Beckenham Town 0-0 Walton & Hersham - We want to go up and we've got a good chance this year, says Beckenham Town assistant manager Jason Clews

Saturday 16th October 2021
Beckenham Town 0 – 0 Walton & Hersham
Location Eden Park Avenue, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3JL
Kickoff 16/10/2021 15:00

Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Premier Division South
Saturday 16 October 2021
Stephen McCartney reports from Eden Park Avenue

BECKENHAM TOWN assistant manager Jason Clews says he was very pleased with his side’s performance but wasn’t pleased that they didn’t get three points against league leaders Walton & Hersham.

Scott Harris’ side arrived at Eden Park Avenue sitting a point clear at the top of the Combined Counties League Premier Division South table with 21 points from 10 games, scoring an impressive 21 goals in their last five games, all wins and all clean sheets.

Third-placed Beckenham Town were only a couple of points behind and the crowd of 326 watched two good footballing sides go toe-to-toe with each other and Jason Huntley’s men were the better team and dropped two points here today.

Visiting goalkeeper Liam Allen played the dark arts of timewasting often during the game, which even frustrated four-goal winger Harry Mills towards the end of the game as he wanted the ball played to him quicker from his team-mate.

With Billy Walton serving a touchline ban after being sent-off during Beckenham Town’s embarrassing 3-1 defeat at basement side Molesey a couple of weeks ago, post-match media duties went to long-serving Clews.

“I’m a bit gutted we didn’t get the three points but overall it was a very good performance from us from the first minute to the last minute,” said Clews.

“I’d say we outplayed them. We set up with a game plan and stuck to it and they didn’t have a plan B from what I saw there.

“We watched them online and it gave us an insight in the way they play and we’ve come out with a game plan and we stopped them doing that and they didn’t have a plan B.

“We created some chances, a lot of chances. We should’ve been one or two-nil up and I’m very pleased with the performance but not pleased that we didn’t get the three points.”

Beckenham’s impressive performance made the league leaders looked very ordinary indeed, a side that left the ground satisfied with a point to extend their unbeaten run to six games.

“I totally agree with you there, they looked like an ordinary side,” admitted Clews.

“They try to play out from the back from the keeper with the two centre-halves splitting and the game plan we had was to push up high on them and stop them doing that so the keeper would kick long, which they did all day long and we got the ball all the time.

Beckenham Town produced a well-worked move and the woodwork saved Allen after only 61 seconds.

Beckenham’s recalled goalkeeper Nick Blue threw the ball to right-back Harvey Hanifan, who played winger Shameek Farrell down the line and he played the ball to towering striker Alfie Bloomfield’s feet.

Bloomfield’s low pass was dummied by Bertie Valler and left-winger Steven Townsend curled his shot against the crossbar from 18-yards, aiming to bend the shot into the top far corner.

“Again, great build-up play from everyone as well. Unfortunately, he’s hit the bar from that one and that’s the one I thought we’d take an early lead. I thought we came out of the blocks really well,” said Clews.

Walton & Hersham went close with three minutes and 41 seconds on the clock when left-back Louis Collins (not the Sevenoaks Town striker), fed left-winger Palace Francis and the 11-goal threat swept the ball into striker Alex Kelly, who laid the ball off to Jacob Munting to flash his shot just past the foot of the right-hand post from the edge of the D.

Beckenham Town’s left-back Archie Johnson floated in a free-kick from the left with his left-foot and Bloomfield guided his header just over the crossbar.

Beckenham Town continued to play on the front foot and almost scored from an unlikely source in the 17th minute.

Townsend, Farrell and Valler linked up on the left and Danny Waldren swept the ball inside to centre-half Mudiaga Wanogha, who was given time and space by the Walton & Hersham midfield to try his luck, unleashing a right-footed 35-yard curler, which only just cleared the top of the far post.

“I don’t know he had it in him really, our centre-half coming forward and striking that,” admitted Clews.

“I wouldn’t say it was too far wide or high, it was inches high. It was a great strike from him. It shocked us all on the bench!”

The home side hit Walton & Hersham on the counter-attack when Bloomfield’s pass released Townsend charging down the left and he cut into the box and his shot was smothered by the advancing Allen, low to his left.

Clews said: “We created some good chances. It was that final pass that let us down and the finishing really. On another day we’ll probably score two or three out of all those chances today.”

