Beckenham Town 5-1 Balham - No one can mess it up, only ourselves, we're in a fantastic position to win the league, says Beckenham Town assistant manager Billy Walton

Tuesday 22nd March 2022
Beckenham Town 5 – 1 Balham
Location Eden Park Avenue, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3JL
Kickoff 22/03/2022 19:45

BECKENHAM TOWN  5-1  BALHAM
Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Premier Division South
Tuesday 22 March 2022
Stephen McCartney reports from Eden Park Avenue

BECKENHAM TOWN assistant manager Billy Walton says his side are going into the final month of the season in a fantastic position to win the Combined Counties League Premier Division South title at the first attempt.

Jason Huntley’s side remain in second-place in the table with 73 points from their 29 games and have nine games remaining. They have two games in hand on leaders Walton & Hersham, who are two points ahead and the Swans came away from Farnham Town with a 3-0 win tonight.

Badshot Lea are in third-place in the table with 66 points on the board from their 30 games while Jersey Bulls slipped up by being held to a 1-1 draw at Knaphill tonight and are in fourth-place on 64 points from 29 games.

Greg Crutwell’s Balham arrived at Eden Park Avenue in fourteenth-place in the table with 34 points from their 27 games and without a win in four games.

Beckenham Town, a side that haven't lost since losing 3-2 at Sheerwater on 3 January, did their damage inside the opening 25 minutes where Louie Theophanous scored a brace before captain and holding midfielder Danny Waldren also got on the scoresheet.

The second half was basically a non-event until find of the season Freddie Nyhus drove in the fourth goal of the night.

Balham central midfielder Luke Hedges capped off an impressive performance by scoring his third goal of the season in the final three minutes before Beckenham Town notched their tenth goal against Balham this season with centre-half Rob Carter tucking home a penalty with the last kick of the game.

“Balham are a tricky team to play against.  I think they’re a good outfit, they play some nice football, a difficult, difficult team to overcome,” said Walton.

“To beat them 5-1 without putting on a massive sweat was a big tribute to our team.  I thought they handed the game really well.  They managed it really well, the senior players took it by the scruff of the neck and really nullified everything Balham had.

“As I’ve said to you all the way through (the season), this group want to achieve something special. I really do think they want to go through to win it, we don’t just want to be promoted.  We want to win the title for the first time ever and this group of lads are really nailed on, they’re really dedicated, every game they are all switched on and focused, no matter what team’s throw at us, they all seem to be able to deal with it.”

Since being held to a 2-2 draw at home by Badshot Lea 14 days’ ago, Beckenham Town have rattled in the goals by beating basement side Molesey 9-1 and they came away from Frimley Green with a 7-0 win at the weekend.

Beckenham Town took only 171 seconds to create their first opening tonight.

Balham left-back Khalid Savage’s pass down the line was intercepted by Waldren, who clipped the ball over centre-half Kojo Kyei to release Theophanous down the right channel and after cutting into the box the Farnborough loanee dragged his shot across the keeper and past the far post with only the keeper to beat.

“It was one of those ones, it was a little bit behind him to get his shot off. The ball stuck in behind him so it was as bit of a scuffed shot – he made up for it,” added Walton.

Beckenham Town opened the floodgates by taking a deserved lead with eight minutes and 52 seconds on the clock.

Holding midfielders Nick Curran and Waldren linked up inside Beckenham’s half before Waldren hit a sublime 60-yard long ball which sailed over Balham’s centre-half Mark Palmer.

Theophanous expertly controlled the ball with his chest and held his composure inside the box to place his right-footed shot across keeper Sam Riley to find the bottom far corner from 10-yards.

“That’s what he can do, that’s why we brought him here.  I think at the start of his time at Beckenham, he took two or three games to settle in and then he’s found form. All the boys up front have really, they’re all contributing,” said Walton.

Balham’s only real chance of the first half came in the 15th minute when central midfielder Dan David sprayed the ball out to winger Alec Fiddes, who cut onto his right-foot and his cross/shot sailed around the far post from long-range.

Clinical Beckenham Town raced into a two-goal lead with 19 minutes and 4 seconds on the clock.

Carter clipped the ball over the top of Savage and right-back Harvey Brand was in an advanced position to whip in a deep cross, which was poorly cleared away as far as Theophanous, who took a touch before rifling his left-footed drive into the top far corner from 10-yards to score his 13th goal for the club.

