FC Elmstead 0-2 Sheppey United - I think if we’d taken our chances in the first half, it would’ve been a different story, admits FC Elmstead boss Marc Bentz

Tuesday 08th January 2019
FC Elmstead 0 – 2 Sheppey United
Location Lower Road, Hextable, Kent BR8 7RZ
Kickoff 08/01/2019 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Third Round
Tuesday 8 January 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Lower Road

FC ELMSTEAD manager Marc Bentz says he rues his side’s missed first half chances after crashing out of the Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup to Sheppey United.

The Ites booked their place in the Quarter-Finals thanks to two first half goals from lightening quick winger Tarik Ibrahim and midfielder David Botterill after FC Elmstead left-back Ben Lockett had a poor penalty saved.

The home side went into this Lower Road clash sitting in 13th place in the First Division table with 19 points from 18 games and with a mounting injury crisis and Bentz had 13 players available for the game.

Sheppey United are in the top five in the Premier Division with 38 points from 21 games, nine points adrift of leaders Fisher, who have a game in hand.

“I think if we’d taken our chances in the first half, it would’ve been a different story,” admitted Bentz.

“They had a lot of the ball in the second half and created a lot of half-chances or three-quarter chances but in the first half we probably had the best chances of the match, the penalty and when Alvin and Jay had gone through. If they’d had gone in, it would have panned out a bit differently.”

Sheppey United manager Ernie Batten said: “I thought we done a decent job. It’s always difficult coming to places when you’re the favourites as such, when you’re against a team below and of course they’ve got everything to play for.  It’s a cup final for them, for a place in the Quarter-Finals at stake.

“I thought it took us a little while to settle down. They had a penalty, they had a couple of other chances but I thought once we settled down and got over that little period, I think we were in control most of the time.”

Rob Denness, who has just come back from a hand injury, suffered in front of goal for Sheppey United, in fact his chance after 185 seconds will go down as the miss of the season. Thankfully there was no one filming the game, otherwise it would go viral.

Emergency centre-back Kwasi Amoah latched onto a clearance and put the ball back into the FC Elmstead penalty area.  Denness nipped in front of the advancing goalkeeper Alex Hyde, brought the ball down and with an entire open goal to aim at, his half-volley crashed against the crossbar from four-yards out as he was aiming for the top right-hand corner.

With the win in the bag, Batten was able to see the funny side.

“I just reminded him to score a goal the ball has got to go in between the two upright white posts and there’s a white crossbar that goes across it! I said you might have forgotten about that!

“I’ve seen them before. We’ve all watched them on the tele, football gaffes! I’m sure it will be on in the future. I’m sure somebody might’ve caught it on video, now it’s viral!”

“Thank god it didn’t go in, simple as that,” added Bentz.

“It’s a sloppy clearance and as we’re stepping out, the balls come straight back. We’re guilty of missing three very good chances in the first half but they’re guilty of missing that one!”

FC Elmstead had some impressive players in an attacking sense with right-winger Daniel Patterson and nippy striker Alvin Turyatemba, who has scored eight goals this season.

Patterson swung in their first corner of the night and the ball was cleared out to central midfielder Daniel Carpenter. His initial shot was blocked within a crowded penalty area and came back out to him but he sliced his shot past the right-hand post.

FC Elmstead had a good 20 minute spell when they should have been in front.

Patterson’s second corner was met by centre-half Lyndsey Prescott-Kerr, a free header from 12-yards, which the former Holmesdale man planted his header over the crossbar.

“He knows he should get that on target,” said Bentz.

“He scored one from a corner a couple of weeks ago and he’s disappointed that he didn’t at least hit the target.”

Sheppey United handed centre-half Luke Wheatley his debut, having signed him on dual-registration terms from Bostik South East Division side Ramsgate.

“He’s come in because we’re looking to strengthen defensively,” explained Batten.

“We’ve got injuries, we’ve got Kwasi Amoah, who is a right-back playing centre-half at the moment. Jono Richardson was unavailable tonight so we’ve brought Luke in. We’ve got another lad, Teddy Nelson, a young centre-half from Whitstable as well so we’re looking to strengthen in that area.”

