Sporting Club Thamesmead 4-1 Welling Town - It's still a massive fight for Joe Ford and it just encourages us to fight, says Sporting Club Thamesmead boss Jason Long

Thursday 25th July 2019
Sporting Club Thamesmead 4 – 1 Welling Town
Location Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead, London SE28 8NJ
Kickoff 25/07/2019 19:45

Pre-Season Friendly
Thursday 25 July 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Bayliss Avenue

SPORTING CLUB Thamesmead manager Jason Long dedicated their victory to their hospitalised former manager after winning silverware in a benefit game for Joe Ford.

A crowd of 205 watched Sporting Club Thamesmead replicate the fighting spirt that is being shown by Ford, who was taken to hospital in March with sepsis and has had one of his legs amputated recently.

Welling Town are preparing for their debut campaign in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division this season, having won the First Division title at the first attempt, while Sporting Club Thamesmead finished in ninth-place in the table.

The Boots opened the scoring after only 127 seconds through central midfielder Tijani Eshildkun’s goal-line tap in following a free-kick, but Dartford prospect Jedd Smith drilled in an equaliser shortly afterwards.

Sporting Club Thamesmead turned the game around during the second half and Smith struck a half-volley to give Long’s men the lead, before Chris Hubbard scored from a penalty before striker Tim Beckford buried a header from a corner.

“An incredible night for him. We done a little Facetime at the end for him and seeing his face, it’s amazing! You can see how happy and delighted he is and that was all for Joe,” said Long.

“I’m still very grateful for the opportunity I had to work with him and he’s allowed me to get the job as a manager at SC Thamesmead.

“We’re fighting for him and it’s still a massive fight for Joe and what he’s doing and how he’s fighting, it just encourages us to fight.

“I’m proud of him and the boys have done him proud especially second half.

“Taz (Aaron Jeffery) is one of Joe’s best mates and he said a few words at half-time, really stood with the boys and they’ve gone out second half and made a fantastic account of ourselves.”

Welling Town manager Danny Wakeling said: Bitterly disappointing. I’m glad I’ve come out to do this as apposed to go into the dressing room and get your feelings out. It will be a good move just to stay calm and let the rest of the management team take the clothes down in there.

“We started brilliantly, scored early, possibly looking at the body language of our players it might be a case of scoring too early. The boys probably took the foot of the gas almost after scoring too quickly so that tells me a lack of concentration and professionalism.

“I’m just disappointed with our attitude. If you’re given an opportunity early in the game, just to grab hold of it and from that point onwards and not give anything away from that period of the game and go for the second.

“We started off a bit malaise, I think personally, although we had most of the ball in the first half.”

When asked about Ford’s current plight, Wakeling replied: “I’m not sure what we’ve raised tonight to aid his recovery. Words fail me what’s happened to him.   What a thing to happen to someone. Joe’s a nice fella. It’s always the good’uns that these sort of things happen to but what I’ve seen recently, he’s not quitter. He’s grafting and fighting and that is actually inspiring a lot of people to really support him the best as possible. He’s a good character and he will come through this. He will come through the other side.”

Welling Town opened the scoring with the first attempt on goal.

Midfielder Adam O’Neill floated in a free-kick from the left which fell at the feet of Jack Fenton on the edge of the six-yard box and he poked the ball across the keeper towards the bottom far corner but poacher Eshildkun stabbed the ball over the line.

Wakeling said: “Some of the lads actually said Tijani Eshildkun got the last touch apparently.  I’ve got to have a check at the video.   I think he got a bit of tape on it, a couple of laces on it.

“It was a good start, a good strike from Adam forced the keeper into a save that he parried and pounced on it straight away.  It thought that was going to be a marker for the night then.”

Long said: “Just seems a little bit of last season, just being a little bit unorganised from set-pieces and conceding poor goals in early parts of games and it’s still something we need to work on.

“We are trying to improve and the boys understand if you give away free-kicks and fouls on the edge of the box teams will punish you.  You have to make sure when you do, if you do organise yourself and set up and look after the goalkeeper in front of you, they’ll learn from that.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead went close to equalising when centre-half Andy Pierce toe poked a fine pass to release left-winger Merrick Simms down the left and he cut into the box and clipped his cross across the keeper and watched it bounce just past the foot of the far post.

“It just shows what we’ve got about us. When we do look to play we can play and we will create a lot of chances when we get the ball in the middle and get it out wide,” said Long.

