Sporting Club Thamesmead 1-0 FC Elmstead - Now we've tasted being at the top we now have to work on staying there, says Owen Jones

Monday 14th August 2017
Sporting Club Thamesmead 1 – 0 FC Elmstead
Location Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead, London SE28 8NJ
Kickoff 14/08/2017 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Monday 14th August 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Bayliss Avenue

SPORTING CLUB Thamesmead joint-manager Owen Jones says the club will work towards staying as close to the top of the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table.

The Acre rose to the top after joining Bridon Ropes and K Sports on seven points after three games after the otherwise immense Joe Hart scored a heartbreaking 90th minute own goal.

Central defender Hart and his goalkeeper Dan Teeley were outstanding at Bayliss Avenue but it was the home side that rose to the summit as FC Elmstead slipped down to sixth-place on four points from their first three outings following their first defeat of the season.

“Yipee! Fantastic! I am so happy,” said Jones during the post-match press conference.

“To be honest, it was a draw, it should’ve been a draw.  The lad who scored the own goal was very unfortunate, brilliant player, played so well and then that happened but that’s what happens.

“I’m just really excited for what’s going to be happening at this club and that was a great result, a really good result.”

Reflecting on guiding the club to the summit for the first time since arriving from Greenwich Borough, Jones said: “As you can see from my face, I’m very chuffed, very proud of the boys. I’m proud of the support we had tonight.  Sam (Taylor), our chairman, Lee (Hill, joint-manager and owner) has been brilliant.  We’ve got a great team that helps the lads out and it’s a club effort. It’s not just about me or Lee, it’s a club effort for tonight.”

For FC Elmstead boss Fabio Rossi, he was naturally disappointed that his unbeaten run came to an end.

“Yes, heartbreaking. I love football when we win and I hate it when we lose,” he said.

“The lads were brilliant, I’ve got to say that.  I think Sporting Club Thamesmead are not bad, they’ll do alright, I’m sure they’ll do alright.  I don’t know if it was an entertaining game. It was more a chess like game, both teams sort of standing each other out for long periods of the game really. It didn’t open up until the latter stages but we had chances and so did they.”

A crowd of 98 were at Bayliss Avenue but both sides played with three at the back, two wing backs and a diamond midfield and both lacked width as most of this game was a cagey affair.

Jones said: “It was like cat and mouse really, I thought for 20 minutes. They were really good and then we were really good for 20 minutes and then it sort of evened out so that was fair being 0-0 at half-time.

“Then we came out for the second half, actually thought we were going to concede because they seemed to be getting the better of us and then the game changed again and we started to press them.”

FC Elmstead striker Tunde Aderonmu tried to catch Simon Vanderhook out with a speculative right-footed shot on the turn from 35-yards, which screamed narrowly past the far post inside the opening five minutes.

Rossi said: “Tunde had a shot, which he brilliantly brought it down and tried to catch the keeper out but I can’t really remember anything happening. It was all patterns and who’s going to get in front and shape and trying to work each other out really and that was most of the 20 minutes as far as I remember.

Sporting Club Thamesmead went close in the 17th minute.

George Jones, who alongside Tony Hill, sat in front of their three central defenders, floated a free-kick into the box, the ball was headed clear to Ryan Minott, who hooked his volley screaming just past the top of the near post from 30-yards.

“That was a good move. Ryan’s a very clever player, he’s got very good technique and he was unlucky there,” added Jones.

FC Elmstead’s long throw specialist, right-back Dan Carpenter, hurled a throw towards the near post, which was flicked on by Aderonmu, forcing Vanderhook to get down low to his right to grab hold of the ball.

Jones said: “Again, they were always going to be dangerous on their throws, they’re going to be dangerous from their set-pieces and they’ve got quick players up top.  Cor, I’ve never seen players who can run like that and it really had to keep us on our toes and Simon did well tonight.”

FC Elmstead had pace in their front three but they looked more likely to open the scoring from a set-piece on the half-hour mark.

Captain Christian Howell swept in a right-footed hanging free-kick towards the far post from 35-yards out on the right and keeper Vanderhook misjudged the flight of the ball and allowed the ball to sail over him and was relieved when the ball kissed the crossbar.

Rossi said: “We was a bit unlucky, we hit the crossbar and it came back on a head and it went out of play so on another day it might’ve gone in but it didn’t.”

