Beckenham Town 2-3 Lancing - There's more than enough here not to worry about relegation, insists Beckenham Town's newly-appointed head coach Darren Anslow

Tuesday 28th November 2023
Beckenham Town 2 – 3 Lancing
Location Eden Park Avenue, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3JL
Kickoff 28/11/2023 19:45

Isthmian League South East Division
Tuesday 28 November 2023
Stephen McCartney reports from Eden Park Avenue

BECKENHAM TOWN’S newly-appointed head coach Darren Anslow insists the club have more than enough to escape relegation at the end of their second season in the Isthmian League South East Division.

Anslow, 53, left Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division side Hollands & Blair to join Jason Huntley’s management team last Tuesday.

Beckenham Town claimed their first league win since 28 August by beating East Grinstead Town 3-0 here at the weekend.

However, Huntley’s men remain at the foot of the table with seven points (two wins, one draw and nine defeats) from their 12 league outings after losing to a now ninth-placed Lancing (19 points from 12 games) on a chilly night at Eden Park Avenue.

After losing 3-0 at Sheppey United on 24 October, Lancing beat Three Bridges (4-0) and Broadbridge Heath (2-1) and drew at home to Sittingbourne (0-0) at the weekend and are now only three points adrift of fifth-placed side Ashford United.

Beckenham Town opened the scoring through striker Finlay Lovatt’s second goal for the club before former Bromley centre-back, Charlie Nicholas, 18, headed in an own goal to bring David Altendorff’s side back on level terms.

Lancing took the lead with 18 minutes remaining through midfielder Andrew Briggs’ 30-yarder, before Lancing scored a controversial third goal from winger-turned-centre forward Knory Scott.

Beckenham Town also scored in stoppage time, this time Nicholas scoring at the right end following a set-piece.

“Disappointed but I’m pleased with the reaction going 3-1 down,” said Anslow, who cut a frustrated figure post-match, especially after being red carded by referee Peter Conn after the final whistle after making his feelings known after Scott appeared to be offside before scoring Lancing’s decisive third goal.

“It seems like officials are the talk of the Premier League and all football at the moment, doesn’t it?

“Look, it’s a tough job. I wouldn’t do it but if you’re going to do it, get it right!  I don’t know what you thought? I didn’t think it was close.  I didn’t think it was a marginal decision where you might say, possibly.”

Beckenham Town haven’t announced that Anslow is one of three new men to join Huntley’s management team. None of the old guard has departed the club, however.

“We came in last week and met the boys on Tuesday, trained Thursday, played Saturday, so we’ve had one session,” revealed Anslow.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the boys.  I think that they’ve listened and taken on board what we’ve asked of them.  I think as a collective, as a group, there’s plenty there.

“I’m quite excited by what we’ve got in terms of there’s plenty there.  I think as much as we let them have the ball, I think we looked good when we got on it.  We looked good when we played and I’m pleased. Of course, I’m disappointed with the result because we want to win every game, however, I think the boys over the two games that I’ve seen them have shown me character that probably belies where they are in the league.

“I don’t think you can fault the effort.  I think in fairness second half we probably had three or four good chances, even after we got it to 3-2, I think we had another chance, which for me shows character and do you know what? I can work with that.”

When asked what title manager Huntley has given him, Anslow replied: “Do you know what? They can call me whatever they want, whatever the title is, I’m happy with.  I’m more concerned about we get out from where we are quickly.

“I’ve known Jason, Billy Walton, Peter Sweeney, Jason Clews  and Phil Wilson.  I’ve known Jason (Huntley) and Billy all my whole adult life, so I’ve been very close to them over the years.

“The opportunity came to come in.  Look at the club.  Look at the playing surface. Look at the boys.  I’m excited! I’m not going to take this as a negative, this result tonight.  I think I’ve seen a reaction from the boys already that shows me there’s something here.

“It’s a massive collective.  You know how it works.  Jason (Huntley) is Jason and I love him and I want to be successful for him. He’s a lifelong friend and somebody I trust and I think he’s got the same trust in me.

“Look, whatever the title is, it doesn’t matter. I just want to make sure we get out of this. I love the club. I love Jason. I love the boys already after the week, it's just the beginning.”

Beckenham Town were forced to make one change from their line-up as Robert Carter – who has been appointed captain after Danny Waldren left the club to join unbeaten league rivals Cray Valley – was ruled out with a hamstring strain, so Harry Gamble took the captains armband tonight.

Lancing were to be denied the opening goal after only 215 seconds following a set-piece.

