Sporting Club Thamesmead 3-2 Kent Football United - We've got six months here just to bed something in for next season and there's no pressure on me or the boys, says Kent Football United boss Danny Wakeling

Monday 26th November 2018
Sporting Club Thamesmead 3 – 2 Kent Football United
Location Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead, London SE28 8NJ
Kickoff 25/11/2018 19:45

London Senior Trophy Second Round
Monday 26 November 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Bayliss Avenue

KENT FOOTBALL UNITED manager Danny Wakeling says he’s going to blood players into the club from the Kent County League.

The Dartford based club were knocked out of the London Senior Trophy by their Southern Counties East Football League First Division rivals Sporting Club Thamesmead.

The home side went into this Second Round tie in seventh-place in the table with 21 points from 16 games, while the Dartford based visitors were in the bottom three with nine points on the board.

Sporting Club Thamesmead took the lead through winger Merrick Simms, before the pacey Gareth Jones raced through to drill a shot from a tight angle into the bottom far corner to equalise.

The home side regained the lead when Jamie Rawsthorne tapped the ball over the line at the far post after Kent Football United failed to defend a long throw into their box.

Kent Football United equalised for a second time just six minutes into the second half through Eno Ediong’s 35-yard drive but Rawsthorne headed home the winner with only four minutes remaining.

Wakeling, who has recently departed Kent County League Premier side Bromleians, has drafted in almost an entire new squad since taking charge of his new club’s 1-1 home draw against FC Elmstead nine days ago.

“My thoughts are we should still be out there in extra-time now,” said Wakeling, who felt his side should have taken it to an extra 30 minutes.

“A squad’s been put together in 10-11 days, we had our first training session the Thursday before the Elmstead game and there wasn’t any existing Kent Football players there so we’ve brought in 16 players in to train and four or five of the youth section stepped up so the session was decent.

“We had to sign players in under 48 hours to get a team out against Elmstead so the mindset and the culture is on the right path and to achieve what they’ve done in 14 days is nothing but remarkable!”

Sporting Club Thamesmead manager Joe Ford said: “Very good win if I’m honest with you.  The boys showed a different side to their game today.  The first half performance in terms of football was brilliant in my opinion. The second half became a bit of a battle but I felt the boys mixed it as well.

“The boys showed a different side to them in terms of they battled well and put their bodies on the line and tackled when they had to, cleared their lines when they had to and all round gave a professional performance in the second half.

“As frustrating as it was watching some of the football in the second half because it wasn’t as pretty in he first half, I must admit, but KFU went a bit more direct and it made it go that way and I felt we dealt with it quite well.”

Kent Football United’s debutant goalkeeper Lewis Mitchell was called into action inside the opening six minutes.

Target-man Stephen Wetherley drilled a free-kick into the base of the wall and the ball wriggled through to Andrade Caetano but the holding midfielder stroked a weak shot towards goal from 12-yards, which Mitchell held comfortably low to his left.

Ford said: “We call him Kante because he takes that position. He’s on loan from us from Erith Town so a big thanks to Adam Woodward whose given him to us and since he’s come in he’s done a really good job.  He just sits in front of the back four and does the Kante role. He wins his tackles and headers, he’s a bit erratic on the ball at times but he wins the ball back to get in those situations so he’s been a good addition for us.”

“When you’ve got a group of lads that have been put together in 12 days, you have to put your basic principles in first.  We didn’t clear our lines, we didn’t deal with it properly,” added Wakeling.

“Mitch is a very reliable, dependable young man.  He’s made a big impression in the two weeks that he’s been here. He’s only 19, played in Margate’s under 23s in pre-season the season before last. 

“I tried to get him into Bromlians for a cover spell but he didn’t want to play Kent County Premier.  He’s now reached the point, as a young goalkeeper, you don’t tend to get senior experience, you’re looked at as a good number two and you get games like tonight.

“He’s got good feet, his distribution is good, he’s a lively character, quite agile and there’s a potential leader in there as well.”

