Sporting Club Thamesmead 3-2 Bearsted - We were dead and buried at 2-0 but showed tremendous character, says SCT boss Lee Hill

Monday 27th November 2017
Sporting Club Thamesmead 3 – 2 Bearsted
Location Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead, London SE28 8NJ
Kickoff 27/11/2017 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Second Round
Monday 27th November 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Bayliss Avenue

SPORTING CLUB THAMESMEAD joint-manager Lee Hill hailed the character from his players after they fought tooth and nail to beat Bearsted to reach the last sixteen of the Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup for the first time.

Bearsted arrived at Bayliss Avenue sitting in sixth-place in the Premier Division with 28 points in the bag from 19 games, four points behind leaders Sevenoaks Town, who have six games in hand, while Sporting Club Thamesmead were in eleventh-place in the First Division table with 20 points from their 14 league outings.

Bearsted players struggled to get to the ground on time and manager Keith Stevens asked referee Adam Back for a delayed kick-off.  The game kicked-off nine minutes late and running the line for 10 minutes was Sporting Club Thamesmead coach Liam Kelly, before Mohammad Dillawari arrived and came on as some kind of substitute.

Bearsted displayed their Premier Division class and deserved their 2-0 lead inside the opening half-an-hour.

The highly-impressive Lucian Scarlat smashed through the home side’s last line of defence to cut into the box before drilling his shot into the back of the net.

Right-winger Ehis Izokun, who was originally named as substitute but replaced Joshua White, who was late arriving, drove in a low cross-come-shot which was turned into the far corner by Mudiaga Wanogho.

But the Acre central defender grabbed a lifeline when he turned in a free-kick at the right end of the pitch, just 107 seconds later.

Sporting Club Thamesmead grabbed a leveller through a sublime chip from winger Ismail Ismail early in the second half, before talisman striker Josh Patrick won it with his 21st goal of the season with a hooked volley after a deep cross from Emmanuel West.

“A great result against higher opposition. We were dead and buried at 2-0 but showed tremendous character,” said Hill.

“We got amongst them really but for the first 20-25 minutes they just played us off the park. We started very, very slow getting into the game, after extra-time on Saturday (beating Holmesdale 4-2 in the Kent Reliance Senior Trophy Second Round) but we pulled through in the end so credit to the boys.”

Bearsted assistant manager Andy Gardiner just couldn’t believe how his side threw it all away.

“My thoughts are for 25 minutes I thought we were absolutely superb, outstanding. We went 2-0 up and I could not see us losing the game,” he said.

“Their first attack, dead ball, we don’t pick up the runner and it’s 2-1 and we let them back in the game.

“Then we started getting involved in trying to play their game. We started trying to play too long and too quickly instead of settling and trying to play like we did in the first 25 minutes and they’re better at doing what they do than we are really.

“I mean we’ve just had them out there for I don’t know how long now. We’ve got to learn to do the ugly bits really. We’re good at doing the pretty bits but we must learn to do the ugly bits of football really.”

Despite their poor preparation for the game, Bearsted started on the front foot and created their first opening after only 120 seconds.

Left-back Cameron Croucher played the ball into striker Constantine Scarlat, whose flicked pass set-up Lucan Scarlat and his low left-footed drive towards the bottom left-hand corner from 18-yards was held by keeper Charlie Martin, diving low to his right.

Gardiner said: “I thought we had a lot of good passing movement. We used the wide players well in possession. It was out of possession we just have to work harder at the game, just get those ugly bits right.”

Hill added: “They opened us up first 20 minutes, especially the first chance.  We were very, very slow getting started really and it did show.  It was a very slow start by us and a very good start by Bearsted.

“Lucian Scarlat was just dropping off the back four and no one was picking him up and every time they passed it into him he was a different class player, really tremendous player.”

Bearsted were playing well, getting crosses into the box and getting behind a Sporting Club Thamesmead back-four that were clearly struggling against the two Scarlat brothers.

Kelly made way for the late arriving Dillwari, who can expect correspondence from the League or The FA to explain his late arrival for the game.

The home side created a half-chance in the 19th minute, however.

Tony Hill chipped a free-kick into the box, Bearsted failed to clear their lines but Ismail clipped his shot from underneath his foot, which bounced past the far post from 10-yards.

Bearsted deserved their lead when it arrived with 21 minutes and 58 seconds on the clock.

It appeared that the door had been slammed shut but Lucian Scarlat bulldozed his way through a crowd of players on the left-hand side, cut into the box and with only Martin to beat, the number 10 drilled his left-footed drive past the keeper from 10-yards.

Gardiner said: “He’s a superb player.  We’re lucky that he’s brother Cat has come to us. We started playing through the middle now and when they play together we get those combinations going and with Reece Collins coming in from the flank as well, going forward we’ve got some great options.”

Hill added: “He beat three or four players, none of our players seemed to go with him that time. He was their dangerman in the first half. That’s what we talked about at half-time really.”

Bearsted’s Ryan Croucher cut his first corner back to Cameron Croucher, who whipped in a cross from the left towards the near post but Robert Lyall produced a defenders finish, looping his shot past the post from 10-yards.

