Beckenham Town 0-2 Sheppey United - We want the players' to show the club that they're willing to fight for survival, says Beckenham Town coach Jason Clews

Wednesday 05th April 2017
Beckenham Town 0 – 2 Sheppey United
Location Eden Park Avenue, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3JL
Kickoff 05/04/2017 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Wednesday 5th April 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Eden Park Avenue

BECKENHAM TOWN coach Jason Clews says his players must dig in to show the club that they are willing to fight for survival.

Jason Huntley’s side are rooted to the basement of the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with 22 points and have five games left to avoid the club’s first relegation in their history.

Beckenham Town are two points adrift of Lordswood, three behind Fisher, four behind Erith & Belvedere and six behind Saturday’s opponents, Erith Town.

Sheppey United leapfrogged over a couple of teams into fourth-place with 64 points from 34 games – 16 points adrift of leaders Ashford United - after striker Richard Atkins scored twice to extend their unbeaten run to nine games.

“Hard to take, again, another defeat for us,” said Clews, after his side’s 23rd league defeat of the season.

“Disappointed with the second half performance from us.  I thought the first half was good for 20-25 minutes. We had a lot of possession, created some odd chances but they were more long shots from outside the box really.

“Disappointed that we didn’t create some more chances in the second half and with them scoring 12 seconds (into the second half) was a kick in the teeth for us really and from them on we’re chasing the game.

“We’ve brought a few new players in to shake things up for the last six games.  On paper it looked a good squad. First 20-25 I was impressed with it but we conceded a goal from their first breakaway.”

Sheppey United manager Ernie Batten was delighted with his side’s performance which sealed their 19th league win of the season.

“Very pleased. I thought it was a good competent performance,” said the Sheppey boss.

“The pitch is superb down here and it’s great for us. We played Hollands & Blair on Saturday and you go from the sublime to the ridiculous really, although I’ve got every respect for Hollands but some of those pitches at this time of the season are awful, rock hard and crater like but all credit to the people up there.  I’d like them to stay in the league because of their surface and facilities here.

“But tonight we gave a real professional performance and I thought all round the park that we defended well.

“Beckenham started well, had a good 10-15 minute spell at the start. We weathered that, we expected that, I mean they’re fighting for their lives down there.  We came through that and started coming into the game and I thought we got the first goal, could’ve got a couple more before half-time.

“I think second half getting that goal so early as we did, was it 12 seconds, right from the kick-off that was a bit of a killer for them and I think although they had their flurries we controlled the game quite well and deserved the points.”

Beckenham Town have made a handful of new signings ahead of last week’s transfer deadline day last Friday.

Goalkeeper Nick Blue and left-back Timi Osibodu are on dual-registration from Ryman League Division One South side Cray Wanderers. Striker Gary Gorman got through 63 minutes following his move from Andreas Carter Joma Kent County League Premier Division side Metrogas and Adam Allen keeps coming and going from Sutton Common Rovers, while twin brothers Arron and Adam Williams have made the switch from Sheppey United.

Beckenham Town’s passing game was not of a side struggling at the foot of the table as they were the better side for the opening 20 minutes.

Striker Joe N’Guessan was tripped and Hassan Jalloh, who bossed the middle of the park during this promising period, stepped up to take the free-kick 26-yards from goal inside the opening 11 minutes.

He curled his right-footed free-kick over the wall and looked on in despair as the ball clipped the outside of the near post and went behind for a goal-kick.

Clews said: “Hassan started off well. Disappointed with the second half performance, that’s why we brought him off.”

Batten expected Beckenham to come out with all guns flying.

“They’re doing everything they can. I said before the game if you think it’s going to be easy, we’re going to lose. You can use it as a motivational thing because you know it’s no ordinary end of season game because of the team’s situations. We want to finish fourth, we’re going all out for that and we had something on it and they’ve got a massive amount on it.”

Hassan Jalloh unleashed a left-footed drive from 25-yards, which forced visiting keeper Dean Warford to dive low to his right to hold onto the ball.

