Beckenham Town 4-0 AFC Croydon Athletic - We have to go about our business every week and not worry too much about what the others are doing, says Beckenham Town coach Phil Wilson

Tuesday 03rd March 2020
Beckenham Town 4 – 0 AFC Croydon Athletic
Location Eden Park Avenue, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3JL
Kickoff 03/03/2020 19:45

Sea Pioneer Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Tuesday 3 March 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Eden Park Avenue

BECKENHAM TOWN coach Phil Wilson says he was happy with his side’s four-nil victory over a spirited AFC Croydon Athletic side at Eden Park Avenue.

Jason Huntley’s side’s charge towards their maiden Sea Pioneer Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division title continued as they extended AFC Croydon Athletic’s winless run to nine games.

Ryan Hall, 32, put in an outstanding performance for Beckenham Town, tapping in his side’s opening goal before a thumping top corner own-goal from AFC Croydon Athletic centre-half Hermes Mengi just 95 seconds later put the home side in the driving seat.

Striker Dominic Ogun scored against his old club in controversial circumstances inside the final nine minutes before AFC Croydon Athletic scored their second own goal of the night through left-back Michael Jones.

“Pleasing performance, a 4-0 home win and there was also several other chances we could’ve got particularly in the first half where we haven’t hit the target which is the only disappointing thing really but overall a 4-0 win at home, you’d take that,” said Wilson, who took post-match press conference duties as Billy Walton missed the game through work commitments.

AFC Croydon Athletic manager Kevin Rayner added: “I quite enjoyed the game. I thought the scoreline flattered Beckenham a little bit.

“I think we competed well enough.  We just lost concentration with two quick goals in the first half. We were in the game second half and we had a few good chances.

“I was a bit disappointed with the ref for the third goal really. Our players weren’t ready or switched off really.  They thought they were going to get the ball back and then it’s in our net!

“Beckenham probably deserved to win the game. I thought 4-0 flattered. I’ve got no issues with tonight. I thought we played quite well, certainly better than our last couple of games.

“We’ve got a couple of players to come back in, which has been a bit unfortunate but I thought the lads done well, a couple of the youngsters out there done pretty well tonight so that was quite pleasing.”

The opening 20 minutes of the game was an open end-to-end affair with AFC Croydon Athletic playing much better than a side in the bottom four in the table with 24 points from as many games.

Beckenham Town created the first opening with five minutes and 46 seconds on the clock following the first of their four corners.

Luke Rooney rose his right arm before delivering a deep corner towards the far post which was met by Junior Kaffo’s downward header from six-yards out, which was comfortably caught by visiting goalkeeper Nic Taylor.

“I thought Junior got up quite well. Our pitch is quite heavy at the moment so anything hitting the floor beforehand it’s going to take the sting out of the ball and you’d expect someone with Nic’s experience in goal to come and clean those up quite nicely,” said former Dulwich Hamlet goalkeeper Wilson.

Rayner added: “I think that was probably their only chance up until they scored.  There wasn’t much in the game until I think in two minutes they’ve scored two and not a lot else happened in the half to be honest.”

AFC Croydon Athletic created their first chance with seven minutes and 32 seconds on the clock when Abbas Agoro broke through the midfield ranks before playing in right-back Kazzeem Richards, who drilled his left-footed shot just past the foot of the near post from 15-yards.

Beckenham Town goalkeeper Michael McEntegart then made a comfortable save in his midriff as visiting striker Joe Nwoko had two bites of the cherry before unleashing a right-footed deflected drive from 25-yards, which was comfortably saved.

A miskick from Mengi fell to Hall, who scuffed his left-footed shot across the keeper and watched the ball flash just past the foot of the far post.

Wideman Noe Parcerisa swept a curler towards the far corner from 25-yards, which forced McEntegart to dive to his right to tip the ball around the post for the first of two corners from the away side.

