Beckenham Town 1-1 Holmesdale - We knew we would be in for a battle, says Jason Huntley

Tuesday 16th September 2014

Southern Counties East Football League
Tuesday 16th September 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Eden Park Avenue

BECKENHAM TOWN manager Jason Huntley says he is targeting a top five finish in the Southern Counties East Football League this season.

Beckenham Town were held to a draw by local rivals Holmesdale in a feisty game played by two passing sides who utilised the immaculate playing surface at Eden Park Avenue.

Beckenham’s penalty woes continued when Jamie Marshall had a fiercely struck spot-kick saved by Alex Hyde, who has kept out three penalties this season.

But they took the lead early in the second half through Jamie Humphries’ header, his 12th goal of the season, before Daniel Stewart’s sixth goal of the campaign levelled things for Holmesdale just eight minutes later.

Both sides finished the game with ten-men with nine minutes left when referee Ronald Albert sent off Holmesdale substitute Lee Prescott and Tyrone Gurthrie following an ugly exchange between the pair.

“A bit disappointed because I think we’ve done enough to win the game,” said Huntley afterwards.

“I think it was quite even first half, I’d say quite even, but we had the better chances. We should have gone 1-0 up with the penalty.  

“They had a few half chances in the first half that went straight at the keeper but after that we seemed to boss it around really.

“Second half we came out and we upped our game.  We got the goal, went in front and the turning point for us was when we hit the post to make it 2-0.  I think it changed the game pattern a little bit.

“Then we gave a sloppy goal away and made it 1-1.

“In the last ten minutes we had a few people who were injured, walking wounded. We’ve used all of our subs. 

“In the end they had a couple of half chances towards the end, which could have gone either way, so probably right towards the death I’d take the draw, but over the 90 I thought we deserved to win the game.”

Paul Proctor, Holmesdale’s director of football, added: “I thought they were probably the better side in the first half.  They played some nice football. We played some nice football in spells.

“It was a bit of a battle, as you’d expect, Holmesdale against Beckenham. Probably a fair result at half-time going in 0-0.

“They came out and scored an early goal. That woke us up a little bit and I thought we played some good stuff after that. We sort of took control of the game.

“I don’t think we played in the right areas. I thought we got stuck in the middle a little bit. We didn’t get the wide players in to the game quick enough or well enough or enough times but it’s a nice surface and both teams played good football.”

John-Paul Collier’s Holmesdale created the first chance inside the opening six minutes.

Highly-rated Kristian Campbell – playing on the left hand side of a back three – clipped a sublime pass to release left wing-back Nick Whybrow and he cut inside and drilled a low right-footed shot which brought a low save out of Dean Nash from 20-yards.

Holmesdale, who were pacy down the flanks, created another chance when Collier swept the ball out to Mert Varli, who played the ball inside to Romario Hart and he set-up Ciro Donadio whose ball in from the right by-line was well cut out by Nash at his near post.

Huntley said: “JP’s (John-Paul Collier) got them playing well. They play good football. They knock the ball about. They get it from the back, they’ve got a lot of pace up front. They’re a good side.

“I went to watch them last Tuesday and we knew we would be in for a battle tonight.”

Proctor added: “They were chances but I wouldn’t say they were chances where they should have scored, they could have scored.”

Beckenham Town created a half-chance after 12 minutes when winger Alex Wilks cut a short corner to Guthrie, who flashed his shot across goal and past the far post.

Huntley felt central defender Jalloh Gassimu should have given his side the lead following their third corner of the game.

Wilks swung in the ball from the left which was cleared back to him and he whipped in a cross where Gassimu planted his header straight at Hyde from six-yards.

“Either side and it’s a goal,” added Huntley.

“It’s a bit frustrating sometimes, sometimes they go, sometimes they don’t. He was in the right place and unfortunately for us it’s gone straight at him (Nash).”

Beckenham Town left-winger Travis Gregory picked the ball up and flashed his right-footed drive past the left-hand post.

But Holmesdale’s then created a couple of decent chances to break the deadlock.

