Orpington 5-0 Crockenhill - We know we're going to be up against it, admits Crocks boss Craig Clark

Saturday 25th January 2014

Kent Invicta League
Saturday 25th January 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Green Court Road

CROCKENHILL manager Craig Clark praised the commitment from his veteran players after the struggling club lost their eighteenth game on the bounce.

The Crocks remain rooted to the foot of the Kent Invicta League table after losing all of their fifteen league games this season and their 5-0 defeat away to neighbours Orpington has seen the famous old club leak an embarrassing 109 goals in just eighteen games.

Orpington remain in fourth-place in the table with 31 points from sixteen games.

It took the O’s 38 minutes to break through a spirited Crockenhill side when Michael Hapeshis swept home, before the home side doubled their lead just 109 seconds later through Filipe Caruacho De Silva’s penalty.

Orpington skipper, Glenn Brewer, took his goalscoring tally to seven for the season with a second half hat-trick as Crockenhill’s veterans’ poor fitness levels proved costly underneath stormy grey clouds above Green Court Road.

“We know what to expect each week,” said Clark, 46, after he emerged from the dressing room after the game.

“I can’t knock the players for their commitment.  It’s just silly mistakes, a mad two minutes in the first half and at this level if you make mistakes you’re going to get punished. A mad two minutes in the second half when we conceded the fourth and the fifth so apart from that the boys battled well.

“I just said to them in there (the dressing room), I’m proud of every one of them.  We know our limitations. We know what we’re going to be up against each week and I can’t knock the boys.  Anyone who turns up and puts the shirt on, I can’t say anything bad about them.

“It’s just a little bit of naïve defending, a little bit of knowhow, a little bit of savvy, but I’m proud of them really.”

Orpington manager Sean Glover, 30, was full of praise for Crockenhill, who have fallen on hard times since leaving the Kent League in 1999.

“I thought they played pretty well to be fair to Crockenhill,” said Glover after his side’s ninth league win of the season.

“Between the two of us they didn’t look to be too much difference between us in the first half-an-hour.  In the end our fitness and possession told eventually.  The final ball helped, we deserved the win.”

Crockenhill could go on and lose all of their 28 league games this season because of the age of his players.

“You’ve got to remember at pre-season I only had three players, that was it,” explained Clark, the former Erith Town goalkeeper coach.

“We’ve had to do away with Crockenhill’s reserves because of a lack of players.  For the first few months of the season it was a case of just trying to get eleven players on the pitch, as the results will tell you.

“Even I have played one game in goal (saving a penalty through in the 7-1 defeat to Fleet Leisure in the Cup). That’s what it’s all about. Slowly we’re getting to a nucleus of experienced players that I’ve known for a few years now. We’ve got in ex Crockenhill players, ex Kent League players that I’ve played here with when I was playing so we’ve got some experienced players, some old heads that towards the end of the game you could see that’s when the fitness comes in and we struggle there.”

Speaking about the age of the Crockenhill team, the Orpington boss added: “They’re quite experienced lads, quite older fellas. They’ve obviously been around the game and knew what they’re doing.  The front two held the ball up well and did well and the balls into them weren’t too bad either.

“In regards to Crockenhill, it was a completely different side to what we played at the beginning of the season.

“I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes at Crockenhill but it’s hard work for them to get a regular side out week in week out but fair play to them. In the first half an hour they equipped themselves really well and we didn’t play very well and they held their own.”

Despite suffering the worst season in Crockenhill’s history, Clark’s side started well and almost upset the form book by taking the lead on more than one occasion.

A long throw from their best player on the day, striker Ronnie Jeffries, was flicked on at the near post by his strike partner Steve Shippey and Lewis Fairman’s shot from six-yards forced Orpington keeper Sam I’Anson into making a smart save low to his right, using a strong right hand to prevent Crockenhill taking a deserved lead inside the opening thirteen minutes.

