Sporting Club Thamesmead 5-2 Lewisham Borough - This is the game I feared the most because they're one of the best sides going, says SCT joint-manager Owen Jones

Monday 13th March 2017
Sporting Club Thamesmead 5 – 2 Lewisham Borough
Location Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead, London SE28 8NJ
Kickoff 13/03/2017 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Monday 13th March 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Bayliss Avenue

LEWISHAM BOROUGH lead coach Ebun Thomas says his objective is to prevent the club finishing at the foot of the table for the third successive season.


Thomas, 29, who is a coach in Charlton Athletic’s Academy, took over the reins from chairman/secretary Ray Simpson, who lost all 17 games in charge of the side and left them rooted to the foot of the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table.

Thomas has now been in charge for 16 games following tonight’s game and he has steadied the ship by winning four, drawing three and losing nine games since taking charge of the Ladywell Arena based outfit at the end of October.

Lewisham Borough have 15 points in the bag the club are only five points adrift of the team above them, Gravesham Borough, going into their last six games of another tough season.

Sporting Club Thamesmead got off to a flying start with left wing-back Billy Holloway scoring from the spot after only 67 seconds.

But Lewisham Borough put in a spirited first half performance and levelled through Bryan Zepo’s drilled free-kick to score his eighth goal of the season for the club, before right-winger Jamie Richards tucked home his sixth goal of the campaign.

Their lead, however, lasted only six minutes before Josh Patrick lashed home the equaliser, before going on to score a seven-minute hat-trick to put the hosts in control, taking his goal tally for the season to 22.

Connor Dobson came off the bench to add a fifth goal in the final eight minutes as Sporting Club Thamesmead leapfrogged over Eltham Palace and Orpington into thirteenth-place in the table with 32 points from their 28 league outings.

“I think the scoreline flatters them a little bit,” said Thomas, who runs the side alongside coaches Arben Asslani, Ade Mack and Shingi Mashungu.

“They haven’t opened us up. It’s not a 5-2 in my opinion. Yes, they deserved the victory but I think 5-2 really, really flatters them, so we can have no complaints but I thought we showed our frailties in terms of we have a real problem in terms of set-pieces or winning headers and that became very open.

“It’s about changing the mindset and the culture of the boys. A lot of them have been here for a very, very long time and have been in a rut and it’s about changing the mentality, although they still haven’t got there yet, where we want to be.

“Sporting Club Thamesmead deserved the win, you can’t argue about that but it was never a 5-2!”

Owen Jones has turned around Sporting Club Thamesmead’s fortunes since teaming up with Lee Hill in the dug-out.

“Absolutely brilliant,” he said of his eighth win in his 15th game in joint-charge of the club.

“First half we were sloppy, didn’t compete, didn’t really turn them like we should, tried to play pretty football and that’s not our game at the moment because we’re not fit.  We don’t train as properly as we could. We’ve got players coming in and out and then second half they had a rollocking in the changing room and they just showed character.

“All we basically did, we just competed and that’s all you have to do in football, just compete. We competed and it started to turn them. It made them feel uncomfortable and that’s how we were able to get the goals that we got because we had them on the back foot.”

Man-of-the-match Patrick sprinted down the left, cut past poor right-back Osman Kebapci, cut into the penalty and was fouled by Sean Jarvie on the by-line and referee Billy Woods pointed to the spot with only 36 seconds on the clock.

Holloway stepped up and sent goalkeeper Tawio Aliu the wrong way with his right-footed penalty, which went in off the right-hand post to make it a dream start for The Acre.

Jones said: “To be honest with you, I didn’t look. I don’t like watching penalties!”  A lucky one I would say.  To be fair to Billy, we’ve got a couple of the lads Dan (Parish) and Josh (Patrick). They keep missing the penalties but to be fair to Billy he put it in the back of the net, even though it hit the post.”

Jones admitted he faces a fight – without a playing budget – to keep hold of talented goal-machine Patrick.

