Whyteleafe 4-1 Beckenham Town - Everything's going to plan, says Whyteleafe boss John Fowler
Southern Counties East Football League
Thursday 6th March 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Church Road
WHYTELEAFE manager John Fowler says he wants his side to keep their momentum going to make it an interesting end to the season.
The Leafe extended their impressive winning streak to nine games as they moved four points clear of Ashford United (who have two games in hand) at the top of the Southern Counties East Football League table with 46 points from 17 games.
Whyteleafe raced into a 2-0 lead inside the opening eighteen minutes when strike partners Roscoe Dsane and Sam Clayton both scored.
But eleventh-placed Beckenham Town pulled a goal back through right-winger Damon Ramsamy as the visitors put in a much better second half performance.
But Whyteleafe killed the game off through Jason Thompson’s drilled penalty before Taylor Smith came off the bench to head home from close range to wrap up the victory for the Surrey club.
“It’s a pretty tough game to be honest. I think Beckenham made us really work hard for the points,” said Fowler afterwards.
“It was a tough fixture. We knew that. Obviously it was one of those local derbies which could’ve been a tricky game for us especially on a Thursday night.
“We’re trying to plan for Saturday as well as Tuesday so the games come thick and fast so rotating the team a little bit, what I usually play so it was always going to be a difficult fixture.”
Beckenham Town assistant manager Dean Harrison added: “I thought it was a pretty even game. I thought it was evenly matched.
“I think if you look at it statistically, I think possession wise we might have had the better of the play. I think on chances we’d be pretty equal. The difference was they took their chances and we didn’t take ours.”
League leaders Whyteleafe created their first chance inside the opening three minutes.
Thompson’s free-kick down the left found Dsane who whipped in a cross from the left channel which sailed across the penalty area towards the unmarked Greg Andrews, who steered his header across goal and past the far post from eight-yards.
The impressive Clayton released Andrews down the right and his low cross set up Dsane, who dragged his shot harmlessly wide of the far post.
However, Clayton picked up the loose ball to cut into the middle where he cracked a left-footed drive from the edge of the box which stung the fingers of Beckenham Town keeper Rilwan Adibaba.
A slick passing move produced Whyteleafe’s first goal inside the opening 12 minutes.
Jensen Grant played the ball from the middle of the park into Clayton whose reverse pass played in Dsane who unleashed a powerful right-footed drive from 15-yards, which looped off Adibaba’s legs and dropped into the far corner of the net.
“I thought we played our best football in the first 20 minutes and once we got the second goal I think we switched off,” said Fowler.
Fowler was full of praise for 19-goal striker Dsane.
He said: “He’s been superb in all fairness. The guy’s delivered week by week. If he’s not scoring, he’s creating and he leads the line well.
“Also with that he’s a leader on the pitch. I do my talking before the game and at half-time etc. You need someone on there who can speak to the guys as well and get things across that I want to get across. He’s been all round superb this year.”
Harrison added: “I think the first 20 minutes we weren’t settled at all. It took us a little bit of time. They came out quite quickly, unsettled us. The back four were all over the place. They were too far apart and they got in behind us but I think after that we settled down.”
Beckenham Town responded but James Marshall’s right-footed drive from 18-yards was comfortably saved by Whyteleafe keeper Sheikh Ceesay.
But Whyteleafe doubled their lead after 18 minutes following their first of three corners.
Thompson swung in an excellent delivery from the right with his left foot towards the near post where Clayton stooped to send his downward header past Adibaba from close range.
Fowler said: “JT’s deliveries are a big plus in our armoury to be fair. If he gets it right it’s going into an area where it’s very difficult to pick up runners and Sam had the luxury of having a header in the six yard box.”
Harrison admitted he was disappointed with his side’s marking.
He added: “Terrible! Someone should be blocking that. Someone should be dealing with that and taking charge. He shouldn’t be coming through there at the front post. Someone should be in that area dealing with that.”
However, Beckenham Town squandered an excellent chance to claw themselves back into the game just 85 seconds later.
Jake Britnell released Ramsamy with a sublime defence splitting pass but his team-mate spurned the chance and scuffed his right-footed shot well wide of the right-hand post from 20-yards when he only had Ceesay to beat.
Harrison said: “He’s a young lad. He’s a very good player but just lacked a little bit of composure there. He made up for it in the second half when he got his goal and took it very well.
“I think he murdered his full-back all night as did Travis (Gregory). We absolutely terrorised their full-backs. We just didn’t score enough!”
Whyteleafe went close when Dsane passed to Ryan Fowler down the left wing, who played the ball inside to Clayton, who had time and space to crack a dipping right-footed drive from 30-yards, which only just cleared the crossbar.
Beckenham Town were getting some joy in the 35th minute when Nathan Paul – who was playing in the heart of defence – clipped a free-kick into the penalty area from inside the centre circle and Alfie Nunn’s looping header was dropped by Ceesay and no-one was on hand to tap in James Marshall’s cut back from the left by-line.
