Beckenham Town 2-2 Badshot Lea - I think if we win 10 of our next 11 games we'll go up as champions - it's in our hands, says confident Beckenham Town assistant Billy Walton

Tuesday 08th March 2022
Beckenham Town 2 – 2 Badshot Lea
Location Eden Park Avenue, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3JL
Kickoff 08/03/2022 19:45

Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Premier Division South
Tuesday 8 March 2022
Stephen McCartney reports from Eden Park Avenue

BECKENHAM TOWN assistant manager Billy Walton says his side are in a strong position to win the Combined Counties League Premier Division South title at the first attempt.

Jason Huntley’s side missed out on the chance of returning to the summit and leapfrogging over Walton & Hersham after being held to a draw by fourth-placed Badshot Lea, who came away from Eden Park Avenue extending their unbeaten away league record to 14 games, while Beckenham Town are unbeaten at home in 14 games.

Both teams have now extended their unbeaten run to 11 games and put on a good game of football for the 175 crowd.

Dave Ford and Gavin Smith’s side rocked Beckenham Town by taking the lead after only 27 seconds through attacking midfielder Kane Fitzgerald after pinball inside the penalty area.

However, Beckenham Town grabbed a controversial equaliser, against-the-run-of-play through Danny Waldren’s penalty, tucking home his ninth goal of the season.

The home side took the lead in the 62nd minute through loanee striker Louie Theophanus’ sixth goal for the club, before Badshot Lea grabbed a late equaliser on the counter-attack through impressive left-winger Malachi Thomas’ fifteenth-goal of the campaign.

Walton said: “I’m slightly, slightly disappointed to be honest with you.  I thought, apart from the first 20 minutes, we dominated the rest of the game and created quite a few chances and it was a bit heartbreaking at the end when you concede in the 90th minute, especially when we had the ball so deep in their half of the pitch.  You can take care of it a bit better but these things happen. You just have to take it and move on.”

Badshot Lea kicked off the game and released right-winger Danilo Cadete, who charged down the wing, cut inside and flashed a low cross towards the near post.

Striker Tane Caubo’s low flicked shot was blocked by goalkeeper Nick Blue, Thomas lashed the rebound against the top of the near post and the ball dropped for Fitzgerald to stroke in his eleventh goal of the season from a couple of yards out.

“It was a bit of a pinball at the time but listen, to concede in 27 seconds is not acceptable, especially straight from their kick-off,” admitted Walton, who was without injured 16-goal striker Tunde Aderonmu, while Joe Healy was away.

“We can’t get caught like that and it’s unusual for us to be fair.  We haven’t been caught like that the whole season.

“It’s a quick turnaround, we have them again in three weeks’ time so hopefully we can go there and address these little problems we’ve had.”

Beckenham Town took fourteen minutes to create an opening, a counter-attack straight down the middle of the pitch.

Theophanus picked the ball up and released Harvey Brand straight down the middle of the pitch and fed the impressive diminulative right-winger Freddie Nyhus, who cut inside and curled his left-footed shot around the top of the far post from 25-yards.

But Badshot Lea were the dominant force during the first 25 minutes of the first half and were almost gifted a second following their first of three corners.

Thomas delivered a deep corner from the right, which was headed clear by Beckenham’s right-back Harvey Hanifan.  Thomas had a second bite of the cherry to deliver and centre-half Madiagha Wanogho was relieved when his sliced clearance was straight at his goalkeeper.

Beckenham Town’s 17-goal left-winger Steven Townsend unleashed a right-footed angled drive from 30-yards, which was held on the goal-line by visiting goalkeeper Craig Bradshaw.

“Steve’s got loads of potential and things in his locker that he can do and that’s one of them. He’s not frightened to take a shot on, shame it didn’t hit the top corner,” added Walton.

Beckenham Town grabbed their equaliser in the 31st minute, however.

Waldren clipped a ball over the top of Badshot Lea’s right-back James Smith to play in Archie Johnson, who cut the ball back from the by-line for Theophanus, who took a touch inside a crowded penalty area before drilling a shot towards goal.

Badshot Lea’s central midfielder Macauley Ford put his body on the line and made a block in a sensitive part of the male body and as he fell to the ground in agony, the ball kissed his arm and referee Alec Ovens awarded a penalty.

Ford required lengthy treatment both on the pitch and behind the by-line beside the right-hand post and was thrown in the sin-bin for 10 minutes by the referee as he contested the decision.

Waldren accepted the lifeline and stroked his right-footed penalty into the bottom left-hand corner, underneath the diving keeper, who almost got there.

Walton said: “A lot of different things came from the line. Obviously they thought it just hit him.  I said to the linesman (Roger Wells), I thought he reached down and blocked it with his arm, after it hit him.  That’s why we appealed.  I don’t think we would’ve appealed if he just laid down on the floor and it hit him.  I thought he actually reached out to stop it.

