Erith Town 3-3 Whyteleafe - They'll run through brick walls for me and the club, says proud Erith Town boss Adam Woodward

Wednesday 23rd August 2017
Erith Town 3 – 3 Whyteleafe
Location Oakwood, Old Road, Crayford, Kent DA1 4DN
Kickoff 23/08/2017 19:45

(after extra time – Erith Town win 4-1 on penalties)
The Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round Replay
Wednesday 23rd August 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Oakwood

LUCKY Erith Town manager Adam Woodward says he was proud of his players after they did something special to somehow win this FA Cup classic.

The Dockers progressed through to the first qualifying round for the first time in six years after taking unbeaten Bostik South side Whyteleafe all the way to set up a home tie against Bostik Premier side Burgess Hill Town on 2 September.

Erith Town, who needed two attempts to see off their Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division rivals Rochester United, came away from Church Road with a 1-1 draw on Saturday.

And they found themselves 2-0 up tonight through Dan Palfrey’s sublime free-kick and Ryan Golding’s penalty.

Leigh Dynan’s side swiftly equalised through two Sam Clayton’s penalties after impressing right-winger Jerry Amoo drew two fouls inside the box.

Golding slotted home the fourth penalty in seven crazy minutes to give Erith Town the lead going into half-time.

Whyteleafe scrambled home an equaliser ten minutes of normal time remaining through central defender Jahmal Howlett-Mundle and failed to get past an organised Dockers defence so the game went to a penalty shoot-out.

Seven penalties were taken in the shoot-out with Erith Town converting all of theirs but Clayton and substitute Charlie Postance blazed their attempts high over the bar as Erith Town held their nerve to win 4-1 when left-back Palfrey rifled his high into the top left-hand corner.

“I’m so proud of the players tonight,” said Woodward.

“We played them Saturday and I thought you only get one shot of the big sides when you’re an underdog and to be fair tonight I asked the players to do something and they done it!

“I asked them to believe in themselves, you’re playing against a higher league opposition, it’s always going to be hard but again the boys showed great character Saturday, they could’ve folded after conceding, they got themselves a goal, got ourselves a replay and I thought they fully deserved the result tonight.”

Woodward guided Glebe to the Southern Counties East Football League First Division title by 12 points in his only season in charge of the Chislehurst-based club last season and when asked where tonight’s epic FA Cup tie ranks, he replied: “I would say, it’s up there! 
“To manage in The FA Cup is something big for myself, to go two rounds in it is fantastic but it’s not about what I’ve done tonight because me, Tim (Warden), Dean (Lee) and Peter (Dale) have sent a team out, they’ve put a fantastic performance in for Erith Town tonight.”

A crowd of 94 were treated to one of those FA Cup ties that will live in the memory of everyone that attended this enthralling contest.

Erith Town’s central defender Sam Long lost the ball to Amoo, who sped down the right, cut inside and his swerving, dipping drive was palmed away by Adam Molloy at his near post inside the opening 12 minutes.

Visiting keeper Matte Pierson made a comfortable save at his near post after left-winger Andreas Felipe Losada Tobon cut into the box after being sent on his way by Palfrey.

Whyteleafe were bossing the midfield during the early exchanges with Shawn Clement-Peter creating space and pulling the strings.

But Erith Town created a glorious chance to grab the lead when Tobon caught Whyteleafe napping and stroked his quickly-taken free-kick from 30-yards against the left-hand post with goalkeeper Pierson well-beaten.

“Andreas is a fantastic talent. He’s buying into what we’ve asked him to do, he’s listening and maturing as a player and like I said he’s a player who I think will play very high,” said Woodward.

But Palfrey started the madness when he scored a sublime free-kick with 28 minutes and 32 seconds on the clock.

Palfrey’s stepped-up to stroke his left-footed free-kick over the wall and into the top left-hand corner from 22-yards to score his third free-kick goal of the season.

Woodward added: “Fantastic free-kick, fantastic goal, I thought.  To be honest you could have two goalkeeper’s in goal, they wouldn’t have saved it!”

Olumide Oluwatimilehin played the ball out wide to Amoo, who whipped in a cross from the right but Clement-Peter steered his free-header just past the near post from eight-yards, another let-off for Erith Town.

Erith Town went route one when Molloy’s big kick down the middle was flicked on by Aaron Jeffery and Golding played the ball out wide to Danny Gannon, who delivered a deep cross towards Tobon, who took a touch before placing a low right-footed drive towards the near post, which was held by Pierson.

