Erith & Belvedere 1-8 Chatham Town - I'd love to take the job but even I know that I'm not at that standard yet where a club like this needs a manager to be, admits Erith & Belvedere interim boss Stuart Webb

Tuesday 25th February 2020
Erith & Belvedere 1 – 8 Chatham Town
Location Park View Road, Welling, Kent DA16 1SY
Kickoff 25/02/2020 19:45

Sea Pioneer Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Tuesday 25 February 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Park View Road

ERITH & BELVEDERE interim manager Stuart Webb says he doesn't fear the sack after his ten-men were humiliated by promotion-chasing Chatham Town.

A budget cut forced the departure of manager Owen Jones and his squad on Sunday 26 January 2020 and since then Erith & Belvedere have put in some miserable performances since Webb has taken over at Park View Road.

They have been thrashed by Lordswood (0-4); K Sports (0-7) and Welling Town (2-7) and tonight was the first time in the clubs 98-year history that they have leaked eight goals in a home game.

It was evident during the warm-up that this was going to be a depressing night for the home faithful and it took only seven minutes for the floodgates to open when the outstanding Jack Evans scored for Chatham Town.

Ryan Palmer drilled in a second before Erith & Belvedere lost Edward Maynard – one of three centre-halves – to a red-card in the 17th minute after referee Jordan Whitworth deemed Maynard had used his left shoulder to make a goal-line clearance from one of 16 Chatham Town corner-kicks.

Evans tucked home the resulting penalty, before Palmer added a fourth goal on the half-hour mark.

Matt Bodkin slotted in Chatham Town’s fifth goal just six minutes into the second half before Evans slid in the sixth goal on the hour-mark to score his hat-trick and to take his goalscoring tally for the season to an impressive 21 from central midfield.

Erith & Belvedere striker Victor Ayelabola bundled in a consolation goal after earlier being sin-binned, before winger Palmer, 28, drilled in a couple of thunderbolts to score four goals in a game for the first time in his senior career.

Chatham Town were held to a goal-less draw at home to Welling Town at the weekend but responded in ruthless fashion here tonight.

“Pleased first and foremost, we wanted to win the game, which we did,” said Chatham Town manager Scott Lindsey.

“Secondly, we wanted to have a good performance, which I thought we kind of showed a real professional attitude towards the game all in all and I’m really pleased.

“We played a game on Saturday where we had a lot of the ball, I don’t know what the possession stats were but I would suggest it would be up near 65-70% possession and we created quite a few chances as well but we didn’t score one goal, so the message tonight from me in the dressing room was I wanted to pep their goal a little bit and I wanted to make sure we scored early.

“I wanted to make sure that we wanted to get some goals tonight, that was the biggest importance for me and of course we did that.”

Erith & Belvedere were under the cosh when it was 11-v-11 but Webb wasn’t pleased with the decision to have a man sent off so early in the game.

He said: “It was a hard game to start off with. We knew we was going to be under it and the referee making the decision to send off our defender within the first 17 minutes was atrocious! It didn’t even hit his hand and that put us under a lot more pressure and then it was one thing after the other.

“From where we were sitting, it was wrong decision after wrong decision. I don’t want to make excuses when the excuses are there. There’s nothing else you can do.  The circumstances that led to their third goal, the referee gave a corner when it wasn’t even a corner and they scored!

“At half-time we went in at 4-0 down and we said to them specifically cut out Ryan Palmer and cut out Jack Evans and just see what we can do.

“I thought second half we was starting to lose our heads with a Sin Bin for Victor Ayelabola.

“I think all in all it’s just a very bad day at the office and we’ve got another hard game on Tuesday when we’re away at Corinthian.”

Erith & Belvedere featured with a three-man central defence in the shape of Raphael Kalu (left); Steven Springett (central) and Maynard (right), and Harry Towner sitting in front of them, however, Chatham Town’s attacking players, notably Bodkin, easily slid past them like a knife through butter on too many occasions.

Erith & Belvedere failed to cotton on to the fact that Chatham Town played short-corners during the first half and failed to pick up the outstanding Bodkin and the 36-year-old struck the crossbar after only 186 seconds.

