Erith & Belvedere 2-3 Raynes Park Vale - It isn't all doom and gloom but the performance wasn't as it should've been, admits Erith & Belvedere joint-assistant manager Andy Constable

Tuesday 09th August 2022
Erith & Belvedere 2 – 3 Raynes Park Vale
Location Park View Road, Welling, Kent DA16 1SY
Kickoff 09/08/2022 19:45

The Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Replay
Tuesday 9 August 2022
Stephen McCartney reports from Park View Road

ERITH & BELVEDERE joint assistant manager Andy Constable says his side were probably a little bit off it after crashing out of The FA Cup at the first hurdle.


Joshua Gallagher’s Raynes Park Vale were third-placed finishers in the Combined Counties League Premier Division South last season, finishing behind promoted pair Beckenham Town and Walton & Hersham.

Erith & Belvedere beat Lordswood 1-0 on the opening day of the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division and are in eighth-place in the table and came away from Grand Drive with a 1-1 draw, courtesy of a sublime last-gasp finish from Daniel Moody at the weekend.

Raynes Park Vale gave Erith & Belvedere a footballing lesson on the lush green grass at Park View Road tonight and deservedly secured a home tie against Isthmian League South East Division side Hythe Town in The FA Cup Preliminary Round on Saturday 20 August.

Erith & Belvedere snatched the lead against the run of play, courtesy of Henry Arnold’s screaming volley but Raynes Park Vale swiftly equalised through the impressive striker Jordan Gallagher.

Centre-half Jordan Stepney headed in from a corner to give Raynes Park Vale a deserved lead but Erith & Belvedere snatched an equaliser on the stroke of half-time through striker Tunde Aderonmu’s second goal of the campaign.

An impressive Raynes Park Vale side sealed the deserved victory through holding midfielder Callum McAllister.

Meanwhile, Raynes Park Vale winger Ethon Archer will be subject to seven-day approaches if he replicates his outstanding performance at Park View Road tonight.

Archer started as a number 10, more beside former Glebe right-winger Aaron Watson, than in a traditional central role behind striker Jordan Gallagher, before switching to both flanks more so when Watson was benched.

“I think the simple facts of the game are they were the better side, we can’t argue with that,” admitted Constable, 43, with 400 career goals to his name.

“We had our opportunity on Saturday with them going down to 10 men as early as they did.  We should’ve put the game to bed then, but we didn’t.  They got the late equaliser and it gives them the momentum going into this game so we knew they were going to come out.  We were fully aware they were a good side.

“I think overall they deserve the win. We’re probably a little bit off it, I’d say tonight. I think we didn’t really get at them enough as we should have, which was part of the problem on Saturday as well - and they took their chances.

“I think we were lucky to go in at two-all at half-time to be honest.  I thought they dominated the first half so from that point you maybe think if it’s going to be our night but I just think we didn’t threaten them enough.

“Just before they scored (their winner) we did have a fairly good chance.  Henry Arnold just didn’t keep that one down so it’s a tough one to take but I can’t complain about the result.”

Raynes Park Vale started the game on the front foot and produced some slick patterns of play in the final third.

Archer released Jordan Gallagher down the right and in behind left-back Ben Wilson, only for his cracking drive to smash against the crossbar, with goalkeeper Adam Molloy well-beaten, after only 69 seconds.

“We know Gallagher, he’s a very good player. He scored 39 goals last season so we knew that he is a dangerman,” said Constable.

“They were very, very lively going forward.  They changed their shape slightly from what they did at the weekend.  When they were transitioning into attack they almost had four up at one point with a reverse 4-2-4, so we struggled to deal with that.  When we finally got to grips with that we kind of looked a bit more stable in the game without really threatening them.”

However, Erith & Belvedere snatched the lead – against the run of play – in the eighth minute.

Winger Malachi Hudson played the ball on the deck and Aderonmu held the ball up on the edge of the Raynes Park Vale on the right-hand side and clipped the ball towards the back post where Jerome Wade knocked the ball down for Arnold to smack a rasping left-footed volley into the top left-hand corner.

