Nomads 1-0 Welling Park - I'm stepping down through work commitments, says Welling Park player-manager Jack Minney

Tuesday 17th May 2016
Nomads 1 – 0 Welling Park
Location Moweshurst Farm, Four Elms Road, Edenbridge, Kent TN8 6AG
Kickoff 17/05/2016 19:00

NRG Gym Kent County League Division Three West
Tuesday 17th May 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Four Elms Road

WELLING PARK player-manager Jack Minney says he’s stepping down after just one season in charge after guiding the club towards promotion at the end of their debut campaign in the NRG Gym Kent County League.

The Kidbrooke-based club finished runners-up on 51 points from 24 league outings, finishing eight points behind fellow debutants South East Athletic, who also beat them to the Bromley & District League Premier Division title last season.

Minney, 30, held his hands up for making a positional mistake that led to Edenbridge based side Nomads sealing their 15th league win of the season to finish their debut campaign in third on 50 points.

Nomads striker Marcus Upton drilled in his fourteenth-goal of the season early in the second half to ensure the hosts won the division’s final game in front of 41 people at Howeshurst Farm on Four Elms Road.

“They played  really well, I’m not taking nothing away from them. We had a bit of a makeshift 11, a few players were on the beaches already so we put a bit of a disciplined performance in,” said Minney, reflecting on his side’s fifth league defeat of the season.

“It was a bit gutting, a bit sloppy play at the back just let them in. To lose 1-0 was a bit disappointing at the end.”

“I thought it was really good,” added Nomads manager Michael Marshall after the game.

“I was just saying after that, it summed up our season a little bit. We play some really nice football, missed a few chances. A little more composure in front of goal I think we probably could’ve put the game away a little bit earlier, but really pleased.

“They’re a good side Welling Park so it was nice to get the win.”

espite only entering the away dressing room at 18:37, Welling Park started the game on the front foot, without creating many clear cut chances.

“It was a bit of a nightmare! I had to call in a few favours at work (lift engineer) so did a few of the other boys. Some of the part-timers got here nice and early though. Yes, it was a bit of a trek but it’s got to be done. We’ve got to uphold our responsibilities to the league and come here and give a good performance and try to keep it a level playing field.

“I was playing right-back, I’m normally a forward and we even had our first choice keeper (Daniel Vines) playing holding midfield and he had a good game actually.”

Nomads created the first opening inside nine minutes when central midfielder Adam Coveney’s dinked pass found Daniel Higgins, who whipped in a cross from the by-line but Upton lashed his shot over the bar from a tight angle from four-yards out at the near post.

Welling Park’s first opening, though, arrived in the 12th minute.

Steven Hudson, who was to later suffer a painful injury to his right ankle, dinked the ball into talented Adam Smith, who held the ball up before dribbling along the by-line.

The striker cut the ball back across the face of goal where Coveney poked his shot past the left-hand post despite being put under pressure.

Tony Thompson came up from the back to set up another chance for Welling Park but goalkeeper-turned-central midfielder Daniel Vines skied his 16-yarder over the bar.

Welling Park cleared the ball out of their defence and Higgins rode a sliding challenge from Karl Kinsey but lost composure once inside the box and rolled his right-footed shot past the post while put under pressure.

Marshall said: “Yes, I think they did (start better than us). The last few weeks we’ve struggled a little bit in front of goal and sometimes you could see the nerves in that first 15-20 minutes.  We got into our game and got the passing going.”

Nomads weathered the storm, however. Minney lost the ball to Kieran O’Connor, who danced forward before slipping the ball through to Kane Walker, his shot rolling into the hands of visiting keeper Kevin Sackett.

“He’s a constant threat. I stuck him in midfield today, he can play anywhere but he's so good at breaking through other teams and causing problems,” Marshall said of Walker.

Nomads then created a couple of decent chances to break the stalemate as they edged the game going into the 20th minute mark.

Nomads’ left-back James Scott advanced into the final third and cut inside before laying the ball to Kane Walker, who stroked his right-footed shot across the keeper and past the far post from 16-yards.

Central defender Babbage lofted the ball into the Welling Park penalty area, the ball was knocked down by Upton and Harry Middleton took a touch before stroking his shot into Sackett’s hands, the keeper holding onto the ball diving low to his right.

Marshall added: “It’s a good strike. He did everything right, went across the goal. Unfortunately, the keeper was equal to it.  I think a bit of power it would’ve worked the keeper. It was a good chance.”

Kane Walker, who took all five of Nomads’ corners, swung in the ball from the right but Scott planted his free header over the bar.

Welling Park’s best chance of the first half arrived in the 28th minute.

A long ball out of his right-back position by Minney was hit straight down the middle of the pitch and Kane Walker was put through on goal by a poor defensive header but lacked composure and Sackett advanced off his line to make a low save to his left.

