Erith Town 3-1 FC Elmstead - I’m standing down and Jack White and Harry Gibbons are ready to take the reins and I’m they’ll do well, says FC Elmstead’s Fabio Rossi

Thursday 15th October 2015
Erith Town 3 – 1 FC Elmstead
Location Badgers Sports Ground, Middle Park Avenue, Eltham, London SE9 5HT
Kickoff 16/10/2015 19:45

Kent Reliance Senior Trophy First Round
Friday 16th October 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Middle Park Avenue

FABIO ROSSI has stepped down as FC Elmstead’s temporary manager due to personal reasons tonight.


The club’s general manager revealed after the game that he has made the decision to put Jack White and Harry Gibbons in charge of the Kent Invicta League club after losing on the club’s Kent Reliance Senior Trophy debut.

Erith Town booked their place in the next round with an impressive 3-1 win over their lower league opponents, who have been managed by Danny Wakeling and Rossi already this season.

The Dockers, who went into the game sitting in second-place in the Southern Counties East Football League table with 22 points from 11 games, had to wait 44 minutes to make the breakthrough when striker James Pinnock beat the offside trap to slot home.

Ola Rabiu, who is on a dual-registration deal with Ryman League Division One North leaders Cray Wanderers, swiftly doubled their lead early in the second half, following a goalkeeper howler, before Erith Town killed the game off with a third goal when Pinnock rifled home his seventh goal of the season.

FC Elmstead, in the bottom four with 9 points from as many games, scored a late consolation when striker Louis Sprosen scored against his former club.

“A little bit disappointed. I thought we gave them a good game, especially in the first half, but mistakes change games unfortunately for us,” said Rossi after his club’s four match unbeaten run came to an end.

“A bit of a team throwing together and we gave a good account of ourselves. We was a bit unlucky I thought.”

Erith Town joint-manager Joe Ford was keen to avoid a repeat of losing to another Kent Invicta League opponent in a Cup tie after being knocked out of The FA Vase by Bridon Ropes.

He said: “We done a job tonight, got through to the next round of the cup.  That was obviously the main intention, yes, job done really.

“To be fair to them they had a couple of opportunities in the first half, where we switched off a little bit but after we were one up, I thought the game sort of went dead.  Half-time came and then the two goals after half-time it just killed the game dead to be totally honest with you but allowed us to get a couple of players on that haven’t been playing and the game sort of fizzled out at that point.”

The message was clear as The Dockers started the game on the front foot and were by far the better side.

The impressive Tom Youngs sprinted forward with the ball before playing the ball out to striker Pinnock, who dragged his right-footed shot across goal and past the far post after only 89 seconds.

That set the tone for Erith Town dominance and another run and shot from Young was hit straight at visiting keeper Dan Teeley.

Erith Town should have opened the scoring after 15 minutes when Dan Willis clipped a long ball out of defence to put Rabiu through on goal.  He latched onto a poor defensive mistake by Anthony Elms but once inside the box he drilled his shot into the top of the side netting when he only had the goalkeeper to beat.

Erith Town created another chance when Pinnock linked up well with holding midfielder Sam Gent, who swept the ball out wide to left-back Merrick Simms, who raced forward before whipping in a deep cross towards the far post where Rabiu cut inside and stroked his left-footed shot towards the bottom right-hand corner, forcing Teeley to make a low save to his left.

FC Elmstead’s opening chance of the first half arrived after 21 minutes, following their first of three corners.

Taser Hassan played a short corner to Christian Howell, before Hassan whipped in a deep cross which came out to George Savage, who clipped his left-footed shot over the crossbar from 25-yards.

Willis hit a long ball which released Rabiu down the right and he cut in once again before playing the ball back inside to Willis, who powered his right-footed drive just past the right-hand post from 25-yards.

Jack Lodge then cracked a speculative left-footed drive towards the roof of the net from 35-yards, which forced Teeley to pluck the ball out of the air from underneath his crossbar.

Good play from FC Elmstead’s right-back Marcus Howell saw him travel with the ball into the final third before slipping the ball into Savage’s path, who clipped his shot wide of the near post from 22-yards.

More impressive wing play from Youngs down he left saw the former Bolton Wanderers midfielder cut the ball inside to Pinnock, who swept the ball to Rabiu on the right and after beating his man outside the box, he cut inside and his shot bounced off Teeley’s chest at the near post.

Erith Town squandered an excellent chance to take the lead after 33 minutes.

Youngs floated over a corner from the left, which was headed on by their two central defenders Jai McKinley and Willis, who was denied a goal by Teeley’s strong left hand to the left of his body.  The ball dropped to Richard Morgan who blazed his shot high over the bar from two-yards out.

Ford said: “We missed a couple of sitters if I’m honest with you.  In the first half Ola’s gone through one-on-one and he’s hit it into the side netting and then Morgs has missed one from a couple of yards out that he’s hit over the bar.

“He made a great initial save. Morgs is normally sort of fine there.  It’s gone over and I just spoke to him and he said he took his eye off it.

“I know Dan Teeley from when I was young and he’s a half decent goalkeeper. As you saw tonight he kicks the ball a mile but what he had to deal with, he dealt with in the first half pretty well.”

