FC Elmstead 0-2 Forest Hill Park - Hopefully we can kick on from where we ended last season and get back to that point, says Forest Hill Park boss Darrell Queeley

Wednesday 30th September 2020
FC Elmstead 0 – 2 Forest Hill Park
Location Lower Road, Hextable, Kent BR8 7RZ
Kickoff 30/09/2020 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Wednesday 30 September 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Lower Road

FOREST HILL Park manager Darrell Queeley says he wants his side to do better than last season after claiming their first points of their new Southern Counties East Football League First Division campaign.

Two first-half goals from wide-attacker Mason Saunders-Henry, 20, sealed the victory over FC Elmstead in front of a sparse crowd on a rain-lashed night in Hextable.

Ennio Gonnella’s side remain in eighth-place in the table with four points from as many games while Forest Hill Park climbed up to thirteenth-place with three points from three league outings thanks to Saunders-Henry’s brace.

“Happy with the boys today, happy. We’ve played a really good Elmstead side. We know they’ll be there or there abouts come the end of the season.  They’ve got lots of experienced players, the manager (Ennio Gonnella) knows what he’s doing, a good club,” said Queeley.

“I believe that our squad went toe-to-toe with them today. First half, I thought we were really good. Second half, they threw everything at us but we weathered the storm and did quite well.

“It’s a huge boost. As you saw we’ve got a young side, near enough every player is 20 years-old so young men can lose confidence, so we’ve done well.

“We weren’t very good against Rochester but Snodland I thought we did well and away to Lingfield I thought we did well so we were very unfortunate to come away with nothing from those two games, so it’s really good for the boys that they’ve bounced back.  They didn’t have their heads down and they put in a great performance today.”

FC Elmstead’s joint-assistant manager Rupert Jones admitted: “I feel that we weren’t at our best.  Credit to Forest Hill, they worked hard and denied us space all over the pitch and they did that for most of the game. I felt we were feeling sorry for ourselves and we should have done a lot better than what we did today. It was a bad day at the office for us.

“I felt if we had showed a little bit more composure around the box, we could’ve taken our chances and got in the game.”

FC Elmstead were profligate in front of goal despite having Aaron Dalhouse (striker) and Dean Lodge, 34, (right-winger) in their ranks.

Elmstead left-back Aziz Sankoor played the ball into Dalhouse, who cut onto his right-boot before cracking a 25-yarder, which was tipped onto the crossbar and behind by visiting keeper Matthew Bailey with nine minutes and 25 seconds gone.

Jones said: “That was a chance. If we had taken that, that would’ve set us up nicely and probably given us more belief going into the game.”

Queeley said: “A great save! A great turn. You can’t keep good players quiet for 90 minutes. There’s going to be moments where we’re going to rely on having a little bit of luck or a good goalkeeper. Luckily, we had both. A great save but that’s what he’s there for, a very good keeper.”

Forest Hill Park were clinical in front of goal on the night and grabbed the lead against the run of play with 11 minutes and 47 seconds on the clock.


They produced a sweeping move down the right as full-back Barciro Bario fed the ball into Saunders-Henry, who played the ball into Olugbenga Jubrill, who released Saunders-Henry in behind Sankoor and once inside the box he drilled his right-footed drive across the diving keeper to find the bottom far corner from 15-yards.

Queeley said: “Good goal. We’ve got a lot of energy so if there’s spaces they’re going to try to make runs into it so a great finish. A great finish from the boy. A great pass and move. I’m pleased for the boys.”

Jones added: “They worked it well but I felt we didn’t deal with the situation quick enough in dealing with it.

“I feel Forest Hill’s position is false for how they were playing and full credit to them. They played quite well today but we needed to be a lot better than we was.  We wasn’t on it today, I’m afraid.”

Nothing was going right for FC Elmstead in front of goal and they should have equalised following their second of seven corners.

Antonio Gonnella swung the ball in from the left, Forest Hill Park failed to clear their lines and Lodge drilled a low and hard cross through a crowd of players towards left-winger Jerome Walker at the far post but the ball bounced off him and trickled past the foot of the upright from a couple of yards out.

Jones said: “Again a chance we should have took and we didn’t take it. That summed up the day for us, playing against a side that when we got it we felt confident we could do the job but they worked harder than we did, simple as that.”

Queeley said: “Honestly, as I said, you can’t make the opposition rubbish. You can do your best, you can limit them.  They’re going to have opportunities over 90 minutes. What you can do is make sure you have a body in the way so they don’t have any time to pick a spot.

