Lewisham Borough 1-2 Bridon Ropes - Performances have to improve because that was not acceptable, says Bridon Ropes manager Mark Murison

Wednesday 02nd March 2016
Lewisham Borough 1 – 2 Bridon Ropes
Location Ladywell Arena, Silvermere Road, Catford, London SE6 4QX
Kickoff 02/03/2016 19:45

Pain & Glory Sports Kent Invicta League
Wednesday 2nd March 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Ladywell Arena

BRIDON ROPES’ manager Mark Murison says performances from his complacent players must improve after grabbing a last-gasp victory to break Lewisham Borough’s hearts.

Lewisham Borough went into this game on a depressing run of 24 games without a win, sitting second-from-bottom in the Pain & Glory Sports Kent Invicta League table, with one win and four draws to their name from 27 league outings.

Bridon Ropes dominated the first half but they couldn’t find the breakthrough that they deserved on an uneven playing surface at Ladywell Arena.

Struggling Lewisham Borough went in at the break with a goal-less half for the first time this season and were the better side during the second half.

Lewisham Borough opened the scoring through a stunning 35-yarder from debutant striker Grant Ludford.

But they were to be denied a morale-boosting victory as Bridon Ropes grabbed two goals inside the final four minutes to claim their 13th league win of the season that keeps the Charlton-based outfit in ninth-place in the table on 43 points from 24 games.

Central midfielder Adam Saunders drove home the equaliser to spare their blushes before Ludford turned from hero to villain as he played a suicidal back pass that led to Bridon Ropes substitute Nick Dunsdon being fouled by the keeper and slotting home the resulting penalty.

“Well I’m speechless, I have to say, we deserved at least a point,” said Lewisham Borough’s manager-chairman Ray Simpson after a plucky performance from his side.

“To lose it the way we did, it was difficult. We played so well second half we just can’t seem to get that little bit of luck that we need this season just to get over the line.

“I freshened it up a bit today after (losing 8-0) at Sutton Athletic last week.  I had to bring in four new players, who all did fantastically well.

“Grant Ludford, who got our goal, played very well. He scored a wonder goal and we dominated the second half but two poor errors on our part and lacking that little bit of luck has cost us a game that we quite possibly should’ve won and certainly should’ve got a draw.”

Murison was clearly unhappy with his players following this victory.

“Shocking! Not happy at all, probably our worst display of the season to be quite honest with you!

“In fact probably our worst two displays of the season, Saturday (a 1-1 home draw against APM Contrast) and tonight and to come away with four points from those last two games, call it a bit of fortune maybe, or just the fact that we’re quite resilient and we just keep going right to the end but we definitely have to up our performance for Saturday against Bearsted because it’s not been good enough!”

When asked whether he felt complacency crept into his ranks, Murison replied: “Maybe. We tried our hardest to try to not make it that way. We tried making sure they were focused and they would go out there not only trying to win, try and get some goals.

“I think first half even though the performance wasn’t great, we dominated.  I think Lewisham had one shot in the first half and we had numerous of chances and the game could’ve been certainly different.  We had two or three chances.  You come in at half-time three or four nil up and Lewisham’s heads drop and suddenly we’re away and it’s one of those games where you come away with a six or a seven – but we didn’t!

“We went in at half-time 0-0 and I suppose my disappointment comes from the second half, it was not good enough!”

Bridon Ropes created the first chance of the game inside three minutes as Saunders’ right-footed drive sailed over the bar from 25-yards after left-back Justin Gould whipped in a cross.

But Lewisham Borough were to be denied with their only chance of the first half.

Left-back Jeremie Lacaze clipped a free-kick from near the half-way line into the Bridon Ropes penalty area and striker Colin Justin turned and stroked his right-footed shot towards the bottom near corner from 12-yards, which was saved low down by Anthony Gaughan.

“It was a good chance,” said Simpson.

“I have to be fair Bridon possibly just about dominated the first half in terms of chances.  We worked hard trying to get things going.

