Sporting Club Thamesmead 0-1 Welling Town - There's a lot of pressure on the boys the fact that we're top of the league and we're 10 points clear, says Welling Town boss Louis Dean

Friday 28th December 2018
Sporting Club Thamesmead 0 – 1 Welling Town
Location Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead, London SE28 8NJ
Kickoff 28/12/2018 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Friday 28 December 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Bayliss Avenue

WELLING TOWN manager Louis Dean says his side are under pressure to win promotion at the end of the season.

The big-spending club extended their lead at the top of the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table to 10 points after grabbing victory in the tenants-versus-tenants clash at Bayliss Avenue.

Welling Town captain Enoch Adjei scored his seventh goal of the season in the 26th minute to claim the local bragging rights in front of a Friday night crowd of 202.

The Boots have 48 points from 21 league games but the next six sides do have games in hand over them. 

Bridon Ropes and Kennington follow with 38 points from 18 games; Holmesdale are in fourth with 37 points from 18 games, while Sutton Athletic (32 points from 15 games), Erith & Belvedere (31 points from 15 games) and Stansfeld (26 points from 16 games) are all within touching distance, while Sporting Club Thamesmead remain in eighth place with 25 points from 20 games.

“First half I thought going forward wise we looked promising. We looked quite exciting and we created quite a few chances that we should’ve put away really,” said Dean, who has now won three of his four games in charge of the club since taking over from Richard Dimmock.

“They then got into the game, starting moved the ball well. We were a bit unorganised at times but when we won the ball we countered really quickly then created another couple of chances.

“We got the goal, which settled us down a little bit but second half was nowhere near it, which the boys all understand but for us at the moment it’s a results business and we’ve got the three points. We had to dig in and showed a bit of character and got the three points in the end and that’s what matters at the moment.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead manager Joe Ford said: “Disappointed with the first half performance. I thought we were probably at 60% to how we could play but I can’t fault the boys’ efforts in the second half. We were by far the better team in the second half.

“We had a few chances that we didn’t take.  The first half proved costly in the end.

“I’m disappointed with the way we conceded the goal but I can’t knock the boys’ efforts over the 90 minutes. I thought second half we deserved something out of the game.”

The Southern Counties East Football League should have more Friday night games across the two divisions as this one was well supported.

Ford said: “Brilliant! Really good crowd. Really pleased that everyone came out and saw what we can do in the second half, not so much the first.  I’ve just said to the boys after the game that they haven’t disappointed tonight. I’m sure anyone watching that game would’ve been entertained.”

Dean added: “That’s nice to see. It’s nice to see people coming out, just unfortunately we could’ve give them a more entertaining game from our point of view.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead created the first opening inside the opening seven minutes when Stephen Wetherley played the ball into Tom Youngs and his left-footed drive towards the top right-hand corner from 25-yards was tipped over by Jack Moore’s outstretched right-hand.

Taser Hassan drove in the resulting corner from the right and Cameron Reardon came up from the back to loop his free-header over the crossbar from 15-yards.

Ford said: “Good effort. It was a half-chance really. He hadn’t really connected well with the strike and the goalkeeper’s just had to make sure he tipped it over but it was a quick start by us.  I thought we started pretty well but then after the first 10 minutes we let them come out on top, which was disappointing after the start.”

Dean added: “Mehmet (Piro) got a bit sucked out and didn’t get across in relation to the ball and he (Youngs) managed to turn and have a shot and Jack was on the right side where the ball was and made a decent enough save, that’s what he’s there for.”

Welling Town immediately went up the other end and left-winger Sam Bailey was given time and space to slip the ball into Harry Gamble’s feet and the former Stansfeld midfielder saw his shot from the corner of the six-yard box tipped around the post by Charlie Martin.

Dean said: “Going forward I didn’t have too many complaints. It’s just that final product. The keeper’s made a good save.”

Ford added: “We just switched off.  We spoke about their midfielders making late runs in to the box. We knew they were a threat from their third-man runs and luckily enough Charlie was there to tip it around the post.”

