Holmesdale 4-3 Welling Town - When you lose it’s about the manager and now we’ve lost a game of football and played poorly it’s all about me so I’ll act accordingly, which is some players have made it easy to leave, says Danny Wakeling

Wednesday 06th November 2019
Holmesdale 4 – 3 Welling Town
Location 68 Oakley Road, Bromley, Kent BR2 8HQ
Kickoff 06/11/2019 19:30

Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup First Round
Wednesday 6 November 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Oakley Road

WELLING TOWN manager Danny Wakeling claims Holmesdale fielded one or two ineligible players after watching his side crash out of the Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup at the first hurdle.

The Boots made six changes to their side for the First Round tie at Holmesdale and were 3-1 up at half-time, but the introduction of Holmesdale substitute striker Andy Constable turned the game in the home side’s favour.

Lewis Montoya gave Welling Town the advantage inside the opening seven minutes following a poor back-pass before Holmesdale grabbed an equaliser through Ryan Golding’s penalty.

Welling Town regained the advantage, courtesy of a Jamie Rawsthorne own-goal and Montoya’s second goal of the night on the stroke of half-time.

Holmesdale scored three second half goals through Golding’s 11th goal of the season, Timmy Babington’s fine curling strike and Constable’s sublime 89th minute winner to seal a trip to Tunbridge Wells in the Second Round.

However, Wakeling claimed during the post-match press conference that Babington and Nad Nwitua were not signed on in time of the original fixture, which was abandoned after seven minutes due to a floodlight failure here at Oakley Road on 2 October 2019.

Holmesdale went into the game sitting in second-place in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table with 22 points from 11 games, although they do have a couple of games in hand on leaders FC Elmstead, who have four more points.

Welling Town, meanwhile, were in fifth-place in the Premier Division table with 21 points from their 11 league outings.

Holmesdale boss Lee Roots said: “Obviously delighted, not only to win a cup game but to win against a side in a league above. The position we were in at half-time, really happy. It was a game of two halves and we were tremendous in the second half so I’m happy with the result.”

Wakeling added: “I’m disappointed for some lads tonight who have been given an opportunity to stake a claim to get in the 11 for Saturday’s home game against Crowborough Athletic.

“Some boys have been on the fringes of the squad for a little while. We’ve left some lads out tonight, which I believe was the right thing to do after playing 120 minutes (in our 3-1 extra-time win over Bedfont & Feltham in The FA Vase Second Round).

“Saturday is the most important thing for me but as each game comes round you want to win but you need to be surrounded by lads that will to anything to win. Four or five have come into the side tonight and didn’t play with the intensity required and I have told our lads we’re going to chop two from the squad after tonight.”

Welling Town opened the scoring following the first chance of the game with six minutes and 28 seconds on the clock.

Holmesdale right-back Dan Carpenter undercooked a back pass towards goalkeeper Nathan Edwards and Montoya pounced to intercept before slotting  his right-footed angled drive across the keeper to find the bottom far corner.

“That’s all they had to do all night actually, just do what they normally do, just press high from the front, force errors out of players who are fragile with the ball at their feet on a surface that is non conducive,” said Wakeling.

“Sometimes in these sort of conditions you turn up and say we’re going to force errors out of you all night long and then we’ll get the ball down and play. We didn’t do that enough throughout the first half but having scored from exactly that we should’ve carried on with that all game long and make the game easy for ourselves.”

Roots said: “There’s nothing the keeper can do to prevent it happening, it happened so quick.  Carps made an error, he under-hit the ball. I’ve never seen him make a mistake like that. It’s happened early.  I think as a team you just have to swallow it.  He knew it. He put his hands up at half-time. It’s not the greatest start, of course, but it’s an individual’s player’s error, not a lot we can do.”

Holmesdale swiftly responded from their early set-back  with Nathan Palmer hitting a right-footed half-volley straight into the hands of visiting keeper Jack Moore from 25-yards.

Welling Town’s holding midfielder James Day advanced forward to play the ball out wide to Babington, who cut in from the left-wing before curling his shot around the top of the far post from 22-yards.

Holmesdale centre-half James Shield then went close to scoring with a right-footed free-kick from 25-yards, which he got over the wall and aimed for the bottom left-hand corner, only for the ball to curl just past the diving keeper and the foot of the post.

