Thamesmead Town 2-2 VCD Athletic - It's difficult. First time back here and last, says Keith McMahon

Saturday 11th March 2017
Thamesmead Town 2 – 2 VCD Athletic
Location Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead, London SE28 8NJ
Kickoff 11/03/2017 15:00

Ryman League Division One North
Saturday 11th March 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Bayliss Avenue

VCD ATHLETIC manager Keith McMahon says it was difficult to drive to Bayliss Avenue today having spent 11 years at Thamesmead Town.


Thamesmead Town have signed a five-year deal to play their home games at Dartford from next season, but the future of this small 48-year-old football club has been put at risk by long-standing off-the-pitch politics with landlords Peabody Trust, who have simply forced their football club out of town.

The news was greeted by Thamesmead Town attracting their second largest crowd of the season.  One hundred and 24 people showing that they care about their local club, something that will be taken away from them when the final whistle is blown when Brentwood Town visit here on 22 April.

VCD Athletic dominated the first half, but Oliver Bowles, Mead’s sixth goalkeeper of the season kept out the Crayford based side with some fine goalkeeping.

VCD Athletic deservedly opened the scoring within seven minutes of the second half through striker Victor Zapata Caicedo.

But two goals within eight minutes from Thamesmead Town strikers Alex Teniola (scoring his 12th goal for the club this season)  and Paul Vines’ 22nd goal of the season, gave the home side the advantage on a warm and sunny day.

But honours were even when Caice scored his fourth goal of the season to equalise, before Vickers hit the crossbar late on through substitute striker Sherwin Stanley.

“I think we’ve dropped two points if I’m honest and we should have been out of sight at half-time,” admitted McMahon.

“We’ve dominated the game, we didn’t take our chances and that’s it at the end.  We looked decent in a scrappy-ish game for about 70 minutes and for 20 minutes they’ve had a bit of spell but we should have been out of sight!”

Reflecting on making his first return to a club that is still very close to his heart, McMahon replied: “It’s difficult. First time back here and last.

“It’s not really about me. It’s about the team I brought here and it was about us getting three points.

“Sometimes you sit here and think, driving to the ground was a bit difficult after how many times I’ve driven here over the 11 years but I was more worried about getting three points more than anything else.”

Thamesmead Town boss Tommy Warrilow admitted he was happy with a point with a long list of unavailable players.

VCD Athletic played with three central defenders, two wing-backs , three in midfield and two strikers, while injury-hit Warrilow called up Peter Smith (right-back) and Daniel Moore (centre half) to make a return to the club, to feature in a 4-4-2 formation.

“As I’ve said to them in there, really delighted with the way they applied themselves,” he said.

“I know everyone says they have injuries or whatever.  We had 10 out today.  I rang around last night and yesterday and brought in Smudger (Peter Smith) and Danny Moore and they were superb for me.  Smudger ran out of puff at the end, against the athleticism that they had, he’s gonna!

“I’m disappointed, the two goals we gave the ball away on both occasions but I thought what we had to put together and send out there today, I’d take a point because Keith’s very strong at the moment with Jamie Guy coming back so I would have taken a point.”

Warrilow was asked what he told his troops before the game about the club’s Dartford move.

He said: “Nothing! Without it coming out wrong, it’s got nothing to do with us, we just come and play football. 

“As I said to the boys today, all I was concentrating was on that 90 minutes.  I don’t want anyone coming off the pitch and losing and everyone feeling sorry for them because we’ve had to patch a side up. We’re going out there to win a game of football, so we didn’t even speak about that. I don’t think we even mentioned it.”

After an uninspiring opening where the away side bossed the middle of the park, VCD Athletic clicked into gear and Bowles was called into action after 16 minutes.

Lively number 10, Rashid Kamara, played the ball out to left wing-back Kojo Awotwi, who cut the ball onto his right foot to whip in a lovely cross towards the far post where returning striker Jamie Guy was denied a headed goal from six-yards, Bowles clawing the ball towards safety high to his left.

“It was near post and he should’ve scored, we were on top,” said McMahon.

“We’ve brought Jamie back (from Great Wakering Rovers) to score goals and he’s hit the target, the keeper saved it. Nine times out of 10 I think we’re one up!