Youngs was busy for The Acre and he drilled a low free-kick into the base of the wall, which took the sting out of the shot and Moore made a comfortable save low to his right to prevent the ball nestling into the bottom near corner.

Welling Town issued a warning in the 16th minute when left-back Daryl Dylan clipped a long ball over the top which sailed over Hassan’s head and put Gamble through down the left. He whipped in a deep cross towards the edge of the penalty area and an unmarked Bailey hooked his left-footed shot over the crossbar from 18-yards.

“We want players to join in, so as many numbers as we can, the more people getting forward, the more chances you have of scoring,” said Dean.

“He got too much on the ball and got underneath it and cleared the fence but they’re getting into good areas and creating the chances. If we wasn’t creating the chances there would be an issue but they weren’t and I was quite happy going forward.”

Ford added: “Taser came straight back into the side tonight after being absent for a few games and I thought for the first 20 minutes it took him a little while to get into the game.  His shape wasn’t great but I thought after that initial 20 minutes he was one of our best players tonight. It was a great run (by Bailey) from midfield and we need to pick up better there.”

Welling Town claimed the three points with their winning goal coming with 25 minutes and 30 seconds on the clock.

The Boots hit a long ball forward which Golding flicked in behind the home side’s two centre-halves (Reardon and Mason Simms) and put Adjei through on goal straight through the heart of the pitch.  Keeper Martin came off his line to parry the shot but Adjei kept composed to slot the ball into the net from 12-yards when Hassan could have done more to prevent the inevitable.

Dean said he wants his captain to double his goalscoring tally by the end of the season.

“Golding’s not going to run in behind them so we try to get it in his feet and ask the two midfielders to get on beyond, which Enoch did and calm enough at the second attempt to put it away,” he said.

“Hopefully he’ll double that goalscoring figure by the end of the season. He was playing out wide so we put him in a bit more central because he likes to get on the ball a lot and the last couple of games he’s done that and he’s the matchwinner today so that contribution says it all.”

Ford added: “It was a disappointing goal.  The goal’s originally came from a goal-kick that Charlie hit quite well.  The ball’s in midfield and it’s unchallenged before it’s gone into Ryan Golding’s feet, which we’re most disappointed with. A lot were ball watching and he’s put a great ball and Enoch’s there.

“Charlie’s pulled off a great save. I’m a little bit disappointed that we haven’t covered round but it did happen ever so quickly, so I can’t really blame the centre-halves too much but it would’ve been nice for someone to throw their body on the line there but it really wasn’t to be.”

Welling Town’s holding midfielder Mehmet Piro slipped the ball into Jordan Samuel’s feet but the former FC Elmstead winger cut into the middle to drag his shot past the left-hand post from 22-yards.

Both sides then used their head to create openings inside the final 10 minutes of the half.

Reardon launched his fourth and final long throw into the Welling Town box and Wetherley – who was ever so quiet after the goal – jumped up to loop his header into Moore’s hands for a comfortable catch.

And at the other end, Piro floated a free-kick into the Sporting Club Thamesmead penalty area for Gamble to rise to loop his header from eight-yards into Martin’s gloves at his near post.

The Acre keeper pulled off a swift reaction save to deny Welling Town doubling their lead just before the interval.

Bailey fed Golding, who flicked the ball across to Samuel on the right-hand side of the penalty area but Martin rushed off his line and raised both of his hands to make a brave save from a hooked attempt on goal.

“Again, a great save. We created enough chances in the first half, it’s just making sure we put it in the back of the net and the keeper’s made a couple of good saves,” said Dean.

Ford said: “Charlie had a really good game.  Every one-on-one he dealt with pretty well apart from the gaol where he’s unlucky because he’s made the initial save and no ones backed him up.

“He’s been really good for us this season. He’s been an ever-present in the side this season and on his day he’s one of the best keepers in this league but he’s kept us in the game there at 1-0.”

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the interval.

Ford said: “I just felt we could express ourselves a little bit more if I’m honest with you.  I didn’t feel we were playing at the tempo that we were capable of. We didn’t get the ball wide enough where we threaten people. Maybe a lack of discipline from the wide players not staying high up the pitch to hurt people but ultimately I told them we needed to up it! I felt there was another 20-25% that we could get out of them and credit to them I felt when we went out in the second half we were the better team.”