Evans rolled their second corner along the by-line into Bodkin, who spun his marker and instead of cutting towards the near post he ran back towards the edge of the penalty area before cutting the ball onto his right-boot and cracking a shot over a crowd of players and against the crossbar from 15-yards.

“It’s a move we work on with certain corners in certain halves. We do a different corner in the second half and a different corner in the first half so it was a move we kind of worked on so to see it crash against the bar, it was a little bit disappointing that it didn’t go under the bar,” said Lindsey.

Chatham Town opened the floodgates with only six minutes and 9 seconds on the clock, following their third corner of the night.

Once again, Evans played a corner short to Bodkin, who played the ball back to Evans, who cut inside and powered a right-footed drive towards the near corner from 20-yards, the ball smashing against Springett, who was positioned inside the six-yard box at the near post, and nestling into the corner of the net.

“I don’t know what you want me to say? What minute was it? We wanted to score early. We played 90 minutes on Saturday and we couldn’t score and the longer the game went on at 0-0 the more frustrating we kind of got, so it was important we got an early goal so we were pleased to see that go in,” said Lindsey.

Webb added: “To be under pressure that quickly, it’s an uphill challenge, it’s a constant uphill challenge and I don’t think we dealt with it right in some parts.

“The players are saying in the changing room, ‘we’ve done all we can do,’ but I think there was a little bit more that we could’ve done, not leaving your man at set-pieces.”

Dominant Chatham Town easily doubled their lead with only 10 minutes and 17 seconds on the clock.

Evans played a raking diagonal from midfield out to Palmer on the left wing and he cut inside before drilling a right-footed shot into the bottom left-hand corner from 25-yards, aided by a slight deflection off Erith & Belvedere right-back Dominic Edwards.

Lindsey said: “Ryan Palmer’s been good coming off the shape. I don’t want Palmer to just be a winger or a wing-back who creates goals for others. We want him to be a goalscoring threat himself, so we have tried to work on getting him in off the shape and not just be a winger who proves for others but also be a goalscoring threat himself.”

Webb added: “Two-nil so early, it’s left us with a mountain but we find ourselves in this quite a lot since I’ve been in charge.  I think it takes us a while to get into the game and once we get into the game we let another goal in and heads go down, so it’s a constant re-start.”

Naïve Erith & Belvedere were guilty of gifting Chatham Town another chance from their fifth corner of the night with only 13 minutes gone.

Evans once again played a short corner to Bodkin before Evans played the ball inside to right-wing-back Jon Pilbeam, who hit a first time right-footed drive sailing over the crossbar from 16-yards.

Erith & Belvedere were clearly out of the depth and Chatham Town claimed the victory as early as 17:01 on the clock with their third goal.

Bodkin’s overhead kick was destined for the right-hand corner, only for Maynard to get in the way of the shot and he was adamant that the ball hit him high up on his chest but referee Jordan Whitworth awarded a penalty and brandished a straight red-card as he was on the goal-line at the time.

Evans sent goalkeeper George Stevens the wrong way with a drilled right-footed penalty and Chatham Town were three goals in front.

Webb said: “My thoughts are it wasn’t a penalty! It wasn’t even handball! From where we were it’s hit him in the chest. He’s even got a mark on his chest and he’s not going to make a mistake from the penalty spot.”

Lindsey added: “It’s handball! It’s a red card. That’s the rules, isn’t it? I don’t have much more to say than that. It’s the rules, it’s the rules,” said Lindsey, forgetting that there are no rules in football but Laws.

“I was quite confident to see Jack step up. He doesn’t usually miss so it was a good finish.”

Erith & Belvedere created an opening just 100 seconds later when Ronald Kemokai produced some tricky wing-play down the right to put the ball in and Ayelabola’s shot screamed across two of his team-mates and past the far post.

Pilbeam easily cut into the Erith & Belvedere box before teeing up Evans, who drilled a first-time left-footed shot screaming just over the crossbar as the home side’s midfield was non-existent.

Chatham Town centre-half Fikayo Ajayi played a raking ball over the top to put striker Rob Denness through on goal but keeper Stevens came off his line and narrowed the angle and made the save with his legs.

Chatham Town raced into a four-goal lead with 29 minutes and 40 seconds on the clock.