Rayner said: “He’s caught one just wide. We tried to keep our shape well and as soon as we got hold of the ball, try and get it wide and attack quickly and it was working.

“Unfortunately we’ve switched off for a minute and they’ve scored and they’ve scored again and that’s it really, the game was pretty much dead but second half we came out and we’ve had a go. I quite enjoyed the game., I don’t think we done that bad.”

Wilson said: “I think Macca said he made one save when it was already going wide. He’s had a couple of comfy nights now Macca, down to Deal (a 2-0 win last time out) as well but I thought he had a real, good vocal presence today and he’s a big part of the defence and kept two clean sheets.”

Wilson added:  “They have got some good players.  I’m surprised they’re not higher up in the league.

“I thought Joe Nwoko, up top, worked really hard, didn’t give an easy game to Ben Gorham and Rob Carter at the back and they had a lot of pace coming in from midfield. 

“They had a few players’ I didn’t recognise, who I haven’t seen before, come into their side today. They looked quite dangerous on the break.”

Beckenham Town missed a glorious chance to take a fifteenth minute lead.

Rooney pinged the ball over to Hall, whose initial touch was subline before he whipped in a great cross into the centre of the box for Ogun (who got in front of centre-half Liam Harwood) and smashed his first time left-footed shot over the crossbar from 10-yards.

“Disappointing finish! We’ve brought Dom in for a couple of reasons and as a number nine you’d want him to hit the target there,” said Wilson.

“There was that chance and perhaps another couple of chances where we haven’t tested Nic. 

“Dom hasn’t had a big run of games of late, it’s been a bit stop-start for him and I think when he was playing for AFC Croydon Athletic he was playing in midfield quite often so I think we need to get used to playing with someone like that up front as well.

“My only criticism is we’re a little bit dis-jointed at times in that final third and people need to get closer to Dom and Dom needed to make runs for people to make their minds up what pass to make to put people in.”

Rayner added: “He should’ve scored really. It’s a good chance, yes he should put that one away.”

Beckenham Town took the lead with 18 minutes and 30 seconds on the clock through Hall’s tenth goal of the season.

Kiki Oshilaja (right-wing-back) crossed over the halfway line on numerous occasions but centre-half Ben Gorham only ventured over the halfway line on a couple of occasions during the first half.

Gorham floated a deep cross from the right, just 10-yards into AFC Croydon Athletic’s half of the field, no one dealt with it inside the box and the ball fell at Hall’s feet at the far post and he tucked his shot past Taylor from four-yards out.

Wilson said:  “Ben Gorham’s come in and we’ve had two clean sheets with him playing at the back.  He does the no-nonsense stuff really well but he also got that bit of quality and it was a great ball.

“I think about four players had missed it before Ryan Hall got there at the far post to tap it in.

“A ball in like that is always going to cause danger in the box and you’d expect someone like Ryan to finish, which he did!”

Rayner added: “We just didn’t concentrate. The ball’s rolled back, we didn’t squeeze up and we got caught ball watching back post and it rolled over to Ryan and he shot.  There was no one on him at all. We just switched off from then.”

Beckenham Town swiftly doubled their lead, courtesy of a drilled finish from AFC Croydon Athletic’s right centre-half Mengi.

Rooney’s sublime diagonal pass split open left-back Jones to put right-winger Steve Townsend in down the right channel and he whipped in a low cross into the centre of the box only for Mengi to produced a strikers finish, rifling his attempted clearance into the top right-hand corner of his own goal from six-yards.

“What a finish! It was a great finish! We’ve been looking for a striker to finish like that all season,” said Wilson.

“Rooney’s ball was absolutely outstanding out to Steve and Steve is quality.  He’s had a really good season, for somebody who hasn’t played at this level before.

“At the start of the season he was very direct and looking for goals and tonight, even the last goal, I think he could’ve had a go but he squared it for another own-goal and that was a great ball and whoever touched it, it was going to go in.”