“Josh’s somebody we just can’t replace. He’s an amazing player. He’s all what I want the whole team to be because he don’t stop running or working and that’s what it’s about,” said Jones.

“To do that after so many seconds into a game, to run like that and to get a penalty and then he ended up getting a hat-trick because he didn’t give up and he’s injured as well, he’s got a knock on his ankle, but he’ll get through it.”

Thomas admitted: “Not the greatest start because theoretically you say to the lads ‘listen, go out there, keep it tight.’

“We know what they’re about and it just goes down to not switching on right from the kick-off because it’s come from our mistake in terms of Sean hasn’t dealt with that ball. He’s been quality for us and it’s just been one of those where he’s been caught out and we haven’t dealt with it.”

But Lewisham Borough showed character not to fold and Kristian Robinson  threaded the ball in behind for right-back Kebapci to wrap his foot around the ball to find Zepo at the far post. His shot was blocked and Harold Rollings-Bull’s follow-up shot was sliced wide of the right-hand post from 12-yards.

Lewisham Borough were the better team during the first half and they deserved their leveller with 18 minutes and 16 seconds on the clock.

Former Fisher striker Zepo was fouled on the very edge of the penalty area and he stepped up to drill his right-footed free-kick into the roof of the net from 19-yards, the ball screaming over the top of the five-man wall and the keeper’s right shoulder.

“Bryan’s quality,” said Thomas.

“Bryan is an up and coming young man. Like most he’s played at a higher level, he’s just never been given a chance. He’s quality but then the scary thing is he can improve much, much more so definitely looking forward to seeing that but Bryan was immense as well.”

Jones, who left his role as reserve team manager at Greenwich Borough to join Sporting Club Thamesmead, added: “I think when you get a goal so early and remember it’s early in the game, players are still fresh and they are a good bunch of lads Lewisham, they’re fit, sharp, more dynamic in their movement than we are so they pulled us about and we lost our shape but we pulled ourselves back after being 2-1 down so it’s two all at half-time.

“It was sloppy defending, didn’t deal with the initial ball that went wide and then when it came in the box we should’ve cleared it, didn’t get there, fouled the guy so set the wall up, sloppy goal really.”

Dan Parish played the ball out to Holloway, who glided past Kebapci with ease to reach the penalty area and keeper Aliu came out to make a vital body block as the hosts looked certain to take the lead for a second time.

Rollings-Bull’s header found Zepo down the left channel and he played a low centre for Jerome Richards, but the Lewisham central midfielder sliced his shot past the right-hand post from 18-yards.

Aliu was called into action by tipping over Patrick’s left-footed shot on the turn from 25-yards after the ball was laid off to him by his Parish, who played just behind him.

Jones said: “I always knew if we could get at them and get an opening, Josh will get chances, I didn’t have a problem with that. Good save but it was good that Josh kept working and kept making an opening for himself.”

Thomas added: “Everyone knows about Josh Patrick. You know what he’s about. He’s looking for that ball and we played into our hands. He’s quality. He certainly can play at a higher level and I wouldn’t expect to see him at this level for much longer.”

Lewisham Borough belied their league position by taking the lead with 34 minutes and 10 seconds on the clock.

Left-winger Malachi Gayle impressed during the first half, although he disappeared as Sporting Club Thamesmead upped their game after the interval. He lost the ball, won it back and caressed a lovely ball into the box, which was flicked on by Patrick and an unmarked Jamie Richards hooked his shot across the keeper from eight-yards, the ball rolling into the back of the net.

Thomas said: “Malachi is a very, very good player. He could be better. He can be better and he knows it! He did have a good game. Personally, I’ve seen him play better and he knows he can play better. Yes, he done one or two good bits.

“Believe it or not (Jamie Richards) was playing reserve team football at the beginning of the season for a team in Essex. He couldn’t even get into the first team and he’s come here with his twin brother Jerome. Believe it or not that’s his fifth goal in five games.  He’s a very young man and it’s just a case of him becoming more consistent but as he gets older that will come but he was immense.”