“It’s just converting those chances so I know it will happen. It’s a good bunch of boys still trying to get to know each other and learning about each other and they will start to get their results and rewards if they just keep working and keep buying into what we’re saying and just keep working really.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead equalised with 10 minutes and 20 seconds on the clock and winger Smith proved he is too good for the tenth-tier of English football.

Pierce swung in a free-kick from the right, Welling Town cleared their lines and Smith drilled a brilliant volley into the bottom right-hand corner from 20-yards.

“Absolutely delighted for the kid. He’s been doing his pre-season at Dartford Football Club,” said Long.

“He came through my academy at Dartford, he’s done extremely well. He’s done a great pre-season but he’s got to earn his stripes and it’s only going to come from men’s’ football so we’ll give him his opportunity coming here.

“I know he will take it and there will be a lot of goals in the locker for him.  As long as he keeps working hard and keeps his head focused, he’s got the technical quality to deliver.”

Wakeling added: “Brilliant strike through a crowd of players. He’s got over the ball and as soon as he connected with it you heard the noise and you knew it was going into the net.

“Jack Moore is a fantastic goalkeeper but no ones stopping that through a crowded penalty area.

“From our point of view we should’ve soaked the ball up at the other end.  We had a second opportunity to clear it, the ball came into the box and we didn’t deal with it. It was tepid and then you invite a quality player to despatch a quality goal.”

Welling Town were enjoying plenty of possession during the first half and Chris Round floated in a deep cross from the left and was met on a hooked volley by right-wing-back Dennis Agbudume, which flew over the crossbar from 12-yards.

Welling Town should have taken a nineteenth minute lead when the woodwork and a flying save denied them.

Left-wing-back Round played the ball into O’Neill’s feet and he released pacey striker Gareth Jones through on goal and he opened his body up score when he only had Aaron Cathrew to beat.

However, he swept his right-footed shot against the base of the near post and Eshildkun teed up O’Neill, who cracked a right-footed drive from 25-yards, which forced Cathrew to bounce up to dive high to his left to palm the ball behind for a corner.

Wakeling said:  “We sort of looked bright and threatening in the first half.  There was some intent there at times but even early in the game, I thought I could see us having a bit of the ball and I was wondering which one of our forwards would really turn up tonight and put the ball in the back of the net.

“Call me hyper-critical but Gareth has got to score. He’s gone near post rather than go across the keeper.  He gets his body around the ball on the angle and he passes that into the opposite corner.

“It’s a shame because he scored two cracking goals against Ashford and ran them ragged. He played really well, his finishes have been good in pre-season, so when he got into the position, I backed him to score.

“The keepers got down, got back up and saved Adam’s effort. He’s a good young keeper but I still think he shouldn’t be able to get near to making a double save.”

Long added:  “There were four new lads in that first half that are out playing and haven’t played together so that makes a little bit of difference but they will get to gel in time.

“We just have to be organised and just have to make sure they’re not slow across the pitch and make sure the back four are organised, making sure that we’re aware of any counter-attacks and getting our shape quicker off the ball.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead left-back Devante Roberts allowed the ball to go past him for a second time but was relieved when Agbudume hooked his shot into the side netting after latching onto another deep cross from Round.

Sporting Club Thamesmead weathered the storm and Max Walsh swung in a cross from the right with his left-foot and Pierce rose with Gary Beckett at the near post before planting his header wide of the near post from six-yards.

Welling Town won a free-kick close to the by-line on the right and the ball sailed over to James Day, who was unmarked on the corner of the six-yard box at the far post and he hooked his right-footed volley over the crossbar.

Long added: “They dominated us a little bit in the middle of the park. I felt that the boys who played in there done ok but they got pulled apart a little bit and they needed to be tight.

Wakeling added: “I thought Jim may have brought that down actually. He went across the body, he may have lost it in the lights a littler bit.  The player of his quality, I thought he might have brought that down and smashed it across the face of goal. He sort of went side foot and was in two minds.”

Dominant Welling Town missed another chance when Fenton cut in from the left before drilling his right-footed angled drive sailing past the near post from 25-yards.

An inspirational half-time team-talk from Sporting Club Thamesmead’s newly-appointed assistant manager Aaron Jeffrey sparked his team into life during a much improved second half performance.

“We said that we need to be more compact and if you can break up play and we can get on the ball we’ll start making things happen ourselves,” said Long.

“We did change the personnel and the boys who came on done really well and it seemed to have an impact and we got our rewards from it.”

Wakeling said: “I was relatively happy. We were not fully pleased with how we were playing. We had more of the ball and we did create more chances but we didn’t play with enough punch.

