Sporting Club Thamesmead 4-1 Meridian VP - You want to test yourselves against the best teams in the league above, says SCT manager Joe Ford

Monday 03rd December 2018
Sporting Club Thamesmead 4 – 1 Meridian VP
Location Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead, London SE28 8NJ
Kickoff 03/12/2018 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Second Round
Monday 3 December 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Bayliss Avenue

SPORTING CLUB THAMESMEAD manager Joe Ford says he is expecting a test against Beckenham Town in the last sixteen of the Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup after thrashing a poor Meridian VP outfit at Bayliss Avenue.

The match was almost called off 15 minutes before the kick-off as Ramsgate based referee Nick Derrane was concerned with a small wet patch on the edge of the 18-yard line at the flyover end of the ground but sterling work from Lee Hill and Mark Cousins ensured the game went ahead.

The Acre eased their way through this game with winger Cain Cruz thumping home their first goal of the night eight minutes before the interval.

Winger Merrick Simms then twice found top bins in the space of nine minutes in the second half before substitute David Duodu-Amoah tapped in a fourth.

Canturk Yanpar – who’s out-played side scored a last minute consolation through a dinked finish from substitute striker Richardo Howarth – made a quick getaway and didn’t undertake his post-match press conference duties.

“I thought it was a real high quality game of football from us to be honest with you,” said Ford.

“A high tempo performance throughout the 90 minutes.  I thought we passed the ball on what was a really wet pitch tonight, not a bad pitch but a wet pitch.

“I’m really happy with how the boys played throughout the 90 minutes, even the subs that came on.  The boys were superb for us tonight and I thought represented the club brilliantly.”

Ford praised the club for getting the game on, although the referee looked certain to call the game off just 15 minutes before the start of the game, home officials were very persuasive in getting the match referee to change his mind.

“It was 50-50 throughout the day. I spoke to Lee Hill earlier and he said to me he thought the game would be off but the pitch dried out,” said Ford.

“Mark Cousins and Lee Hill and some of the other committee members, Sam Taylor, have really done well to get the game on tonight. They forked the pitch and put sand on it and it played lovely so it was the right decision to call the game on from the referee.

“I know he was a little nervous before the game about a certain patch on the pitch that he wasn’t comfortable with but he called it on so fair play to him.  I thought the game was a really good game and it would’ve been a shame to call it off when everyone was here as well.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead went into this Challenge Cup tie sitting in seventh-place in the First Division table with 24 points from 17 games, while Meridian VP are in the bottom four with 14 points from their 16 league outings.

Meridian captain Emmanuel Njodzeka smashed a speculative right-footed volley from 35-yards sailing harmlessly wide of the mark inside the opening four minutes.

The home side’s approach play from both flanks was outstanding and their first opening came in the 10th minute.

Stephen Wetherley’s skill and trickery took him past two Meridian players on the by-line and he cut along the line to cross for Jamie Rawsthorne, who hooked his volley straight at Ben Ashton from four-yards.

“We’re hurting people at the moment through playing through our wide players,” said Ford.

“Wethers came out that time and it was a good chance and we were unlucky not to go 1-0 up there.”

Max Williams floated in the first of 11 corners and Mason Simms came up from the back to steer his header towards the bottom corner, which was held on the line by visiting keeper Ashton.

Meridian VP’s only chance of the first half arrived in the 16th minute when Brandon Hobbs’s looping shot went over Charlie Martin and the ball was acrobatically hooked off the line by right-back Elliott Rayment-Johnson.

“I said to the boys I felt the only chances they’ll create tonight were from counter-attacks,” said Ford.

“I felt we dominated the game in terms of possession. We did at their place when we drew 0-0 in the league and we just couldn’t score and I felt it would be a similar game tonight on our pitch.

“I felt we dominated possession and that was their only chance really that I can remember throughout the 45 minutes.”

Cruz cut in from the right wing and fashioned a chance for himself, a shot from just inside the corner deflected off Njodzeka and bounced into Ashton’s hands for a comfortable save at his near post.

Williams swung in a high-quality corner from the right and Mason Simms’ header was blocked by Ashton, as the keeper moved to his right – before Wetherley smashed a half-volley across the keeper and just past the far post from 22-yards.

“We’ve been a threat from set-plays, from throw-ins and corners and there’s more confidence in games every week from them.  Another good delivery and Mason is unlucky there not to score,” added Ford.

Dominant Sporting Club Thamesmead deservedly opened the scoring with 36 minutes and 10 seconds on the clock.

It was one of many excellent moves on the night.  Wetherley released Williams down the right, splitting open Myles Jay Duffus (Meridian left-back) and Stanley Ugwoke (centre-half), and his low cross was touched by Cruz before he drilled his shot into the roof of the net from 10-yards.

