Holmesdale 2-2 FC Elmstead - There's not really a huge expectation because they've been at the bottom of Step five for a long time, says Holmesdale boss Ian Varley

Friday 07th October 2016
Holmesdale 2 – 2 FC Elmstead
Location 68 Oakley Road, Bromley, Kent BR2 8HQ
Kickoff 07/10/2016 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Friday 7th October 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Oakley Road

HOLMESDALE manager Ian Varley says there’s no expectation from the club to make a swift return to the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division at the end of the season.

The Bromley based club suffered relegation under previous manager Byron Beard and they remain in ninth-place in the First Division table on 19 points from 12 games – 9 points adrift of league leaders Rusthall.

FC Elmstead also stay in eleventh-place on 16 points from 11 games after twice coming from behind in the landlords-v-tenants derby, which was watched by 80 people at Oakley Road.

Holmesdale winger Liam Rosenfield drilled a 30-yarder into the top corner to give the landlords the lead five minutes before the break.

The second half was a more entertaining affair and FC Elmstead equalised through their best player on the night, winger Ben Lockett.

Another winger, Holmesdale’s Jamie Williams, scored his sixth goal of the season, but their goalkeeper Alfie George, who was struggling with a knee injury gifted Cockerel’s striker Tom Pratt the equaliser with 13 minutes left.

“I’m fuming! Disappointed,” said Varley, whose side have now gone five games without a win.

“We should be beating teams like that, no disrespect to FC Elmstead, we should be beating teams like that! We’ve shot ourselves in the foot again. We did it in the first game against them and done it today. The first game was 2-2, gave them goals, same sort of thing today, go a goal up, just not good enough!

“We should be beating teams, no disrespect at all, but at home, we should be winning games like that.

“They were sloppy goals.  I think we played better than the last time you came to watch us. We were more in control, we moved the ball well.  When we concede and it’s usually a poor goal, we seem to get rattled for a bit and then we stop doing what we’re doing. As soon as we concede we sort of go off it for however long, 10-15 minutes, and if a team scores late like they did today, then we didn’t calm down.  You’ve still got 15 minutes, we just needed to calm down and go again and hopefully get the next goal.”

FC Elmstead manager Fabio Rossi made his point despite having eight players’ unavailable tonight.

He said: “I’m happy that we’ve taken a point.  They know, because we play at the same ground, that we’ve had eight players out today and I would’ve taken that point all day long.  It’s a really good point for us.  The problem was though I felt the longer the game was going, the more that we looked like we were going to win it.”

Holmesdale created the first opening inside the opening eight minutes when Dan Palfrey’s long throw from the left glanced off the head of Elmstead defender Tom O’Reilly but Williams failed to poke the ball into the bottom near corner at the far post just a couple of yards from goal.

Williams’ fine pass played Andy Constable down the right and the on-loan striker from Sevenoaks Town stroked his first time right-footed angled drive towards the bottom far corner from 25-yards, forcing keeper Dan Teeley to dive low to his right to hold.

Varley said: “We started well, we were dominating early on, we kept the ball well.  I think they did try to press us a little bit but once we broke out from the back we got into their final third a lot, probably could’ve created more chances on goal.

“I’ve known Andy well, everyone knows Andy well, he’s been about. He knows the game, he’s experienced, he holds the ball up, everyone knows what he’s good at. He scored a good goal for us (in our 1-1 draw at Glebe) last week. He helps in terms of we’ve got Anthony Fenech out at the moment.  He’s a similar type of target-man.  Andy’s experience has helped us and I’m sure he’ll score more goals over the next month.”

Rossi added: “I felt the early stages we had more of the ball but they had a few better chances than us.

“Dan Teeley’s been doing that all year. Can’t say no more, I think so highly of Tees, he’s been brilliant all year.”

FC Elmstead’s first opening arrived in the 18th minute.

Lockett travelled with the ball on a 30-yard Crossfield run before he played the ball out wide to Ashley Wright, who cut inside his marker to curl his right-footed drive towards goal from 20-yards, the ball being pushed away by Alfie George’s outstretched right-hand.