“We felt we had the opportunities but we needed to go up a couple of grades and being ruthless and that real intent. The worry is when you’ve had a decent first half like that and the opposition are in the game obviously that it’s only takes a moment to turn the game completely straight away in the second half.

“At half-time we spoke about our shape and we were one pass short and one player slightly out of position not enabling us to make one more penetrating run into the box.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead took the lead with two minutes and 56 seconds on the clock when left-wing-back Roberts launched a long deep free-kick from the half-way line and Welling Town’s defence failed to deal with the ball and Smith smacked his right-footed shot into the bottom near corner.

Long used bad language when he described Smith’s finish.

“He’s a cheeky f****r to be fair to him but please put stars above it because that’s exactly what he is,” said Long.

“He’s brilliant, full of confidence but he doesn’t know how to control himself by what he does but he’s technically unreal but he’s got great technique and he’ll set the league alright.

“It’s just how long we can keep him before he’ll be back on his travels down at the Dartford but all the time he’s here I’ve said work hard, that’s a big thing really, get your minutes in men’s football and take your chance when you get them because they might not always come.”

Wakeling said: “Good player, the lad.  The ball was in the air for about an hour. We didn’t adjust ourselves and it travelled over our shoulder like it did.  No one stood on the ball after giving away the free-kick, it shouldn’t have been given away in the first place.

“A lack of discipline and that attitude set the tone for the second half. We didn’t go out of the dressing room with the intent that we said we would so what was said in the dressing room was correct. The boys agreed but then once crossing the white line not enough of them took that onto the pitch.”

The Acre raced into a 3-1 lead with 10 minutes and 9 seconds on the clock, when they hit Welling Town on the counter-attack.

Smith shrugged off the attentions of Beckett in the middle of the park before releasing Simms, who charged down the left and was brought down by last-defender Day inside the box and referee Scott Rudd awarded a penalty.

With stormy clouds above and the floodlights just flickering into life, Hubbard struck his right-footed penalty into the top right-hand corner, aided by Jack Moore’s two hands.

Long said: “Again when we can play with a bit of speed, we get the ball moving. We were quite quick last year but it’s just making sure we do have the rewards from it so it’s good to see Jedd and Merrick link up and win the penalty. We’ve got two boys with speed on the wings who will cause a lot of problems this year.

“We give the ball to the old boy (Hubbard) and he’s done a job. He scored the other night from the penalty spot and he’s done it again tonight. He’s a good lad so he will do well.”

Wakeling said: “A good penalty, a good player Chris Hubbard to be fair.

“I’d like to watch the replay, obviously we’ve got the footage upstairs but Beckford was a quick player, he was never going to catch him. But I thought Gary Beckett could run diagonally across the lad and just hold him up. He sort of ran straight with Him and hope Jim was going to get there and was going to cut the cross out.

“As soon as Jim went to ground you could see it was a penalty all day and it was a penalty and I think we should’ve conceded a pen in the first half to be honest.”

There was a pinball inside the Welling Town penalty area and the ball landed at Beckford’s feet and the Sporting Club Thamesmead striker lashed his right-footed shot against the right-hand post after wriggling himself towards the edge of the six-yard box in the eighteenth minute.

“Tim has got quite a lot of attributes, obviously his aerial threat and his physical that is going to be a big help for us this year,” said Long.

“If we get him training and get him to finish with his feet then he’s going to be a handful as well for a lot of defenders. I’m so excited to have him on board and he should be signing shortly.”

Wakeling admitted: “I’m glad it didn’t go in. It isn’t a good nights work of football at all so I’m just grateful the fifth didn’t go in.”

Welling Town wasted a glorious chance to pull a goal back in the 65th minute.

Round played a short corner to O’Neill, who played the ball back to Round, who took a touch before delivering another deep corner, which was flicked over the bar by Day’s head at the far post.

“It wasn’t the best pass into Adam, he likes to come onto the ball first time and whip it around the face of goal and he had to take three or four touches and got involved in a one-on-one and he had to set it back to Chris Round and delivered it back stick.

“Jim Day got his head to it. He’s good enough, experienced enough and wise enough to head it back across goal and put the second phase away. It was a bit high the delivery, it over hung in the air perhaps.  Those first few things summed us up in the second half.”

Jones was pushed over by Pierce and Welling Town almost pulled a goal back but O’Neill’s dipping right-footed free-kick from 19-yards, which was destined for the bottom left-hand corner, was pushed around the post by Moore, who got down low to his right to make a fine save.

