Holmesdale 4-7 Greenwich Borough - It puts us top of the league and that's where we want to be and that's where we're going to stay, says Greenwich Borough assistant Paul Blade

Tuesday 11th August 2015
Holmesdale 4 – 7 Greenwich Borough
Location 68 Oakley Road, Bromley, Kent BR2 8HQ
Kickoff 12/08/2015 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League
Wednesday 12th August 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Oakley Road

GREENWICH BOROUGH assistant manager Paul Blade has challenged his side to stay at the summit of the Southern Counties East Football League all season after winning an eleven-goal thriller at Oakley Road.

Ian Jenkins – who is serving an eight-match touchline ban – has a side that are tipped as favourites to land the league title after having the tag of cup specialists last season.

They finished in a disappointing fourth-place last season, 19 points promoted champions Phoenix Sports.  The club saved their better performances for cup games winning both the Kent Senior Trophy and League Cup after reaching The FA Vase Fourth Round and The FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round earlier on in the season.

Greenwich Borough have put down a marker of their intensions during the opening week of the season, kicking off their campaign with a 4-0 win at Rochester United, while their former landlords were playing their first league game of the season tonight.

This game will forever live in the memory of the 107 supporters that were at the game – which was the most exciting game of football that I have had the pleasure of watching since first watching non-league football back in 1989!

Greenwich Borough hit Holmesdale hard by taking the lead after only 58 seconds with a controversial close-range goal from striker Jesse Darko.

Talented and pacy winger Mohamed Eisa stroked home a second inside the opening fourteen minutes, before Darko chipped in a third to give the Dartford based visitors a commanding 3-0 lead at the break.

Holmesdale pulled a goal back through striker Marcus Cassis, before Eisa extinguished any unlikely comeback by drilling home exactly two minutes later.

Greenwich Borough scored three more goals within a devastating 18 minute spell as Michael Power added a brace to take his tally to four in two games, which were sandwiched by substitute Billy Bennett getting on the scoresheet for the second time this season as a substitute.

Greenwich Borough appeared to have declared at seven and to Holmesdale’s credit their pacy forward line turned the game on its head by scoring three goals inside the final nine minutes.

Dereece Thompson capped off another impressive performance by drilling a first time shot into the back of the net, before substitute Tre Zialor twisted and turned several defenders inside the box before slotting home.

With the modest football ground buzzing with excitement, Holmesdale substitute Steven Korari even had time to have a penalty saved onto the crossbar, before Adriano Lawson smashed a 35-yarder into the top corner to complete an amazing night in Bromley.

Holmesdale assistant manager Ross Mitchell said: “Well, the supporters’ got their monies worth!

“If you analyse the game, seven goals is just not good enough at any level and the boys in there know that, but we can talk about the negatives and their plain to see, the scoreline in terms of goals conceded show that we’ve only got to take the positives away from tonight.

“We played an excellent team. We won’t play against three strikers like that every week and I thought we looked dangerous going forward when we worked in certain areas.”

Blade, speaking after this remarkable game, said: “You go in 3-0 at half-time more than comfortable, could have been out of sight by more!

“I don’t know, it’s a strange one because you don’t know whether to go in after the game and point fingers and have a rant and a rave but you sort of say to them ‘you’ve still scored seven goals but you’ve conceded four’ and that’s a little disappointing thing on that side. That’s a little minus on a very good performance.

“We’ve scored seven and we could have scored more but we sort of relaxed a little bit when you’re 7-1 up. You do take your foot of the pedal and you do make mistakes but fair play to them, they kept going, they didn’t give up and they did cause problems. They’ve got a lot of pace, which we didn’t really deal with through our own mistakes.

“We’ve gone top of the league, which is the first time we’ve been top of the league as a club for a long time.

“We try to stay to the boys realise the mistakes that we’ve made. We need to sort things out in that department but let’s be top and stay top.”

The tone was set as Cassius sped past Jake Britnell to reach the edge of the Greenwich Borough penalty box and stroked his right-footed shot towards the bottom far corner, which forced Craig Holloway to dive to his right to grab hold of the ball – after only 25 seconds!

Mitchell, who works alongside manager John Wilfort, said: “It could have been (a different story!) The first goal is important in many games because it settles you a bit but Cass has done well. He’s got in just not got enough power behind the shot and the keeper’s made the save. It could have been but it’s all if’s, but’s and maybe’s.  We’ve got to think on being a bit more positive.”