“I felt like every single chance they had there was somebody there diving on the floor and there’s somebody there and they could hear footsteps so none of their chances were like ‘you should have scored!’

“It was an opening but I feel my boys did enough to get across and make them panic to put it wide.”

Dominant FC Elmstead kept knocking on the door and Walker missed a glorious chance when he got in behind Bario after latching onto Matthew Faithorn’s long ball but once he got in towards the corner of the six-yard box the angle grew even more tighter and he lacked composure by smashing his shot over the top of the near post with only the keeper to beat.

FC Elmstead went even closer following another corner in the 35th minute.

Gonnella swung the ball in from the left and the towering centre-half Jordan Anderson glanced his header across the face of goal and past the far post from inside the six-yard box.

“That summed us up. We’ve been like that all season, creating chances but we weren’t taking them I’m afraid,” added Jones.

Forest Hill Park claimed the victory with an exquisite finish worthy of a higher level of football with 41 minutes and 18 seconds on the clock.

Luke Markey and Saunders-Henry were on the same wavelength during the entire game, often playing short set-pieces to each other and they linked up for the second goal.

Markey played a sublime through ball along the lush turf at Lower Road which cut open Anderson to put Saunders-Henry through on goal down the heart of the pitch and dinked his right-footed shot from 25-yards over the outstretched arms of Foley, the ball dropping into an empty net.

Queeley said: “Cheeky, cheeky, cheeky! The funny thing is we went to Lingfield (FA Vase, lost 3-2) and he had the same opportunity and he done the same thing and the keeper caught it so he’s convinced next time he’s not going to change. He’s going to do better and I said ‘I’ll kill you!’ and he’s done it!

“He’s a cheeky lad, a good player, a great goal, a great goal, one for the fans!”

Jones said: “To be fair to the lad he took the goal very well but once again we were sloppy defending all over the park. The defending starts from up front, the midfield and to the back.

“We just didn’t shut down the spaces to deny them.  Those situations came about by us not being tight enough all over the pitch.”

It should have been three for the visitors but former Glebe keeper caught the ball at his near post.

Markey slipped a free-kick in behind to put Saunders-Henry in to the by-line, who floated a deep cross towards the far post for an unmarked Bario to guide his header straight into the grateful gloves of the keeper from four-yards.

Queeley said: “A great move. The boys love playing with each other. A lot of them have known each other for a long time so they love passing to each other and they love working hard for each other so that’s kind of an advantage or a benefit to have in them. I thought we should be scoring that. It should be 3-0.”

Jones added: “They created some chances but we wasn’t at the races today. Fair play to them, they worked hard and they deserved it.”

Both Jones and Queeley were asked their thoughts at the break.

Jones said: “We just said I felt we were feeling sorry for ourselves a bit and we needed to protect the ball better and get up the pitch a lot quicker and put them under pressure more.”

Queeley added: “Continue doing what you’re doing, don’t change. Do what you’re doing and do it better and if it comes to a point when we’re under a lot of pressure, enjoy it! Enjoy defending and that was it really.”

Anderson found some space inside the Forest Hill Park penalty area inside the opening six minutes of the second half, hooking Sankoor’s deep free-kick past the near post from a tight angle.

Forest Hill Park striker Reece Caine should have found the bottom far corner with an angled drive in the 59th minute, which would have killed off the home side.

A sweeping move involved Saunders-Henry, Caine and Markey, who played Caine in behind, who swept his right-footed angled drive across the keeper and watched the ball flash just past the foot of the far post from 15-yards.

“I’ve just had a word to him about that.  You could see he was poised, he took a great touch and hit it where he wanted to hit it so I thought it was definitely going in,” said Queeley, who was told by the player that he didn’t look up and just guessed where he thought the bottom far corner of the net was.

You had this feeling that FC Elmstead would have not scored if they kept the lights on all night and carried on playing until sun rise.

They produced a slick move in and around the penalty area which saw Kieron Burrell fed Lodge, who used his right-boot to chip the ball towards the roof of the net, which forced Bailey to push over the crossbar with his outstretched right hand with 22 minutes remaining.

“That was probably our best build-up play in the 90 minutes. We was positive, direct and we opened them up quite easily but in the end it was too late and that’s what sums up our performance,” admitted a clearly bitterly disappointed Jones.

Reflecting on the chance for the former Bromley, Dulwich Hamlet and Kingstonian winger, Queeley admitted: “You can’t stop good players. I can’t make them rubbish.  We just have to keep working. He was a threat for the whole game. I thought we did just enough to limit them, that’s what Matt’s there for.”