Wheatley made two mistakes in the game that gave FC Elmstead a couple of glorious chances but the home side failed to take them.

In the 18th minute, Wheatley failed to cut out Carpenter’s ball over the top and this let in burly striker Michael (Jay) Garrick but he drilled his right-footed shot over the crossbar when he only had goalkeeper Aaron Lee-Wharton to beat.

Bentz said: “Again, it should be on target really! We said to him at half-time he almost waited for the mistake to happen, whereas if he gambled a bit earlier, maybe that first touch would have been inside the box and it would’ve been an easier finish for him but I think he feels he should’ve got that on target!”

Referee Daniel Blades – who incidentally had a great game  - gave FC Elmstead a chance to causing the same kind of upset of 24 hours earlier when their league rivals Sporting Club Thamesmead dumped third-placed Premier Division title challengers Beckenham Town out of the competition – awarding them a nineteenth minute penalty.

Turyatemba latched onto another Carpenter ball over the top and Amoah came across to trip him inside the box.

Up stepped winger-turned-full-back Lockett but his right-footed penalty was poor and Lee-Wharton took a couple of steps to his right to make a comfortable save, gathering the ball at the second attempt.

Now sounding like a broken record, Bentz said: “Again, he feels he should put it away, he normally does! Not much more I can say, all three of them feel they should’ve done better, it’s disappointing.

“I said to them at half-time, I think based on the last few matches confidence is a bit low and if their confidence was high those chances would have been in the back of the net and then it’s a different story,” said Bentz, whose side have now gone eight games without a win.

“But to be creating chances against a team 28 places above you and we were missing nine players tonight, but to be creating chances against a team that high up they should hold their heads up that they are able to compete and challenge and be doing that – but they should be doing better!”

Batten added: “Aaron is very good on penalties. I think he’s saved more than he’s let in this season.  I’m not sure if that’s an accurate stat but it can’t be far off because he’s had three or four penalty saves.

“It’s Luke and Kwasi’s first game together. Kwasi is not really a centre-half, he’s just covering for us. They got caught a little bit with the ball through and Kwasi’s come across the guy and it was a penalty.

“It was a massive chance. You can see why teams at our level can get knocked out. You give them the impetus and they go 1-0 up and they’ve got everything to play for and it’s a real battle to get back into it.”

Sheppey United recovered from that near-miss and created an opening in the 26th minute.

Right-back Kiki Oshilaja fed Ibrahim down the right and the former Phoenix Sports winger reached the by-line to pull it back for Denness to sting Hyde’s fingers with a right-footed shot on the turn from eight-yards.

Wheatley’s second mistake came on the half-hour mark when he let in Turyatemba but he sliced his shot past the near post when he only had Lee-Wharton to beat.

Batten said: “A great chance as well. They take those two chances and we’re in trouble and it could’ve been a different game but they didn’t.  I thought from there on in although they were the turning points but it was only 20 minutes gone so after that I thought we were quite comfortable.”

Those missed FC Elmstead chances proved to be costly as Sheppey United took the lead with 33 minutes and 58 seconds on the clock.

Midfielder Kane Butler flicked a long ball with his feet to release Timmy Babbington charging down the left and he played the ball across the face of goal for an unmarked Ibrahim to sweep home from six-yards at the far post, via the keeper’s hand, the ball nestling into the bottom right-hand corner.

“I thought it was a very good move, the build-up to it and I thought it was a great touch from Kane Butler and we got a cross in and it was a nice move,” said Batten.

“I always say you can play football in the last third, although on an awkward pitch.  It looked flat but you could see when the ball was rolling, it was bobbling right up.  I was quite pleased, we do try to keep playing whatever the surface is and our quality will give us chances.”

The goal eased Batten’s nerves.

“You was there (at Sporting Club Thamesmead) last night, we’ve all seen it. I’ve been subject to a cup upset myself as a player and as a manager.  We’ve seen in The FA Cup, like we see in League football they can happen and if the penalty goes in and the other chances go in, then you’ve got a different game on your hands.”

