|FA Vase (Carlsberg)
|Stephen McCartney reports from Bayliss Avenue|
|Thamesmead Town||1||Dean Burns 37|
|Winchester City||3||Ian Mancey 56
Mark Blake 68
Jamie Laidlaw 90
Thamesmead so proud after scaring Vase holders Winchester
THAMESMEAD Town gave FA Vase holders Winchester City the fright of their lives in the third round at Bayliss Avenue today.
Every man in a green
shirt battled for the ball with pride and passion and were a credit to Go Travel
Kent League football, and themselves, taking a deserved lead through Dean Burns'
thirteenth goal of the season after 37 minutes before running out of steam in
the second half.
With 'Mead players watching the first half of the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park inside the clubhouse, an hour and a half before kick off, Winchester City had the audacity to place the FA Vase trophy on a table in front of them, as everyone watched the televised game.
This, however, almost proved costly, as Thamesmead, without manager Paul Blade who was away, and led well by assistant manager's Keith McMahon and Steve Wait, made sure the glamour boys of Hampshire football weren't given time and space on the ball and battled with courage and fully deserved their interval lead.
However, like true champions, Winchester got out of jail, with three clinical second half strikes to stake their place in the fourth round.
Travelling supporters were relived at the final whistle - they knew they were in a battle - and although vocal and confident before kick off, they were stunned to silence during the first half, and only came to life when their team scored.
Man-of-the-match, John Mayall, a former Tunbridge Wells and Cray Wanderers' central defender, a close look-a-like of John Terry, played with the same composure at the back as the Stamford Bridge captain.
Lively midfielder Sam Thomas' frightened the visitors with his pace, and had Thamesmead had enough fuel left in their engines in the second half, they would have sent the holders crashing out of the competition.
In fact, it took Winchester 31 minutes to have their first real chance on goal when Shaun Dyke, ran past a committed Danny Evans tackle, and cut into the penalty area but his cross-cum-shot flew narrowly over Dominic Moore's crossbar.
By this stage, Thamesmead looked like they were the cup holders and twice went close in the opening nine minutes from shots from 25-yards by Jason Clews and Thomas as the home side started brightly, confidently and ready for the battle ahead.
Their third chance came in the 14th minute but Burns' blazed high over the bar from a 22-yard free kick and Marc Merridan - who was replaced at the break due a reoccurrence of a heel injury, - flashed a shot wide of the far post from 25-yards after Thomas caused Winchester problems down the left hand side.
But the deserved lead for the South-East Londoners came in the 37th minute. Curtis Williams' run down the right saw him shoot low across goal which found Burns at the far post, and from close range, he slid the ball back across the goalkeeper, finding the bottom far corner of the net.
Thamesmead, however, had goalkeeper Moore to thank, for keeping their lead intact with two great saves in the last four minutes of the half.
Ian Buckman's 16-yard screamer was heading for the top corner of the net, but the former Tunbridge Wells goalkeeper flew to his right to tip the rasping shot onto the top of the crossbar and over.
Lloyd Webber's 25-yard shot was destined for the net, but once again, Moore made a fantastic save.
Thamesmead, however, should have doubled their lead three minutes before Winchester equalised.
Clews, inside his own half, found Burns in the cenre circle, who in turn sent Thomas on a run down the left channel but rolled a shot wide of the far post.
Winchester equalised when Ian Mancey found the bottom left hand corner with a crisp 25-yard drive and then they took control of the game.
Winchester are a side that like to spray the ball around at the back before moving the ball forward. If their fourth round opponents read this, if you harrase and win battles all around the pitch, they will be in with a shout of knocking them out.
After Burns' 25-yard shot was comfortably saved by Simon Arthur, Winchester scored their second with 22 minutes left.
Dyke's corner was met by a powerful header from an unmarked Mark Blake, who planted a header inside the near post, beating Moore who stuck out a hand but couldn't stop if finding the net.
Webber's right-footed drive screamed wide of the foot of the right post before Winchester's third, flattering goal, wrapped up their passage into the next round inside stoppage time.
Jamie Musselwhite sprayed the ball to Dyke on the right hand side, who set up former Yeovil Town man Jamie Laidlaw, whose superb strike from 22-yards crashed into the net giving Moore no chance.
McMahon, however, was a proud, but disappointed man after the game.
"For the first 45 minutes, I think we showed, maybe, we were the better side.," he said.
"We said before the game we were going to have a right go at them.
"Winchester are a very good side, as we expected, but for the first 45 minutes we looked like we were the cup holders and they didn't."
McMahon admitted his players were inspired to perform, after Winchester sat the trophy in front of the 'Mead players as everyone watched the first half of Everton's 1-0 win over Liverpool inside the clubhouse before the game.
When asked what he said to his players about the trophy incident, McMahon added: "We didn't really have to.
"We read in a report that's what they've done. I think, to be fair to them, we found out afterwards Carlsberg asked them to do that.
"Maybe, yes, it's a little bit harsh but I think it just spurred the players on and I think if helped us to be honest."
And on the game, the 31-year-old said: "First half we worked really well. Our game plan was to not left them play and to be honest they kept the ball really well.
"Second half we said to play the same way again, if they can.
"They scored a goal, I think we could have hit them with a few challenges but the sucker punch, with 20 minutes to go was the free header - we just switched off.
"Their third goal flattered them a little bit - we were pushing forward in the last couple of minutes.
"I think it's a tremendous performance from the club."
McMahon, however, was pleased his players listened to his pre-match motivational team talk.
He said: "We gave them a right good game and I think the lads should be proud.
"I said to them at the beginning, there's not much of a difference in class as long as we perform the way we can.
"I asked for 110% and everyone gave it," he beamed.
He revealed the players were left drained and hugely disappointed in the dressing room after the game but he is looking for the same passion for the rest of their Kent League season to rise up the table, which they should do after today's performance.
"They can't move, they are physically drained," McMahon said.
"Winchester are a good side but I thought we matched them apart from the 15-20 minutes when they got their noses in front."
Thamesmead's next Go Travel Kent League game is at Sevenoaks Town next Saturday.
"I said to the boys, if we perform like we just did today, we won't go away empty handed this year - we will climb back up the league.
"Our main aim is getting back in the league title race - we're not that far behind it.
"If we show the attitude we showed today, the passion, the boys wanted to play for the club.
"They all want to push on, the club's going in the right direction with the management team and committee."
Thamesmead are still left in the London Senior Cup, Kent League Cup and Kent Senior Trophy, and although they are now second from bottom in the table after today's games, only EIGHT points separate fifteen of the sixteen clubs.
Thamesmead Town: Dominic Moore, Marc Merridan (Mark Dudley 46), Danny Evans, (Peter Deadman 81), Kieron Collins, John Mayall, Lee Loveridge, Curtis Williams, Pedro Knight (Capt), Jason Clews (Ray Power 65), Dean Burns, Sam Thomas. Subs: Glen Addison, Danny Kemp
Winchester City: Simon Arthur, Shaun Dyke, Matthew Bicknell (Capt, Kevin Brewster 90), Mark Jones, Toby Redwood, Mark Blake, Lloyd Webber, Ian Buckman, Ian Mancey (Jamie Musselwhite 70), Jamie Laidlaw, Liam Green (Mark Smith 65). Subs: David Goss, Alex Hards
Referee: P Burton
Assistants D Sotimirin & Ms. S Henderson