Lewisham Borough 1-1 Forest Hill Park - I'm disappointed not to come away with three points but I would've been more livid if we had come away with nothing today, says Forest Hill Park boss Ashley-Paul Robinson

Monday 04th September 2017
Lewisham Borough 1 – 1 Forest Hill Park
Location Ladywell Arena, Silvermere Road, Catford, London SE6 4QX
Kickoff 04/09/2017 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Monday 4th September 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Ladywell Arena

LEWISHAM BOROUGH head coach Ebun Thomas says he shouldn’t take the credit for guiding the club up to the heady heights of thirteenth-place in the table after six games.

Lewisham Borough shared the local bragging rights with Forest Hill Park in a disappointing derby at Ladywell Arena, as both teams finished the night on seven points.

Forest Hill Park bossed the early exchanges but lost the plot as soon as Lewisham Borough grabbed the lead against the run of play through striker Jay Jones’ second goal of the season.

Forest Hill Park grabbed an deserved but controversial equaliser through super-sub Liam Wright with seven minutes remaining of a poor second half that did little to excite the Monday night crowd of 128.

“If I’m being brutally honest, we were lucky to come away with a one-all, talking about clear cut chances,” admitted Thomas afterwards.

“But I think on the basis of the goal, they were clearly offside, very, very clearly offside, so you can say although they’ve had the chances, they’ve scored an offside goal, so on the balance of play, they probably shaded it a bit, but that’s football. I’m happy with the one-all.”

Forest Hill Park player-manager Ashley-Paul Robinson said: “Thoroughly disappointed with the result today. I’m sure everyone can see we dominated the game from start to finish really, especially in the first half.

“We missed so many chances and at this level we make a mistake and we got punished and we came in 1-0 down, so credit to the boys we got back in 1-1, but ultimately I am very disappointed with the result today.”

Robinson, 27, was pulling the strings whilst sitting in a holding midfield position and his side were the dominant force before the opening goal.

Antwon McKenzie was put through on goal, easily sprinting past Sean Jarvie, only to be denied by Borough keeper Alexander Kibbey, who rushed off his line to smother at the attacker’s feet, which set the tone after 181 seconds.

Adam Toubal then played a one-two in the final third with Hassan Conteh and his left-footed drive from 16-yards was parried by Kibbey, to his left, as Forest Hill Park wasted another glorious chance to score inside 10 minutes.

Robinson said: “It’s disappointing not to convert the chances but we’ve got a lot of young players in the team, a lot of potential.  I think a bit of inexperience and a bit of more composure in front of goal probably might be 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0.  It just wasn’t happening today, so we’ll just kick on and go again.”

Thomas added: “I’d say they had more chances in terms of we just didn’t get to grips with their very, very nippy forwards but after we started pressing and everything else we started coming into the game as the half went on, we grew into it. Don’t get me wrong, they missed chances but I think we were a little bit more clinical.

“It was a very good save and Alex worked really, really hard, came up with some important saves when we needed to because if we’re being honest if that goal goes in then theoretically the floodgates would open but it’s a team effort, he’s kept us in the game.”

Forest Hill Park captain Simeon Fender directed his header just past his own far post but was grateful to his keeper Taiwo Aliu for plucking Jeremie Lacaze’s in-swinging corner out of the air.

The keeper launched a big kick forward, Sean Nicholls’ back-header let in Toubal, who ran through to drag his shot past the far post from 15-yards.

Robinson pinged another excellent through ball but after weaving past a couple of Lewisham players all left wing-back Hanif Charles-Benny could do was drive his shot into the side netting from seven-yards.

Lewisham Borough grabbed the lead, totally against the run of play, through direct football in the 23rd minute.

Keeper Kibbey powered a big kick straight down the pitch, the ball was flicked on by Tim Moffatt from inside the centre circle and this released Jones, who ran through to show his clinical side, slotting his left-footed shot from 15-yards across the keeper, the ball nestling inside the bottom far corner.

“That’s what James is about,” added Thomas.

“James is a new striker, very, very clinical and we recognised that it wasn’t really working in us trying to play through the thirds and sometimes you have to recognise sometimes it’s better to keep it simple. Sometimes we had to go long and it worked for us at that moment in time.”

Robinson said: “To be honest it’s pretty much been like this for us all season.  We played Punjab last week, they’re a good team and I’d say they’re the only team that’s outplayed us in terms of the football. Every game we’ve played pretty much this season we’ve conceded a goal through a mistake.  Not many teams will carve us open and created good chances against us so that’s something we need to pick up at the training ground and go again really.”

Dominant before the goal, Forest Hill Park’s players lost the plot and didn’t know how to handle the disappointment of conceding – but they still created, and missed, chances before the break.