Blade added: “Marcus is a good player. Marcus has played at a good level and he’s been at clubs so he’s a threat. I think in games like this he’s always going to be up for it. We know a little bit about him so we knew he’d be a threat going forward because of his pace and strength.”

Greenwich Borough immediately raced up the other end and opened the scoring with only 58 seconds on the clock.

Darko cracked an angled drive which forced Holmesdale keeper Jack Yerlett to push up into the air and Power cut the ball back along the face of goal and Darko stabbed the ball over the line from very close range.

Mitchell insisted the goal was offside.

He said: It’s definitely offside! It’s 100% offside! How the linesman’s not seen that or the referee’s not seen that, I don’t know!

“He’s put the ball in standing on the line. He’s made a mistake, that’s that but we’ve made a lot of mistakes tonight as well!”

Blade, though, disagreed, by saying, “No! They say that, I’m not too sure! It’s hard to tell. How can you tell when you’ve got four or five players there and at the end of the day the referee’s there, the linesman’s there and they didn’t give it so you take it.”

Chris Saunders released Eisa who dribbled past the keeper but he was denied a certain goal by an excellent penalty box tackle by Holmesdale’s central defender Lee Coburn.

Britnell cut in from the left and from 22-yards his right-footed angled drive was tipped over by Yerlett’s outstretched right-hand.

Mitchell, a goalkeeper, said: “Jack’s a good goalkeeper. We’ve had him since he was 14 and we want to give him an opportunity this year.

“I think he’s come in and he’s done really well and I think he’s done really well tonight. It’s a bit of a baptism of fire, a seventeen-year-old playing against that and conceding seven but I don’t think any were his fault. I think he’s had a good game.”

Holmesdale created a great chance to restore parity inside nine minutes.

Right-back Sean Mason found himself in the final third and he whipped in an excellent cross towards the far post but Cassius’ free-header from eight-yards was tipped around the post by Holloway, diving to his right.

But Greenwich Borough turned defending a corner into a 2-0 lead with only 13 minutes and 41 seconds on the clock.

Bradon Hobbs’ swung in a corner from the left and Holloway rose at the near post to pluck the ball out of the air and gobble the loose ball up.

The Greenwich keeper then punted a long kick straight down the middle of the pitch which was flicked on by Britnell to put Eisa through on goal. The striker maintained his composure when he only had the keeper to beat and gleefully slotted past the keeper to score from 15-yards.

Blade said: “It’s another good bit of good movement from us. We play our channel ball really well and the players get him turning and they couldn’t deal with it at the time so yes, that’s fine. It’s a good finish, good composure in front of goal.

“He’ll score a hatful for us again because he’s a player, he’s got a load of strengths, lots of positives. He’s only a young lad, he’s still learning but he’s a goal threat and he’ll always score goals.”

Mitchell added: “You can’t get done by a ball like that! It ain’t good enough! We can’t allow that to happen again.”

Greenwich Borough’s football was classy and they tore apart Holmesdale’s defence.

Blade said: “It’s a perfect start. As a manager you’re on the line, you set your stall out, you start well, we go 2-0 up in 14 minutes!

“You think happy days, you think get another one, get one more, get one more. Don’t just go in 2-0, go in 3-0, which we did, which is a good score to go in at half-time. Two-nil is always one of them, but to go in 3-0, it makes it a little bit easier for us.”

Britnell swept the ball out to Chris Saunders down the left channel and he looped his hanging shot across keeper Yerlett and just past the far post.

Greenwich Borough’s right-wing-back Chris Edwards whipped in a cross which was helped on towards goal by Power’s handball, bouncing into Yerlett’s hands for a comfortable save. He escaped a booking, but later on in the game Eisa was booked for diving.

Peter Sweeney – a summer signing from landlords Dartford – stroked his left-footed free-kick towards the bottom corner from 25-yards, which forced the Holmesdale keeper to dive to his left to grab hold of the ball.

Another great chance was created by Greenwich Borough – and the game was just edging towards the 20th minute mark!

Eisa whipped in an excellent cross from the right flank and the Holmesdale defence left Power unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box but the former VCD Athletic striker powered his free header past the right-hand post.

Had there not been 11 goals, both managers would have been asked their views on that crucial miss!

Battered Holmesdale created a half chance when Hobbs clipped his free-kick into the Greenwich Borough penalty area and Holloway caught Zialor’s looping header underneath his crossbar.

Greenwich Borough deservedly raced into a 3-0 lead after 38 minutes of whirlwind attacking football.

