Thamesmead Town 2-0 Waltham Abbey - We're getting better and better every game, says Keith McMahon

Tuesday 19th August 2014

Ryman League Division One North
Tuesday 19th August 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Bayliss Avenue

THAMESMEAD TOWN manager Keith McMahon says he dedicates their win over league leaders Waltham Abbey to late committee member Terry Luthwaite, 74, who was laid to rest earlier in the day.

Waltham Abbey arrived at Bayliss Avenue sitting proudly at the top of the Ryman League Division One North table after beating Aveley (2-0), Chatham Town (3-2) and Romford (2-1).

But Paul Wickenden’s side were wasteful in front of goal and Thamesmead Town took full advantage to maintain their 100% home record.

The Mead began their campaign with a 2-1 home win over Barkingside, before drawing two games on the road, a goal-less draw at Cheshunt was followed by a 3-3 draw at AFC Sudbury at the weekend.

Striker Tyrus Gordon-Young scored his third goal in four games and Ashley Probets’ second half free-kick extended the home club’s unbeaten run to four games to climb up to fifth-place in the table on eight points, four behind new leaders Needham Market.

The victory was a fitting tribute to turnstile operator Mr Luthwaite, as the men in green put in a spirited performance to send Waltham Abbey tumbling down to fourth-place.

McMahon said: “I’m really pleased. I thought we worked really, really hard.  Waltham Abbey are not a bad side. I thought we wore them down, second half especially and I thought we done really well.

“I’m over the moon. Performances have been getting better and better every game. We’re only four games in so yes, I’m pleased with that.

“I said to the lads before, we’ve had two difficult away games with Sudbury – which we could have won – and Cheshunt. I said they could be hard games.

“Win our home games, two points every game and you win the League. We set ourselves a target the year before when we was in this league and that’s what you’ve got to try to do.  Win your home games and try to pick up points away and we’ve done that.

“I thought we looked quite solid here tonight.”

The small crowd of 49 wondered how Waltham Abbey failed to open the scoring inside the opening seven minutes.

Set-piece specialist Tom Bruno whipped in a quality free-kick into the penalty area but bustling striker Jason Hallett, who was unmarked, sent his diving header past the left-hand post.

McMahon said: “When you’re playing a good side, they’re going to create chances. You’ve just got to try to limit them and then get yours and I thought we did.”

Thamesmead Town’s opening chance arrived six minutes later.

Probets clipped a diagonal pass to release striker Stuart Zanone down the right, who hooked a high cross towards the edge of the penalty area, which was missed by Gordon-Young, but Rob Carter trapped the ball before poking the ball through to Gordon-Young, who skied his left-footed volley high over the bar and into the car park.

There were eleven men positioned on the goal-line when Probets swung in a corner from the right and Abbotts keeper James May did well to punch the ball away under pressure.  Midfielder Sean Roberts brought the ball under control and his right-footed chip from 25-yards was caught by the keeper high above his head.

Bruno swung another free-kick into the Thamesmead box where Hallett’s header was blocked by Rob Budd at his near post.

Ben Bradbury, Jack Daveney and three-goal striker James Pengrum linked up well down the left and the ball came out to Bruno, who drilled his first time shot over the bar from 22-yards.

But Waltham Abbey were to be denied a deserved lead after 26 minutes thanks to Budd’s strong right hand.

Bruno played the ball forward and Pengrum’s flicked pass was pushed forward by Elmes right leg before he maintained composure and his right-footed shot forced Budd to dive to his right and use his hand to push the ball towards safety.

“Farai (Hallam) lost him a couple of times reeling off the back stick. It was a good save by Rob and he’s made a couple of good saves through the game,” said McMahon.

“Rob’s a good goalkeeper and he’s had to do his bit tonight as well as the defenders to hang in with them.

“Rob won goalkeeper-of-the-year the last time he was in this division so I haven’t got no issues with him and he’s started really well this year.

“I thought they were quite a good side. They started well until we sort of wore them down a bit.

“After about the first 25 minutes we sort of battled well and competed.” 

