Bridon Ropes 2-3 Punjab United - To get to a Quarter-Final is fantastic for the club, says Punjab United boss Chipie Sian

Wednesday 08th January 2020
Bridon Ropes 2 – 3 Punjab United
Location Meridian Sports & Social Club, 110 Charlton Park Lane, Charlton, London SE7 8QS
Kickoff 08/01/2020 19:30

Sea Pioneer Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Third Round
Wednesday 8 January 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Charlton Park Lane

PUNJAB UNITED manager/chairman Chipie Sian says success for his club would be a top ten finish and also to reach the Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Final.

The Gravesend based side booked their place in the Quarter-Finals for the first time after beating a plucky Bridon Ropes side 3-2.

Both sides are struggling in their respective division with Bridon Ropes putting in a vastly improved performance than their league position in the bottom two in the First Division (with 10 points from 17 games), while Punjab United – bottom five in the Premier Division table (with 18 points from as many games) put in a poor performance but were clinical in front of goal when it mattered.

A goalkeeping howler from Bridon Ropes goalkeeper Josh Smith gifted Punjab United an early lead through George Goodwin’s low drive, but Bridon Ropes talisman Richard Jimoh equalised for the Charlton-based hosts with a well taken goal.

Punjab United grabbed the lead just three minutes later through striker Bryan Zepo’s top corner finish but he spent most of the game complaining to referee Tim Hart.

Bridon Ropes equalised through James Murphy’s 30-yard strike before Punjab United booked their place in the last eight through Rohan Badbhagi’s sublime chip with 14 minutes remaining.

Bridon Ropes made a couple of changes from their side that lost 3-1 to Kennington at Homelands Stadium at the weekend, while Punjab United made four changes to the side that came away from K Sports with an impressive 4-0 win, the most notable absentee was player-assistant-manager, centre-half Paul Lorraine, 36, who joined Sian in the technical area.

“I thought it was quite a poor game to be honest,” admitted Sian.

“I don’t think we played too well. We had a few injuries today as well, a few missing through work. We managed to get 13-14 players out. We had two under 18s come off the bench.

“I did say to the boys on Saturday after a good win at K Sports, a cup would be great, we might as well give our all for a cup.  It has been hit and miss this season, we haven’t really hit the heights yet.  I’ve started to get there now. I’ve got a full squad, I wish I had this team at the beginning of the season, I don’t think we would be where we are now but we are where we are and we have to get out of (relegation trouble) and we’ve got to make sure we perform every week but to get to a Quarter-Final is fantastic for the club.”

Bridon Ropes manager Junior Montgomery has lost 17 of his 26 games in charge of the club this season and this was their third straight defeat and they have now gone six games without a win in all competitions.

“I thought that we didn’t start well. I think we didn’t start with the intensity that I was after and I think that led to the first goal but aside from that I thought we did start to play well, kept possession well and got back into the game with an equaliser and yes there was plenty of positives,” said Montgomery.

“We played very, very good football and we’ve heard that before but now it is about turning those decent performances into results.”

Punjab United were gifted the lead with eight minutes and 17 seconds on the clock.

Left-back Ryan Jarrett threw the ball to holding midfielder Stephen Ratcliff, who played the ball into Goodwin, who brought the ball under control and from a central position from 20-yards stroked his right-footed shot towards the bottom right-hand corner.  However, goalkeeper Josh Smith went down on his knees and let the daisy-cutter slip through his fingers and nestle into corner of the net.

“I did say at the beginning of the game, if we start with our front four fast - and we did, we actually started off really well,” said Sian.

“George Goodwin is versatile for me at the moment. He played sweeper on Saturday, centre-half on Saturday, he’s playing holding midfielder at the moment where he wants to play and he’s been excellent for me, he’s always consistent.

“We were good with the ball, we scored a goal and we just went the other way and we started mucking about and went down to their game plan really and let them back into the game.”

Montgomery refused to blame his goalkeeper for his mistake.

“Yes, it is disappointing but when we look at the guy was allowed to drift past a couple of players, the goalkeeper is the last line of defence. We shouldn’t let it get to that stage but we kind of take responsibility collectively for poor defending. We know what Josh is like and he’s a bit disappointed with that one.”