Unfortunately, once again it was route one football as Holloway launched a big kick through the heart of Holmesdale’s defence and Power flicked the ball on and Darko left a struggling Aaron Day behind him and chipped the ball over the advancing keeper, dropping down into an empty net from 20-yards.

Blade was full of praise for his electrifying forward line, the best in the league.

He said: “Good finish, good composure.  They work well together as a three so they all know what they’re doing.  There’s still things to work on but we was offside too many times as a front three so there’s something else that we need to work on.  It was good to go in at half-time 3-0.”

Mitchell added: “Again, one ball, a bit of a common thing there! Our centre halves know what’s happened there and they can’t allow that to happen!”

Power turned provider again when he played the ball inside to attacking left-wing-back Jack Clark, who dinked the ball towards goal at the near post but Yerlett gathered the ball bravely at Eisa’s feet at his near post.

Britnell played a short corner from the right to Clark, who cut inside and curled his shot around the far post from outside the box.

Hobbs clipped another Holmesdale free-kick into the Greenwich penalty area and the ball was cleared out to Victor Okisor, who cracked his volley high over the crossbar from 35-yards.

A mistake by Jack Saunders at the back of Holmesdale’s struggling defence let in Power, whose right-footed drive from 35-yards clipped the top of the crossbar.

Greenwich Borough created one final chance before the break.

Eisa released Power through on goal and Yerlett – who plays for Rob Quinn’s Crystal Palace Foundation Academy - dived to his left to make a fine block and got up to recover well to pluck Eisa’s chipped rebound out of the air.

Power easily cut past former Greenwich Borough skipper Day down the left channel to cut the ball back to Eisa, who steered his right-footed shot into Yerlett’s gloves for a comfortable save.

Holmesdale hung in to go into the break 3-0 down, when in truth it should have been a far greater lead for sublime Greenwich Borough.

The half-time whistle went and everyone in the ground could catch their breath.

Mitchell said: “We was standing on the sideline and we were analysing it and we wanted to get in at half-time because the boys didn’t do what we asked them to do.  Whether that was because they pressed us our not allowed us to get out but we were quietly confident that there was goals in the game and clearly at full-time we’ve been proven right!

“Could we have got more than four? Definitely, but we haven’t and we’ve got to take any positives.”

Blade said: “You tell them not to take the mick. You tell them not to make bad errors. You tell them not to make mistakes. You tell them to do the same things, same job, take it as 0-0 and don’t change anything. Keep doing the same things, which we didn’t do!”

Andy Constable, who signed for Holmesdale from Ryman League Division One North side Phoenix Sports on the eve of the game, stroked his only chance of the game past the post - a right-footed free-kick from 35-yards - inside the opening three minutes of the second half.

But Holmesdale were gifted their first goal after 54 minutes.

Sweeney played the ball back towards central defender Calum McGeehan, but he allowed the ball to run underneath his legs and Cassius pounced on the ball and swept his shot into the bottom right corner from 18-yards.

Mitchell said: “Cass has had a great game tonight. He’s not stopped running and he’s attitude has been spot on. I’ve got a lot of time for Cass, me and Wilfs (Wilfort), both have.

“He will score goals this season for us and he’s been a real pleasure to work with so far.  I just hope he gets going. He’s a very good signing. We’ve got a couple that we can be proud off but not just his ability on the field, he’s a really good lad in the changing room as well, easy to work with.

“He gets frustrated at times but he’s a striker and if he doesn’t score he’s going to get frustrated, that’s not a bad thing.”

Blade added: “You give him half a chance but look he’s a player so he’s got bundles of pace, he’s a threat.  You’ll expect that but it’s still a mistake that came from us in their last third and within two, three, four, five seconds they scored so that’s disappointing and that’s something that we need to rectify.”

But before Holmesdale could start to mount a comeback, Eisa had other ideas by unleashing a left-footed drive straight into the top left-hand corner from just inside the penalty area, exactly 120 seconds later.

“Great finish, great finish, that’s what he does,” hailed Blade.

“He cuts in, great finish, great finish, great reaction from conceding a goal, going up the other end and scoring, so that cancels that.”

Mitchell added: “Shocking defending from us! Basics.  The guy’s got the ball and he’s run off us and he’s just had a shot you know. Again, we’ve got to eradicate those errors.”

Holloway was called into action when he dived to his left to parry Thompson’s right-footed shot on the turn, before Greenwich Borough raced into a 5-1 lead on the hour.

Greenwich Borough produced a sweeping move which saw Eisa whip in a low cross from the right, the ball was laid off by Britnell at the edge of the box for Power to hit a first time drive into the bottom far corner with his left-foot from 12-yards.

