|www.yourcounty.co.uk - The Kent Website - Supporting Kentish Football|
|Monday 30 August 2004||Southern League
Division One East
|Stephen McCartney reports from Park View Road|
|Erith & Belvedere||3||Chris Dickson
Ray Aboyagye 10
|Chatham Town||4||Frannie Collin 35,86
Glen Billenness 54
Simon Clarke (og) 70
Chatham's comeback breaks Erith's hearts
CHATHAM TOWN found themselves 3-0 down after only 21 minutes against Erith & Belvedere but showed character to come back to win the game 4-3 in a dramatic Kent derby at Park View Road.
The comeback left Erith & Belvedere manager Barry Lakin shell-shocked, and he had every right to be, as his side were 3-0 up thanks to a brace from Chris Dickson and a Ray Aboyagye strike.
Everything looked rosy for the home side until talented seventeen-year-old striker Frannie Collin's rasping seven yard shot beat Jani Seitsonen to pull a goal back for the Medway side after 34 minutes.
The turning point in the game, however, was in the 49th minute when the home side lost influential captain and central defender Lewis Tozer to a calf injury, which seemed to spur on the visitors.
And one player
spurred on the most was former Dere Glenn Billenness who played his part in two
A wonder strike from Collin sealed a remarkable recovery, scoring the winning goal of this thrilling game four minutes from time.
in the game, however, Erith had two chances to break the deadlock, and Chatham
one, before the first goal found the back of the net.
The woodwork saved the visitors in the third minute as Seb Ndombe played the ball to Paul Abbott, whose 14-yard right footed shot crashed against the right upright.
Gary Tilley's run saw the Chatham winger slip the ball to Mark Brookes, who played the ball outside him to Kevin Spriggs, whose 17-yard effort fired wide of the left post.
And the other end, Dickson fired wide of the near post, although Chatham goalkeeper Ollie Cotton had the shot covered, but he was beaten in the 9th minute when Dickson fired home at the far post following the first corner of the game.
A minute later, Erith & Belvedere doubled their lead when Ryan Briggs' delivered a free kick which caused the visitors problems and they were punished when Aboyagye poked the ball home from eight yards.
Gerrard Cunningham's 19th minute cross was headed out by the home defence as far as Tom Binks but his first time 24-yard drive sailed over Seitsonen's crossbar.
Two minutes later, Erith & Belvedere found themselves in wonderland with a 3-0 lead.
Full-back Simon Clarke swept the ball into the last third of the pitch, and Dickson captalised on poor defending and found the bottom far corner of the net from 10-yards.
Paul Abbott's penetrating runs were causing Chatham problems and in the 23rd minute he played the ball to Dickson who laid the ball for Aboyagye but he drove well wide from 25-yards.
Another chance fell rampant Erith's way in the 26th minute but Abbott's left-footed 30 yard shot sailed over the crossbar.
Chatham, however, pulled a goal back with ten minutes before the break when Erith's Chris Whitehouse lost possession in midfield to Tilley and he picked out Collin with a low pass on the right hand side of the penalty area.
After teasing the home defence, the talented teenage striker, struck a rising shot high into the net from seven yards on the right hand side of the six-yard box.
The goal lifted the visitors and they had three chances to add to their scoreline but Kevin Sprigg's struck the crossbar with a fierce 10-yard shot on goal; Billenness headed Tilley's corner over the bar and Cunningham's downward header from Tilley's flag kick was clawed over by the Erith stopper.
At the other end, Erith's last chance of the half fell to Abbott whose shot from inside the centre-circle, when Cotton's clearance from outside the penalty area fell to him, sailed high over the unguarded goal.
Whatever was said by Chatham boss Clive Walker during the interval had the desired effect as the visitors showed more urgency in their play and started to take the game to their hosts.
Billenness struck a rasping shot straight at Seitsonen after only 62 seconds after the interval, and when Tozer was forced to leave the pitch in the 49th minute, this gave Chatham the incentive to go on and win the game.
