Peckham Town 0-1 Punjab United - It will be a dream come true to win the treble, says Punjab United manager Jugit Sian

Saturday 29th April 2017
Peckham Town 0 – 1 Punjab United
Location Peckham Town FC, 37 Dulwich Common, London SE21 7EU
Kickoff 29/04/2017 14:45

PECKHAM TOWN  0-1  PUNJAB UNITED
Andreas Carter Joma Kent County League Premier Division
Saturday 29th April 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Pynners Close

PUNJAB UNITED manager Jugit Sian says it will be a dream come true if his combative side win the treble in the next seven days.

The Gravesend based outfit have already bagged the Kent Reliance Intermediate Shield after beating Borden Village 5-3 at Sheppey United’s Holm Park on 1 April and they moved seven points clear of Greenways at the top of the Andreas Carter Joma Kent County League Premier Division with two league games left.

Ifield School separates Greenways and Punjab United and the two clubs lock horns in the NRG Gym Bill Manklow Inter-Regional Challenge Cup Final at Chatham Town next Tuesday 2 May (19:30), while Greenways have home advantage in the home game next Saturday, where victory will ensure Punjab win the league title in their first season in the Kent County League.

Punjab United’s 70th point in their 28th league game arrived courtesy of striker Luke Adams’ header, his 36th goal of the season, halfway through the first half.

“Hard-fought, good game. I thought we deserved it in the end,” said Sian, following his side’s 22nd league win of the season.

“I thought we battled hard. We could’ve scored a few more but they gave us a good game, very intense but that’s the best we’ve defended for a while.  I’ve not been happy recently with our defending but I thought the boys played great today.”

When asked about the aggressive nature of the game, Sian replied: “Yes, brilliant! That’s what games should be about. If it happens on the pitch, aggression whatever they do, fouls, but off the pitch everyone shakes their hands when they go in, job done.”

Peckham Town manager Alan Jacobs said: “I thought it was a game of cancelling each other out.  We played a lot of good football but I just said to the players we didn’t really score or create any clear goalscoring chances in the 90 so I was really disappointed with that side of it.  But other than that I thought it was just one of those tight old games. It was going to sweep one way or the other wasn’t it?”

The first half was played at a fast and furious pace with no one having the sense to put their foot on the ball and it took seven minutes for the first opening.

Peckham Town’s lone striker Abraham Opoku slipped on the ball inside his own half and this allowed William Johnson-Cole to pounce, drive forward before drilling his right-footed shot sailing over the Peckham crossbar from 30-yards.

Punjab’s number 10 George Goodwin rode a challenge as he cut inside before Arun Suman’s driven shot was blocked and was hit first time by Goodwin, which sailed harmlessly past the near post from 30-yards.

Punjab United’s winning goal was timed at 21 minutes and 45 seconds into a poor game.

Left-back Ryan Jarrett whipped in a left-footed free-kick from the right towards the edge of the box.  Goodwin rose like a salmon to head the ball across goal towards the far post where the unmarked Adams nodded the ball into the bottom near corner from three-yards.

“I thought we dominated it.  We played better football. I thought we done really well.  I thought we could’ve scored a couple in the first half. We didn’t give them time.  We won every second ball and yes I thought we done really well and we deserved that,” said Sian.

“Luke’s been doing that all year.  I think Luke and George have been exceptional this year. I’m pleased.  I thought Luke would be somewhere putting it in, so good finish.”

It proved to be a goal that has been practiced for hours on the training ground.

Sian added: “The boys have been absolutely excellent, always turning up training, they’re always there, Tuesday’s and Thursdays.  They deserve it. The boys have done well.”

Jacobs said: “That’s been our Achilles heel all season, defending from set-plays. We played Punjab over there at their place earlier on in the season. We were a goal up at half-time, playing really well. Same thing. Mad seven minutes, two free headers in the six-yard box from corners and then they scored the third.

“We missed the first header, we didn’t win the first header and the balls gone to the side and the geezer’s unmarked and nods it in.”

Peckham Town were toothless in the final third and right-back Ali Amisu lashed his drive over the crossbar from 25-yards after his free-kick from the right came back out to him.

Nigeran international goalkeeper Tope Okeowo kept Peckham Town in the game by making a low save in the 30th minute.

Amisu’s poor touch let in Johnson-Cole, who was stopped in his tracks by Hiram Anderson, who came across to help out his struggling Peckham team-mate.  Johnson-Cole threaded the ball in to Goodwin but all he could do was scuff his left-footed shot from 15-yards on the angle which was held by Okeowo, low to his left.

Sian recalled: “I think we done that last week as well against Kennington. We’ve been through a few times and scuffed it.  Listen, sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t but these two boys have been fantastic.”

Peckham Town’s best chance of the entire game came in the 36th minute.

In came a heavy challenge by Punjab defender Sam Zanone, one of many that went unpunished by referee Danny Roberts, who put in a pathetic performance where anyone could’ve committed a murder out on the pitch at Pynners Close and got away with it!

