Beckenham Town 3-0 Rusthall - We haven't really hit full throttle yet, warns Beckenham Town assistant Ricky Bennett

Friday 21st September 2018
Beckenham Town 3 – 0 Rusthall
Location Eden Park Avenue, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3JL
Kickoff 21/09/2018 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Friday 21 September 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Eden Park Avenue

BECKENHAM TOWN joint-assistant manager Ricky Bennett warns that his unbeaten side haven’t really hit full throttle yet.

They moved five points clear of Chatham Town at the top of the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table after winning their first seven league games of the season.

Rusthall arrived at Eden Park Avenue sitting in the bottom three with four points from seven games but they played their part in a very entertaining game and the 3-0 score line was flattering as all of the goals came in the final 14 minutes.

Taylor Fisher, who has come from Dartford’s Academy system, scored the first and the third, before striker Richard Atkins thrashed in his seventh goal of the season, as Beckenham Town scored three in a devastating six minutes.

“We made hard work of it but it was always there or there abouts I thought,” said Bennett during the post-match press conference.

“I didn’t think we were quite at it first half. I told them at half-time to be a bit patient, keep moving the ball and the openings will open up for us and they did towards the end and that’s what it’s all about.  You just have to be patient and keep doing the right things and eventually the chances will come and they were great finishes.

“It’s opened up a five point gap at the top. I know it’s early days and you don’t want to be talking about things like that at this stage but fair play to them, seven out of seven, you can’t really argue about that.

“Rusthall were very hard working and organised.  To be honest, I haven’t been able to see them this year but I know they took Cray Wanderers to two games in The FA Cup so if any side can do that against Cray Wanderers they have got a bit of a way about them but I thought we would overpower them eventually if we kept patient.”

Rusthall joint-manager Andrew McKechnie said: “I feel like the score line was a little bit harsh to be fair. I think we played particularly well against a very strong side in Beckenham.  I think unfortunately once they scored the first goal they just grew in a bit of confidence and I think it hit us a little bit hard that first goal. I think 3-0 was a bit harsh.

“I don’t want to keep saying it, but we have got a young side and they are learning.  We’ve had some bad games and they’re learning from them but I thought tonight we were excellent.  The first goal was scored in the 76th minute and I thought up until that point we played an experienced and a very good Beckenham side and I thought we matched them and at times we looked like we could get a winner up until the first goal.”

Beckenham Town were without Jamie Humphris (toe); Shameek Farrell (work commitments) and Josh Owen (ankle), while Rusthall made three changes to the side that came away from Guildford City with a 2-0 win in The FA Vase Second Qualifying Round last weekend.

Beckenham Town created an opening inside the opening six minutes when Fisher threw the ball in from the left and Dean Carpenter hooked his volley high over the crossbar from 20-yards.

Beckenham went closer shortly afterwards when holding midfielder Jack Rose drilled his right-footed free-kick across the keeper and around the far post from 35-yards.

Bennett added: “I did say at half-time our quality with free-kicks and crosses wasn’t up to scratch. We needed to be a bit better, a bit more composed but it’s one of those.”

Beckenham played with three centre-halves, who were around 15-yards apart from each other and Rusthall exploited this space when centre-half Robbie Bissett hit a 60-yard diagonal pass which sailed over Danny Fitzsimons’ head and Regan Corke cut into the box and only just cleared the crossbar from 15-yards.

“Regan was dangerous tonight, especially the first half. He had their captain, who is a good player, under pressure and Regan was unlucky,” said McKechnie.

“We just felt that after the first 5-10 minutes I think we identified Fitzsimons was struggling a little bit against Regan in the first half so we were trying to capitalise on that and get the ball out wide and as quickly as we could.”

Rusthall have two decent goalkeepers in their first team squad with Callum Christie and tonight’s stopper Jake Cornish, who pulled off a world-class save in the 17th minute.

Carpenter played a quickly-taken diagonal free-kick out to Eku Dean down the right channel.  The lively attacker cut inside and curled a beautiful left-footed shot towards the top far corner from 20-yards.  Cornish dived high to his right and used his right hand to push the ball over his crossbar for a corner.

McKechnie heaped praise on his goalkeeping coach for having two decent goalkeepers at Jockey Farm Stadium.