Jubrill cut along the right touch-line and cut into the FC Elmstead box and after beating the last defender he stabbed his shot straight at Foley, who came off his line to narrow the angle.

Forest Hill Park’s defenders put their bodies on the line in a bid to maintain their first clean sheet of the season.

The home side brought on big targetman Paul Lee alongside fellow striker Kyle Beckford during the final 20 minutes and they offered more of an attacking threat than the often isolated Dalhouse, now substituted.

Lodge released Beckford hurtling down the right channel and his drilled low cross was beaten away by Bailey, scooping the ball away while diving to his right and Lee took a touch before drilling a shot towards the bottom near corner, which was superbly blocked by brave centre-half Cameron Lovatt at the near post.

“Again, there were bodies in the way, just working hard. I’ve got an honest team and as long as they keep throwing their bodies in the way and nobody’s getting a clear chance on goal, I’m happy,” said Queeley.

“If it flies in, it flies in but I need to see somebody covered in mud, somebody on the ground at that time or I’ll be fuming!”

Bario ventured forward and unleashed a left-footed drive from 25-yards, which was easily gobbled up by the FC Elmstead keeper, while more resolute defending at the other end ensured Bailey kept his clean sheet.

Substitute Ryan Penton whipped in a cross from the right and Lee’s near-post flick took a deflection off centre-half Adrian Brown and trickled past the foot of the near post and behind for a corner.

“We had a go, obviously we had a go but it’s too late. It sums up the night for us really. We didn’t work hard as we should do. If you don’t put it in, you’re not going to get nothing out of it,” admitted Jones, who was then asked what was missing from his team tonight.

“Belief! Total belief in doing well as a team. The belief wasn’t there and going forward they just need to have more belief and more togetherness out there and just really have a good go at it.

“It had nothing to do with the weather. It was all about going out there and apply yourself to the challenge and having a good go and I’m afraid today wasn’t a good day for us.”

Both sides are without a game this weekend but FC Elmstead welcome Rusthall to Lower Road on Saturday 10 October, while Queeley takes his side to Greenways on the same day.

“Greenways are a good side, a good footballing side. They can mix it up. It’s going to be a very tough game for us.  We’ll go out there the same way as we did today trying to get the three points and as long as my boys do the best they can, Ill be happy with what we get at the end.

“I want us to do better than last year, improve in every aspect from last year. We go out to try to win every game, that’s an unrealistic target. We go to training on Thursday and we plan to win on the Saturday and we’ll do our best and what that brings us after the final whistle is what it brings us.

“It is tough, we’ve lost a few goals this season so it’s really hard to replace such good players. Luckily, I’ve been able to find some players who can fill the gaps and develop them and try to get the same outcome for those players as I did for the ones we had last season.

"Hopefully we can kick on again from where we ended last season, so we're just trying to get back to that point where we was at the Rusthall game in March and kick-on from there."

On the Cockerels clash with Rusthall, Jones said: “That’s going to be a big game, looking forward to it. That gives us enough time on the training pitch to sort out what we have to sort out and hopefully come match day against Rusthall we’ll definitely be able to give a lot better account of what we did today.”

Now with back-to-back defeats to their name, Jones wants a positive reaction from his players against Jimmy Anderson’s side.

“The lads are probably feeling sorry for themselves a bit. It’s all about those games have gone now so we have to dust ourselves off and we’ve got to knuckle down and do the hard work and get back to winning ways.”

FC Elmstead: Mackenzie Foley, Jonathan Malone, Aziz Sankoor, Alimm Sesay (Ryan Penton 61), Jordan Anderson, Lindsey Prescott-Kerr, Jerome Walker, Kieron Burrell, Aaron Dalhouse (Paul Lee 71), Antonio Gonnella (Kyle Beckford 71), Dean Lodge.
Subs: Russell Carter-Thompson, Joe Hart

Booked: Alimm Sesay 54, Jordan Anderson 83

Forest Hill Park: Matthew Bailey, Barciro Bario, Matthew Faithorn, Flavio Jumo, Adrian Brown, Cameron Lovatt, Mason Saunders-Henry, Luke Markey (Martin Ivanov 78), Reece Caine (Tristan Toney 78), Alvin Turyatenba (George Fisher 87), Olugbenga Jubrill.
Subs: Jay Garrick, Harry Cripps

Goals: Mason Saunders-Henry 12, 42

Attendance: 31
Referee: Mr Tom Nicholls
Assistants: Mr Chris Clarke & Mr Adam Clayton