Sunday 02nd October 2005

Bragging Beckenham come unstuck

Bragging Beckenham Town players came unstuck at Eden Park Avenue on Saturday, as their pre-match antics inspired visiting Herne Bay's players to victory to put to an end the home side's 100% record, writes Stephen McCartney.

Beckenham went into the game with a perfect 100% record from their first seven Kentish Observer League games, scoring 33 goals in the process and conceding only two - which was during their first game of the season, when Whitstable Town were beaten 6-2.

Herne Bay came into this game without a win in three games, which included leaking six goals in their last two defeats against Ditcot Town (6-2) in their FA Cup first qualifying round replay and their 6-0 drubbing at Thamesmead Town in the league two weeks ago.

The first half, as expected, belonged to Beckenham.  Their flowing passing game was a delight to watch.

Bay fell into the trap of trying to copy the home side's style of play and fell woefully short, giving the ball away with regular monotony.

Beckenham took the lead with an absolutely stunning goal after 15 minutes.  James Cheesman, a former Dulwich Hamlet youth team player, picked up the ball some 35 yards out on the left flank.  There appeared to be no danger but Cheesman knew different, striking a thunderous left-foot shot, which simply left Jack Delo glued to his spot as the ball crashed into the top of the net.

The Beckenham supporters in the 115 crowd believed this would start the expected goal rush.

Beckenham continued to play the good football but they never looked like breaking down a very determined Herne Bay defence.

Delo did come to the rescue with a stunning save, low down at his near post in the 35th minute.

If Becks had gone two up at this stage the result may have been different, but this was the spur Bay needed and from this point they took the game to the league leaders.

The home defence had not been troubled up to this time, but a series of three free kicks given by referee Wyatt for shirt pulling, produced the equaliser and the first goal Beckenham have conceded for 595 minutes.

The first two free kicks resulted in good saves from goalkeeper Tolfrey.  The third kick, however, was exquisite.  Brown dummied a shot, slid the ball to Shaun Mitchell who immediately turned it back to Marlon Button, whose perfectly placed curled shot found the top right hand corner of the net with five minutes before the interval.

The second period was all Herne Bay, playing with real conviction and they took the game to Beckenham straight from the off.

After only four minutes the unthinkable happened.  Stuart King received the ball deep in the home side's half.  Seeing Luke Harvey totally unmarked inside the box he slid the ball to him and Harvey struck a powerfully low drive into the bottom corner of the net.

Bay were now really up for it, not allowing Beckenham to settle back into their slick passing game.  As soon as a Beckenham player got the ball there was always at least two Bay players closing him down.

Beckenham manager Gavin Rose - who clinched the manager of the month award for September - saw his side clearly rattled and no matter how much they tried Herne Bay refused to release their grip on the game.

Then in the 85th minute the Bay players, bench and the half a dozen travelling supporters were sent into rhapsody.

Substitutes Matt McHugh and Dave Soutan combined to put Harvey through on the edge of the box.  Taking one touch and with his confidence sky high, after netting five goals in his last three games, struck the sweetest of shots under the diving body of Tolfrey into the same corner as his first.

Beckenham's undefeated run was coming to an end.  Their players started questioning some of the referee's decisions and found themselves in his notebook.

The confident teamwork, slick passing and lethal finishing had now deserted them as Bay saw out the victory.

Interestingly, Delo didn't have a save to make throughout the second period.

An absolutely superb performance by Bay.  This was the team of last season, and manager Jason Lillis, revealed in an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk what inspired his players to produce this excellent victory, when no-one gave them any hope.

"Beckenham players laid a load of newspapers out onto the subs bench from the Kentish Observer saying how they would over run us and are a better side than us.

"I didn't have to do a lot of motivation (during my team-talk) and we kindly gave them back the newspapers in their changing room after the game," said a delighted Lillis.

Was that the right thing to do by the home side? Lillis replied: "Well, that's what happens in football and when you do things like that, it can embarrass you a little bit!"

So Herne Bay prove to Kent football that Beckenham Town can be beaten, and get rattled when things aren't going right for them.

Lillis was furious that he side didn't deserve to be slated after two heavy defeats and added: "Every side can be beaten in our league.  They are a good side but so are well.

"Because we've had two bad weeks it doesn't make us a bad side and so it proved yesterday."

Lillis will be hoping his side carry that performance into their home game against tenth placed Deal Town at Winch's Field on Tuesday night - with a lot riding on it for both sides.

In the five league games Derek Hares' side have played, his side have scored 13 and leaked 15 goals, but Lillis will be pleased with a 1-0 win.

"I saw Deal about a month ago and they're a better side than last year but I'm more than worried with what we are doing to be fair," he said.

Welling manager Adrian Pennock has sent Darren Marsden to Winch's Field to get his fitness levels up so the 18-year-old former Gillingham midfielder can return fully fit and raring to go in the Nationwide Conference South.

"Adie's sent him away to play and get himself fit and progress into the Welling side.  He's done allright, he's settling in well and just need's to get to work on his fitness," said the Herne Bay boss.

And Leicestershire cricketer, Dave Masters will be available for Lillis as from next Saturday, and Lillis said of the striker: "I'm very pleased, he's actually fit himself and he just loves playing football as well as cricket and Leicestershire know that and allow him to play for us, which is a big boost.

With cup games taking a priority this midweek, Herne Bay's game with Deal Town is the only Kentish Observer League game this midweek, and Lillis' side can climb into fourth place with a victory and Deal can move into seventh place - just one point and place behind Herne Bay if they come away with all three points.

Herne Bay's victorious team at Beckenham: Delo, Eastwood, Williams, Cooke, Lloyd, Mitchell, Button (McHugh) , Simon Brown, King (Sotan), Harvey (Warden), Bremner.  Subs: N Brown

(Special thanks to John Bathurst for match report)

Herne Bay v Deal Town
Kentish Observer League
Tuesday 4th October 2005
Kick Off 7:45pm
at Winch's Field, Stanley Gardens, Herne Bay