Meridian VP 3-0 Eltham Palace - Eltham Palace will come good. We just have to fight until we do, says boss Neil Proctor

Tuesday 12th January 2016
Meridian VP 3 – 0 Eltham Palace
Location Meridian Sports & Social Club, 110 Charlton Park Lane, Charlton, London SE7 8QS
Kickoff 12/01/2016 19:45

Pain & Glory Sports Kent Invicta League
Tuesday 12th January 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Charlton Park Lane

ELTHAM PALACE manager/chairman Neil Proctor says he is fighting to improve results after going down to their eighteenth league defeat of the season.


The Chislehurst-based club remain rooted in the bottom two of the Pain & Glory Sports Kent Invicta League table with two wins and a draw from 21 league outings, just a couple of points better off than basement side Lewisham Borough.

Meridian VP’s sixth-league win of the season sees them leapfrog over FC Elmstead and Kent Football United into 15th place in the table on 22 points from 19 games.

The pitch passed an inspection a couple of hours before kick-off and only a crowd of 22 fans turned up to see Meridian VP seal a comfortable 3-0 win.

Tommy Leggett capped his first team debut by scoring the opening goal on a wet, windy and chilly night in Charlton.

Meridian VP wrapped the victory up with two goals within four second half minutes through captain Dominic Elmes and Chris McDermott’s eighth goal of the season.

“First half, I wasn’t happy with at all,” admitted Meridian VP’s manager Richard Dimmock.

“I was giving them instructions to go out and do certain jobs and not once in the first half did they do it!

“We was lucky to come in 1-0 up personally.

“I got them in at half-time gave them a bit of a b******ing, as we discussed on the bench told them what they weren’t doing and what they needed to do right. We came out second half a totally different side.

“It’s a massive three points for us. We’ve got a few games in hand.  I know we’re good enough to be a top 10 side. We’re just not consistent enough at the moment. If we keep playing like we did second half, I think we can push on.”

Eltham Palace boss Proctor added: “I thought we competed in the game up until their second goal and then it was a little bit of a collapse after that unfortunately.

“I think we did enough. I thought we might’ve had done enough to get something out of it – up until the second goal but it wasn’t to be.”

When asked about the club’s league position, the chairman admitted: “Not good! Not good enough mate. We need a striker. Just not good enough!”

Meridian VP should have opened the scoring with the first chance of the game inside nine minutes.

Ryan Minott swung in a free-kick from the right towards the middle but Jason Ward produced a central defender’s finish by planting his free header screaming past the right-hand post from 10-yards.

“It’s a typical centre halves header,” admitted Dimmock.

“No-one told him there was time. He really had time to bring it down. He could’ve got a strike off really.”

McDermott cut the ball back from the right by-line to Leggett, whose low shot from a tight angle was comfortably saved by Palace keeper Rob McNeil at his near post.

Leggett, McDermott and Adrian Brown all linked up for Meridian VP inside the Eltham Palace final third and the ball was cut back to Elmes, who took a touch before his left-footed dipping shot sailed over from 25-yards.

But Eltham Palace squandered an excellent chance to score their 18th league goal of the season with their first attempt of the night.

Right-winger Jerome Humes sped down the wing and beat his man (Ollie Mentessi) with ease before whipping in a cross towards the near post for lone striker Bola Awogboro, who turned and scooped his left-footed shot over the crossbar from 12-yards.

Proctor blamed the wet and windy conditions for the glaring miss.

He said: “I think the weather probably had something to do with it but then again we’re all playing on the same pitch.

“We need someone to put it in the back off the net!”

Dimmock added: “That’s come from us, poor defending really. Like I said, in the first half we were very poor. We didn’t do our jobs properly. We gave them too much space and too much room to play. That’s why they had a good little move. A little quick winger down the right got past our full-back, got the ball in. Really, if they had a better striker probably could’ve tucked it away and we were lucky really.”