Evans chipped a corner in from the left and an unmarked Palmer cut in before drilling a stunning right-footed drive into the top far corner of the net from 22-yards with goalkeeper Stevens rooted to the spot.

Lindsey added: “We want our wide players to chip in with the goals so it was pleasing.”

Webb admitted: “It isn’t really good enough and I said that at half-time, right now it’s not good enough and I said that at full-time as well but I think it’s a case now of keeping the spirts high, getting the heads up and try to go again.”

This game was too easy for Chatham Town. Erith & Belvedere were clearly not at the standard that is required for the Sea Pioneer Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division and on this showing they are heading straight back down to the First Division.

Bodkin was left in aces of space just over the halfway line and he split open Kalu and Springett to put Denness through on goal but Stevens rushed off his line and smothered the ball at the strikers feet inside the penalty area.

“It’s kind of frustrating for Rob because he linked the play really well,” said Lindsey.

“He kind of did his job for what he’s put in the team to do. People will suggest he’s a centre-forward so he should be on the scoresheet but it’s kind of not the case. Sometimes you’re that good at linking the play and others are scoring, it doesn’t really matter.”

Space opened up in front of Evans, again, to stroke his right-footed drive from 30-yards, which brought a comfortable save out of Stevens, smothering the ball low to his right.

Erith & Belvedere created a shot on target inside the final couple of minutes in the first half when Edwards played the ball in from the right and striker George Acland swept a left-footed shot on the turn from 22-yards, which was comfortably saved by Ryan Nicholls down on his knees.

Erith & Belvedere winger Mattheaus Velasquez got away with clipping Denness’ heels inside the box but the striker stayed on his feet and his shot was blocked by the keeper’s legs as the angled shortened.

Both manager’s were asked their thoughts at the interval.

Webb said: “My assistant Simon Smith said a lot, he was saying we have to pick up on Jack Evans and Ryan Palmer because these two seem to be running the show and just get the ball into midfield, get it on the floor and just be positive and I feel we done that in stages. It wasn’t a 10 minute period or a 15 minute period, it was like dribs and drabs here and there.”

Lindsey added: “To be kind of professional with the way that we played in the second half. I wanted to go out in the second half and be really professional, don’t become complacent, don’t become cocky, don’t start doing things that we don’t do. That was the message and of course it’s still kind of playing in the manner that we play but we still trying to score as many goals as we can.

“If we can win by a big scoreline, then we win by a big scoreline, let’s do it because we don’t know, by the end of the season it might be a goal-difference that decides if we go up or not, so it’s important we got as many goals as we could.”

Chatham Town continued their ruthless streak during the second half, scoring their fifth goal with five minutes and 58 seconds on the clock, with Erith & Belvedere down to nine men at the time.

They produced a slick move which finished with Denness’ back-heal playing Bodkin through on goal and he deserved his goal for his impressive performance, slotting his right-footed shot past the exposed Stevens.

“I’m not somebody that will get 4-0 up and just want my team to keep the ball. I want to keep trying to knock on the door and score as many as we can and that’s not me being disrespectful to them but if we can win a game by a big margin, let’s do it, why not,” said Lindsey.

“Six minutes into the second half and we’re showing that ruthless edge, so I was pleased.”

Webb added: “Nine men against a team like Chatham is like, it’s just hard all over. I feel sorry for our goalkeeper. We’ve had a couple of games where the goalkeeper has made stupid decisions and cost us goals. We changed goalkeeper tonight and in my opinion the goals weren’t really his fault.”

Denness wasn’t having much luck in front of goal and he wasted two more chances before he was substituted for Paul Vines in the 57th minute.

Firstly, Evans swung in his side’s 10th corner of the game, towards the near post and the ball skimmed off Denness’ head and sailed just over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box.

Denness then refused to pass to a couple of team-mates in better goalscoring positions and went for goal himself after driving through a poor Erith & Belvedere midfield, this time Stevens made a comfortable save.

Evans tried to score with a chip from the corner of the penalty area, aiming for the top far corner, only for the ball to only just clear the crossbar.

Chatham Town scored their sixth goal of the night with 14 minutes and 51 seconds on the clock in what can be described as one of their most easiest and uncompetitive games in their entire history.