Clayton released Fowler down the left and his cut-back set up a chance for Andrews, who skied his left-footed volley over from fifteen-yards whilst under pressure from former Leafe left-back Steve McNamara.
Whyteleafe should have wrapped the game up when the crossbar saved Beckenham Town.
Clayton played the ball inside to Andrews, who turned and clipped a left-footed lob, which looped over Adibaba before caressing the crossbar twice before dropping over for a goal-kick.
“I think he should’ve scored that in all honesty,” said Fowler.
“I think he was trying to be too clever. He should have put his foot through it. That was a goal. He was trying to do a special little dink and that should have been 3-0. I think if we went 3-0 at half-time it would had been a different game anyway.”
Harrison agreed and added: “He tried to be a little bit clever. We got away with that one!”
Beckenham’s last chance of the first half saw skipper Nunn send Britnell on a penetrating run but the ball bobbled up as he was about to strike the ball, which ensured that the ball looped harmlessly wide of the right-hand post from 18-yards.
Clayton called Adibaba into action on the stroke of half-time when he drilled a right-footed shot on the turn from 25-yards down the left which stung Adibaba’s fingers but the goalkeeper gathered the loose ball before it spun over the line.
Fowler said: “To be totally honest Beckenham got themselves back in the game. They bossed the end of the first half. I thought the last 20 minutes of the half they were really the better side.
“We had a little chat with them in the changing room and said we have to pick it up because next goal is critical and whoever gets it would depend how the game could turn out.”
With manager Jason Huntley unavailable, it was down to Harrison to charge up the Beckenham Town team and they put in a much better performance for the second half.
They deservedly pulled a goal back in the 56th minute through Ramsamy’s fifth goal of the season.
Kyei Banton – who was playing in the hole in front of the back four – played a sublime 50-yard through ball along the deck to split open Alex Penfold and Dylan Merchant to release Ramsamy through on goal.
Goalkeeper Ceesay came off his line but failed to gather the ball and Ramsamy kept his composure to cut the ball onto his left foot before lashing his shot into the top near corner.
Harrison said: “He done well. He made up for the chance he missed. He deserved a goal because he played well.
“We were all over them! I could not see us getting a point out of the game. They were all over the place at the back. We were absolutely terrorising them and then out of nowhere – I don’t think they came out of their half until they got the penalty.”
Fowler, who left Croydon to take charge of Whyteleafe at the start of the season, added: “I thought they worked it well. The ball that went out to the winger, I think it should have been cut out by the centre halves in all fairness. It was a pretty straight ball. It didn’t have no height to it. It was straight through the middle of us and we should have dealt with it better. But give them that. Once he got himself on the end of the cross he done all the hard work and he took the goal well so no qualms about that in all fairness.”
However, Whyteleafe were to create the next chance of the game in the 63rd minute.
Substitute Taylor Smith was released down the right and he cut the ball back to Dsane, whose trickery set up Thompson but the central midfielder scuffed his first time left-footed shot wide from 20-yards.
Beckenham Town were then to be denied a deserved equaliser when Ceesay was called into making a smart save.
Ramsamy, who gave left-back Penfold problems with his pace, teed up the chance for Gregory, who powered a low left-footed angled drive, which forced Ceesay to make a low save at his near post.
Harrison said: “Travis had a good game. He got at their full back all night. I didn’t think they could live with our wide players. The keeper did well. Travis cut inside and got a good shot off.”
Fowler said: “Especially on a tricky surface, the ball’s coming in to the goalkeepers. It was difficult for both goalkeeper’s and we said to him before the game if it comes in and it’s bouncing around you just get some distance on it and try to parry it away out of the danger area, which he did.”
However, Beckenham based referee Gerry Heron awarded Whyteleafe a penalty with nineteen minutes remaining, which killed off his home-town team.
Taylor Smith was freed down the left and as the low cross was played into the box the referee spotted that Dsane was clipped by Beckenham substitute Joe Jackson and pointed to the spot.
Thompson stepped up and drilled his left-footed penalty straight down the middle of the goal past Adibaba, who decided to dive to his right.
Both managers were asked their thoughts on the incident.
The Whyteleafe boss said: “When Taylor got to the by-line Roscoe was making a great surging run through the middle. If it was laid to him it would be a side-footer so the guy, he did take him out. There’s no sort of argument about it to be fair. It was a stonewall penalty for me.”
Thompson buried his fifteenth-goal of the season and Fowler added: “It was a good penalty! He don’t miss! Touch wood (as he touches his head). He just puts his foot through it and if he gets power on it not many goalkeeper’s will save it from that distance.”
Harrison turned into Arsene Wenger and said: “I didn’t see it – but the guys’ swear blind that it was a coming together, they’re quite certain the ref didn’t see it. The linesman didn’t give it. They’re quite certain the ref didn’t see it and they think even their player said it was a coming together. It wasn’t a penalty!