Waltham Abbey sprayed the ball from left to right but Daveney dragged his right-footed shot across Budd and also past the far post.

Thamesmead Town – who played a 4-3-3 formation for large chunks of the game – finished the first half on the front foot.

Right-back Michael Spencer poured forward before cutting the ball back to Ross Murphy, who whipped in a first time cross towards the near post where Stuart Zanone’s header was cleared off the line by Joe Kizzi and Roberts’ follow-up shot was clutched to safety by the grounded May on his goal-line.

McMahon said: “The geezer hooked it off the line and Sean has really got to get it over the line and he’s managed to find the goalkeeper lying on the floor.

“So frustrating. I thought it was going to be one of those nights but it’s just nice for him to get into the box but it doesn’t matter now!”

Zanone suffered a frustrating night, being caught offside seven times and the former Greenwich Borough striker has now gone four games without scoring.

“I’m not really fussed about that,” said McMahon.

“Stuart’s frustrated but he just needs one. He came to us not 100% fit. He didn’t play all pre-season games. He’s got travelling issues as well but I thought he worked quite hard, especially the last half-an-hour. 

“He’s getting frustrated. As I keep saying to him football’s not textbook, especially at the beginning of the season. You have to try to live off scraps. All he needs to do is get one and I’ve got no doubts. He’s going on to score goals.

“Tyrone is a handful. He’s scored nine goals in eleven games at the end of last season so we’ve got him and Ross Carter, who made his first start tonight as well and I thought he was absolutely fantastic.

“I’ll be patient with Stuart. He may not score in the first six, seven, eight games and then he might get ten in about four.”

But Thamesmead Town grabbed the lead with 42:10 on the clock through the inform Gordon-Young.

Farai Hallam clipped the ball out of defence which sailed over Waltham Abbey’s two central defenders and Gordon-Young nipped in to glance his header past the advancing May from eighteen-yards, the ball bouncing into the corner of an empty net.

“Just before the ball through I thought we played some good stuff,” said McMahon.

“We was on top and they just made a rash clearance and its fallen straight to Farai. He’s taken a touch, a bit of composure and he’s picked out a great pass and Tyrus, it’s a great finish.

“He’s unplayable at the moment. Saturday against Sudbury he was absolutely unplayable. Tonight, when he puts himself about, he’s too strong for anyone at this level. His pace and power and determination and he can score and I think that’s his third goal in four games so you can’t knock that. He deserved it.”

Another smart save from the Mead keeper kept the lead intact at the end of the first half.

Kizzi exchanged passes down the right with winger Daveney before whipping in a cross into the penalty area and Hallett’s downward header was clawed away by Budd, to prevent the ball finding the top left-hand corner.

When asked his thoughts at the break, McMahon replied: “I thought we were on top.  I basically said keep solid and keep doing what we’re doing. Clean sheet and we’ll win the game. 

“I wanted us to keep the ball a little bit better and I thought if we kept turning them - they didn’t have a huge amount of pace at the back - and I just said we’re going to be a handful, as long as we play a decent ball.

“I wanted the midfield three to get on the front foot and press the ball in their half a little bit more and I thought we did and we picked up a lot of balls in their last third and drove at them.  Just the final pass let us down a couple of times and a few rash challenges I think.”

Thamesmead Town created the first chance of the second half inside the opening four minutes.

Rob Carter hit Waltham Abbey on the break to release Gordon-Young, who cut into the edge of the penalty area, before drilling his right-footed shot high over the goal.

Thamesmead’s never-say-die attitude was evident on the hour when they got bodies back inside the penalty box to block drives from Pengrum and Elmes on the hour-mark.

There were bodies inside the Mead penalty area again when central midfielder Bruno cut the ball to Bradbury down the left and he passed to Elmes who played in Hallet in behind and his driven shot on the angle was blocked at the near post by Budd.

But Thamesmead Town killed the game off with 21 minutes remaining through Probets’ first goal of the season.

Waltham Abbey’s central defender Ryan Kirby fouled Zanone on the edge of the penalty area and Zanone walked away from the ball to allow the left-back to take the resulting free-kick.

Probets stroked his left-footed free-kick around the wall into the right-hand corner of the goal.

