Walton & Hersham 0-1 Beckenham Town - Success this year will be winning the league but we're there to be shot at now, says Beckenham Town assistant manager Phil Wilson

Saturday 05th February 2022
Walton & Hersham 0 – 1 Beckenham Town
Location Waterside Drive, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey KT12 2JG
Kickoff 05/02/2022 15:00

Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Premier Division South
Saturday 5 February 2022
Stephen McCartney reports from Waterside Drive

BECKENHAM TOWN assistant manager Phil Wilson says his side are there to be shot at after winning the top-of-the-table clash at Walton & Hersham.

Jason Huntley’s men wrestled top spot off Scott Harris’ side to move three points clear at the top of the Combined Counties League Premier Division South table with 56 points from 22 games, with a couple of games in hand over their hosts and Jersey Bulls remain in third-place with 52 points on the board with a game in hand on Beckenham.

A moment of quality from captain Danny Waldren, 32, sealed a vital three points for Beckenham, floating a 35-yarder into the top left-hand corner.

Beckenham Town can, however, expect a big fine from The FA as they picked up six yellow cards and had Joe Healy harshly sent-off with six minutes of this tussle remaining.

This was not a dirty affair, however, and referee Josh Osofa handed out cards like confetti and this game was simply too big for him.  Another example of a poor referee ruining games between quality part-time footballers who impress in the ninth-tier of English football and the standard of officiating needs to improve at this level.

This was a game for Huntley’s big players to step up to the plate and they delivered as Beckenham Town stretched their winning run to seven games to enhance their title bid and earn promotion into the Isthmian League for the very first time.

“It was a great result. It was just a performance of character, particularly in that second-half,” said Wilson.

“You’d expected them to come out and have a go coming in at 1-0 down and I think we had to weather a lot in that second half.  Without a team of the mentality that we’ve got, I think Walton probably go on and win that game.

“The players gave us everything! They’re absolutely shattered in the changing room.  They gave us the press that we wanted in the first-half.  We know how Walton play, it’s probably fair to say they’re probably the best footballing team in this league but we know if we press a team like Walton, with the characters that we’ve got and the discipline that we do it with, it makes it very difficult for them.

“In the second half they changed their shape a little bit and caused us a little bit of an issue and also there were a lot of unnecessary bookings in the game, which also caused us a little bit of an issue.

“Even the boys that came on today, not the jobs that we perhaps want them to do but because of the way the game went, we kept very defensive second half to protect what we had because we weren’t getting out. 

“It’s not just the performance, it’s the characters in there to see that game out.”

Beckenham Town showed their intent straight from the first whistle, taking the game to the league leaders and playing on the front foot. They also pressed high during the first half and made the home side make mistakes while playing out from the back.

Wilson said: “That was always the game plan coming here. We worked on it on Thursday. We knew they were playing a back three at times but we did feel today knowing the signings that they’ve made this week, we thought they might go back to a 4-3-3 so we spent time on Thursday defending against a 3-5-2 and a 4-3-3 and I think if you look at our best performances of the season have been against teams that want to play.

“We have got an experienced squad this year and I think that shows in the discipline that we do it.  Everyone knows their role when we do it and it paid off again today in the first half.”

Beckenham Town created their first opening after only 103 seconds following the first of their three corners.

Healy played the ball short to Harvey Brand and Healy whipped in a deep cross towards a crowd of players at the back post and Waldren’s downward header bounced once and goalkeeper Lewis Gallifant got down low to his right to hold.

“It was a good chance. Waldo’s always dangerous from corners.  Sometimes when you’re playing on a plastic pitch you don’t get the same bounce as you do on grass, it carries on a little bit more and I expect the keeper to save that,” admitted Wilson.

However, the game was won early, the goal coming with only four minutes and 53 seconds on the clock.

Right-back Brand played the ball into Waldren, who fed Healy, who played the ball back to Waldren.  An unmarked Waldren took a touch, turned before whipping a left-footed shot from 35-yards, which floated over the well-beaten goalkeeper and into the top left-hand corner of the net to score his eighth goal of the season.