Bentz said: “That came actually from a mistake, under no pressure, we lost it in midfield. They had the ball from bad control, played it out wide and then the ball across the box and then tapped in at the back post. We were just quite guilty today of a lot of sloppiness.”

Sheppey United continued to put the ball in their opponents box and defensive clearances were poor and the Ites doubled their lead with 42 minutes and 36 seconds on the clock.

The pacey Babbington raced down the left, fed Denness, who reached the by-line and he put over a cross.  FC Elmstead defender Marcus Howell failed to pick up Botterill, who rose to guide his free header sailing into the far corner from 10-yards.

Batten said: “It was a good move. I thought it was a very good header from Botterill because he was leaning back when he headed it and he got a good contact on it, so I was pleased to get the second goal.”

Bentz added: “It was a good header, he wasn’t picked up in the box. I know he’s in between the two centre-halves, a free-header and it was a good goal from them.

“We’re in possession and we’ve lost it and gave it back to them and they’ve put the ball in the box and taken the chance.”

Both manager’s were asked their thoughts at the break.

Bentz said:  “I was trying to instil a bit of confidence because we created very good chances and they were two goals down when in my opinion it could have been at least three-all.

“You’re just trying to get the confidence back in them. We’ve had a hard run of games recently and done fantastically well in those games and just been short.

“If they can create those chances in one half, they can create those chances again in the second half and this time you’ve got to be clinical and take them and it turns in our favour.”

Batten added: “I just reminded them the way we started we couldn’t go out there again in the second half because if we concede a goal and it’s 2-1, it becomes a different game so the third goal was going to be important but at the end of the day if you keep a clean sheet we win 2-0, which is how it turned out.”

Sheppey United were dominant for the whole of the second half as FC Elmstead missed their chance to progress earlier on.

Patient build up from the away side created their first opening inside the opening four minutes.  Ibrahim played the ball into Denness inside the box, who twisted and turned his man before drilling his right-footed shot across the face of goal and past the far post.

“We squandered a number of chances, we got into some great positions. We got down each flank. I thought they defended really well to contain us in that second half,” said Batten.

“I’m never too concerned about missed chances. It’s all about creating them. If a striker misses a chance, I’d rather be in there to miss it than not be in there.”

Bentz added: “I think he’s done well to get the shot off.  He’s turned, created the space and got the shot. I don’t know him so I don’t know if he feels he could’ve done better or not but he’s done well to create the chance and get the shot off.”

Botterill’s left-footed free-kick from 25-yards dipped just over the crossbar before FC Elmstead created their only chance of the half.

Debutant winger Adil Mirza played a low ball in from the left to Carpenter and space opened up in front of him but his right-footed drive from 30-yards rolled into Lee-Wharton’s gloves for a comfortable pick-up.

“Unfortunately that was indictive of our second half,” admitted Bentz.

“We just couldn’t get in behind as we did in the first half and create the chances, we just struggled in the second half.

“Adil made his debut tonight, he’s only recently signed. Captain Christian Howell, that was his first game for a while because he’s been ill over Christmas and the New Year and he was injured prior to that.

“Ben Lockett’s been thrown in at left-back when normally he’s a winger and we tried to plug holes.

“You could see in the second half there were two or three players struggling in terms of fitness.

“Charlie Stanton (right-back) has only played three games this season and he’s up against a very quick winger. That doesn’t help things.  You could just see the fitness, the stamina, heavy legs and the quality of the passing started to drop off and if you can’t find your own players and give it away all the time you’re defending for the whole of the half and chances are going to be limited.”

Batten simply added: “From that sort of distance, you’d expect Aaron to collect that one!”

Babbington cut in from the right and swept his right-footed shot, which was gobbled up comfortably by Hyde on his knees on the hour-mark.

Hyde was called into making a low diving save in the 65th minute.

Butler released Babbington in behind a tiring defence and the tricky winger hit a low shot towards the bottom near corner, forcing Hyde to dive low to his right to tip the ball around the post for the eighth of 13 Sheppey corners.