“It’s one of those. Without video replay you can’t really see. It happened so quick. They would say it wasn’t a penalty and we say it was a penalty.

“At least, for once, we’ve scored a penalty. I think we’ve missed at least four or five this season so it’s nice to see it hit the back of the net.”

Badshot Lea missed a glorious chance to regain the lead in the 37th minute.

Towering centre-half Andrew Matthews released Thomas down the left and he easily cut inside and past Hanifan and drilled a cross from the by-line towards an unmarked Danilo Cadete at the far post but the winger planted his bullet header over the crossbar from four-yards.

When asked about the pacey threat that Thomas posed on the counter-attack, Walton replied: “He was a good player, their 10 and in all fairness Harvey Hainfan played a real good game against him as with most of the lads did tonight.”

Walton added: “I thought possession wise, certainly from 20 minutes gone on the clock, for the rest of the game I think we’ve dominated possession and dominated the attacks going forward and we’re extremely disappointed to draw.”

Beckenham Town created one chance when their opponents were temporarily down to 10 men.

Hanifan whipped in a deep cross from the right towards the far post and Townsend rose above Smith to head the ball up in the air and his second header teed up a chance for Curran, who hit a half-volley just over the crossbar from 12-yards.

Brand, pushed further forward than normal to play behind lone striker Theophanus, played the ball into Nyhys, who took a touch before dragging his left-footed shot across Bradshaw and harmlessly wide of the far post from 25-yards.

“What can I say about Freddie?  God knows what the people at Glebe were doing when they said he weren’t good enough for them? He’s good enough for us all day long. I’m so happy for the lad,” added Walton.

“I said (at half-time), don’t be negative.  They’re most probably the best side we’ve played down here in all fairness.  Technical and tactical and stuff and I said to them at half-time, let’s be positive. We’re at home, let’s go for it and push on the full-backs a bit further up the pitch and get the midfield runners running in behind them.  Our full-backs pushed on, their two wingers didn’t really want to track back with us and got in a lot.”

Badshot Lea played several long balls which sailed over Johnson’s head during the game and they were to be denied a second goal just 30 seconds into the second half.

Fitzgerald looped a long diagonal over the left-back to release Cadete, who cut into the box and his right-footed shot was floating towards the top far corner, only for Blue to fling himself to his right to grab hold of the ball.

Walton said: “A bit of a powder puff shot and Nick made more of a spectacular save like what goalkeeper’s do but it was a routine save from him and a routine shot at goal, I think.”

Beckenham Town swiftly went up the other end and Waldren played the ball out to Johnson, who played in Townsend just outside the corner of the box but a pressing James Whiting took the sting out of the shot and Bradshaw made a comfortable low save to his left.

“Steve’s always a threat. Steve’s a handful against any defender, if he’s on song he will probably turn you inside out and gets shots off and scores goals,” added Walton.

Beckenham Town went agonisingly close to taking the lead in the 55th minute and once again Townsend was heavily involved.

Waldren whipped in a deep cross from the right towards Townsend on the other side of the penalty area and he twisted and turned both Smith and Cadete inside the box and despite the referee ignoring a shirt pull inside the box, Townsend teed up Curran, who with the outside of his right-boot hit a first-time shot which shaved the top of the right upright from 12-yards.

Walton admitted: “Nick would normally hit the target then and score. Another chance goes begging – at least make the goalkeeper work from there!”

Badshot Lea’s centre-half Billy Upton launched a long ball which released Thomas down the right on the hour mark but this time his shot deflected behind for a corner.

Beckenham Town hit Badshot Lea on the counter-attack and took a deserved lead with 62 minutes on the clock.

Brand knocked the ball forward with his head and Theophanus sublimely brought the ball under control with his outstretched foot and the loose ball was picked up by Brand, whose initial pass was blocked by the last defender.

However, Brand’s second bite of the cherry put Theophanus through on goal and the striker drilled his left-footed shot from 15-yards past Bradshaw in a one-on-one situation.

Walton said: “A good finish. He’s a proven goalscorer Louie. He’s played at a decent level and we’re pleased we’ve got him.

“You know if he can get himself in that position he’ll get his shot off and he does strike a good ball and he normally hits the back of the net.”

The rest of the game turned out to be cagey and Beckenham Town created one further chance to secure the points.

Johnson produced a solo run sprinting with the ball at his feet for around 50-yards before drilling a left-footed angled drive from inside the box, which appeared to be flicked over the crossbar by Bradshaw’s outstretched glove at his near post.

However, the home side were forced into making a couple of late substitutions and one of them, striker Alfie Bloomfield’s introduction had a negative effect, which helped Badshot Lea to grab a point.