Walton & Hersham weathered the storm and caused alarm inside the Beckenham penalty area in the 27th minute.

Holding midfielder Brewster pinged a diagonal over to Collins who drove over the halfway line with the ball at his feet and headed towards the final third.

He fed Francis, who ignored Collins making an overlapping run and cut inside and his cross-come-shot flashed across Blue and past the far post, evading Kelly, who ghosted in and failed to get a decisive touch in the middle.

“We kept Paris Francis quiet in the second half, he had a few runs and he delivered a couple of balls that went across the box,” said Clews.

“They didn’t really create too many clear-cut chances. I can remember one chance throughout the game, other than that they had two crosses across the box which they stretched out for, other than that, they didn’t create too many chances.”

Central midfielder Munting rolled the ball over to Francis (now on the right-wing) and he cut into the box and lacked composure and drilled his shot into the base of the side-netting.

Beckenham Town then turned defence into attack as Mills cut the ball onto his right-foot down the right and his cross was cleared away by the excellent Wanogha.

Bloomfield collected the ball inside his half and sent Farrell charging forward on a 40-yard run and his left-footed drive from 25-yards was too hot for Allen to handle, the keeper comfortably gathering at the second attempt.

Walton & Hersham enjoyed a five minute spell towards the end of the first half but failed to trouble Blue in goal.

Francis wriggled his way past Hanifan and Wanogha before the ball was worked back to Zach Dainkeh, who played the ball inside to Munting, who teed up centre-half Max Elliison-Hustwick who lashed his first-time right-footed drive high over the bar form inside the D.

Brewster played an intelligent pass and rolled it out to Joe Pratley-Jones and the right-back played in a low cross but Kelly stabbed the ball wide while under pressure.

Clews said: “We said keep doing what we’re doing really at half-time. We stick to the game plan from the first minute and just carry on through the second half, press them high and make the keeper kick the ball out long.”

Walton & Hersham missed a glorious chance to grab the lead inside the opening eight minutes of the second half.

Munting’s ball over the top was cleared out by Wanogha and Munting had a second bite of the cherry to put the ball back into the box and the ball deflected into the path of the unmarked Mills on the right-hand side of the box.

He waited for support before cutting the ball back for Francis to dill his shot just past the right-hand post as Wanogha attempted to close the ball down.

“I thought Harry Mills and Palace Francis were their dangermen today. Archie Johnson’s given them a bit too space. They are dangerous going forward but we dealt with it,” added Clews.

Assistant referee Sue Henderson flagged for a foul by Johnson for sending Mills crashing to the deck within the right-channel and Walton & Hersham whipped in a teasing delivery which no one could get the decisive touch.

Brewster’s delivery was right on the money and in the corridor of uncertainty but Kelly failed once again to get the touch he needed to give the away side the lead.

Referee Scott Orchard had to make a couple of big calls as a couple of penalty-area borderline calls went in the favour of Walton & Hersham.

Townsend drove towards the penalty area and was tripped on the edge of the box by Hicks (who was booked) and Waldren bent his right-footed free-kick from 22-yards around the five-man wall and Allen made a fine save, holding the ball low to his left.

Clews said: “Was it on the edge of the box, or was it in the box? I don’t know!

“If we had VAR we might find out. It was the same with the headed one on Alfie just after that. I’ve been told that was in the box. That was more clear-cut in the box and a penalty but the referee’s made a couple of shocking decisions there.

“From my angle, we’re a long way away, it looked to me he’s in the box. It was definitely in the box, it was more a penalty than Steve Townsend’s one.

“It’s a bit gutting not to get those ones but decisions aren’t going our way with the ref because I think they’re below par at this standard at the moment.”

Blue was called into making a smart save in the 71st minute as the impressive Mills whipped in a low cross from the right, which bounced off Callum Henry and Blue gathered low to his right to prevent an own-goal from his centre-half.

Huntley gave boomerang Joe Healy his fourth debut when he came on and he wasted a glorious chance to give Beckenham the victory their attack-minded play deserved.

Blue’s pinged a precise kick straight down the middle, the ball was flicked on by Bloomfield and Townsend hooked the ball on (despite being clattered after the ball was played, which went unpunished, again) and found Healy in space down the left but his left-footed angled drive flashed across the keeper and past the far post.

Clews said: “He was unlucky there, it probably shows that match sharpness with him. On another day, a couple more games in he might tuck that one away,” said Clews, who is delighted to welcome Healy back to Eden Park Avenue following a spell out of the game.