Rossi said: “Ben’s been going great. We kept nearly taking him off tonight, he’s got flu’ but we’re so short he had to go and play and there was nearly like 30 times when we nearly took him off but eventually he stayed on there and he got the equaliser, which was great.”

Varley added: “They didn’t create that much tonight. I didn’t feel under that much pressure. It was a comfortable save. Alfie should be saving them, so I expected him to do so.”

Holmesdale were forced to shoot from 30-yards on three occasions.  The first from Jaie Nuttall screamed past the post, while Rosenfield’s dipping drive bounced into Teeley’s hands, before Ismail Ismail hit his first time drive past the post.

Cheat Williams was booked for punching the ball into the Elmstead net after Jordan Clarke delivered a deep cross towards the far post from the right in the 31st minute.

“He didn’t try to do it very discreetly, did he?” laughed Varley.

“It was a good ball. I think it was sailing wide. It’s a silly booking, he knows that.”

Rossi said: “It’s difficult though when you groundshare because you can’t really say too much.  I’m not sure the rules are there. He should’ve been sent-off. I mean he got booked so fair enough to the referee, he booked him. I did think the referee had given a goal and I rent but we’ve got it right and beaten them.”

Holmesdale’s policy of shooting from distance continued as Clarke drilled a shot that flew well wide, while Williams played the ball inside to central midfielder Nuttall who took a touch and saw his drive drift past the post.

Elmstead went close through Lockett, who cut in from the left to drag his shot past the post, before Holmesdale drew first blood by taking the lead with 39 minutes and 49 seconds on the clock.

Holmesdale produced a sweeping move which started down the left and the ball was played in the middle and Ismail played the ball to Constable, who held the ball up from just outside the edge of the box.  He rolled the ball into the path of Rosenfield, who took a touch and then drilled a stunning right-footed drive into the top right-hand corner from 30-yards.

“It was a good goal,” said Varley.

“We moved the ball well, we swapped Ismail and Danny Gannon for a little bit. It was a ball into Andy, Andy does what he does, hold the ball up, set him up and it's a great strike, a really good finish. He deserved that, he played really well again tonight Liam, he deserved his goal.”

Rossi added: “It was really, really difficult. We know they made the switch from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 and we were just re-organising to try to stop some of that going on but we just weren’t quick enough.

“Ismail just drove past and got a decent ball in and they scored. It’s one of those things, it was a great strike, very good, brilliant.

“Tees said it moved and that’s why he didn’t get it.”

Elmstead skipper Christian Howell floated in a free-kick from the left, the ball was cleared out to Harry West, who hit his shot on the turn past the near post

Both managers were asked their thoughts at the break

Holmesdale’s Varley said: “I was quite happy at the break, I think we were dominant in possession. We kept the ball well, we moved the ball well, we got to the final third. I wanted us to take more care in the final third. Other than that I was quite happy. I felt we were in control. If we carried on the same in the second half, I thought we’d go and win the game.

Rossi added: “We said just keep going.  We felt we was always in the game. It wasn’t like they were bossing us. We felt that we had moved enough. We probably didn’t have as many chances as the but we felt we had a bit more of the play than them.”

FC Elmstead were to be denied an equaliser by an excellent save at his near post by George.

Pratt put over a cross from the left towards Ben Slade (who is on dual-registration with Old Bromleians) and his side-footed volley from two-yards was destined to find the bottom near corner, but George used a strong right-hand to turn the ball away, making a great save.

Rossi said: “It was a great save from a gentle angle.  Good work from us Pratty done brilliantly getting down the side, Ben’s on the end of it, he can’t realty do any more – that was a great save!”

Varley admitted: “We didn’t come out very quickly at all just after half-time. The fella got to the by-line, crossed it in and it was a really good save. It came quick at him and it kept us 1-0 up.”

Teeley was then called into action just 58 seconds later.

Constable played a sublime defence splitting pass to put Williams through on goal but Teeley made a vital block with his legs when the Holmesdale winger only had the keeper to beat.

“Again, it should be a goal! Williams will be the first one to admit it, although he did make up for it later,” added Varley.

