Erith Town 1-0 Mile Oak - I think it's the worst we've played all season but we won, admits Adam Woodward

Sunday 24th September 2017
Erith Town 1 – 0 Mile Oak
Location Oakwood, Old Road, Crayford, Kent DA1 4DN
Kickoff 24/09/2017 15:00

The Buildbase FA Vase Second Qualifying Round
Sunday 24th September 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Oakwood

ERITH TOWN boss Adam Woodward says his side were lacklustre during their fourteenth game of the season.

The Dockers victory over lower-league side Mile Oak took the gloss off what was a poor performance from Woodward’s men as Ryan Golding’s first half penalty – his 11th goal of the season – sent them through to The Buildbase FA Vase First Round.

“Well, we’re in the hat for the next round, that’s about it really,” said an unimpressed Woodward.

“I thought it was a typical Sunday game to be honest with you.  It was lacklustre, there was no energy, there was no buzz about us.  I’ve said it to the boys, I think it’s the worst we’ve played all season – but we won!

“There’s a lot of other SCEFL sides who would’ve loved to have played like that and be in the hat. That’s all that matters. We could’ve won 10-0 or 1-0, it doesn’t matter, same outcome, we’re in the hat!”

When asked why his side were so poor, Woodward replied: “I don’t know really. Sometimes teams turn up and sometimes they’re lacklustre and sometimes they work hard, I think today was an off day for us.

“There’s not too much I can say to the boys, they’ve given me a lot this year. They’ve had a lot of games of football this season already at this stage.  I think we’ve played Saturday-midweek all the way through.  At one stage it was Wednesday, Friday and Monday, so we’ve played a lot of football but the performance weren’t great.  The one thing we missed was a lot of work-rate today, but it is what it is.”

Erith Town went into this game in the bottom six of the Southern Counties East Football League Premier with six points from five games, while Ben Shoulders’ side are in the top five of the Southern Combination First Division table with 13 points from seven league outings.

Mile Oak squandered an excellent chance to take the lead inside the opening 11 minutes.

Liam Austin-Slade swung in their first corner from the right and seven-goal striker Joe Benn planted his near post header just past the post from seven-yards.

“I think we started brightly in the first 5-10 minutes and I think we looked really good and we allowed them back in the game,” said Woodward.

Woodward handed Aaron Jeffery the captain’s armband and he stung the fingers of Mile Oak’s goalkeeper Aaron Stenning in the 17th minute, cracking a right-footed volley straight at him from 20-yards.

“I thought he played really well today, he was one of the plus performances, not because of what he done when he had the ball, I thought his work-rate was good,” said Woodward.

“He had the armband today, which was a bit of a surprise to some people because James Day was suspended but I thought he was good today.

“I thought he showed a little bit of maturity today. There’s a lot of people who know Aaron and know what he can do. Yes, he is a very, very strange person, strange player but I thought he done well today.  Before the game he was trying to talk to people getting people up for the game.”

Mile Oak squandered a second glorious chance to score.

Joe Benn rolled the ball out wide to his strike partner Remi Coates out on the left, who reached the by-line to whip in an excellent cross towards the far post where Jack Stenning nipped in front of Dan Palfrey but blasted his shot over the bar from a couple of yards out.

“He put it over!  I thought they were very, very lively.  I thought they were good, a good footballing side,” said Woodward.

“I’ll be honest, I was shocked how good they actually were, playing in the league below. They do play some football, they might’ve done their ground up because their pitch was terrible when I played there before!”

It proved to be a costly miss for the Sussex outfit as Erith Town grabbed the victory with 23 minutes and 38 seconds on the clock.

Jeffery raced through the heart of the Mile Oak defence and once inside the box he was brought down by Enzo Benn.

Visiting keeper Stenning needed treatment after a collission, which delayed the taking of the penalty by four minutes but Golding kept his composure by driving his right-footed penalty into the bottom right-hand corner, despite the keeper going the same way.

