Lordswood 0-2 Rusthall - We've got to get together and work our socks off and get out of this, says newly-appointed Lordswood boss Richard Dimmock

Saturday 08th January 2022
Lordswood 0 – 2 Rusthall
Location Martyn Grove, Lordswood Sports & Social Club, North Dane Way, Chatham, Kent ME5 8YE
Kickoff 08/01/2022 15:00

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Saturday 8 January 2022
Stephen McCartney reports from Martyn Grove

LORDSWOOD’S newly-appointed manager Richard Dimmock says he has the budget to bring in three or four experienced players to help maintain their Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division status during their final 17 league games.

Dimmock guided Dartford-based side Halls Athletic to second-place in the Kent County League Division One West before answering a call to manage his former club after Neil Hunter stepped down from the role last month after winning only five of his 41 games in charge since replacing Darren Anslow at the start of last season, and playing inexperienced players has put the club's current league status at stake.

Rusthall eased their own relegation fears after securing back-to-backs win over Holmesdale (3-2) and here against Lordswood to win their fifth league game of the season.

Striker Luke Adams notched his eighth goal of the season early in the second half before winger Armondo Luismyro Costa capped off an impressive performance with an injury-time second to move eight points clear of Lordswood.

Lordswood extended their winless run to 10 games and have not won at home in the league after eleven attempts and are rooted to the foot of the table with nine points from 21 games.

Tower Hamlets – who have won their last two games – are also inside the relegation zone with 12 points from 23 games.

Chipie Sian’s Punjab United have slipped into the bottom three with 15 points from 20 games, while Rusthall have climbed up a place into seventeenth-place with 18 points from 21 games.

Canterbury City follow with the same number of points and games played but have extended their winless run to 11 games, while Welling Town have won their last two and have collected 20 points from as many games.

Going by those statistics, Canterbury City and Lordswood are in real danger of losing their Premier Division status at the end of the season.

Lordswood last took to the field on the 11 December, going down to a 4-1 defeat at Erith & Belvedere in Hunter’s last game in charge and Dimmock made eight new signings for today’s relegation dog-fight at Martyn Grove.

Abdul Muiz Alaka (left-back), Phillip Makinde (centre-half), Sam Bailey (right-winger), Mehmet Piro (central midfielder), George Baker-Moran (a striker on loan from Isthmian League South East Division side Ramsgate), Charlie Edmundson (attacker) and Nathaniel Murray (right-winger) all started while substitute left-winger Armani Morris became the 50th player to represent the club this season.

Rusthall made a couple of changes as left-back Rory Salter and centre-half James White were both ruled out through Covid-19.

“We didn’t so enough to win the game, simple as that,” admitted Dimmock as his first game in charge ended in Lordswood’s 16th league defeat of a miserable campaign.

“We had a couple of chances in the first-half, we really should’ve taken them, two good opportunities, didn’t take them and you get punished in football if you don’t take your chances.

“First 15-25 minutes we looked very nervous.  It’s the first time the two centre-halves have played together, a little bit of in-experience as well at the back.  I thought young Abdul Muiz Alaka done well at left-back but we just looked very nervous.”

Rusthall manager Jimmy Anderson said: “Deserved, deserved. I felt they had two big chances in the game and Charlie Wealands stepped up when needed in goal for me.

“I feel like we missed five or six chances where we could’ve been a lot more comfortable in the game.  I feel that we thoroughly deserved the win today. We turned up and it was a dog-fight in the conditions.

“To be fair, the pitch was in really good condition. It’s a huge win for us.  They gave me the same as they gave me last week, heart, desire, work-rate, shape and not many mistakes, shall we say.”

The opening 20 minutes was a scrappy affair and Rusthall called impressive Lordswood goalkeeper George Bentley into making a save in the 19th minute.

Lordswood centre-half Caleb Afoke made a bad foul on Ashley Sheppard and Costa stroked his left-footed free-kick from 25-yards (outside the right-corner of the penalty area) and Bentley made a smart low save into his midriff after dropping down on his knees on his goal-line in the centre of his goal.

The floodlights went out for a 12 minute period at the halfway point of the first half and during this time Rusthall struck the woodwork through direct play.

Goalkeeper Charlie Wealands launched a big kick straight down the middle of the pitch, which was flicked on by Adams and Costa’s dinked through ball played in Sheppard, who drilled his right-footed shot against the top of the right-hand post from 16-yards.

Anderson believes Sheppard will be fit got next weekend after hobbling off with a hip injury later on in the game.

