Otford United 7-1 Crockenhill - If we can get another three points again that pushes us right up the table and we can forget the average start that we've had and look forward and move on, says Otford United boss Ricky Tompkins

Wednesday 21st October 2020
Otford United 7 – 1 Crockenhill
Location Otford Recreation Ground, High Street, Otford, Kent TN15 5PG
Kickoff 21/10/2020 19:30

NRG Gyms Kent County League Premier Division
Wednesday 21 October 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Otford Recreation Ground

OTFORD UNITED manager Ricky Tompkins says it was nice to show people what his side can do after humiliating their local rivals Crockenhill in a basement battle in the Kent County League Premier Division.

Otford United went into this game sitting second-from-bottom in the table with five points from seven games, while Steve Aldridge’s side were one place higher on five points from six outings.

However, Crockenhill had no defence as they gave Otford United 16 real goalscoring opportunities during their 7-1 thrashing at the Otford Recreation Ground.

Winger Artur Lechowicz opened the floodgates inside the opening four minutes before impressive striker Harvey Brown scored a first-half hat-trick, which also included missing a penalty, scoring a penalty and hitting the crossbar with a volley.

Crockenhill left wing-back Kalem Summers was sent-off for a handball on the line on the stroke of half-time but the game was dead and buried by then.

Another striker, Toyeeb Babatunde came off the bench with 29 minutes remaining and scored a hat-trick too, while Crockenhill made the score 6-1 through a stunning finish from striker Alex Quartson-Aidoo.

“I thought that’s been a long-time coming,” said a delighted Tompkins.

“It’s been a fine line with the squad at the moment between getting three points and no points. I sort of feel like the league position hasn’t justified how well we’ve played in some games but we’ve only had spells of 45 minutes and in some games 60 minutes, which you know is not good enough in football.

“It’s a game of two halves and it’s 90 minutes but tonight we showed that from start to finish and we had good energy levels, the togetherness was good and I thought everyone was fighting for each other and at last we started taking our chances, which has been a massive thing we haven’t done.”

On the high nature of his side’s victory, Tompkins replied: “No. I don’t expect that from any side. I always have respect for a side regardless of league position. We’re down there at the moment for a reason and that’s because we haven’t been good enough.

“Look, Crockenhill will pick up points, they’ve got some good individual players and I’ll take the 7-1 - I’m happy with that, of course, any manager would but I didn’t expect 7-1!”

Crockenhill missed a glorious chance to snatch the lead after only 103 seconds into the one-sided game.

Central midfielder Joe Kearney pinged a diagonal pass to release winger Reece Cullen down the left and he crossed the ball back towards the far post but right-winger Quartson-Aidoo steered his free header past the foot of the near post from six-yards.

“That’s been another one of our problems,” revealed Tompkins, who was the only manager who put himself forward for a post-match interview tonight.

“The first 5-10 minutes of the game we seem to start very slow and we feel like when we come out for the second half in games we start slow as well.

“It was a shaky moment in the fact of what’s going on of late. I’ve got confidence in Tommy, he’s a good keeper and the last couple of games he’s really stepped up.”

Crockenhill were made to pay, however, as Otford United immediately went up the other end to take the lead with only three minutes and 48 seconds on the clock.

There was a hint of controversy as it appeared that Michael Fenn - one of three centre-halves - was fouled in the build-up and Brown released Lechowicz, who cut into the box to unleash his right-footed angled drive across the keeper to nestle sweetly inside the bottom far corner from 15-yards.

“I don’t know what happened. It felt like they were waiting for a foul and everyone seemed to stop,” said Tompkins.

“I said to them, ‘look, until the referee blows, we’ve got to keep going at all costs and we’ve got to gamble on things tonight,’ and Artur was my man-of-the-match last Saturday (during out 3-1 home defeat to Staplehurst Monarchs United) and he’s put in another great performance and nicked another
goal at the weekend so two in two for him, which is good.”

Crockenhill were guilty of committing a comedy of errors inside their defensive third as they gifted Otford United a second goal with only nine minutes and 13 seconds on the clock.

Midfielder Ethan Frederick sliced his clearance towards his own box and a poor back-header from Fenn was latched onto by Brown, who nipped in to stroke a low shot past goalkeeper Clark Hunt from 15-yards.