An over-hit pass from central midfielder Ryan Hackett was chased down by the hard-working veteran Jeffries, who turned his marker before cracking a right-footed angled drive, which curled agonisingly wide of the far post, with Shippey bursting a gut in an attempt to make contact.

Another long throw from Jeffries saw Ryan Hackett turn to stroke a right-footed shot which was caught at the near post by I’Anson.

Orpington took nearly 20 minutes to fashion their first chance when right-back Adam Steward ventured forward into enemy territory before cutting the ball back to striker Tim Beckford, whose right-footed chip from inside the box caught the wind and sailed wide of the far post.

But Glover rued two excellent chances for Orpington to take the lead just before the half-hour mark.

Bruce Gawen clipped a precise through ball through the heart of Crockenhill’s back three to put Beckford through on goal.  Assistant referee Hossain Tavakkoli waved play on but Beckford lacked composure 30-yards from goal and his left-footed chip caught the wind and sailed miles wide of the left-hand post.

However, Beckford made amends when his pass put through 12-goal striker Alex Campbell-Chambers, who was denied by goalkeeper Michael Boreham, who came out to the edge of his box to palm the ball behind for a corner.

Glover said: Horrendous, unfortunate but horrendous.  I had a go at them in the dressing room at half-time. I didn’t want to have a go at them but I tried to encourage them.  I said I don’t mind them missing, their runs were good, they’re in the right places which is always a good start.  Finishing can be worked on in training but if they’re not running in the right places and not getting the ball then there’s problems. They’re in the right areas so that’s a good sign and it’s just working on the finishing and composure at the end. 

“I thought both of them could have took it round the goalkeeper rather than shooting first time and having a bit more composure in front of goal, which is something we can work on.”

Clark blasted his three men at the back for letting Orpington create two excellent chances.

He said it was: “Naïve defending.  We spoke about it before the game and after the game. We were playing three at the back so we were defending very narrow. It’s about the position of the defenders take up and sometimes we were getting too tight and they were able to turn us and sometimes we was a bit ball watching and was in the wrong position.”

Crockenhill keeper Boreham was called into action as Orpington started to dominate.

Campbell-Chambers ghosted past Terry Bastable down the left and cut the ball back to Brewer, whose right-footed shot was saved by Boreham low to his right, before there were appeals for a penalty after Beckford was brought down on the other side of the box.

But Orpington broke Crockenhill’s brave resilience by taking a 38th minute lead.

Left-back Harry West clipped the ball down the left to release Campbell-Chambers, who played the ball inside to Gawen on the overlap.  The left-sided midfielder whipped in a cross towards the far post and Beckford brought the ball down under control before his low shot was blocked by Boreham and Hapeshis swept the ball through a crowd of players into the net.

“It did take a while,” admitted Glover.

“We had a few good chances beforehand with Alex and Tim and we done some nice play down the left-hand side.

“It was coming so it was a bit of a relief to get the first goal, especially coming in to half-time so it made the team talk a little bit easier.”

Clark said: “We could have cleared it. We had enough opportunities to clear it.  Again, naïve. Sometimes you have to defend ugly, just get the ball out of there.  I think sometimes we are guilty perhaps in wrong areas trying too many touches instead of doing the ugly stuff or clearing the ball up the pitch basically and giving yourselves time to recover.”

After working so hard and playing well for half-an-hour Crockenhill were back to their usual selves and went two goals behind just 109 seconds later.

Chris Hackett, who was playing on the left of a three-man defence, brought Beckford down inside the penalty area and De Silva buried the resulting penalty into the bottom left-hand corner with his right-foot.

Glover said: “Definitely a penalty and in all honesty I’ve got total confidence in Filipe. His penalty taking is superb. He’s never missed one yet, so he’s always number one on the penalty shoot.”

Clark added: “Naïve defending again, diving in. All you have to do is stand up and make the player beat you but he didn’t, he dived in and all the player has to do is knock the ball past him, a little bit of contact, that’s it, down they go.”