When asked his thoughts with his side leading, Thomas replied: “My thoughts at 2-1 up? Me personally, I thought we haven’t played well.  You could argue and say did we deserve to be in the lead? That’s up to everyone’s interpretation but that’s when game management comes in and everything else like that. All their goals pretty much have come from our mistakes.”

Jones admitted: “They deserved to be in front! They were the better side, definitely the better side before half-time but I knew we would beat them if we competed with them.  It’s not about nut-megs and dribbling and whose good on the ball. First and foremost it’s about breaking a side down.

“They most probably are the hardest side to break down since I’ve come in as manager because of their fitness levels and how quick they are. They’re all quick around the park.  Their defenders are a little slow but I think they were organised and no different to some of our defenders because our defenders are not as fit and sharp but I thought we did a good job.

“You can ask Lee (Hill), ask all the lads, I said to them before we went out for the start of the game, my team talk is, I’m not a fearful type of person but this is the game I feared the most because I said to them on paper just because they’re at the bottom, they’re one of the best sides going. They’re an exciting side that are going to do really well. Fair play to their management team, fair play to Ray Simpson to get this guy in. They’re young and exciting and hopefully will go places next season.”

Lewisham Borough went into the game on the back of a 3-2 home win over Lydd Town at the weekend, which was their fourth win in their last eight games but they were put in their place by Patrick, who should be playing at least one level higher than this.

Tony Hill floated a free-kick into the Lewisham Borough penalty area and goalkeeper Aliu came out and missed his punch. It proved to be a costly mistake as Parish held his nerve to flick the ball back into the mix and Patrick rifled his shot into the roof of the net, over a man on the line, from eight-yards.

Jones said: “I expect that.  We couldn’t get any worse so the thing is we’re quite good sniffing out goals when we need to. It’s just the initial build-up. Play is not quite there yet because it’s still early stages.”

Thomas admitted: “That’s a comedy of errors! If you look at it from a coaching point of view theoretically you’re asking why does my goalkeeper have to come through that because it’s dealt with literally at source. Somebody has come off the post and we haven’t reacted quickly enough and it’s just a comedy of errors.  He should’ve gone and dealt with it once it’s in the air.

“But a lot of them are very young and you need to understand and take on board they’re going to make mistakes and need to learn very quickly that this is Step Six football and a lot of them have got aspirations of going higher and they need to start cutting that out.”

Both were asked their thoughts at half-time.

“You don’t want to know,” came Jones’ reply.

“I screamed, I shouted, I threw cups everywhere and I told them to grow some balls basically and be men, stop pussyfooting around out there and I told them that this is a man’s game, it’s not a boys game and you don’t go out there and let teams just walk all over you!  You compete with them and I said you’re all like little girls, sort of looking at them and admiring them.”

Jones revealed that he read his side the riot act during the interval and his players’ responded brilliantly by taking the lead after only 33 seconds.

Cory Knight, who played on the left of a three man central defence, clipped a long ball over the top of the defence and the ball should have been headed away by Kebapci. He failed and Patrick pounced on the mistake in clinical fashion, cutting into the box and drilling his left-footed shot across the keeper from 17-yards, the ball nestling into the bottom far corner.

Jones revealed: “Brilliant because we kept them in the changing room a little bit longer and we still kept talking to them, kept shouting, having a go, having a go and I wanted to do that because that was the psychological side of it.

“When they came out they would still have all of that in their heads and they were fired up and that showed it.”

Thomas added: “Believe it or not, keep it tight for the first 10 minutes, go out there. 

“We went in 2-2 hit we didn’t play anything near what we can play. It’s just highly frustrating. Within 33 seconds you say keep it tight. We even talked about headers. We attack headers so theoretically it’s dropped to go and attack it and it’s just unfortunate. We’ve gone out there, the right-backs got caught underneath the ball and into Josh Patrick and you’re thinking to yourself again that has to go down as an error from our side.”

Kebapci’s painful evening was put to an end when he was substituted in the 48th minute of the game.