Evans played a clever pass along the deck along the 18-yard line for Bodkin to run in behind a poor Edwards, cutting the ball back to Evans, who picked his spot, a first time shot into the bottom far corner from eight-yards.

“Good to see Jack get a hat-trick. Jack’s been chipping in with the goals this season, it’s important we keep that going,” added Lindsey.

Webb added: “It’s just like every move that they had they’ve got something from it.  There were times my right-back Dominic Edwards wasn’t tracking back as much or as well as I wanted him to. Playing Chatham Town with nine men was really hard.”

Erith & Belvedere pulled a goal back with 20 minutes and 42 seconds on the clock through Ayelabola’s second goal in two games. In fact he was the only player in the sixteen man squad that has scored for Erith & Belvedere this season.

Left-back Joe Bolton threw the ball short to a team-mate before whipping in a deep cross from within the left-channel towards holding midfielder Towner, who was in the right-channel and he whipped the ball into the six-yard box and Ayelabola bundled the ball over the line while under pressure from a yard out.

“His performance from where we were, I don’t know, it’s hard. He’s a bright player, he’s a very vocal player as well,” said Webb.

“I think he lost his head when the foul that led to his Sin Bin. He said he got an elbow in the face. I didn’t see any contact, I just saw him on the floor.  He’s a very explosive person/player so we have to use that in the right way but it’s really hard right now.”

There was to be no fight-back from the home side as Chatham Town rattled in their seventh goal of the night with 25 minutes and 6 seconds on the clock.

Holding midfielder Reece Butler pinged a subline 60-yard diagonal pass out to Palmer on the left, who cut into the box and on the angle, he powerfully smashed his right-footed screamer into the top far corner from 16-yards.

Lindsey said: “We want our wide players to chip in with goals. We don’t want them just be providers, we want them to be goalscoring players as well and Palms was certainly that tonight.”

Webb was starting to do some soul searching at this point of the game.

“Seven-one, what was going through my mind? I don’t know where we can go from here? We’re trying to bring in players who are experienced and compliment the young lads we’ve got here but it’s really hard right now.”

Erith & Belvedere’s attacking players Acland (and substitutes) Connor Linham, Robert Osborne and Joe Smith, showed some good touches in the Chatham half during this part of the game, with Osborne driving his right-footed angled drive across the keeper and past the far post from 25-yards.

Stevens was penalised for kicking the ball from his hands whilst stepping a yard outside his penalty area and Bodkin’s resulting right-footed free-kick sailed over the crossbar.

Chatham Town scored their eighth goal of the night with 39 minutes and 18 seconds on the clock.

Centre-half Ajayi put a cross into the Erith & Belvedere box and Vines left-footed drive from 20-yards was destined for the top left-hand corner, only for Stevens to dive high to his right to claw the ball down to Palmer, who drove his right-footed shot across the keeper to find the bottom far corner.

“Sealed it really, good, pleased, just pleased that kind of player are chipping in with goals, not just relying on one main striker, we’ve got players that can all score,” added Lindsey.

Webb added: “The eighth one, I think George could’ve done better with that! I think the shot has gone straight at him and his reacted to it but I felt he should’ve held onto it and Ryan Palmer wasn’t going to miss from there, from when the ball fell.”

Chatham Town won the corner count by 16-1 and from their final flag-kick, Butler played the ball short to Bodkin, who crossed towards the far post where striker Vines knocked the ball down for Pilbeam to hit his right-footed volley screaming just over the crossbar from 16-yards.

Palmer easily reached the by-line and cut the ball back.  Substitute striker Moses Abioye completely missed the ball, kicking thin air as the ball rolled through his legs to Bodkin, who swept his shot across the keeper and past the far post from 12-yards.

Beckenham Town leapfrogged over Corinthian to regain their place at the summit after coming away from Deal Town with a 2-0 win tonight, while Sheppey United beat Canterbury City 4-3 at Holm Park.

Beckenham Town are back on top with 51 points; Corinthian are back to second-place with 49 points with a game in hand; Sheppey United are third on 48 points; Chatham Town are fourth on 47 points; while Tunbridge Wells are next on 43 points but with three games in hand.