Kwame Nana rolled a free-kick inside to Amisu, who had all the time in the world to hit a right-footed first time drive from 25-yards, which was pushed over by Kelvin Arterton’s outstretched right-hand.

“I thought that passage of play was our best passage of play in the whole of that 45,” admitted Jacobs.

“I said to the players we’ve got to stop lobbing the ball over the top because they like an aerial challenge, they’ve got two big brutal centre halves.  I thought we played really well and the keeper’s just tipped it over the bar. Half a chance.”

Sian added: “Kelvin’s been with us for a while. I haven’t put him in recently because I wanted his match fitness up and this is his second game back with us. He’s been excellent. Great save, I thought it was a brilliant save.”

Referee Roberts waved play on despite Punjab’s central defender Rajan Salhotra going in recklessly and with force to win the ball from Nana, who felt the full force and was in pain when he received treatment.

Sian response was a bit of a shock.

 “I thought that was one hell of a tackle, I thought it was a beautiful tackle. I didn’t think there was nothing wrong with that at all and the referee was right on it.  I knew that was coming. We saw him going for it. It could’ve gone either way.  If he was a little bit too late I think maybe that could’ve bene a really bad tackle but he hit it perfect!”

Jacobs response was expected and right.

“I really though the referee had forgotten his cards!

“He should’ve gone! He should’ve gone! He was reckless and the thing is I spoke to the linesman this side and he said why he hasn’t done more than what he did and apparently the linesman the other side deemed it a bad reckless challenge.

“But they’re officials, why can’t the officials talk to the referee because they’re not under mining the referee.  If they could see something but the referee’s adamant the bloke took the ball clean. Who else thought that? Nobody! Including yourself and you’re here as an unbiased person. It was a reckless challenge.

“I’ve got to say both their centre halves in the first half, they done some iffy challenges. All the referee has got to do is pull a yellow card out early doors and settle the game down.  He was more intent of talking to people, shouting them down but it gives licence to what happened there in the first half.”

Corner taker Nana was able to continue and floated in a corner from the right which was met by Anderson’s free header at the far post which sailed harmlessly wide.

“I must admit it was the best team talk I’ve ever done,” said Sian, who could be heard congratulating Salhotra on his potential life-changing lunge.

“I just said to them I can’t fault any one, everyone’s played absolutely brilliant. I just wanted them to keep it up, make sure they win every second ball, don’t give them an inch.”

Peckham Town boss Jacobs added: “That’s what I said to the players, it’s about playing football in the other two thirds and you’ve got to create something in the last third and we didn’t.  I just said to them I’m disappointed with that because possession is nine tenths of the Law unless you put the ball in the back of the net or create something, you don’t stand a chance to win games.

“We ain’t playing the way we wanted to play or the way we should be playing, which is getting the ball down and playing it sharp, playing it quickly between the lines and if we can do that and stop having it in the air, the aerial battles Punjab love all that and just don’t panic. Create things, put it on the floor and do what we’re good at, which we are, we can play football.”

The game will only be remembered by Punjab United displaying the dark arts against the technically better Peckham Town players – and referee Roberts let them get away with it for the entire game!

Salhotra took out Peckham Town’s 45-goal striker Opoku with another cynical foul and yet again the referee failed to administer the laws of the game and brandish a card, which by this point would have been a red!

“Was we bullied? In areas I thought we was yes,” claimed Jacobs.

“But I don’t think it’s all about being bullied, we wasn’t protected either.  You can be bullied anywhere. If you get bullied at school you go and see the headmaster, people who look after you.  The thing is here their called officials. I’m not putting them down but at the end of the day I’ve still got to pay them their money. I’ve still got to pay out £40 for the ref and £25 each for the linesmen.

“But at this level, I know we’re only Step seven, but at this level in the Premier, I expect to have a quality referee. I’m not putting that man down at all but bullied was one thing but we were not protected in that first half. Those players were a little bit iffy winning the ball to feet but they’re going through the back of challenges. What’s all that about? That was out lawed how many years ago? It doesn’t matter the bloke hit the ball. You don’t go through the back of a player, it's out lawed!”

Nana screamed out in sheer frustration when he drilled his right-footed free-kick over the wall and over the crossbar from 30-yards in the 59th minute.

Punjab United squandered another excellent chance to kill this awful game off in the 63rd minute.

Jarrett whipped in a quality left-footed free-kick with pace which was met by Goodwin’s header at the far post, which he jumped above his marker to head across goal and past the far post from a tight angle.

“He’s good in the air, he’s brilliant in the air. Every time we go forward like that on a free-kick, his heading is brilliant so yes I can’t complain,” said Sian.

Jarrett then lofted a ball into Peckham’s box, Goodwin knocked the ball down and Johnson-Cole was denied a shot on goal as Okeowo rushed off his line to smother at his feet.