“It was a nice finish.  We try to drill it into the boys that we thought their weakness would be dealing with crosses so let’s get balls in the box,” said Constable.

“We didn’t do that enough. The goal came from that kind of play and it just showed if we did do that we would probably have had a bit more success but that was a nice strike to be fair to Henry.”

Raynes Park Vale swiftly equalised, just 145 seconds later.

Central midfielder Daniel Moody drove a ball out of defence along the floor and Watson played a slick through ball for Jordan Gallagher, who easily cut inside Reion-Noel McFarlane and Jack Miles and slotted a composed finish across Molloy to find the bottom far corner in a one-v-one situation.

Constable said: “A part of the problem for me was perhaps we could’ve turned them earlier, rather than go back out and try to recirculate the ball and play out again. We lost possession in the middle of the park and then we’re just too split wide open.

“Once someone of that quality is in that position you kind of only expect one thing.  The lad had a chance very similar to that at the weekend before they got their equaliser and Adam Molloy made one of the best saves I’ve ever seen and this time he made no mistake and tucked it away.”

The opening exchanges were open and a long diagonal ball out of defence from left-back Wilson released Aderonmu down the right and he cut the ball back for Hudson to curl a first-time shot around the far post from 22-yards.

But Erith & Belvedere’s midfield three of George Monger, Ryan Huckle and Wade were often lazy as they failed to press the Raynes Park Vale centre-halves or midfield, who could do what they wanted with the ball before playing the ball forward for four quality attackers.

Constable replied: “We’ve worked on whether there’s some teams we should press or some teams we shouldn’t and they were very much a team that were hurting us higher up the pitch.

“I guess the argument is could we press them to perhaps stop that ball out? But we wanted us to sit and basically get a compact shape to deal with what was going on at the top end of the pitch so not really a concern.”

Raynes Park Vale were so dominant in the first half they missed a glorious chance to take the lead at the halfway point.

Gallagher and Archer linked up well in the final third and there were two men unmarked at the back post and one of them was right-back Archie Harland-Goddard who poked his shot past the foot of the far post from inside the six-yard box.

It was no surprise when Raynes Park Vale took a 31st minute lead.

Jordan Gallagher floated in a corner from the right towards the back post where Stepney rose and buried his free header sailing into the top far corner from 15-yards.

“He took the goal well. I would expect someone given that much space and time to have a free header in our box will get something away on target,” added Constable.

“Reion-Noel McFarlane was on the line and tried to head it up and over the bar but just couldn’t get enough on it so that’s a disappointing goal to concede given the height and the power that we possess aerially. We shouldn’t be conceding goals like that.”

Stepney almost scored with his head when he met Moody’s deep free-kick from the right wing but this time his hanging header sailed past the far post after jumping over Erith & Belvedere’s centre-half Jack Miles.

Outplayed Erith & Belvedere showed great character though to force an equaliser – against the run of play – 45 seconds into stoppage time.

Arnold laid the ball off for Hudson, who took a touch in a central position 25-yards out and drilled a right-footed shot which was too hot to hold for goalkeeper Billy Bishop.

The ball fell to Arnold, who drove a low shot which was blocked on the line and poacher Aderonmu tucked home from close range.

“I think there’s more of a concern for us as a management team about the number of chances that we are creating in the final third and I thought Tunde was outstanding tonight on his own but he was isolated and he was holding everything up and he’s got a goal. We’re just lacking someone to go and join in and support him at the moment,” said Constable, praising the former Beckenham Town striker.

“Literally just before the goal we were saying we would be happy to go in at 2-1 down and still be in the game and have a chance so to get that was a bonus.  That comes from us actually having a go at them more and causing them problems, which we didn’t do enough.

“Malachi’s had a great shot, Jay’s followed in and it was cleared off the line and Tunde’s just tapped it back in. Any striker would take a goal like that, just food and drink for someone like Tunde to just get that tap in.”

There was still time for a ball over the top of McFarlane to put Archer through on goal but he dragged his shot past the far post when he only had Molloy to beat.