The home side put in a poor first half performance and Bearsted doubled their lead with 31 minutes and 37 seconds on the clock.

Christopher Carcary played the ball out to the right-flank for Ehis Izokun, who drilled in a cross which flashed across the penalty area and Wanogho flicked the ball into the bottom far corner to score an own-goal.

Gardiner said: “It took a deflection on the way in, that’s all I can see really. I don’t know how much of a deflection it definitely took some.

“Ehis had a couple of good runs down the wing and put a couple of great balls in and that one nestled in.

“We were looking at thinking do you know what? We can win this four or five really at the time, we were really in charge.”

Hill added: “It was an own-goal, that’s what my boys are saying. Mudiaga slotted it into his own net but the winger will try to claim the credit for it but again they opened us up out wide, got the cross-cum-shot and scored.

“We were deservedly 2-0 down and I’m just thinking the floodgates are going to open basically but I told the boys just to dig in to get to half-time and we scored the goal.  I felt it was going to be a long night for us.”

However, Sporting Club Thamesmead responded well from that set-back as Wanogho went up the other end to score at the right end, just 107 seconds later.

Tony Hill whipped in a quality free-kick from the right some 35-yards from goal, deep towards the far post for Wanogho to flick his shot into the bottom near corner from eight-yards.

Hill said: “It was a great cross from Tony. He knocks free-kicks into the right areas all day long. We try to play right over the first man. A great cross and a great goal by Mudiaga really that got us right back into the game really.”

Gardiner added: “His delivery was good from every set-piece, so we were struggling a bit but again we know whose responsible, he’s held his hand up. We’ve got to be better at picking up.”

Left-back West looped in 10 long throws into the Bearsted penalty area in the game and Patrick leapt to head straight into Matthew Blendell, who made a routine catch.

“We used that to our advantage the long throw.  It’s like a free-kick every single time.  It’s a good weapon for us and Josh won the header and the goalkeeper’s in the right place,” added Hill.

Gardiner added: “It sounds like I’m making up excuses, but we’ve got a few missing. Our other centre back Graeme Andrews was out tonight.  I think if he was in there we would’ve won more headers. We didn’t deal with the aerial threat very well at all.”

When asked their thoughts at the break, Hill said: “I just said to the boys at half-time, we just have to get amongst them. If we let them play football, they’re going to open us up every single time.

“The goal was a lifeline. We came in at 2-1 regrouped and upped the tempo. I said we’ve got to get in their faces, we were a yard off the pace.”

When asked his thought at the break, the Bearsted assistant manager replied: “Well, we just said let’s go out and do what we did for the first 25 minutes really. We’ve got to up our game and get the movement off the ball and do the ugly bits first, win the ball and then let’s pass and move like we do.  We started to go long so let’s shorten it up again, be braver on the ball and play football and we couldn’t see ourselves losing it. It was as simple as that.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead missed a chance after 58 seconds when West crossed from the left and Ismail brought under control the ball inside the Bearsted box as it was bouncing all over the place and set-up big target-man Anthony Fenech, who drilled his shot over the bar from 20-yards.

Bearsted squandered an excellent chance to seal the victory when Ryan Croucher played the ball out wide to left-back Cameron Croucher, who put winger Reece Collins through on goal but Martin made a vital save at his near post.

It was a glorious chance and Gardiner knew it!

He said: “Another nice bit of football, Reece had a couple of chances tonight. I was hoping he might finish that.  That seems to be our luck at the moment, we’re making a few more chances but we need to finish them off!”

Hill said: “Since Charlie has come back to us he’s been outstanding every single game.  He’s pulled off one or two good saves and he keeps us in the game.”

It proved to be the turning point in the game as Sporting Club Thamesmead went route-one to grab an equaliser with only three minutes and 59 seconds on the clock.

Hill launched a clearance over the top to release Ismail down the right channel and he still had an awful lot to do but he kept composed to flick his right-footed chip over the keeper’s head from just inside the corner of the box,  the ball dropping down into the bottom far corner of an empty goal.

“A long ball from Tony on the break into space. Bearsted were quite flat at the back and we were trying to hit them on the break over the top and Ismail with his pace and a lovely, great chip over the keeper got right back in the game,” hailed Hill.

Gardiner admitted: “I don’t know what happened there, Rob Lyall was calling for something.  It’s a simple ball over the top that we didn’t deal with again!

“At 2-2 we still want them to play our game. We were getting involved at playing too quickly and too long again.   The game was stretching too much and so we were chasing really. We wanted to get brave and get on the ball again and start passing and moving like we were in the first half.

“Every time we knocked it long we seemed to be losing the first and second ball and they were straight back on us.”

West launched his fifth long throw of the night and the ball was cleared out to Patrick, who pounced on the loose ball and his hooked shot was comfortably gathered by Blendell.

Bearsted failed to deal with West’s loopy throws and Patrick made space again to steer his header across the face of goal and past the far post from within a crowd of players.