“Great finish from Cain. He’s on loan from Cray Wanderers, he’s been a good asset to us. He came of the bench for us on Saturday against Stansfeld (in a 5-2 home win) and he changed the game so he started tonight and he’s been absolutely brilliant for 90 minutes so a huge talent and one for the future, I’m sure.”

When asked whether he feels Tony Russell should re-call the winger back to play Bostik South East Division football for the unbeaten league leaders, Ford replied: “I think Tony’s had a look at him a couple of times in cup games. He’s young, Cray Wanderers are doing very well in the league at the moment so it will be tough for Tony to put him in at the moment but if he carries on going the way he’s going then I think he’ll put himself there to be honest with you.”

Williams shrugged off the attentions of Meridian’s winger Thierry Fotso before touching the ball inside to centre-half Cameron Reardon, who hit a speculative shot sailing past the far post from 35-yards.

When asked what he told his troops at the break, Ford replied: “Very much keep doing what we’re doing! I know it’s a standard team talk but I just felt we’d score! I felt every time we went forward we looked a threat.  I just said to them just to up the tempo a little bit.  I feel when we play fast and that tempo there’s not a lot of teams that can deal with us at this level and when the boys play slow we look average, so I just told them to play quickly with a little bit more quality in the final third and we scored three goals in the second half and it paid off.”

Meridian VP keeper Ashton pulled off another smart save in the thirteenth minute of the second half.

Jamie Rawsthorne floated in his side’s fifth corner of the night, deep towards the far post for Wetherley to knock the ball back across goal and Darius Izukanne’s hooked shot brought a fine reaction stop from the keeper.

“Darius came in tonight. He’s earnt his chance. He’s bene patient. He started off originally playing in the holding midfield. I thought he done a superb job there, winning his tackles and all round being that standard player in front of the back four, just dominating things so he was unlucky not to score there, it was a good strike.”

The Acre doubled their lead with 14 minutes and 30 seconds on the clock.

Rawsthorne’s corner was cleared back to him by the man standing on the near post.  Rawsthorne took a touch and whipped in another cross, which was cleared out to right-back Elliot Rayment-Johnson, who had time and space to put the ball back into the box.  The ball was flicked on by an unmarked Cruz in the middle and Rawsthorne cut the ball back for Merrick Simms to sweep his shot over the keeper and into the top far corner from 25-yards.

Ford said: “Taser Hassan was unavailable tonight due to being cup-tied so Elliott’s come into the team tonight and I thought he done brilliantly. A great delivery and some nice football around the box and Merrick Simms, great finish! I can’t say any more than that really.  It was well struck into the top corner. 

“They haven’t been going for him this season but throughout the last couple of games he’s kept at it and he’s finished that off really, really well.”

Meridian offered very little attacking threat but they did call Martin into making a save in the 65th minute.

Eric Akassou fed the ball to Fotso, who cracked an angled drive in from the right which was spilt by Martin and no one in a sky blue shirt could trouble the keeper with the follow-up.

“He’s unlucky there Charlie. He’s not had a lot to do tonight,” said Ford.

“Sometimes when you haven’t had a lot to do you switch off and I just think it was just a pinged cross coming into the box. He probably would’ve liked to dealt with it better but ultimately he’s kept it out of the back of the net and that’s what his job is.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead raced into a 3-0 lead with 23 minutes and 37 seconds on the clock.

Wetherley was put through on goal, skipped past Ashton but lost composure when his shot was blocked from inside the penalty area and went behind for a corner.

Rawsthorne cut the corner back to Merrick Simms, who was given space to drill a beautiful first-time angled drive into the top far corner from 25-yards.

Ford said: “That was probably a better finish if I’m honest with you. He hasn’t taken a touch there. It’s coming at him at some pace and he’s wrapped it around the goalkeeper. A really good finish from Merrick. I’m really happy that he’s putting those chances away now.”

Meridian lacked leadership out on the pitch during the game and they couldn’t cope with The Acre’s impressive brand of passing football and wing-play.

Rawsthorne drilled a low free-kick from 25-yards, which was destined to nestle into the bottom right-hand corner, but Ashton spilt the shot and Reardon poked his shot past the post from three-yards out.

“Jamie’s a threat from set-pieces. He’s a threat from there and he’s hit it really, really well. The goalkeeper’s spilt it, perhaps we could’ve reacted a little bit better and put it in the back of the net but I can’t be too harsh there, it was a good save.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead produced a brilliant move in the 75th minute and the only thing that was missing was the finish.

Merrick Simms drove in a deep cross from the left which was smacked on the volley by the unmarked Cruz at the far post and Duodu-Amoah flicked his shot wide of the target whilst left unmarked in the middle of the box.

“That was a really good move. I thought our passing was outstanding tonight. We really dominated possession throughout and played some really good football and the boys kept doing it, which was most pleasing. 