Rawsthorne cut the ball back to left-back Veejay Miller, who whipped in a first time low cross which was flicked across the keeper and past the far post by the small Max Williams at the near post.

Williams delivered some great set-pieces during the game and he floated in a free-kick, which was punched out by Mitchell.  Daniel Willis was lurking on the edge of the box and he hit a half-volley over to Simms, who smashed his left-footed volley over the crossbar from eight-yards.

Ford said: “We’ve been telling Merrick to get into those positions because he’s a great player and he needs to get into those positions and score more goals.  These players are still very young so we want to push them on to better standards of football and Merrick knows in that position he plays in to push on he needs to score more goals so he’ll be disappointed that he didn’t score.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead deservedly took the lead with 17 minutes and 23 seconds on the clock.

Rawsthorne played the ball into Wetherley’s feet and he played a sublime low diagonal pass that split open Kent Football United’s left-back Luke Markey to release Cain Cruz down the right.  He flashed a low cross across the face of goal and Simms drove his first time shot into the roof of the net from 10-yards at the far post.

“I think you’ll agree it was a great bit of football,” said Ford.

“I think there were five or six more passes as well in the build-up so a good bit of football.

“Cain does what he does really well. He gets into those positions, a guy on loan from Cray Wanderers so thank you to Tony Russell for that one. He got into a great position and cut it back well and Merrick’s around in the area that we’ve asked him to and he’s taken it well.”

Wakeling said: “We left their full-backs to get out too early, too quickly.  The ball was played into midfield, our 10 (Ediong) didn’t get out to press quickly enough and it was like dominoes, each pass you could see that went around the side, it was going to go in.  It was a bit of our own making that one and it’s something that will be addressed and the boys can learn from in time but it was a good finish!”

Miller threaded another pass forward, this time into Williams’ path and he strode forward before drilling a 30-yarder, which bounced off the head of Kent’s centre-half Jack Baines and sailed over the crossbar.

Baines and his centre-half partner Gary Beckett, wingers Sam Musundi and Ashley Bertrand Kesington have been plucked from Wakeling’s former club, Kent County Premier Division side Bromleians, while scorer Jones was plucked from Peckham Town, while midfielder Jean Toty has arrived from Third Division West side Equinnocial.

“We’ve recruited well out of Kent County League football. I know there’s tonnes who can play further up.  They haven’t disgraced themselves tonight.  Gareth Jones has been at Mottingham, Bromleians and can’t get in the side so moved to Peckham Town and played well and is a brilliant player,” added Wakeling.

Wetherley showed good feet outside the box, twisting and turning three defenders before cutting onto his right foot and hitting a dipping 30-yard angled drive just over the crossbar.

Kent Football United were not an attacking threat during the first half. The closest they came before their goal was in the 23rd minute when captain Ahmed Dean drilled a left-footed volley just over the crossbar from 20-yards.

Sporting Club Thamesmead missed a chance to increase their lead, only for Kent Football United to swiftly go up the other end to equalise just 12 seconds later, the goal timed at 24 minutes and 48 seconds on the clock.

Acre right-back Joel Mensah fed Cruz, who crossed low and in the middle for Wetherley, who swept a first time shot into Mitchell’s hands from eight-yards.

The keeper then launched a big kick up field and released pacey striker Jones, who raced into the box and reached the right by-line and from a very tight angle he drilled his shot across Martin (who was flat-footed at his near post) to find the bottom far corner.

Wakeling said: “A good save, good distribution, quick exceptional pace from Gareth Jones.  That’s a world class finish at that angle!

“When he scored I didn’t jump up and down. I was more bothered and wound up that our two wider forwards didn’t hit the box with them.  They had three or four players back so had Gareth not find that impossible angle to score, they can just carry the ball back out.

“I told Gareth at the end what a great goal it was but I was more alarmed that we didn’t hit he box with him.”

Ford added: “It’s gone through a chance at the end to switching off down the other end.  Their keeper’s got an assist there but I’m a bit disappointed that we haven’t tracked round and we haven’t organised a little bit better just in case the ball did break down.