Peckham Town’s best chance of the second half arrived as the game reached the final 20 minutes of an unforgettable bruising clash/

Punjab’s central defenders Salhotra and Sam Zanone, who you wouldn’t want to cross down a dark alley at night with their menacing style of play, were split open by Amisu’s fine pass but Opoku fluffed his big chance. He couldn’t get the ball out from underneath his feet and Punjab’s right-back Diljit Boora saved the day by coming across and making a painful tackle on the edge of the six-yard box.

A frustrated Jacobs said: “The only chance we created in the second half, the boy has got to put it away!

“He had a touch too many, the geezers come across and took it off his toe. That’s one-all, big chance!  He’s scored 45 goals this season, I would’ve had him all day long to take that but he wanted one half a touch too many.  Give the boy credit, he’s come across and swept it across well, took it off his toe.  If he’s did what he’s done all the way through the majority, nine times out of ten through the season, that’s on his toe, bang, that’s in the back of the net.”

Sian added: “We deserved it.  I thought we took their pressure, they never had a shot on target so I must admit the boys done their job.  I was a bit disappointed we didn’t keep the ball more on the wings but the boys were tired at the end.”

Boora received treatment eight-yards from goal and walked off on the pitch on the half-way line.  He was allowed to come back on by the referee and latched onto a clearance to race forward before dragging his shot across the keeper and past the far post on the counter-attack.

Referee Roberts waited 79 minutes to issue his first yellow card as Lukmon Mojeed was yellow carded for persistent fouling and the Peckham midfielder picked up his second yellow card for taking away Goodwin’s legs with six minutes left – after being spoken to by the clueless referee following an off-the-ball incident as Punjab were waiting to take their second and last corner.

Punjab’s bench got away with clapping the decision and clapping Lukmon off the pitch.

Jacobs said: “I’ve just spoken to Lukmon. the second one, the blokes just sucked him in.  The ref said the next one’s a red, blah, blah, blah and I just said to him ‘caught his leg?’ He went ‘no Alan, I was going for the ball and the bloke stuck his leg out and he knew I was going to clip him’.  The bloke’s been around and he sucked Lukmon in.”

Sian claimed: “Yes, I think he should’ve went a little bit earlier.  I know it sounds a bit harsh but he stamped on George, on Will, in the first half, got away with it.  I thought the referee gave the benefit of the doubt fair enough, but not that one. He deserved two yellows.”

When asked about the referee’s performance, Sian replied: “I thought he was excellent, he was excellent.   We had him actually last week against Kennington and I thought he was excellent there as well.”

Goodwin smacked a right-footed free-kick from 30-yards, which took a deflection which eased the ball into the hands of Okeowo, who dived low to his left to hold onto the ball to prevent the ball going behind for a corner.

Peckham Town’s misery in front of goal was summed up when Amisu drilled his free-kick high and wide from 30-yards, which brought more clapping from the Punjab bench but with poor match officials they were allowed to get away with it again.

Jacobs added: “He skied it. He had a shovel on the end of his foot instead of a football boot.  I’m disappointed. We didn’t create in the last third and you’ve got to do that.”

With so much to play for in the next seven days, Sian is delighted with how the new club have done in their first season playing Kent County League football.

“Unbelievable! Still pinching myself.  It’s been good. We had faith in the squad, we trained hard in the summer. We’ve got a good squad of players together and it's just clicked.  The spirit, it’s all about the spirit. It’s not even about individuals.  The team get on in the changing room, they get on, the banter’s good, they go out sometimes on a Saturday with the group. It’s brilliant. It’s a pleasure to coach them.

“I think it will be a dream come true, yes I think it will be unreal if we can do that,” said Sian on potentially winning the treble.

“I think no-one’s ever done it either so we’re going to give it a good go, god willing. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it’s been an unbelievable season whatever happens.”

Peckham Town complete their campaign with their side sitting in third-place with 60 points from their 28 league games.  The club have confirmed that they have refused to play Stansfeld following the incident in November 2017 that put Peckham midfielder Alli Abdullahi in hospital with a broken jaw.

Peckham Town: Tope Okeowo, Ali Amisu, Bolaji Olatunde, Lukmon Mojeed, Hiram Anderson, Samuel Strong, Tobi Ijaola (Leon Francis 83), Femi Dada, Abraham Opoku, Kwame Nana, Kevin Dance.
Subs: Jay Virgo, Troy Scott

Booked: Lukmon Mojeed 79, Ali Amisu 89, Kwame Nana 90

Sent Off: Lukmon Mojeed 84

Punjab United: Kelvin Arterton, Diljit Boora, Ryan Jarrett, Ben Patrick, Rajan Salhotra, Sam Zanone, Reegan Payne (Sarndip Bagri 86), Arun Suman, Luke Adams, George Goodwin, William Johnson-Cole.
Subs: Matthew Rowe, Charan Lidhran, Taudev Gosal

Goal: Luke Adams 22

Attendance: 30
Referee: Mr Danny Roberts (Maidstone)
Assistants: Mr Steven Luke (Pembury) & Mr Darren Kavanagh (Orpington)

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