“That’s always been in our remit to always respond after conceding.  We nearly scored straight away. We were getting in really good positions and not taking chances so it was a good response but it didn’t come our way until the pen came,” added Roots.

Holmesdale were also gifted their first goal, which was timed at 21 minutes and 58 seconds on the clock.

Palmer whipped in a deep cross from within the left-channel, a poor header from Welling Town right-sided centre-half Gary Beckett went back into his penalty area and referee Peter Agboola judged that Chris Round had used his left arm as he stooped down to deal with the dropping ball.

Keeper Moore dived to his left but Golding’s right-footed penalty went the other way to bring Holmesdale back in to the game.

“Roundy could feel maybe hard done by but with the new rule if it hits your hand in the box it’s a penalty,” said Roots.

“I thought we were on top for that couple of minutes. You never don’t back Golds on the penalty spot against his old club. Jack Moore’s a good keeper so I was never in any doubt. I thought it was a penalty but sometimes you need that little bit of luck and I felt we was on top so the luck went our way there.”

Wakeling said: “The penalty conceded was never a penalty, the referee even admitted at half-time ‘I’ve made a mistake there’, with the new rule.

“The penalty was clumsy that we’ve conceded. Gary Beckett’s gone up to win a header at the front post and glanced it rather than got his head around a football and send it back to where it came from.

“He’s headed it like a dolly towards the D and even if it doesn’t hit Chris Round at any point – it didn’t hit his hand at all – that should be tucked away by an opposition player so it’s poor defending at the last point.”

However, Welling Town grabbed the lead just 119 seconds later, courtesy of a set-piece.

Robert Brown swung in a corner from the left which was tipped over the bar by an alert Edwards before they scored from their third of five corners on the night.

This time it was Round who swung in a corner from the other side of the pitch, which wasn’t dealt with by Edwards and Rawsthorne flicked the ball into the corner of his own goal.

“We’ve come up against the goalkeeper before, he’s a good shot-stopper but he does struggle with balls across the box sometimes so we put all the corner kicks in and around areas where he had to make a decision,” said Wakeling.

“I was quite calm and relaxed tonight. I just wanted us to work harder. When it’s a cold night, it’s perfect to play without the ball and run around and press so you get hot and warm and you get the blood circulating and you play with that intensity required on a cold night like that.”

Roots admitted: “We almost didn’t learn from the first corner.  I believe Nathan called ‘away’ and Jamie Rawsthorne’s gone to clear it and it just come of the top of his head and flicked in to the goal.

“We haven’t conceded sloppy goals much all season, we’re very tight defensively at the back so that’s the first time that we’ve conceded two errors in the first 25 minutes of the half.

“It was a deflating goal because it took the wind out of our sails a little bit with them going 2-1.”

Holmesdale produced a well-worked three-man free-kick routine which was struck low by Palmer and took a deflection as it was gathered by Moore, low to his left.

Welling Town then threatened down the left-hand as Day linked up with the quiet Jhoan Tabima, before playing a crossfield pass to pick out Beckett down the right. He shrugged past his man and played in a low cross but striker Alvin Macauley took a touch before drilling his shot over the top of the near post from 15-yards.

Macauley sprung into life in the 36th minute when he turned Nwitua and Shield and cut inside before stroking a left-footed drive from 25-yards, which was saved comfortably by Edwards, low to his left.

“His first touch took him away from goal, his second took it square and then he took another touch and he was off balance when he was going to hit it, so it was never going to go in,” admitted Wakeling, who hinted Macauley might be on his way.

“He’s had an opportunity tonight to stake a claim to stay in the squad. He’s a decent player, lays the ball off quite nice.  We need a bit more penetration than someone who wants to run towards the sticks at times.”

Welling Town seemingly had one foot in the next round when they scored their third goal of the game with 42 minutes and 3 seconds on the clock,

Beckett threw the ball in from the right into Brown and the former Fisher man cut the ball inside for Ospina, whose right-footed shot deflected past Edwards and nestled into the back of the net.

“On the balance of play in the first half, Holmesdale have only had one shot on target, which was the penalty and we’ve come in with a two goal lead.  People say it’s the worst lead in football but we were absolutely in control,” said Wakeling.

Roots said: “I thought we switched off a little bit there. The deflection for the shot helped but I thought it was legit play by them, a good goal, but for us we haven’t been done like that so you can give them credit for that.  I thought the lad finished it well. Nathan is very good low and it’s beat him and I think the deflection helped.”

