Beckenham Town 3-1 AFC Croydon Athletic - I thought we shocked Beckenham a little bit. I honestly thought they felt they would just turn up and roll us over, says AFC Croydon Athletic boss Kevin Rayner

Tuesday 14th September 2021
Beckenham Town 3 – 1 AFC Croydon Athletic
Location Eden Park Avenue, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3JL
Kickoff 14/09/2021 19:45

Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Premier Division South
Tuesday 14 September 2021
Stephen McCartney reports from Eden Park Avenue

BECKENHAM TOWN assistant manager Billy Walton says it has been a very good start from his promotion challenging side.

Jason Huntley’s men climbed into third-place in the Combined Counties League Premier Division South table with 16 points from six unbeaten league games, two points behind Badshot Lea and Walton & Hersham, who thrashed AFC Croydon Athletic with a 7-0 win at the weekend.

AFC Croydon Athletic have slumped into the bottom four with five points from nine games but they gave Beckenham Town a run for their money and were well in the game by the time that combative midfielder Tijani Eshilokun was sent-off for a bad foul in the 64th minute.

Beckenham Town took only 54 seconds into the second half to open the scoring through right-back Jamie Brown, before the Rams equalised through Jermaine Green’s clinical finish.

However, Eshilokun’s rash of blood on the halfway line killed off his side’s hopes as substitute Tyrone Pink and striker Tunde Aderonmu both notched their fifth goals of the season but the home side had to work hard for their three points against a side that showed character to bounce back from their humiliation.

“Not the greatest of games that we all really expected to be honest with you after AFC Croydon Athletic’s result on Saturday,” said Walton.

“I thought they would come here for a local derby with their tails up and put a bit more effort in for their manager and I think they did. They worked extremely hard. I thought we were the better side.

“If you’re any sort of footballer and you get beat 7-0 and the following game, which is a derby for the two clubs, if you’ve got anything about you, you’re not going to come here and just surrender.  You’re going to put in a lot of effort and Kevin got a lot of effort out of his team tonight so I’ll be interested to go and see them play for the next three weeks and see if they put in that amount of effort against other teams.”

AFC Croydon Athletic manager Kevin Rayner said: “We were a bit unlucky. I think we were well in the game.  If Tijani Eshilokun doesn’t get sent off I think we’d probably get something out from the game but I thought we looked the better side at that point to either get something or win the game, so it was a bit unfortunate.

“Saturday was abysmal.  One thing given in football you’ve got to work and we just didn’t work and we conceded early and we just packed up but we made a few changes and the performance was great tonight, just unfortunate we got nothing out of it.”

Play was halted in the fifth minute when senior assistant referee Stephen Tyler pulled his calf and a qualified official was found in the crowd and took over linesman duties.

AFC Croydon Athletic – playing with a 4-2-3-1 formation - missed a decent chance in the 13th minute.

Center-half Marcus Travers launched a long ball out of defence, which was chested down by lone striker Alfie Bloomfield and Joe Nwoko dragged his right-footed angled drive past the foot of the far post from 25-yards.

“I thought Joe was a threat around the right-back and the left-back quite a few times. He’s got a lot of pace. I thought we always looked a threat around their full-backs tonight,” said Rayner.

Walton added: “Alfie Bloomfield played well for them, the big centre-forward. I thought he held up the ball for them and won quite a few headers and his link-up play was really good and Joe Nwoko dragged his shot wide.”

Beckenham Town won the corner count by 6-2 and a deep corner from left-back Dami Bada saw winger Steven Townsend set up a chance for Aderonmu, who turned his man before sweeping his shot across the keeper from six-yards, the ball being smothered by Oshane Brown in the 15th minute.

The opening 20 minutes was an even affair and AFC Croydon Athletic went close to scoring following their first corner of the night.

Green whipped in the ball from the left and Travers came up from the back and stabbed his shot across goal and just past the far post.

“Another little chance,” said Rayner.  “I thought we shocked Beckenham a little bit. I honestly thought they felt they would just turn up and roll us over but I think they would know a little bit better that we’re not bad as the result showed Saturday, we’re not too bad.”

