Erith & Belvedere 5-3 Sutton Athletic - We're trying to get back to how Erith & Belvedere used to be, says cup double winning manager Owen Jones

Monday 13th May 2019
Erith & Belvedere 5 – 3 Sutton Athletic
Location Park View Road, Welling, Kent DA16 1SY
Kickoff 13/05/2019 19:30

Hospital Charity Senior Cup Final
Monday 13 May 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Park View Road

ERITH & BELVEDERE manager Owen Jones says the vision of the club is to go forward after his side celebrated winning a cup double.

The Deres celebrated winning the London Senior Trophy for the first time by beating Bridon Ropes 4-1 after extra time on 24 April and they beat Sutton Athletic 5-3 to win the Hospital Charity Senior Cup at the first attempt.

Erith & Belvedere celebrate winning the London Senior Trophy and Hospitals Charity Senior Cup after losing out on the Southern Counties East Football League First Division title by just one point to Welling Town.
Photo: Erith & Belvedere FC

Welling Town claimed the Southern Counties East Football League First Division title in their first season in this division by banking 78 points from their 34 league games, while Erith & Belvedere finished runners-up on 77 points.  Kennington finished third on 74 points, Bridon Ropes finished on 69 points, while Sutton Athletic settled for a fifth-place finish on 64 points.

Erith & Belvedere defeated Meridian VP (4-1); FC Elmstead (3-2) and Forest Hill Park (1-0) to reach the Hospital Charity Senior Cup Final in their maiden season in it, while their Hextable-based opponents defeated Holmesdale (5-1), holders Sporting Club Thamesmead (5-1) and Stansfeld (7-2).

With both sides completing their league campaigns on 27 April, both sides had just the one training session before their finale.  Erith & Belvedere trained last Thursday night, while Sutton Athletic blew the cobwebs away yesterday.

Sutton Athletic opened the scoring through James Sutherland’s 19th goal of the season, but Erith & Belvedere immediately equalised through Gravlyn Kwtondo’s maiden goal for his club just 86 seconds later.

The first half was an open affair and Sutton Athletic regained the lead through a fine solo run and finish from Conor Evans, but Sutts’ right-back George Bryan headed into his own goal following a set-piece.

Erith & Belvedere central midfielder Chan Quan hit a high-quality strike into top bins to give his side a 65th minute lead, before centre-half Robert Curtis got lucky at the far post to bundle in the fourth goal, before substitute Osita Isichei steered his downward header into the bottom far corner.

The impressive Evans notched his 20th goal of the season with his second solo run and top corner finish to score the eighth goal of the game at Park View Road.

“Fantastic. Wonderful. Brilliant. Great. But I’m still gutted that we haven’t gone up,” said Jones, who was told The FA are expected to confirm their League allocations on Tuesday and Jones wants to join Welling Town in the Premier Division next season.

“Fair play to Welling Town, they deserved it but I still believe in miracles so I’m still waiting for a miracle. We’ve done so well to just miss out by one point when maybe we have got a possible opportunity.  I just pray that The FA would consider us to go up, that’s all.  It’s in their hands but it would be nice to go up!

“I dedicate this win to John McFadden, our chairman. He’s going to have an operation soon. I’m just so proud for the lads for everything.

“We’re going places. We’re just trying to get back to how Erith & Belvedere used to be, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Sutton Athletic manager Daniel Kelly said: “I find it disappointing naturally. I thought we were the better side in the first half.

“I thought we could get at them at the back. An unfortunate own-goal, two goals in three minutes didn’t help.  Credit to the goals, the third goal, especially was a great strike. There’s nothing you could do about that.

“The fourth goal our defender has headed it and it’s come of their player and gone in. It’s kind of a killer blow but I can’t knock my team for carrying on until the 90th minute.”

Erith & Belvedere’s 45-goal striker Harry Harding, who is creating interest from Bostik League clubs, created the first opening after only 128 seconds when his right-footed free-kick from 30-yards went over the wall and Sutton Athletic keeper Matthew Bishop initially treated the ball like a hot potato before gathering at the second attempt.

“Harry didn’t score but he did work hard. He played really well and he was unlucky with the chance,” said Jones.

Erith & Belvedere left-winger Guyliano Mpungi – who looped in seven long throws into the Sutton Athletic box during the game – cut inside Evans before drilling his right-footed drive sailing over the top of the far post from 30-yards.

