Orpington 1-3 FC Elmstead - I might even put that down as our best win of the season, says FC Elmstead boss Fabio Rossi

Friday 06th May 2016
Orpington 1 – 3 FC Elmstead
Location Foxbury Avenue, off Perry Street, Chislehurst, Kent BR7 6SD
Kickoff 06/05/2016 19:45

Pain & Glory Sports Kent Invicta League
Friday 6th May 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Foxbury Avenue

FC ELMSTEAD manager Fabio Rossi says he is happy with his club’s eleventh-placed finish in their debut season at this level of football.


The Cocks were forced to play with forward Steven Strotten in goal as first-choice stopper Dan Teeley was hospitalised through illness and even chairman Tony Alliband was named on the team-sheet as an unused substitute as the side were without seven first team regulars through being away on holiday.

An uninspiring goal-less first half, a poor game exploded into life at Glebe’s Foxbury Avenue ground in Chislehurst as FC Elmstead raced into a 3-0 lead.

Man-of-the-match, striker Benga Ogunseye notched his 15th goal for the club before winger Lewis Gregory was given time and space inside the box to find the bottom corner, before striker Jack Jeffrey pounced to add a third just 80 seconds later as FC Elmstead completed their debut Pain & Glory Sports Kent Invicta League campaign on 50 points.

Orpington, who pulled a goal back through substitute winger Junior Alade, had to settle for a bottom five finish on 36 points from their 38 league outings.

Both teams were in action on Wednesday so the crowd of 45 were treated to a low-quality game with both sides suffering from tiredness and you got the feeling that both sets of players wanted to be somewhere else than playing their final game of the season.

“First of all I’d just like to say ‘get well’ to our keeper Dan Teeley, whose very sick overnight. They thought it was meningitis but it wasn’t thankfully so hopefully he’ll recover very quickly,” said Rossi.

“It was a good win. In fact I might even put that down as our best win of the season!

“We had so many players out, no goalkeeper, there was seven reserves out there playing and they’ve got to go and play again tomorrow in their final game.”

Orpington manager Marc Bentz, who came on for his injured goalkeeper and played in the middle of the park, is just glad it’s all over.

“Just glad to have the season’s over, that’s it,” he said.  “It’s been a hard season.

“Bottom five, that’s not how I want it to be. I wanted higher up the table but we didn’t get the results so that’s where we are.

“We had four or five games cancelled, I think in January. We didn’t play from Boxing Day until the last weekend in January and these are all these fixtures backed up now and we’ve had Wednesday-Saturday-Monday-Wednesday-Friday so very tough on the boys and on myself as well because I didn’t expect to get on today, I was hoping not to.”

Orpington enjoyed a spell of early possession and their first chance was created after 77 seconds following the first of their seven corners.

Brad Coombs swung in the corner from the right, which was headed away by Gregory at the near post and Sam Doherty blasted his right-footed volley over the bar from the corner of the penalty area.

Charlie Goodson then hit his left-footed free-kick sailing over the FC Elmstead crossbar from 30-yards, before missing a great chance through striker Kieran McMahon in the ninth minute.

Leigh Wise swung in a corner from the left, the ball was headed back across goal by towering central defender James Curran and McMahon steered his header past the near post from close range.

Orpington missed another good chance within three minutes when Goodson played the ball into Coombs, the central midfielder released winger Sam Doherty through on goal but he dragged his right-footed shot across the stand-in keeper and past the foot of the far post from 16-yards.

“He didn’t really get hold of that and disappointed that the other winger weren’t in the box to try to get on it at the back post,” said Bentz, who was disappointed that his side failed to trouble Strotten in goal.

“I said to them, he’s not a goalkeeper, we’ve not even had one meaningful shot!”

FC Elmstead created their first opening in the 17th minute when Gregory rode a tackle inside the penalty area and poked his shot into the side netting after Ogunseye did well to hold the ball up on the edge of the penalty area and flicked the ball into his team-mates path with a reverse pass.

