Beckenham Town 3-1 Erith Town - It's near enough impossible to win nine out of nine in this league, says Beckenham assistant Billy Walton

Wednesday 03rd October 2018
Beckenham Town 3 – 1 Erith Town
Location Eden Park Avenue, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3JL
Kickoff 03/10/2018 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Wednesday 3 October 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Eden Park Avenue

BECKENHAM TOWN assistant manager Billy Walton warns his side it’s going to get harder from now on despite being in a commanding position sitting eight points clear of the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table after winning their opening nine league games.

Jason Huntley's men are now clear of second-placed Chatham Town, with a game in hand after winning an entertaining game of football against an Erith Town side that are struggling in the bottom five with five points from their six league outings.

Billy Bennett headed the hosts into an early lead before Richard Atkins doubled their lead ten minutes into the second half before they had centre-half Ike Robinson sent-off for collecting two yellow cards as Beckenham Town played the final 32 minutes with ten-men.

Atkins notched his tenth-goal of the season to kill the game off on the counter-attack, before Erith Town scored an injury-time consolation through substitute right-winger Louis Clarke.

“My first thoughts are totally different from the game but 37 years ago on Friday my brother passed away playing football one night on the 5th October so I’d like to dedicate that result to my brother who is looking downwards,” said Walton.

“My thoughts on the game, I thought it was a great game of football. What a great advert for this league.

“Erith Town are a very, very tough side. Don’t underestimate that win, that was a great win for us and to go down to 10 men showed great character and our fitness levels were great so pleased all round. We scored some really good goals, so can’t fault the lads.”

Erith Town started the game on the front foot and they called Michael McEntegart into making a low save inside the opening seven minutes.

Andres Felipe-Losada Tobon linked up well with central midfielder Jason Goodchild down the right but winger Tobon’s dinked shot from the edge of the penalty area was saved by the Beckenham keeper.

“It’s something we’ve got to adapt to because everyone who comes here, they see the pitch and they see that we’re top and this, that and the other and they roll up their sleeves and they’re determined to beat us,” said Walton.

“We’ve got to get used to that because every single team throughout the rest of the season is going to do that. We know what they’re going to do and we’ve just got to get used to it.”

Beckenham Town weathered the early storm from the Dockers before grabbing the lead with 14 minutes and 26 seconds on the clock.

Left-wing-back Taylor Fisher swung in a great free-kick from the left wing and Bennett found a pocket of space at the near post to glance his header from 10-yards across the keeper, the ball nestling inside the bottom far corner.

“Young Taylor Fisher swung in a cross and Billy Bennett came in and scored a good header from a free-kick and it’s something that we don’t really do to be honest with you. We don’t score a lot of goals from free-kicks,” said Walton, on Bennett’s second goal for the club this season.

“That’s what Billy brings, that’s what we brought him here for, his work-rate, he’ll most probably get 10 goals this season.”

Beckenham grew in confidence and started to boss proceedings and good link-up play through the heart of the pitch from Bennett and Atkins set up a chance for Jesse Darko, who dragged his right-footed shot across the keeper and past the far post when he only had keeper Adam Molloy to beat from 12-yards.

“It was a good opportunity, he’s just not had a lot of minutes of late, a little bit of rustiness but I expected him to bury that. It would’ve been a great opportunity for us if we had taken that,” said Walton.

Beckenham Town created another excellent chance to extend their lead on the half-hour mark.

Atkins played the ball out to Fisher on the left and he floated over a cross towards the far post for right-wing-back Jack Hope to send a free header back across goal and agonisingly past the far post from eight-yards.

Walton said: “When he crossed it and I saw the person coming in to get on the end of it, I was very, how can I say, I basically sat down because I didn’t think Jack would score. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him score a header!”

Both teams were playing the ball on the deck – who wants to play a direct style of football on the pristine playing surface at Eden Park Avenue – and Erith Town created a chance in the 38th minute.

Goodchild hooked the ball out to Tobon on the right and he cut the ball back for Jeffery to hit a first time left-footed drive from 20-yards, which was gathered by McEntegart while down on his knees.