Constable added: “We go in there thinking ‘right, we haven’t been good because we know we haven’t been good’ but it’s two-all and we’re in the game, so at that point (inside the dressing room) it isn’t all doom and gloom but the performance wasn’t as it should’ve been at that point.

“We just reiterated that there is a certain way we need to play. It’s a Cup game so there’s no point in just trying to be a bit more defensive, so we asked the boys to be a bit more offensive and try and get them turned a little bit more.

“I appreciate it’s not necessarily pretty on the eye, it’s not what people want to see but it can be affective, so that was the instruction.  The second half kind of died out into a bit more of a scrappy affair, I thought, without anyone really threatening each other.  I thought we wasn’t as poor on the ball as we were in the first half but I don’t feel we did enough to really get at them.”

Raynes Park Vale created the first opening of the second half after only 86 seconds as Archer rode a challenge on the half-way line and raced down the wing before cutting inside and curling his shot across Molloy and harmlessly past the far post.

Shortly afterwards, Archer took a touch before whipping in a cross from the right wing, which was flicked on by Jordan Gallagher at the near post and no one picked up Hope who took a touch before drilling a shot towards the near post which was gathered at the second attempt by the former Sheppey United stopper.

Molloy pulled off a great save to prevent a dominant Raynes Park Vale from scoring again in the seventh minute.

Watson released the pacey Archer and Erith & Belvedere’s centre-half Ryan Johnson used his experience to show the winger down the line, but Archer managed to clip in a cross towards the far post from the by-line where Reece Bowes-William laid the ball off for the impressive Jordan Gallagher to crack two shots at goal, the first one was superbly saved by Molloy, who then got down on his back and clawed the ball off the line with some juggling.

“You’re not going to find a better shot stopper than Adam Molloy in this league, at this level of football, probably even in the level above,” claimed Constable.

“I thought it was a great save anyway and then it’s fizzed back in the air and he’s managed to claw it away.  That’s what you get with him.  You know he’s got that quality so albeit it did scare me a little bit because I thought it would just trickle back in but he did so well to do that.”

The game then died down into a cagey affair but Raynes Park Vale looked the more likely side that would go on to win the game.

Wilson was replaced by Reece Barrett in the 59th minute and Barrett struggled to cope with the attacking threat that was coming his way and the likes of substitute Nathan Palmer offered very little going the other way.  Erith & Belvedere lost the key midfield battle too.

“Over the two games we’ve had Ben Wilson start at left-back and come off and then we’ve had Reece Barrett step in and he’s literally done his best,” said Constable.

“It’s always hard for him to come into a game but I think anyone up against someone as good as that (Archer) is going to be tough so it is what it is.  I don’t think it’s fair to criticise when there’s quality against you and I think it’s key to stress how well a drilled side they are and they are a very good side. I would actually say they’re going to go on and win their league. I’ll be very surprised if they don’t.”

Raynes Park Vale centre-half Nathan Lewis took a bang to the head (the same as Miles who was forced off the pitch) when he bravely went to head Jordan Gallagher’s cross into the box and steered his header across Molloy and past the far post on the hour-mark.

With just over 20 minutes remaining, Lewis played the ball along the deck to Archer, whose initial pass for Watson was overhit but he managed to get off a shot from a tight angle (after getting the better of Johnson inside the box) but Molloy made the catch at the near post.

Archer fizzed in a low cross which flashed across the face of goal and Hope found a pocket of space to drill an angled drive which forced the busy Molloy into making another fine save.

“It felt like they had a bit too much space in our box at the back post and that was a bit of a regular occurrence and also Archer was just getting in and causing problems getting balls in our box.  Archer was definitely a problem that we didn’t really deal with.”

However, Erith & Belvedere missed a glorious chance to snatch the victory with 13 minutes remaining.

McFarlane launched a deep cross on the counter-attack and Arnold knocked the ball down and had little support with him, so cut inside but lacked composure and lashed a poor shot harmlessly wide of the far post.