Woodward told his troops to ‘slow it down,’ as half-time approached before Scottish referee Gerry Herron pointed to the spot on four occasions in seven minutes.

Erith Town had bodies in and around the Whyteleafe box and central midfielder Jack Duffy’s shot struck Oluwatimilehin’s hand.

Golding produced a clinical finish, placing his right-footed penalty into the bottom left-hand corner, as the Dockers doubled their lead with 37 minutes and 10 seconds on the clock.

“That’s what Golding does,” came Woodward’s reply, after the striker notched his fourth goal of the season.

“I was here last night (VCD Athletic v Phoenix Sports in the Kent Reliance Senior Cup which Phoenix won 4-3 on penalties after the score ended 1-1 after 90 minutes), and before the game in the warm-up I looked at that end and there was a lot of penalties missed last night.  I looked at that end down there, I thought right foot penalty taker to the left of the penalty spot is very, very uneven and for Golding to step up and score, is fantastic.”

Woodward added: “I thought we were in complete control but I’ll be honest with you, I thought that woke Whyteleafe up a little bit.  It woke them up, they came straight at us and we got away with being 3-2 up at half-time!”

But when you’re in the top five in the league above, you will have quality players that can get you out of a deep black hole. Step forward Amoo.

He was bundled over by Palfrey close to the by-line and Clayton lashed his right-footed penalty into the top left-hand corner to give Molloy no chance to pull a goal back with 40 minutes and 45 seconds on the clock.

Woodward said: “From where I stood, it’s one of them.  It’s 50/50.  I think he’s given a decision for the referee to make.  The lino’s (Fabien Le Houezec) 10 yards away and the referee’s not even spoke to the lino for both penalties. He’s made a decision when the lino’s closer but at the end of the day it is what it is.”

Whyteleafe showed great character to claw themselves back into the game by levelling the score with 43 minutes and 36 seconds on the clock.

This time James Day’s challenge on Amoo brought a yellow card and another penalty and Clayton stroked his penalty lower down but in the same side as his first spot-kick.

“Jim’s saying he didn’t touch him for the second one but he’s dived in, which makes the referee make a decision,” added Woodward.

“I just wanted the half to end. When we were 2-0 up, they wanted the half to end and as soon as it went 2-2, I wanted it to end!”

It could have been easy for Erith Town to fold at that point.

The referee allowed Erith Town to play on despite Oluwatimilehin going down with a knock in the build-up to the move that finished with Tobon putting Jeffery through on goal, before he was fouled just inside the box by John Scarborough.

Play was held up as the Whyteleafe midfielder received treatment so Golding kicked the ball into touch and joined his team-mates in drinking some water from a plastic bottle in the technical area.

Golding kept composed and powered his right-footed free-kick into the back of the net (goal timed four minutes and 25 seconds into stoppage time), despite Pierson diving to his right and getting a hand to the strike and referee Herron blew his half-time whistle just three seconds later.

“Ryan Golding was fantastic on Saturday and scored, again tonight I thought he was absolutely superb with two goals, two penalties.  Luckily he stepped up with confidence to step up again,” said his manager.

“Ryan Golding has been there, seen it and done it, hasn’t he, at this level and the level above and he’s a good forward.”

When asked what he told his troops at the interval, Woodward replied: “Believe! Like I said in my team-talk on Saturday, like I said in the team-talk tonight, they’ve got to believe in their own ability and I thought they did tonight and they believed they could beat Whyteleafe and they showed great character.”

Erith Town central defender Myles Keizer-Burrows looped in 16 long throws into the Whyteleafe penalty area during the entire game.

Most went as far as the near post and Day’s header was plucked out of the air before the ball could sail into the top left-hand corner.

Woodward explained: “Tamer Bilal played centre half on Saturday alongside Sam Long and he was absolutely superb and he was very unlucky to be left out but I don’t think Whyteleafe knew about our throw, that’s why we used it.  It’s a weapon, it’s un-defendable. I had one last year when I was manager last season and obviously I do like a long throw, it causes danger.”

Keizer-Burrows’ eighth long throw was cleared out to Long, who hooked his volley through a crowd of players from 30-yards, which was saved low down by Pierson.

Long was sadly stretchered off just before the end of normal time and Woodward revealed that he has injured his knee again and left the ground on crutches.