“That’s what they were looking to do, was hit us on the break. They’re very quick on the break, fair play to them they break well. We dealt with most of them but that particular one, they got in and got their shot away and Macca saved it,” said Walton.

Visiting keeper Molloy made a low save to his right, grabbing hold of the ball, as Atkins drilled a low right-footed drive towards the bottom left-hand corner from 35-yards after Bennett won the ball in midfield with a sliding tackle.

“You can tell as soon as someone strikes it whether it’s going to threaten their goalkeeper. I didn’t think that threatened their goalkeeper to be honest with you,” added Walton, who was then asked his thoughts at the break.

“We were playing well, we were passing the ball well, just a little bit more clinical in the final third and just keep doing what we were doing relay because I thought we were comfortable and playing well. 

“I thought it was a very good game.  I really enjoyed it myself sitting there watching it. They looked to play and we obviously play, there was some good passing ability on show tonight.”

Beckenham Town doubled their lead nine minutes and 17 seconds into the second half, following their only corner of the game.

Fisher swung the ball from the right, which was cleared back out to him.  He played an intelligent low centre from the right and Robinson flicked the ball into Atkins’ path and the striker slid in to poke his shot into the bottom near corner from six-yards.

Walton said: “I think Ike done a little back heel. It was running out of play and he done a token back heal and it fell kindly to Atkins who slotted it in from close range.

“I was pleased to see that go in to be honest with you.  One-nil, it was going to be a difficult night so I was really pleased to get that 2-0 lead.”

Referee Nick Dunn pulled out a second yellow card and then a red card to send Robinson off, an inevitable outcome after the Beckenham centre-half slid in to foul Goodchild to end a penetrating run through the heart of the pitch in the 58th minute.

Subdued Beckenham Town striker Darko was then withdrawn and Erith Town had a long spell of being on the front foot.

“Most of these tackles and most of these things don’t warrant cards to me. It’s not dangerous or reckless or anything like that but in today’s rules and regulations they’re bookings, they just book you and then the second one, yes, he had to go, I’ve got no complaints about that,” came Walton’s reply.

“I was thinking I hate playing against 10 men because the team roll up their sleeves and dig in and that’s exactly what we did so I was pretty comfortable going down to 10 because I knew the characters that we’ve got in the team now will roll up their sleeves and work harder.

“We changed the formation, soaked up the pressure that undoubtedly they were going to have.  I don’t think they used their spare man that well to be honest with you, I felt they could’ve used it a lot better.”

The Dockers brought on a double substitution as Clarke offered pace that caused Fisher (who was now a left-back rather than a wing-back) problems, while Steadman Callender went up front to make it a front three alongside the quiet Adrian Stone.

On Clarke’s dual with Fisher, Walton said: “Young Taylor dealt with him quite well. I like seeing that, two young lads one a full-back and one a winger matching each other stride for stride. That was a good little battle that was and it came out quite even.”

Jeffery’s fine pass released Callender through on goal but McEntegart swiftly rushed off his line to ensure the striker didn’t slot the ball into the back of his net.

“I think personally, no disrespect to them, not a lot of things we’re going their way, they didn’t really threaten our goal,” added Walton on Erith Town’s pressure.

Clarke cut into the Beckenham box from the right but the ball took a deflection and was easily gathered by McEntegart.

Callender launched four long throws into the Beckenham box and his first one was cleared out to centre-half Jack Hooper, who cracked a hooked volley towards goal from 25-yards out, which was caught in the midriff by the Beckenham keeper.

Stone swept a low cross in from the left channel and Steadman latched onto the angled pass but McEntegart smothered the ball at the strikers feet as he rushed off his goal-line.

Despite all of that pressure from Erith Town, Beckenham Town scored their 30th league goal of the season with 43 minutes and 56 seconds on the clock on the counter-attack.