Lino John Baigan waved Holmesdale offside nine times during the first half with Golding caught in the trap on five occasions during the game (Holmesdale were caught offside just once in the second half).

Roots said: “We were always going to be in the game whether it was two or three-one but for them that was a big boost going into the second half.

“It seemed like we were dead and buried but I didn’t feel we were dead and buried in the game. I felt we created a hell of a lot of chances in the first half and we just haven’t played with the right intent and also we haven’t put the game plan into practice.

“They need to be told a little bit that it wasn’t good enough and we needed to tweak it and in a cup format you can go hell to leather, it’s not a league game.

“I was very disappointed that we came in conceding three at half-time. I told the lads that will never happen again! The main thing I asked for was the performance and the result will follow and they gave us that and we got back into the game.”

Wakeling said: “We asked at half-time to come out firing, press, force errors, be ugly to play against and get through that first 15 minutes and we’re probably in the hat.

“We still needed to work hard, that’s our fundamentals. There’s some boys who have got an opportunity after not playing very well on Saturday. If you’re playing tonight it’s because you need to play well to get in the team for Saturday. It was not a threat, you’re not finished, you’re not done. If you want to play on Saturday, you’ve got to do that three times over in the second half.”

The introduction of Constable proved to be the perfect tonic for Holmesdale as his aerial presence was a threat up alongside Golding and Palmer.

“A lot of people thought Andy Constable was written off but I think he looks in well shape. He glides around the pitch. I thought he was a bit of a Rolls Royce tonight when he came on. The ball stuck with him straight away. He seems to give a new lease of life to Golding when they’re up and alongside each other.”

Holmesdale needed an early breakthrough and that’s exactly what they got as they pulled a goal back with five minutes and 13 seconds into the half.

Rawsthorne swung in a great corner from the left and Golding glanced his near post header into the near corner from inside the six-yard box.

Roots said: “Nice goal.  I thought the routines that we work on were coming off in that period as well. We had to go and attack the first 15 minutes of the game, we had to get a goal. We had a little bit of luck with the corner, a nice finish from Golds, his second of the game against his old club so he was on a hat-trick.  He didn’t celebrate it. I think he enjoyed the winner more than anything.

“He’s really in a good vein of form and playing against your old club is not easy but it was an important time to get the goal. We had to get the goal within 10-15 minutes to give them something to think about. It was a great, great start.”

Wakeling added: “I think it was the second corner that was punished. The ball came down with snow on it and it was on everyone’s eyebrows. Any one of our blue shirts could’ve cleared it and I think the goalkeeper should’ve come out and wiped everyone out of the way and just take that ball. I don’t know how that got under the crossbar with about eight men around it. That’s poor from us, that’s poor.

“After shipping a goal after six minutes changed the complexion of the game completely. We said about going in hard and fast for the first 15 minutes and it didn’t happen. We started with a real tepid nature, which brought them onto us.”

Welling Town missed a chance to settle the game when Montoya played the ball into space for Round to latch onto and he was given time and space to whip in a deep cross towards the far post but right-wing-back Harry Cripps brought the ball under control before shooting straight at the Holmesdale keeper from the right-hand side of the box.

Holmesdale kept knocking on the door and they should have been level in the 55th minute.

Central midfielder Nwitua played a delightful through ball along the deck to put Constable through on goal down the left and Constable had time to consider his options, curling his left-footed shot across the keeper and agonisingly around the foot of the far post.

“I felt we did really dominate the second half and I felt the first 10 minutes we created so many chances, a fantastic ball from Nad.  He’s only into his third game, second start for us. He was terrific last week. 

“I think Andy had too long to think about it. It’s probably the biggest miss he’s ever made in his last 10 years of his career and he said afterwards that he felt he had more time to think about it and he hates those chances but he’s allowed an excuse with his quality but he should bury that!”

At this point of the interview with Wakeling, in a storeroom inside the clubhouse, it was all kicking off inside the bar area and Police were called to the Bromley based ground following the disturbance.

“It’s all kicking off out there,” said Wakeling.

“I expected us to go 3-2 and spark us on a little bit. We seemed to have the opposite effect, which was a shame but tonight was all about who wants to play on Saturday, so I wanted to see us in situations like that and I wanted to see who can take care of business and remain I the side.”

