Thamesmead Town 1-2 Norwich United - I said to the chairman if we can finish higher than we did last year then it's an improvement, says Tommy Warrilow

Tuesday 24th January 2017
Thamesmead Town 1 – 2 Norwich United
Location Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead, London SE28 8NJ
Kickoff 24/01/2017 19:30

Ryman League Division One North
Tuesday 24th January 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Bayliss Avenue

THAMESMEAD TOWN boss Tommy Warrilow has challenged his side to finish in the top nine in the Ryman League Division One North - after the club confirmed that this will be their last season playing at Bayliss Avenue.

The 48-year-old club moved into Bayliss Avenue in 1985 and they will make an announcement next month to confirm where they’ll be playing their home games – although they will still be based within the Oyster card zone.

Thamesmead Town remain in fourteenth-place in the table on 40 points from 33 games and have 13 games remaining to claw back the 10 points that ninth-placed Aveley (now managed by former Mead boss Terry Spillane) if they are to meet Warrilow’s target for the rest of the season.

Steve Easthaugh’s Norwich United remain in 12th place in the table with 47 points from 30 games after grabbing a 2-1 victory, courtesy of two goals inside the opening 33 minutes through Shaun Wones and Jamie Speller, both notching their sixth of the season.

Thamesmead Town striker Paul Vines headed in his 19th goal of the season early in the second half but Norwich United’s timewasting frustrated Warrilow as his side failed to make the breakthrough and have now lost three games on the spin.

“Obviously disappointed, I thought that’s the best we’ve played for a little while and we’ve got nothing to show for it,” said Warrilow during the post-match press conference which was interrupted by a fire alarm going off in the complex caused by a hot water issue in the showers.

“I thought we were the better team on the night.   I’m disappointed with the time that’s been added on.   We’re talking to the ref about the time taking throw-ins but at the end of the day they’ve seen the game out well, but I thought the officials’ should’ve been a bit stronger with that.

“The linesman on our side (James Masson) in the first half, their second goal has come from our throw-in – it should be our throw-in – and he’s given it to them and we got punished on it.

“The first goal was very poor from a defensive point of view. Very disappointed, it only just made it over the line in the end from the header.

“But we were knocking on the door. We started really well and we find ourselves one down.  Then we pick ourselves up, go again.  I thought we started again after the goal feeling sorry for ourselves and then we get going but then we let another one in.

“Like I said to the boys tonight, I’ve not been happy with the last few games but I don’t think we were poor tonight and we’ve got nothing to show for it!”

Ipswich-based referee Rick Bloy made the unprecedented decision to start the game 15 minutes early due to fears that the pitch would freeze as the game went on.

Norwich United got out of the traps quickly and Steve Shipley’s throw-in landed at Christy Finch’s feet inside the box and he scuffed his shot on the turn into Tom Wellham’s hands - before they hit the base of the post after 95 seconds.

Nathan Stewart released his attacking partner Finch down the right channel and he skipped past the advancing Wellham but his right-footed shot rolled against the foot of the near post and Thamesmead survived.

Warrilow said: “That’s a bit of hesitation from our point of view.  Do I come, don’t I come? from the keeper really.

“But we’ve had more chances than them in the first half before they’ve scored.  I think we had four good chances that we’ve not taken and you can’t get away with that!”

But Thamesmead Town then stamped their dominance on the game creating some decent chances.

Free-kick specialist Ellis Green floated in a free-kick from the right, Joe Vines headed the ball across goal and striker Alex Teniola’s looping header from eight-yards was tipped onto the crossbar and behind for a corner by visiting keeper Andrew Wilton.

Warrilow said: “That’s what I mean! I can’t go through them all but I just know that first half we’ve come in 2-0 down yet I was happy with how we played and crossed and created a lot of chances.  We got the ball out wide, got great deliveries from wide areas, got our full-backs involved when we went through the middle we were doing sets so it’s weird that I couldn’t really have a go at them at half-time except tell them not to feel sorry for themselves.”

Thamesmead’s left-sided midfielder Jay Porter got in behind the Norwich defence to lash his drive into the side netting after good link-up play involving Bode Anidugbe and Teniola.

Ellis Brown broke through the middle of the pitch before playing Porter on the diagonal, who played left-back Nathan Simpson on the overlap and his cross was cut back to Paul Vines, who hooked his left-footed shot past the foot of the far post from 16-yards.

But Norwich United grabbed the lead against the run of play through controversial circumstances with 18 minutes and 25 seconds on the clock.

Wide-man Adam Hipperson looped in their first of three corners from the right, Thamesmead cleared the ball towards the edge of the box before running out of their six-yard box, leaving no one on either post to protect their keeper.

Stewart headed the ball towards goal where holding midfielder Wones stood in front of keeper Wellham and flicked the ball past him and bouncing into the bottom right-hand corner.