Bloomfield lost possession high up the pitch and Upton smashed a ball over the top of Johnson, substitute Jakob Hawker’s first-time hooked pass played in Thomas, who drilled his right-footed shot past Blue at his near-post in a one-on-one counter-attack to grab an equaliser with 89 minutes and 19 seconds on the clock.

“I couldn’t see them scoring, I didn’t see them as a threat,” admitted Walton, who admitted Johnson got caught out too many times with long balls out of defence during the game.

“We’ve just talked about exactly that in the changing room. It’s something that we’ll look at and look at it on Thursday and just have a little tinker around and make sure it doesn’t happen again when we go there (on Saturday 26 March).

“A few things upset us in terms of, we had to bring a few people off and we didn’t really want to bring any one off but it was just purely tiredness where they haven’t played a tremendous amount of football.

“Harvey Hanifan had cramp, Louie Theophanus just literally ran his socks off and had nothing left and you think he’s put a good shift in.

“We put Alfie Bloomfield on just to cause a bit of mayhem really up front to put them under pressure and chase everything down.

“Dare I say, I think the second goal was worse than the first in our opinion. We’re on the adsendacy, we’re on the edge of their box and we haven’t wrapped the ball up in the corner.  There’s a minute to go for god sake! Wrap the ball, get it in the corner, get bodies up the pitch and stop it and they’ve won the ball back and knocked it long and we’ve got caught flat-footed and he’s cut in and scored. It’s so, so disappointing!”

Walton admitted: “It’s two points dropped but we haven’t been beat. We’re disappointed. At the end of the season it might be the point that wins us the league, so I’ll take it.”

Walton & Hersham remain at the summit with 65 points from 28 out of 38 games, a point clear of Beckenham Town, who have two games in hand. 

Jersey Bulls – who were held to a 2-2 draw away to third-from-bottom side AFC Croydon Athletic (who had a man sent-off) at Mayfield Stadium tonight – remain in third-place with 60 points from 25 games, while Badshot Lea are in fourth-place with 57 points from 27 games.

Walton revealed he will miss Saturday’s home game against bottom-of-the-table side Molesey on Saturday.

Beckenham Town suffered a shock 3-1 defeat at Walton Road on 2 December but Molesey have collected only 12 points from their 31 games this season, three points behind Banstead Athletic, whom have five games in hand, while Kevin Rayner’s AFC Croydon Athletic remain outside the relegation zone on 22 points with 10 games left.

Walton revealed the players will be warned against complacency when they report to Thursday night training to avoid suffering an embarrassing double defeat by the worst side in the division.

“I don’t care, as long as we win 1-0, 2-1, as long as we win the game.  Molesey will come here like every single team has ever done since I’ve been here. They’ll see the pitch, they all come here and they all raise their game 20% because they want to play on the pitch and play against Beckenham and it will be no different,” said Walton.

“They’ll come here, they’re bottom fighting for their lives. It’s a free-hit for them. We’ve got to make sure that we don’t get out-worked by them. If we play to our strengths and play, we’ll beat them. It’s as simple as that. We will beat them if we play to our strengths.”

When asked about the exciting title race, Walton replied: “I would say I would rather be in our position than the other three.  We’ve got the best home record, we very, very rarely lose away. We’re in a strong position and they’re playing catch up.  Jersey can’t overtake us if they win their game in hand. Badshot have got a long way to catch us up and they can’t afford to slip up, they’ve got to win 11 out of 11.

“Pure and simple, I think if we win 10 out of our next 11 games, we’ll go up as champions, it’s in our hands.

“I don’t say if, I say when we get promoted. When we get promoted and I say that with good confidence because I believe in these lads and I think they will win it.”

Beckenham Town: Nick Blue, Harvey Hanifan (Jamie Brown 86), Archie Johnson, Nick Curran (Shameek Farrell 78), Mudiagha Wanogho, Steven Townsend, Danny Waldren, Louie Theophanus (Alfie Bloomfield 88), Harvey Brand, Freddie Nyhus.
Subs: Jamie Humphris, De Niro Pinto

Goals: Danny Waldren 31 (penalty), Louie Theophanus 62

Booked: Nick Curran 16

Badshot Lea: Craig Bradshaw, James Smith, George Hedley, James Whiting, Billy Upton, Andrew Matthews, Malachi Thomas, Macauley Ford (Jakob Hawker 78), Tane Caubo, Kane Fitzgerald, Danilo Cadete.
Subs: Josh Pound, Victor OCansey, Louis Lindsay, Max Drake

Goals: Kane Fitzgerald 1, Malachi Thomas 90

Booked: James Smith 42

Temporary Dismissal: Macauley Ford 31

Attendance: 175
Referee: Mr Alec Ovens
Assistants: Mr Roger Wells & Mr Dean Banks