“As you’ve seen today we’ve been creating chances for fun and not taking them. Jamie does score goals. As much as he missed that chance I thought he led the line very well and I thought young Victor played off him quite well.  I’m glad he’s back. He’s a great character in the changing room. We missed him and we missed his goals as well.”

Warrilow said: “Listen, I’m not going to go through every minute of the game but I expected us to start like that because our right-back has pulled out today, a centre half has walked in today and a young kid, a 21-year-old….Ollie’s playing with a bit of a dead leg. Michael came on and done really well.   We’ve juggled it about with these two new boys coming in.

“We basically got overrun in midfield.  We told the boys at half-time that the wide lads have got to come in and the full-backs have got to stand still on the side of the wide lads coming in because we’ve got to try and nullify the middle of the field.

“I expected it to be like that because we’re patched up and after that we got back in it and made a few chances ourselves.”

VCD Athletic squandered another chance just 36 seconds later when Kamara clipped a ball over the top to put Caicedo through on goal but his chip was caught by the busy Bowles.

Outplayed Thamesmead created their first opening after 22 minutes when central midfielder Richard Sexias (who is on loan from Dartford) hooked his right-footed volley past the right-hand post from 35-yards.

Bowles kept Thamesmead in the game when he stuck out his right leg to deny right wing-back Leslie Thompson scoring after he latched onto Kamara’s ball in behind.

“Clean through on a one-on-one, to be fair he’s got to score,” said McMahon.

“He’s hesitated and if he had taken an early shot he scores. Again, another missed chance for us.”

Former Mead midfielder Derek Duncan floated in a cross from the left and former Clapton midfielder Siao Blackwood should have buried his free header, instead of sending his effort from 12-yards straight into Bowles’ hands for a comfortable save.

McMahon said: “A great delivery. To be fair Siao scored on Saturday, exactly the same. Del put a great cross in and he’s come in like he has, bullet header and this time he’s just not connected and it was one of the chances you need to score and they were mounting up!”

VCD Athletic goalkeeper Niklas Freund made his first save of the game in the 39th minute, spilling Michael Ademiluyi’s stroked right-footed free-kick from 26-yards, before pouncing on the loose ball as the offside flag went up.

Warrilow said: “That pitch is as bobbly as anything. To be fair, he’s got up and made a good recovery and then we’re offside.

“I thought towards the end of the first half we had a few chances and finished it positively and that’s what we said to them in there.  We seemed to get ourselves a little bit organised and start being more of a threat ourselves and I thought the second half was like that again until the last few minutes.”

With Vickers’ central defender Lawrence Yiga solid and drilling balls forward, McMahon said of his side: “We looked solid. We’re sitting here thinking we should be 5-0 up!  They’re not half chances, they’re great chances so I was pleased. We brought Lawrence Yiga in and he’s stiffened us up and we didn’t look like we were going to concede so I was fairly pleased.”

The Mead created a further chance from a set-piece on the stroke of half-time when Ademiluyi clipped his free-kick from the left channel towards the near post but Teniola nipped in ahead of Ricardo Joseph to poke his shot past the near post.

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break.

Warrilow said: “I expected us to start a little bit disjointed and a bit unorganised and then I expected them to take responsibility and organised themselves and I thought they did that brilliantly and as I said to them in there it’s a fantastic result considering the build-up towards the game.”

McMahon added: “We said at half-time, keep doing the same and we started the second half a little bit sloppy, we never got into it, we sat a little bit deep.  I was disappointed that we didn’t score but we created chances. We said just keep pushing forward and the game is there to be won.  I didn’t think they threatened us pretty much and we were coping with most of their threats and I thought it was only a matter of time.”

Awotwi slipped the ball through to Caicedo, who turned Laurent Mendy on the edge of the box and his poked shot brought a comfortable save from Bowles, low to his right after only 187 seconds into the second half.

But VCD Athletic deservedly opened the scoring with six minute and 57 seconds on the second half clock.

Guy slipped in a lovely pass to put Caicedo in and he stroked his right-footed drive nestling into the back of the net from 15-yards, to the keeper’s left.

When asked whether Warrilow’s offside claims were right, McMahon replied: “No! Tom would maybe. Jamie’s put him through. He’s gone through clear and he done it last week. He’s very young, he’s raw but he’s got a talent. He managed his time well, the way he dropped his shoulder a couple of times, made the keeper commit and just rolled it into an empty net and I thought it was a very good finish from a young lad.

