Monday 04th October 2004
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Thamesmead without a Leg to stand on

THAMESMEAD TOWN manager Paul Blade is still feeling bitter on Monday evening over the refereeing performance from Andy Legg that helped knock his side out of the FA Cup at Bromley on Saturday, writes Stephen McCartney.

"I thought he (Andy Legg) had an absolute shocker!" the manager fumed some 50 hours after the second qualifying round defeat.

"He spoilt the day for us and finished off any chances we had of getting anything from the game, ten minutes into the second half."

Bromley had taken a 1-0 lead into the half time break through Leroy Huggins injury time strike but what happened early in the second half upset the manager and finished off any chance the Go Travel Kent League side had of getting anything from the game at Hayes Lane.

Blade said: "By giving a ridiculous penalty that wasn't a penalty - even the Bromley supporters behind the goal though it wasn't a penalty!

"I asked our goalkeeper, Danny Smith, who was making his debut, and he said he got a hand do the ball." as the young goalkeeper captured from Kent League rivals VCD Athletic, brought down Danny Arkwright to give away the spot kick.

Legg brandished the goalkeeper a red card, and striker Jason Clews took over the goalkeeping jersey, and having already been booked in the first half, the former Beckenham Town striker was later sent off for dissent.

Blade fumed: "The ball changed direction - the momentum caused the big centre half to fall over himself and we also had a player standing on the line behind the goalkeeper."

Set piece specialist Solomon Taiwo converted the resulting penalty to give Bromley a 2-0 lead in the 58th minute before Adolph Amoako wrapped up the victory inside injury time - a result that flattered the Ryman League side, according to Blade.

"The referee gave a red card to Jason Clews - who was already on a yellow card given to him in the first half -  he was just asking the referee why he gave a foul and he was booked for dissent.

"Going down to nine men, however I can accept defeat, not a problem, but on a big day and on a big occasion for the club, I just felt let down by the referee.

"The Bromley chairman aplogised to me after the game, and I think the 3-0 win flattered them.

However, Blade couldn't have asked anymore from his players, and after totalling around £4,000 from their FA Cup exploits, some of the money should be given to the manager to bolster his squad, that has seen fourteen players leave during the course of the campaign.

"I couldn't have asked anymore from my players and I told them they could walk into the bar with their heads held high, as they gave everything.

Thamesmead's main aim, however,  is to win promotion out of the Kent League, but they will have to do it the hard way as they have lost half of their opening six league games - they only lost five games the whole of last season when they finished runners-up to promoted side Cray Wanderers.

"We are not that far away now - probably need a couple of more signings if they are available," Blade said.

"We have lots to work on and by no means are we no where near where we want to be.

"The commitment and team spirit, however, is first class and I can't knock it.

"All we need now is to gel and get more understanding with the players.

"Our main aim is the league and that's going to be really difficult but we aren't going to give up.

"No team is running away with it, but if we can get a few results under our belt, we will be able to see where we are.

"It's still very early, we've only played six games and that's nothing at the moment.  But we have lost three games, we only lost 5 games last season to finish runners up, and that will give us a good idea on what we have got to do."

Thamesmead continue on the cup theme on Saturday when Deal Town are the visitors to Bayliss Avenue in the Kent Senior Trophy - a game held over from last weekend as the Mead were facing Bromley in the FA Cup.

"We only played them three weeks ago and done ok," recalled Blade.

"We were 2-0 down away from home and fought back to get a 2-2 draw, which was the start of the new players coming in and turning it around again.

"I would like to think we have improved since then, and I think we have.

"We are not overconfident, but if we apply ourselves with the same effort we showed against Worthing and Bromley in the FA Cup, and with a little bit of quality in the last third, which we are currently lacking, we should do ok.

"I am quietly confident to get the right result, but that's not taking Deal for granted.

"We will show them the respect they deserve, we will have the right attitude and approach and give it 100%.

Bromley will now travel to Nationwide South strugglers Sutton United in the third qualifying round - only two wins away from the first round proper.

The last time Bromley met Sutton United in the FA Cup, Keith Sharman's 72nd minute strike sealed their passage into the first round proper with the only goal of the game in 1996.

Bromley went on to lose 3-1 to league rivals Enfield at Hayes Lane in front of a crowd of 2.709 in the first round.