“A lot of scrappy chances for them, for us, George in goal made some good early saves but like I said the first 25 minutes just comes down to nerves at the end of the day but the boys will learn and they’ve got to learn quick, not to give chances away because you get punished,” said Dimmock.

Anderson added: “The first 20 minutes, it’s one of them, you’ve got to find your feet in the game.

“Probably a little bit of long ball from both teams, not much play.  They played out from the back, we didn’t today, just because of the conditions so the first 20 wasn’t pretty.

“We said that we didn’t have to win in the first 10-20 minutes, we’ve got to not stay in the game but control the game to how we want it to go so the first 20 minutes, from my point of view, we’re the away side, it’s 0-0 after 20 minutes and we’ll play ourselves in the game.”

Reflecting on Sheppard’s chance, Anderson replied: “The build-up play was phenomenal. We’ve asked Ash why he’s tried to smash it into the top corner and he’s hit the post or crossbar, whatever you want to call it?  It should have been a goal, it was great play.

“I thought Ash, on his day, is a fantastic player and he can cause teams problems wherever he plays.”

Lordswood weathered the storm, however, and missed a great chance to snatch the lead in the 26th minute.

Right-winger Sam Bailey dropped into the centre of the pitch and from inside his own half played a sublime through ball which split open Rusthall centre-half Ryan Styles to put the diminutive Edmundson through on goal but his right-footed chip sailed over the crossbar when he only had Wealands to beat just a couple of yards inside the box within the heart of the pitch.

“That was one of the chances I was talking about in the first-half.  A good ball through, when you’re a forward, he knows deep down, he should put that one away but that was the first missed chance, a big chance,” admitted Dimmock.

Rusthall wideman Lewis Unwin was released down the left and he whipped in a cross, which was cleared out to unmarked right-back Louis Anderson but his right-footed drive from 25-yards cleared the crossbar.

The floodlights flickered back on by the time that Bentley made a comfortable save to deny Sheppard scoring with a low right-footed drive from 25-yards.

Lordswood’s belief levels grew going into the final 10 minutes of the first-half.

Bailey floated in a free-kick from the left which was punched away by Wealands but Murray sliced his shot harmlessly wide of the target as Louis Anderson came out to press him.

But Lordswood squandered a glorious chance to grab the lead in the 37th minute after a long ball straight down the middle of the pitch.

Baker-Morgan flicked the ball on and Edmundson did brilliantly well to bring the ball down with his head and outstretched legs before latching onto the ball and driving into the penalty area but Wealands made a vital block low to his left in a one-on-one dual.

“Another through ball, one-on-one with the goalkeeper and he’s hit it straight at him. We’ve had two good chances in the first half. If we put them away, it could’ve been a totally different game,” admitted Dimmock.

Anderson added: “I thought their 10, that Charlie (Edmundson) was a threat. He was probably their biggest threat.

“We know what Sam Bailey does on the wing and we tried to nullify that, that’s why we played Jake Hampson there.  I thought he (Edmundson) was a real handful for us. I was really impressed with him.

“He found pockets when he got in. He hit that (first) one over and the second one he gets through. I thought his touch was fantastic and he took it right into his path and ran through and he’s one-on-one with Charlie (Wealands) and Charlie’s made himself big and it’s kept us in the game first half.”

Impressive Lordswood goalkeeper Bentley made another brilliant diving save just before half-time.

Rusthall won the corner count 8-5 and were to be denied following their fifth delivery.

Costa played in a poor corner from the right but no one in an orange shirt picked up Rusthall’s left-back Jake Hampson at the near post and he flicked his shot towards the bottom near corner from the corner of the six-yard box and Bentley got down swiftly and low to his left to push the ball around his near post.

Dimmock said: “That’s because we haven’t got close enough to our markers on the pitch. If we get closer to our markers on the pitch, George Bentley has a quieter afternoon. He done well today, he got eight out of 10 from me.”

Anderson said: “I felt their keeper in the first-half was man-of-the-match. I felt he made some good saves. I have no idea how he’s got down to that. It’s an unbelievable save. He made a few in the first half and his handling was really good.”

Both managers were asked their thoughts going into the interval.

Dimmock said: “I just had to get them to just stop panicking when we get on the ball, panicking trying to impress people. It’s all about working hard and doing the right things, getting back to basics on the football pitch, trying to grind out results.”

Anderson added: “I suppose from your point of view, you’re thinking we’ve got to win. We’ve won, we’re eight points clear of them now, so it’s a great result.  From our point of view, in the changing room I’m saying to them ‘a point coming here isn’t a bad thing, we’re five points clear of them.’ 