“He’s come over from Phoenix Sports.  They signed Michael Power (from Greenwich Borough) and didn’t need him so we’ve taken him. He’s got ability, he’s scored goals for us in the last few weeks and he looked a constant threat all game. He’s a little bit raw but we’re getting an end product from him and get a good pre-season in him, I think he’s going to be a very good player.”

Warrilow added: “He’s offside though! Full stop. Linesman wasn’t up with play.  I mean if I’m wrong, I’ll apologise to him but I’m not even in line with him and I can see he’s in front. He’s offside so it was a good finish but he was offside. We gave the ball away, Bode Anidugbe took too many touches and we’ve lost it. He’s rolled him in. As I’ve said he’s offside but he’s took it well.”

Thamesmead left-back Nathan Simpson was given time and space to deliver a cross into the Vickers box, where Teniola hit a speculative overhead kick screaming wide.

It proved to be a warning for VCD Athletic, as Teniola’s brilliant finish brought Thamesmead Town level in the 57th minute.

Keeper Bowles pumped the ball up field, Vines held off Joseph, before flicking the ball out to Teniola on the right, the striker drilling his right-footed half-volley towards goal from 25-yards bouncing past Freund into the bottom near corner.

Warrilow said: “That’s the thing with Al. I’ve had him loads of times (at Tonbridge Angels, then Cray Wanderers).  I love him to bits. He frustrates the life out of you because he can miss a tap-in but he produces things like that! It’s a fantastic goal.

“I’m pleased both (of my strikers) got a goal today because they’ve had to work hard and dig in.  Two experienced players that I’ve got in the side today, so I’m pleased both of them got a goal.”

McMahon said: “Very poor! The goalkeeper should save that all day long, all day long and Niklas knows that!

“A good strike from Alex but he’s miles away. It’s an acute angle. We spoke about leaving Vinsey isolated with Ricardo Joeseph and Joe Bruce with Alex at half-time and he’s just hit it like centre forward do but a goalkeeper should save that at his near post all day long! He was disappointed with that and so are we!”

The goal sparked Thamesmead into life and Simpson floated in a free-kick into the Vickers box, Vines rose to flick his header on for Mendy to head down and into Freund’s hands from eight-yards for a comfortable save.

Guy was good at holding the ball up and Kamara buzzed around behind him and on this occasion knocked the ball down for Caicedo to stroke his half-volley past the right-hand post from 25-yards.

But Thamesmead Town grabbed the lead in the 65th minute through Vines.

Sexias whipped in a cross from the left and Vines held off Bruce and poked his shot past the flat-footed Freund, the ball rolling into the bottom left-hand corner.

Warrilow said: “It’s a ball into Vinsey, he’s been strong, he’s had a battle all day with him and he’s managed to react to it and get a little touch on the half-volley, which wrong-footed the keeper coming out. He deserved that, because he battled all day up there.

“I said when I first came here Vinsey’s got to prove nothing to me. Even if he has bad games, good games, whatever, if he ain’t on 20 goals minimum.  I said between 20-30 goals for the season I’d be surprised but perhaps he’ll do it again next year.”

McMahon added: “Again, another poor goal! Joe’s not happy that Vinsey held him off but he’s done that all his life and he’s good at it.  Again, when the ball has dropped I think the keeper needs to come and got it. I think he needs to come out and just pick it up and he just stood there and Vinsey’s reacted and slots it like he does.”

Vickers captain Duncan swept the ball up to Caicedo, who knocked the ball down but Kamara sliced his shot wide from 18-yards.

But Bowles pulled off another fine left-handed save in the 74th minute.

Freund launched a big kick down the middle, the ball was flicked on by Guy and Thompson nipped in and his right-footed drive from 16-yards was turned around the post by the Mead keeper.

“Should score, again, clear through on goal. He’s got the whole goal to aim at and he goes near post and the keeper pushes it around,” said a frustrated McMahon.

“This is the second one-on-one. He’s getting in there from wing-back so I can’t knock him too much but at this level he should be finishing chances like that!”

Bowles had a big kick on him and Vines clearly had Bruce in his pocket throughout the game, turning the defender but stroking his left-footed drive past the left-hand post from 20-yards.

VCD Athletic ensured the local bragging rights were shared, notching the equaliser with 37 minutes and 48 seconds on the clock.