“We’ve got a fantastic goalkeeping coach in Alan Rogers. Jake is only 19, the improvement in Jake from the start of pre-season has been phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal.”

Bennett added: “Very good save. I’ve heard a lot of things about their keeper to be honest and he proved it tonight, he was very agile. Yes, it was a great effort to get a tip on it, it was unbelievable!”

Callum Ridley, who was keen to run at the Beckenham defence with the ball and was a threat from a holding midfield role, swept in a deep free-kick from the left and lone striker Joe Fuller steered his shot past the near post from a tight angle.

Beckenham Town should have taken the lead in the 23rd minute when Atkins missed a glorious chance when put through the heart of the Rusthall defence.

Dean played in Atkins in behind Bissett and raced into the penalty area but a brave sliding tackle from covering right-back Jordan Anderson did enough for Atkins to lash his left-footed shot over the crossbar.

“I’ve been talking to Ritchie he’s trying a bit too hard, I think, in front of goal of late,” revealed Bennett.

“We all know he’s a quality striker, quality goal scorer, golden boot winner from last year but he’s just been a little bit anxious, I think, in front of goal.

“We’ve had chats with him, it’s just one of those really. I think it will come good for him. He’s proven at this level of scoring goals and his work-rate and his link-up and hold up play has been excellent so we’ll suffer the odd slash if you like in front of goal.”

McKechnie added: “He doesn’t often miss! To be fair to Jordan, he’s very quick, he got back across and I think he just did enough to put him off.  Nice little move from them, their other striker Dean dropped off, our centre-back went with him, that created the space for the ball over the top but Jordan covered round and just did enough. It was a good bit of defending in the end.”

Dean was a lively threat during the first half only and twisted and turned his man down the right channel before curling his shot around the far post.

A big kick from visiting keeper Cornish dropped over Nathan Paul’s head and Fuller nipped in and nodded the ball straight at Michael McEntegart, who gathered comfortably.

Rusthall also missed a glorious chance in the 31st minute through good attacking play from Ridley, who only had the keeper to beat.

He skipped past Paul and rode a sliding tackle from Callum McGeehan outside the box but keeper McEntegart rushed off his line and blocked the shot with his left thigh.

McKechnie said: “I think around the 25th minute or so we started imposing ourselves and I think the confidence grew. 

“I mean Callum – I’ve got to stop talking about the ages – he’s just 23 and it was a fantastic burst of pace. He’s beaten what, three or four men and when he got through I just thought he was going to chip it and score.  I think he had a lot more time than what he realised.  I think he burst through so quickly there wasn’t anyone near him at all but it was a good save as well.”

Bennett said: “Brilliant save!  That could’ve really changed the complexion of the game. A bit of sloppy play from us and the fella was very quick, outstripped our back line and that’s what Maccas about, he’s an experienced goalkeeper, played at a good level. He didn’t commit himself too early and made it very hard for the forward to finish.”

An in-swinging cross from right-wing-back Jack Hope called Cornish into action again, palming the ball towards safety, high to his right, as the ball dipped towards the far corner, before Carpenter’s deep cross was headed down and into Cornish’s hands by Atkins.

Dean stung Cornish’s fingers with a right-footed free-kick from 30-yards, before the Rusthall keeper gathered at the second attempt.

Fisher and Dean linked up down the left and the ball was played inside to Stefan Wright, who scuffed a poor shot into the keeper’s hands, although the ball was destined to roll past the foot of the right-hand post.

Rusthall finished the first half on the front foot and missed a glorious chance to take the lead with 40 minutes on the clock.

Teenager Corke used his pace to burst down the right wing and reached the by-line before cutting the ball back across the face of goal and only an unmarked Phillips will know why he swept his shot past the near post with an open goal at his mercy, just six-yards out at the far post.

It was the difference between winning and losing for Rusthall and McKechnie admitted it was a massive miss.

“What’s missing for us is being clinical in the final third. It’s an old cliché and I don’t want to say it but goals do change games and that’s a prime example tonight. If we’d have taken even one of those chances that we had in the first half…

“It just like, he missed an open goal. There’s not really a lot I can say about that. He knows. He should’ve scored, open goal.  Yes, alright, it’s a little bit of an angle but he’s a good enough player to put that ball in the back of the net. We should be going in 1-0 at half-time and then it’s a different game. That’s what’s missing for us at the moment, just being clinical in that final third.”