“We do want to look at teams above us, not just teams around us, so ‘keep doing what you’re doing, battle hard, stick together and hopefully we’ll get the breakthrough.”

Rusthall fully deserved their lead when it arrived with four minutes and 19 seconds on the clock.

Central midfielder Tommy Lawrence knocked the ball down to Costa on the right-hand side of the penalty area and he easily twisted-and-turned Lordswood’s left-back Abdul Muiz Alaka within the penalty area and he laid the ball inside for Unwin, who dragged his shot across the face of goal towards an unmarked Adams, who swept the ball first-time past Bentley’s near-post from a couple of yards from goal.

“We’ve made hard work of it! A scuffed shot from Lewis Unwin falls to Luke Adams and Luke does what he does best and put it in the back of the net,” said Anderson, who believes his talisman should be on more goals than eight.

“He will obviously want more, he’s a goalscorer, he’s our number nine and he’s stepped up. He scored last week, scored today. He’s in a bit of form and he’s got people around him who he believes will give him chances so that’s a big thing.”

Dimmock added: “Once again, it’s another scrappy goal. The ball comes across the pitch, we should’ve cleared our lines but we haven’t and it’s dropped to, you can’t leave Luke Adams with the ball on his own.

“That part of the game was very scrappy but I do remember that goal. We gave the ball away, the left-back just gave the ball away.”

Bentley made another fine diving save to prevent Lawrence unleashing a right-footed drive into the bottom left-hand corner from 30-yards.

Lordswood produced a good move in the ninth minute but Baker-Morgan missed his only chance on a frustrating afternoon, after being sent out on loan by Ramsgate manager Matt Longhurst.

Alaka released Murray down the left and he had time and space inside the left-channel to put in a cross but the unmarked Baker-Morgan steered his free-header over the crossbar from 16-yards.

“I thought he was ok, a six out of 10 today,” Dimmock said when asked about how Baker-Morgan did.

“He’s well out of pace with match fitness and stuff like that but the boy is young, he has to learn. I will teach him a few things when we get back to training but he’s a young lad and he wants to improve.”

Bentley was called into action again and once again excelled in the 59th minute when he got down on to his knees to stretch and use both of his hands to push over Unwin’s swerving right-footed screamer from 30-yards, which was heading towards the roof of the Lordswood net.

“It moved so well and he done really well. I don’t even think the keeper knew where that was going but he got his body in behind it and put it over the bar,” added Anderson.

Costa was having a field day in tough conditions and he drove forward on a 20-yard run through the heart of the pitch before unleashing a left-footed drive towards the bottom left-hand corner, which was pushed away by the excellent Bentley, diving low to his right.

Lordswood were creating nothing in the final third, with Rusthall’s defence well-marshalled by centre-halves Styles and Callum Adonis-Taylor.

Adams smashed a shot into the side-netting after Alaka and Afoke allowed Costa to run along the by-line after cutting in from the right-hand side corner flag inside the final 15 minutes.

A sliced clearance from Lordswood’s centre-half Makinde played in Rusthall’s substitute left-winger Taylor Robinson, who cut into the box before dragging his shot across Bentley and flashing past the far post with 80 minutes on the clock.

“You can’t sit on 1-0, not at this level, we’ve found that out. We’ve had a few more chances. Taylor Robinson goes through and drags his shot wide. Chances where we could’ve easily have gone 2-0 up,” said Anderson.

“This season those things have cost us in games in the first half of the season and you think they’re going to score if they get half-a-chance.”

Lawrence fed Costa down the middle and Adams failed to keep his drilled shot on target as another Rusthall chance went begging.

Lordswood squandered a chance to snatch an unlikely point as the game entered into injury-time.

Set-piece specialist Bailey floated the ball in and Makinde came up from the back to loop his header narrowly over the crossbar after finding a pocket of space at the near post.

“It was the only chance,” admitted Dimmock, who revealed what kind of players he is currently missing to help improve this beleaguered team.

“We were very quiet.  They were all trying to be pretty on the ball. When you’ve got to get on the ball and get forward and get in the right areas and in behind the full-backs, I just think we’re a bit light up top at the moment. I need to bring in an experienced forward and hopefully I do that this week.”

Anderson added: “That’s what I mean.  You give a team half-a-chance and they can punish you so that’s why the second goal is key.”

Rusthall notched their second goal with 45:57 on the clock on a swift counter-attack after Wealands’ resulting goal-kick, was launched down the left channel.

Adams fed Robinson who put it on a plate for the outstanding Costa, who swept his shot past Bentley from inside the six-yard box to put Rusthall eight points clear of a beleaguered Lordswood, who need to sign more experienced players for this level if they are to avoid relegation in four months’ time.