“It’s good to have Joe Healy back, a bit of experience. He hasn’t played a game for a couple of years now so nearly pushing on two years, through Covid.

“He’s just run the marathon so he hasn’t really trained with us either because he didn’t want to be injured for the marathon but he’s come in, he looks like he’s not been away really.

“It’s good to have him on board. He’ll help out in the latter stages of this season when you come up against your Jersey Bulls, Badshot Lea and Walton & Hersham today, so good to have him back on board.”

Central midfielder Healy, 34, tried his luck from 35-yards but his left-footed drive bounced comfortably into the keeper’s midriff for a comfortable save.

Ellison-Hustwick was walking on the tightrope when he challenged Bloomfield inches from the penalty box on the left-hand side, as both Walton & Hersham’s centre-halves picked up bookings.

Townsend stroked his right-footed free-kick into the wall and Allen was forced to dive to his right to push the ball behind for the home side’s third corner of the game.

“That was the one I thought we might’ve nicked it with that free-kick but the keeper’s made a good save and tipped it wide at the near post,” said Clews.

Walton & Hersham forced their only corner of the game late on and Clews admitted he had a nagging feeling that the away side would grab a last-gasp victory.

He said: “Yes, I had that thought in my head for the last five minutes. We’ve created a lot of chances and not put them away and then that sucker punch, break away. They had a corner in the last couple of minutes as well, that’s when I thought I’d turn away and not look because it’s happened to us before and I had that feeling as well but we stuck at it and I thought we would have deserved the three points.”

Badshot Lea returned to the summit after their 3-2 win at Colliers Wood United and have 29 points from 12 games, followed by Walton & Hersham (28 points) and Beckenham Town (26), while Jersey Bulls are now in sixth-place with 19 points but having only played eight league games.

Clews said: “There’s a few teams there that are going to be there and there abouts. You cannot rule out Jersey Bulls from that.  They’ve got the games in hand but you’d like to have the points on board instead of the games in hand but they’ve got to play Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday-Tuesday and that’s going to be tough for them to get back into it – I think they will.”

Huntley takes his side to the Terence McMillan Stadium to take on Clapton in The FA Vase First Round next Saturday.

One of the great names in amateur football back in the day, Clapton are currently in the bottom five in the Essex Senior League table, having collected 14 points form their 15 league outings and went down to a 2-0 home defeat to White Ensign today.

“Another game really, it’s a game we’ve got to win really,” said Clews.

“I believe their coach (Mustafa Bashkal) left and gone to (Isthmian Premier Division) Leatherhead.

“You can’t take their position with a pinch of salt because they're seventeenth and it's a cup game. You know cup games, anybody can win that on the day so we’ve got to go there with the same mentality and the same way we performed today and we’ll be getting into the next round with the way we played today, but it’s on the day and we’ll see what happens.”

When asked what success will be for Beckenham Town this season, Clews replied: “A good run in The FA Vase and getting promoted and winning the league, either winning the league or promoted but I want to win the league and have a good run in The FA Vase, that’s good enough for me this year.

“We put on a lot of pressure on the team this year, obviously being one of the so-called favourites.  We want to get out of this league. We want to get into the next step as we’ve missed out in the last few seasons through Covid.

“We want to go up and we’ve got a good chance this year.”

Beckenham Town: Nick Blue, Harvey Hanifan (Joe Healy 73), Archie Johnson, Bertie Valler, Mudiaga Wanogha, Callum Henry, Steven Townsend, Danny Waldren, Alfie Bloomfield, Nick Curran (Freddie Nyhus 79), Shameek Farrell (De Niro Pinto 89).
Subs: Junior Kaffo, Jamie Humphris

Booked: Archie Johnson 58

Walton & Hersham: Liam Allen, Joe Pratley-Jones, Louis Collins, Reece Brewster, Max Ellison-Hustwick, Joe Hicks, Palace Francis, Zach Dainkeh (Darren Simpson 78), Alex Kelly, Jacob Munting (Darryl Siaw 75), Harry Mills.
Subs: Jordayne Henry, Onur Bakici, Harry Pointing

Booked: Joe Hicks 67, Max Ellison-Hustwick 83

Attendance: 326
Referee: Mr Scott Orchard
Assistants: Mr Mehmet Hussein & Ms Sue Henderson