His third chance came swiftly afterwards.  Osibodu showed skill as he skipped over challenges from Joseph Fornah and Timmy Babbington and the ball was played to Hassan Jalloh, who drove forward for 30-yards before drilling a right-footed rasping drive towards the roof of the net, which was plucked out of the air by Warford, before catching the ball as it dropped out of a red-sky.

Clews said: “Again, they were long shots from outside the box really. We didn’t really test him from inside the box.  That’s what we moaned about after the game. We had a little chat, we’ve got to get crosses into the box. We need to have people in the box.  You can’t score a wonder goal all the time so that’s something that we didn’t do enough today.”

Batten added: “Dean, especially over the last few games, has been superb. He’s come back from a three game suspension, he got sent-off at Tunbridge Wells, since he’s come back he’s been excellent.”

Beckenham Town’s central defender Arron Williams tried his luck from 40-yards, drilling a first time shot, which dipped just over the Sheppey crossbar.

But Sheppey United soaked up the pressure and they grabbed the lead, totally against the run of play, with 23 minutes and 49 seconds on the clock.

Left-back Karn Miller-Neave swung in their first corner from the right, which went deep and was retrieved by Rob Saunders at the far post.  The central defender drove the ball in low across the face of goal towards the near post and Atkins was left in a pocket of space to finish into the bottom near corner from six-yards.

Both sides played an eye-catching passing game. Both sides play on quality pitches and Batten was enjoying Beckenham’s pitch.

He said: “That was a proper strikers goal. He got in the six-yard box. I thought it was a good cut back by Rob and he got the touch on it to nudge it past the keeper.

“I thought it was a very good game of football. I love games like that because both teams are trying to pass the ball, which is what we like to do. Whenever Beckenham put a team out they like to try and play and credit to them, so I think it helped us to get the goal and it deflated them a little bit.”

Clews added: “The skipper’s (Saunders) left (Adam Allen) then Arron Williams has come out to close him down and leaves his man and he’s left a man unmarked near post and he’s just tapped it in.

“We were playing well, a bit disappointing because it was against-the-run-of-play.  We had the possession, crated a few chances. We were comfortable at the time in the game. Again, it knocked us back. We told them to keep going in the second half as well but obviously we came out slow, back in the dressing  rooms.”

Ryan Dolby hit a dipping left-footed free-kick from 30-yards, which dipped right in front of Warford, who spilt the ball as he dived low to his right, before the Sheppey keeper gathered at the second attempt.

Clews said: “A couple of ones, he did drop, which I think we should’ve followed up on but we didn’t do that enough.  That was something that we mentioned after the game.  You’ve got to be in and around it to follow-up and create the second chances but we didn’t do it enough there.”

Batten added: “It was quite central so we expect him to make saves like that if it's near him.”

Sheppey United were in control of the game following their first goal of the night and Atkins hit a couple of angled drives that proved to be comfortable for Blue at his near post.

Batten said: “Richard’s came with a reputation, he’s been a Ryman striker with Folkestone. He was in their play-off side a couple of seasons ago, scored 20 odd goals in the Ryman South and I knew we were signing a goalscorer.

“He struggled to find a bit of form, he came to us and he had a hamstring which is about five or six weeks when he first came to us and it’s taken a bit of time to get going and he’s looking a real threat now.”

Beckenham Town created the last chance of the first half as Hassan Oshilaja played the ball inside to Hassan Jalloh, who cracked a left-footed drive flashing past the far post from 30-yards.

When asked his thoughts at the break, Clews said: “Keep going. We had a lot of possession but we just have to create more chances so keep going as we always do, close them down and try to get the ball out wide to Ryan (Dolby) and Joe (N’Guessan) because Joe was creating some problems in the first half and running at them and so was Ryan.

“We wanted to get the ball out wide, get some crosses in for Gary Gorman up top because he always puts himself about.  That’s what we said, obviously it was a kick in the teeth to concede after 12 seconds!”