Teodorescu was given space to float in a deep cross from the left-hand side of midfield but Constable guided his towering header across goal and past the far post.

Wakeling made a double substitution just before the hour-mark with Adam O’Neill earning praise from his manager in his number 10 role while striker Joel Thompson had a quiet outing.

Silky skills from Palmer saw him turn Round on the half-way line before he played the ball into Constable’s feet and his low shot was comfortably collected by the visiting keeper.

Holmesdale were the better side during the second half and they should have been level in the 67th minute.

Keeper Edwards launched the ball straight down the middle of the pitch, Constable easily flicked the ball on but Golding used the outside of his right-boot from 16-yards, which was gathered by Moore at the second attempt.

Holmesdale deservedly equalised with 31 minutes and 56 seconds on the clock.

Constable fed Babington, who spun Beckett some 35-yards from goal and cut towards the penalty area.  Welling Town’s left-wing-back Peter Ojemen failed to press the winger and Babington curled his right-footed shot around the keeper before the ball kissed the base of the far post and nestled into the net.

“Unbelievable for me. I thought it was the goal of the game.  The last goal is the scenes but I felt the play leading up to the goal, the skill when he threw him which was the two or three stepovers and then to shift it back away from the other centre-half and then curl it in off the post.

“Tim is new in. He joined us last week so he trained with the squad last Saturday and had some breakfast and we watched the Rugby World Cup Final here and then he came in tonight and we felt it was right to get him straight into the side. He’s got quality. He wasn’t getting games at VCD and wants to play in a level where he can go and shine and if he plays like that, my word, I thought his finish was terrific.”

Wakeling let the cat out of the bag, turning to the clubs press officer Tom Riding and claimed Babington and Nwitua were ineligible for this game.

“Can I mention the fact that they’ve got the two ringers on the pitch tonight?” Wakeling asked Riding.

“Nad Nwitua didn’t play in the original game but he was transferred four days later so cup rules are, you’ve got to be registered even though it was postponed twice before, you’ve got to be registered.

“Timmy Babington, I didn’t take him into the club two weeks ago because if I’d ever have done that he wouldn’t have been able to play for me tonight.

“Ineligible players? It looks like that. Our chairman (Kevin Oakes) brought that to our attention. We had to leave a player (Jamal Batchilly) out tonight five minutes before kick-off for something similar. We’ve had the lad since September but it looks like somethings gone wrong at SCEFL end so we pulled him out of the side before kick-off and that’s when Kevin’s made us aware.”

When asked about being re-instated back into the competition, Wakeling replied: “I guess that’s all in the hands of the League, it’s out of my hands. We’ve lost a game of football on the pitch. We weren’t good enough second half at all. That’s unacceptable, no matter what, so even if the rules are rules and it gets dealt with how it perhaps should, I’m still going off the performance irrespective of what will happen with the result. The second half performance was nowhere near good enough!”

When Roots was told of the allegation during the post-match press conference, he replied: “Someone said something before we kicked off. They said something about Timmy Babington wasn’t registered before the game. We played them before, I think that’s complete and utter. I’ve got no idea what bottom of the barrel they’re trying to scrape with this.

“Nad was their player when we went to play them before and he was on his way to come to playing for us.  I don’t see why if a player signs for a team a day after a game that was meant to play and the game was played three weeks.  Why couldn’t they play the game? It makes no sense.

“To be honest with you, I expect them to find some excuse from losing that game 3-1 up at half-time, a league above, top five shouldn’t be losing to Holmesdale. Whatever excuse they can find, good luck!”

Welling Town missed a glorious chance to snatch the victory in the final eight minutes.

O’Neill released Montoya down the left and the winger cut into the box and only had Edwards to beat. He tried to find the bottom near corner from eight-yards but the Holmesdale keeper stuck out a long right leg to make a vital save.

Wakeling said: “We had Adam O’Neill on the pitch and when he plays things happen.  Players started ahead of him tonight and he was our best player when he came on. He only played 32 minutes and that’s the level players’ have got to play at. That’s what I expect from players that play at this football club. That’s the level of tenacity and talent that you’ve got to show 24-7. We’ve got a couple of boys that need to take him out of the team, they’ve got to do an awful lot more than what I saw tonight!!”