“We started a little bit late tonight. I got here a little bit late tonight. I can’t fault the guys, we’ve had a long, difficult season and we’re still fighting. We won’t give up. I certainly won’t!”

Murison added: “Little bit annoyed that we allowed that to happen but it was a good save from Anthony.

“Anthony’s been out injured pretty much all season from September. He’s a quality keeper so it’s good to get him back competing in between the sticks.

“That was the only shot they had in the first half. They hardly came out of their own half so he needed to make the save. It was pretty much straight at him. I don’t want to take anything away from it but I’d be surprised if he didn’t save it, but yes it was a good save.”

Bridon Ropes missed a great opportunity to open the floodgates after only six minutes.

Saunders played the ball in from the right to John Woodcock, who played a low pass into the feet of lone striker Abel Olatungi, who flicked a pass in behind the defence but Gould screwed his shot over from a tight angle.

Saunders clipped the ball up to Olatungi, who cut inside and curled his shot around the top of the far post from 15-yards as Lewisham Borough were on the ropes.

Saunders played another ball into the Woodcock, who laid the ball off into Gould, who hit a left-footed drive that brought a comfortable save by Cox.

Bridon Ropes best first half chance arrived in the 22nd minute.

Talented Woodcock played a diagonal pass to put Taylor Bowley through on goal but the winger took a touch, cut inside and his right-footed shot from 15-yards was turned around the post by Cox.

Murison said: “Taylor’s one-on-one with the keeper. I could see what he was trying to do, he’s trying his best to really concentrate on getting good contact on the ball because of the pitch, the keeper has pulled off a save. 

“There was numerous things that he could’ve done there to make his chance easier. He could’ve rounded the keeper and he did the worse thing where he took it to an area where the keeper could close him down. There was only one place Taylor could put it and that was where the keeper saved it. Good save from the keeper but he should’ve done better.”

Simpson added: “Danny Cox, I mean everyone is after our keeper. He’s assured me that he will remain loyal. 

“Danny’s an excellent keeper. He really has saved us time and time again. He’s come to the rescue for us in the first half.

“I think it’s the first half that I’ve encountered where we haven’t conceded a goal.” 

It seemed to be only a matter of time that Cox would be beaten as Bridon Ropes were clearly the better side and more dominant force against a struggling Lewisham Borough team that handed four players their debuts tonight.

Lewisham Borough received a slice of luck in the 26th minute when Saunders’ free-kick from the left was cleared out to Gould, who hit a low first time drive from 20-yards which hit the base of the left-hand post.

Murison refused to panic at that stage.

He said: “Justin had a couple of chances in that first half, one where he was in front of goal and hit one over the crossbar and hit the post.

“At that stage I’m not really panicking. I know numerous chances are happening and we should be 1-0 up but it’s the 26th minute, a long way to go. 

“I was a little bit disappointed we’re not being clinical. Of course, when you get chances as you saw tonight, if you don’t take them it can bite you on the backside and it nearly did!

“But I wasn’t panicking because we were doing wave-after-wave of attacks and I thought it’s going to come, it’s going to come and it didn’t!”

Simpson added: “Yes, they had several chances first half and better finishing they could’ve been two or three nil up.

“I’m not sure they were at their strongest today in all honesty Bridon.  I think Mark will probably agree with that.

“We competed and we made it difficult for them. Yes, they had some good chances in the first half but second half we certainly dominated that.”

Gould gave Lewisham Borough Ryan Harris a torrid time and he played the ball inside to Olatungi, who twisted and turned his man before sweeping his shot across goal and past the far post.

Bridon Ropes forced three free-kicks towards the end of the first half but Woodcock (twice) and James Doherty smashed their free-kicks into the wall and Cox was hardly troubled.

Simpson was heard offering his side encouragement as another Bridon Ropes chance went begging in the 39th minute.