Dean added: “As I said to them at half-time, just make sure second half that when we do go forward just be a bit more clinical in that final third, which we did because we didn’t get forward much!”

Sporting Club Thamesmead were the better side during the interval as Welling Town hung on after creating their only chance of the second half inside the opening three minutes.

Piro and winger Bailey linked up well in the final third before setting up Golding, who drilled his right-footed shot past the left-hand post from 22-yards.

“Just hit the target, that’s all you can ask but he didn’t but it’s not a problem because we created another opportunity after that,” said Dean.

“Again, a half-chance and we shouldn’t be really letting him get a shot off there. We should’ve been tighter but I think that was the only real chance they had in the second half,” added Ford.

It proved to be a frustrating night for Golding as well as Sporting Club Thamesmead wingers Merrick Simms and Cain Cruz, who failed to live up to expectations and lacked their usual creative flair out wide.

Ford said: “We dominated, we were pretty much camped inside their half, minus a few half-chances but listen they defended really really well so I’ve got to give them credit, but we didn’t have that quality in the final third to unlock them. Some of the football we played in the second half was exceptional and we were really unlucky not to get anything out of it in the end.”

Dean added: “We played a little bit deeper, kept giving the ball away cheaply and fair play to them they gave it a go and played some good stuff. We made it very easy for them getting sucked over towards the ball but our energy and our work-rate and that willingness not to be defeated, they showed good character in the second half and it could so easily gone the other way.”

Hassan floated in a free-kick from the left which was met by Cruz’s glancing header from 14-yards, which was plucked out of the air by Moore, high to his left as The Acre side set the tone for the rest of the half.

Moore held a low angled drive from Hassan low down beside his near post after Hassan’s initial corner was punched back to him by the Welling Town goalkeeper on the hour-mark.

Hassan delivered a free-kick from the right which was met by a towering header from 12-yards from Mason Simms, which looped towards goal, forcing Moore to use his right-hand to push over the crossbar.

Ford said: “Mason was a little bit disappointed because he said he could’ve aimed it a little bit further in the corner and I don’t think the goalkeeper has got any chance. 

“To be fair to their goalkeeper over the two games we’ve played them he’s been the difference in the game we lost here 2-1 (on 26 September) and tonight as well he’s pulled off two blinding saves to win the game.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead had the luxury of bringing on 14-goal striker Josh Patrick, who is recovering from an ankle injury he sustained in early November.

The star-striker latched onto Mason Simms’ long ball over the top and watched the ball drop out of the sky before hooking his left-footed volley across the keeper and over the crossbar in the 28th minute.

“Josh has been missing for a couple of months so it’s nice to have him back,” said Ford.

“He returned against Erith & Belvedere, played the last 25-30 minutes and we got a little bit longer out of him tonight so we’re really pleased he’s back with us in the squad now and I’m sure it will only be a matter of time until he’s firing again. 

“I can’t knock the run but a fit Josh Patrick might’ve brought that down and finished it but since he’s been injured, he’s been around the squad and has been at every ground we’ve played more or less and it’s a credit to have him back in the side.”

The Acre struck the crossbar in the final 13 minutes when Hassan floated in a free-kick from the left some 35-yards from goal and Mason Simms met it with another looping header, this time from 10-yards, which bounced off the crossbar.

“We hit the bar there and we’re really disappointed it hasn’t gone in,” admitted Ford.

“Mason’s always a threat from set-plays. If I’m being a little bit critical, which I can’t be because he was excellent tonight. He would’ve wanted to score that.  It’s coming. I’m sure it will be a matter of time until he’s heading them into the back of the net. He was really unlucky there. It just wouldn’t fall in the back of the net tonight.”

Dean admitted: “Again, lady luck! It was just meant to be our day thankfully. You can’t be perfect all the time. Fair play to them, they came at us and gave it a good go second half.

“But if you want to finish top of the league sometimes you have to grind out these sort of results. You can’t play well every week. The second half in particular wasn’t great but they dug-in and got the three points.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead squandered a glorious chance to claim a deserved point but the chance fell to their left-back in the final three minutes.