Jones added: “I don’t know it’s because of the lights (that were not switched on at the time), it’s just one of those things really, at that stage of the game.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead striker Jerome Wade picked up the ball and ran 30-yards before drilling his right-footed shot from 18-yards, which stung the fingers of visiting keeper Teeley.

Teeley was outstanding tonight and he thwarted home captain Tony Hill with a great save in the 34th minute.

Wade swept a crossfield pass from left-to-right to find an unmarked Jones, who hung in a cross towards the far post.  Wade looped his header across goal and Hill rose at the far post to head towards the near corner only for Teeley to use a strong left hand to push the ball behind for a corner.

Rossi said: “Tee’s been great, been brilliant. He’s done really, really well again tonight. On his day he’s as good as anyone in the league, I think.

“It was another good save so probably 2-1 on chances to them, although to be fair I expect him to make that save.”

Jones said: “Brilliant save, again that keeper was unbelievable! Personally, I’ll give him man-of-the-match. I thought he was superb.”

Hill floated a deep free-kick into Elmstead’s box for Wade’s backheader from eight-yards to be tipped over by Teeley’s outstretched right-hand.

But FC Elmstead squandered a glorious chance on the stroke of half-time.

Christian Howell swung in their second corner from the left towards the far post which was knocked down by Hart and the ball dropped for his defensive partner Marcus Howell, who turned to lash his shot over the bar from 10-yards.

“Shame it didn’t fall to a forward, it fell to a centre half unfortunately,” said Rossi.

“It was a good chance. He just needed to keep it down but there were players coming out at him and he just leaned back a bit and went over the top.”

Both manager’s were asked their thoughts at the break with the score goal-less.

Jones said: “Just told them to get a little bit tighter to players and don’t let them turn to put balls into areas for their quick forwards to run on to and also to be patient but to keep working hard.”

Rossi said: “To be fair, if that had been the scoreline at the end of the game we would’ve taken that. We felt as the away team at a decent ground, against decent opposition, we felt we were more in the game and may have possibly have shaded it, that bit. They’ll probably say different.

“It was an even game and I didn’t really want to change too much. I thought we were doing ok. We just went in there at half-time and asked them to pass the ball a little bit more, told them to move the ball and up their energy levels and I think they did second half.  I thought we had more of the play.”

FC Elmstead almost smashed the deadlock inside the opening five minutes of the second half.

Left-back Reece Barratt curled his left-footed free-kick towards the near corner from 25-yards, which Vanderhook stepped to his left to push the ball onto his near post and behind for a corner.

Rossi said: “Yes, another one that goes begging. It’s a very good chance again. A good free-kick from Reece. He doesn’t normally get on them but he did today, a decent free-kick and a good save form the goalkeeper.

Jones admitted: “We were lucky, if I’m honest.  I think they should’ve scored there but that’s how it goes.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead striker Josh Patrick scored 28 goals last season and has already notched four in his first two games before tonight this term but he was kept quiet by an outstanding performance from Hart in the middle of a three-man defence.

Rossi said: “Josh was a real pain in the backside, I’ve got to say that. Every time we get to play against him, he has an uncanny knack of being able to get the ball down and score goals and when you’ve got that combination, he’s a good player.”

Jones said: “That centre half (Hart) was marking him really well but with Josh Patrick you just never know when he’s going to come alive. He’s like a bulldozer at times and at other times it’s like he’s not doing much and all off a sudden he’s in.”

Patrick SHOULD be playing at a higher level of football but Jones insisted: “He doesn’t want to go! My phone does not stop ringing. People want him but he will not go. He just doesn’t want to go. He’s scored four goals already.”

A cagey affair, however, exploded into life during the final 15 minutes.

Wade held the ball up on the right-hand side of the penalty area, sped past two men to reach the by-line before cutting the ball back for Patrick to lay the ball inside to Hill, whose left-footed shot was parried by Teeley, diving low to his right.

Jones added: “Man-of-the-match. What can I say? He was superb. At least three occasions we thought ‘goal,’ and he was just there. He was magnificent, a brilliant goalkeeper.”

Rossi said: “Not only did we keep them quiet, I thought we had more of the ball and I thought the longer the game went, the more of a chance that we might have to win it but we knew at half-time that possibly one goal was going to do it.