Pinnock beat the offside trap before playing the ball in behind the FC Elmstead defence but Youngs cut inside and his angled drive was saved by Teeley, diving low to his right.

Pinnock was caught offside on six occasions before he timed his run to perfection to give Erith Town a deserved lead, timed at 43 minutes and 33 seconds on the clock.

In an attempt to play a square pass, Hassan’s ball was intercepted by Youngs, who played a sublime through ball to put Pinnock through on goal and he raced into the penalty area, kept his composure, to slot his right-footed shot across Teeley to find the bottom far corner.

Ford said: “Probably heard me shouting from the dug-out to Pinno – it was pretty sloppy by his standards.

“He’s been at Southend as a youngster. He comes with a great pedigree and we don’t expect him to get caught offside as many times as he did.

“Maybe he was keen to score playing against a side in the lower division. He was also on the bench couple of times so he was keen to impress but he timed his run that time perfectly, a great ball and really composed finish.”

Rossi said: “Bad time to give a goal away, but maybe a lack of fitness from our point.  Maybe we just switched off but that’s football.

“Erith are a really good side, God knows how good Greenwich Borough are?

“We gave a good account of ourselves. I’m pleased that’s the first time, there’s a lot of firsts for us this year.  That’s the first time in the Kent Senior Trophy, we’ve had some really, really tough draws with Horsham (YMCA) in The FA Vase.  Next year we’ve got The FA Cup to look forward to so we’re jogging along and we’re doing ok.”

When asked whether the goal changed the half-time team-talk, Rossi replied: “It didn’t because I didn’t go in the changing rooms. I left it all to Jack and Gibbo.

“This is probably a bit of an exclusive but I’m going to stand back down and Jack and Gibbo will be running the team going forward now.”

Ford added: “Not really because I always thought we were going to get a goal!  I knew we missed a couple of opportunities but I just felt it was coming.

“It changed my team talk with James Pinnock but I’m not going to lie because I was going to speak to him about being offside so many times so we need to make sure we’re nice and composed and if we can get back on the break and get a couple of goals, then the game will die and it did!”

Erith Town doubled their lead after only 124 seconds into the second half, courtesy of Teeley’s howler.

Youngs was released down the left and he cut into the penalty area and appeared to scuff his shot across goal for Teeley to bend down and pick up.

But the goalkeeper failed to collect the ball and poacher Rabiu nipped in to slot the gift into the empty net.

Ford said: “He couldn’t miss could he Ola?!

“The thing that he’s done, he’s got in the right area, he’s taken a gamble on Youngie’s shot and it’s paid off for them to roll it into an empty net.  So happy days from his point of view.”

Rossi added: “It’s unfortunate. Tees is very rusty. He hasn’t played for probably about a year.  On Saturday we used young Jack Yerlett in goal, on loan from Holmesdale and he was brilliant but we couldn’t cup-tie him but Tees wil be the full-time goalkeeper going forward. 

“He was rusty and he made a mistake but I’ve got no problem with that. It’s unfortunate because I don’t know what Jack and Gibbo said in there to them, but it’s one of those things.”

The hardworking Sprosen flashed his shot across Erith Town keeper Joe Hagan and past the far post, before Erith Town killed the game off as early as the 50th minute with a third goal.

Lodge played a ball over the top of a flat-footed Elmstead defence to put Pinnock through on goal and after beating the offside trap he burst forward before drilling his shot into the top left-hand corner with only the keeper to beat.

Rossi added: “The quality of finishing was good but then that’s probably the standard they’re at.  Their finishing was excellent, no complaints. Again, it’s a bit unfortunate because they’re mistakes but that’s rustiness from our part. 

“We can do better and we will do better and I’m sure we will get better as we go along.”

Ford added: “A very good finish again. It’s a great finish into the top corner by James, he’s fired it in.

“We’ve got to guard against the complacency side then I’ve got to be honest I did say to a couple of them after the game we did get a little bit sloppy in terms of the way we were playing going forward.

“As you saw but we were quite comfortable playing out from the back. We could’ve done the same second half but going down the hill we started to hit things a little bit longer.”

Rabiu, who was watched by Cray Wanderers manager Tony Russell, called Teeley into diving to his left to prevent his shot sailing into the far corner after skipping past Christian Howell as he cut in from the left.

FC Elmstead created a chance from their last corner of the game just before the hour-mark.

Hassan whipped in a corner from the left and target man Steve Strotten’s last action of the game was to steer his near post header wide.

Rossi said: “Unlucky, it was close! Could’ve on another day, probably would’ve scored again Strotts.  It’s another one who is pretty rusty, he hasn’t played much at this level. He’s looking to gain some fitness and I thought in the first half he was pretty good.”

FC Elmstead went close following a good move down the right.

Substitute Daryl Dylan (the artist formerly known as Daryl Wheeler) twisted and turned his man down the channel before cutting the ball back to Savage, who whipped in a first time cross towards the far post for Christian Howell to plant his free header over the crossbar.