“He used the wind to his effect there. When he hit it, it stayed up in the wind and made it very difficult for the keeper but Dan’s had that in the locker, that sort of shot. It was a great finish, a great start,” added Wilson.

Beckenham Town were playing like a home team, taking the game to Walton & Hersham and winning first and second balls all around the pitch during the first-half.

Waldren, Healy and Farnborough loanee Louis Theophanus were standing over the ball for a free-kick from 25-yards out and Theophanus stroked his left-footed free-kick past the left-hand post after 14 minutes.

Walton & Hersham goalkeeper Lewis Gallifant suffered from a shaky moment when he attempted to pluck the ball out of the air after winger Freddie Nyhus cut into some space and tried to score with a left-footed drive from 35-yards and the keeper allowed the ball to slip through his grasp above his head, before collecting the ball at the second attempt before it dropped down to the pitch.

"Freddie was immense today and in a team that has so much experience he plays such an important role for us and gives everything," said Wilson.

"He listens to everything he is told and always delivers for us. His work-rate epitomised our performance today and he'll have a very bright future in footbal.

“We felt the goalkeeper looked a little bit shaky. We knew he wasn’t their normal keeper so he wouldn’t be necessarily aware of the patterns of play that they do.  I think it’s quite hard to go into a team and know how to play.

“My criticism would be I don’t think we worked him enough. I think that’s credit to them in the second half in particular because at half-time that was highlighted with the wind behind us, if we catch the ball right we should be able to get those shots off.

Walton & Hersham started to up their urgency levels and started to edge back into the game after 25 minutes of Beckenham dominance.

Beckenham Town should have doubled their lead in the 33rd minute after Waldren released winger Steven Townsend down the left and after cutting into the box and reaching close to the by-line he pulled the ball back for central midfielder Nick Curran, whose audacious back-heal trickled towards the bottom far corner only to be cleared off the line by Swans’ captain Joe Hicks.

“It would’ve looked nice. I’d rather him smash it in that close and make sure,” said Wilson.

“It was a great move.  Danny played the ball in, Steve took his touch well as he does on that side, cut in well. It was probably too tight for him to shoot so I think he’s made the right decision.

“It was unlucky. It was good defending from them as well. If there was an opportunity to smash it from there, I’d rather see that!”

Visiting goalkeeper Nick Blue was called into action for the first time in the 34th minute.

A long ball out of defence released debutant winger Taureen McDonald-Roberts down the wing and he slipped the ball through for 20-goal winger Harry Mills, but the outstanding Mudiagho Wanogho came across and took the sting out of the shot and Blue used both of his hands to hold the ball as he got down low to his right at his near post.

“The defence has been absolutely brilliant all season with Bluey behind them,” praised Wilson.

“We knew Harry Mills would be a threat today, so we wanted to close the space in front of him as much as we could. I thought it was dealt with well.  Nick Blue dealt with it anyway but Mud was there to take the sting out of it anyway.”

There was concern around 25 minutes before kick-off when Blue halted his warm-up with goalkeeper coach Wilson, 39, and headed down the tunnel.

“He (Blue) pulled a muscle in his chest.  I think the biggest scare was for me! Thankfully I wasn’t required. It was Bluey’s chest and it was my heart that was going at that point,” revealed Wilson.

“Callum Henry was carrying a bit of a knock anyway so we thought we would rather be safe so I sat on the bench (in his place) just in case, thankfully I was not needed.”

Beckenham Town created an opening following their second corner when Healy’s out-swinging delivery from the left was knocked forward by Waldren and fell to Townsend, whose right-footed shot on the turn from 22-yards from a central position was comfortably held by Gallifant.

Beckenham Town created the final chance of the first half when Healy hit the ball down the left channel and Townsend’s left-footed angled drive from just inside the corner of the Walton & Hersham box was comfortably saved by Gallifant at his near post.

Wilson said: “Steve’s scored a few really nice goals from there when he kind of bends them into the far post. He went for power rather than area and it was comfortably saved by the keeper.”