Rayner added: “It was a great finish, what can I say? 

“We’ve done it a lot lately, it’s going to happen, we’re changing players all over the place.

“If Hermes hadn’t put it away, I’m sure one of the forwards would’ve touched it in.  It was a decent move but we got caught flat-footed, which has been happening a bit lately.  We concede one, we’re not concentrating and we’ve conceded the other but it was a good finish from Hermes. He’ll be up front next week!”

The next chance arrived inside the final four minutes of the first half when left-winger Jordan Greaves skipped past Kaffo in midfield and from a central position tried to score with a speculative right-footed drive from 35-yards, which trickled into the hands of the Beckenham keeper.

Poor defending from Jones down by his own by-line saw him lose the ball to Townsend, who crossed low and towards the near post for Ogun, whose shot on the turn from a tight angle was blocked by an alert Taylor at his near post.

“Again, I’d like to see Dom do better there. I think he’ll probably like himself to do better there,” admitted Wilson.

“He’s playing against his old club isn’t he so he’s probably desperate to score. He needed a little bit more composure in those areas and he’ll get himself more goals.”

Rayner added: “I don’t know what Michael was doing for that moment. He could’ve passed the ball quite simply a couple of times but he got caught with it and Nic’s made a good save to get him out of trouble.”

Both camps were asked their thoughts at the interval.

Wilson said: “It was a good performance, we’re happy with what they’ve done but 2-0 is a dangerous lead so you don’t want to go in and start slowly in the second half, which I actually thought we did start a little bit slow.

“But if you let the game slow down, when you play at other team’s tempo, it can sometimes catch you out but I think after 10-15 minutes we got back to what we were doing and getting it forward a little bit quicker and causing them more trouble.”

Rayner added: “I thought we’ve done ok. There wasn’t much in the game. It was quite open but we’ve just had two minutes and they’ve got a lot of quality and they’ve taken two good chances. We probably had a couple of chances but we haven’t been able to take ours so that’s the way it goes.”

AFC Croydon Athletic wasted an opportunity when central midfielder Dan Hunwick skipped past Rooney before slipping the ball into Greaves, who sliced his shot on the turn high and wide of the right-hand post from the edge of the D inside the opening seven minutes.

Beckenham Town produced good link-up play down the left involving left-back Jamie Brown, Ogun and Townsend, whose low cross flashed across the face of goal but Ogun failed to produce the first time finish sliding in, eight-yards from goal and the ball was cleared.

Beckenham Town called Taylor into making a save in the 58th minute following their final corner of the night.

Rooney swung the ball in from the left towards the far post for Harvey Brand whose header was beaten away by the goalkeeper.

Wilson said: “Another comfortable one. They were a quite physically imposing side so to get any chances, any headers, we’d want us to be a bit more cut-throat in those areas but it’s a save that you’d expect Nic to make.”

AFC Croydon Athletic should have pulled a goal back on the hour-mark when Greaves released Jack Clark through the heart of the pitch and some 30-yards out he decided not to take a shot at goal. He played the ball on his outside to winger Parcerisa, who whipped in a low cross towards the near post. However, the ball got stuck underneath Nwoko’s feet and McEntegart smothered the ball.

“Once it settled down a bit, we changed shape a little bit and we had a couple of good chances at 2-0. I think if we could’ve got one, who knows we might’ve got a bit of pressure on them but unfortunately we didn’t quite get the goal,” said Rayner.

AFC Croydon Athletic created a decent opportunity halfway through the half but poor finishing let them down again.

Parcerisa was inside the Beckenham Town penalty area with his back to goal and he rolled the ball back to Richards, who lashed a rasping drive just over the crossbar from 22-yards.

“We got into the box and it was set back to Kazzeem and the shot wasn’t quite there,” admitted Rayner.

“I thought we competed well enough and I thought what we tried to do worked and we changed it to try to get three up and have a little go and see if we can get back into the game.