“We had two decent free-kicks. Maybe a little bit more purchase on the ball followed through and put your foot through the ball, the net might’ve bellowed but credit to the goalkeeper, he’s not the biggest of lad but he’s a very capable goalkeeper the young man,” said Wakeling.

Sporting Club Thamesmead completed the scoring when they scored their fourth goal of the night from a set-piece, timed at 28 minutes and 42 seconds.

Smith floated in a corner from the right towards the far post and physically strong Beckford buried his downward header into the back of the net from six-yards out.

“Again, that’s exactly what he’s going to do. He’s going to be a nuisance in the box with the aerial threat and he is fantastic bringing people into play, really hitting the target himself, so he’s going to be a great asset for us,” said Long.

Beckford has replaced star striker Josh Patrick, who has moved out of the area.

“Bless his heart. He’s moved up north with his missus so we’re happy for him but if he was to come back we’d welcome him with welcomed arms and go from there.  It is a big miss. His goals are massive but we’ve got to act and work with what we’ve got and that’s something that we’re defiantly going,” said Long.

Wakeling admitted: “At that point we looked in terms of defeat, in terms of defending we looked like marshmallows in the penalty area, we looked so soft it was unbelievable!

“This was not a good sign to see even when the game was 3-1 and there was 15 minutes left. At 3-1 you’ve still got an opportunity. 

“We haven’t thrown a body in front of the ball, we haven’t put a foot through the ball in the manner that they have and we’ve been rightly punished so it’s the small things that make up the big details. That has to be addressed before the start of the season.”

Smith wasted a good chance to score his hat-trick when he latched onto Alfie Evans’ through ball but dragged his shot across the keeper and past the far post when he only had Moore to beat.

Space opened up for Hubbard who unleashed a right-footed dipping drive from 25-yards, which Moore pulled off a fine save, diving swiftly low to his left to push the ball around the post for the Acre’s fifth and final corner of the night.

And at the other end, Welling Town’s Darnel Ditchburn stroked a right-footed free-kick towards the bottom near corner, which forced Cathrew to make a fine save, diving to his right to turn towards safety.

Sporting Club Thamesmead open their League campaign with a trip to Lydd Town on Saturday 3 August 2019 (15:00).

“We’re nearly there. I would say we’re not far away,” said Long, whose side host Erith & Belvedere on Saturday for their final warm-up outing.

“The squad has improved from the start of the season. We’ve put a lot of work in.

“Everyone has been really supportive, as I knew they would be from being here last year as assistant manager, so I think the boys are buying into the professionalism that we’re trying to create and keeping positive and get the boys working together and we can do some good things this year.”

Welling Town make their debut in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division with a home game against Canterbury City on Saturday week.

I was jokingly asked to ask Wakeling if he felt threatened with the sack after suffering a heavy defeat to a lower division side.

Laughing, Wakeling replied: “As Liam asked nicely, I’m absolutely fine, it’s absolutely fine. It’s not happening. It’s all good, it’s all good.  It’s cool, absolutely cool.”

Wakeling added: “We wanted to win because it’s the groundshare rivalry or whatever you want to call it. It’s a game for Joe Ford but when you’re playing co-sharers it puts a little bit on it and be out there with your game face and first half we were nearly there and second half we were nowhere near but we’ve got the Croydon game, another one next week and a session and we’ll be alright.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead: Aaron Cathrew, Reion McFarlane (Rob Ainsworth 81), Devante Roberts, Jamie Taylor (Chris Hubbard 46), Jordan Lovell, Andy Pierce (David Jesus 85), Jedd Smith, Hussein Afolabi (James Jerers 46), Kanan Fitton (Tim Beckford 46), Max Walsh (Alfie Evans 64), Merrick Simms (Jamie Fearn 61).
Sub: Muiz Alabi, Tom Seldon

Goals: Jedd Smith 11, 48, Chris Hubbard 56 (penalty), Tim Beckford 74

Welling Town: Jack Moore, Dennis Agbudume (Darnel Ditchburn 61), Chris Round, James Day, Gary Beckett, Peter Ojemen, Jack Fenton (Tobi Odusanya 61), Tijani Eshildkun (Tyreece Blake 81), Elyon Marshall-Katung (Divine Ogar 61), Gareth Jones, Adam O’Neill (Jhoan Tabima 81).
Subs: Harry Cripps, Nandi Shemar, Aaron Guard

Goal: Tijani Eshildkun 3

Attendance: 205
Referee: Mr Scott Rudd (Rochester)
Assistants: Mr Nick Monkman (Gillingham) & Mr James Grimley (Greenwich)