Varli played a fine diagonal pass to release the electric Hart speeding down the right flank, before cutting into the box and seeing Nash diving to his left to push his shot away.

Collier, who could have been sent off for a number of first half challenges, did well to hold the ball up down the left channel before he cut the ball back to Campbell who drilled a swerving right-footed drive from 25-yards, which Nash did well to watch and make a low save.

Campbell is one player where higher league clubs are keeping tabs on.

Proctor said: “We get approaches all the time. We look after the boys and try to advise them. Some of them train with higher clubs during the week at times. There’s always interest in some of the young players but I think a lot of the bigger clubs are happy with the way they’re playing and the way they’re coached and they’re happy with the way we play football so they’re watching them so as and when they think they are ready they’ll take them away I expect.”

But referee Mr Albert awarded Beckenham Town a penalty after spotting a handball from Holmesdale defender Steven Hollis in the 36th minute.

Hyde held up the taking of the spot kick as the referee noticed that there was no penalty spot marking on the pitch so the Catford official took 12 strides from the goal-line before placing the ball on the pitch.

Hyde refused to return to his goal-line, thus putting doubt in Marshall’s mind and the referee failed to book the keeper for his gamesmanship and Marshall drove his right-footed penalty straight down the middle and the Hyde dived to his right and the ball bounced off his legs and looped over the bar.

When told about the missing penalty spot, Huntley replied: “Wasn’t there? I never knew that! That’s very unlike our groundsman, he’s very thorough on his pitch. I didn’t realise that.”

Huntley added:  “I thought Marsh struck the ball well but it was a good height for the keeper. He got his body there so it was one of those things.

“We’ve missed quite a lot of penalties so we punish ourselves in that respect but he’s hit it hard, what we ask them to do.  We ain’t scored. We’ve got to put it away.”

And when asked about Hyde’s timewasting, Huntley said: “Well, I don’t mind him doing that. I’d like our keeper to do that. Some ref’s, you get away with it, some you don’t.”

Proctor felt the penalty decision was harsh.

“It was ball to hand! It wasn’t hand to ball.”

When asked about his keeper’s antics, Proctor said: “I asked him at half-time and he basically said there wasn’t a penalty spot so there were slight arguments where they wanted to take it! I think Alex wanted them to take it on the edge of the D so a bit of gamesmanship but fair play to him, it did the trick!

“Good save with his feet. That’s his third save this year. He’s been decent between the sticks.”

Hyde was almost guilty for gifting Beckenham Town the lead just before the break.

Hollis played the ball back to the Holmesdale keeper and with Humphries sprinting towards him, his clearance went straight to Marshall, who hit a first time shot harmlessly wide from 40-yards.

When asked his thoughts at the break, Huntley said: “I said we’ve done well. We’ve kept our shape well. Don’t get frustrated, come out second half, keep probing away and when you get your chance, you’ve got to take it.

“We upped our game, getting down the channel, either channel, Alex Wilks down one side, Travis (Gregory) down the other. They’ve got plenty of place and little (Jamie) Humphries’ buzzing about in the middle.

“We looked dangerous every time we went forward. We restricted them.  Our work-rate was extremely good and whenever they was on the ball we told them to press them high. If you give them time and space they will ruin you and they’ll play football round you so we done that and it was effective what we was doing.”

Proctor added: “Basically we passed it well in spells but we worked the areas where we wanted to get in to and we hadn’t done that.

“We asked them to pick the play up, press higher up the pitch. I thought their midfield had control of it towards the end of the first half so we tried to get our midfield a little higher and a little flatter to stop them getting the ball which they scored early so it was difficult to tell whether we done that but I think after that we stuck to that and we took control of the game second half.”

Holmesdale created the first chance of the second half after only 24 seconds.

Breaking with pace, impressive right-winger Hart played the ball inside to Stewart, who stroked his right-footed shot from 25-yards, which forced Nash to dive low to his left to hold on to the ball.

But Beckenham Town opened the scoring with a good move in the 54th minute.

They linked up well down the left through skipper Alfie Nunn and Wilks and left-back Adam Wadmore advanced down the left channel before cutting the ball back onto his right foot to whip in a delicious cross towards the near post where Humphries dived to head the ball past Hyde from six-yards.