“That’s the best goal of the night for me.  The pass out from Rob that found Harvey, who galloped forward from right-back, an inch-perfect ball from him to put it across for Louie to get on the end of it and finished really well with his left-foot as well,” added Walton.

Beckenham Town sealed the victory with only 24 minutes and 36 seconds on the clock, courtesy of route-one football.

Goalkeeper Nick Blue – who has outstanding distribution  – drilled the ball straight down the middle of the pitch.  Theophanus flicked the ball on and winger Steven Townsend easily cut past right-back Erick Arias to reach the penalty area.

Joe Healy’s initial shot was charged down but Waldren placed a first time right-footed shot into the bottom left-hand corner from six-yards to score his tenth goal of the season.

Walton added: “It was good to get Danny that far up the pitch. He’s playing a real captain’s role for us at the moment, contributing to a few important goals.

“I think that put the game to bed, even though it was really early. I don’t think we’re going to get beat 4-3 here at home. We haven’t lost all season (here in the league) so I don’t think we were going to concede four goals.”

The home side built patiently on the deck inside the Balham half with Brand and Nyhus linking up well before Healy threaded the ball in behind Kyei but keeper Riley came off his line to smother the ball off Brand’s feet inside the Balham six-yard box.

Brand whipped another ball into the Balham penalty area, which was half-cleared out to Nyhus, who stroked a first-time left-footed shot across the keeper and clipped the far post before the ball flashed along the goal-line before Balham cleared their lines inside the final six minutes of the first-half.

“Freddie’s got so much potential the lad and I’m really pleased with him, the way he’s performing,” said Walton.

“He’s got in the side and we sort of pick and choose the games that he plays but at the moment it’s hard to leave him out of any game, no matter what the state of the pitch is because the kid’s tireless. He just runs his socks off. He’s 17, got bundles of enthusiasm and not only that with his enthusiasm and his energy, he’s got a lot of ability.”

David and Lawrence Goddard linked up well inside the Beckenham Town half before Savage got to the by-line and his low cross was charged down by Carter at the near post and Blue grabbed hold of the ball as it dropped.

“We just said (at half-time), don’t sit back, don’t get sloppy, keep on doing the same things that you’ve done and keep getting after them,” said Walton.

“Balham are a good footballing side, they’re a very, very good football side and they’ve got to a lot of good players, quite a few of their players impressed me tonight.

“We said to them if they get a goal back their tails go up and naturally it’s squeaky bum time and you start dropping off.”

Cruttwell replaced ineffective lone striker James Adebayo for 35-goal talisman Tom Read at the break, while Beckenham Town lost centre-half Callum Henry with a hip injury inside the first five minutes of the second half.

Kymani Thomas came off the bench and played down the right-wing, while Waldren slotted in the heart of defence alongside Carter.

Walton said: “We were planning on taking Danny Waldren off, give him 10 minutes of the second half and then take him off but then Callum’s got a slight hip problem and he felt it just coming off at half-time and the physio worked on him at half-time and it’s a little bit deeper than what we thought so he had to come off.

“Dan’s a perfect player to slot in at centre-half and he reads the game really well and done a solid job for us.”

David, Goddard and Hedges linked up inside the Beckenham half for Balham before Goddard’s low cross flashed across the penalty area but no one could fashion a clear-cut goalscoring chance for the away side.

Balham made a tactical switch in the 63rd minute and took off Savage and Kyei moved from centre-back to left-back and on came Jake Henry to partner Palmer in the heart of defence, while Arias stayed at right-back.

The second-half was a non-event until Beckenham Town grabbed their fourth goal of the night in the 69th minute.

Curran played the ball along the pristine playing surface into Healy, who teed up Nyhus, who drove a left-footed drive past the diving keeper nestling nicely inside the bottom right-hand corner from 25-yards to score his fifth goal of his breakthrough season.

At this point in proceedings, Nyhus was playing in the number 10 role behind the front three of Tunde Aderonmu (left), Theophanus (centre) and Thomas (right), while Healy dropped alongside Curran in a holding midfield role sat in front of the back four.

“Freddie’s two-footed, when you see him in training he pings them in from everywhere with his right-foot or left-foot. He’s got that in his locker. He’s had quite a few shots from that distance, the one we talked about which he’s hit the post and he’s done exactly the same thing and got his shot off and hit the back of the net.”

