Chatham Town 1-2 South Park - We have to stay positive going into Hastings game, says Chatham Town boss Kevin Watson

Sunday 09th August 2015
Chatham Town 1 – 2 South Park
Location Maidstone Road Sports Ground, Bournville Avenue, Chatham, Kent ME4 6LR
Kickoff 11/08/2015 19:45

Ryman League Division One South
Tuesday 11th August 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Maidstone Road

CHATHAM TOWN manager Kevin Watson says he wants his players’ to remain positive after suffering their first league defeat of the season.


The Chats made their long-awaited return to the Ryman League Division One South at the weekend after spending four years in the Northern Division and they came away from relegated Peacehaven & Telscombe with a 4-0 win.

However, Reigate-based outfit South Park, who came away from Hythe Town with a 1-0 victory on the opening day of the season, snatched victory here in the second game.

Two mistakes from former Woodstock Sports goalkeeper Dean Warford helped clinical South Park race into a 2-0 lead inside the opening 29 minutes.

Striker Andrew Dalhouse, one of three former Chipstead (Surrey) players in the sixteen-man squad tonight, scored his first goal for the Kent club by heading home early in the second half, but Chatham Town couldn’t find a way back into the game despite having more chances.

“I think we lost the game because I think we was naïve at the start of the game,” admitted Watson afterwards.

“I thought physically we weren’t good enough early in the game.

“The first goal was very soft. I don’t think they worked hard enough for their first goal.  I suppose on the reverse of that if you score that it looks like a good goal for your team, doesn’t it? It was disappointing!

“I thought they were decent first half. We didn’t cope well enough. They let us have the ball and we do see ourselves as a bit of a passing team but we struggled to break them down.

“Having said that, we got into some good areas at times but lacked a little bit of quality in the final third.

“We had a clear cut chance that hit the bar and they’ve gone and scored the second from a free-kick. The lad’s hit it well to be fair but if you get a free-kick from that sort of range you shouldn’t really be conceding from a direct or an indirect shot!”

Chatham Town started the game by showing attacking intent and Charles Ofusu-Hene cut the ball back to right-back Richard Davis, who only joined the club from Canvey Island the previous day.  Davis whipped in a quality first time cross which sailed over Kieron McCann’s head at the far post.

McCann was impressive down the left-wing and he took a touch and cut inside before playing the ball inside to striker Austin Edwards, who drilled his left-footed angled effort sailing harmlessly past the far post.

South Park were gifted the lead with 7 minutes and 27 seconds on the clock through route-one football.

Goalkeeper James Wastell launched a big kick straight down the middle of the pitch and Warford called for the ball and advanced off his line but failed to gather and South Park’s lone striker Jackson stabbed the ball past him into the middle of an empty goal.

“There was a couple of things with regards to our set-up that I didn’t think was right from the kick,” said Watson.

“Dean’s made a decision as a goalkeeper. Players make decisions don’t they on the pitch but goalkeeper’s generally it seems to cost them if it’s the wrong one and it was the wrong decision!

“That was quite obvious to come because if he had not come, I think our defenders were not far away from him. He had to do a bit more to save than he did.”

Chatham Town squandered an excellent chance to force their way back into the game inside fourteen minutes.

Davis played the ball into Dalhouse’s feet, who held off his marker before playing a pass out to Ofusu-Hene down the right.

The former Kingstonian winger cut the ball back for Davis to slide in at the near post under pressure and see his shot loop up and hit the crossbar from two-yards out.

Watson said: “I thought he got fouled from behind! That’s a difficult one in terms of whether it’s a penalty or not because does he kick the ball first before he gets fouled?

“But yes, it’s about trying to hit the target. In all fairness to him he was off balance a little bit, I suppose, when you’re going in at that speed.”

Chatham Town created another decent opportunity in the 20th minute.

Warford launched a big kick down the middle of the pitch and the ball was flicked on by McCann, which released Edwards in space down the left channel.  However, the striker cut inside and dragged his shot across the keeper and past the far post, disappointing Watson.