Sutton Athletic produced a fine slick move inside the final third to grab the lead with 13 minutes and 42 seconds on the clock.

Dan Gunner played the ball into Evans, who slipped a lovely through ball to put Sutherland through on goal and he calmly slotted his right-footed shot past the advancing keeper to nestle the ball into the bottom left-hand corner from 16-yards.

Kelly said: “That’s his 19th goal this year. James, Conor and Dan Gunner link up very well. He does that all year.  Nineteen goals you can’t ask for a lot from someone whose not really a striker.”

Jones added: “Good player, very good player, very good. I rate Sutton. I thought they’re a good side, I really do. It’s just unfortunate. I believe that we’re a really good side ourselves and we wanted it more than they did.”

Erith & Belvedere reacted by immediately going up the other end and restored parity.

Mpungi once again cut in from the left wing and his first shot was blocked.  His second bite of the cherry from 20-yards was parried by Bishop, diving low to his left but Kwtondo rifled the ball into the roof of the net from six-yards as the ball rolled out to him.

Jones said: “He hasn’t been playing much, he’s been on the bench, he’s only young but he’s still a little bit lightweight but he’s one for the future. He’s technically very good and he’s taken his chance.  I thought he played really well up until his injury, then I took him off.”

Kelly said: “A little bit disappointing. We let him cut in and have a shot. A good save from Matt, I think. Callum came in at half-time a bit disappointed that he let him get in front but that sometimes happens.”

There was a collectors item in the 20th minute when Harding missed a sitter and wanted the pitch to gobble him up.

Tony Hill lofted the ball into the Sutton Athletic box and striker Romayle Wade’s drive was blocked and fell nicely for Kwtondo, who hit an angled drive which was parried by Bishop, low to his right but Harding blasted his shot over an open goal from just four-yards out.

Kelly said: “We’ve played against him twice already this season. He’s scored a lot of goals. I don’t think he’s scored past us at all this year. He missed a penalty against us at our place in the 90th minute as well. Maybe we’re a bogey side for him but you can’t knock his quality.

“I don’t know how he missed! Miss of the season isn’t it but you can’t knock him because he’s got 45 goals this season and he’s a class player. It’s just one of those days maybe?”

Jones added: “I think he was trying too hard if I’m honest.  Usually that’s bread and butter to him.

“The first time we played Sutton, he should’ve scored a penalty and he should’ve scored a tap in and he missed them both so he hasn’t scored against Sutton.”

Jones hinted that lifting the silverware may be Harding’s last act for Erith & Belvedere – the midfielder turned striker should be playing in the Bostik League at least!

He said: “He’s had a great season, a great captain, a great player, a great man and he’s got a great family. He’s loyal and if he doesn’t stay with us, I wish him all the best.”

Quan overhit a diagonal pass along the ground and Harding did well to chase after the ball and got a slice of luck when the ball bounced off the base of the corner flag. He whipped in a great cross into the box for his strike partner Romayle Wade to glance his free header across the keeper and past the far post from the penalty spot.

Sutton Athletic took the lead for the second time when Evans produced his first piece of solo brilliance, scoring with 30 minutes and 14 seconds on the clock.

Sutton Athletic enjoyed a good spell of possession Tom Menditta – who played on the left of a three-man defence – was given time and space to crack a left-footed drive from 35-yards, which stung Daniel Teeley’s fingers.

Teeley cleared the ball and just 27 seconds later he was picking the ball out of his net as Evans picked up the ball, went on a 30-yard run with the ball and kept composed to cut into the box before slotting his right-footed finish across the keeper to roll the ball into the bottom left-hand corner from 15-yards.

Kelly said: “That was one of what we wanted to try to ask Conor, to get on the left-hand side on his right-foot. He’s not a striker but that was his 19th goal of the season. He’s dangerous running at players if you allow him space. It was a great goal, a great finish!”

Jones added: “He just went through everybody! I have to say I think he’s a very good player.”

Quan hit a long ball down the right channel and Harding put the ball back into the box which was flicked towards his own goal by Hammond at the far post and the centre-half was relieved to see the ball land into Bishop’s hands.

Sutton Athletic ran out of luck, however, when Erith & Belvedere deservedly equalised with 35 minutes and 36 seconds on the clock.

Mpungi looped his third long throw high into the air and Curtis rose to flick the ball on at the near post and Sutton Athletic’s right-back Bryan used his head to flick the ball into the top left-hand corner of his own net just four-yards from his own goal.

