Rowe’s handball.

Sweeney’s cross from the left bounced up and hit Rowe on the hand and Wimbledon-based referee Zack Ellis pointed to the spot.

Denness can certainly claim this goal, a right-footed penalty that he tucked away into the bottom left-hand corner, sending the keeper the wrong way, to give Greenwich Borough the lead with 24 minutes and 45 seconds on the clock.

“Rob’s been chasing the penalties down all season,” Alexander said.

“We’re lucky, we seem to have got penalty takers and people who want to take them, which is the main thing. Rob stepped up to put it in the corner, gave the keeper no chance.”

But the lead only lasted nine minutes as Tooting & Mitcham United clawed themselves back into the game.

Jordan Wilson collected the ball and sprinted down the right to reach the by-line before cutting the ball back for Dixon to tap the ball over the line from close range.

Alexander said: “We gifted it! It was a phase of play where we should make better decisions in terms of the ball’s come out from their back, we should make better decisions.

“We gifted them the ball and we gifted them that goal to be fair at a time where we were controlling the game and it just gave them that little bit of belief that they could probably go on and win it.”

O’Neill’s left-footed drive from 30-yards sailed over Holloway’s goal, before Alexander brought on Charlie MacDonald in the 88th minute and the 35-year-old striker made an immediate impact as Greenwich Borough scored a massive last-gasp winner.

Denness hooked the ball to MacDonald down the left, who brought the ball under control inside the box and took the ball wider than he had hoped.  However, he maintained composure to cut the ball back for Denness to turn and bury his low right-footed shot nestling into the bottom right-hand corner.

“I’m lucky enough to have a squad now where I can have Charlie MacDonald on the bench and he’s come on and had an impact on the game,” said Alexander.

“There’s going to be disappointments when you don’t play, but we’re a team and that’s what I’m trying to build in there, a team that wants to play their part when they come on. I don’t want sulkers around. At the moment we’re doing it and we’re doing it together.”

Tooting & Mitcham’s last-gasp substitute Claudiu Hoban couldn’t match MacDonald’s cameo as he drove his 30-yard shot harmlessly wide of the target.

Tooting & Mitcham United remain top following their third defeat of the season, while Dorking Wanderers are a couple of points behind them with a game in hand.  Greenwich Borough follow in third, Carshalton Athletic in fourth (43 points from 22 games) and surprise package Corinthian-Casuals in fifth (42 points from 21 games).

The next six clubs are also fighting it out to grab a play-off place at the end of the season – Hythe Town (42 points from 22 games); Cray Wanderers (39 points from 21 games); Sittingbourne (39 points from 23 games); Walton Casuals (37 points from 22 games); Lewes (36 points from 21 games) and Hastings United (29 points from 17 games).

“It’s a massive win, they’re top of the league. Whenever you beat a team at the top of the league, it’s a great result. It’s nice to get a result from a team that’s in and around us.  It’s something that we’ve been working towards and we’ve finally got it,” said Alexander.

Greenwich Borough host 15th-placed Whyteleafe on Saturday, before travelling to Clapton in the London Senior Cup (Sponsored by Coventry Scaffolding) First Round on 13 December.

Alexander then takes his side to Corinthian-Casuals (17 December), host Cray Wanderers (26 December) and travel to East Grinstead Town (31 December), before travelling to dark horses Sittingbourne on 2 January 2017.

“There’s some massive games coming up all over Christmas, it’s a vital time,” said Alexander.

“Lucky enough I’m happy that I haven’t got 11 players any more. I’ve got 18 or 19 players to choose from.  I’ve got a full squad and I’m able to make changes and able to freshen it up and bring people in and take people out. I’m lucky enough to be in that situation at the moment. I haven’t all season but it’s come at the perfect time.

“It’s no point looking at the top four or five, the top 10 can probably win this league still. Anyone can put a run together and it’s anyone from the top 10.  If you look at Hastings they’ve got points on the board and they’ve got games in hand and there’s teams in and around it that can still win this league so it’s about maintaining our form, making sure we pick up as many points as possible and see where it takes us.”

Looking ahead to Whyteleafe’s visit to the DGS Marine Stadium on Saturday, Alexander added: “Another tough game! As I said every Ryman game’s a tough one. We won’t look at Whyteleafe and see where they are in the table. We’re not going to look into that.  We just have to do a job. If we’re on our game I believe we can beat everyone and Whyteleafe are no different, but we’ll show them the respect they deserve and hopefully we’ll be at it and come away with another win.”

Greenwich Borough: Craig Holloway, Nathan Paul (George Pilbeam 62), Lewis Clark, Peter Sweeney, Liam Hickey, Danny Young, Liam MacDevitt (Jake Britnell 78), Bradley Pritchard, Rob Denness, Lewwis Spence, Mohamed Eisa (Charlie MacDonald 88).
Subs: Michael Power, Makhosin Ryan-Khayne

Goals: Liam MacDevitt 45, Rob Denness 70 (penalty), 90

Booked: Bradley Pritchard 57, Peter Sweeney 84

Tooting & Mitcham United: Matte Pierson, Callum Wilson, Peter Wedgeworth (Claudio Hoban 90), Eddie Dines, Sol Patterson-Bohner, Quincy Rowe, Jordan Wilson, Chace O’Neill, Michael Dixon, Billy Dunn, Taurean Roberts (Danny Bassett 80).
Subs: Ashley Robinson, Ollie Bennett, Adriano Moraes

Goals: Sol Patterson-Bohner 22, Michael Dixon 79

Booked: Eddie Dines 67, Quincy Rowe 70

Attendance: 201
Referee: Mr Zack Ellis (Wimbledon, London SW19)
Assistants: Mr James Amadori (Tooting, London SW17) & Mr John Nazari (Battersea, London SW11)

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