Batten was then asked what he told his troops at the break.

“Just keep it going, just keep it going, do your jobs, work hard, all the usual football clichés and keep playing, keep trying to keep possession because if you’re going to keep giving the ball away to the opposition who are also trying to play, they could hurt you.”

It took Sheppey United only 12 seconds into the second half to bash a nail into Beckenham Town’s relegation coffin.

Sheppey United kicked off, Danny Walder played the ball out wide to Babbington, who strode forward before whipping in a quality cross from the right wing into the Beckenham box.  Blue went down in an attempt to gather the ball but he was too late as Atkins slid in to tuck the ball into the net from a couple of yards.

Batten said: “It was great, wasn’t it, right from the kick-off Dan Walder’s knocked the ball to Timmy, he’s down the line and he’s pulled it back and it’s a classic goal. It was a training ground goal, wasn’t it?

“You think now we’ve got a real chance now of getting the points.”

The goal was Atkins’ 11th of the season for the club and Batten said: “He would’ve bene expecting more than that but the interesting thing is he’s hitting the net in recent times.”

Clews admitted: “Babbington’s crossing tonight was exceptional! I think he caused quite a few problems for our left-back (Osibodu). He literally just gave a yard of space and whipped the ball in.  Every cross that he put in there was neigh in the six-yard box, a great delivery from him all night long really, which is what we told them after the game.  His crossing caused problems for defenders and the keeper, which is something that we didn’t do enough in the second half.

“It knocked us back a bit. We came out slow out of the blocks for the second half then you’re chasing the game and you lose a bit of shape.  We tried to get a message on to say we’ll get chances but sometimes some of the players there are not listening.”

Beckenham Town went close to pulling a goal back when Gorman played the ball out to right-back Michak Stanic-Stewart, who cut inside to curl his left-footed shot agonisingly around the foot of the far post from 25-yards.

“He’s done well, Michak. He surges forward with the ball and he’s unlucky just to put it wide,” Clews said of the Bromley Academy prospect.

“I thought it was on target when I saw it come across but it was just wide of the post. It’s another chance from outside the box.”

Dolby delivered a quality cross as he cut inside but Gorman’s shot was blocked.

Blue pulled off a couple of brilliant saves to prevent Sheppey United racing away with the game.

Babbington’s driven shot was blocked, the ball rolled to Froggatt, who powered a right-footed drive towards goal from 30-yards, which was tipped over by Blue’s outstretched right-hand, high to his left.

Batten said: “I think both sides had spells where they had good possession and opportunities and I think it was a matter of who was going to finish.”

Clews added: “Good save. We lost a little bit of shape a bit with the midfield when we were chasing the game. He’s picked the ball up and he’s run with the ball for a bit and he’s hit a shot and Bluey’s made a terrific save to tip if over.”

Babbington played a sublime through ball along the pristine playing surface to put Atkins in behind Stanic-Stewart, but Blue rushed off his line and blocked the shot from a couple of yards inside the box with his right knee and the ball trickled just past the foot of the left-hand post for a corner.

Batten said: “I thought it was a great save because it was right low by his side.  Normally keeper’s struggle to get that when the ball’s close to them like that.  I thought it was a great save just to nudge it and roll it the other side of the post.”

Clews added: “Another good save. We’re chasing games and spaces are going to open up for them to create chances.  We did get the message on to keep the shape.  The back four and the three in midfield but we were chasing the game.”

Blue’s return marked that on-loan Charlton Athletic keeper Aiden Prall was relegated to the bench and Blue may be available on Saturday because his parent club play on Sunday. Prall could return to the League One club if he’s not being utilised at Beckenham.

“That’s something that we need to speak to Cray about,” said Clews.

“We’ve spoken to Aiden, he may come back in on Saturday, that’s something that we’ve got to discuss and chat with Cray as well.  I think we had a chat with Aiden before the game so he knows where it is. He might possibly come back on Saturday, that’s something that we have to agree.”