At half-time, Wilson said: “Well done first and foremost.  I thought we had the better chances in the first half, just a little bit of concern with the running in midfield.  It’s no disrespect, we’ve probably got the oldest midfield three in any league, let alone this league and they manage themselves really well but just when we’re pressing we need to make sure their midfield were closed down.

“I think with the wind we were hoping we’d get a few more chances than we did in the second half, credit to them.”

Beckenham Town needed a second goal to kill the game off and it so nearly came with 167 seconds into the half.

Waldren played the ball along the deck and Brand went on a mazy run and weaved his way into the penalty area but produced a full-back’s finish, lacking composure from 16-yards and lashing his left-footed shot high over the crossbar.

“Harvey did really well up until the point of shot. It was on the wrong foot. Just a little bit more composure there maybe a forward would (have scored) but credit to Harvey. He scores quite a lot of goals usually so you would expect him to test the keeper – but the wooden leg came out,” said Wilson.

Walton & Hersham lacked any tempo during the early stages of the second half and found Beckenham Town to be a resilient outfit in defence with Wanogho putting in an outstanding defensive performance beside Rob Carter.

“The way they want to play is high tempo and that’s credit to our management of the game on the pitch,” highlighted Wilson.

“We decided to get men behind the ball in the second half. They put an extra man (Roberts) in midfield which was causing us a lot of problems. We didn’t want to lose our shape too much because we still know our main threat is getting down the sides and we didn’t want to sacrifice that.

“At the same time we were managing the game with so many players on yellows so we needed to make sure we were covering areas and taking space away so we did move away slightly from the press that we went with to start.”

Roberts drifted into central midfield and Mills cut the ball back from the left wing into striker Dean Rule, who held the ball up just inside the Beckenham penalty area before teeing up Roberts who unleashed a right-footed angled drive from 20-yards, which was comfortably plucked out of the air at head height by Blue.

Wilson was full of praise for his goalkeeper, who has experience of playing two levels higher in the Isthmian League Premier Division and proves it on a consistent basis.

“Blue’s been absolutely immense all season, especially when you’ve got somebody like that behind you, particularly in a game like this today,” said Wilson.

“We know what a threat Taureen can be and when you put all that effort in and Bluey makes it as easy as he makes it look, he’s just plucking cherries and that’s going to be a little bit disheartening for the other team when they’re pushing and pushing and Bluey looks like he’s not even breaking a sweat.

“He’s another one of the big characters that you need for what hopefully will be a good season for us.”

Beckenham Town ventured forward in a rare attack in the final 22 minutes as substitute left-winger De Niro Pinto released Healy down the left and he floated in a left-footed cross, which was spilt by Gallifant and the ball was hacked clear and Waldren drilled his right-footed shot just past the foot of the left-hand post from 25-yards.

Walton & Hersham started to press as Beckenham Town’s players sat back and content to protect their slender lead.

Roberts played a one-two with Eddie Simon before his left-footed angled drive from 16-yards was comfortably held by Blue, low to his left.

Beckenham Town gave away a couple of free-kicks away but the quiet Mills and Roberts lashed their attempts high over the crossbar and into the vast car park behind the stadium.

However, there was to be a controversial moment that should have brought Walton & Hersham a late equaliser.

Healy attempted to hack the ball clear from just inside the D and didn’t know that Ben Krauhaus – who endured a quiet debut while on loan from National League side Bromley – was behind him and Krahuaus stooped down to attempt to head the ball but was accidently kicked in the head by Healy's boot.

Already on a yellow card, Healy started to walk towards the tunnel before referee Josh Osofa pulled out another yellow card and then a red card out of his pocket and Beckenham Town had to play the final six minutes and four minutes and 34 seconds of injury time with a man short.

“It wasn’t a malicious game at all, I don’t think,” admitted Wilson.

“I think there were probably two yellows that warranted (a card), one for them.  I thought the second yellow for Joe was very, very harsh., The player’s come from behind, he’s not looking at the player, he’s looked at the ball the whole time. I don’t know whether the ref knew he booked him, whether he kept up with who he had booked but I wonder whether he knew Joe was on a booking and he wouldn’t have booked him again then.”