Warrilow wasn’t happy with assistant referee James Masson’s decision when asked about the goal.

“Well, this is the thing, this is what I’ve said about them. You only have to look at the linesman in the first half.  It was ridiculous at the end, everyone was laughing at him! To be honest that’s the first time that I’ve ever seen a linesman with glasses on and that’s not being disrespectful. I think the most important thing is your eyesight when you’re running the line!”

With no green shirts behind Wones and the goal, the assistant referee made a clear blunder with this shocking decision!

Warrilow added: “The header’s come out of the box so we’ve come out, the headers come back in, whether he’s touched it or not, he goes to play the ball but again I’m looking at Tom, he should do better for it as well.”

Thamesmead Town should have equalised within a couple of minutes when the lively Anidugbe played a low cross in from the left to find Teniola in space 25-yards from goal but he sliced his right-footed drive past the right-hand post.

“Al’s been playing well lately as well, but unfortunately he just snatches at things. A little bit more composure and he’ll get a few more goals,” Warrilow said of his eight-goal striker.

Teniola shrugged off Norwich defenders Shipley and Sam Watts to pop his shot off from 25-yards, which Wilton gathered low down at the second attempt.

Norwich United should have done better when right-back Shipley whipped in a cross from the right-channel, a poor headed clearance away from Mead’s right-back Harvey Brand went straight to Hipperson, who drilled a poor shot harmlessly wide from a couple of yards inside the box.

Ellis Green charged into the Norwich box and his cross was headed out to Anidugbe, who bent his right-footed shot towards the bottom far corner, which was gathered by the Norwich keeper.

But Norwich United doubled their lead with 32 minutes and 37 seconds on the clock.

Shipley threw the ball into the channel to Stewart, who had his shirt pulled by Leon Smith, but he managed to escape the clutches of the number five to cut into the box on the right hand side before cutting the ball back for Speller to take a touch before sweep his shot across Wellham into the top far corner from 12-yards.

“He’s gone in to win the ball, he’s got rolled off it and the linesman’s flagging for a foul and I think our lads have stopped for a foul and the ref’s played on so he’s gone in the box and we should play to the whistle and we didn’t but again it should’ve been our throw from the off,” said Warrilow.

Green swept in a free-kick into the Norwich penalty area and Paul Vines’ back-header was flicked into the keeper’s hands for a comfortable save.

More poor officiating from Mr Masson allowed Finch to latch onto a long ball over the top of Leon Smith despite being clearly offside to cut towards the edge of the box but Wellham advanced to make a vital block with his legs.

“Again, I don’t know if you can get in trouble at this level for talking about it but we’re saying it week-in-week-put about it but what can you do? It just costs you money if you moan so we’ve just got to get on with it,” complained Warrilow.

“It’s a great save and it’s an important save but it’s a save that shouldn’t have been made!”

Smith’s attempted long-throw was cleared away by the first defender and Anidugbe played the ball back to Smith, who took a touch before whipping in a cross and Green’s looping header was comfortably caught by Wilton underneath his crossbar.

When asked what he told his troops at the interval, Warrilow replied: “Don’t feel sorry for ourselves! I thought we played well. We were playing well but we’ve got nothing to show for it. The next goal’s important and that was it, just to keep going!”

Norwich United squandered an excellent chance to kill the game off after only 20 seconds into the half.

Finch released left-back Matthew Brown in behind the Mead defence and he cut into the box but lacked composure and rolled his shot straight into Wellham’s hands when he only had the keeper to beat.

“We were not tight enough. Joe Vines has dropped off, we were saying about getting tight and that was causing is problems,” said Warrilow.

Thamesmead left-back Simpson played a ball over the top of the Norwich defence and Teniola hooked his chip towards goal from 20-yards, which was beaten out by the advancing Wilton and Anidugbe lashed his first time drive over the crossbar.

“I thought Alex had the easier chance because it’s set up nicely but he’s hit it a bit flat out of his chest and Bode has just tried to break the net and unfortunately he’s not hit the target,” added the Mead boss.

Norwich United squandered another glorious chance to bury the game just 197 seconds in.

Joe Vines slipped on the left touch-line and Finch stole the ball from him, cut into the penalty area and played the ball inside to unmarked Polish midfielder Dawid Radomski, who lacked composure and lashed his shot over the top of the far post from 16-yards.

Green’s free-kick failed to beat the first man again and Porter’s hooked volley screamed into the side netting from just inside the penalty area, before Thamesmead Town deservedly pulled a goal back seven minutes and 58 seconds into the half.

Green floated in a free-kick from the half-way line and Norwich cleared the ball only as far as Porter, who lofted in a cross from the left and with his back to goal Paul Vines’ header from 12-yards looped into the top left-hand corner.

Warrilow said: “We said we’ve got to start getting crosses in and we’ve got to get around Vinsey and they’re doing that. I’m pleased he’s scored, he’s got his goal tonight. He’s working hard Vinsey so we got crosses in and he’ll do that. 