Blade said: “Great finish, good football, one touch football. It’s hard to defend and that’s what we’re good at. It’s a good goal.”

Mitchell added: “To be fair it’s a great goal, a very well worked goal. A good composed finish, but again you’ve got quality like that up front you expect that to happen.”

Bennett is far too good a player to start the opening two league games on the bench, but the midfielder made the score 6-1 in the 64th minute.

Bennett started the sweeping move by cutting in from the left before sweeping the ball out to Eisa in space down the right. Instead of shooting, Eisa unselfishly rolled the ball towards the far post and Bennett applied the finish by sliding the ball into the back of the net from close range.

Blade said: “Bill’s done brilliant, fair play to him because the boys on the bench are all gagging to play and he comes off the bench Saturday and done the same thing and he’s done the same thing again tonight, so you can’t ask much more than that so fair play to him.  He does what you ask him and do at any given time.”

Mitchell added: “Good goal. We could have done better, I think with the defending, but it’s another good goal.”

Another run by Eisa set up a chance for Sweeney, whose left-footed shot forced the busy keeper to make a save low to his left.

Britnell then played the ball inside for Power to smash his low right-footed drive just past the post from 22-yards.

And at the other end, Cassius then flashed his shot past the left-hand post from 20-yards, before Thompson tried his luck with a right-footed drive from 25-yards, which sailed just over Holloway’s crossbar.

Holmesdale defender Coburn gifted Greenwich Borough their seventh goal of the night with 78 minutes on the clock.

The defender played a woeful ball out of defence which went straight to Power’s feet, who took a touch before drilling his left-footed shot into the middle of the goal.

Mitchell said: “Cobs put his hand up. He knows. He won’t have a game like that again! He’s been brilliant for us all through pre-season. He’s a good defender, he’s an experienced lad. He doesn’t need me to sit here and tell him he’s made a mistake there, he knows that himself so onwards and upwards.”

Blade said: “He cuts in and scores, that’s what they do.  Team’s done it to us last season and you’d like to think the boys we’ve got up front, that’s exactly what they do.  You’d like to think they’ll enjoy it! As a player you want to go and enjoy that. It’s now 6-1, (it was too easy to forget the score during the post-match interview going through all the goals!) enjoy the game.”

But while Holmesdale could so easily crumbled to replicate their 10-0 defeat at Phoenix Sports last season, they showed some pride to score three late goals.

“The positive out tonight was our reaction,” said Mitchell.

“It could have been very easy for us to just roll over and then concede more and to answer your question no, I was always confident we would score goals, so yes disappointed in terms of the result but the positive is the changing room is a bit more upbeat now given how we finished the game and that takes us going good into Saturday.”

Their second goal arrived in the 81st minute following a fine three-man move.

Korari whipped in a low cross in from the left which found Lawson at the far post and he played the ball into the middle for Thompson to drill his first time shot past Holloway to find the centre of the net.

Mitchell was full of praise for Thompson, who is performing well.

He said: “We’ve got him on loan from Dulwich. He’s a good lad, very raw but we’re going to work with him and develop these young players. They need a platform to go from somewhere and we’ve got a lot of young players in our side.

“I think it’s important for a club like us that we nurture these boys and we have a bit of experience around them and we give them a platform to go on and do better, hopefully they take us forward and we take them forward with us.”

Holmesdale have a very good relationship with Dulwich Hamlet boss Gavin Rose, who sends his prospects from the highly-acclaimed ASPIRE academy to Oakley Road to gain match experience.

“Wilfs has got a good relationship with Gavin and they know that we’re going to give these boys opportunities. We’re not just going to bring them in for numbers and whack them on the bench. We want to give them an opportunity to do well for us but ultimately for them and not only are they good players the attitude of all those boys from Dulwich is spot on and they’re a pleasure to work with.”

Blade added: “Naïve defending, players trying to take the ball before they’ve even defended and that’s disappointing and that’s something we need to pick on.

“As a defender, stand up, don’t give it away but as soon as you try to dive in and you try to get the ball and that aint supposed to your exposed and as soon as you’re exposed anything can happen and that’s what they’ve done. Naïve defending and they used the ball well and scored.”

Within four minutes it was three as Zialor scored a brilliant solo effort.

He collected the ball with his back to goal with defenders swarming around him inside the Greenwich Borough box.

He danced one way, then another, twisted and turned and somehow made space for himself some 10-yards out before steering his left-footed shot across the diving Holloway for the ball to nestle inside the bottom corner of the net.