“We created stuff but unfortunately it wasn’t quite there to put chances away.  Kazzeem scored a good goal here last year but unfortunately he didn’t quite get it on target.”

There were a couple of controversial moments for referee Kennedy Kikulwe to deal with inside the final 20 minutes of the game.

Hall’s hooked pass split the AFC Croydon Athletic defence to put Ogun through on goal. He skipped past goalkeeper Taylor, who clearly fouled him as he suffered a knock to his right ankle, although Ogun was going away from an open goal but he would have scored had he not been clearly fouled by Taylor!

However, the referee waved away strong appeals from Beckenham Town and failed to book Ogun for diving if he deemed it not to be a foul.

“Odd one for me. Penalty all day,” claimed Wilson.

“I don’t understand how the ref hasn’t given a penalty there?!  I think maybe if her hadn’t won 4-0 I might’ve asked a few more questions of it but we’re all human, we all make mistakes and that’s a mistake from the referee.”

Rayner gave his take on the incident.

“What can I say? It’s either a foul, free-kick or pen and card for Nin probably or something against Dom but the ref’s done nothing.”

Townsend was put through on goal and drilled his left-footed shot over the top of the near post when he only had a hobbling Taylor to beat.

Beckenham Town scored their third goal in controversial circumstances with 35 minutes and 4 seconds on the clock.

The referee awarded Beckenham an uncontested drop-ball and AFC Croydon Athletic players stopped and allowed Hall to hook the ball in behind Harwood to put Ogun through on goal and with Taylor off his line the striker kept composed to slot his left-footed shot into the middle of an empty net from 18-yards.

Wilson said: “There bench was a little bit annoyed by it. From what I understand is, there was a head injury the ball goes back. We should’ve had the ball because it was a head injury so it shouldn’t have been a drop ball or something.

“I think I don’t blame Dom for going through and scoring. I think the referee really needs to make it clearer to the opposition if that is the case and make it clear beforehand what’s expected.”

Rayner added: “A bit disappointed in it. Our two centre-halves weren’t playing, you had one doing up his shin pads because we think the ball was going back to them and the ref’s apparently told him ‘were playing, just play on.’

“I had a bit of a moan at Dom for putting the ball in the net but he’s been told to play on and fair enough but we weren’t playing at all so I’m a bit disappointed.”

AFC Croydon Athletic kept plugging away, however, and a cross from Parcerisa from the right set up a chance for striker Alex Arthur, which was smothered by McEntegart, who rushed off his line to make the save.

Beckenham Town scored their fourth goal of the night with 44 minutes and 41 seconds on the clock.

Hall delivered the sublime through ball from within the centre-circle to put Townsend through on goal down the left and as he cut into the box his cross was more of a shot and was destined to flash past the foot of the far post. However, the ball deflected off Jones and nestled into the corner of the goal for the second own-goal of the night.

“I think Ryan Hall’s work-rate since December really has been second to none before you even take into account his quality,” said Wilson.

“He ran himself about really well. He’s a great example for the boys on the dressing room for that work-rate and his quality tonight as well was on point.

“I was a bit disappointed he didn’t get another goal. He had a chance earlier on in the first half but that’s nit-picking.

“Ryan’s ball at first to put Steve through was inch-perfect and Steve’s made a very direct run.  That’s one I’d like Steve to try to finish by being a bit more clinical there but at the same time he’s put the ball into a dangerous area and we’ve benefited with the three, he’s got to get something on it and it’s a difficult one for him but we’ll take the goal.”

Rayner admitted: “We’ve scored two and unfortunately we don’t get a point so what can I say?

“Honestly, I think we’ve given a good account of ourselves. It was a bit unfortunate, a couple of incidents. We didn’t get the rub of the green with the referee. We haven’t on a couple of occasions with him but that’s the way it goes.