“It murdered us. It knocked the stuffing out of us. Three-one. That’s it. Game done. But they still tried the boys. We still created chances after that. We still kept doing the right things.”
Title-chasing Whyteleafe continued their clinical streak by scoring their fourth goal with five minutes remaining.
Thompson swung in another excellent corner from the right and Adibaba pulled off a brilliant save to thwart Clayton scoring from a close range header, but Taylor Smith showed the desire to get to the looping ball first to nod the ball over the line from close range.
Fowler said: “I think that goes in, that was it. All three points were in the bag and it killed any hope they had of getting back in to the game.”
Harrison admitted the goalscorer showed more desire to get his name on the scoresheet than his flat-footed defenders in blue shirts.
He said: “Rilwan made a fantastic save. Unfortunately it’s gone up and the boy showed good desire and got his head on it and he beat our defenders to it so fair play to him. I agree that he wanted it more.”
Beckenham Town winger Gregory was denied by Ceesay, who dived to his left to beat away the right-footed angled drive from 25-yards.
The Leafe created two late chances when substitute Robbie Kember won the ball before Clayton wriggled his way into the box before flashing his left-footed shot across goal and past the far post.
The home side’s two other substitutes combined when Craig Pitterson cut in from the left to float over a cross, where Taylor Smith glanced his free-header past the far post.
Beckenham Town welcome Ashford United to Eden Park Avenue in the League on Saturday, before playing bitter-rivals Fisher next Wednesday, 12 March in the Macron sponsored League Cup Semi-Final First Leg at Champion Hill, followed by a trip to Fleet Leisure in the Kent Senior Trophy Sponsored by Spire Alexandra Semi-Final on 15 March, followed by the home Second Leg against Fisher on 18 March.
“I’m not sure what sort of side we’re going to play against Ashford,” said Harrison.
“We’ve got three semi-final games coming up so they’re our main aims for our season now so I’m not sure. We’ll probably try and rest a few players on Saturday but we’ll still field a side strong enough to play. We didn’t want to lose. We don’t go out to lose so don’t worry about that.”
Whyteleafe, meanwhile, travel to fourth-placed Phoenix Sports on Saturday and have fifteen league games to cram in until the season closes on 26 April.
The Leafe have won fifteen and drawn one of their seventeen league games, while Paul Chambers’ Ashford United have won fourteen of their fifteen league outings.
Looking at the title race, Fowler said: “It’s going to be tough. Ashford have got some really tough fixtures this month. They’ve got to play Beckenham twice, who I think are in a false league position. Beckenham are one of the better sides we’ve played.
“Ashford have got some hard fixtures coming up. It will be interesting to see how they cope with it but they’ve dealt with it so far so we’ll see.
“We’ve got a big squad so a little bit of rotating here and there, not too much, but enough to keep the squad nice and fresh.
“I’m really pleased every thing’s going to plan. When we plotted points on the sheet before the season there’s a few games what we’ve got point out when we identified draws and there’s other points and the one we lost and we drew they were identified as wins.
“I wouldn’t write-off Tunbridge Wells out of it quite yet. I think if they pick one more defeat then they’re out of it but at the moment I think they’re going to have a big say in this because they’ve got to play Ashford twice. They’ve got to play us at their place so I wouldn’t write them off just yet.
“We’ve just got to pretty much keep the momentum going and obviously keep on getting the points on the board and now we’ve got ourselves in front hopefully Ashford, having to chase up, might slip up somewhere along the line.”
Meanwhile, Fowler is running the Brighton Marathon in aid of Cancer Research UK on 6 April.
He said: “With losing my sister-in-law to cancer last year, it has given me more motivation than ever to raise money for Cancer Research.”
Whyteleafe: Sheikh Ceesay, Tommy Smith, Alex Penfold, Louis Hollingsworth, Dylan Merchant, Jason Thompson, Ryan Fowler (Craig Pitterson 62), Jensen Grant, Roscoe Dsane (Robbie Kember 76), Sam Clayton, Greg Andrews (Taylor Smith 62).
Subs: Gareth Williams, Tom Pratt
Goals: Roscoe Dsane 12, Sam Clayton 18, Jason Thompson 71 (penalty), Taylor Smith 85
Beckenham Town: Rilwan Adibaba, Micah Banton, Steve McNamara, Charlie Helps (Jalloh Gassimo 46), Nathan Paul, Kyei Banton (Joe Jackson 65), James Marshall, Jake Britnell, Damon Ramsamy, Alfie Nunn (Richard Pearce 58), Travis Gregory.
Sub: Darren Wise
Goal: Damon Ramsamy 56
Booked: Joe Jackson 81
Referee: Mr Gerry Heron (Beckenham)
Assistants: Mr Martin Cook (Sidcup) & Mr Gary Tomsett (Whyteleafe, Surrey)