Minney said: “He plays for our reserve team normally and maybe there could’ve been a couple of bits of nerves and he snatched at it, maybe took it too early but the keeper came out and make himself nice and big. Very well played by the keeper, sweeping up like that. If we had taken that it could’ve given us something to hung on to.”

Marshall added: ”Lee’s done that week-in-week-out.  In my opinion he’s been the best keeper in the division. He’s so realisable and he’s saved us on a lot of occasions this year.”

Another long ball, this time from Babbage, released Upton charging down the right and he cut inside and steered his shot into Sackett’s hands.

Nomads’ left-winger Luke Stanley saw his 30-yard free-kick sail wide before Upton smacked a volley high over the bar from 12-yards after Kane Walker’s deep cross form the left.

Both these teams play in the bottom rung of the Kent County League – fourteen levels down from the Premier League.

Both teams stayed outside for the half-time interval, while the three match officials went back inside - and Welling Park’s keeper Sackett was spotted puffing on a cigarette, while numerous players smoked before and after the game.

His lack of professionalism proved costly as Nomads scored the only goal of the game just 119 seconds into the second half.

Minney admitted he allowed Kieran O’Connor to turn him down the left hand side before the ball was played over to Upton, who took a touch to drill his right-footed shot into the far corner from 20-yards.

Marshall said: “I’m glad he drilled it in because I’ve been saying to the boys for the last few weeks, if we get a chance on goal we need to make sure we make the keeper work because we’ve had a few lately.

“Again, we go through on goal and they’re putting it wide. I’m glad he got it on target and it was a great finish.”

Striker Kieran O’Connor was caught offside on five occasions during the game, four of them in the first half.

Marshall said: “Again, that’s something we need to be working on a bit more. It’s just really frustrating. I tell the boys week-in-week-out to not let teams off the hook.   We’ve been on top and we let teams off the hook when we put them under pressure so it’s frustrating!”

Holding his right hand up, Minney admitted he was to blame for the winner.

“One time we switched off and they took their chance well.  They’ve got some top, top quality strikers. I’m not used to playing at the back. That was hard work for me today trying to keep up with these boys.

“I think we lost our shape a bit then. Even myself, I think I got drawn into the ball. I got a bit excited, got sucked in. He’s a good player their two (Kieran O’Connor), he drew me in, spun me and then we were stretched.  Our centre half was adamant he was offside but I hold my hands up, I’m a forward playing right-back so sometimes we get a bit over excited when we see the ball.

“I personally think it’s my fault for diving out, stepping out too quick when I could’ve dropped, but it was a good pass, it was a good finish, you can’t take nothing away from them.”

Nomads squandered an excellent chance to deservedly double their lead in the 65th minute when referee Billy Woods awarded the home side a penalty after Kane Walker was tripped by sub Ronan Domphy.

Babbage stepped up and drilled his right-footed penalty harmlessly past the left-hand post into the bushes in front of the Tonbridge-Redhill railway line behind the goal.

Marshall admitted he was feeling shocked when Babbage missed from 12-yards.

He said: “He’s so reliable. I don’t think I’ve seen him miss a penalty, I have now and the one time I really wanted him to ease my nerves, unfortunately he put it wide.  He’s been so reliable in the past and he got his head down and battled for the rest of the time that he was on the pitch.”

Minney added: “Even when they had the penalty, I was quite confident that, well obviously he didn’t hit the target but if he hit the target, we call him Kev and Cat. He’s renowned for getting down quickly for penalties. He doesn’t do anything else quick mind you, so I’ve heard.

“It wasn’t great! Kevin’s just stood up big. The goal looks a lot smaller when you’re standing there from 12-yards.

“That was a relief at that point. I felt we could go up the other end. We could probably get something here because you know we were let off but they were probably worth the win to be fair. I felt our performance was a bit strange. It was a bit gutting to not get a draw.  We would’ve liked that.”

Welling Park failed to show enough quality in the final third to mount a charge towards the equaliser, although target-man Adam Smith showed some nice touches.

“I think he was at Welling United for a little while as a lad.  He started out as a central midfielder. He gets off the most. I think the must have another job as a bank robber or something, the way he gets away with things.  I don’t know how he gets away with it!

“Once he gets dancing he’s like twinkle toes. He’s a very good player. If he gets himself a bit fitter – I’m looking at him now as he’s having a fag and a can of coke.

“I don’t think there’s anything he can’t do, he’s very much a confidence player. It's hard for him up there on his own, he was feeling off scraps.

“What we said at half-time, the only concern we had, the ball was coming back too quick so we needed to get closer to Smithy when he had the ball up there, but he’s a good lad, he’s got a bit of a mouth on him sometimes but I think that’s when he’s more frustrated with himself and he’s got to learn to deal with that.”