Dean arrowed a shot from the corner of the penalty area, which was comfortably gathered by the Rusthall keeper.

Phillips hit a diagonal pass to left-back Dan Kommu, who whipped in a cross from the left which sailed past Fuller and Sam Murray ghosted in at the far post to loop the ball into McEntegart’s hands above his head.

Murray cut the ball onto his left-foot and from a central position from 30-yards, his shot sailed into McEntegart’s midriff for a comfortable catch.

Rusthall were playing far better than their league position suggests and deserved to go in at the break on level terms – at the very least!

Bennett said: “Basically, we needed to be better! Move the ball better. We’ve got the overloads, better quality with the crosses and the final ball.  I thought Eku Dean was dropping a little bit deep from his forward position, which meant when we did win the ball and maintain the ball in midfield areas it was hard to make this happen in and around the box.  A lot of the times Richard Atkins was a bit isolated and we addressed that and made a difference in the second half.”

McKechnie said: “We were very happy with how we went about it.  I felt we were organised very well. I thought we were nullifying their threats in creating well and to be honest at that point we felt we could go and nick the game.”

Beckenham Town created their first opening after only 85 seconds when Carpenter’s ball along the deck released Atkins down the left channel and he reached a tight angle before his low left-footed drive from eight-yards was smothered behind by Cornish at his near post.

“A good chance and it was a good reaction strike from Richard, which is what strikers are about really. We’ve already mentioned the keeper, it was a good save,” said Bennett.

McKechnie added: “Another good save from Jake.  I think he made that one look fairly comfortable. It was a good save but he done enough.”

Beckenham midfielder Rose drilled a first time low right-footed drive from 30-yards, which flashed off the pristine playing surface and almost flashed through Cornish’s legs, but the alert keeper grabbed hold of the ball to prevent embarrassment.

Dean showed glimpses of trickery down the right channel and Wright’s low centre was cleared out to Carpenter, who pulled his first time shot across the keeper and past the far post from 20-yards.

McEntegart made a comfortable save in the 63rd minute when substitute right-back Ryan Hinkson looped a long throw into the box.  The ball was cleared out to Fuller, who passed the ball back to Hinkson, who whipped in a deep cross towards the far post but Carey’s downward header from 12-yards was easily saved.

“We were really close to thinking we can win this game. We were doing well, with how we were playing. We were considering pushing another man forward to try to get that win but we felt we were organised enough that we felt we could create one or two chances to win the game at that point,” said McKechnie.

Billy Walton and Bennett pulled off a tactical masterstroke when they brought on Jesse Darko and Billy Bennett and withdrew quiet pair Wright and Dean.

Bennett played in behind the front two (Atkins and Darko) and pulled the strings before sitting in front of the defence once his work for the night was done and Beckenham had scored all three of their goals.

It appeared that Bennett was reluctant to heap praise on his son, the game-changer on the night and a recent arrival from Bostik South East Division strugglers Sevenoaks Town.

“We didn’t actually change the shape, we were still the same shape as we were first half but that’s Billy’s natural game if you like, he likes to play in that area and drive and make third man runs.”

McKechnie admitted: “The substitutes, they made the difference.  They rolled the dice first and unfortunately for us it paid off for them.  Once they got the first goal it breathed belief into them and I think it just knocked us a little bit.”

Rusthall were hard to break down but capitulated as soon as Beckenham Town opened the scoring with 30 minutes and 9 seconds on the clock.

Darko was down the right channel and he played a sublime crossfield pass which picked out Fisher unmarked at the far post and he caressed his half-volley across the keeper and into the goal from eight-yards, with Hinkson nowhere to be seen.

Bennett said: “I think Jesse did (play well) as well, with a bit of guile up front. It was a great bit of awareness that created the first goal.  The most pleasing thing for me was little overs and his connection with Richie, stepovers, got on the turn and a great ball to the far post.

“Taylor’s done really well since he’s been here and he’s got a great left-foot, a great goal.”

McKechnie said: “Ryan has had an injury last season going into pre-season so he’s been getting minutes in the reserves and things like that.  Ryan’s a good player. I just think he got a little bit attracted to the ball. It’s just one of those things, same scenario next week, he won’t do it again.”