Jones said: “Rob works on that a lot. I thought Rob had a very good game. He was superb today and he did cause a lot of problems from set-pieces so it didn’t surprise me when he was jumping as high as he was and flicking balls on.”

On Bryan, Kelly added: “He’s obviously disappointed about that but sometimes you don’t get that rub of the green. It’s a shame. He was a bit upset about it and he’s been really good for us this season. What can you do? It happens!”

A poor goal-kick from Teeley was intercepted by Evans, who drove towards the edge of the Deres’ penalty area but left-back Reece Barrett pressed him and did enough to ensure Evans’ right-footed drive from 25-yards flashed just past the right-hand post.

With the score level at 2-2, both managers went into the break to rally their troops for one final time this season.

Jones said: “I just told them their decision making was not good and to make the right decisions, press a little bit more and we’ll get the goals. That’s all I said to them.”

Kelly added: “It was very open. We changed our system today to match up with them because they play three at the back and we wanted to get our forwards isolated against theirs. We wanted to try to make it open because we know we’re good on the attack.

“We said to the boys at half-time, we needed to be a little bit more tight defensively and try to nip them in the bud when they go forward because they play quite direct and we needed to make sure we get that out there and get on the counter against their back three and isolate our front three against them.  I thought we could do that. We would be on top like we were in the first half. It was more of the same really. I can’t say too much more to them.”

Sutton Athletic created the first opening of the second half when the impressive Evans whipped in a great free-kick down the right wing towards the near post for Hammond to plant his header over the crossbar from four-yards out.

Sutton Athletic then produced a three-man move when Hammond drove in a cross from the right, Sutherland helped it on at the near post and the quiet Arlie Desanges got a slight touch to flicked the ball across the keeper and trickling past the far post.

Erith & Belvedere snatched the lead with a pure moment of class with 19 minutes and 59 seconds on the clock.

Hill advanced down the right and whipped in a cross, which was cleared out to Quan, who smacked a right-footed volley sailing into the top left-hand corner from 35-yards.

Jones revealed:  “Well, funnily enough, in the changing room at half-time I had a go at him and he’s looking at me and laughing!

“I said to him ‘what are you doing? Some of your passing is terrible and you’re not making the right decisions, just relax but there’s goals in you to get so just chill out and take the chance when it comes’.

Jones added:  “It’s one of the best goals I’ve seen all season!”

Kelly added: “Both teams came out after the frantic first half. They’ve probably been speaking to their boys as well. It was a little bit more cagey for the first 20 minutes.  Absolutely credit, it’s an absolute worldie! A great strike. There’s nothing you can take away from it in a final, what a goal!”

Erith & Belvedere scored their fourth goal of the night with 22 minutes and 22 seconds on the clock and once again Hill was involved.

Hill launched a deep free-kick from the right, some 15-yards from the half-way line, towards the far post and Michael Mills – who played at the heart of Sutton Athletic’s back three – rose at the far post and knocked his header onto Curtis, who bundled the ball over the line and into the bottom left-hand corner from three-yards out.

Jones said: “Rob’s really come on with his set-pieces so fair play to Rob and I’m sure he’s a very proud man. He’s got his son who was born this year and I’m sure he’ll dedicate that to his little boy.”

Kelly added: “That’s disappointing because it’s a silly free-kick and he bundles it in.

“Millsy wins the header and headed it against him and it’s ended up in the net. That could’ve gone absolutely anywhere but credit to them again. Rob Curtis is committed to make the effort for the ball so what can you do?”

Sutton Athletic created an opening when Mills launched a big kick over the top of the defence for Hammond, who flicked his shot over the crossbar from a couple of yards inside the Erith & Belvedere penalty area.

Erith & Belvedere rattled in their fifth goal of the night with 34 minutes and 36 seconds on the clock, hitting their opponents on the counter-attack.

Jerome Wade broke and fed Isichei, who played a diagonal pass over to Harding, who ran the right channel before he whipped in a deep cross towards the far post for Isichei to steer his downward header across the keeper and into the bottom far corner.

Jones made eight changes during the game – roll-on-roll-off is allowed in this competition – and Isichei originally came on in the 43rd minute, was substituted in the 81st minute and came on for a second time deep into injury time.

“He did well when he came on. He was superb.  The substitutions were at the right time,” explained Jones.