“Fantastic goal, fantastic goal,” hailed Huntley, who faces a fight on his hands to keep his striker.

“Great move all down the left-hand side. A good bit of interchange down the left-hand side and the ball came in and at the moment Jamie Humphries is on fire. He’s doing there what he’s there to do.

“He’s a great player. He’s exceptional. He jumps high for a header for a little man. He wins a lot of headers. He holds the ball up, brings other people in play, got pace and scores great goals, not just little tap ins. He scores from inside and outside the box. He’s got it all at the moment. The kid is playing very well.”

Proctor simply added: “Good goal. Our right centre half got caught out of position really, too high up on the pitch and they capitalised. A nice cross in and a good finish.”

Beckenham Town went agonisingly close to doubling their lead on the hour-mark when the post saved Holmesdale.

Wilks whipped in a cross from the right and Wadmore rose to power his header across the keeper, clipping the inside of the left-hand post.

“That was unfortunate! It hit the inside of the post and it went across. If that goes in, 2-0, I think the games effectively won, but that’s football for you,” agonised Huntley.

Proctor added: “I’m not too sure whether it was troubling the keeper too much but he certainly could have done a bit better.”

But Holmesdale deservedly restored parity in the 62nd minute.

Substitute Jordan Green’s shot was blocked and the loose ball was pounced on by Stewart, who nipped in behind defenders Jalloh Gassimu and Nathan Paul to flick his right-footed shot over the advancing keeper and Gassimu in his attempt to get back to clear his lines.

Proctor said: “Jordan’s come on and he’s been good for us this season. He’s been injured so he’s just passed through fit on Saturday so we didn’t want to start him so we brought him into the action and he made an impact on the game and did very well.

“Daniel Stewart’s doing a job for us really. We lost our forward Daniel Morrissey, who had a bereavement in the family so he’s not been with us for a few weeks so we’ve been struggling in that area so we pushed him up there a couple of weeks ago so he’s playing out of position but he is a good footballer and got a bit of pace about him so he’s doing a good job for us.”

Huntley added: “I’m a bit disappointed with that because it went straight down the middle.

“Gazza and Nath are quite tight and they’re quite solid. I think a little lapse of concentration. Nathan slid in, the ball went back and Gazza put his foot there and it came back and when it looped up I think they got a little bit of luck there, well they got the goal.”

Holmesdale substitute, right-back Hugh Samuels, clipped a long ball out of defence which was cleared out to Whybrow, whose speculative right-footed drive flashed wide from 25-yards.

Whybrow then wasted an opportunity with a free-kick down the left, which sailed over the top of the far post.

Beckenham Town broke with pace down the left through Gregory, who played the ball inside to Humphries, who set up Wilks, who ghosted in but scuffed his shot past the right-hand post.

Beckenham Town substitute Jamie Turner, who slotted in and performed well at right-back, cut in to drill a low shot narrowly wide of the near post from 30-yards.

But a good game of football played by two quality passing sides turned sour in the last nine minutes.

Guthrie was seen to hold onto the ball and Prescott was seen to push his head down in his rival’s face, which sparked a melee between the two sides.

Referee Mr Albert consulted with his assistant Zolton Konkoly on the pitch and sent off Prescott (who walked towards the dug-out instead of taking the walk of shame towards the dressing room) and Guthrie.

Both bosses were asked their thoughts on the flash point.

Huntley said: “It’s directly in front of us. Tyrone’s held the ball up. For me the kids (Prescott) put his head into Tyrone. Tyrone hasn’t head-butted but the linesman said they both head-butted each other but I don’t know. Heat of the moment thing.

“If you put your head into someone’s head you go!  I don’t like to see players sent off but if you do something like that you put yourself on offer.”

Proctor claimed: “I thought Tyrone put his head into Lee and Lee pushed it back really and they had a little bit of a dance together so probably in the law of the game they both had to be sent off. Fair enough. No arguments really.”

Another electrifying run down the left wing by Hart was ended by Nash coming off his line to upend the winger just outside the box and the referee took over a minute before pulling out his yellow card for the keeper.