Sheppey United continued to get behind the FC Elmstead defence and Ibrahim cut the ball back from the by-line but a frustrated Denness lashed his shot high over the crossbar from six-yards out.

Batten said of his seven-goal striker Denness: “That’s right, it was one of those nights for him, it was never going to go in!

“I thought he was excellent. His movement and getting into spaces and leading the line was excellent. He just didn’t finish his opportunities tonight.”

“I think we’ve done well to limit the number of chances as they had and made it as difficult for them,” said Bentz.

“I don’t remember them going one-on-one with the keeper and having an easy chance.  There was always a defender there to apply a little bit of pressure and make that shot harder.

“I was pleased with the attitude and the way we defended and the legs went and the quality went and we just couldn’t create and get back into the game.”

Despite missing his chances and enduring a frustration night in front of goal, Denness linked up well with his team-mates, oozing class of a Bostik South East Division player playing one level lower than he should be.

Denness fed Ibrahim, who drilled his shot just past the foot of the near post as he attempted to find the bottom near corner inside the final 20 minutes.

Sheppey United were very wasteful during their dominant second half and Ian Batten played in Babbington in the final three minutes but the winger lashed his right-footed shot over the crossbar when he only had Hyde to beat.

“The thing is we got away with it tonight but generally if you miss that number of chances it can hurt you and you’ve got to be a bit more clinical,” said Batten.

“We’d like to get to the final and win this trophy.  We’ve got a great chance so we want to win this competition and the league position, we want to be in the top three or the top four.”

When asked about their poor run of form, Bentz replied: “I’m really not pleased with the results but really pleased with the attitude of the boys. The confidence is low at the moment but if you look at the games that we’ve lost apart from the Lewisham game when we deservedly got thrashed 5-0, we’ve played the top five teams in our league and only lost by the odd goal.

“We’ve had eight, nine or 10 players missing every game so if we can get those back maybe we can get a little bit more from these games and I think the management team and the players are all looking to get a few players in so we’re not scraping around with 11-13 players every week.

“It’s been tough. A couple of them haven’t had hardly any games, are trialists or brand new signings, who haven’t played yet.

“I hope we can get a few of the boys back within the next few weeks. We’ve played a lot of the top teams now twice. I think we’ve got Erith & Belvedere twice and Bridon Ropes once but apart from that they’re all middle or bottom of the table now and if we can get the boys back, I’d like to push back into the top of the table.”

FC Elmstead, meanwhile, are without a League game on Saturday but travel to Tooting Bec in the London Senior Trophy Quarter-Finals on Saturday 19 January.

Bentz said: “I’ve got a friendly in place at the moment but with the amount of injuries I may have to cancel it but I’m hopeful we’ll get a few back who need minutes because the match after that the following Saturday is a Quarter-Final against Tooting Bec.

“It’s one I wanted to do well in at the start of the season. It’s a good cup to be in. It’s nice to go to different places and play against different teams but it’s very competitive as well so it’s definitely one I’ve wanted to do well in.”

FC Elmstead: Alex Hyde, Charlie Stanton, Ben Lockett, Christian Howell, Marcus Howell, Lyndsey Prescott-Kerr, Adil Maza (Kamarl Charles-Reid 70), Daniel Carpenter, Alvin Turyatemba, Michael Garrick (Jack Jeffrey 62), Daniel Patterson.

Booked: Lyndsey Prescott-Kerr 3

Sheppey United: Aaron Lee-Wharton, Kiki Oshilaja (Hicham Akhazzan 77), Darren Cooper, David Botterill, Luke Wheatley, Kwasi Amoah, Timmy Babbington, Ian Batten, Rob Denness (Luke Medley 84), Kane Butler, Tarik Ibrahim.
Subs: Dan Bradshaw, Joshua Stirman

Goals: Tarik Ibrahim 34, David Botterill 43

Attendance: 61
Referee: Mr Daniel Blades (Wrotham)
Assistants: Mr Christopher Bowdery (Grove Park, London SE12) & Mr James Reed (Maidstone)