“I think we had Veejay (Miller) out of position at the time but the players out paced our centre-half (Willis) there quite easily and it’s a tidy finish in the end.

“I think Charlie Martin will be a little bit disappointed that he hasn’t come out and caused more of a threat to the player that’s finished it off. He made it a little bit too easy for him but it was a great finish.”

It was a clinical finish from Jones but Kent Football United didn’t have enough time to build on their platform as Sporting Club Thamesmead took the lead for a second time with 28 minutes and 28 seconds on the clock.

Centre-half Cameron Reardon launched seven long throws into the Kent Football United penalty area and the away side’s defence failed to deal with the fourth one of the night, which was flicked on at the near post and the ball wasn’t dealt with and Rawsthorne tapped the bouncing ball into the bottom left-hand corner at the far post.

“We are young as you probably saw tonight and we’ve got energy in our side that keeps us going really,” said Ford.

“It was a great response to being set back and then equalising. We put the ball into a dangerous area.  Cameron has got that asset to his game where he can throw one in. We’ve decided to set it up this time around and take advantage of it.

“Stephen Wetherley flicked it on and he’s been immense for us as well by the way and Jamie’s left with a striking finish at the far post.”

Wakeling said: “We’ve got another tall player front screenish. The throw was not  like a flat rocket of a throw, it sort of looped.  It had a bit of cloud on it when it came down.  A lad has ducked pretty much, he put his chin into his chest and it’s gone over him and it bounced twice in the six-yard box and they’ve attacked it far better than us but that should’ve been dealt with first screen.”

Martin launched a big kick towards the edge of the Kent Football United penalty area, the ball was knocked down by Wetherley and Williams failed to keep his shot down from 25-yards as the home side’s good football of the first half saw them go into the interval with a deserved 2-1 lead.

Ford admitted he wasn’t satisfied by relying on set-pieces during the second half.

He said:  “Charlie Martin didn’t have much to do in the first half. I thought we controlled the game from start to finish if I’m completely honest in terms of the first half performance. 

“We let ourselves down with the goal that they scored but I was really, really pleased with the first half performance. It didn’t live up to expectations in the second half.  I wanted them to continue what they were doing but naturally having two games in three days legs tired and the second half was a completely different performance.”

Kent Football United have hit the national headlines after their Ladies team goalkeeper Jordan Dawes, 18, suffered a stroke and received messages of support over social media, including top-flight male and female footballers.

“We said about the positives and we were playing for Jordan Daws this evening, the young goalkeeper whose in hospital,” said Wakeling.

“I think some boys heard those words and not everyone processed them. A couple of boys came in at half-time pointing their finger and shouting the odds.  I jumped straight on that and a couple of people went white as a sheet!

“If you’re going to be pointing fingers out on a football pitch and you’re going to be a little bit upset when things aren’t going your way, if you’re not having a great game technically, you’ve got to be doing a very, very good shift and you earn the right to dig something out.

“We set about that and put a positive spin on it that we’re only 2-1 down in an away fixture in a cup tie.  If we score early in the second half we’re back in the game.

“At half-time we said put the work-rate and effort in and be quicker as a team when the ball goes up to Gareth.”

Ford added: “Jason Long (assistant manager) had a few words. He just wasn’t happy with the fact that set-plays and throw-ins we were giving the ball away quite a lot and he had his words at half-time.

“We basically told the boys to keep playing and when we came out for the second half and it wasn’t to be unfortunately. We seemed to stop and get a bit lazy in terms of the possession football we play.  They had more energy in the second half and seemed to get on top a little bit.”

But Kent Football United grabbed an equaliser just five minutes and 41 seconds on the clock, courtesy of a long-range drive from midfielder Ediong.

It came from their second and final corner of the night.  Ashley Bertrand-Kesington played a corner short to Ediong, who cut the ball onto his right-boot before unleashing a stunning right-footed drive from 30-yards out on the left, which may have bounced off a defender’s head and slipped through Martin’s outstretched fingertips before sailing into the top far corner.