“They didn’t stop after being two or three up. We have in previous games and they kept doing it over the 90 minutes. That was really nice as a manager to watch tonight.”

Rawsthorne released Cruz, who got in behind the Meridian back four but Ashton got his finger-tips to the shot as he dived low to his left at the near post.

Cruz whipped in a cross from the right which came out to Rawsthorne, who got the better off Meridian right-back George Ede but his shot across the keeper forced Ashton to dive full-length to his left to tip around the post.

Meridian’s Njodzeka hit a dipping drive just over the top of the far post from 30-yards before the artist formerly known as Seven Acre & Sidcup rattled in their fourth goal of the night with 37 minutes and 58 seconds on the clock.

Cruz held the ball up on the by-line and waited for support from Rawsthorne, who floated the ball over to Merrick Simms. He was denied his hat-trick by Ashton sticking out his left arm to block.  Duodu-Amoah couldn’t really miss a tap-in from on the line as the ball dropped at his feet.

“David’s been really, really patient. He hasn’t played a lot this year in terms of starts but he’s been patient on the bench,” said Ford.

“I said to him before he went on at 3-0 ‘look I’m not putting you on just to make the numbers up, I want you to make an impact on the game when you come on’.

“He answered me, he went on and it’s an easy finish in the end but a goals a goal and he’ll be happy with that.”

Meridian VP pulled a consolation goal back, 32 seconds into stoppage time.

Hobbs released Horwarth whose pace took him past the defence and he dinked the ball over the advancing keeper and into the bottom far corner.

“The only disappointing thing on the night,” admitted Ford.

“I think we’ve switched off for one minute of the 90 and they punished us.  A good finish to be fair to the lad.

“I just spoke to the boys in the changing room about that.  It was a little bit scrappy on the lead up as well.  I think we lost possession two or three times so it is disappointing but it’s a cup game so it doesn’t have effect us in the league.

“We want to start keeping clean sheets, it’s as simple as that! The back four deserved it after tonight. A little bit disappointed but not taking anything off the performance tonight and the boys have been superb for 90.”

Home keeper Martin back-peddled to catch Ede’s swept right-footed free-kick from 45-yards, which dipped towards goal.

Ford is relishing the chance of hosting Beckenham Town in the next round.  Jason Huntley’s side are currently in second-place in the Premier Division.

“A lovely test for us.  They’re the games I want to be involved in as a manager and the boys want to be involved in as players,” said Ford.

“You want to test yourselves against the best teams in the league above. They’re sitting second so we’re really pleased to be able to test ourselves against them.  It’s going to be a really tough game and a really big game for the club. Hopefully we’ll have a nice crowd here if it’s a midweek fixture.  We look forward to inviting them down and battling against them.  We’re young, we’ve got no fear and do our best against them.”

The Acre are five points adrift of sixth-placed Sutton Athletic and travel to second-from-bottom side Phoenix Sports Reserves on Saturday.

Ford said: “It will be tough. Phoenix are a young side and they try to play football the right way, I’ve got a lot of time for Del Oldfield who manages them.

“But it’s a game that we’ve got to be looking to get three points from if we want to finish where we want to finish this season.

“I keep going on about that top six. It’s very important for me and the management team and the players know where we want to be at the end of the season so it’s a game where I want to get three points but it’s going to be a hard, hard, hard place to go and try to dig out those points.

“Even thought they’re sitting in the bottom two of the league table (with seven points from 15 games), I know the quality that they possess. They’re young and energetic and they’ll keep going until the 90th minute so we’ll have to put in a professional performance and we need to be at it on the day.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead: Charlie Martin, Elliott Rayment-Johnson, Timi Osibodu, Darius Izukanne, Cameron Reardon, Mason Simms (Joel Mensah 68), Cain Cruz, Max Williams (Andrade Caetano 46), Stephen Wetherley (David Duodu-Amoah 70), Jamie Rawsthorne, Merrick Simms.
Subs: Cristian Borchescu, Daniel Willis

Goals: Cain Cruz 37, Merrick Simms 60, 69, David Duodu-Amoah 83

Meridian VP: Ben Ashton, George Ede, Myles Jay Duffus (Richardo Horwarth 68), Arnoud Limence (Michael Talabi 74), Stanley Ugwoke, Andrew Mante, Thierry Fotso, Emmanuel Njodzeka, Ryan Brown (Patrice Ndoumbe 48), Eric Akassou, Brandon Hobbs.
Sub: Kye Trott

Goal: Richard Horwarth 90

Booked: Emmanuel Njodzeka 38

Attendance: 34
Referee: Mr Nick Derrane (Ramsgate)
Assistants: Mr Matthew Grist (Bearsted) & Mr Ryan Andrew (Gillingham)