Erith & Belvedere are without a game on Saturday before they travel to Corinthian on Tuesday 3 March, while Chatham Town welcome Tunbridge Wells on Saturday.

Crowborough Athletic are at the foot of the table with 19 points from 26 games; Erith & Belvedere remain second-from-bottom with 19 points from 25 games; while Punjab United are looking over their shoulders with 23 points from their 24 league outings.

“Tunbridge Wells are in and around where we are so it’s going to be a tough game,” said Lindsey.

“It’s the most important game because it’s the next game. We’ll be in on Thursday night and we’ll be looking at things and putting a training session together which will get us organised for that and we’ll be ready.”

When asked about the five-horse title race, Lindsey replied: “Certainly open is how I see it, it’s completely open! There’s a long, long way to go and a lot of football to be played. There’s 12 games left, a lot of football to be played, a lot of twists and turns.  There will be teams that drop points unexpectedly so we have to make sure that we kind of concentrate on ourselves and not worry about anybody else.”

Erith & Belvedere have now extended their winless run to seven games and being thrashed in your first four games, with former Deres players Paul Springett and James Lyons coming in as new directors’ recently, isn’t the way to impress the new owners.

“I’m just trying my best.  I mean I’m still learning. I’ve come from a youth team background and I was helping out Owen Jones throughout the season. He’s obviously left and all the players have left and I’ve been left with what’s left. This is my fourth game and I think I’ve had three different teams out because the defeats are heavy and people are like ‘I don’t want to play anymore,” explained Webb.

“It’s kind of hard to get the right balance between players that are up for it and players who want to be here for one game and that’s it!

“All I can do is apologise for the performances from my players.  I’m my own worst critic and even I know I’m not doing a good enough job right now but I will ask the fans to just stick with us because we are going through a really hard time and with a bit of support I’m confident that we can pull through it.

“I just want the supporters’ to know we are trying our best and we are going through a big transitional phase right now but it will be better.

“Whether it’s me in charge or whether it will be somebody else, it will change and it will change for the good.

“Everything’s upside down right now. I don’t know whether if I’m here for the next game or the game after.  I mean the feeling that I’m getting I’ll stuck it out until the end of the season but that’s not 100% with results going the way they are going, it’s hard.

“I’ve got nothing to fear, they stated when I first took over that I’m under no pressure.  I’ve just got to keep getting teams out and try our best. Personally I’m under no fear of losing the job. I’d love to take it but even I know that I’m not at that standard yet where a club like this needs a manager to be.

“It’s being a bit like thrown into the lions den so we’ve got to get on with it and take each game as it comes and get on with it.”

And on the battle to avoid finishing in the one relegation berth, Webb added: “It’s going to be a real tight one. Unfortunately we haven’t got a chance to play Crowborough again, I think we’ve played them twice already, so there’s nothing we can do about that.

“We’ve just got to try to win our games and hopefully they slip up again. I’ll be happy finishing just one point above Crowborough and finish with them going down.”

Erith & Belvedere: George Stevens, Dominic Edwards, Joe Bolton, Steven Springett, Raphael Kalu, Edward Maynard, Ronald Kemokai (Connor Linham 61), Harry Towner, Victor Ayelebola (Robert Osborne 73), George Acland, Mattheaus Velasquez (Joe Smith 61).
Subs: James Ryan, Best Toke

Goal: Victor Ayelabola 66

Temporary Dismissal: Victor Ayelabola 48

Sent Off:  Edward Maynard 17

Chatham Town: Ryan Nicholls, Jon Pilbeam, George Sheminant, Reece Butler, Charlie Dickens (Pat Geddis 71), Fikayo Ajayi, Ryan Palmer, Mikey Dalton, Rob Denness (Paul Vines 57), Jack Evans (Moses Abioye 65), Matt Bodkin.
Subs: Harvey Brown, Ikechukwa Orji

Goals: Jack Evans 7, 18 (penalty), 60, Ryan Palmer 11, 30, 71, 85, Matt Bodkin 51

Attendance: 72
Referee: Mr Jordan Whitworth
Assistants: Mr Mark Joy & Mr Joshua Marshall