The referee allowed Walton & Hersham to move the ball a yard or two and just shading the 18-yard line and Mills’ right-footed free-kick went over the four-man wall and straight down Blue’s throat for a comfortable catch while positioned in the centre of his goal-line.

“I think they had a few free-kicks that we gave too many away at the end of the game. We had tired legs, they’re pressing again and that particular one was at Bluey, thankfully,” added Wilson.

Walton & Hersham kept huffing and puffing and Mills turned provider by feeding left-winger Ollie Twum but the substitute pulled his shot past the near post from the corner of the penalty area as the home side lacked the quality when it was needed in the final third.

“We’ve won seven on the spin, five away from home and we’ve come back from one down four times and I think it just highlights the character in this side,” said Wilson.

“We have a great group of lads and the only thing you need to win a league is to have a team spirit and that character that they’ve got in there and I think we’ll push whoever we need to pish until the end of the season.

“Now we’re top, we’re not chasing any more so it’s just momentum now. We’ve got 14 games left and every game now is going to be treated like a cup final and we’ll worry about the next game, the next game, the next game.

“If you look at us, Walton & Hersham and Jersey, we are the teams who were probably fancied at the start of the season and I don’t think it’s going to change too much for us.  Teams always wanted to beat us and I don’t think that will change now. We’re there to be shot at, at the top now but I’m confident with the character of the team with the hard work that we’ve done before Christmas to make sure that we’re in the pack, we had to catch up with games in January and we couldn’t have asked for a better time.

“I think now it’s the momentum and the mindset that the players have got and I’m sure we’ll be up there right until the end of the season.

“We know Jersey will be pushing us but we don’t want to come off the top now.

“Success this year will be winning the league, absolutely.  We wanted to get out whatever league we were put in but we certainly came in to this league knowing it's kind of panning out how we thought it might in terms of the teams that we kind of knew we had to get the better off and I think now the position we’re in it’s in our hands so winning the league, obviously we’ll take promotion but we’re going for it!”

Eleventh-placed side Farnham Town visit Eden Park Avenue next Saturday, a side that have banked 31 points from 26 games and lost 4-0 when the two sides met on match day two, 14 August.

Farnham Town are managed by former Westfield and East Grinstead Town manager Tony Reid, a former Bromley striker during his playing days.

“We got a good win over at Farnham earlier on in the season. We got the game done at half-time which is rare for us.  I don’t think we’ll be playing the same sort of Farnham. I think it will be another tough game. 

“They will definitely want to come and play on our pitch and they’ll want to play football and I think it will be a good game but I don’t think we can take anybody for granted now. Farnham, certainly, we won’t take for granted,” added Wilson.

Walton & Hersham: Lewis Gallifant, Joe Pratley-Jones (Reece Brewster 87), Louis Collins, Alex Kelly, Max Ellison-Hustwick, Joe Hicks, Taurean McDonald-Roberts (Archy Taylor 90), Eddie Simon (Ollie Twum 76), Dean Rule, Ben Krauhaus, Harry Mills.
Subs: William Kouadio, Harry Pointing

Booked: Joe Hicks 44, Joe Pratley-Jones 44, Louis Collins 89

Beckenham Town: Nick Blue, Harvey Brand, Archie Johnson, Danny Waldren (Harvey Hanifan 83), Mudiagho Wanogho, Rob Carter, Freddie Nyhus, Nick Curran (De Niro Pinto 67), Louis Theophanous (Tunde Aderonmu 62), Joe Healy, Steven Townsend.
Subs: Phil Wilson, Alfie Bloomfield

Goal: Danny Waldren 5

Booked: Mudiagho Wanogho 25, Joe Healy 30, Danny Waldren 57, Archie Johnson 72, Freddie Nyhus 79, Rob Carter 89

Sent Off: Joe Healy 84

Attendance:  352
Referee: Mr John Osofa
Assistants:  Mr Nicholas Arbuckle & Mr Gavin Collins