“Look, Harry Brown is a new player, who's come on board. I think we’ve had him three weeks now,” said Tompkins.

”I believe the first game against Bromleians, obviously it was his first game and he was settling in and it was tough for him. He didn’t really gel as well as I would’ve liked maybe but second game against Ide Hill he had a fantastic game, got two against Ide Hill.

“Every time he gets the ball, his pacey, he drives at defenders and that’s something as a footballer that is hard to defend against. Unfortunately, he was missing on Saturday but he’s got a nice little hat-trick tonight.

“I’m sure he could’ve had four or five with missing a penalty and hitting the bar and he’s hit a volley on the bar as well.”

Brown is a player who can play one or two levels higher and on this performance the former Crowborough Athletic striker won’t be staying at Otford United for long.

Otford United’s 16-year-old central striker Jake Dixon drew a foul from Summers as he cut into the box from the right and referee Bart Chmielecki pointed to the spot.

However, Brown smashed his right-footed penalty against the crossbar - with only 12 minutes and 55 seconds of the game played.

Tompkins said: “That was his goal for his hat-trick (it wasn’t - he was on one goal at the time), so nerves were going through his head and to get a hat-trick in the first-half of a football game that doesn’t really happen a lot. He might have put himself under a bit too much pressure but having said that he had another penalty in the game and he’s had the courage as a striker to take it again and he’s put the second one away, so fair play to him.”

Hunt pulled off a great diving save to deny a dominant Otford United side.

Andy Knight threw the ball into Lechowicz, who hit a left-footed drive from inside the box, which took a deflection off Fenn and forced Hunt into making a great diving save to his left to push the ball around the post.

However, Otford United notched their third goal of the night from the resulting corner, timed at 25 minutes and 33 seconds.

Long-serving stalwart, right-back Jamie Knight floated the ball in from the right towards the far post and Brown buried his towering header across the keeper into the far corner from eight-yards.

“It was a great header by Harry, very, very good header from Harry, so well done to him,” added Tompkins.

Shell-shocked Crockenhill created an opening on target in the 28th minute when Kearney’s drilled shot was spilled by Otford keeper Tommy Hobson at his near post, as the shot was aiming for the bottom right-hand corner.

Otford United struck the crossbar for the second time inside the final 10 minutes when the combative Jamie Knight showed more desire to win the ball off his opponent in midfield and feed a 10-yard pass into Brown, who rifled his volley against the crossbar from 30-yards.

“It was a very sweet shot. He took it first time past the player and hit it on the volley, if it goes in off the bar it’s an unbelievable goal but I think three was enough for him. I think he was being a bit too greedy,” added Tompkins.

A poor clearance from Hobson went straight to Cullen who lacked composure and the quality needed to punt his 35-yarder straight back into the net, the ball bouncing harmlessly past the far post.

Crockenhill’s right-wing-back George Taylor played a throw into the box and often isolated lone striker Sammy McDonald hit a shot on the turn which flashed past the foot of the near post and into the side netting from 18-yards.

Brown played a sublime pass up to Dixon, who held the ball up before rolling the ball back to Andy Knight, who took a touch before drilling his right-footed shot past the right-upright from 25-yards.

Crockenhill shot themselves in the foot when they lost left-wing-back Summers at the end of the first-half.

The outstanding Brown drilled his right-footed free-kick from 30-yards towards the bottom right-hand corner, which forced Hunt to make another fine save, low to his right to smother the ball.

However, Hunt spilled the ball and Matt Atkins pounced on the loose ball and drilled his shot from a tight angle across the face of goal over to Lechowicz, who hooked his shot back towards the far corner where it came from.  The ball was clearly handled on the line by Summers, who was shown a straight red-card.

Brown showed character to step-up to take his second penalty of the night, this time sending Hunt the wrong way with his right-footed drilled penalty, which found the right-hand corner with 40 seconds into stoppage time to score his hat-trick.

“For Harry to step up, the worst thing you can do as a striker, in my opinion, is miss a penalty and shy away from another penalty,” said Tompkins.