It should have been three when Campbell-Chambers released Beckford, who shrugged past Chris Hackett, but Boreham came off his line to make a fine block.

Crockenhill’s Ryan Hackett then cracked a speculative right-footed drive over the bar from 35-yards.

Glover was relieved at the break that his side had avoided slipping up on the potential banana skin.

“Definitely relief,” he said. “I’m glad the game was going in the right direction and a sense of relief.  Yes, you can definitely say there was a sense of relief because Crockenhill didn’t do too badly in the first half-an-hour, so to get the two goals before half-time it did flatter us a little bit and it did paper over a few cracks. It was then about hopefully consolidating a 2-0 and making sure that we didn’t concede.”

Crockenhill wasted a great opportunity to score only their tenth goal of the season inside the opening five minutes of the second half.

Ryan Hackett delivered a deep cross towards the far post from the right and Shippey stretched to plant his header wide of the near post from a tight angle.

A poor clearance from Crockenhill substitute Junior Mandikila went straight to Brewer, who cracked a right-footed volley sailing over the crossbar from 30-yards.

Crockenhill produced their best move of the game in the 53rd minute when Shippey played the ball up field to Fairman, who played the ball inside to Ryan Hackett and Garvin Matthews’ left-footed drive from 20-yards deflected past the left-hand post.

But Orpington put the game beyond Crockenhill’s reach with their third goal four minutes later.

Beckford released Brewer who saw the goalkeeper stray off his line and the Orpington striker sent his right-footed chip sailing over the goalkeeper into the roof of the empty net from 25-yards.

“Fantastic strike, he’s capable of doing it and he’s done it a few times,” beamed Glover, who was being interviewed inside the home dressing room.

“His finishing is good. He took the goal excellent. With the previous ones (from Campbell-Chambers and Beckford) there was no composure and Glenn showed great composure there to finish and put it over the keeper and into the net.”

Clark admitted his aging players started to tire at this point in the game.

He said: “I think coming towards that 60th minute that’s when you get the old heavy legs.  We’ve got an experienced side.  We’ve got a few young players. It’s just the fitness side of it. We know that we’re not going to match in terms of quality and in terms of fitness with sides in this league so we know what we’re in for when we go on the pitch.  We try to accommodate our style of play and keep the ball.  Experience and naivety come into our game unfortunately.”

Hapeshis then released Campbell-Chambers through on goal but the Orpington striker drilled his right-footed shot over the bar from 20-yards.

Crockenhill substitute Michael Mansell looked lively when he came on and the striker squandered two decent chances to score.

Fairman released Mansell down the left, who shrugged off Rob Haines before cutting into the penalty area and sweeping a left-footed flicked shot agonisingly against the near post and the ball flashed along the goal-line and behind for a goal-kick.

Clark added: “He’s hit the post. He’s done well. He’s got a bit of pace, he’s a bit of a handful, a bit unfit so he didn’t start. He’s a player we can look at for the future, get him fit and he can be quite an asset for us.”

Manswell was then released down the right and he clipped the ball over the goalkeeper and the ball dropped down behind for a goal-kick.

Orpington played without a goalkeeper for the final sixteen minutes when I’Anson, 21, who is the younger brother of former Bromley and Dover Athletic midfielder Luke, rolled his ankle after Mansell slid in to contest a 50-50 ball outside the penalty area.

Glover said: “It’s unfortunate because Sam has been an integral part of the team so far. As a goalkeeper he’s improved leaps and bounds from last year.

“In regards to the tackle, it’s a 50-50, both went in for it and Sam’s come off worse so unfortunately for him he’s rolled his ankle. He’s come off. I didn’t want to risk him for any longer.

“We haven’t got a game next week so he’s got a week off and then we have Bearsted away a week after that so hopefully two weeks of rest and we’ll let the physio have a look at that in the week.”