Roots added: “Nathan’s unbelievable, he really is. Unbelievable talent. He’s got such a grounded attitude. It’s probably the first time all season that he’s come under a little bit of pressure when we’ve had crap goals go against us and then he’s needed to make his big saves.

“He’s conceded seven goals in 11, he’s got a fantastic clean-sheet ratio so that’s his job, that’s what he does. He doesn’t switch off. He’s got high standards. I couldn’t speak highly of the lad but the save there is the difference. They get that the momentum is with them and we don’t win the game.”

Holmesdale claimed a deserved victory on the night, with Constable scoring a sublime winner with 43 minutes and 41 seconds on the clock.

Fed by Golding, Constable brought the ball under his spell before cutting onto his right foot and bending his shot across the stranded keeper in off the base of the far post and into the corner.

Roots said: “Unbelievable! He’s had an unbelievable 45 minutes. He scored a great goal at Lydd last week. He played four our under 23s the week before and scored a hat-trick. He’s in an unbelievable vein of form at the moment.

“When he came on I thought he was a handful. He set up a goal, I think he made the pass for Timmy and he’s scored a goal and the winning goal and he deserves it.

“He hasn’t had many chances to start but when he has started most recently, he's been fantastic to keep going in the 89th minute and it’s come off the post again, it was a similar finish to Tim. Brilliant, delighted for Andy, he deserves it!”

Wakeling said: “Brilliant finish, disappointed with that.  We was at three-all, both full-backs were up the pitch. The right-back put the cross in, under cut behind everybody. They’ve sent the ball back round and then it’s a foot race.  I saw our left-back, who came on Saturday for his first game in six weeks, 35-years-of-age, I saw him make an 80-yard run into the box, try to get a winner, undercut a cross on the right-hand side. He’s put the 80-yards back in to effect it defensively and I looked at our right-hand side and he was hovering on the halfway line until the ball hit the back of our net.  Things like that don’t happen in my football teams!”

Wakeling is now expected to yield the axe ahead of Saturday’s game against bottom-three side Crowborough Athletic.

“Too many of our boys thought the game was done at half-time, it wasn’t,” admitted Wakeling.

“They’ve made the decision for me with the performances. The players pick the team by virtual by the way they go and perform. All I ask is their all and then it’s my decision.

“Football is a very simple game. When you win it’s all about the players, when you lose it’s about the manager and now we’ve lost a game of football and played poorly it’s all about me so I’ll act accordingly, which is some players have made it easy to leave the door, simple as that. If I ask what I ask for and they can’t bring it, you can’t stay!”

Roots, meanwhile, says he is “looking forward” to their trip to Tunbridge Wells in the next round.

“That was a nice carrot to have. I know Richard Styles really well. It’s a fantastic draw. You know Tunbridge Wells have great support, it’s a really good club, maybe haven’t had the greatest couple of years but I think Richard’s having a great impact there so what a test!

“This cup for Division One clubs is all about testing yourselves in the Prem so for us another Prem side to go and compete against and you can go and just play freely.”

Meanwhile, Holmesdale substitute Edson Oliviera claimed he was spat on by an opposing player immediately after the referee blew his final whistle.

Holmesdale: Nathan Edwards, Dan Carpenter (Edson Oliviera 69), James Teodorescu, And Nwitua, Jordan Eels, James Shield, Jamie Rawsthorne (Callum O’Shea 90), Aiden Lopeman (Andy Constable 46), Ryan Golding, Nathan Palmer, Timmy Babington.
Subs: James Jewers, Samuel Adenola

Goals: Ryan Golding 22 (penalty), 51, Timmy Babington 77, Andy Constable 89

Booked: Ryan Golding 19, Jordan Eels 73, Nathan Palmer 83, And Nwitua 90

Welling Town: Jack Moore, Harry Cripps (Adam O’Neill 58), Peter Ojemen, Jack Bancroft, Gary Beckett, Chris Round, Lewis Montoya, James Day, Alvin Macauley (Joel Thompson 58), Robert Brown, Jhoan Tabima.
Sub: Jacob Smale

Goals: Lewis Montoya 7,43, Jamie Rawsthorne 24 (own goal)

Booked: Gary Beckett 85

Attendance: 41
Referee: Mr Peter Agboola (Walworth, London SE17)
Assistants:  Mr Michael Donnelly (Headcorn) & Mr John Baigan (Peckham, London SE15)