“He’s had a few clubs. I know when he’s playing well or good or whatever and he'll give you a minimum 20 goals at the end of the season. He’s been playing well for me, working hard and he’s got his goal return as well.”

Norwich United ran the channels on the break well all night and Speller released Finch in behind, who cut the ball back for Speller to drill a first time shot from 10-yards, which was superbly headed off the line by Simpson, who showed desire to get back to support his keeper.

A big kick forward from keeper Wilton was flicked on by Speller but Finch’s hooked shot was speculative and comfortably bounced into the hands of the untroubled Wellham.

Green drilled a powerful right-footed drive from the right-hand side of the box, which appeared to be tipped over the bar by the Norwich keeper on the hour-mark – but a goal-kick was awarded.

Anidugbe rolled the ball back for right-back Harvey Brand to whip in a first time cross, which was cleared out to Porter, who teed up Simpson, who’s left-footed drive sailed over the bar from 25-yards.

But throughout the second half Norwich United continued to take their time at taking dead-ball situations and the referee let them get away with it which sent the low crowd of 73 to sleep on another freezing night.

Warrilow’s protests during the game fell on deaf ears.

He said: “I just felt the game went flat later on. Their tactics slowed it down.  I thought the game in the last 20 never really kicked into life but we still got in good areas. We got in behind two or three times. It either skipped away from Alex or a foot’s come out on one occasion.

“We ran out of time. I was hoping there was going to be about 10 minutes of injury time because there was four subs in the second half, their goalie got his glove all tapped up or whatever, there was an injury, there were bookings at timewasting and he’s played three minutes, 15 seconds!”

Thamesmead Town should have done better with a chance that came their way in the 80th minute.

Green floated in a free-kick into the penalty area, Paul Vines used his head to knock the ball across goal and Brown lashed his left-footed shot over the bar from 15-yards.

“That’s El’s composure there in the final bits, just something that he snatches at. He cuts inside and gets shots off and you’ve got to test the keeper and hit the target! Sometimes we try to break the net!

“That’s what happens, we got in some great areas in the second half, unfortunately we’ve not been able to get that important goal.”

When asked about kicking-off 15 minutes early and the condition of the pitch, Warrilow replied: “I think it played a lot better than I thought it would! At the start I didn’t think it would finish but no it was fine.”

Porter then played the ball up to Paul Vines (who was presented with the captains armband when his older brother Joe was subbed through a knock), and his cushioned header bounced across to substitute Aaron Rhule, who laid the ball off to Brown on the right-hand side but his shot trickled into the keeper’s hands.

Norwich United committed 17 goals compared to Thamesmead’s seven and Speller drilled a couple of shots into the Mead wall.  The ball came out to Hipperson on the right and unmarked substitute striker Liam Jackson sent his header over the crossbar from penalty-spot range.

Thamesmead Town host sixth-from-bottom side Ware at Bayliss Avenue on Saturday, with their opponents on 32 points from 29 games and four points clear of the relegation zone.

“We’ve just got to get a win, get back to winning ways,” said Warrilow.

“It’s been a bit of a funny season. I said to the chairman (Paul Bowden-Brown) we’ve huffed and puffed, we’ve had a good little run and then we’ve lost our last three so we’ve got to get out of that run of games where we can’t get a win.

“It’s one of those games where I can’t really complain tonight because I thought we played really well and deserved something out of the game.”

Thamesmead Town are 11 points adrift of the play-offs, although fifth-placed Bowers & Pitsea have three games in hand so the Mead have it all to do if they are to make a late challenge.

Warrilow said: “Listen, we’ll just get our heads down and see where it takes us. We’ve got to finish as high as we can here.  I said to the chairman if we can finish higher than we did last year then it’s an improvement.”

Thamesmead Town: Tom Wellham, Harvey Brand, Nathan Simpson, Bode Anidugbe, Leon Smith, Joe Vines (Aaron Rhule 71), Ellis Brown, Ellis Green, Paul Vines, Alex Teniola, Jay Porter.
Subs: Ike Feehi, Michael Ademiluyi, Laurent Mendy, Temidayo Santana

Goal: Paul Vines 53

Booked: Leon Smith 65, Ellis Green 90

Norwich United: Andrew Wilton, Steve Shipley, Matthew Brown, Shaun Wones, Andrew Eastaugh, Sam Watts, Jamie Speller, Dawid Radomski, Nathan Stewart (Ben Jones 72), Christy Finch (Liam Jackson 77), Adam Hipperson.
Subs: Tim Henery, Lee Mason

Goals: Shaun Wones 19, Jamie Speller 33

Attendance: 73
Referee: Mr Rick Bloy (Ipswich, Suffolk)
Assistants: Mr James Masson (Benfleet, Essex) & Mr Wally James (Sidcup)

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