Right-back Jacob Thompson threw the ball to winger Alex Laing before the ball was laid off to Scott, who cracked a rasping right-footed drive towards the top near corner from 25-yards, forcing goalkeeper Nick Blue to stick out both of his hands to push the ball over his crossbar.

“I wouldn’t expect Bluey to get beaten with that. Bluey’s been exceptional. We all know Bluey’s career. I don’t have to bump Bluey up, it’s a great save,” said Anslow.

“It’s very similar to Saturday’s game.  The start actually mirrored Saturday’s game in that he made a very similar save that went on to us winning the game.”

Lancing’s holding midfielder Briggs lost the ball to Lovatt, who took a touch before lashing his right-footed drive harmlessly over the Lancing crossbar.

Blue and centre-half Nicholas played a one-two before Blue drilled a right-footed ball up field.  The ball was flicked on by winger Funsho Sinai close to the half-way line and this released Bradley Ryan. 

The attacking midfielder twisted and turned Lancing centre-half Samuel Bull before dragging a left-footed shot past the foot of the near post from 20-yards.

Beckenham Town got their survival bid up and running, taking the lead in the 13th minute.

Sinai (ex Lordswood, signed from Bowers & Pitsea) threw the ball short to Ryan, before Sinai’s clever touch saw him go past Lancing’s left-back Hull, before charging towards the right by-line.

The winger whipped in a cross towards the near post where Lovatt beat his marker (Bull) to volley past Louis Rogers into the right-hand corner from three-yards.

“I love Fin. I’ve known Fin for a long time.  I’ve only worked with him for the last week. I like him.  I think he’s a good player. He’s clever, he’s intelligent. Listen, that boy will get goals,” said Anslow.

“I thought there was a spell there after Fin had that initial first shot a little bit earlier. We started the get a foothold on the game. I’m not going to say we took full control of the game because I thought it was quite an even game but I thought we started to get our foot on it and we started to look more threatening.”

Louie Theophanous played for AFC Croydon Athletic in their 1-0 win at Merstham in the Surrey Senior Cup tonight – and Anslow couldn’t answer the question when asked about the 32-year-old striker’s future as he is currently on dual-registration.

“I think you’ll have to ask somebody else about that.  That was before I was here so I wouldn’t comment on something that I generally don’t know anything about,” said Anslow.

Lancing counter-attacked and ineffective Beckenham Town’s holding midfielder Olusanya Aina charged towards the ball but failed to tackle Lancing striker Harry Heath just over the half-way line.

Heath (who played the second half wide on the left with Scott playing in the central striker’s role) released Scott, who easily cut inside Beckenham’s weak link in defence, right-back Simbarashe Kudyiwa before dragging his right-footed shot just past the foot of the near-post.

“I didn’t feel like they were going to break us down.  They had shots from distance, they weren’t ripping us open or pulling us apart.  I thought we were quite solid in our shape. The shape got better as the half went on,” added Anslow.

Beckenham Town centre-half Mudiago Wanogho was penalised by referee Peter Conn for sending Heath to the ground and Briggs stroked his right-footed 28-yard free-kick towards the bottom corner, which Blue dropped low to his right to comfortably hold to deny Lancing restoring parity in the 19th minute.

Lancing were now enjoying a good spell of pressure and they went close as they attacked Kudyiwa’s side of the pitch.

Laing split open Kudyiwa with a sublime 30-yard diagonal pass to play in Heath, who cut inside before drilling his low right-footed angled drive across Blue and just past the foot of the far post.

Lancing deserved their equaliser when it arrived in the 31st minute but it was gifted to them by Nicholas.

Charlie Bennett delivered a deep cross towards the back stick, which Laing towered over his marker to knock back into the box and Nicholas’ header looped over Blue and dropped into the centre of the goal.

“Listen, it happens. It happens.  He’s not meant to do it. It’s a reaction and it’s done. It needs to be forgotten, move on.  I think that we didn’t let it affect us too much,” said Anslow.

“Having seen a few games in this division, every single game that I’ve watched, has been pretty tight, whether that’s a bottom team, a top team. I think you have your spells and as you’ve seen tonight, if you take your chances, you win the game.”

Lancing created the last chance of the first half when attacking midfielder Bennett picked Sinai’s pocket before striding forward before drilling his right-footed central 30-yarder harmlessly wide of the goal.

“Half-time was just about being patient, looking after the ball, making sure we kept our shape.  When they were in possession, not getting sucked in and letting them play around us, which they’re good at.  I thought we did well. We kept our shape and I thought we were patient,” said Anslow.