“That was the best save of the game. He done alright there. He is another good player Wade. We had trouble to hold him up all game.”

Substitute Elbbas Eltigani released Patrick through on goal but nothing was going to get past Teeley, who made a fine block to his right.

FC Elmstead almost grabbed the winner when Aderonmu cracked a shot on the turn from 15-yards out, forcing Vanderhook to make a smart low save to his right.

Rossi said: “Tunde’s got that in him, he’s pretty good, he’s bright and he was with me five years ago and I’m lucky to have him back.”

Jones said: “The longer it went on, it looked like they could nick it or it was going to be a draw.  I couldn’t see us scoring because of the way it was panning out. It looked like everyone wanted to get a draw and we panicked a bit and we were backing off and they were pressing and they looked more comfortable than we did at times in the last 15-20 minutes.”

The game appeared to be destined for a goal-less stalemate when Teeley pushed over Hill’s floated free-kick from 35-yards.

But Sporting Club Thamesmead grabbed the victory with the cruel winning goal arriving with 44 minutes and 13 seconds on the clock.

Minott whipped in a quality low cross from the right into the area of uncertainty in front of the keeper and Hart stuck out his leg to poke the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of his own net from inside the six-yard box.

Jones said: “Hart lost his concentration for that split second and really just panicked. I think he’s stuck his leg out and really been dealing with everything quite comfortably.  I thought he was a superb player.

“It was a great ball, did you see the way he whipped it in? He just whipped it in, in a great area, it was a great ball in by him, superb.”

Rossi added: “It’s difficult. You’ve got to try to get something on it. It’s the quality of the ball that they put in.  I thought maybe we could’ve tried to do more. I need to look at it again really, not that I can, but to see if we can put more pressure before the cross came in?

“It was a really good quality ball and I could hear Tee’s screaming to be knocked away. We did have men in and around there but unfortunately Joe got a bit on it and put it in his own net but it’s one of those things.”

FC Elmstead created one last chance when right-winger substitute Alan Stevenson sent over a cross towards Lekan Bakare, the otherwise quiet pacy striker glanced his header into Vanderhook’s hands at the death.

Sporting Club Thamesmead welcome Kent Football United to Bayliss Avenue on Saturday, while FC Elmstead host Snodland Town at Oakley Road.

“It’s getting there. People are listening to us. It can only get better. They can see Sporting Club Thamesmead are top of the league.  Now we’ve tasted being at the top, we now have to work on staying as far up top as we can and challenge but it’s going to be difficult,” said Jones.

“I think this season is a fantastic opportunity for lots of teams, at least five or six teams to really push to get a first or second spot and also I think as well it’s an exciting division this year.”

Rossi added: “I’m now standing here, I’m a little bit disappointed really. I was hoping if we could get a point here today, it would’ve been a great start. 

“Sporting Club Thamesmead are going to be a difficult team this year. Any team with Josh Patrick in it is going to be difficult and it was not just him, they’ve got some really good players.”

Rossi signalled out his aspirations for the season ahead.

“Anywhere in midtable will be fine.  We’ll be happy with that, get a couple of cup runs if we can, although we’ve drawn the same team twice in two cups.  It’s going to be really difficult but there you go. If we can get some cup runs going, then we’ll see how it goes.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead: Simon Vanderhook, Ryan Minott, Alian Akumwami (Elbbas Elitigani 63), Mudiaga Wanogho, Daniel Akintimehin, Teddy Johnson, Tony Hill, George Jones, Josh Patrick, Jerome Wade, Lewis Dingwall (Joseph Rojas 78).
Subs: Bosun Gbajabiamila, Ricky Hardie, Elliott Johnson

Goal: Joe Hart (own goal) 90

Booked: Teddy Johnson 72

FC Elmstead: Dan Teeley, Dan Carpenter, Reece Barratt, George Bryan (Steven Strotten 90), Joe Hart, Marcus Howell, Ben Lockett (Alan Stevenson 87), Christian Howell, Tunde Aderonmu, Lekan Bakare, Dexter Babalola (Marcus Black 83).
Subs: Danny Doyle, Kamal Charles Reid

Attendance: 98
Referee: Mr Mark Jenkins (Welling)
Assistants: Mr Thomas McCourt (Greenwich, London SE5) & Mr Christopher Dodd (Eltham, London SE9)

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