Nippy Chatham midfielder Mark Brookes started to get more into the game and it was his 54th minute cross from the right that picked out Billenness whose powerful header on the edge of the six-yard box found the back of the net.
Just past the hour, Collin sent Brookes on his way through on goal, and with only the goalkeeper to beat, his shot was well blocked by the Erith goalkeeper.
The game was now poised at 3-2 and after cutting inside, Abbott's 19-yard striker sailed over Cotton's bar before the stopper was brought into action denying Seb Ndombe.
However, Chatham equalised after 70 minutes when Billenness, obviously inspired to perform well against his former club, put pressure on Clarke, poking the ball past his own goalkeeper and the ball rolled inside the foot of the post.
With victory now in Chatham's grasp, Collin flashed a shot wide from inside the D, and at the other end, Dickson's 16-yard strike was saved low down by Cotton, but it looked the visitors would be the side that would go on and win this thriller.
And the winning goal came in the 86th minute. Collin teased the home defence with many step overs before he unleashed a cross-shot from the right hand side of the penalty area that found the top far corner of the net to break Erith's hearts.
When asked whether his side could come back from 3-0 down to win the game 4-3, Chatham manager Clive Walker admitted: "I've got to say no!"
He added: "Our defending was woeful for the first 20 minutes, I think we had the ball three times and they scored from it - we never got going.
"I changed my system and it seemed to work. Then we got this goal back, hit the bar and picked up the momentum when we were three down - which is too bloody late most of the time!
"You only get away with it once every now and then, once in a blue moon, but we got away with it today, but other sides won't get away with that."
Walker praised Glenn Billenness and two-goal hero Frannie Collin.
"They are good players for me - they are prolific.
"Glenn has been a terrific goalscorer for me for two seasons now, he was with Gravesend when I was there."
Walker warned: "We have got a lot of young lads and they've got to learn quickly about this game.
"To come back from 3-0 down away from home and win 4-3 - what can I say. I can't say anything!"
However, Erith & Belvedere manager Barry Lakin was left shellshocked by events at Park View Road, and admitted losing his captain Lewis Tozer was a big blow.
He admitted : "Lewis Tozer got a dead calf, very sore, and he did well just to get through 49 minutes and we definitely missed him when he went off."
Reflecting on the game, the young manager added: "Today was, if you were a neutral, wonderful, you get seven goals, it's nice and sunny.
"From Chatham's perspective when you have come along with the fans, your a player, it's a fantastic, amazing day.
"If your an Erith supporter, player, manager its (he hesitated) - there aren't any words to describe it (he hesitated, again) It's an absolutely shocking day!"
He added: "I am a very
emotional person as it is, especially with football, and to be 3-0 up and then
lose 4-3 - we've got to start again now."
But Lakin has promised to bring in some experienced players so there won't be a repeat of the surrender against Chatham.
"We've got a young team and when they are on top of their game there awesome!
"We saw that for 30 minutes, when things go against them they hide and that's what inexperience gives you.
"I will be looking to look for experienced players over the next week. I've always said I would like my team ready by the second week of September. I've still got two weeks to sort that out."
Erith & Belvedere: Jani Seitsonen, Marc Cumberbatch, Simon Clarke, Lewis Tozer (Capt, Luke Morrish 49), Ray Aboyagye, Mark Chapman, Ryan Briggs, Seb Ndombe, Chris Dickson, Paul Abbott, Chris Whitehouse (Simon Bradshaw 73). Subs: Craig Hales, Steve Robinson, Mo Cessay
Chatham Town: Ollie Cotton, Tom Binks, Gerrard Cunningham, Kenny Dyer, Matthew Bourne, Steven Best (Capt), Kevin Spriggs, Mark Brookes, Francis Collin, Glenn Billenness (Scott Saunders 87), Gary Tilley. Subs: Andrew Boyle, Daniel Lombardo, Israel Amadi, Gary Stock
Referee: Mr M Links
Assistants: Mr R Albert & Mr D Wyatt