There were fireworks over the Eltham sky as soon as Youngs’ right-footed free-kick dipped just over the crossbar from 35-yards.

Hassan whipped in a free-kick from the left and Christian Howell couldn’t keep his header down from 16-yards.

FC Elmstead were unlucky not to score inside the final 10 minutes when substitute Louis Rozan stroked his left-footed free-kick high over Hagan’s left shoulder from 30-yards, the ball crashing down off the crossbar.

“Louis has got a great left foot, he can produce,” said Rossi.

“He’s good at stuff like that. He’s probably a bit unfortunate he wasn’t in the team but he was away on Saturday so he got put on the bench but he’s got a lot of quality in that left-foot. He’s excellent.”

Ford added: “Louis is another player, he’s got the ability, you probably saw that tonight. He’s floated in two or three really good crosses and some great diagonals, well hit. Free-kick was unlucky not to score. Joe Hagan was nowhere to be seen, I don’t think. It’s come down crashing off the crossbar, thank God.”

Youngs played a one-two with McKinley down the left but his right-footed shot bounced into Teeley’s hands for a comfortable save.

But FC Elmstead scored a consolation, 58 seconds into time added on.

Christian Howell played a long ball forward from the middle of the park and Willis’ attempted to head the ball clear but Sprosen drilled his left-footed volley into the roof of the net from 18-yards.

Rossi said: “He’s got that quality. I’m sure going forward these boys we’ve got will stand us in good stead and I’ve got no qualms about that at all and I’m confident we’ll do well.”

Rossi explained why he has managed to entice players that have played Ryman League football to the club.

He said: “Basically, we’ve got a group of lads in who play together on a Sunday.  Taser (Hassan) is one of them with Louis Sprosen, George Savage, Louis Rozan, Micky Mullhane, they all play for Midway, I think on a Sunday, or Midfield and they decided they want to come together.  It’s a bit of lucky and fortunate for the club that we’ve managed to get really, really good players at this level.

“On tonight’s performance I know that perhaps we didn’t create or do enough in front of goal but I’m confident at Kent Invicta League level we’ll be really, really good to hold our own, no problem.”

Ford added: “Louis Sprosen, who played for us first game of the season against Corinthian, has come back and to haunt us a little bit.

“It was a sloppy goal because we’re barking at people to keep a clean sheet during the second half so from that point of view it’s very disappointing.

“Willis has done well to win the initial header. Somebody’s not done their job and tracked around him. Even though the header went straight up in the air and Dan will admit that, it was a great finish by Sprosen, touch inside, a volley, a really good finish.”

Pinnock, who by the end of the game had mastered how to beat the offside trap, had a shot saved at the death and substitute Rhys Deakin drove his shot just over the Elmstead crossbar.

Rossi added: “I’m standing down.  Jack and Gibbo are ready to take the reins.  They’re decent and I’m sure they’ll do well. We’ve got a good set-up, we’re financially sound, they don’t want for anything so there’s no reason why they can’t do well.

“They’ve got a great group of lads together, we should be fine.

“We’re just trying to steady the ship now.  Jack’s been with me for a long time so he knows the club inside out. He runs our soccer school (for seven years).  Gibbo has been around the club and he’s played for us a few times.

“I’m sure they’ll do well. Our aspirations going forward is to just settle down.  The only goals that we had was to keep a good team spirit and stay out of the bottom one.

“The team spirit is really good but that goes with games.  If you don’t win enough games the team spirit falls. 

“I’m sure we’ll win enough games at Kent Invicta League level and then going forward we’ve got a good relationship with Holmesdale and hopefully we’ll stay there.”

Ford admitted he was disappointed with the Friday night crowd of 60.

“A bit of a poor crowd to be honest with you,” he said.

“Sixty people through the gate, can’t complain at the end of the day.

“Lots of people are out Friday night’s, getting home from work, etc, so can’t blame them.

“I’m a big fan of Friday night football apart from all the rushing around you have to do on the way back from work and the bits and pieces.

“It was a good game tonight.  It allows me and a couple of the management team to watch a couple of teams tomorrow that we’re interested in, that we’ve got coming up.”

Erith Town: Joe Hagan, Mason Simms, Merrick Simms, Dan Willis, Jai McKinley, Sam Gent (Rhys Deakin 55), Ola Rabiu (Luke Coleman 71), Jack Lodge, James Pinnock, Richard Morgan (Luqman Adesija 65), Tom Youngs.
Subs: Anthony Adesite, Adrian Contreras

Goals: James Pinnock 44, 50, Ola Rabiu 48

Booked: Mason Simms 78

FC Elmstead: Dan Teeley, Marcus Howell, Harry West, Christian Howell,  Reece Barrett (Lewis Gregory 73), Anthony Elms, George Savage, Micky Mullhane (Louis Rozan 65), Louis Sprosen, Steve Strotten (Daryl Dylan 60), Taser Hassan.
Subs: Ben Slade, Dan Carpenter

Goal: Louis Sprosen 90

Booked:  Taser Hassan 35

Attendance: 60
Referee: Mr Joe McKay (Maidstone)
Assistants: Mr John Barnard (Erith) & Mr Stan Moules (Erith)