If Nyhus didn’t have a slender build, then he would be playing a lot higher than the ninth-tier of English football and Beckenham Town picked him up following his release from Glebe.

“Freddie’s a great little player, I’ve got a lot of time for him,” said Walton.

“I think he can (play higher), hopefully it’s with us. The kid has got a lot of ability, he’s very, very good. What amazes me it’s just his energy. He gives you so much energy. To get about the pitch he must be an absolute nightmare and he’s very intelligent as well. He’s an intelligent footballer and he listens to what you tell him and he does it and he’s a really, really good lad.”

Balham – who suffered a 5-2 home defeat to Beckenham Town on 21 September – scored a consolation goal with 41:25 on the clock.

Goddard played the ball in from the right and Waldren opened the gate for the outstanding Hedges to bring the ball under control with a couple of touches before placing his right-footed shot into the bottom right-hand corner with his third touch.

“It’s the only disappointing thing of the night really,” admitted Walton, who by then had made five substitutions and the game had a pre-season feel to it with Balham bringing on four substitutes.

“Making five changes and having three attackers in midfield and putting a midfield player in centre-half and a left-winger at left-back, we was all over the shop and to concede was disappointing but it’s understandable,” said Walton.

“I think their three in midfield all played well.  As I said to you, it’s testament to our lads to work as hard as they did and to get the goals against a very, very talented side was fantastic for us.”

Blue made a comfortable save at his near-post to thwart Balham substitute Tomasz Wocial from scoring with a left-footed angled drive inside the box after Goddard played a diagonal pass to substitute striker Read, who laid the ball off to the left-winger.

Referee Andrew Thomson pointed to the spot after pacey winger Thomas raced into the penalty area and was brought crashing down to the ground by Henry.

Carter came up from defence to place his right-footed penalty just right of centre, as goalkeeper Riley dived to his right, with 49 minutes and 19 seconds on the clock, to extend Beckenham Town’s unbeaten record to 14 games going into their game at Badshot Lea on Saturday.

“Kymani’s from (National League South) Dulwich Hamlet and he’s with us for the rest of the season,” revealed Walton.

“He’s very, very sharp and very lively and he’s just got to know the rest of the players and settle down. 

“He’s a real handful because he is absolutely quick as they come and what we always say to people as forwards, get them in the box running at them, they touch you, it’s a penalty and he was brought down in the penalty area.”

When asked why a defender took the spot-kick, Walton replied: “Because all of the forwards are useless at penalties, we put the centre-half on them and he’s got two out of two so long may it continue.”

When asked about the title race and Saturday’s trip to Badshot Lea, Walton replied: “It’s in our hands now, no one can mess it up, only ourselves, so it’s another game gone. It’s a week away from April, the last month (of the season) and we’re in a fantastic position.

“It will be tough, Badshot Lea are still in with a shot on promotion. They’re a good side but we’re a good side. We’ve got a couple of days rest and we’ll train and work on a few things that we noticed about them when we played them here a couple of weeks ago, which could be a good thing or a bad thing.

“They’re an extremely difficult team to play against and they know they’re playing a good side so I think it will be a good game.

“We look forward to those games, it’s what you want to be involved in.

“I’ll be happy to win 1-0. If we can win 1-0 from now until the end of the season, I’ll be happy as Larry.”

Beckenham Town: Nick Blue, Harvey Brand, Archie Johnson (De Niro Pinto 79), Nick Curran, Rob Carter, Callum Henry (Kymani Thomas 51), Steven Townsend (Tunde Aderonmu 73), Danny Waldren, Louie Theophanous (Alfie Bloomfield 79), Joe Healy (Jamie Humphris 75), Freddie Nyhus.

Goals: Louie Theophanous 9, 20, Danny Waldren 25, Freddie Nyhus 69, Rob Carter 90 (penalty)

Balham: Sam Riley, Erick Arias, Khalid Savage (Jake Henry 63), Dan David, Mark Palmer, Kojo Kyei, Samuele Pagano (Tomasz Wocial 73), Luke Hedges, James Adebayo (Tom Read 46), Lawrence Goddard, Alec Fiddes (Andrew Cruz Rosa 80).
Sub: Jack Gordon

Goals: Lee Hedges 87

Booked: Luke Hedges 56, Erick Arias 65

Attendance: 228
Referee: Mr Andrew Thomson
Assistants: Mr Brendan Walsh & Mr Stephen Tyler