With no substitute goalkeeper on the bench, central midfielder Ben Marlow took the red jersey and the gloves, but he wasn’t tested as Brewer went on to score his hat-trick as Orpington’s fourth and fifth goals were carbon copies.

Right-back Steward clipped the ball over the top to release Campbell-Chambers down the right who played the ball across the face of goal to the unmarked Brewer at the far post, who stabbed the ball over the line of an empty net from two-yards in the 76th minute.

Glover said: “Exactly the same, being at the right place at the right time always helps Glenn. He can be like that in the box. He’s come out with what he deserves.  He’s in the box at the right time. 

“Chambers has done really well and he’s added that to his game, assisting.  At the beginning of the season he was a little bit more greedy and the goals showed but later part of the season he’s tried to help his team mates out a little bit more as well and contributing with assists.”

Clark said: “A little bit of movement from the players’ up front, a little bit of peeling off and we’ve not switched on. The defenders again, a little bit naive there ball watching.  At this level you only have to give two or three yards and they punish you.”

Brewer completed his hat-trick within four minutes when this time he nodded the ball into the empty net from a similar position, following exactly the same move.

Glover, in an attempt not to repeat himself, added: “Exactly the same! Nothing more to say on that really. Right place right time and a good assist from Alex and Glenn’s put it away quite easily.”

Clark added: “Players were heavy legged.  The player has come in at the far post, not been picked up, a free header.  It doesn’t matter if he headed it or whether he side-footed it in. It’s just the players are not being able to recover fitness.”

Crockenhill, who average six goals against them a game, can take plenty of positives from this game, especially if all players show the same commitment and desire as Jeffries.

“He’s an old boy, he’s a Crockenhill old boy,” said Clark.

“He’s probably been at Crockenhill longer than most people. He came back again this season to help us out. He tries hard, he runs all day.  You can’t, like everyone else, knock his commitment to the club and how hard he tries.”

Brewer almost scored his fourth goal of the game but he steered his shot wide from a long way out after Boreham came out and failed to gather the ball.

Orpington claimed the local bragging rights, while Crockenhill’s miserable woeful season continues.

Glover, who has set his side a top three finish this season, said: “Crockenhill are a big club and it’s always sorry to see a club of that stature sort of slip away and go down the way that they are and in that respect, yes I do feel sorry for them and I wish them well and I wish them back to where they should be.”

It would be so easy for Crockenhill to throw in the towel and resign from the league, but Clark and his team must take credit for carrying on.

“We keep going because we all stick together,” said Clark.

“I can’t knock them.  They turn up week in week out. Steve (Cullen) who runs the club works extremely hard. The boys understand that.

“Next week (at home to Glebe) we’ll go again, the boys will turn up and they’ll put the shirt on and they’ll try their hardest and I can’t ask for no more than that.

“We’ll give everything that they’ve got, that’s one thing that I do know. They will give everything.”

Orpington: Sam I’Anson (Blaine Tapper 74), Adam Steward, Harry West, Filipe Caruacho De Silva, Rob Haines, Ben Marlow, Michael Hapeshis (Callum Comerford 70), Bruce Gawen, Alex Campbell-Chambers, Glenn Brewer, Tim Beckford (Lewis Gregory 79).

Goals: Michael Hapeshis 38, Filipe Caruacho De Silva 39 (penalty), Glenn Brewer 57, 76, 80

Booked: Rob Haines 4

Crockenhill: Michael Boreham, Leigh Nicholson, Chris Hackett, Terry Bastable, Garvin Matthews, Ryan Hackett (Michael Mansell 61), Lewis Fairman, Matesh Kobia, Ronnie Jeffries, Steve Shippey, Anthony Agbo (Junior Mandikila 43).
Sub: Ekow Crankson

Booked: Steve Shippey 28

Attendance: 48
Referee: Mr Neil Baker (Welling)
Assistants: Mr David Lunani (Bromley) & Mr Hossain Tavakkoli (Forest Hill, London SE23)