Thomas added: “You could call that as the changing mark of the game because all off a sudden the boys found that extra 20% and started pressing them and theoretically you could argue we should’ve really capitalised a little bit better.”

Robinson’s sublime long pass picked out Toubal down the left and he cut the ball back for striker Conteh, who blazed his shot high over the bar from 12-yards. It proved to be no surprise that he was substituted at the interval.

Lewisham Borough almost snatched a two-goal lead when George Marsden played a short corner to Jones, who cracked a curler from a tight angle, which forced Aliu to palm the ball away, high to his left, as the ball dipped towards the top far corner.

Thomas said: “It moved in the air, I think on another day he probably palms it and it falls to one of our players and it’s an easy 2-0. It was a very good strike from Jay.”

Robinson added: “Good save and to be fair to him he’s come good today. He knows he’s let us down in the last few weeks as well but he’s come up big today. He’s had a quiet game but when we needed him he’s pulled off a good save so I’m happy with that!

Another Forest Hill Park chance went begging at the end of the first half.

Robinson rose his right hand before floating in a corner from the right and Almeida came up from the back to send his free header across goal and just past the far post from six-yards.

Robinson said: “Our problems haven’t been the build-up play, we’re creating chances for fun.  Literally, every game we’re scoring but I just think we need to punish teams earlier so we’re not chasing the game in the second half every week!”

Thomas added: “We literally just switched off, that’s all and he’s found himself free at the back post and he’s put it over and we’ve got away with that one but we just dozed off.”

Both were asked their thoughts at the interval.

Thomas said: “Simple case of, it wasn’t even a case of, we highlighted the areas and we probably got away with it in terms of the first half. We rode our luck a little bit but then as the game’s gone on we’ve grown into it and it’s just a simple case of can we continue it and pretty much more of the second half of that first half.”

Robinson added: “I had a bit of a go at them. We’ve been quite encouraging towards the boys and the lads have got to be men now. We’ve got to stand up and be counted!

“I don’t want the season to fizzle out and we’ve got nothing to play for by Christmas. We’ve just got to keep plugging away, everyone’s beating everyone. These games are the games I expected us to come away with three points.”

The second half excited no one but Lewisham Borough squandered a great chance to kill the game off after only 72 seconds.

Left-back William Mayendesa found space inside the channel to cut into the box before rolling the ball back for Dylan Charley-Bowen, who dwelled on the ball too long before he felt Moffatt would be the better option but all he could do was sky his shot over the bar from 20-yards.

Thomas said: “I’ve been onto Dylan, he needs to shoot more and that was the perfect opportunity.  He’s new into the squad, he’s still a young man.  Nine times out of 10 I’m shooting every time but he’s looking for the easy option. That goal goes in, it’s a different complexion, going 2-0.”

Robinson said of Moffatt’s missed opportunity: “They started quick when they came out in the second half and we’ve just got to react better, come out and perform at a higher level.”

Ten minutes in and Robinson’s fifth corner of the night was delivered deep for Almeida to put the ball back into the danger area, the ball deflecting off Jarvie and only just missing the foot of the near post.

Robinson pushed himself further up the pitch in a bid to bring the game some life but the quality was clearly lacking in this Lewisham derby.

Robinson said: “I think as the game went on it became difficult. We had to change the shape a little bit. I had to go further up the pitch to try to go for it. By this stage they probably would’ve taken a point – they were still 1-0 up – and they were just starting to get a load of bodies behind the ball. It was quite difficult to create space in behind.”

Forest Hill Park’s left wing-back Charles-Benny played the ball inside to Burke, who dragged his shot past the near post from 25-yards after 70 minutes, before Robinson’s shot on the turn flashed across the keeper and past the far post after the impressive Toubal reached the left by-line with a pacey run.

“We’ve tried to press when the game’s gone on, we’ve naturally got more tired so we’ve sat in and to be fair I thought we’d see it out,” added Thomas.

Forest Hill Park deserved to come away with at least a point but when their goal did arrive – with seven minutes left – it was clearly offside!

Robinson played a short corner to substitute Damilola Oluokun, who put the ball into the box, which caused pin-ball and the ball was cleared out to substitute Fredrick Agyapong, who put the ball back into the box. 

It appeared that there were no defenders behind Wright when he stuck out his left leg to poke the ball into the bottom left-hand corner from 12-yards, yet assistant referee James Smith kept his flag down – when everyone was expecting one – and the goal stood!

Robinson said: “Fred has put it back in the box, good reaction to be fair. It’s one of those ones because of the momentum of the players are against the run of play, it does look offside but he was level. I could see it coming across from where I crossed the ball.

“I can’t really train that, just instincts really, just being at the right place at the right time, which is good.  It’s a bit of luck for us.

“I definitely think we deserved it, especially in the run of play. I think for us it was attack-v-defence, we were just going for it.