Beckenham Town winger Anthony Adesite missed two glorious chances to give his side the advantage inside the first 10 minutes of the second half.

Sinai drilled in a cross from within the right-channel, which was cleared out to Adesite, who swept a first time shot towards the bottom left-hand corner, only for Rogers to make a comfortable low save to his right.

Lovatt’s fine through ball played Adesite through on goal just 35 seconds later, but the winger lacked composure inside the box and his right-footed shot took a deflection and looped over the crossbar.

“Before they scored their second, we probably created three or four good opportunities, their keeper made a very good save, there were a couple of blocks,” highlighted Anslow.

“We were starting to probe them a little bit more.  I think we were kind of sitting off, waiting for a mistake, then pouncing and then trying to be quick when we got it back.”

When asked about Adesite – who needs to up his game if Beckenham Town are to beat the drop – and his second chance, Anslow replied: “Listen, it’s not bad defending. He scored a great finish, very similar finish at the weekend but he’ll score goals. He’ll score goals. I’m not concerned. He’ll score goals.”

You could not fault Beckenham’s players’ effort and desire levels during this game – but they have not replaced the quality players that played for the club in their maiden campaign in the eighth-tier, which saw them finish in fourth-place and reach the play-off semi-finals last season.

Briggs swung in Lancing’s fourth corner of the night from the right and Blue flapped at the ball at the far post.  Alex Plummer’s initial drilled shot was blocked and Beckenham put their bodies on the line in a spell of pinball inside their box before Scott laid the ball off to Briggs, whose shot deflected off Nicholas and was comfortably gathered by Blue down on his knees in the 62nd minute.

“Good defending.  This is what I’m saying about these boys.  That is why I love them already after a week. They are not bothered about throwing their body in front of the ball. I can’t ask no more than that. As a management team, we can’t ask any more than that whatsoever,” said Anslow.

Both sides made tactical changes after 65 minutes with Kudyiwa being hooked for striker Steven Townsend, which resulted in Sinai dropping back to slot in at right-back.

Aina and Gamble started to lose the key area in the middle of the park and Lancing grabbed the lead through a quality finish from Briggs in the 72nd minute.

Sinai and Nicholas switched off and allowed Briggs to cut onto his right-foot before cracking a right-footed rasping drive into the top left-hand corner – leaving Blue rooted to the spot – to score from 30-yards.

“I think for a spell, it was literally the first spell where I think we switched off for maybe two or three seconds and allowed them to play through us, maybe get into sucked into the ball. They played around us quickly, created the opportunity and you can’t knock the finish. The finish was a decent finish.”

You cannot afford to carry any passengers when you’re involved in a relegation dog-fight and Kudyiwa, Aina, Adesite and Gamble failed to deliver and there was no surprise when three of them were hooked during the second half.

When asked about losing the midfield, Anslow was having none of it.

“I think that’s your opinion, not mine. I love my players. I think they gave me everything. I don’t think it was.

“We asked them to do a lot of work. They were tired. Harry Gamble took a knock.  Harry’s such a character that he’s never going to put his arms up and ask to come off because that’s the type of character he is, which is why I made him captain tonight in Rob Carter’s absence.

“I wouldn’t say lost. I would say tired, with the hard work they put in.”

When asked about Carter’s hamstring injury, Anslow revealed: “We left him out tonight because Saturday’s game is massive.  Fingers crossed but we’re going to assess the situation tomorrow. He’s speaking to me every single day. We’re seeing how he feels. My fingers are crossed but it’s the challenges we face.”

The impressive Scott played the ball up to Plummer, who chested the ball down for George Taggart, who smacked his half-volley straight at Blue, before both teams scored in stoppage time.

Lancing’s third goal was controversial as Taggart’s through ball along the lush playing surface played in Scott – assistant referee Michael Corderoy kept his flag down – before Scott skipped past the advancning Blue before rolling the ball into the back of an empty net.

“Look, I can sit here and bang on about officials until we’re blue in the face.  It’s not done me any good until when I’ve asked him about the offside,” admitted Anslow.

“Listen, I think everybody saw it. It wasn’t even marginal right.  I think what’s made it more frustrating was that we were still in the game.  I think when you get decisions that go against you like that, they probably go for you more when you’re higher up the table.

“It is a key moment in the game and what these officials don’t realise is those key moments are critical to clubs that can come back to haunt you.

“If it’s marginal, I can live with it. If it’s marginal and he’s missed it, I can live with it. We all make mistakes. I’ve made a mistake by going and questioning the decision.  I’ll be questioned about my decisions later, about my tactics and the way I set up.  I can be questioned.