Orpington were to be denied when set-piece specialist Coombs whipped in an excellent delivery from the right channel which bounced towards the far corner, which was blocked by Strotten’s right knee and Orpington failed to force the ball into the net in the resulting scramble.

Gregory cut inside and his 30-yard shot lacked power and trickled into the hands of untroubled Orpington goalkeeper Matt Bishop.

Rossi said: “They started well and the longer the half was going the more we was passing the ball and the more we was probing but it wasn’t easy. Players just didn’t know each other out there, not that they don’t know each other, they train together but they don’t play week-in-week-out with each other so it was difficult.”

Orpington central defender Matt Gardiner pumped a free-kick forward from the half-way line and his defensive partner Curran rose to bounce his header into Stotten’s gloves for a comfortable catch.

“I wanted him out on the pitch really,” Rossi said of Strotten.

“I haven’t got a goalkeeper, I’ve got five goalkeeper’s signed on.  There’s various different reasons that they couldn’t make the game tonight. Obviously Dan Teeley’s the number one. He was in hospital overnight and in the end we had to pick somebody and he’s the biggest boy that we’ve got so he went in goal!”

Orpington ended a dull first half with a couple of 35-yard left-footed efforts from Goodson and Coombs that bounced wide.

Rossi admitted: “If I’m honest, the quality wasn’t there but that’s probably why the players are in the reserves.  I’m not knocking them. They did a brilliant job. The longer the game went the more they grew into it and it bodes well for the future with some of them out there.

“Some players not even really played together but the first half was difficult. It was up the hill which makes it a little bit difficult to get the ball out but we controlled it and I thought the longer the half went on the more we got on the ball and the more we were playing.”

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the interval.

Bentz said: “I just came in here and spoke to them about one thing, our shape was all over the place! We had a formation, they weren’t sticking to it. They were doing what they wanted to do so we just told them about their shape.

“There’s a few that haven’t played very many because of the backlog of games, they’ve come in today to help out so we struggled with the shape.”

Rossi added: “I said to them I’m a little bit disappointed. I know there is a difference in the level and you could see the difference in the level I think from our established first team players and our reserve team players but I felt our reserve team players needed to up their game. I know what they can do and I know that they can do better.

“To be fair to them, apart from the first five minutes of the second half, they knuckled down and done really well.”

The small crowd that watched this dead-rubber hoped for a better second half and that’s exactly what they got as FC Elmstead broke the deadlock with two minutes and 45 seconds on the clock.

Orpington swept bodies forward as they probed the FC Elmstead penalty area but right-back Dan Carpenter hit one long ball forward out of defence to put Ogunseye through on goal.

The best player on the pitch ran from the halfway line and kept his composure to drill his low right-footed drive across Bishop to find the bottom far corner from eight-yards.

Rossi admitted he expects Ogunseye to be playing for someone else next season.

He said: “He’s a fine chap Benga, yes on his day he can be a real, real handful. It’s difficult, I want him to stay, it might be difficult to hold onto him.

“Good goal. Five minutes before that they was all over us but in many ways that helped us. The more they were pushing onto us, the more I knew they’ll be gaps at the other end. 

“Carps has been fantastic at right-back for most of the season. He can play and he's going to get better. 

“The average age of our team was probably 21 out there tonight, six or seven of them were from our under 21s so it bodes well.”

Bentz added: “That came from a good spell of possession from us and then the hit us on the counter.  We had so many people forward, we got hit on the break. He’s a big, quick lad.”

Ogunseye was then to be denied by a good save from Bishop, who palmed the ball away with his right-hand after the striker drilled his right-footed shot towards the corner from 22-yards.

FC Elmstead doubled their lead with ten minutes and 9 seconds on the clock.

Former Millwall Academy winger Harry Cronin whipped in a deep cross from the right to the far side and Gregory controlled the ball and was given time and space to pick his spot into the bottom left-hand corner.