Hart got up off the ground and sent the resulting free-kick over the crossbar.

Proctor said: “I thought that was a bad challenge. He’s come out and clattered him really. A yellow card and a free kick. That’s it. What else can the ref do?”

Huntley said: “I think he (Nash) should have got there. He had enough time to get there first.  He hesitated and he got there and clipped the boy so I don’t think that’s a sending off because it was too far out.  It’s a long way to go. It warranted a booking, which he got, but to be fair to Nash he’s carrying an injury on his foot, which he’s really struggling with to push off so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt there.”

Both sides had chances to win the game inside injury time.

The game was played at a high tempo throughout the entire 100 minutes and 61 seconds of quality football played tonight.

Wilks, who threatened a tiring Holmesdale defence, whipped in a cross from the left and the ball was cleared out to substitute Harry Draper, who cracked his right-footed volley over from fifteen-yards.

A sublime defence splitting pass from Samuels released Stewart through on goal but a poor touch from the striker allowed the Beckenham keeper to gather on the edge of his penalty box.

“He should have scored us the winner, which I don’t think would have been too unjust on our second half performance,” said Proctor.

“But he’s just over run it hasn’t he? Nine times out of ten he scores them for fun doesn’t he but this was the tenth one!”

Huntley added: “Towards the end people are getting stretched, tired.

“Overall a good game, good game for the neutral but they’re a decent side. I like them. I went to watch them last week. They’re good lads. They’re not really a bad bunch of lads and they play football the right way.”

Beckenham Town slipped down a place to sixth, with 14 points from seven games.

“You know what, yes, not bad. We’ve had a couple of disappointing results but I think this year it’s going to be tight because everyone’s beating each other. It’s going to be the tightest league for a long while.

“We’re unbeaten tonight. Maybe last year we would have lost that game. In the end happy that we took a point. Disappointed that we didn’t take all three because I felt we deserved all three on the night but that’s how football goes.

“Our aim is to be in the top five. I think it’s going to be tight for a team with no budget and with some of the money floating about in this league is astronomical as you know.

“I’m happy with the squad we’ve got. I don’t know what’s going to happen at the end of the season. Top five finish would be nice, top three would be better. Top one would be f*****g magic!”

Bromley-based side Holmesdale, meanwhile, have also slipped down a place into 12th with eight points from seven games.

Proctor said: “We’ve had a tough start. We’ve played Phoenix, Ashford, Tunbridge Wells. We’ve had to come to Beckenham so we’ve had a decent test at the beginning of the season. We’ve had the Vase and The FA Cup so it’s always hard at the beginning of the season so probably liked to have a couple more points.

“We’re playing well enough to be a little bit higher up the table but it’s up to the lads to start their season every week really and pick it up. There’s plenty of points to be had.”

Beckenham Town:  Dean Nash, Frankie Warren (Jamie Turner 21), Adam Wadmore (Danny Lawson 74), Jalloh Gassimu, Nathan Paul, Alfie Nunn, Jamie Marshall (Harry Draper 74), Tyrone Guthrie, Travis Gregory, Jamie Humphries, Alex Wilks.
Subs: Eddie Walker, Steve McNamara

Goal: Jamie Humphries 54

Booked:  Alex Wilks 39, Adam Wadmore 51, Dean Nash 88, Jamie Turner 90

Sent Off: Tyrone Guthrie 81

Holmesdale: Alex Hyde, Steven Hollis (Hugh Samuels 46), Kristian Campbell, John-Paul Collier (Lee Prescott 61), Marc Cumberbatch, Ciro Donadio, Nick Whybrow, Mark Axell, Daniel Stewart, Mert Varli (Jordan Green 58), Romario Hart.
Subs: Leke Semule, Benga Ogunseye

Booked: John-Paul Collier 45, Ciro Donadio 70

Sent Off: Lee Prescott 81

Attendance: 62
Referee: Mr Ronald Albert (Catford, London SE6)
Assistants: Mr Zolton Konkoly (Maidstone) & Mr Daniel Sanchez (Kennington, London SE17)