Reflecting on his side’s lack of creativity in the final third, Minney added: “We were a bit lacking in midfield with our creativity today and our movement up top. We didn’t have most of our players, a few of them were away this week. We’re missing a lot of midfielders and attackers today so that’s not taking away from the boys that came down, that’s why we have a reserve team. They’ve stepped up and played well. They kept persevering and put their bodies on the line for us.”

Nomads continued to create the chances and substitute Krishan Balakumar played a sublime through ball to put Kieran O’Connor through on goal but he failed to capitalise.  He did, however, win the ball back and set up Balakumar, who drilled his shot straight into Sackett’s hands from 25-yards.

Upton’s fine pass from inside his own half released Kieran O’Connor through the heart of Welling Park’s defence but Sackett dived low to his left to parry the ball before gobbling up the loose ball.

Nomads produced a slick move inside the final 15 minutes through Kane Walker and sub Ben O’Connor but Kieran O’Connor lashed his shot over the bar while under pressure from Welling Park sub Conor Cooper.

Marshall added: “I think it was a bit of composure there, a bit of composure and we bury the game but I think these games when its’ 1-0 and you’re through on goal sometimes that can be the difference between sealing the game 2-0 or defending in the last 10-15 minutes of the game when teams are putting pressure on.”

Welling Park sub Gary Perfect launched a long throw into Nomads’ penalty box inside the final five minutes and after Nomads failed to clear the right-sided player lofted the ball past the far post.

Nomads sub Ben O’Connor charged down the right wing on a 50-yard run and played the ball inside to Upton, but Luke Alleway failed to keep his first time shot down.

Ben O’Connor fed Upton, who laid the ball across goal to an unmarked Balajumar, who drilled a shot towards the roof of the net from 12-yards, keeper Sackett pulled of a great save, palming the ball away high to his right.

Marshall said: “Ideally, if he’d put it either side of the keeper, I think he’d make him work a lot more but it was a good save from the keeper, he did really, really well.”

The Welling Park keeper then made a save to thwart Ben O’Connor scoring with his head as Nomads ran out deserved winners.

Marshall said :”Really pleased.  We beat them 6-2 over there, it was 2-2 for a long time and they were a really good side.  I was impressed with them over there with their passing and movement so it was really good to limit them in that second half (tonight).

Reflecting on their first campaign in the NRG Gym Kent County League, Marshall said: “We were in the Redhill & District.  We love it, we love it. There’s a little bit more travelling involved but for the standard and the pitches and the facilities we play in, it’s so better for the boys.  The pitches are nice. We play some nice football.

“We’ve improved massively from playing against these sort of teams so that’s really important. We can see the progression and see them getting better every week.”

Minney explained why his only season in charge of Welling Park will be his last –despite the club sealing back-to-back promotions, having played Bromley & District League football last season.

South East Athletic won the Premier Division, finishing eight points clear of third-placed finishers Welling Park.

“Just this season, it’s just like a transitional thing,” admitted Minney.

“We’ve definitely given ourselves a platform to work on next season, finishing second to a team who we know very well.  Massive congratulations to them winning the league as well, South East Athletic. It’s a bit disappointing in the end. If we had won our games and beat South East, we could’ve won it ourselves it’s all ifs and buts in football.

“I’m stepping down at the end of the season, I want to concentrate on playing still.  I was sort of like, I’m not babysitting it. We’ve got a younger guy whose taking over for next season. He’s a bit more involved. It’s just easier for him. With my work commitments I’m on call a lot so I have to do nights.  I’ll still help out but I’m going to go down to the reserves and play while I still can.

“For the last three or four consecutive years we’ve got to cup finals so I’ve got that little black mark against my name now, unable to qualify for a cup final but two semi-finals and second place, I’m very, very happy with that.

“We’ve had players come and go this year. It’s been a hard, long season. The teams are very well-organised in this league. It’s our debut season, to finish second it’s not to be laughed at, it’s good.”

Nomads: Lee Clark, Jake Walker (Billy Thompsett 62), James Scott, Kane Walker, Daniel Babbage (Luke Alleway 85), Karl Kinsey, Luke Stanley, Luke Alleway (Ryan Priestley 62), Marcus Upton (Ben O’Connor 74), Kieran O’Connor (Marcus Upton 88), Harry Middleton (Krishan Balakumar 62).
Sub: Michael Marshall

Goal: Marcus Upton 47

Booked: Daniel Babbage 83

Welling Park: Kevin Sackett, Steven Hudson (Ronan Domphy 56), Tony Thompson, Jack Lee (Sean Perfect 85), Seamus Gallagher (Gary Perfect 80), Jack Minney (Conor Cooper 61), Daniel Vines, Joe Quinnear, Adam Smith, Daniel Higgins, Adam Coveney.

Attendance: 41
Referee: Mr Billy Woods (Bexleyheath)
Assistants: Mr Darren Kavanagh (Orpington) & Mr Liberatore Di Cesare (Eltham, London SE9)