“You’ve got to hit the target there! It’s difficult because the angle’s quite narrow so he’s gone across goal. He’s done the right thing. Some of them go in don’t they? It’s just gone past the post but it was quite an acute angle.”

South Park central defender Jack Stafford launched his second long-throw into the Chatham Town penalty area and the ball came back out to Dylan Merchant, the former Whyteleafe defender playing the ball inside to winger James McElligott, who took a touch before blasting his right-footed drive high over the bar from 25-yards.

But Chatham Town were facing a mountain to climb when Warford made his second mistake of the game after 29 minutes.

South Park were awarded a free-kick down the right channel after Edwards was penalised for a clumsy tackle on Jackson.

Right-back Dean Lovegrove cut the ball back to central midfielder Nathan Ayling, who drilled a first time shot from 25-yards, which sailed through the keeper’s fingers before sailing into the roof of the net.
Watson admitted he was surprised to see the shot go in from that range.

“I don’t know if it’s restricted his (view). It’s a difficult one. I’ll speak to him about it. I’ll speak to Barry Bell about it, the goalkeeper coach and we’ll obviously assess that. It’s always difficult from where you’re standing, you almost need to see a replay of it.”

Chatham Town showed good character to try to find their way back into the game.

Kwabena Osei cut the ball back to Davis, who whipped in a first time cross into the South Park penalty area but the ball skimmed off Dalhouse’s head and sailed past the far post.

Lewis Knight was keen to play the ball out of Chatham Town’s defence and he picked up a loose ball before dancing forward with the ball on a 30-yard run before unleashing a right-footed drive which bounced off the pitch and flashed past the post from 35-yards.

The impressive McCann ran forward before cutting the ball back to Joe Bingham, who floated over a cross towards the far post which saw both of Chatham’s central defenders, Knight and Corey Holder rise, but neither could get the decisive touch to score at the far post.

Knight pumped a long ball out of Chatham’s defence to release McCann down the left wing and after cutting inside his right-footed drive drew a comfortable save from the visiting keeper.

Watson was full of praise for McCann’s first half performance.

He said: “I think he was one of the players in the first half that was having a good impact and when it’s flat at times trying to liven things up.

“He actually had a very good game on Saturday for very different reasons in terms of the defensive jobs he was doing.”

South Park were clinical in front of goal and resilient in defence and went in at the break with their two-goal advantage intact.

Watson added: “We just spoke about how we could be more affective in possession and yes there were some choice words used with regards to the physicality and I think it showed second half. We did match them. If not we was on top in terms of physicality, we probably had 60% possession second half I’d say and created a couple of chances.”

Chatham Town relied on set-pieces early in the second half to worry Wastell in the South Park goal, the first attempt coming after 52 seconds.

Bingham whipped in a right-footed free-kick from 25-yards from the left-hand side which bounced once in front of the keeper, who made a comfortable save.

South Park were off-target when driven shots from Jackson and McElligott were blocked by Chatham defenders and Jackson lashed his right-footed volley over the bar from 25-yards.

But Chatham Town deservedly pulled a goal back in the 56th minute after Stafford’s poor back header intended for his keeper, bounced behind for a Chatham Town corner.

McCann whipped in their fourth corner from the right and Dalhouse made space for himself to glance his header across goal, sailing into the top far corner from eight-yards.

Watson was delighted that his summer signing has got off the mark on his home debut.

He said: “It was pleasing because that was off the training ground for want of a better term so there was some good movement that led up to that, which was pleasing and pleasing for him to get off the mark as well because he wants to score goals and that’s what he’s about. It was a good ball in though.”

South Park skipper Lavery drilled in a 35-yard free-kick from the right, which deflected past the far post.

Karl Parker then played the ball in but Jackson’s shot looped into Warford’s hands for a routine catch.