“I was quite happy with how we played. They’ve got a lot of quality. They get the chances and they’re going to put them away unfortunately.

“I’m more than pleased with a couple of young lads that have come in and done really well.”

Taylor smothered the ball at Townsend’s feet after pin-ball inside the AFC Croydon Athletic box after the winger was initially tackled by Mengi as he cut into the box on the counter-attack.

Del Oldfield suffered a miserable first night as Erith & Belvedere’s manager tonight as his side were thrashed 10-0 at Corinthian.

Beckenham Town remain at the summit with 54 points (with 11 league games remaining), with Corinthian in second-place on 52 points but with a game in hand.

Chatham Town (50 points with 11 games remaining); Sheppey United (48 points with 12 games remaining); Tunbridge Wells (43 points with 14 games remaining) and Hollands & Blair (42 points with 10 games remaining) also make up this exciting title race.

Beckenham Town travel to ninth-placed side Welling Town on Saturday, while Rayner takes his side to thirteenth-placed Lordswood.

“I think it’s similar to today, we have to make sure that we turn up.  I think as long as we turn up and come with the right attitude and play with the right tempo, it’s a game I expect us to go and win,” said Wilson.

“I know Danny Wakeling likes to get his teams to play good football and we had a good game against them earlier on in the season, so we expect to win and expect a good game.”

The ball is in Beckenham’s court when it comes to winning the league title and on tonight’s performance they appear to be in focused in the job in hand.

Reflecting on the title race, Wilson said: ”That’s why we’re all involved in it, you want that excitement and you want to be in that run in. It would be nice to be a little bit more comfortable, it would be lovely.

“I think it’s great they’ve given that second-place (an one-off promotion play off against a bottom side from the league above) because it gives everyone a lot more to play for.

“I think we have to go about our business every week, not worry too much about what the others are doing but kind of be aware of what the others have got to do.

“I think there’s some big games coming up for all of us. I think Sheppey have probably got the kindest run-in and the rest of us have got to play at least two or three of each other but there’s a lot of twists and turns I’d imagine still.”

Now nine games without a win, AFC Croydon Athletic are five points clear of basement side Erith & Belvedere with 10 games remaining.

“It’s not a major concern, we’ve got some games coming up where we should be picking some points up. We’ve got a couple of players coming back in and we’ll see what we can do,” said Rayner.

“In my book it doesn’t really matter if we finish sixth or sixteenth. There’s not much point in club’s throwing money over to finish tenth, it’s pointless.  You don’t get a cash prize for where we finish.

“I’m quite happy to be looking at a lot of youngsters until the end of the season.

“Lordswood aren’t as good as Beckenham so we might have a chance!  Our target is just pick up a few wins, a few points and see what we can do.”

Beckenham Town: Michael McEntegart, Kiki Oshilaja, Jamie Brown, Junior Kaffo (Billy Martins 63, Joe Bannon 80)), Ben Gorham, Rob Carter, Ryan Hall, Luke Rooney (Shameek Farrell 68), Dominic Ogun, Harvey Brand, Steve Townsend.
Subs: Stefan Cox, Mudiagha Wanogho

Goals: Ryan Hall 19, Hermes Mengi 21 (own goal), Dominic Ogun 81, Michael Jones 90 (own goal)

Booked: Jamie Brown 38, Junior Kaffo 43

AFC Croydon Athletic: Nic Taylor, Kazzeem Richards (Alex Arthur 79), Michael Jones, Abbas Agoro, Liam Harwood, Hermes Mengi, Noe Parcerisa, Dan Hunwick (Osmar Guana 88), Joe Nwoko, Jack Clark (Umaro Alpha 63), Jordan Greaves.
Subs: Nahum Green, Lukwayne Greenwood

Booked: Abbas Agoro 16, Michael Jones 76

Attendance: 110
Referee: Mr Kennedy Kikulwe
Assistants: Mr Paul Taylor & Mr William Donnelly