“It’s a sour note. He went over on a knee that he done, the ACL that he done a few years ago. We’ll assess it in the morning. He’s in a lot of pain but it’s unfortunate. It’s just one of those things.  I’m gutted for him really because I know how hard he’s worked pre-season to get back. He was at Ashford, he’s come to us and he’s actually playing to help me out at the moment.

“He’s done brilliantly tonight and he was exceptional on Saturday and I’m disappointed. We’re partners at work, he’s one of my best mates and to see him in a lot of pain is a bit upsetting really.

“If you saw us at the end we celebrated with him. He’s a massive part of the side, they boys love him.”

Whyteleafe called Molloy into making a fine near post block to prevent Amoo lashing an angled drive into the back of the net after Clement-Peter drove forward through the middle of the pitch.

Pierson charged out of his penalty area and Gannon’s cross from the right was met by Tobon’s header, which deflected past the near post.  The referee acknowledged to Woodward that he was wrong to award Whyteleafe a goal-kick rather than a corner to the home side.

Palfrey got in behind Melvin Adesida to reach the left by-line and wrapped his foot around the ball and captain Day planted his header over the crossbar after 63 minutes.

Erith Town were clearly hanging on to dear life during the final 20 minutes but with Long at the back shouting out words of encouragement, Whyteleafe’s threat was snuffed out as Palfrey performed heroically to keep Amoo in his pocket.

Whyteleafe’s third goal, however, was inevitable, but the goal was a poor one to concede, when it arrived with 34 minutes and 51 seconds on the clock.

Clayton curled their eighth corner, from the right, which Molloy flapped away and his team-mates had chances to clear their lines inside the six-yard box and in the end Howlett-Mundle scrambled the ball into the bottom far corner from close range.

Woodward said: “We had three or four chances to clear it but I thought once that happened, I thought that’s your luck out of the window.  I thought that’s Whyteleafe’s little bit of luck to get back in it. We looked dead on our feet and I just wanted to get the half over.”

This FA Cup epic even had a controversial moment when assistant referee Fabien Le Houezec kept his flag down when Erith Town felt they had snatched victory in the final seven minutes.

Tobon swung in a free-kick from the left which was curling towards the goalkeeper’s grasp. He was standing close to his goal-line but his concentration went and he spilt the ball underneath his crossbar. Erith Town players claimed the ball had crossed the line but both match officials allowed play to continue.

“I thought it was initially over, the players have told me it was over but at the end of the day I’m 50-yards away so I can’t comment really,” added Woodward.

There was still time for both sides to claim the victory before the end of the 90 minutes.

Clement-Peter drove his first-time shot into Molloy’s hands from 25-yards, before Day directed his free header straight at Pierson at the other end.

Whyteleafe left-back Andrew Musungu played the ball inside to Oluwatimilehin, who rolled his shot straight into Molloy’s hands for another comfortable save, before Gannon’s dipping drive from the right screamed around the top of the far post at the other end.

Woodward’s talk to his bravehearts before extra-time stirred his troops as he told them to that “we’ve got more in us, believe in it, this is The FA Cup, you’ve got to believe.”

“I said to them, that’s why I believe, these boys are strong characters, they’ll run through brick walls for me and the club and they keep doing it. They’ve come up against a quality opposition tonight and they’ve done their jobs. They’ve listened to what we’ve told them, they’ve trusted what we’ve told and them they’ve re-grouped and they’ve got together out there and worked and worked and worked.”

Erith Town got lucky during the first period as substitute Scott Day was flagged offside when he slid the ball in at the back post after Clayton whipped in a lovely low cross from the left – after only 87 seconds – and Amoo was harshly flagged offside when he felt he had finished off a sweeping move at the end of the first period.

“Two goals ruled out for offside and that’s what I mean, as soon as that happened we might’ve rode our luck a little bit here and we’ll go into the lottery of penalties,” admitted Woodward.

Whyteleafe got in behind again with giant substitute striker Postance who cut the ball back but Scott Day shot straight at Molloy when he only had the keeper to beat from eight-yards.

Clayton played a short corner to Clement-Peter and Clayton reached the by-line and his cross was cleared out to Oluwatimlehin, who scuffed his poor shot into Molloy’s hands from 25-yards.

Erith Town’s last chance of the game came when Keizer-Burrow’s penultimate long throw was scissor kicked across goal by Golding towards the far post but Gannon steered his effort past the near post.