Chatham Town forced Wastell into action in the 66th minute as left-back Lawrence Collins’ stung the keeper’s fingertips with a difficult curling 30-yard right-footed free-kick from the left.

But Chatham Town squandered their best chance of the night to claim a deserved point with nineteen minutes remaining.

Bingham played a sublime through ball which split open Jamie Hatfield and Stafford to put Dalhouse through on goal with only Wastell to beat. 

The highly-rated keeper dived to his right and made a great save and then used his right-knee to deny substitute George Humber slotting in the rebound.

“Andrew Dalhouse had a good chance, one-on-one again. It’s one of them. You could say he could have dinked the goalkeeper. We were just discussing it in there but by the text book he’s done the right thing! He’s tried to go across the goalkeeper and sometimes you have to think it’s a decent save and George Humber was following it in.”

Lavery whipped in a curling free-kick from 35-yards from the right hand side but this time Warford opted to punch the ball clear.

Watson switched to a 4-3-3 formation and threw the kitchen sink but resilient South Park showed no signs of folding.

He said: “Not as much as I would have liked! I would have liked to have been more direct with 10 minutes as supposed to playing for about the last four minutes but that’s a learning curve as a squad. We’ve spoken about these situations, if we get in them again and how players are expected to play.”

Bingham pinged a sublime 50-yard diagonal pass which found McCann down the left and the winger raced forward, cut into the box but his shot was weak and rolled into Wastell’s hands for a comfortable save.

South Park almost added insult to injury when they almost grabbed a third goal as the game edged towards its conclusion.

A long ball out of defence put substitute striker Kofi Quartey through on goal.  He played the ball inside to Lavery, who looked certain to score, but Warford made amends for his earlier mistakes, by diving to his right to make a fine save.

Watson said: “We’ve taken Richard Davis off and changed the formation slightly. We’re chasing the game and he’s on a yellow and done a tackle after that. We were certainly throwing things at it and sometimes it does leave yourselves open.

“It didn’t feel like it was a great concern but we still tried to pass the ball and on reflection on the game we won convincingly on Saturday, when it was probably close than the scoreline suggested. We’ve lost today and on reflection it probably doesn’t reflect the performance and the balance of passion and overall chances but that’s football.

“Ultimately that’s a good result for them, it’s not a great result for us and we’ve got a tough game on Saturday against Hastings and we need to re-focus.”

Big-spending Hastings United sit proudly at the top of the table after beating Chipstead (6-0) and Sittingbourne (3-1).

Watson said: “It’s important the boys stay quite buoyant, they were quite buoyant after the win Saturday and they’ve created that atmosphere in the changing room and they can be disruptive of that atmosphere if they let that breed negativity so we have to stay positive going into that game.

“It’s a home game, hopefully they’ll bring a few down and it should be quite a good game – it’s a game that people want to play in.”

Chatham Town: Dean Warford, Richard Davis (Jack Jeffrey 76), Lawrence Collins, Joe Bingham, Lewis Knight, Corey Holder, Charles Ofusu-Hene (Saio Blackwood 64), Kwabena Osei, Austin Edwards (George Humber 50), Andrew Dalhouse, Kieron McCann.
Subs: Jack Sullivan, Joe Loft

Goal: Andrew Dalhouse 56

Booked: Richard Davis 69, Kwabena Osei 81

South Park: James Wastell, Dean Lovegrove, Jamie Hatfield, Jack Stafford, Dylan Merchant, Asa Rixon-Nicholls, Karl Parker (Jack Watts 78), Nathan Ayling, Joe Jackson (Kofi Quartey 70), Kieran Lavery, James McElligott (Jack Macleod 70).
Sub: George Murphy

Goals: Joe Jackson 8, Nathan Ayling 29

Attendance: 135
Referee:  Mr Stephen Brown (Ashford)
Assistants: Mr Leigh Judd (Tunbridge Wells) & Mr Theo Parfitt (Heathfield, East Sussex)


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