Anderson was full of praise for the impressive Costa, who now has to continue this form for the rest of the season and not just because he’s playing against a mate in the other team.

“He was good today. His mate Armani (Morris), who was signed to me, he’s signed for them now, they’re good friends. They both came to me at the same time, Armani has come to Lordswood now and Myro stayed with me so Myro was up for the game anyway because his mate plays for them.

“It’s funny, because being a manager now you kind of know in the changing room what boys are up for it and what boys are not.  Even when he came in, he turned up late, it’s a long way to travel (from Brixton, London) for him. He turned up late but you could tell he had the bit between his teeth that he was going to turn up today.”

Dimmock added: “It was a counter-attack goal from our corner.  They broke away, it was a gamble that we had to take and they broke away and killed the game off.”

Dimmock revealed he will give his players a run out in a friendly against VCD Athletic’s under 23 on Tuesday night before 12th placed K Sports visit here next Saturday to contest a Challenge Cup Second Round tie.

“It’s fitness levels as well, people have got to get fitter.  We need a bit more experience in there, that will come in the next two weeks and from there we will be pushing forward as a side. It’s not just going to turn over night,” admitted the Lordswood boss.

“We have to work our socks off and win games.  We’ve got to get together and work our socks off and get out of this.  I’ll go away today and I’ll have a good think.

“We need another three or four experienced players to get us out of this.  I’ve got it (the budget) there, I can go and get the players’, so I need to do it.

“The fans just have to believe in what we’re trying to do. It’s not going to happen overnight. We’ve only had two or three training sessions.  The first session was to get to know everyone. I’m still getting to see what everyone’s like, what they’re all about. We’ve got a friendly Tuesday night away to VCD’s under 23’s so I can have a good look at everyone then and go from there.”

Looking ahead to the visit of Barry Morgan’s Paperboys next weekend, Dimmock added: “It’s the only cup we’re still in. I’d like to win something this year so we’ll be going full-strength.”

Plummeting Canterbury City welcome Rusthall to Salters Lane next Saturday 15 January and host Lordswood seven days later and both clubs target that fixture to put points on the board.

“It (the league table) will look a lot better hopefully in a couple of weeks’ time, that’s the plan,” added Anderson.

“We’ve gone away from Tower Hamlets, we’ve leapfrogged Punjab, who have a game in hand and we play Canterbury on Saturday on level points so that is another big game and then we’ve got a (Kent Senior Trophy) Quarter-Final against Hollands & Blair and then we’ve got a league game against Hollands & Blair and then we have Punjab so it’s a big month for us. It’s huge so we’ve got to take game-by-game.

“Canterbury will be hard.  You play any team at this level you don’t know who you’re going to play against. Managers pull in players from mates here, there, wherever. Whoever they put out it will be a very hard game for us.

“I respect them massively. I understand they’ve got struggles off the pitch but that shouldn’t affect them on the pitch, the players they put out will fight for the shirt and my boys will be up for it but obviously it’s points to play for.

“We’ve just got to keep the momentum going, take game-by-game and see where it leads us at the end of the season.

“Our aim is to stay in the league. It’s (will be) a massive achievement. It’s never been done before. There’s been reprieves for Rusthall before when they’ve stayed in the league so for us to actually finish higher than the bottom two would be a massive achievement and that’s the aim for this club this season, to find our feet in the league.”

Lordswood: George Bentley, Josh Gilbert, Abdul Muiz Alaka, Dominic Wynter-Stephens (Henry Arnold 62), Phillip Makinde, Caleb Afoke, Nathaniel Murray, Mehmet Piro, George Baker-Morgan (Tom Carter 78), Charlie Edmundson, Sam Bailey (Armani Morris 63).
Subs: Adam Sheepwash, Callum Edwards

Booked: Caleb Afoke 18, Dominic Wynter-Stephens 52, Armani Morris 87

Rusthall: Charlie Wealands, Louis Anderson, Jake Hampson, Jack Smith, Ryan Styles, Callum Adonis-Taylor, Lewis Unwin, Tommy Lawrence (Joe Newman 90), Luke Adams, Ashley Sheppard (Taylor Robinson 75), Armondo Luismyro Pires Costa (Franck Ndouga 90).
Subs: Daniel Kommu, Charlie Clover

Goals: Luke Adams 50, Armondo Luismyro Pires Costa 90

Booked: Ashley Sheppard 69, Tommy Lawrence 89

Attendance: 85
Referee: Mr Kieran Cox
Assistants: Mr Mark Joy & Mr Joshua Williams