Beckenham Town then started to get into their stride and called Oshane Brown into making a comfortable catch following their fourth corner of the night.

Bada delivered a deep corner from the right and Townsend was lurking unmarked at the far post just inside the box and his free header was comfortably caught by the keeper at his near post.

Beckenham Town’s right-back Jamie Brown then fed Townsend, who was now on the right and space opened up in front of him but the winger drilled his shot past the right-hand post from 25-yards.

Oshane Brown pulled off a world-class save to frustrate Beckenham Town on the half-hour mark.

Centre-half Rob Carter travelled over the half-way line before a sliding tackle from Rams’ left-back Alfie Young ended his progress and referee Erno Vajda awarded the home side a free-kick 30-yards from goal.

Dennis Doci whipped a special swerving free-kick towards goal and Oshane Brown got down low to his left and used a strong left-hand to push the ball away before the referee blew his whistle to deny the home side tucking home the rebound.

“Brilliant. Brilliant. It was a great free-kick from Dennis. He struck it really well and when he struck it and it goes around the wall, I just thought it was in. It moved and for the big fella to get across and save it, it was a great save,” said Walton.

Rayner added: “It was a great stop, superb. He got up and flipped away the rebound as well, so he done well Oshane tonight.”

Beckenham Town’s central midfielder Danny Waldren played the ball up to Aderonmu, whose hooked pass released winger Jamie Humphris down the right and his low cross was flicked straight at the keeper by Townsend at the near post.

Carter charged down Nwoko’s right-footed drive, which was comfortably gathered by Blue as he stepped to his right during a good spell from the home side.

Doci released Humphris down the right and his first-time cross found an unmarked Aderonmu, whose shot was spilt by Oshane Brown, as he smothered the ball to his left and Doci couldn’t tuck home the rebound.

Jamie Brown threw the ball to Waldren, who drilled a 30-yarder towards goal which the juggling visiting goalkeeper gathered at the second attempt.

Beckenham Town went close to scoring on the stroke of half-time following their final corner of the night.

Humphris’ ball in from the right was met by an unmarked Carter, who steered his free-header over the crowd of players and sailing just past the top of the far post from 15-yards.

Oshane Brown comfortably picked the ball up on two further occasions at his near post to prevent Townsend beating him with two low angled drives during six minutes and 32 seconds of injury time.

“I thought it was going to be another Knaphill (a 1-1 draw away from home) where we just kept on, kept on and kept on them, chance-after-chance-after-chance.  I thought it was going to be one of those days where the odd goal was going to win it,” admitted Walton.

“We were a bit disappointed (at half-time) that we wasn’t winning.  We asked them to move the ball quicker around the pitch, up the tempo of the game, don’t let the tempo drop and test their fitness levels and I think we did.  We came out of the blocks really quick in the second half and got a great goal.”

Rayner added: “The aim was to stay in the game and I thought we did. I thought we looked dangerous on the break as well and we were quite happy to come in 0-0.

“I thought we had a good chance to get something second half.  I thought the only danger was a lapse in concentration here and there.”

Beckenham Town took a deserved lead after only 54 seconds into the second half.

They kept possession of the ball before Carter launched a long ball out of defence and Jamie Brown got around the back before curling his powerfully struck shot into the far corner from 16-yards.

Walton said: “It was a great ball out from Rob. It was the type of things we’re encouraging them to do. We like to get the full-backs up high and get them involved in the game. It’s what I think they should do and it paid dividends tonight.”

Rayner added: “It’s annoying! We switched off for a minute and that was it. That’s exactly what we spoke about at half-time. The only way they’re going to get in is if we switch off and we don’t concentrate.

“It was a poor goal to give away but we reacted straight away and we’re the better side for the next half-an-hour.”

Young whipped in a cross from within the left-channel which was caught by Blue, who bowled the ball to Townsend, who hit a diagonal pass to release Aderonmu, whose right-footed angled drive was once again comfortably saved by Oshane Brown at the near post.