That proved to be a costly miss as Meridian VP raced up the other end and opened the scoring just 22 seconds later, the goal timed at 20:33.

Meridian keeper Ben Ashton’s goal-kick was played out to right-back Nathanial Ward, who clipped the ball down the right-wing to Brown, who whipped in a low cross into the penalty area.

Kwasi Amoh slipped as he attempted to sweep the ball away but it ran through to Leggett, who drilled his first time shot into the bottom right-hand corner from 20-yards.

Dimmock was pleased with Leggett’s debut goal.

“I’ve just brought him in tonight from the reserves. He’s been doing really well.  I’ve been watching him in the reserves and he’s been scoring goals for fun at the moment, so I’ve brought him in tonight to give him his opportunity and he’s paid me back.  He’s done really well tonight. He’s worked his socks off and I felt he deserved his goal.”

Proctor blamed his defender’s footwear for the goal.

“Blades mate. He had blades on, that’s why he slipped over, idiot!

“It’s disappointing, it’s disappointing all round.  I mean since pre-season it has improved.  We were getting battered 13-0 at one point so we are getting there.

“It’s just naivety at the end of the day. We could talk about a chance here and their chance there but at the end of the day it’s naivety – and we need a striker!”

Elmes hit a shot on the run which screamed past the far post from 30-yards, before the home side should have hit the target with a header at a set-piece.

Minott swung in their first corner from the right and Elmes planted his free header over the crossbar from six-yards just after the half-hour mark.

Eltham Palace almost received a huge slice of good fortune when the crossbar denied them in the 38th minute.

They won a free-kick out on the right wing some 45-yards from goal and skipper Dean Robinson swept his right-footed free-kick towards goal. The ball sailed over the back-peddling Ashton and came down off the underside of the crossbar before being cleared towards safety.

Proctor admitted: “On another day, that would’ve gone in – but I don’t think he meant it!”

Dimmock added: “I don’t think he meant it! The wind’s caught it and our goalkeeper’s unsighted, didn’t expect that to happen but ultimately he’ll learn from that mistake because that could’ve cost us.”

Jason Ward played the ball out of Meridian’s defence into Leggett’s feet, who played Nathaniel Ward in behind the defence but the right-back sliced his shot out of the ground.

Ashley Kensington-Bertrand fed Joseph Adesina down the left and the Eltham Palace left-winger cut inside and his right-footed shot was palmed away by Ashton, using his outstretched right-hand.

Amoah slipped for the second time inside the penalty area but this time Brown dragged his shot across goal and past the far post from a tight angle from the right-hand side of the penalty area, some 10-yards from goal.

Dimmock was full of praise for five-goal wide attacker Brown.

“That’s probably the first of four chances that he’s had tonight,” he said.

“He’s been unlucky. I think he’s really deserved a goal tonight but he kept his head up and learn from that tonight and go on a little run of scoring.”

Dimmock revealed he was not a happy man and told his players a few home truths during the interval.

“I came in and told them that wasn’t good enough!

“I don’t think we deserved to come in 1-0 up but we’ve come in 1-0 up not playing particularly well.

“I put across to every single player that I wasn’t happy, told them what they weren’t doing right, told certain players they weren’t doing their jobs properly, just had a little go at them!

“I told them they’ve got 10 minutes and if they don’t buck their ideas up I’ll be making changes and they all looked at me and totally agreed.

“Mike Jones and Jamie Todd put their points across and they’ve took it on board and gone out a totally different side.”

Proctor revealed what he told his players, who to their credit put in a spirited display for the entire game.

“I just told them to pick their heads up and keep going basically,” he said.

“I didn’t think we were doing that much wrong up until that point there. I just thought go out there and find a few more percent than them and we could turn it around but it wasn’t to be.”

Meridian VP created the first chance of the second half but Brown lashed his shot high and wide from 22-yards after bursting forward.

Eltham Palace called Ashton into making a comfortable save with 58 minutes on the clock.