Doherty played the ball into Saunders’ feet, who threaded the ball through to Olatungi, who flicked the ball up and hit a volley which forced a low save from the busy Cox.

Simpson rallied his troops to give it a go for the second half.

He said: “I told them how it was. I said to them ‘well done first half’.  We competed really well.

“I said clearly the new players have come in and breathed a bit of life into us, given us a bit of injection and made the difference because we haven’t conceded and they were all confident, as I was, that we could go out and keep a clean sheet and we can nick one.”

Murison revealed: “It was a mixture. I did have a bit of a go but at that point we were creating so many chances. 

“We did have a little bit of a chat on a few things that we needed to improve in that second half but sometimes it just doesn’t go to plan. You put everything in order and you think you’re going to go out second half and do everything that’s been asked and for some reason we didn’t!”

Lewisham Borough were thrashed 8-0 at Sutton Athletic at the weekend but they put in a vastly-second half performance.

Midfield general Billy Ryan set the ball rolling when he almost scored from a right-footed speculative drive out on the left from 25-yards, which bounced wickedly in front on Gaughan, who appeared at first to have allowed the ball to slip through his fingers before recovering to tip the ball around the post.

“Billy’s another new player that I brought in today,” said Simpson.

“He was excellent today, he was all over the place.  These are guys who haven’t been getting regular games, they’ve played at a decent level.  He was at Cobham in the Combined Counties League.

“It was a bit of a gamble to bring in four new faces and disappointed a few but given our last run of results, especially after Sutton on Saturday, I had to do something but all the new faces that came in were excellent tonight.”

Murison said: “It’s a tricky one, obviously the pitch is not good. I think it took a slight bounce just before it hit the keeper, which means that in a sense he just made sure he got something on it and he did.

“On another day it could’ve trickled in but he did make the save in a very difficult condition. It took a mighty bump right in front of him so he had to do anything he could to get anything on it and he did prevent the goal and that’s why he’s in there for.”

But Lewisham Borough were galvanised when Ludford scored only their 20th league goal of the season – and their best strike of the season.

He danced his way past three Bridon Ropes players and unleashed a stunning left-footed dipping drive from 35-yards, which flew over the head of Gaughan into the roof of the net.

Goal of the season? Most definitely!

Simpson said: “Well, what can you say about that?!

“You don’t see too many goals like that at Ladywell Arena! You probably saw me celebrating over there. You don’t often see me celebrate like that!

“It was fantastic. Grant is another new face whose come in (I’m not even sure where from).  It was a fantastic strike, especially on the wonderful pitch down at Ladywell Arena. It was a great strike. I’ve been told he’s got that in him so I’m hoping we’ll see more of that.”

Murison describe the strike similar to one from Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

He said: “No chance with the strike. We had three or four occasions to stop that from even happening so no chance once he’s unleashed it because it was an absolute worldy but we made it too easy for him.

“He made three of our players in the middle there look stupid. We made him look a bit like Messi and that is not true so I was disappointed with that.

“It was like he almost walked past three players, it was just absolutely Ridiculous!

“Our main thing of the season has been we need to press teams and we’ve made sure teams are not getting time on the ball and he had acres to stroll into an area where he can unleash it from 35-yard and put a worldy in.”

The special strike galvanised the Lewisham Borough players and for the first time in a long time they had something to hold onto.

Simpson said: “It did galvanise our players. It did lift us and I’m sure we created a couple more after that. I made one sub just to freshen it up because we were working hard out there on a heavy pitch.”

Bridon Ropes’ players were shell-shocked that they were losing to a side that have endured such a miserable campaign.

Murison added: “They went into their shell. Normally we’re quite good at responding. We haven’t really let our heads drop in games. I thought our reaction could’ve been better. It was wrong and people panicked and that was the problem I didn’t like tonight. We went into panic mood and they thought what if we lose here? That was ridiculous!”