“Good run from Aaron.  He done it in the second half. He broke away from his position (behind lone striker Golding), drove into the box and their player brought him down, another Golding penalty,” said Woodward.

“Another goal for Ryan Golding, very good pen. It did win us the game, don’t tell him that.  Ryan Golding does that, he scores goals.  He scored again. I thought he had a quiet game if I’m honest but as he says he’s had a quiet game but he scored!”

Mile Oak’s holding midfielder Lawrence Edwards was pressed by Osman Proni and Andres Felipe Losada Tobon slipped the ball in behind for Golding, but his right-footed angled drive from 10-yards was held by the keeper as he came out to narrow the angle.

Eric Wedge-Bull drove through the heart of the pitch before playing in Coates, who cut into the box before rolling the ball back to Wedge-Bull, who placed his first time shot past the post.

Erith Town keeper Adam Molloy held the ball low to his right to deny Joe Benn from scoring with a right-footed drive from 25-yards, after the striker linked up with Austin-Slade.

Erith Town’s right-winger Adem Ramadan cut into the penalty area and from a tight angle slashed his shot into the foot of the side netting just before the break.

When asked about his side’s showing, Woodward admitted: “Terrible!  At half-time I said to the players’ it was poor, energy wasn’t there, the work-rate wasn’t there and my sides always work hard, they always work hard off the ball.  I don’t think we worked hard off the ball today but we’ve come in one-up at half-time and I said that’s the best thing that happened from that half, we’re not losing!

“I don’t think they played any better than they did in the first half and I don’t think they played any better in the second half and I don’t think we could’ve played any worse in the first half!”

Left-winger Tobon was frustrating, tricks and turns with little end product but he almost doubled the home side’s lead inside the opening eight minutes.

Golding played the ball into Jeffery, whose dinked pass was met on the half-volley by Tobon, which flashed across goal and bounced just past the far post from 16-yards.

“Andres done well. I thought he played really well against his full-back today. I thought he was quiet a couple of times.  He was quiet a bit more in the second half but he’s one of those players that just turns it on at certain times in the game and that was one of them.”

Tobon then laid the ball off to Proni, whose left-footed angled drive from 12-yards was parried by visiting keeper Stenning, diving low to his left.

“Osman came in today (for James Day). He had an hour, I thought he done ok. He's technically a very, very good footballer. He was probably man-of-the-match on Tuesday night at Harrow and today I thought he came back down to earth a little bit,” said Woodward, whose side held Bostik Premier side Harrow Borough to a 1-1 draw in the London Senior Cup (Sponsored by Coventry Scaffolding) First Round before losing 4-1 on penalties.

“He had a lot of the ball (at Harrow), you don’t get too much time at this level.  Tuesday night, playing against a footballing side, today, yes they were a footballing side but they hassled and looked to win the ball back as quickly as they can in the middle.

“The Harrow manager said two or three of my players looked good enough to play at that level of football.  I reminded them after the game you just can’t do it for one game, you’ve got to have a bit of consistency about us and maybe a couple of players are missing a bit of consistency.”

Central midfielder Proni fed Tobon down the left and he laid the ball inside to Jeffery, who drilled his first time shot past the top of the left-hand post as he raced through.

Edwards floated in a free-kick into the Erith Town penalty area and Callum Wells, a big lump up front, who came on at the break, hooked his half-volley past the near post from 10-yards.

Golding tried an overhead kick – from Tobon’s floated cross from the left – which bounced into Aaron Stenning’s hands, the keeper stepping to his left to easily gather in the 64th minute.

Erith Town were guilty of giving away too many free-kicks in dangerous positions and the closest Mile Oak went to scoring came when Joe Benn’s right-footed free-kick dipped just over the crossbar from 27-yards.

Molloy pulled off a great save to prevent Mile Oak scoring a leveller halfway through the second half.