Stanton released Humes down the right and his left-footed shot on the turn was saved comfortably by the Meridian keeper at his near post.

“Story of our day mate, story of our season to be honest with you. We just can’t put it in the back of the net,” added a frustrated Proctor.

Eltham Palace were awarded a free-kick but Adesina wasted the opportunity as his 35-yard effort sailed harmlessly wide.

Meridian VP doubled their lead with 16:34 on the clock with an impressive sweeping move.

Central midfielder Darren Shelton started the move by playing the ball into Minott’s feet, who slipped the ball into Leggett’s feet, who laid the ball into Elmes’, who drilled a first time right-footed shot across the keeper to find the bottom left-hand corner from 30-yards.

“A good little move, that’s what we’re capable of doing when we do things right,” hailed Dimmock.

“Nice little quick passing between the three of them, a nice little set-back to Dominic Elmes and a great finish.

“Second half performance, I’m over the moon because that’s what we’re capable of doing but we’re just not consistent enough at the moment.”

Proctor admitted he was disappointed with his side’s defending.

“From my point of view, it was shocking because someone should’ve picked him up or put a block in,” he said.

“He just had all the time in the world to put it on his laces and strike home.

When asked whether his goalkeeper could have saved the long range drive, Proctor replied: “I can’t blame Rob because he’s been like a stalwart at the back for us for the last couple of months since losing Charlie Penfold. Maybe he could’ve (saved it) but I can’t blame it on Rob.  He shouldn’t got a shot off in the first place!”

A dinked pass by central midfielder Michael Talabi played Adesina in behind Meridian’s defence but his shot was palmed away by Ashton, high to his right.

Meridian VP sealed their victory with 20:29 on the clock.

Brown showed quick-feet to dance into the Eltham Palace penalty area and was denied a deserved goal by the keeper’s legs but the ball fell to McDermott who steered his hot into the bottom left-hand corner from six-yards.

Dimmock said: “Chris has been out injured for a long time, just before he got injured he had a great run of games scoring – so we’ve missed him really.

“Chris and Adrian (Brown) are a good pairing. Once again Adrian gave him the ball – he’s got all that pace so he always going to cause defences problems – but he was unlucky not to score and Chris is always there.”

Proctor admits to being concerned with the statistic that goal was the 74th conceded in the league by Eltham Palace this season.

“I just think going forward we’re alright. We’re as good as anyone out there but our defence.  I think in the middle of the pitch we’re as good as any team out there, it’s just either end of the pitch that we need to really pull our socks up on.”

Meridian VP were to be denied a fourth goal when Jason Ward’s sublime through ball released Brown down the right but McNeil came to the edge of his box to make the block.  Brown’s follow-up shot sailed towards goal but was headed off the line by Amoah.

Dimmock said: “Once again Adrian’s worked his socks off tonight and probably this time he was too casual in front of goal and once again the keeper’s done his job.”

Proctor added: “Good old Kwasi, he’s been our stalwart. Actually Kwasi is not a centre back, he’s a centre midfielder but we were missing two big centre backs, Jason and Myles and it showed! Fair play to Kwasi. He stepped up and does a job.”

Omar Awaoh was originally listed as substitute but he came in for Myles Ifdacyei, who failed to turn up for the game.

Proctor will be having words, adding, “I have no idea mate. He didn’t turn up so I need to talk to him about this.”

Meridian VP left-back Mentessi then floated in a deep cross towards the penalty area, but McDermott’s looping header was tipped over the bar by McNeil.

Eltham Palace went close inside the last 20 minutes when Hume’s 30-yard free-kick bounced off the wall and looped just wide of the far post with the keeper rooted to the spot.

And the away side created the last chance with 14 minutes left but Awogboro blazed the ball high over the bar after letting the ball run across to his right-foot,   trying his luck from 25-yards.

Proctor, looking upwards, added: “He just snatched it, didn’t he? He just snatched at it basically.”