Bridon Ropes’ only real attacking threat on the night was right-winger Jimoh, who was a constant annoyance for Punjab’s left-back Jarrett.

Jimoh dominated this dual for the 66 minutes that he was on the pitch, cutting inside before stroking a low left-footed angled drive towards the bottom corner, which forced visiting keeper Joe Hagan to use a strong left hand while diving low to his left to push behind for the home side’s only corner of the night.

Despite Punjab leading, Bridon Ropes were the better side and played some nice passing football and they started the enjoy a lengthy spell of possession.

Holding midfielder Sean Nicholls fizzed a right-footed drive towards the bottom right-hand corner from a central position from 35-yards, which forced Hagan into holding the ball low to his left, which tested the knock to his knee that he picked up during the warm-up.

“We know Richard Jimoh from a whole back, he came down for a trial with us as well a few years ago,” revealed Sian.

“During the warm-up, Joe Hagan got a knock on his knee so he was a little bit half-and-half so fair to him. He wanted to play and carried on and I think we defended well in patches to give him a little bit of a breather. He done a few kicks and punches and he done well in the end.”

Punjab United were awarded a free-kick and Jarrett attempted to curl his attempt into the far corner, but his effort was too straight and arrowed behind for a goal-kick instead.

Bridon Ropes deservedly equalised with a good attacking move with 33 minutes and 55 seconds on the clock.

Lone striker Liam Donaldson cushioned a header down to Jimoh, who then played the ball inside to Murphy, who put Jimoh through on goal and the talisman failed to disappoint, unleashing a right-footed angled drive across the keeper and into the bottom far corner of the net from 15-yards.

“Richard was one of the real plusses,” said Montgomery.

“He’s had some injuries, he’s returned from Greenwich Borough. He’s had some hamstring issues but tonight he was a real threat and moving forward his goal was excellent. He’s a great player and hopefully we can turn our good performances into good results.

“I think it was the least he deserved for his efforts. I think he was a threat all night. The only reason we brought him off was we wanted to manage his minutes after a return. It was a fantastic goal and well-deserved.”

Sian added: “We sat back too much, they scored a good goal to be fair. A couple of quick passes and they were in. It was coming, it was coming because we actually didn’t play our way, we actually switched off so fair play to them, well done.”

Punjab United failed to stamp their higher-league status on the game.  In truth the only time that they looked like a Premier Division side was in their build-up play for their second goal, which was clinically despatched by Zepo with 36 minutes and 28 seconds on the clock.

Right-back Marvin Okundalaiye played the ball inside to Badbhagi, who played the ball into Goodwin, who then fed Ratcliff in a sweeping move.  His short pass was latched onto by Chandler Kasai, who held off a challenge from Bridon Ropes centre-half John Sesay inside the box and the ball fell kindly for Zepo, who lashed his right-footed volley into the top right-hand corner from eight-yards out.

Sian said: “We kept saying on the side, move the ball quicker, move the ball quicker and when we do move the ball quicker we are brilliant and then we scored a goal out of nothing so it was coming to be honest.

“It just wasn’t our day today. We weren’t on top of our game. It took time to settle in and we were in patches so we’re inconsistent and playing 10 minutes well, go out for 10 minutes and playing well for 10 minutes but we took our chances when they came.”

Montgomery added: “It’s disappointing. It’s not from constant pressure. It was a really disappointing goal to concede after we’ve just got back into it. Those little mistakes and particularly our position of our central defensive midfield players’ could’ve been better. From our point of view it was a preventable goal, which is disappointing.”

A handball from Punjab centre-half Diljit Boora gave Bridon Ropes an opportunity to score but Nicholls’ fiercely struck 30-yard free-kick was beaten away by Hagan, scooping the ball towards safety to his left.

“We know Sean can do that so that’s why he’s very keen to work on the free-kicks. He has got a hammer of a strike so on another day that goes in as well,” said Montgomery.

Bridon Ropes goalkeeper Smith made amends for his earlier howler by diving to his right to ensure Johnson-Cole’s first time shot on the turn which was destined for the bottom near corner from 35-yards was flicked just behind the near post  and behind for the first of the away side’s five corners.