Left-back Craig Stevens reached the by-line and cut the ball back to Austin-Slade, who from outside the left corner of the box, curled his right-footed shot towards the top far corner of the net from 25-yards, only for the former Glebe keeper to dive high to his left to palm the ball onto the post.  The ball dropped to Coates, who took too long on the ball and stabbed his shot wide of the near post.

Woodward said: “Fantastic save! Very good, goalkeeper, great save, tapped it onto the post.  Molloy has really, really pulled a worldy out there to be honest.

“Maybe that would’ve given us a kick up the backside we needed (had they scored) but it was a good save.”

Jeffery ran through the heart of the pitch again and once inside the penalty area his left-footed shot forced Aaron Stenning to dive to his left and use a strong hand to parry and Enzo Benn was on hand to clear their lines from inside the six-yard box.

“Good save.  He had one hand the whole game but he pulled off a good save. A good driving run, we weren’t great but we had moments of brilliance from our players and maybe that little bit of luck, the keeper makes the save and drops to one of ours and we take it in but we don’t seem to be having that luck at the moment.”

Erith Town’s central midfielder Jack Duffy released substitute winger Danny Gannon down the right and he cut into the box but his weak effort from 16-yards rolled into the keeper’s gloves for a comfortable save.

Tobon penetrated the Mile Oak defence again and played the ball inside to Golding, but he scuffed a poor shot wide from a central position from just outside the D.

A poor game with no tempo, the crowd of 78 were relieved when referee Joseph Shepherd blew the final whistle.

When asked what was missing from his side today, Woodward admitted: “Decision making; a little bit of quality when we had the ball and work rate.”

Erith Town must improve if they are to progress in this competition.

“How many rounds to the nationals?  I just want a trip away, like we had at Phoenix.  At the end of the day all the time you’re in the hat, you’ve got to believe you’re going to get to Wembley – and there’s no reason why these boys can’t go and get as far as we can.  We all dream. We’re in the hat.

“You’re in The FA Cup, but you’re never going to win that but this is playing teams at our level or below so all the time you’re in it, you’ve got to believe you can win it and on today’s performance we’ve got no chance but from what I know, the players can do it.  I believe you need to have a little bit of luck on the draw.

“You’ve got to get some good performances and some hard-fought wins but I think we got to the last 16 with Phoenix. We rode our luck a little bit but there’s no reason why we can’t get as far as we can and get to Wembley.”

Erith Town host tenth-place Croydon at Oakwood in the League on Wednesday night.

“I won’t be there, I’m in Greece at a wedding, go Tuesday, back on Friday. We weren’t meant to have a game on the Wednesday but it got scheduled in,” revealed Woodward.

“I’ll pick the team and I’ll leave it to Tim Warden, Dean Lee and Peter Dale, who took four games when I was suspended and they didn’t lose, so I’ve got full trust in them.  I’ve got a good backroom staff so I can leave them and relax in peace and be checking the Twitter updates.”

Erith Town: Adam Molloy, Lewis Scotter, Dan Palfrey, Osman Proni (Leithan Brimah 61), Myles Keizer-Burrows, Ben Fitchett, Andres Felipe Losada Tabon, Jack Duffy, Ryan Golding, Aaron Jeffery, Adem Ramadan (Danny Gannon 73).
Subs: Tamer Bilal, Lewis Mitchell, Steadman Callender

Goal: Ryan Golding 24 (penalty)

Mile Oak: Aaron Stennning, Calum Clarke, Craig Stevens, Lawrence Edwards, Damon Pollard, Enzo Benn, Jack Stenning (Callum Wells 46), Liam Austin-Slade (Michael Gould 76), Joe Benn (James Seltzer 89), Remi Coates, Eric Wedge-Bull.
Subs: Lee Early, Kurt Clarke

Booked: Enzo Benn 22, Craig Stevens 75

Attendance: 78
Referee: Mr Joseph Shepherd (Clapham, London SW4)
Assistants: Mr Karl Parker (Roehampton, London SW15) & Mr Bartholomew O’Toole (Isleworth, Middlesex)

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