Substitute right-back Elliott Rayment-Johnson played the ball inside to Youngs, who split open the Welling defence with a sublime diagonal pass to put Joel Mensah in behind but his shot from eight-yards was blocked by Moore’s legs and the quiet Merrick Simms follow-up shot was blasted towards the flyover.

Ford said:  “It’s a great run from Joel. I spoke to him at half-time about pushing up the pitch a little bit more when we were in possession in the final third because if we overload in those areas we were always going to be a threat.

“You’ve got to give the goalkeeper credit there as well. It’s a great save and he’s kept them in it but Joel will be disappointed he hasn’t finished but it’s a great save, I can’t knock Joel.”

Dean added:” Jordan (Samuel) got tucked in and I shouted across to come back out because it was the full-back that run through. It was a great little run by him, a great through ball. Our right-back (Raheem Chentouf) ball-watched a little bit but Jack done superbly to stop it from going in, otherwise all that hard work we’ve done in the second half is all but wasted.

“Jack has been phenomenal this season, he’s been fantastic ever since I’ve come in and he’s saved us at the end so fair play to him.”

Ford’s men have now gone four games without a win in all competitions and they host bottom-five side Lydd Town on Saturday 5 January 2019 (15:00).

“We should’ve got a point, everyone in the crowd will agree. It’s been the story of our season though,” admitted Ford, after his side lost their ninth league game of the season tonight.

“We just fell short time and time again.  Everyone keeps praising us with the football we’re playing and the style of play but ultimately it’s a points business and we need to start putting points on the board.

“We’ve played the most number of games now in the league and our points record needs to be a lot better going into the second half of the season.

“We’ve made that clear to the players because we don’t want to get sucked into that 10-11-12th placed battle.

“We want to be up there in the top six, like I said at the start of the season. It’s still my aim. I want to get this club in The FA Cup next year and I’ve got a squad here capable of it but results aren’t falling our way. I can’t keep saying to the boys ‘unlucky’, we need to turn it around. They know that and they’re gutted not to get anything out of tonight.”

Welling Town make the trip to second-form-bottom side Phoenix Sports at the same time.

“There’s a lot of pressure on the boys, the fact that we’re top of the league and 10 points clear at the moment so although lots of teams around us have got games in hand, they have to win them,” said Dean.

“We just have got to keep plugging away and keep getting results. Sometimes the performances might not reflect that but what I keep eluding to it’s a results business and we’ve come away with a clean sheet, which is nice but most importantly we’ve come away with three points.

“Listen, it’s obviously a nice feeling (winning the derby) but as I look at it we’re just going to go out and win every game, that’s all we can do regardless if it’s a local derby or we’re going down to the coast. Three points is three points. That’s all we care about at the moment and once we get to the position where promotion is most importantly secured then we can start dissecting and reflecting a little bit more but at the moment regardless who we’re playing against, it’s three points and that’s the main thing.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead: Charlie Martin, Taser Hassan, Joel Mensah, David Jesus, Mason Simms, Cameron Reardon, Cain Cruz (Elliott Rayment-Johnson 82), Jamie Rawsthorne, Stephen Wetherley (Josh Patrick 55), Tom Youngs, Merrick Simms.
Subs: Andrade Caetano, Ben Williams

Booked: Cain Cruz 64

Welling Town: Jack Moore, Raheem Chentouf, Daryl Dylan, Mehmet Piro, Dan Wells, Ricky Hepburn, Jordan Samuel, Harry Gamble, Ryan Golding (Harvey Meech 89), Enoch Adjei, Sam Bailey (Jack Godfrey 68).
Subs: Brodie Couzins, Ricky Hardie, Frederick Agyemang

Goal: Enoch Adjei 26

Booked: Ricky Hepburn 62, Mehmet Piro 76, Ryan Golding 86, Harry Gamble 90, Jack Godfrey 90

Attendance: 202
Referee: Mr Piotr Zachwieja (Chatham)
Assistants: Mr Adam Back (Sidcup) & Mr Joshua Marshall (Welling)