Meridian VP are without a game on Saturday but they travel to second-placed Bearsted on 23 January.

“Three points, 3-0 so that’s one of our games in hand and points on the board,” said Dimmock.

“We’ve got a run of four or five games coming up that I think we can nick a total of 10-12 points. I’d like to get out of those four games and I think we’re capable of doing it.

“We’ve got no game on Saturday and then we’ve got Bearsted away, which is going to be a tough game but I think if we show a second half performance like that down at Bearsted, I think we can cause them problems.”

Reflecting on tonight’s pitch which was in excellent condition despite all of the recent rain, Dimmock said: “It held off really good. I came up here yesterday, there was just a puddle in the centre circle. I was wishing the rain would hold off.  I came up here at lunchtime today and it was really good, playable.   Came up here at five o’clock and had another look, all good, got the go-ahead and I’m very happy it did go ahead.”

Dimmock wants his side to start taking their chances to climb up the league table.

Dimmock’s side are only 12 points adrift of sixth-placed Lydd Town.

“Top ten. I think if we can get a run going I honestly do thing that we could be a top six side but we do need a good run of games and be more consistent.

“We’ve got to take our chances! It could’ve been six tonight.

“With games like Bearsted coming up, the likes of Lydd and Glebe, if you don’t take those chances you get punished and that’s where we get punished.  In games that we’ve lost we’ve had opportunities in games to kill people off but oh my god it’s backfired on us loads of times.” 

The wooden spoon battle is currently between Eltham Palace and Lewisham Borough.

“It is a tough season,” admitted Proctor.

“The last three seasons, I’ve been bringing over coaches in and we’ve had problems in the background so I said this season I’m going to start again. I’m going to get rid of any bad blood and going to build from scratch, just start again, which is why the first half of the season we were particularly bad but we are getting there.

“Eltham Palace will come good.  We just have to fight until we do.

“Our target? Just to get out where we are really. Even if we just push up to the middle of the bottom half, just not finish in the bottom basically, is where I want.”

Proctor wants help with off-the-pitch matters but revealed some good news is on the horizon.

“It’s always been a one-man band. I’ve always done it on my own,” said Proctor, who has been chairman for three years.

“I used to bring coaches in but they were always more problems than the players to manage because of egos because they don’t realise the constraints and limits and limitations that we’ve got as a club, because we’re not the richest club in the world and that’s why we haven’t got loads of coaches.

“We are a small club but it will turn around things in the pipeline for Eltham Palace so they will turn around.”

When asked to reveal those plans, Proctor remained tight-lipped, but said it was an off-the-pitch matter, saying, “You will be one of the first to know when I do but I don’t want to jeopardise it going out on Twitter or websites or anything just yet because I just want to keep it between me and the person that I’m speaking to at the moment. It’s just the way it has to be. I’m sure you will find out in the next couple of days or week or so.”

Meridian VP: Ben Ashton, Nathaniel Ward, Ollie Mentessi, Darren Shelton (Stephen Munn 74), Jason Ward, Tom Mayfield (Callum Berg 80), Ryan Minott, Dominic Elmes, Adrian Brown, Chris McDermott, Tommy Leggett (Tommy Martin 72).
Subs: Spencer Illinoe, Lee Kidman

Goals: Tommy Leggett 21, Dominic Elmes 62, Chris McDermott 66

Booked: Dominic Elmes 70

Eltham Palace: Rob McNeil, Charlie Stanton, Cory Knight, Omar Awaoh (Hakeem Onanosi 55), Kwasi Amoah, Michael Talabi, Jerome Humes, Ashley Kensington-Bertrand, Dean Robinson, Bola Awogboro (Jamal John 79), Joseph Adesina.
Subs: Myles Adfacyei, Jay Edumisere, Malachi Talabi

Attendance: 22
Referee: Mr Bo Wang (Ashford)
Assistants: Mr Vince Kennedy (Welling) & Mr John Baigan (East Dulwich, London SE15)