Wakeling said: “He wrapped it into the top corner! He’s put it into an area of danger, he’s whipped in a cross around that horrible corridor and if you get a blue shirt or a red shirt in the way it’s probably going to end up in the back of the net.

“It was a very, very good delivery. I’ve watched him in training and he’s an opportunist so I would say he’s a sort of person if he whips it in he is likely to score.  I’m not saying he went to shoot but he put that ball in a horrible area from that angle and you get what you deserve out of it.  If you don’t shoot, you don’t score!”

Ford added: “I was a little bit disappointed wit the original corner that flashed across the box and Veejay on the post could’ve dealt with that a little bit better by attacking it and he could’ve cleared his lines.

“They were given another corner, we were not quick enough out to press the person in my opinion.  You can’t let people cross from there in my opinion. You can’t let people cross from there or in that case have a shot. I think there was a slight deflection, which took it over Charlie.”

Despite being small in height, Rawsthorne proved to be a threat from Williams’ corners from the left.

On the hour-mark, Rawsthorne steered his header just over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box at the near post.

The home side then struck the top of the near post in the 65th minute.

Reardon launched his final long throw into the box and Wetherley turned at the near post to sweep his shot from six-yards, which kissed the top of the near post and dropped over the crossbar.

“The throw seemed to cause a few problems after we scored from one,” said Ford.

“It wasn’t much sense to stop doing it so we carried on and another chance was created. It does cause problems, although sometimes I would be pressed to say I don’t like doing that sort of thing. It was effective tonight so we went for it again and he was unlucky not to steer it in.”

Wakeling said: “Weths is a good player, technically very good. It looks like he’s in good shape as well because I managed him a few years ago (at Seven Acre & Sidcup at Oxford Road) and he’s a lively character, a good, honest lad, technically a joy and he’s been sharp this season. He’ll be disappointed he didn’t score.”

A big kick from Martin, was flicked on by Jones and this let in the impressive Rawsthorne and his low shot was blocked by the legs of the visiting keeper Mitchell.

Ford said: “A good save! Jamie had a really good position there. A great run. We spoke about the third man run at half-time about getting it into Wetherley’s body and him setting it back and getting that third-man runner running through and it was a good block from the keeper.”

Wakeling added: “I had a goalkeeper coming here with me but he’s damaged his wrist at work so I was looking around for someone whose either not registered.  I looked at a couple at training but Adam Woodward at Erith got in touch and he’s got this lad sitting here whose too good not to be playing. He can’t displace Adam Molloy but if you want him, take him.  We’ll treat it as a lone and if he needs to be called back we can easily do it.  Lewis has got a bright future.  He may not be the biggest in stature but I tell you what, he’s got a big heart and a big presence.”

Kent Football United went close to grabbing the winner in the 28th minute when Markey worked the ball in from the left and Ediong drilled his right-footed drive screaming just past the far post from 35-yards.

“He scored from the last one, that’s to say it’s not a complete fluke that he did that because in training he likes to get it out of his feet and he can drill a target he will do and then you want your forwards to anticipate any follow-ups,” said Wakeling.

“He had an effective game tonight.  It was his first game for I don’t know how long. I don’t think he’s played 11-a-side Saturday football for at least a year so we’ve brought him in from nowhere and when he gets a few games under his belt, he’ll be a game changer.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead struck the woodwork for the second time in the final 12 minutes, again from another set-piece.

Williams swung in another great delivery from the corner flag and Rawsthorne jumped at in the same position as before to clip the top of the crossbar with a header from four-yards out.

Ford said:  “He’s a threat in the air Jamie, he played centre-back for us on Saturday because Mason Simms was missing and we had no Dan Willis available and he won quite a lot of headers there as well. He’s great in the air. He’s not the tallest of players but he’s got a great leap on him and he’s a threat on corners.”

Wakeling’s new side weakness was not dealing with Sporting Club Thamesmead’s set-pieces.