Olatungi played the ball to Bowley, whose angled drive sailed over the crossbar, before they produced a sweeping move involving Finlay Chambers, Saunders and Woodcocjk, whose left-footed drive sailed just over the bar from 18-yards.

Bowley was substituted immediately after looping his header just over the crossbar following Woodcock’s free-kick as Bridon Ropes failed to convert another chance at the halfway mark.

Lewisham Borough were given an opportunity to clinch the victory with 15 minutes left but Ludford’s thumping left-footed free-kick from 25-yards rose over the crossbar.

Lewisham Borough went into the final ten minutes with a rare victory well within their grasp.  They would have claimed their second league win of the season with better game management by hitting clearances down the channel and holding the ball up in the final third. Instead the ball kept coming back and coming back.

“We’ve been there time and time again as you know,” admitted Simpson.

“What’s going through my mind is can we hang on? I know that Bridon are going to come strong. When they can bring someone like Nick Dunsdon off the bench you know it’s going to be difficult and that little bit of quality - and I warned them about that at half-time – they did have that little bit of quality on the bench, I think it made the difference.”

Murrison’s decision to haul Dunsdon off the bench with half-an-hour to play was a good one as he rescued Bridon Ropes inside the final four minutes.

“Nick’s a quality player. The only reason he didn’t start was because he took a hefty knock at APM on Saturday and had to come off after ten minutes and he was not 100%. I really wanted to rest him up for Bearsted but we needed him.

“Nick’s been our most clinical player and we needed goals so we put our most clinical player on and I was glad, not only that he made a contribution but he got through the game fine and he’ll be ok for Bearsted.”

Dunsdon was played in behind Harris and cut the ball back across goal to find an unmarked Olatungi, who turned and steered his shot towards goal, which was blocked, thanks to another fine save from Cox.

Lacaze was guilty of not putting his foot through the ball and finding the running track and Saunders drilled his shot into the back of the net, the goal timed at 40:09.

Murison admitted: “A little bit lucky. We should’ve finished off with the last couple of chances we had there. We were not being clinical.

“When it fell to their left-back I thought he was going to clear it and it was another chance gone but he shanked it straight to Adam who luckily took a touch and banged it in to the net.

“Sometimes when you’re at that point in the game you need that run of the ball and we haven’t had it the whole game for 85 minutes, it hasn’t happened.

“Everything we had in front of goal just seemed to go wrong and at that point it landed perfectly for him to strike it into the back of the net.”

“Our left-back attempted to clear it and actually gave it back to their player. He attempted to clear, he missed his clearance it went to their player and he drilled it in,” agonised Simpson.

“I mean as I said earlier, that little bit of luck that we’re missing, we need the ball to go anywhere other than the face of the goal. They’re back in it.

“It is a difficult one, I have to say,” added Simpson.

“We’ve got guys in who probably maybe haven’t played at this level before, who don’t quite understand about game management.  You try to press certain things on them. I try and do as much as I can from the sidelines but at the end of the day I’m not out on the pitch so you’ve got to be a little bit cute at times but we were hanging on, we were hanging on.

“A little bit of inexperience and a bit of naivety maybe on our part and we were hanging on and we needed that little bit of luck.”

Olatungi released Saunders into the right channel and he floated in a cross into the middle which was met by Dunsdon’s acrobatic overhead kick, which sailed over the bar from 12-yards.

But a glaring mistake from Ludford cost his new side a point when he played a suicidal back-pass from the right into Dunsdon’s path, who ran on and was brought down by last-man, goalkeeper Cox, who somehow escaped punishment from referee Adam Back, who decided the biggest punishment was to point to the spot.

Dunsdon stepped up and slotted his right-footed penalty nestling into the bottom right-hand corner, as Bridon Ropes snatched victory with the clock showing 48:49.

When asked about the decision not to send off the keeper, Murison replied: “It didn’t surprise me there wasn’t a yellow but I’m not overly fussed about that.  I didn’t really look to see if there was going to be a yellow or a card.