Darko swung in another cross from a similar area but Taylor jumped up at the near post to plant his header over, before Beckenham doubled their lead with 34 minutes and 30 seconds on the clock.

Rose played a diagonal pass that found Fisher down the left wing and he played a low pass into Atkins’ feet, who spun defender Paul Butler at the near post, turned before rifling a left-footed drive over the keeper’s head into the roof of the net from the corner of the six-yard box.

“That’s a proper finish, that’s a really good goal scorers goal that,” hailed Bennett.

“Instinct, he doesn’t need to be on his right-foot, just a good touch, a great turn and a great finish. That’s what he’s all about so hopefully it bodes well for him now.

“He’s could’ve had 10 goals for me by now but it’s early days, there’s a long way to go so he’ll be happy with that ratio I would imagine.”

McKechnie added: “I think Paul Butler was in a fairly good position. He had it but he’s a good striker, it’s a good finish. There’s not really a lot Jake could do about that. It’s from a tight angle and he’s put it plum into the top corner. Just that little bit of extra quality really, he’s a quality striker.”

The whirlwind left Rusthall in a state of destruction as the third goal arrived with 37 minutes and 18 seconds on the clock.

Darko’s through ball set-up Rose, who drilled his shot which forced Cornish to make a great save to his right and seconds later Taylor drilled a deflected low drive past the keeper from 22-yards.

Bennett said: “I actually thought there was a decent bit of build-up play. We kept the ball, moved it, got it into a good area and at this stage I think they were a bit shell-shocked.  Our fitness was good, we kept on at our boys, don’t keep your foot on the break when you’re on top and that proved to be the case tonight with the late goals.”

McKechnie added: “The actual goal is a deflection I believe because Jake would’ve got it but yes losing 3-0 is incredibly harsh if I’m being honest.

“I think we’ve got to be positive. For 76 minutes we’ve taken Beckenham, who have won every single league game and we’ve easily matched them and at times taken the game to them.  I think for us what’s let us down we’ve got ourselves in some good areas and at times our final ball in the final third wasn’t quite positive enough and I think if we’d have been a little bit more positive in that area, I believe we would’ve had a different result tonight.”

Beckenham Town travel to Hollands & Blair on Saturday 29 September, while Rusthall host Chatham Town.

“Excellent, great start for me. We haven’t really hit full throttle yet,” warned Bennett.

“Hollands & Blair is another tough place. It’s always tough there. They’re a very good hardworking side, very close nit so it will be a difficult game and we’ll need to have our attitude right.  The work-rate has been excellent so we need to maintain that and hopefully keep the run going.

“It’s been 30 odd years since I’ve played for these so I’d like to think this year will be our year but we’ll see. We’ve got a long way to go. We just need to keep the momentum going and do the right things, good habits and see where it takes us but that’s all it is, it’s just a great start.”

McKechnie admits his side will raise their game against title-chasing Chatham Town, like they did tonight but wants to see that in every game that they play.

“We’re looking forward to it. We play better against better team so that seems to be the format so far this season.  We seem to pull the performances out against the better teams. I really don’t think we’re that far off. I really don’t think we’re really that far off being a stable side in this league.  It’s another big side in this league, they’re doing well but we’ll go there with the same mentality.”

Beckenham Town: Michael McEntegart, Jack Hope, Taylor Fisher, Callum McGeehan, Danny Fitzsimons, Nathan Paul, Dean Carpenter (Adam Wadmore 87), Jack Rose, Richard Atkins, Eku Dean (Billy Bennett 67), Stefan Wright (Jesse Darko 66).
Subs: Ike Robinson, Josh Owen

Goals: Taylor Fisher 76, 82, Richard Atkins 80

Booked: Dean Carpenter 68

Rusthall: Jake Cornish, Jordan Anderson (Ryan Hinkson 46), Dan Kommu, Callum Ridley, Robbie Bissett, Paul Butler, Regan Corke, John Phillips, Joe Fuller, Alex Carey (Eddie Sharman 77), Sam Murray (Peter Shaw 77).
Subs: Luke Stratford, Callum Gallie

Booked: John Phillips 7, Jordan Anderson 16, Robbie Bissett 87

Attendance: 185
Referee: Mr Simon Cutler (Sheerness)
Assistants: Mr Daniel Blades (Wrotham) & Mr Ben Rathe (Crystal Palace, London SE19)