Rossi said: “Harry’s one of the reserves, he’s got a lot of quality, he’s come from Millwall’s Academy and he needs just to learn how to make the right decision and when he wants to play.  He can play Harry, he’s a good player.

“Lewis has done fine. He’s an established first team player, one of a few that we had out there.  I think that’s his seventh or eighth goal of the season. For a wide player that’s a decent return.  He’s been playing well and Lewis can give us that.”

Bentz added: “I think he was in the box unmarked and he just had time to pick that one out, just put it where he wanted and the third one came quickly after that.

“I just think a little bit of a head loss from the boys and there’s a spell of about ten minutes where they completely lost all shape all everything so we had to make the substitutions to try to get back into it then.”

The game was over as soon as FC Elmstead scored their 73rd league goal of the season just 80 seconds later.

Ogunseye, who should be playing in the league above, cracked a right-footed drive towards goal from 25-yards, forcing Bishop to dive to his right to parry but Jeffrey showed the desire to get on the end of the ball to slot the ball into the back of the net.

Rossi added: “Another good goal, great work from Benga again. It was a shame he didn’t strike it into the back of the net. It was a good save from the goalkeeper but Jack, a good forward that he is, followed it in and finished neatly. I thought the game at that point was put to bed.”

Bentz added: “I was saying this to the boys a few times like they haven’t got a winning mentality at the moment. The winners mentality is he’s going to save that, I’ve got to get there for the rebound or if we’re shooting, I want to follow it in there in case the keeper saves it.

“But we haven’t got that winning mentality about us having lost so many games this season so we need to get that into the boys for next season.”

Orpington squandered their best chance of the game just before the hour-mark.

Doherty slipped the ball through to otherwise quiet Alvin Turytemba, who lashed his right-footed shot high up into the side netting from ten-yards when he only had Strotten to beat.

“Great chance and he didn’t even hit the target. He knows he should be hitting the target and burying it really,” said Bentz.

“Anything on target here, Steve’s not a goalkeeper, he’s a forward so if you hit it on target I don’t think he’s getting down diving to reach that and he’s hit it as hard as he can and it’s gone high and wide!”

But Strotten gifted Orpington a consolation goal in the 66th minute when he appeared to be put off by McMahon.

Alade’s low ball into the box from the right hand side appeared to be no danger to Strotten, but he took his eye of the ball as McMahon cut across him and allowed the ball to roll underneath his legs at the near post to nestle into the back of the net.

Bentz said: “I didn’t see exactly what happened. I’m not sure if he blinded him by running across or he got a flick on it.  I haven’t actually spoken to him because his hamstring’s gone now so I’m not too sure if he got a flick on it or just blinded him.  He just spilled it.  I couldn’t see from where I was, I don’t know. He obviously done enough to put him off and we’ll take it.”

Rossi added: “Let’s leave it at that! Strotts is fantastic. I wanted to get him up front. We were actually talking at half-time to get him out of goal and put Dan Carpenter in goal but obviously we started scoring.

“It was a mistake from Strotts, he’s fine, he’s great. He’s been at our club for ages. Hopefully, it won’t bother him at all.

“His problem these days that he works on a shift rota so four Saturday’s every month he can’t play but he plays for our reserves, he plays for our Sunday side, he plays for the first team. He’s brilliant! I love Strotts to death, he’s great!”

Orpington keeper Bishop was penalised by referee Mark Jenkins for handball outside his penalty area and the keeper went down injured through an ankle injury and following a delay his captain Curran took over in goal.

Gregory’s dipping drive just went over the top as he tried to call Curran into early action.

Bentz said: “He’s rolled his ankle. He had a sore ankle before he came here. He had it a few weeks ago but he’s been playing through it with strapping and as he tried to keep the ball on the pitch he rolled it as he went over so he couldn’t play on and James done well, I thought.”