Thomas said: “Osman has been immense.  When I came in he was one of the players that was here and he played a number of good games but I think he’ll be the first to admit today wasn’t his best. He apologised but at this level you’re going to come up against good quality strikers who are going to gamble and that’s what Josh has gone and done and he’s made you pay for it.”

Despite showing plenty of promise during an impressive first half, Lewisham Borough capitulated by conceding their fourth goal with only two minutes and 58 seconds on the clock.

Once again Aliu was to blame for staying on his line as Hill floated in another free-kick into his penalty area.  Parish read the flight of the ball to knock the ball across the face of goal for Patrick to sweep home his seven-minute hat-trick four-yards out.

Jones added: “What can I say? We can’t replace him. He’s obviously a great player that can play a higher level but fair play to the lad. He’s committed to the club. He loves the club, loves the players, loves me and that’s not me blowing my trumpet.  He could’ve gone off but he decided to stay when I came but he saw what I’m trying to do at the club and we just can’t replace him.  I think he’s an exciting player, he’s probably one of the best non-league players around and I really do mean that, I really do think that.”

“From a coaches point of view, Josh looks to feed off triggers so he’s always on the move.  I really don’t expect him to be playing at this level for too much longer, he’s got too much quality for this level,” admitted Thomas, who can spot talent when he sees it working for a League One club.

Despite that early flurry of goalscoring, nothing else happened until both sides created openings in the 70th minute.

Sporting Club Thamesmead keeper Simon Vanderhook was scrambling across his goal and was relieved when Robinson’s right-footed drive from 35-yards flashed just past the foot of the post.

Thomas said: “They went 4-2 up and you could see their mindset was that they were going to sit in. We started instilling into the boys to implement our game plan, which is to dominate the ball and there was a period in the game after they went 4-2 up in quick succession, literally we were camped in their own half. It’s just unfortunate that we haven’t tweaked that pressure into goals but that will come, it will come.”

Jones added: “I don’t know what happened there. It didn’t look good really. A yard in, it would’ve been in the back of the net!”

White and Patrick linked up well inside Lewisham’s final third and right wing-back Alian Akumwami’s right-footed drive from 25-yards was tipped around the post by Aliu, diving to his right.

Jones said: “It was a good run. I’m a bit annoyed with him because he’s got so much ability. He wasn’t going at his players. I wanted him to take the players on and go on the outside. He kept cutting in and Billy Holloway was doing the same thing as well. They kept cutting in and we were losing it and putting us under a lot of pressure.”

The 19-year-old goalkeeper was then called into action again, diving high to his left to push behind Patrick’s left-fotoed drive from 25-yards after the striker won the ball off Jarvie.

“That’s the time when we’re pushing to go and see if we can get an equaliser, if we can get a goal, you never know, and then all off a sudden it’s 4-3 and then it becomes jittery,” said Thomas, of the former Thamesmead Town Academy goalkeeper.

“Tawio’s quality and I really do think that and he will go very, very far. I think you’ve seen the worst of him and you’ve seen the best of him but on top of it he’s quality. All he needs is more encouragement, little amendments to his game and he’ll be fantastic but you have to remember he’s only 19.”

The home side completed the scoring with 36 minutes and 31 seconds on the clock.

Lewisham Borough failed to press Dobson, who was given acres of time and space to smack a dipping right-footed volley into the bottom right-hand corner from 25-yards.

Jones said: “Great strike! We got him in last week and him and Jack White are only young, they’re showing really good potential and they’re players for the future and hopefully we can push on from there with them. I really like them, really pleased with them and I think they’ll do a good job for us next season, if they want to stay.”

“If you look at it again, the lad’s taken it really, really well, you’ve got to give it to him,” said Thomas.

“But from our point of view the balls come to him, we haven’t reacted quickly enough, no-one’s gone to close him down. You’re thinking if the ball transfers to him, as the ball’s travelling we need to get out there. We just haven’t got there and as we looked to go to press him it’s sort of made up his mind because I believe Jerome has gone to press him but by that time because he’s got it under control and he’s seen Jerome come towards him, he’s thinking he’s had to hit it and to be fair it was a good finish.”