“They were a threat to us. We had the height in there! Tonight was all about the taller players showing the application to stuck your head on something in the box.  I think the kid (Rawsthorne) should’ve scored another goal tonight,” added Wakeling.

Sporting Club Thamesmead deservedly claimed the victory when Rawsthorne finally tucked home a header with 40 minutes and 13 seconds on the clock.

It was no surprise when Williams swung in his fifth and final corner of the night and Rawsthorne was standing in exactly the same place as all the other attempts he missed, this time he guided his downward header down and into the back of the net.

Ford said: “I think his dad shouted at him from the stand to give himself a little bit more room and he timed his run a little bit better and I’m sure his dad will take an assist for that one.  Third time lucky for him! It was a great header, a great run and a great delivery and I expect him to score from there.”

Wakeling, meanwhile, admitted bringing on big target-man Mo Adisa just before the corner was floated in was a mistake.

“I don’t as a rule, never make a change, I never do but we had enough height in there but I don’t think one or two of them with height applied themselves fully in terms of dealing with the balls,” admitted Wakeling.

“I put a lad on to go in a certain area and he’s taken a step forward and it’s gone in the back of the net.

“A wry smile on my face because I can’t be angry or furious really. The idea was to see the corner out and we’re into extra-time.  I brought my big number nine on and maybe change a couple of things and maybe be a little bit more direct and maybe he can go and be the hero and score the winner.”

Wakeling’s side are without a game at the weekend, but revealed his targets for the rest of the season.

“It’s just a run up for pre-season in a way, it’s ready for pre-season.  We’ve got six months here to just bed something in for next season.  There’s no pressure on me whatsoever and there is no pressure put on the boys.  There’s no budget but it doesn’t bother me because I find players from anywhere.  There will be players picking up the phone and want to get involved here.”

Ford will now take his side to unknown New Salamis (top of the Herts Senior Premier) or Lopes Tavares (sixteenth in the Eastern Counties Division One South) in the Quarter-Finals.

Ford admitted he hasn’t done his homework on his next opponents but is keen to do well in the London Senior Trophy this season.

“Two teams I’ve never heard off to be honest and that’s no disrespect to them,” he said.

“Listen, it’s always nice to get drawn against a team you don’t know nothing about and it will be a new ground for the boys to go and play at. I’m sure the experience will be a good one for us.  I’ve just said to the boys in the changing room after that hard graft tonight and the second half performance they put in, they need to go and put that into the next game and we’re looking to progress.

“Listen, you play to win, I play to win every game.  It’s my first year in management by myself and I’m looking to be as successful as I can be but I know it’s a silly thing to say but I also want to finish in a respectable position in the league. We’re still after a top six finish and that’s my priority this year.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead: Charlie Martin, Joel Mensah, Veejay Miller, Andrade Caetano, Cameron Reardon, Daniel Willis, Crain Cruz (Timi Osibodu 76), Max Williams, Stephen Wetherley, Jamie Rawsthorne, Merrick Simms (David Doudu-Amoah 90).
Subs: Darius Izukanne, Elliott Johnson, Anthony Fenech

Goals: Stephen Wetherley 18, Jamie Rawsthorne 29, 86

Booked: Cain Cruz 71

Kent Football United: Lewis Mitchell, Peter Ojemen, Luke Markey, Ahmed Dean, Gary Beckett, Jack Baines, Sam Musundi (Tyreese Blake 65), Jean Toty (Ben Cotter 63), Gareth Jones, Eno Ediong (Mo Adisa 85), Ashley Bertrand Kesington.
Subs: Cameron Lovatt, Ray Marshall

Goals: Gareth Jones 25, Eno Ediong 51

Booked: Peter Ojemen 15, Eno Ediong 68

Attendance: 48
Referee: Mr Gary Thomas (Harrow, Middlesex)
Assistants: Mr Christopher Dodd (Eltham, London SE9) & Mr Ryan Larkin (Sydenham, London SE26)