“I always say if you go 2-0 up it’s generally done. That might come back to haunt me that but generally at this level it’s game over, so I was hoping we’d get the second goal. It didn’t happen and they got back into it.”

Rossi added: “It was one chance, he got away there and again Tees come to the rescue, which he’s been doing all year.”

Lockett capped off an impressive performance by scoring FC Elmstead’s equaliser in the 56th minute.

It was a lovely three-man move.  Wright fed Slade down the right channel and he whipped in a low cross across the face of goal and Lockett swept his first time shot into the bottom right-hand corner from 16-yards.

“Ben’s got that quality, when he gets in front of goal,” said Rossi.

“Sometimes he does my head in with his work-rate but he certainly has quality.

“Ashley Wright had a great game as well, driving at the defence, taking them on and he’s quality come through as well. It was a good, all-round goal and equaliser. I felt we deserved that.”

Varley added: “It was too easy down the right.  He’s pulled it in and there’s nowhere within five yards of him and he’s slotted the ball home.

“It’s a poor goal from our point of view. He’s not been tracked from midfield or we’ve not stepped into mark him from the back.

“It’s a good finish but a poor goal from our point of view.”

Lockett turned provider when his pass let in Pratt, whose chip from the left-hand side of the penalty area was caught by George.

Christian Howell’s third and last corner was cleared back to him and his long-range hooked volley on the angle flew into George’s gloves.

But Holmesdale took the lead for the second time through Williams in the 72nd minute.

FC Elmstead went to sleep when Clarke threw the ball to Williams, who cut into the box from the right and drilled his shot across the keeper to find the bottom far corner of the net from 15-yards.

“Poor goal from their point of view because we just snuck in but great finish from Williams, especially after the one he missed earlier,” said Varley.

“It sort of played on his mind a little bit but great finish to put us 2-1 up and we should see that game out. We should go and score more but as you’re going to tell me in a minute it came back…”

Rossi revealed: “Well, my coach Jack White has actually gone a bit nuts at them there at the end. I was sort of pleased and proud of getting a point with so many players but Jack’s gone nutty on some of them and to be fair he’s probably right.

“It was very sloppy on some of the throw-ins that they had. We didn’t pick up quickly enough and we didn’t close the ball quick enough and there were one or two occasions. We didn’t do the right things but Jack’s picked up on them and hopefully the boys are going to enjoy their weekend now.”

FC Elmstead received the share of the spoils but they were gifted an equaliser with 77 minutes on the clock.

George was still feeling the effects of his knee injury when he received a back-pass from one of his central defenders Jamie Rawsthorne.

With Pratt approaching, George tried to dribble past him, but in doing so offered the ball to him on a plate and Pratt slotted the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of an open goal.

Rossi said: “It’s a shame really, he’s a good goalkeeper. I hope he recovers quickly. It wasn’t good and it’s not nice to see when something like that happens. That’s football.

“I thought we deserved a draw at least at the end. We were the stronger team. Maybe they got a bit worried, Alfie was running around on one knee hence it was only normal they were going deeper to try and defend it.”

Varley added: “He had a problem at half-time with his knee. I think his knee popped out at half-time, it’s popped back in so he went out at half-time and played.

“He just had issues the whole half.  We don’t generally have a sub keeper, you don’t have a sub keeper to sit on the bench all the time at his level.

“My thoughts are it should’ve never have gone back to Alfie.  The treatment’s happened 30 seconds earlier. I said that to Jamie at the end. He’s a young centre half, a great centre half, done fantastic for us. That should’ve never have gone back to Alfie because Alfie’s not come for it initiatively so he’s obviously struggling. It should never go back but then again Alfie should’ve just boot it rather than take someone on when you’ve got injuries.”

FC Elmstead pressed for the winner but George made amends inside stoppage time, making a vital low save to his right to deny substitute Mert Varli scoring with a shot on the turn from 16-yards.

“We were thinking how we were going to make changes. Nothing against the bench, the bench was made up of reserve team players apart from Mert Varli, who we signed when I was here at Holmesldae so our options were a little bit limited. I had to pick the 10 players that were fit, to play square pegs in round holes.”

“It was a good save, good hands,” said Varley.