Vanderhook made a routine catch to prevent Jarvie scoring from a glancing header after substitute central midfielder Reece Walker chipped a free-kick into the Acre penalty area.

Aliu pulled off his third great save diving to his left to push behind White’s powerful drive from the right-hand corner of the penalty box with three minutes left.

Jones added: “Jack White and Connor Dobson, they’ve just joined us, two young lads, they’re only young and I think they showed a lot of character and commitment really.”

Acre substitute Sodiq Badaru and Patrick linked up well and Dobson’s first time right-footed drive from 18-yards screamed over the Lewisham crossbar.

Dobson was given time and space to whip in a cross from the right channel but Parish’s flicked shot went across the keeper and past the far post, while Aliu easily picked up Patrick’s weak shot after a poor throw out from the busy Lewisham keeper.

Third-from-bottom side Crockenhill visit Ladywell Arena for Lewisham Borough’s next game on Wednesday 22 March.

“We always said when we came in, first and foremost our objective was to not to finish bottom,” said Thomas.

“The club has finished bottom for the past two seasons and when we came in we were on zero points and a lot of people looked at us and thought it’s an easy three points.

“We’re only five points behind Gravesham, they’ve got a hard run-in.  If you look at our fixtures we’ve got Crockenhill, we’ve got Snodland Town (on the final day of the season) and we’ve got Sporting Club Thamesmead back at ours (25 March), teams in and around us.”

Lewisham Borough have finished bottom in three of their five seasons since the Kent Invicta League started in 2011-12 and after tonight, the club have won only 33 of their 186 League games.

Sporting Club Thamesmead welcome struggling Gravesham Borough to Bayliss Avenue on Saturday aiming to claw back the six points on tenth-placed Forest Hill Park during their last eight league games.

“My thoughts are anything could happen couldn’t it?” said Jones.

“We’ve got to just carry on the second half of this game today, carry it into Saturday’s game against Gravesham.

“It’s about competing, that’s what it’s about. Let’s be honest most of the teams in this league can get a result against anybody. It’s just who’s prepared to really work for it, who’s not going to give up, who’s going to fight and Lewisham Borough are a good side, they fight, they never give up.  Even though they’re bottom, they won’t stay bottom. They will not, they will push on.

“We should beat Gravesham but I’m not taking anything for granted. We’ve got to do our work in training on Wednesday, have another chat with the lads and sort things out.

“My target is that we just go as far as we can go. If we can get the wins that we need then obviously tenth is good, tenth will be good really. I don’t expect to win every game but what I do expect us is to compete in every game, that’s very important to me.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead: Simon Vanderhook, Alian Akumwami (Sodiq Badaru 80), Billy Holloway, Cory Knight, Ricky Hardie, Mudiaga Wanogho, Bosun Gbajbiamila (Connor Dobson 58), Tony Hill, Josh Patrick, Dan Parish, Jack White.
Subs: Luke Dietrich-Coke, Ermall Nuja

Goals:  Billy Holland 2 (penalty), Josh Patrick 41, 46, 48, Connor Dobson 82

Booked: Bosun Gbajabiamila 56

Lewisham Borough: Tawio Aliu, Osman Kebapci (William Mayendesa 48), David Tshibangu, Kristian Robinson, Sean Jarvie, Tim Moffatt, Jamie Richards (Ryan Minott 63), Jerome Richards, Bryan Zepo, Harold Rollings-Bull (Reece Walker 76), Malachi Gayle.
Sub: David Smith

Goals: Bryan Zepo 19, Jamie Richards 35

Booked: Kristian Robinson 90

Attendance: 65
Referee: Mr Billy Woods (Bexleyheath)
Assistants: Mr Hawkar Ahmed (Gillingham) & Mr Ashley Barnes (Bromley)

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