“I said to him as soon as we got another penalty, I said to Harry, ‘you’ve got to have this and put it in the back of the net this time’ and luckily enough he done that and that made a great hat-trick.”

On the red-card, Tompkins replied: “It happend so quick for me and there were a lot of players’ in and around the box. It’s a hard one because as a defender if you’re in front of goal you do everything you can to try and stop that ball going in the back of the net.

“On another day, it could end up in your favour. Your team could turn it around and your team could end up winning the game so he’s done what he’s done, you can’t solely put the blame on him because I felt we started good and we were on the front foot and we would’ve controlled that anyway. You know yourself, sometimes with 10 men it’s harder because they have that little bit more energy and desire and they want to prove they want to beat you with less men.”

Crockenhill were 4-0 down at the break, a man down, in a local derby in front of 77 fans underneath the floodlights, now had a mountain to climb going into the second half.

“On Saturday we were 1-0 up against Staplehurst and we played some of the best football we’ve played this season, that I’ve seen for a long time. I praised them, I maybe over-praised them. I’m not going to take a negative on my side. We maybe over-praised them too much maybe at half-time and second half was a totally different game and we ended up losing the game,” said Tompkins.

“I said to them you have to stay focused and disciplined and you’ve got to work as hard as you did in the first half because they will change their formation and they will come out to have a go at you.”

Aldridge responded by bringing on centre-half Liam Burchett at the interval and he partnered Oluwatobi Ajobo at the heart of Crockenhill’s defence - but their defending failed to improve during the second half.

Otford United created their first opening inside the opening five minutes when Jamie Knight released Lechowicz down the hill and he cut the ball back from the by-line for Brown, who cut the ball onto his right-foot and curled his shot towards the far corner from 20-yards, only to be denied by Hunt stretching and sticking out his left arm to push towards safety.

Lechowicz played a low ball in from the right for Brown to sweep his first time finish past the foot of the right-hand post as Otford United continued to threaten.

Hunt made a comfortable low save to his right to thwart Harry Bell scoring with a right-footed drive towards the bottom far corner from 25-yards.

Otford United didn’t have to wait long to score their fifth goal of the night, timed at 18:27, courtesy of substitute striker Babatunde.

Crockenhill goalkeeper Hunt tried to play out from the back but centre-half Burchett gifted the ball to Babatunde inside the box, the striker cut inside and easily placed his shot into the bottom far corner.

“He’s another good lad on board this year. I’ve known Toyeeb a couple of years and when he gets in and round the box it’s going to be a dangerous shot regardless if it doesn’t go in. It was a lovely finish, considering he’s come on in the 60
th minute mark to have an impact, that’s what you want from a player,” said Tompkins.

Crockenhill called Otford United keeper Hobson into making a comfortable save going into the final 20 minutes.

Frederick found a pocket of space outside the penalty area and tried to find the bottom right-hand corner from 22-yards, only for Hobson to dive to his right and hold onto the shot.

“Tommy Hobson’s come on board again this season. He plays for the England Deaf side and he’s a great lad and a very, very good goalkeeper when he’s focused,” said Tompkins.

“I’ve said to him, there’s been a few times when he comes relaxed but I said I want him to get his head right and focused and prepare yourself a little bit better and the last couple of games he’s done that and he’s been absolutely superb.

“I thought at first the communication side of it would be hard but he’s confident in his own belief that he knows when to play out and tuck in and squeeze up. He’s a good lad to have on board.”

There was a case of mistaken identity when referee Bart Chmielecki booked the wrong player in the 73rd minute.

Crockenhill’s left-back Nick Cuthbert was on the end of a strong challenge from Charlie Sharman on the half-way-line but the referee booked Otford’s holding midfielder Darrell Thompson instead.

Hunt pulled off another fine save when his two centre-halves let Hobson’s big kick bounce over them and let in substitute striker Dominicc Elliott but Hunt rushed to the edge of his box to smother the shot low to his left.

However, just 41 seconds later and Otford United scored their sixth goal of the night, timed at 29:50 on the clock.

Babatunde drilled his left-footed angled drive from the edge of the box, which deflected off Burchett to nestle into the bottom far corner.

“Toyeeb will never admit to that, that it was a deflected shot. Again, another composed finish,” said Tompkins.