Patrick curled a left-footed drive around the keeper and narrowly past the far post from 25-yards with 63 minutes on the clock as the home side looked the more likely to score.

Stevens, who declined an interview post-match as he was nursing a headache, demanded more “desire” and for his players to “pick it up” at the half-way point of the second half.

The introduction of pace in the shape of Sid Badaru gave Bearsted further problems and his pass was swept into Blendell’s hands by Patrick before the game turned into an ugly hard-fought battle.

“It was 2-2 and I brought on a couple of people with a bit of pace trying to open them up and really go for it,” explained Hill.

“Another period of extra-time and penalties is not the way to do it. We’d tried to open them up with a little bit of pace because I didn’t want extra-time - but we did it.”

Referee Adam Back had a poor game and failed to issue second yellow cards to a man on each side as the tackles were flying in during the final 20 minutes.

How Mason Simms (Sporting Club Thamesmead midfielder) and Bearsted’s right-back Sam Flisher stayed on the pitch will remain a mystery.

Simms lunged in on Flisher, who rolled around holding his right ankle and Simms walked away from the incident to avoid a deserved second yellow.  Referee Back walked over to him and FAILED to issue the correct punishment, an early shower.

Flisher extracted revenge, this time on substitute winger Jojo Oqunbiyi, going in strongly with force and once again avoiding a second yellow card.

Both were asked their thoughts on the challenges and both gave the inevitable answer.

Hill said: “Some refs give them, and some don’t. It’s not really nice when you’ve got 10 men, you’d like to finish with 11. As you say on another day there’s two yellows and red carded but the referee seemed to let it go.”

Gardiner said: “I mean those things happen I suppose. I would say Flish went for the ball but then Simms, I thought he was lucky. I didn’t see why he didn’t get a yellow card for that really but that’s the refs decision.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead scored the winning goal with 35 minutes and 59 seconds on the clock – and it Patrick scoring it with a brilliant finish.

West’s corner from the left was cleared back out to him and he whipped in a deep cross towards the far post and Patrick hooked a sublime volley across the keeper into the top far corner of the net from 15-yards to win it for the Acre.

Hill said: “It started from a corner, the ball came back out to Emmanuel on the left and whipped in a nice little cross to the far post and Josh has brought it down and hooked it into the top corner, a great goal.

“He’s a good player. We’ve had these conversations numerous times. That’s what he does.  Last Saturday he was outstanding for us. He just runs and runs and runs and just does what he’s got to do really, just keeps putting the ball in the back of the net. He’s a great team player, loves the club and he’s not going anywhere!”

Gardiner added: “It’s just another aerial ball in the box that we haven’t dealt with again and their best player is free on the back post to hook one in and they’re the bits we have to get better at really. We have to sniff out who their better players are.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead welcome bottom-four side Sutton Athletic to Bayliss Avenue on Saturday and Hill said: “I think we need to try to push up in the league really, that’s the bread and butter.  Cup competitions are good. We had a good game in the Kent Reliance Senior Trophy, won that on Saturday against Holmesdale and had a good game tonight. It keeps the spirit up with a good performance but we’re halfway in our league and I think we need to push on in there really.

“It’s the furthest we’ve got in the Kent Reliance Senior Trophy and tonight it's the furthest we’ve got in the League Cup. It just keeps us ticking over.  We’ve got Christmas coming up, in the New Year and we’re still in two up competitions which is good for the club.

Two amateur sides, a hard-fought battle and Gardiner, whose side travel to Crayford to play Erith Town in the Premier Division next Saturday, couldn’t believe how his side folded during the second half.

“We lost to them earlier in the season in the Kent Reliance Senior Trophy 4-1 but we had one sent off and we had a lot of players out there so we thought let’s come here and show our quality and for 25 minutes I thought we showed our quality.  You have to learn how to deal with different types of teams and different ways of playing.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead: Charlie Martin, Elliott Johnson, Emmanuel West, Mason Simms, Mudiaga Wanogho, Tony Hill, Ismail Ismail (Harry Weaver 90), Jamie Williams, Josh Patrick, Anthony Fenech (Jojo Oqunbiyi 79), Billy Holloway (Sid Badaru 63).

Goals: Mudiaga Wanogho 32, Ismail Ismail 49, Josh Patrick 81

Booked: Josh Patrick 43, Mason Simms 66

Bearsted: Matthew Blendell, Sam Flisher, Cameron Croucher, Christopher Carcary (Lukasz Novak 79),  Edas Valionis, Robert Lyall, Ehiz Izokun (Joshua White 79), Ryan Croucher, Constantine Scarlat, Lucian Scarlat, Reece Collins.
Subs: Graeme Andrews, Scott Andrews

Goals: Lucian Scarlat 22, Mudiaga Wanogho 30 (own goal)

Booked: Christopher Carcary 32, Sam Flisher 80, Cameron Croucher 90

Attendance: 53
Referee: Mr Adam Back (Sidcup)
Assistants: Mr Toby Enstone (Plumstead, London SE18) & Mr Mohammad Dillawari (Battersea, London SW11)

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