Whyteleafe closed the football with Musungu letting rip with a left-footed drive from 35-yards, which was held by Molloy down beside his post.

“Just to get over the line, that’s all we needed to do, get over the line. We’ve got a goalkeeper in Adam Molloy that’s a very good penalty saver. He didn’t have to save any tonight though did he and I was confident when it went into penalties that maybe the character might come through,” said Woodward.

“Before I started I had a quick chat with Jim (Day) regarding which end to go.  That end (where we scored our two penalties in the first half) with the right foot penalty takers, I thought it was a little bit harsh so we went up that (car park) end to the annoyance of Peter (Dale) because he had to go and collect the balls but I felt it paid off.”

Erith Town held out so the game was settled by a penalty shoot-out.

Tamer Bilal, a central defender and Long’s replacement, set the tone for Erith Town by drilling his right-footed penalty straight down the middle.

Considering Clayton scored two penalties in the first half, the Whyteleafe winger lashed his right-footed penalty high over the crossbar.

Jeffery rubbished his poor form from the spot, to give Erith Town a two-goal lead, crashing his left-footed penalty into the top right-hand corner.

Postance lashed his right-footed penalty over the crossbar and Whyteleafe were now facing a mountain to climb.

Substitute Adem Ramadan slotted his clinical right-footed penalty into the bottom right-hand corner and Erith Town were now 3-0 up.

Amoo, Whyteleafe’s best player on the night, scored their only penalty, right-footed into the right-hand corner.

Erith Town sealed their progress through Palfrey’s left-footed penalty, which he rifled high into the top left-hand corner, which sets up a home tie against Burgess Hill Town.

“It’s just an experience, isn’t it, to just go out and have a good go as we always do.  We’re in the hat still. There’s no reason why we can’t beat them.  These boys have just got to believe in themselves.”

Attention now turns to Friday night’s home game against bottom-of-the-table Glebe, who have saved their only wins this season in The FA Cup and travel to Banstead Athletic in the next round.

“Roll on Friday, the boys have got to recover for Friday. We’ve got a big league game to come up against, we’ve got three games in six days, it’s going to be tough but if anyone can do it, my boys can,” said Woodward, who deliberately avoided mentioning the name of his former club.

The Southern Counties East Football League declined Erith Town’s approach to postpone Friday’s league game due to tonight’s FA Cup replay.

“The League has decided against it. It’s their decision, they can make that decision,” said Woodward.

“It gave me a bit of a headache tonight because we’re not ever going to win The FA Cup but three points is three points and I could’ve gone the other way tonight and put an understrength side out and worry about what was going on Friday and Monday (away to leaders Beckenham Town).

“But we’ve represented the League well tonight and I think they need to realise that.

“The boys will be in tomorrow, the physio will be working, they’ll recover, they do recover well the boys and we’ve got a big squad that I can make changes for and there will be changes Friday and they’ll be changes on Monday.”

Erith Town: Adam Molloy, Bradley Simms, Dan Palfrey, James Day, Sam Long (Tamer Bilal 89), Myles Keizer-Burrows, Andreas Felipe Losada Tobon (Adem Ramadan 95), Jack Duffy (Ben Fitchett 97), Ryan Golding, Aaron Jeffery, Danny Gannon.
Subs: Steadman Callender, Lewis Mitchell, Lewis Scotter, Osman Proni

Goals: Dan Palfrey 29, Ryan Golding 38 (penalty), 45 (penalty)

Booked: James Day 44, Aaron Jeffery 54

Whyteleafe: Matte Pierson, Melvin Adesida (Lanre Azeez 68), Andrew Musungu, Olumide Oluwatimilehin, Jahmal Howlett-Mundle, John Scarborough, Jerry Amoo, Jordan Wilson, Daniel Ajakaiye (Scott Day 80), Shawn Clement-Peter, Sam Clayton.
Subs: Ross Elsom, Jeffrey Gyamfi, Terrell Forbes

Goals: Sam Clayton 41 (penalty), 44 (penalty), Jahmal Howlett-Mundle 80

Booked:  John Scarborough 45, Andrew Musungu 103

Attendance: 94
Referee: Mr Gerry Herron (West Wickham)
Assistants: Mr Joshua Howard (Catford, London SE6) &  Mr Fabien Le Houezec (Highbury, London N5)

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