Constable said: “Small margins, as you know in football, it can be.  I think it’s a minute later they get their winner.  A ball into the box has caused them problems, which is what we asked.

“It's dropped for Henry, probably unfortunately on his right foot rather than his left and he just couldn’t keep it down and it’s skewed high and wide off his right foot. 

“Look, you can’t fault anyone for trying to score. It’s one of those things. Sometimes they fly into the top corner or they end up where his one did!”

It proved to be a key moment in the game as Raynes Park Vale swiftly went up the other end and sealed the deal, just 47 seconds later, the winning coming with 33:16 on the clock.

Moody released substitute right-winger Bradley Sweeney down the right and his low cross was put on a plate for McAllister who finished emphatically past Molloy from eight-yards – yet another example of the home side’s lazy midfield for not tracking the run from a defensive midfielder.

“It’s a great ball in behind us, which caused us a lot of problems all day. He’s got round the back and he’s cut it back and the 30 (McAllister), the more deep lying midfielder, made a great run into the box.  I haven’t seen it back on our video yet and I’ll have to have a look but for me it looks like an unopposed run into our box and he’s never going to miss from there and he tucked it away.”

Arnold curled a 25-yarder which was plucked out of the air by visiting goalkeeper Bishop - before the home side threw bodies forward in a last-gasp salvage act. 

Barrett clipped the ball back into the box after the away side dealt with McFarlane’s poor throw in and Johnson despaired after drilling a volley over the bar from the edge of a crowded penalty area.

Johnson was playing Isthmian League Premier Division football for Neil Cugley at Folkestone Invicta last season and has dropped down two levels to play centre-half for Erith & Belvedere this season.

Constable said: “He brings that experience, he brings that quality and he’s a leader and a winner and organises well.  He’s comfortable on the ball, his calm and he’s everything that you want from a centre-half and it’s a big coup for us to get him down into this level.  He can help other players around him.  I know Jack Miles is a very experienced centre-half as well but he can still learn from someone like RJ.”

Tony Beckingham, Tony Cornwell and Constable, take their men to K Sports on Saturday, where they are expected to win against George and Ian Batten’s side, especially now that Erith & Belvedere have increased their playing budget this season.

“They’ve got a Cup replay tomorrow night so we can probably go down and watch them, which will do us a favour.  They got a great result (0-0) at Whitehawk at the weekend so it will be good to see them,” said Constable.

“I know Ian and George really well, I played with them at Sheppey, so I expect there’s going to be some links there via Ernie Batten with some players dual-registered.

“They won’t be a side to take lightly but I don’t think anyone is at this level of football and Lordswood showed that in the first game of the season.

“You’re going to go to places like Lordswood and K Sports and they’re going to have players who want to work and I think we are a scalp for a lot of teams.

“It’s not going to be an easy ride for our players and without that level of work-rate, if we don’t put that in then we’re not entitled to win any game of football so I think it’s going to be a tough game on Saturday.”

Erith & Belvedere: Adam Molloy, Reion-Noel McFarlane, Ben Wilson (Reece Barrett 59), Ryan Huckle, Jack Miles (Rory Ward 63), Ryan Johnson, Henry Arnold, George Monger, Tunde Aderonmu, Jerome Wade (Nathan Palmer 73), Malachi Hudson.
Subs: Toby Walker, James Hawkins, Fraser Walker, Jedd Smith

Goals: Henry Arnold 8, Tunde Aderonmu 45

Raynes Park Vale: Billy Bishop, Archie Harland-Goddard, Callum Hope, Callum McAllister, Nathan Lewis, Jordan Stepney, Jordan Gallagher, Daniel Moody, Reece Bowes-William (Charlie Penny 69), Ethon Archer, Aaron Watson (Bradley Sweeney 76).
Subs: Louie Downey, Joshua Gallagher, James Smith

Goals: Jordan Gallagher 10, Jordan Stepney 31, Callum McAllister 78

Attendance: 154
Referee: Mr Jacob Miller
Assistants: Mr Chandon Chapman & Mr Chris Clarke