However, AFC Croydon Athletic were clinical in front of goal and grabbed an equaliser with nine minutes and 20 seconds on the clock.

Eshilokun was around 35 yards from the Beckenham goal and his sublime diagonal through ball along the pristine playing surface split open centre-half Mudiagha Wanogho to put Green in acres of space and he took a touch before placing his right-footed shot across Blue to find the bottom far corner.

Rayner said: “It was a great goal. I thought we deserved that and we looked the more lively at 1-1.  I thought we upset them, they were getting very rattled. I thought we looked like we were going on and get something out from the game.”

Walton added: “I was a bit disappointed because we lost the ball in midfield and I was shouting out at the time ‘to get goal-side and not let them pass through our lines’ and as I was shouting out, they passed through the lines. It was a great ball, a defence splitting pass and the lad finished it off quite well. It was possibly their first shot (on target) of the game.”

AFC Croydon Athletic then enjoyed a good spell of being on the front foot and they were to be denied the lead shortly afterwards.

Young charged down the left and whipped in a deep cross, which cut out Wanogho and Bada and Green smashed his shot across Blue, who dived swiftly low to his right and used a strong right hand to make a vital block.

Rayner said: “I think it was a good save from the keeper. I think Jermaine should’ve squared it in all honesty.  We had someone on the edge of the box or in the box in a lot of space. It’s a bit unfortunate.  I think if he does square it we do take the lead.”

Walton added: “He made a great save.  There again, we were asleep, which is unlike us defensively this year.  We’ve been really solid as you know. That’s only the second goal we’ve let in, in six league games so I can’t really have a go at them too much when you’ve got the best defensive record in the league.”

However, referee Erno Vajda had no option but to pull out a straight red card when Eshilokun committed a bad foul on the halfway line on substitute Junior Kaffo, who had only just left the subs bench.

“All I saw from my angle and I was square on it is he’s come in a big high. It’s one of those ones where his studs were showing and he’s caught Junior halfway up his leg,” claimed Walton.

“Listen, put it like this, if it was Junior doing it to their player, they’d all be screaming blue murder, which they quite often do, so I think he deserved to have a straight red, to be honest with you.”

Rayner, meanwhile, disagrees, adding: “Unfortunately, the ref, I don’t know, he just got mugged off basically, listened to the screams and (showed a) straight red.  He’s not even consulted anybody.

“Junior has spoken to a couple of our players, we know Junior fairly well, he’s kidded the ref and there you go.”

Rayner was forced into a 4-4-1 formation, with Bloomfield impressing in the air and linking up the play in his role of lone striker.

A poor free-kick from Doci allowed the away side to counter-attack and a strong robust bookable challenge from Danny Wood-Brett on Jay Bradley gave AFC Croydon Athletic a set-piece chance in the 77th minute but Bloomfield couldn’t keep his lashed left-footed free-kick down just 20 yards from goal.

Beckenham Town went direct as they notched their second goal of the night in the 77th minute when Bada’s ball over the top released Pink who easily cut inside and ghosted past right-back Jordan Boateng before slotting his shot across the keeper into the far corner from a tight-angle.

“I’ve been talking to him and he’s got to much ability and so much potential, he’s very quick, he’s two-footed and he’s got all of the ability in the world and that goal will hopefully give him a boost, a bit of confidence,” Walton said of Pink.

“I’ve been telling him he can do it. It was a great ball out from the back, he’s taken it one-touch, ghosted past the full-back and got in and bent it and put it to the far corner. It was a great finish and I’m so really pleased for him.”

Rayner added: “It was s**t or bust basically. We tried to stay in the game but Danny Waldren got a lot more room when we lost a player and unfortunately one ball over the top and they were in and that was it.

“We tried to go to 3-4-2 to try to get back in it. We had a little sniffle or chance but we were under a lot of pressure.

“It was just concentration, it was the same as the first goal, basically we switched off but I don’t think they were getting any space up until that point and unfortunately that’s what happens.”