Warford made a comfortable low save to deny Dolby scoring with a left-footed shot on the turn from 20-yards, as the game entered the final 20 minutes.

But Beckenham Town’s fast approaching relegation proved to be too much for skipper Gassimu Jalloh, who threw up on the pitch in the 75th minute, which forced referee Jamie Macleod to pour water over the mess from a plastic bottle.

Sheppey United produced a fine move when Miller-Neave whipped in a cross towards the edge of the box, Saunders hooked the ball over to Atkins, who sliced his right-footed shot past the near post from an unmarked position from 12-yards.

“I think we had a spell there when we could’ve increased the lead to three or four had we taken our chances,” added Batten.

Beckenham Town created the last chance of the night when two of their subs got involved.

Central defender Jack Hope floated in a free-kick into the Sheppey United box and Adam Williams’ downward header was comfortably gathered by Warford.

Clews has described four of their last five games as must-win games as Erith Town, Deal Town, Tunbridge Wells and Bearsted are all in the bottom nine, while their penultimate league game is at second-placed Crowborough Athletic.

Clews said: “We’ve got five games, we’re expecting, well we want four wins out of that. Crowborough is going to be a tough one for us but with the players; that we’ve got in we’re confident that we’re going to get results from them. We’re not feeling the pressure just yet.

“Erith Town is a six-pointer for us, it really is a game we’ve got to win.  They’re down there with us so we know it’s going to be a tough one.  We’re both scrapping it out.”

When asked what relegation would mean to Beckenham Town, the club stalwart replied: “Devastation really for us. We’ve got facilities, we’ve got a great pitch to play on, everyone says this club shouldn’t be in a league below. We’re doing all we can to not let that happen on and off the field.

“Yes, it’s a club that shouldn’t be in the lower league. We should be fighting for promotion to the Ryman.

“I want them to dig in, that’s it really. Show the club that they’re willing to fight for survival, that’s what we want.  We’re not going to give in. We’re not going to quit. We’ve got to make sure that we’ve got a fighting chance in every game that we play and we want three points from every game.

“We can’t leave it to other results to help us out so we need to go out and win our games first and worry about other results.”

Sheppey United, meanwhile, are without a game on Saturday, before completing their league campaign against AFC Croydon Athletic (away, 15 April), Bearsted (home, 17 April), Corinthian (away, 22 April) and Cray Valley (home, 29 April).

Batten then takes his side to Tonbridge Angels’ Longmead Stadium to play third-placed Sevenoaks Town in the Macron Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Final on Saturday 6 May.

Batten wants his side to finish in the top four after winning promotion with Bearsted last season.

“The target is to win them all.  I think it’s in our hands isn’t it. We’ve got Cray Valley in the last game. I think it’s pretty much in our hands with four games and we finish fourth and if we can lift that trophy as well we can top it off and it will be a great first season.”

Beckenham Town: Nick Blue, Michak Stanic-Stewart, Timi Osibodu, Adam Allen, Gassimu Jalloh, Arron Williams (Jack Hope 51), Hassan Oshilaja, Hassan Jalloh (Damien Ramsamy 83), Gary Gorman (Adam Williams 63), Joe N’Guessan, Ryan Dolby.
Subs: Chan Quan, Aiden Prall

Sheppey United: Dean Warford, Joseph Fornah, Karn Miller-Neave, James Huggins, Rob Saunders, Joseph Denny, Timmy Babbington, Danny Walder, Richard Atkins (Lee Friend 82), Arlie Desanges (Dan Bradshaw 68), Joshua Froggatt (Ross Pagett 80).
Sub: Lewis Gransden

Goals: Richard Atkins 24, 46

Booked: Rob Saunders 27

Attendance: 235
Referee: Mr Jamie Macleod (Welling)
Assistants: Mr Daniel Wyatt (Woolwich, London SE18) & Mr Chris Goulbourn (Otford)

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