“It was just good Nick done the right thing, he was on the shoulder of the last man. Obviously their player didn’t see him, must’ve been blocking by how own player and he’s played the back pass and Nick’s done what he does best. He gets on the ball and the keeper’s made a rash decision and took him down.

And reflecting on Dunsdon’s fourteenth goal of the season, Murison added: “I’m always confident with Nick. He’s taken quite a few penalties for us this year and so far, touch wood, he hasn’t missed one so I was quite confident he would score and he duly did.

“We take away three points what is probably the only positive out of the whole night to be quite honest with you.”

Simpson refused to point the finger of blame at Ludford for another crushing defeat.

He said: “Grant Ludford it was who scored our wonder goal and he’s absolutely distraught in the changing room at the moment. He knows he’s made a mistake.  How can I criticise him for that? I can’t criticise him for that. He worked his socks off.

“I’m not sure I’ll use the word villain, he hasn’t done a lot wrong. He’s tried to do the sensible thing because he was under pressure and he tried to play the way he was facing. Another yard it would’ve got to Danny.”

When asked whether his goalkeeper should have been red-carded for the professional foul, Simpson said: “Possibly unlucky not to be red-carded. I think probably a booking, yes, but yes he was probably lucky not to get a booking.”

Eltham Palace (7 points from 25 games), are at the foot of the table, followed by Lewisham Borough (7 points from 28 games),  Rusthall (14 points from 26) and Kent Football United (23 points from 27).

“Where we go from here? It doesn’t get any easier for us, we go to Lydd on Saturday so we’ve just got to recover from tonight,” said Simpson, who takes his side to fifth-placed Lydd Town next.

“I’ve cancelled the next couple of training sessions this week and next week because we’ve got a large run of matches so we’ll go to Lydd on Saturday and we’ll try to take the strongest possible squad.

“I certainly think the new faces that coming in have injected a little bit of life into us. We had a few players out today injured and with work related commitments but certainly we will keep going until the end of the season. My aim is try not to finish in the bottom two, that is my target.”

Bridon Ropes must play better at home to Bearsted on Saturday, against a side that are only two points adrift of leaders Glebe and are challenging for the title.

“The performances in the last couple of games have been disappointing,” admitted Murison.

“Take a point at APM, they’re not a bad team, they’re structured. The performance wasn’t good enough and APM will probably say the same thing and tonight the performance wasn’t good enough!

“Sometimes you’ll grind out a win but some point it will bite you on the backside.  In the last two games it hasn’t but we can’t make it three in a row. We have to put in a performance like we have been doing against Gravesham Borough because Bearsted are a different kettle of fish.

“That’s why even after a 2-1 win I had to rollock them because it’s not acceptable – the performances need to improve.”

Lewisham Borough: Danny Cox, Ryan Harris, Jeremie Lacaze, Hamed Coulibaly, David Smith, Billy Ryan, Charlie Barrall (Ola Bakare 64), Leon Reid (Venance Gbeyo 81), Grant Ludford, Colin Justin, Daniel Patterson-Scott.
Subs: Rafai Corbin, Reece Cross

Goal: Grant Ludford 52

Booked: Hamed Coulibaly 35, Colin Justin 63, Billy Ryan 67, Ryan Harris 87

Bridon Ropes: Anthony Gaughan, Finlay Chambers, Justin Gould (Eamon Gaughan 77), Matt Dennis, Kemal Chakarto, James Doherty, John Woodcock, Adam Saunders, Abel Olatungi, Jacob De-Vries (Nick Dunsdon 60), Taylor Bowley (Kieran Fanner 68).
Subs: Oliver Soulsby, Oliver Hickman

Goals: Adam Saunders 86, Nick Dunsdon 90 (penalty)

Attendance:  53
Referee: Mr Adam Back (Sidcup)
Assistants: Mr John Baigan (East Dulwich, London SE15) & Mr Aleksandrs Siskunous (Bromley)