Atkins collected the ball on the halfway line before sweeping the ball out to Rose, who played a sublime through ball along the ground to split open last-defender Stefan Kempton, which put Atkins through on goal and after controlling the ball he drove his left-footed shot across the keeper to slot the ball into the bottom far corner from 15-yards to score a clinical goal.

“If we go back to the whole build-up, Rosie picks up the ball on the halfway line, hits a sublime pass through the middle and cuts them wide open for Atkins to run onto and do what he does best and slot it in the back of the net,” said Walton.

“To be down to down to 10 men and on the counter-attack after soaking up all that pressure, we break swift like that and one ball cuts them open and he runs through and scored, I clapped it. It’s a great goal.”

Erith Town kept plugging away and pulled a goal back one minute and 15 seconds into time added on.

Stone put Clarke through on goal and he smashed his right-footed drive straight at McEntegart, but the ball flicked his right hand and bounced over the line for the Dockers’ tenth league goal of the season.

Walton added: “That was the only disappointing thing was not to keep a clean-sheet but listen I think they’re a very, very good side so I wasn’t too disappointed to keep them down to one goal but luckily it came in the 90th minute.”

Beckenham Town travel to seventh-placed Corinthian on Saturday and to tenth-placed AFC Croydon Athletic next Tuesday before a trip to league rivals Bearsted in The Buildbase FA Vase First Round on Saturday 13 October.

“It’s so difficult, it’s getting harder and harder every week,” warned Walton.

“It will be hard on Saturday, it will be hard on Tuesday and it will be hard next Saturday.  It’s just so, so hard but fair play to all those boys in there, they’ve raised to every challenge. 

“Saturday is going to be a challenge, Tuesday night is going to be another challenge.

“You’re there to be shot at and fair play to those lads. If you said to me you’re going to win the first nine, I wouldn’t have believed you! No one would’ve believed you! It’s near enough impossible to win nine out of nine in this league so fair play to them. I think we’ve underestimated these boys, a good bunch of lads.

“Corinthian are a young, fit energetic side. I’ve watched them play a couple of times. I know (their manager) Michael Golding really well, they’re always there or there abouts so another great game to look forward to, another challenge.

“When does it stop? When do you get an easy game? When can we please have an easy game? There’s no easy games so we’ll look forward to it, enjoy it while you can because I know the storm will come.  As I said to them in there the storm will come and when it comes who’s going to be the rocks in there to get through the storm?”

Walton wants his side to handle the pressure of an eight-point lead going into October.

“I just say to them, it’s all old clichés, don’t worry about it now, just play the next game and if we win, we win. I’m quite relaxed. I’ve never been so relaxed watching football all my life, I’m always quite nervous but I’m so relaxed.

“Just look forward to the next challenge. Don’t look at the table, don’t worry about the table, just let other people talk about that and just play the next game and hopefully we can win the next game.”

Beckenham Town: Michael McEntegart, Jack Hope, Taylor Fisher, Calum McGeehan, Ike Robinson, Nathan Paul, Billy Bennett (Adam Wadmore 90), Dean Carpenter, Richard Atkins (Eku Dean 90), Jesse Darko (Stefan Wright 62), Jake Rose.
Subs: Jamie Humphris, Conte Muchter

Goals: Billy Bennett 15, Richard Atkins 55, 89

Booked: Richard Atkins 47, Ike Robinson 51

Sent Off: Ike Robinson 58

Erith Town: Adam Molloy, Stefan Kempton (Louis Clarke 66), Sam Fairweather-Oates (Steadman Callender 66), Simon Glover, Daniel Palfrey, Jack Hooper, Louis Valencia, Jason Goodchild, Adrian Stone, Aaron Jeffery (Alex Nelson 76), Andres Felipe-Losada Tobon.
Subs: Dan Nash, Lewis Mitchell

Goal: Louis Clarke 90

Booked: Louis Valencia 39, Stefan Kempton 53, Jason Goodchild 70

Attendance: 120
Referee: Mr Nick Dunn (Deal)
Assistants: Mr Christopher Bowdery (Lewisham, London SE12) & Mr Adam Back (Sidcup)