Rayner threw caution to the wind towards the end of the game, changing formation to three (Young, Mengi and Boateng) at the back and using all five of his substitutes.

However, they couldn’t salvage a point and Beckenham Town scored a flattering third (going by their second-half performance) with 47:56 on the clock.

Kaffo released Wood-Brett down the right and he hung over a cross which Aderonmu controlled with his chest before smashing a volley across the keeper to find the far corner.

“There again, really pleased for young Danny. He’s only 17, got bundles of energy and actually he made two or three runs after that that we could’ve got him in and put him in. Danny’s going to be a good player,” added Walton.

“It was a great finish from Tunde, he’s chested it down and as he’s falling away he’s volleyed it into the far corner, which was pleasing that it went in.”

Rayner added: “He was a bit lucky, he had a deflection that fell to him nicely but at 2-1 you either sit behind the ball and get beaten or you have a little go and we decided to have a little go, so we were always liable to be hit on the break.”

Both of these sides are at home on Saturday with eighth-placed Cobham visiting Eden Park Avenue, while fourteenth-placed Camberley Town visit Mayfield Stadium.

Walton said: “It means we’re undefeated, a tricky game for us is out of the way.  As I said to you at the start of the season when we played Jersey Bulls (and beat them 1-0 here), I’m really relaxed, I don’t let anything fluster me or get on top of me anymore and I think it’s portrayed to the players. We just play every week, every game. We know AFC Croydon Athletic a bit better than everyone else. 

“Saturday is Cobham, I don’t know nothing about them. I will ask (Sevenoaks Town manager) Micky Collins what they were like (during their two FA Cup ties) and see what Micky says.

“It’s a good start, it’s a very good start for us. People put us up there to be favourites and we’re doing alright at the moment. It’s a long way to go.” 

Below AFC Croydon Athletic are Jersey Bulls (four points from three games), Banstead Athletic (two points from six) and Molesey (pointless from six).

Three of those clubs have been playing Isthmian League football not so long ago and are threatened with relegation into the tenth-tier of English football but Rayner insists his side will pull away from danger.

“I was happy with what we’ve done tonight,” said Rayner.

“No one’s won here yet (in the league) this year. I think we’ve probably given Beckenham a good game and we’ll take that on to Saturday and see what we can do.

“I’m sure we’ll be ok. We’ve got a couple of good games coming up for us. The two games (against Walton & Hersham and Beckenham Town), we’ve just got beat, nobody else has beaten them, so it’s fair enough.

“I’m not worried about (our league position). We’ve got some games to come up.  Nobody else has won here, nobody else has won against Walton & Hersham.  The scoreline was horrible and we were abysmal on Saturday.

“We’ve got a game coming on Saturday and we won the other one against Frimley Green at home (2-0), which I thought we would and I’m sure we’ll be ok on Saturday.”

Beckenham Town: Nick Blue, Jamie Brown, Dami Bada, Nick Curran (Junior Kaffo 64), Rob Carter, Mudiagha Wanogho, Steven Townsend (Danny Wood-Brett 74), Danny Waldren, Tunde Aderonmu, Dennis Doci, Jamie Humphris (Tyrone Pink 64).
Subs: Danny Fitzsimons, Callum Henry

Goals: Jamie Brown 46, Tyrone Pink 77, Tunde Aderonmu 90

Booked: Danny Wood-Brett 75

AFC Croydon Athletic: Oshane Brown, Jordan Boateng, Alfie Young, Jay Bradley (Jack Marney 90), Marcus Travers (Luwayne Greenwood 87), Hermes Mengi, Jermaine Green (Erald Memaj 80), Abbas Agoro (Emiliano Lika 90), Alfie Bloomfield, Tijani Eshilokun, Joe Nwoko (Leighton Francis 80).

Goal: Jermaine Green 55

Booked: Jordan Boateng 72

Sent Off:  Tijani Eshilokun 64

Attendance: 148
Referee: Mr Erno Vajda
Assistants: Mr Stephen Tyler & Mr Oliver Storey