“I don’t know what to say. The less said about that the better.”

Beckenham Town showed great character, however, and pulled a goal back following their penultimate corner of the game.

Townsend swung the ball in from the left towards a crowd of Lancing players but the ball fell to Nicholas who swept his left-footed shot on the turn into the roof of the net.

“Look, that is what I’m saying about this group, right.  This group of players will be ok because what I’ve seen in one week, they don’t give up.  They’ve got fight, they’ve got character, they’ve got quality and we’ll get better, that’s for sure.  Look that’s with one training session.  You give me them for four or five weeks I’m confident that they’re going to be a handful.”

Beckenham Town should have grabbed a point at the death following their fifth corner, which was once swung in by Townsend on the left, which went towards the back post but Nicholas fired the ball over the bar from a tight angle.

When asked what was missing from Beckenham Town tonight, Anslow replied: “A linesman that keeps up with play!  A bit of luck, maybe. The ball to fall to you at the right times.  I’m not going to say there isn’t anything missing in terms of the application, the attitude, the belief, no.  Not missing at all. I think what we’ve got to remember is this is a week old, it’s a week old.”

When pointed out this was match day 12, Anslow replied: “I wasn’t here for them so I can’t talk to you about that. I can only talk to you about the game’s I’m here and what I’ve seen over two games and there is more than enough here to not to worry, there is more than enough not to worry.

“We have to win games. The bottom line we’ve got to find a way to win games.  Listen, you can have bad luck but it evens itself out, so I’m guessing we’re due one now. We’re due a bit of luck, hopefully that will come.”

Huntley takes his side down to Hampshire on Saturday for a six-pointer clash at newly-promoted side Horndean.

They are in sixteenth-place in the table with nine points from 12 games and beneath them are Erith & Belvedere (nine points from 13) and Phoenix Sports (nine points from 15 games).

Littlehampton Town (eight points from 10 games) and Beckenham Town are in the drop zone tonight, after Steve O’Boyle’s Phoenix Sports side claimed a 2-2 draw at Burgess Hill Town to leapfrog over the line.

“A massive game Saturday, a massive game Saturday, looking forward to it.  I think it’s a massive game for us, a massive game for the club,” insisted Anslow.

“We’ve just said to the boys in there, that’s done now, tick it off and we move to the next one.

“Our focus now from this second is on that. We’ve asked the players to reflect on their performances, like we always do, but what we have said is this game is done. That’s gone now. We’re not going to sit here and moan about it.

“I’ll have to deal with the silly red card that I’ve got and hopefully that’s what it is but listen, it’s a massive game for the club. We’ll go there and we’ll be fully prepared and we’ll see where we go from there.

“I’m more than happy to talk to (our fans) if they want.  I keep saying it, we’ve been here a week. I know the others haven’t but we’ve been here a week, so give us the same.

“How many games have they played before we got here? Ten? So ask me after I’ve had 10. I’ll probably have a better answer for you but I think we’ll be ok.

"It's very easy to watch a game and criticise and find fault in a performance but look, the reality is we've had one session for an hour and a half last Thursday.  The boys have been brilliant in terms of how they've reacted to what we've done and we'll get a smile back on our faces.

"We won't be down there for long! We won't be down there for long!"

Beckenham Town: Nick Blue, Simbarashe Kudyiwa (Steven Townsend 67), Freddie Nyhus, Olusanya Aina (Lewis Allen 75), Mudiago Wanogho, Charlie Nicholas, Anthony Adesite, Harry Gamble (Jargal Enkh 87), Finlay Lovatt, Bradley Ryan, Funsho Sinai.
Subs: Henry Griffin, Jamie Humphris

Goals: Finlay Lovatt 13, Charlie Nicholas 90

Booked: Funsho Sinai 63

Sent Off: Darren Anslow 90 (head coach)

Lancing: Louis Rogers, Jacob Thompson (Alex Plummer 46), Daniel Hull (William Berry 65), Andrew Briggs, Jack Meeres, Samuel Bull, Knory Scott, George Taggart, Harry Heath, Charlie Bennett, Alex Laing (Tyrone Madhani 65).
Subs: Charlie Gibson, Elliot Jenks

Goals: Charlie Nicholas 31 (own goal), Andrew Briggs 72, Knory Scott 90

Booked: Alex Laing 34, Daniel Hull 58, Louis Rogers 83

Attendance: 188
Referee: Mr Peter Conn
Assistants: Mr Marian Stoichitoiu & Mr Michael Corderoy