Duncan fed Caicedo, who kept his composure by cutting across and then into the penalty area and from ten-yards stroking his left-footed shot which nestled into the bottom near corner after going through the keeper’s legs at his near post.

“Again, they can say a keeper mistake but I was pleased with us as it goes because for the last 20 minutes I thought we came right into it and bossed it again and we started to push up and we just didn’t start smashing it up either,” said McMahon.

“We tried to play on the pitch a little bit but we were patient and we got in behind them. Derek Duncan was on the edge of the box and he could have just lumped it into the box but he hasn’t and we’ve got the ball in and Victor’s took the defender on and he’s left him one-on-one and to be fair to him, on his weaker foot, he’s had a strike and if you don’t shoot you don’t score and it’s gone in and he deserved that and so do we!”

Warrilow said: “It’s a shame because Ollie’s done well today with some saves but the lad’s got a bit of pace.  We were blowing a little bit. Again, we gave the ball away and you’ve got to admire the lad’s finish. He’s wrong footed the young boy and got his shot away.”

Vickers were to be denied a late winner, which would have been deserved, following their third corner of the game in the 89th minute.

Duncan floated the ball in from the left and Stanley rose and his header kissed the top of the crossbar and bounced behind for a goal-kick.

“Maybe Sherwin will be a bit disappointed, six-yard box, edge of the goal, should score,” said McMahon.

“It only did look like there was going to be one winner then and I just thought it was going to be us on our day as the whole game I was fairly pleased how well we finished. I thought we looked a bit stronger. They were on the back foot and that happens in football when a team’s just scored when a team’s defending.  We had a lot of corners and long throws in the last few minutes and I did actually think we were going to go on and maybe win it.”

Warrilow added: “He very should’ve scored from that free header to be honest but I thought we deserved that today.”

VCD Athletic won a further three corners, brought on long-throw specialist Mitch Hahn to hurl the ball into the Mead box but the local bragging rights and points were shared in the end.

Thamesmead Town go into their last six games in sixteenth-place in the Ryman League Division One North table with 50 points.

Next in action at home to second-placed Maldon & Tiptree on 25 March, Warrilow wants to finish the season on good form.

He said: “I’ve just said to the boys we’re all playing for next season, we’re trying to finish as high as we can. We’ve got six games to go, the target is 18 points. There’s not a lot we can do. We’ve just got to make sure we win as many games as possible and finish as high as we can now.”

VCD Athletic go into their last eight games in seventeenth-place in the table with 44 points and they are only eight points clear of the relegation zone, occupied by Soham Town Rangers, Great Wakering Rovers and Wroxham.

“It’s been our season for a long time that we’ve been dropping points but when you’re on top you have to take chances at this level, otherwise you get a bit nervous and the other team go up the other end and score and you’re chasing,” said McMahon, who’s side host fifth-placed Cheshunt at Oakwood next Saturday.

“I would say my job was to come here and get three points and I’m disappointed not to.

“Looking over our shoulder? Not really! Not with the side we have. A few weeks ago when we were depleted and struggling, I brought in about nine players in the last three or four weeks when we were having injuries and missing chances and confidence was low.

“We’ve got the quality in here to beat any sides. We’ve got enough in the changing room to win most games.”

Thamesmead Town: Oliver Bowles, Peter Smith (Temidayo Santana 85), Nathan Simpson, Bode Anidugbe, Laurent Mendy, Daniel Moore, Michael Ademiluyi, Richard Sexias, Paul Vines, Alex Teniola, Jay Porter.
Subs: Ayo Odukoya, Sam Skates, Max Ovenden

Goals: Alex Teniola 57, Paul Vines 65

Booked: Alex Teniola 62

VCD Athletic: Niklas Freund, Leslie Thompson (Salvyw Kisitu 81), Kojo Awotwi, Lawrence Yiga, Joe Bruce, Ricardo Joseph, Derek Duncan, Siao Blackwood, Jamie Guy (Sherwin Stanley 86), Victor Zapata Caicedo, Rashid Kamara (Mitch Hahn 90).
Subs: Nicky Symons, Richard Butler

Goals: Victor Zapata Caicedo 52, 83

Booked: Leslie Thompson 45, Joe Bruce 45

Attendance: 124
Referee: Mr Ollie Butcher (Ashford)
Assistants: Mr Luke Chapman (Horley, Surrey) & Mr Robert King (Crawley, West Sussex)

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