It had spectators buzzing with excitement.

Mitchell said: “I don’t know how he scored it to be honest! He’s got big gangly legs and he’s somehow managed to squeeze it in, but credit to him, he’s got into the right area and he’s put it away.

“I did an interview last week and said he’s not renowned for his goals. He’s scored three in two now, so well done to him.”

Blade said: “He’s very lanky and hard, but we had enough chances to get a block, get a tackle, get a toe, knock it out, but we let him have a chance. Whether it’s luck or the ball just bounces to him, I don’t know, but for persistence and he kept going, fair play to him, disappointing on our part that he scores like that.”

There was still time for Greenwich Borough substitute Jamie Humphries to flash his left-footed drive just past the near post from 18-yards, before Holmesdale missed a penalty with 43:02 on the clock.

Alexander – one of three central defenders – was adjudged by assistant referee Ben Bowles to have fouled Cassius and referee Steve Perry pointed to the spot.

Up stepped Korari, who smashed his right-footed penalty against the diving Holloway, but the ball looped off his leg and clipped the crossbar before dropping behind for a corner.

Mitchell said: “Referee wasn’t going to give it – good save!

“Steve’s another young player. We’ve brought him in from (Championship club) Fulham. He’s 17, bags of potential, great attitude, always the first one here, never late.

“He’s brought a lot of his family here tonight with him, which is really nice of him.

“He’s come on and changed the game for us I think and done well. I don’t care how old they are, if they show that desire and that attitude they’ll get chances with us.”

Blade added: “Good save from Hollars because they was on the buzz, they were on the front foot and you’re trying to get players to relax and don’t give it away and do the right things, but it’s difficult.  The games so quick and fast and it’s going from end-to-end, you’re just trying to think ‘hurry up and blow the whistle and get it done with’”

Holmesdale saved the best ‘til last, scoring the goal of the night with 46:12 on the clock when Lawson cut in to drill a stunning right-footed drive into the top left-hand corner of the net from 35-yards.

Mitchell said: “Unbelievable goal, unbelievable goal! He’s picked one up there and the keeper’s just watched it go in. He’s had no chance with it. A great goal and a nice way to finish the night I guess.”

Blade added: “That’s one of them, you go ‘worldy, well done!’

“He probably won’t do that again all season. It’s one of those things, you accept that, great goal, end of, end of game, everyone can go home!”

Both clubs play home FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round ties at the weekend. Holmesdale are at home to Mile Oak, while Greenwich Borough host league rivals Lordswood at Princes Park on Sunday afternoon.

Blade said: “We’ve got training on Friday and a FA Cup game on Sunday so it puts us top of the league and that’s where we want to be. We want to be top and hopefully that’s where we’re going to stay.”

Mitchell was interviewed on the patio outside the clubhouse at Oakley Road and looked inside a buzzing clubhouse.

“What we’re trying to create a bit of an environment here where people are welcome to come all the time.

“It’s nice to see the players are bringing their family along and the young boys are getting supported. I heard a few screams from the stand when we was going forward a few times. It’s nice to hear.

“You look in that bar now they’re all sat together, all having a bit of a laugh together and that’s brilliant! If we can create that environment, brilliant.”

Holmesdale: Jack Yerlett, Sean Mason, Stephen Wickes (Tre Zialor 15), Jack Saunders, Bradon Hobbs, Lee Coburn, Dereece Thompson, Aaron Day, Marcus Cassius, Andy Constable (Steven Korari 60), Victor Okisor (Adriano Lawson 46).
Subs: Michael McKenna, Charlie Mitchell

Goals: Marcus Cassius 54, Dereece Thompson 81, Tre Zialor 85, Adriano Lawson 90

Booked: Lee Coburn 19, Sean Mason 71

Greenwich Borough: Craig Holloway, Chris Edwards, Jack Clark, Peter Sweeney, Chris Saunders (Billy Bennett 61), Calum McGeehan, Mohamed Eisa (Matthew Parsons 77), Gary Alexander, Michael Power, Jake Britnell, Jesse Darko (Jamie Humphries 67).
Subs: Danny Phillips, Conner Heffernan

Goals: Jesse Darko 1, 38, Mohamed Eisa 14, 56, Michael Power 60, 78, Billy Bennett 64

Booked: Jesse Darko 11, Mohamed Eisa 50

Attendance:  107
Referee: Mr Steve Perry (Barnehurst)
Assistants: Mr Ben Bowles (Rochester) & Mr Harry Phillips (Dartford)