“To be fair, by that point we’ve played so many games and we was struggling, we was out on our feet, we just had no energy,” admitted Rossi.

“There were players pulling up with cramp (Cronin and Danny Patterson) all over the place.  We had a tough game at AC London on Wednesday and that’s a mission to get to but we’ve come away from there and I could feel the tiredness in the players.

“I don’t know how they’re going to get through the game tomorrow because they’re both (Cronin and Patterson) in the reserve squad and they both have to get through the games so that probably shows you the level in the difference in the pace.  A lot of our reserve players kept going down, cramping up. They got through it and they showed great character, brilliant!”

Orpington hit the woodwork inside the final seven minutes when Truman (who was now partnering Gardiner at the heart of defence) looped his header onto the top of the crossbar and behind, after Coombs swung in a corner from the right.

Bentz said: “We’ve been working on set-plays over the last few weeks. I don’t think our set-plays were very good today. We didn’t have enough quality on our crosses. They just stuck up in the air a bit and he couldn’t get over and get down to get the power on it and it just looped onto the bar rather than being a meaningful powerful header.”

Orpington got an attempt on target inside injury time when Wise’s free-kick was headed into Strotten’s hands by Gardiner.

FC Elmstead central defender Luis Rozan tried to catch stand-in keeper Curran out at the near post, but Curran caught the free-kick to his left.

Gregory then released substitute Leke Olowo-Okere through on goal but his angled drive forced Curran to make a low save to his right.

Rossi added: “He probably could’ve done better. He probably really should’ve struck it with his left-foot, probably could’ve scored. I wasn’t bothered at that point. There were just so many tired legs out there.”

Orpington created the game’s final chance when Coombs played the ball up to McMahon, who hooked his shot across Strotten and past the far post.

Bentz admitted that his side just couldn’t cope with playing 11 league games in 32 days.

“It’s killed a lot of players. We’ve had three with hamstring problems out there who battled through and done me a favour coming in today and playing on,” he said.

“There was a lot of people at work, with it being a Friday.  We don’t pay the players. We can’t ask them to take off work that there being paid for. A lot of the boys are self-employed so if they’re not working they’re not earning, so we’ve very short today but we got on with it, last game of the season, tried to enjoy it, probably didn’t enjoy it.”

Reflecting on their 11th placed finish, Rossi, the FC Elmstead manager said: “I’m happy with that! We had two goals at the start of the season. We said the first goal would be to have a happy ship with decent players, I think we’ve achieved that. Most of the players are happy so that’s good.

“The second was to make sure we stayed out of the bottom two. We’ve accomplished that more than easily. The only downside was that we, it wasn’t a goal but we wanted to do well in one of the cups and we never really got going. We got some tough draws, we never got going in the cups.”

Bentz admitted that “it feels like a bit of a cursed season with injuries coming one after the other and then players leaving with the old manager (to Holmesdale) and two broken legs. A very hard season for us.”

Orpington: Matt Bishop (Marc Bentz 79), Sham Olagun, Leigh Wise, Brad Coombs, James Curran, Matt Gardiner, Charlie Goodson (Junior Alade 55), Steve Truman, Kieran McMahon, Alvin Turytemba (Liam Burchett 60), Sam Doherty.

Goal: Junior Alade 66

Booked: Steve Truman 68

FC Elmstead: Steven Strotten, Dan Carpenter, Harry West, Danny Patterson, Matt Fairhorn, Luis Rozan, Harry Cronin, Adam Edwards, Benga Ogunseye (Luke Alliband 67), Jack Jeffrey (Leke Olowo-Okere 63), Lewis Gregory.
Sub: Tony Alliband

Goals: Benga Ogunseye 48, Lewis Gregory 56, Jack Jeffrey 57

Booked: Harry West 39

Attendance: 45
Referee: Mr Mark Jenkins (Welling)
Assistants: Mr Chris Goulbourn (Otford) & Mr Ashley Barnes (Bromley)