“That’s what annoyed me the most at the end, when they scored that was it. We just got rattled for 15 minutes where we did plenty of time to just calm down, like we did after their equaliser to be calm and go again, but we didn’t but we just listened to all that nonsense that comes from the side and we just got embroiled in nonsense.  I keep saying it, but it was like we just couldn’t get a rhythm going again and there was going to be only one team that was going to win, raffle and we snuck to 2-2.”

Both managers reflected on Holmesdale’s largest crowd of the season of 80.

“It’s a bonus for the club, yes it’s alright,” said Varley.

“Friday night football is good. It’s better when you win so you can enjoy your weekend but at least we haven’t lost.  I think Friday night is a good idea with the groundsharing and stuff. This was planned a long time ago.   You get more people watching, I’m sure opposition managers will come to watch. It’s quite a good idea. It’s nice to see the attendance double to what it usually is, it’s usually around the 30-40 mark.”

Rossi revealed that their FA Buildbase Vase First Round tie at home to league rivals Sporting Club Thamesmead has been switched to Friday 21 October.

“We’ve agreed with Sporting Club Thamesmead that our Vase game will be here on a Friday night, so we had 71 when we played them. They were quite a few of our supporters here tonight. I love Friday night games, it gives us Saturday off, I’ve got a few things to do.”

Reflecting on Holmesdale’s league position, Varley replied: “It’s really tight at the top. It’s a lot different from last year. It’s very competitive. I don’t know if that’s teams that have got better or there’s not as many outstanding teams as least year like Sheppey and Bearsted. It’s certainly a lot tighter. No one’s getting turned over heavily anymore so it’s going to be tough.

“We’ve just got to try to find some consistency. That’s no win in five but obviously two draws, but in terms of positives we haven’t lost a game.”

When asked about the club’s aspirations for the season ahead, Varley said: “From the club there’s not really a huge expectation because they’ve been at the bottom of Step five for a long time. It’s the first anyone got relegated from that league so it was unfortunate because I wanted to have a go at Step five but the club want to play good football, bring some young players through. We don’t have a budget to pay people so we want to enjoy the football.  The club’s been great to me, really good in terms of letting me get on with it. It’s my first job.

“Personally, I expect us to be up there. I had experience of this league last year where we went close. I have a lot of these players and a lot of new players and I expect us to be up there – if we get more consistent.”

Rossi added: “I think we’re doing brilliantly. I think we’re doing really, really well because most of the other teams have got more than what we can offer. We don’t have our own bar or pay players or anything like that.

“We’ve played all the teams in the top half and if we can keep going we’ll be fine.  We’re still in the Vase and we’re looking forward to that one on the Friday night, we’re looking to get a really good crowd.

“We didn’t put anything too high but I suppose now that we’ve started fairly ok-ish we want to make sure we finish our aspirations are, we’re trying to get into the FA Cup next season. We failed by one space last year, it was two wins so we definitely want to try and end up as high as we can to get into the FA Cup.”

Holmesdale: Alfie George, Jordan Clarke, Dan Palfrey, Jack Hooper, Jamie Rawsthorne, Jaie Nuttall (Charlie Weedon 70), Liam Rosenfield, Ismail Ismail (Deji Adeosun 83), Andy Constable, Danny Gannon, Jamie Williams (Aaron MCCallum 90).
Subs: Adriano Lawson, Reggi Yembra

Goals: Liam Rosenfield 40, Jamie Williams 72

Booked: Jamie Williams 31, Dan Palfrey 45, Jordan Clarke 82

FC Elmstead: Dan Teeley, Tom O’Reilly, Harry West, Christian Howell, Reece Barratt, Marcus Howell, Ben Lockett (Mert Varli 86), Aaron Guard (Jordan Gallifant 90), Tom Pratt (Luke Alliband 90), Ben Slade, Ashley Wright.

Goals: Ben Lockett 56, Tom Pratt 77

Booked: Tom O’Reilly 90

Attendance: 80
Referee: Mr Dan Friar (Rainham)
Assistants: Mr Jamie Eacott (Walderslade) & Mr Nick Fruin (Hayes)

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