“I said to him before the game, I said in front of goal he had a lot of chances on Saturday and you’ve got to be a bit more ruthless and he’s come on and he’s taken his first two chances and hit the back of the net so you can’t rally ask much more as a manager.”

However, Crockenhill kept plugging away and pulled a goal back with a stunning strike from Quartson-Aidoo with 36:37 on the clock.

A mistake from Otford centre-half Billy Gregory let in Quartson-Aidoo down the right and he cut into the box and rifled his shot high above the keeper into the top near corner.

“Listen, I can’t be negative about it because we were looking for a clean-sheet, as a manager you always want a clean-sheet, as a defender you want a clean-sheet. It’s important for any team,” said Tompkins.

“Billy’s had a great game but he’s made one error but it’s one error in the last 10 minutes but luckily enough we were in a good position where it didn’t really make much difference to the position we were in.”

Hunt pulled off another fine save when Jamie Knight’s long ball over the top dissected Crockenhill centre-half Ajobo to put Jake Dixon in on goal but Hunt rushed to the edge of his box again and made a block with his legs.

Otford United completed the humiliation by adding their seventh goal of the night with one minute and 42 seconds into stoppage time, which was a well-worked move involving their subs.

Elliott and Alfie Norman linked up in the final third, Babatunde let the ball roll through his legs to play in Elliott, who teed up Babatunde who smashed his left-footed volley into the top left-hand corner with only the keeper to beat.

“I tell you what, if the keeper got in front of that, I think he would’ve ended up in the back of the net with it,” added Tompkins, whose side created even more chances (high and wide of the target) than the ones listed within this match report.

“For any striker to get a hat-trick I think is special but when you’re getting a hat-trick from the 60
th minute to the 90th, in half-an hour, that’s some going and especially coming on as a sub. It’s hard to get into the game. He got into the game really early and he took advantage and another great finish from him so it’s nice to see us hit the ball in the back of the net at last.”

Now fifth-from-bottom, confidence is high going into Saturday’s trip to eighth-placed Peckham Town.

“It was good to get people down and push us through that. We’ve had a tough start and realistically it’s been a tougher start that I would’ve hoped and probably what we should’ve had,” said Tompkins.

“To have all of the people come down, we had all of the reserves down and it was nice to show people what we can do and we had a good crowd to watch it and it was quite a thrilling game for everyone with lots of goals involved.

“I think as a manager if you’ve beaten a team 7-1 the morale is quite high. Peckham have had quite a good start but at the same time after this we have got to go there, on a nice surface and with confidence, I’m pretty sure we can give them a good game.

“We haven’t been far away and this really just showed that where we are as a team. it was going to happen sooner rather than later so I’m looking forward to Saturday and if we can get another three points again that puts us right up the table and we can forget about the average start that we’ve had and look forward and move on.”

Otford United: Tommy Hobson, Chris Baldwin, Jamie Knight, Darrell Thompson (Henry Gavan 76), Matt Atkins (Artur Lechowicz 90), Billy Gregory, Artur Lechowicz (Jake Dixon 81), Harry Bell (Alfie Norman 65), Harry Brown (Dominicc Elliott 68), Jake Dixon (Toyeeb Babatunde 61), Andy Knight (Charlie Sharman 57).

Goals: Artur Lechowicz 5, Harry Brown 10, 26, 45 (penalty), Toyeeb Babatunde 63, 75, 90

Booked: Darrell Thompson 73

Crockenhill: Clark Hunt, George Taylor, Kalem Summers, Michael Fenn (Liam Burchett 46), Nick Cuthbert (Vishaal Patel 82), Oluwatobi Ajobo, Reece Cullen, Joe Kearney (Joe Elliott 71), Sammy McDonald (Alex Quartson-Aidoo 69), Ethan Frederick, Alex Quartson-Aidoo (Jay Read 55).
Sub: Ethan Shakespeare-Richards

Goal: Alex Quartson-Aidoo 82

Booked: Nick Cuthbert 30, Michael Fenn 44

Sent Off:  Kalem Summers 45

Attendance: 77
Referee: Mr Bart Chmielecki
Assistants: Mr Morgan Davis & Mr George Head