“I’m pleased for Ashley,” said McMahon.

“He missed most of last year with his cruciate, before he scored about fifteen goals from left-back.

“He’s still not fully fit but he’s getting there. His work-rate and commitment to our club is second to none. He’s been exceptional.  There isn’t anyone who has a better left foot than him in this level. It’s a big statement, I know. We’ve got Derek Duncan here as well who is injured, who is most probably the second best.

“Any time you get a free-kick around the edge of the box, you know Ash has got a chance. He should put it in. He’s put it in position and scored so I’m really pleased with him.”

Simon Glover came off the bench to sit in midfield to protect the Thamesmead back four, which was excellently marshalled by Lewis Tozer, who put in a great performance as skipper to maintain Budd’s second clean sheet.

McMahon said: “It’s one of those games. You sit there and you’ve got a lot of confidence in your back four and your midfield.

“I thought Rob came and caught and punched some really good crosses as well.

“When you’ve got Lew Tozer playing at the back, as well as he played tonight, he looked a completely different level. He won every single header and their front three are a handful. Lew and Farai dealt with them really well so I was comfortably with crosses coming into the box.”

Waltham Abbey went close to pulling a goal back with nine minutes remaining when substitute Andy Edmunds cut the ball back to Kizzi, who whipped in a cross and winger Bradbury glanced his header across goal and just past the far post.

McMahon added: “They threw a lot of bodies forward and put a cross in and he’s just glanced one over really.”

McMahon dedicated tonight’s win to Mr Luthwaite.

“It was a great win for him.  We said to his wife we’ll do our best for him. He was a great lad, a great character around us and he loved the football club and it was a really sad time.

“We found out about him on the first game of the season and hopefully we’ve done him proud tonight.  Hopefully he’s looking down with a big smile on his face.

“We’re a very big family club here and we had a big turnout for his funeral today by the football club, which was outstanding and that just shows what we’re about.

“His family know that and they’re close to all our hearts. We’re very sympathetic towards them.  If there’s anything we could do…

“We’ve got the Kent Senior Cup game against VCD and it’s going to be dedicated in his name and we’re going to honour him because his wife was at VCD as well.

“It was icing on the cake for him today, a bit of a smile on my face, after a tough day.”

Chairman Terry Hill used his programme notes to pay his own tribute.

“It’s been a very difficult day for us today as the committee attended the funeral of Terry “Turnstile” Luthwaite after his recent passing.

“Although Terry was not a committee member as such, he was very much a key part of the club. He would help us in collecting the entrance money and putting the goals up on a matchday.

“Terry was a good friend to all of us and was very much loved by everyone at the club. 

“He certainly loved his football and, although he was 74 years old, he would also travel to away games to cheer on the Mead.

“Knowing Terry, he will be looking down on us this evening and willing us to win against a very good Waltham Abbey side.”

Thamesmead Town: Rob Budd, Michael Spencer, Ashley Probets, Jack Hopkins, Lewis Tozer, Farai Hallam, Sean Roberts, Ross Murphy, Tyrus Gordon-Young (Simon Glover 77), Stuart Zanone (Rashid Kamara 90), Rob Carter (Leslie Thompson 85).
Subs: Richard Butler, Adem Ramadan

Goals: Tyrus Gordon-Young 43, Ashley Probets 69

Booked: Tyrus Gordon-Young 66, Jack Hopkins 66, Simon Glover 79, Leslie Thompson 88

Waltham Abbey:  James May, Joe Kizzi, Matt Bedford, Stef Szajewski, Ryan Kirby, Tom Bruno, Jack Daveney (Andy Edmunds 73), James Elmes, Jason Hallett, James Pengrum (Junior Fatai 80), Ben Bradbury (Jake Giddings 84).
Subs: Matt Attard, Darrelle Russell

Booked: Ryan Kirby 66

Attendance: 49
Referee: Mr Daniel Richardson (Enfield, Middlesex)
Assistants: Mr Luigi Lungerells (Hoxton, London N1) & Mr Newton Gordon (Cheshunt, Hertfordshire)