“The keeper done well this time. Like I said to William Johnson-Cole if you keep hitting the target and see where it goes. If it rebounds back off him, we can tap it in but he done alright. It wasn’t his best game for William or Chandler Kasai on the wing, they were in and out of the game to be honest.”

Montgomery added: “Just! He’s a guy with a big character. He’s got a military background so having mental strength is not something that surprises me with Josh so he dusted that (mistake) off and he’ll be ready to go for the weekend.”

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the interval.

Montgomery said: “We said try and continue to play our football. We addressed some of the mistakes and the intensity of which we started the game and then after we addressed some of those issues, we spoke about doing what we do and doing it well in terms of keeping possession and finding our dangerous players.

“I think we started well and the guys took the advice on board and it was a really, really good start to the half.”

Sian added: “I just said to them, they’re going to keep coming at you and pick them off. We’ll try to hit the ball over the top and try to pick them out because their centre-halves are coming out a bit more so if we can go over the top of them and see if we can catch them out.”

Punjab United created their first opening of the second half in the tenth minute when winger Kasai was tripped by Murphy and Ratcliff’s left-footed free-kick from 30-yards flashed across the goalkeeper and past the far post.

“It was a good try to be honest. He was trying to find the bottom corner, which was the right idea,” added Sian.

Bridon Ropes showed great character to equalise for the second time inf the game, with their second goal coming with 12 minutes and 36 seconds on the clock.

Left-back Sam Cassell played the ball inside to Murphy, who drilled a right-footed 30-yard angled drive, which sailed over Hagan’s head and looped into the bottom far corner of the net.

Montgomery said: “It was an outstanding goal! When you think about the quality of the two goals, it’s very disappointing from those players and for myself to be on the wrong end of the result tonight.

“Two outstanding goals. We know Murphy can do that, great player, great goal and now we’re looking to take that into our league form and our London Senior Trophy Quarter-Final.

“When you get back to two-all and we’re playing the way that we were, I certainly would hope we would kick on but that wasn’t the case.”

Sian admitted: “I don’t know how that went in to be honest.  I thought Joe would’ve just tap it over. It wasn’t hit with a lot of menace, it just flew in!

“But it was one of those goals when you think is it going to be one of your days? Are they going to get back into it but the boys did well. They deserved that goal, they actually started off well in that little period after we scored, they started playing a little bit.

“They never gave up!  I told them at half-time that these boys won’t lie down. We played them the year before last when we got promoted and we know they were a good side. We knew they would come out fighting. They want to take a scalp and they want to take our scalp so we had to be on our game really.”

The goal was a wake-up call for Punjab United, who created a couple of openings after the hour-mark.

Zepo and Johnson-Cole both linked up in and around the Bridon Ropes penalty area and Badbhagi’s hooked shot deflected past the base of the near post.

Jarrett swung in the resulting corner from the right and the ball found its way to Johnson-Cole on the penalty spot but he dragged his shot past the far post.

“I thought that was a quiet performance. He missed that quite badly, that was a terrible shot! I thought that should’ve been a goal because it was in the middle of the goal,” added Sian.

Punjab United grabbed their winning goal with 30 minutes and 52 seconds on the clock, through a sublime finish from the impressive Badbhagi, who played in the number 10 role.

Goodwin was inside the centre-circle inside his own half when his hooked pass went over the top of Matt Dennis to put Badbhagi through on goal.  Goalkeeper Smith came off his line but Badbhagi kept his composure to send his right-footed chip over the keepers head and Dennis sprinted back and couldn’t prevent the ball dropping into the empty goal.

“Rohan’s a bit of talent, he’s been with me since the beginning of the season now and he’s starting to graft and starting to get into how we want to play and I think he’s a good, young talent at the club,” said Sian.

“It’s a beautiful finish and he’s done that a few times this season already. As soon as he went through, I thought he’d finish.”

Montgomery added: “We feel from our point of view another goal that could’ve been avoided. Some of the positions of our defenders and we certainly thought it was a preventable goal from our point of view.”

Punjab winger Kasai pulled his hamstring towards the end of the game and Bridon Ropes threw plenty of bodies forward in search of a last-gasp equaliser.