“Obviously Sutton kept pushing and pushing so I used it to our advantage and kept making subs because it’s roll-on-roll-off so I thought I’d just kill time and stop their flow of play and they didn’t like it.  They were moaning a lot about it but I just kept shouting it’s roll-on-roll-off. We want to win so roll-on-roll-off, sub!”

Kelly didn’t bring up the four changes that Jones made from the 81st minute during the interview when asked about the home side’s fifth goal of the game.

“It’s 10 minutes to go in a cup final and we’re throwing caution to the wind a little bit, trying to get back into it and they’ve caught us on the break. It’s a good cross and they’ve got in front of Darren Wheeler at the back post, a great header!”

There was still time for Sutton Athletic to score a third goal, timed at 42 minutes and 40 seconds on the clock.

Evans will certainly be creating interest from higher-league sides on his performance tonight.

The Sutton Athletic number 10 picked the ball up on the left and cut in to the middle on a 30-yard run, before drilling a stunning right-footed shot into the top left-hand corner from 25-yards out.

Kelly said: “I know it sounds similar to the first goal. It’s not something he hasn’t done countless times this season. He’s got bundles of quality. I’m sure you can see that yourself and when he picks up the ball and runs at players that’s exactly what he can do. A great goal. It’s not unexpected because he’s done it so many times. He’s got 20 goals for someone who plays in midfield. It’s not bad for a young kid.”

“We’ve got to work with that because that’s what happened with the second goal that they scored,” said Jones.

“We backed off and we let people come at us and we think Teeley can save everything. He can’t save everything! It’s impossible! We’ve got to get back to basics and do everything correctly.”

A runners-up spot and two trophies in the bag, Jones reflects on a great season for Erith & Belvedere.

“I’m proud, very happy. I know it’s all part of the dream and the vision for this club to go forward. I really believe if we can go up, the club can go to the next level, I really do.

“I’m really happy. If anybody said we would be in two cup finals and could possibly go up, I would go yes alright because we didn’t have a team at the beginning of the season, I had this from scratch.

“I pray that we can go up and if we do we’ll give a good account of ourselves. If not we’re going to have to work really hard to get into the top four because it’s not easy in that division. I’d rather go up now, would you? It’s been a great season.”

For Sutton Athletic, Kelly has improved matters at Lower Road this season.

“Happy in one aspect.  We were still in the mix but we’ve got top five. We had a little bit of a slip in the last month but last year we rebuilt. We finished 11th last year, trying to build the side back up after Ben Young left and this year we’ve got a lot of young players out there trying to get them to play football and compete.

“In one aspect I can’t be disappointed with it.  All we can do is only get better, a good young team can only be better.  When you look at last season it’s a massive improvement and we’ll aim to improve next year.

“The main aim for the club is just to improve. We’re a small club really. Look at Erith & Belvedere for instance and what they’ve got, the backing. We’re nowhere near it in terms of what we are and where we’ve come from so to still be up there.

“We’ve got no budget and we’re still trying to get ground improvements done with our own funding and things like that.

“We don’t really set no targets. We’re under no pressure from the chairman. We’re just seeing what we can do. The main aspect for me is to try to keep everyone and I’m sure if we do then we’ll be a force but that is going to be the task.”

Erith & Belvedere: Daniel Teeley, Tony Hill, Reece Barrett, Gravlyn Kwtondo (Fred Obasa 33, Reggie Yembra 77)), Robert Curtis, George Jones (Chan Quan 90), Jerome Wade, Chan Quan (Romayle Wade 85), Romayle Wade (Osita Isichei 43, Bobby Holley 81)), Harry Harding, Guyliano Mpungi (Connor Dobson 52, Osita Isichei 90)).

Goals: Gravlyn Kwtondo 16, George Bryan 36 (own goal), Chan Quan 65, Robert Curtis 68, Osita Isichei 80

Booked: Connor Dobson 55

Sutton Athletic: Matthew Bishop, George Bryan (Eli Graham 73), Dan Gunner, Michael Mills, Tom Hammond, Tom Menditta (George Reed 84), Callum Flynn (Will Roomes 73), Darren Wheeler, Arlie Desanges (Chris McGinty 65), Conor Evans, James Sutherland.
Sub: Dean Nash

Goals: James Sutherland 14, Conor Evans 31, 88

Booked: Dan Gunner 67

Attendance: 190
Referee: Mr Daniel Blades (Wrotham)
Assistants: Mr Mike Sullivan (West Wickham) & Mr John Ryan (Greenwich)
Fourth Official: Mr Teddy Osborn (Bromley)