“I’m disappointed not to come away with three points but I would’ve been livid if we had come away with nothing today!”

An honest Lewisham Borough head coach replied: “Game management came into it, so we thought we’d see it out and to be hit with a counter punch in terms of the offside goal, but then if you were being neutral on the balance of play you could say Forest Hill did deserve it.

“He was coming back from an offside, massively offside and it’s not even a case of its debatable, he’s massively offside!

“You could see he was expecting the flag to go up, he hasn’t really celebrated, he’s looked over seen the flag’s gone down.  For me it’s massive in terms of we all know he’s offside and I thought the referee would go off the players reactions because that usually gives it away.  You saw the delayed reaction in terms of they all started celebrating and they knew deep down it was offside.”

Last season, Lewisham Borough would have caved in but they have more character about them nowadays, but Forest Hill Park still pressed for the winner that they deserved.

Gavin Quintyne’s cross, after his corner was cleared back to him, was met by Fender’s looping header, which was caught by Kibbey, but they should have scored the winner with the last action of the game before referee Daniel Wyatt blew for time.

Robinson swung in their ninth corner of the game from the left and Charlie Holness was left in despair after planting his free header over the crossbar.

“He apologised to the boys, he should’ve nicked it but he’s been quality today, he’s played very, very well,” Robinson said of Holness.

“I came into midfield and he stepped in. He did dictate, he kept the same temp and he was moving the ball really quickly as well so overall I was really happy with him.”

Thomas added: “Tiredness kicks in, fatigue sets in and your gross motor skills, your natural thinking goes out of the window but he’s put it there but I think Alex was in the right position, even that’s on target, Alex deals with it.”

Lewisham Borough are now a couple of places higher than Forest Hill Park but Thomas refuses to take all of the credit of turning around the club’s fortunes.

“Honours even in the derby, you could say on the balance of play it’s probably the right result. For us it’s another point on the board and we build on it and we go forward.

“It’s just not me, it’s a team effort first and foremost. I’ve got great backing from the chairman (Raymond Simpson), he’s backed me all the way, on top of it we’ve got a great coaching staff and we’ve got a great team here.

“It’s a building process here, it’s one step at a time. We’ve got to understand four of the last five seasons, something ridiculous of being at the bottom and I know a lot of people are a little bit shocked to see us Lewisham Borough thirteenth, looks a little bit big but this league is really, really open.

“You’ve seen everyone can beat everyone and now you can put Lewisham in there because it’s not the same old case of you turn up and how many goals you can score against us? It’s a case of we will give you a game!

“We’ve set our own internal challenges and the boys know what we expect and you’re not going to go from bottom to climbing Mount Everest. It takes steps and this is another step on the journey.”

Forest Hill Park, meanwhile, have Crockenhill (six points), Sutton Athletic (5), Phoenix Sports Reserves (4) and Gravesham Borough (3) below them in the table tonight.

Robinson, who made six sub appearances in the Championship for Crystal Palace back in 2008, is managing his first club, in the tenth-tier of English football.

“The boys believe in what we’re doing, I believe in the team as well,” he said.

“We’re playing the right way and playing the way I want the team to play but the results really haven’t been coming for us for the last couple of weeks. Going a goal down has been disheartening for the boys. We just need a bit more experience in the team and I think we’ll be alright.

“It’s been good, it’s been enjoyable and I’m grateful to the chairman (Clayton Walters) for giving me the opportunity to implicate my thoughts and philosophy on the team.

“I’m just buzzing to be here and take the club in the right direction and move it on, that’s pretty much why I’m here, just kick on really.  I want to try to compete for everything. I haven’t really set the boys a target, just want us to compete all the way through the season.”

Lewisham Borough: Alexander Kibbey, Hamed Coulibaly (David Smith 75), William Mayendesa, Tim Moffatt, Sean Nicholls, Sean Jarvie, Jamie Richards (Nicholas Leny 81), Dylan Charley-Brown, Jay Jones, George Marsden, Jeremie Lacaze (Jerome Richards 72).
Sub: Morgan Wilkins-Oliver

Goal: Jay Jones 23

Booked: William Mayendesa 78, Jerome Richards 89

Forest Hill Park: Taiwo Aliu, Gavin Quintyne, Hanif Charles-Benny, Ashley-Paul Robinson, Simeon Fender, Marco Almeida, Antwon McKenzie (Fredrick Agyapong 56), Charlie Holness, Hassan Conteh (Liam Wright 46), Adam Toubal (Damilola Oluokun 72), Jay Burke.
Subs: Jehoshua Powell, Elijah Phillips

Goal: Liam Wright 83

Booked: Gavin Quintyne 64

Attendance: 128
Referee: Mr Daniel Wyatt (Orpington)
Assistants: Mr James Smith (Bexleyheath) & Mr David Oasgood (Bromley)

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