Dennis charged into the box but he was closed down and a tackle was made and the ball rolled into Hagan’s hands right at the death.

“Listen, the boys gave everything and at the end the boys were pushing and you were just hoping for that one last break but it didn’t quite happen,” added Montgomery.

“We were playing against a team who are in the league above us. We certainly take the positives out of that, learn from what we didn’t do well and we’ll be stronger from this.”

Both managers were asked what success would be for their own club this season.

“Midtable. If we can get into the top 10 and a final, I’ll be over the moon,” said Sian.

“It’s been a really, really difficult period from the beginning of the season. I’ve let a lot of players go. It’s the first time in my actual management career that I’ve let players go, where I’ve kept them for the last few years. It’s been a learning curve for me. You’ve got to look at players’ individually and think is he good enough? Is his attitude good enough?

“Brining in Paul Lorraine as assistant manager is going to help me as well. I get on with him really well and he commands that respect. I command that respect now.

“We’ve got a really, really good young squad and I think if we can keep this squad going to the rest of the season, I think we can have a good season next year.”

Punjab United welcome sixth-placed Tunbridge Wells to the Elite Venue on Saturday, while Bridon Ropes travel to bottom-four side Lydd Town, a side that have five more points but having played a game more than Montgomery’s men.

Richard Styles’ Tunbridge Wells are 12 points adrift of leaders Beckenham Town but they do have three games in hand and may be joining the promotion race if they win all of their games in hand.

Sian said:  “We don’t fear anyone in this league no more.  We’re looking forward to the Tunbridge Wells game. They’re doing quite well at the moment. They won last night (5-2 at home to Welling Town in the Challenge Cup Second Round).  They’re a good side. If I can get my full side out on Saturday – I’ve had a couple of knocks today – I think it will be a good game.

“I’m learning while I’m going on every week now. Every week is a different challenge, every different team.  Sometimes I think we’re a little bit inconsistent in our play. Some weeks we are unbelievable and some weeks we’re poor so we haven’t got that middle bit yet.

“At K Sports on Saturday we started strong and we finished strong and it was a really good performance and I’m hoping these last couple of weeks we’ve been winning and we can go into Saturday with a bit of confidence and we’re at home and go out and give it our best.”

When asked the same question, Montgomery virtually gave the same answer as his counterpart.

“Great question, great question. It’s a great question. For us success would be winning as many games as possible in the league and finishing as high up as we can.

“As you’ve seen tonight, it’s been the story of our league season. We’ve been in lots of games and should’ve got more from lots of the games but there’s a few things to tweak in order to do that and we believe that we’ve got a lot of quality to beat anybody on our day.

“We know we’ve got the quality in there and there’s a few things that we need to address to win more football matches and turn good performances into good results.”

Montgomery and his men now need to replicate tonight’s efforts down at Lydd Town on Saturday and that is the biggest challenge at this level.

“Looking forward to it. Our performances have been good of late. We know that a win is just around the corner if we continue to do the right things.  We’ll certainly be hoping that happens on Saturday and we’ll be doing everything to make sure we get the right result.”

Bridon Ropes: Josh Smith, Dilan Melchisedek-Nlendi, Sam Cassell, Sean Nicholls, John Sesay, Matt Dennis, Nathan Simpson (Delvin President 81), Nathan Medley (Jack Kirby 81), Liam Donaldson, James Murphy, Richard Jimoh (Patrick Giovagnoli 66).
Sub: Eamon Gaughan

Goals: Richard Jimoh 34, James Murphy 58

Booked: James Murphy 32, Matt Dennis 81

Punjab United: Joe Hagan, Marvin Okundalaiye, Ryan Jarrett, Stephen Ratcliff, Diljit Boora, Luqman Adesina, William Johnson-Cole, George Goodwin, Bryan Zepo, Rohan Badbhagi (Karam Dio 85), Chandler Kasai (Daniel Fenton 89).
Sub: Prem Jayabrathi

Goals: George Goodwin 9, Bryan Zepo 37, Rohan Badbhagi 76

Booked: Stephen Ratcliff 75, George Goodwin 90, Bryan Zepo 90

Attendance: 48
Referee: Mr Tim Hart
Assistants: Ms Alison Wade & Paul Taylor