Rusthall 1-3 Beckenham Town - We’ve got more than enough quality there to make sure we can turn it around, says Rusthall joint-manager Steven Ashmore

Wednesday 25th October 2017
Rusthall 1 – 3 Beckenham Town
Location Jockey Farm Stadium, Nellington Road, Rusthall, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 8SH
Kickoff 25/10/2017 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Wednesday 25th October 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Jockey Farm Stadium

RUSTHALL joint-manager Steven Ashmore says he has more than enough quality in his squad
to turn things around.

Rusthall extended their winless run to six games after Beckenham Town came away from Jockey Farm Stadium with a comfortable 3-1 win in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division.

Rusthall’s seventh league defeat of the season sees them slip down a couple of places into the bottom four, having collected nine points from 12 games.  They are a point better off than their noisy neighbours Tunbridge Wells, but with two games in hand and four points clear of Rochester United, who are inside the relegation zone with Hollands & Blair.

Beckenham Town’s sixth league win of the campaign sees them climb up one place into the top nine with 18 points from 11 games, seven points adrift of league leaders Sevenoaks Town.

Ashmore demanded a reaction from his players after suffering a 7-2 home defeat to Epsom & Ewell in The FA Vase First Round at the weekend and Ryan Waterman gave them an early lead here tonight.

But Beckenham Town swiftly equalised through left-back Archie Johnson’s looping header inside the opening nine minutes.

Jason Huntley’s side sealed a deserved three points courtesy a long-range drive from Johnson, who is on a dual-registration deal with Vanarama National League South side Welling United, before another defender, Adam Wadmore, finished off their third set-piece goal.

Rusthall finished the game with ten-men after central defender Daniel Mitchell was sent-off by referee Dan Doyle after picking up a second yellow card in the 90th minute.

“Better than they were on Saturday, It was a lot better performance from the boys. We asked them for a reaction and they gave it to us.  Unfortunately, a couple of sloppy, sloppy defensive goals, we’ve gifted as a team has cost us,” said Ashmore.

“We had a couple of good opportunities that we probably should’ve taken which would’ve put us in good stead and we haven’t and we’ve put ourselves on the back foot early, unfortunately.

“We just asked for a reaction.  We just asked them to show passion and desire. We’ve gone off the boil over the last few games.  We asked them to work for each other, get that team spirit back that goes missing when you lose a few games.

“They went out and executed it.  We started very well, we scored a very neat goal. Unfortunately, we conceded straight afterwards, which was a little disappointing.”

Beckenham Town assistant manager Billy Walton said: “Pleasing, not a great game to be honest with you, but pleasing, that’s all I can say to sum it up.

“One-nil down early on, to come back and score three goals is really pleasing. I don’t think they caused us many problems, the only problems we were going to cause were by ourselves.”

Rusthall started the game on the front foot and opened the scoring with only three minutes and 59 seconds on the clock.

Striker Stephen Harper reached the by-line and his trickery along the line saw him beat winger Shameek Farrell and right-back Jack Hope before he cut the ball back for Waterman, who stroked his first time right-footed drive in off the foot of the near post from 12-yards, watching the ball roll along the goal-line before nestling inside the opposite corner of the goal.

“It was a very nice goal, a well worked goal,” said Ashmore.

“We were getting in the right areas because we were squeezing them early, we pressed them high, we stopped them playing. We won a lot of second balls back, we kept in their half and we got Steph Harper and Stephen Smith in the right areas.

“Steph’s shown a bit of quality, turned two defenders, played a lovely weighted ball and Ryan just used that little bit of composure that he’s got for a very tidy finish and you’re thinking the reactions working.”

Walton added: “We were disappointed. We came in (at half-time) and we spoke about that.  We said to Jack Hope, how did he turn you in that little tight corner there?

“We expected after what happened to them on Saturday, we were fully prepared and was fully aware that they were going to come out and do that to us.  I just said to their manager the way they started they weren’t going to keep that up for 90 minutes.  I think they didn’t keep it up for 15 minutes.”

Beckenham Town were almost gifted an equaliser when Carlos Branco came up from the back to stroke his left-footed free-kick from 35-yards towards the centre of the goal.  Rusthall keeper Joe Cullip stooped down and was relieved to see the spilt ball go behind for a corner.

“I was watching their keeper warm-up and I think he dropped and parried everything they were throwing into him, so we sort of said if you have a shot make sure we follow it up,” said Walton.

Ashmore added: “It’s one of those horrible free-kicks on this kind of surface. It’s just horribly bounced in front of him, because it’s got a lovely bit of zip on it, it just kicks off.  Joe’s had to deal with it, how he best deals with it. He kept it away from the goal, which was the main thing.”

Shameek Farrell then latched onto Hope’s throw, cut in from the right wing before unleashing a powerful left-footed drive, which forced Cullip to dive low to his left to tip behind for a corner.

Walton said: “There again, if we can get the ball to our danger players, we’re going to cause them a lot of problems and that’s what we did. Their keeper did well there actually to tip it over.”

Ashmore added: “It was a very good save, one that we expect him to make because we know what a good goalie he is. It was a very good save, he’s very energetic, he got up well and managed to put it over the bar.”

Beckenham Town equalised with eight minutes and a second on the clock.

Branco drilled in a corner from the right, the ball was cleared out from within a crowded penalty area and the impressive Johnson looped his header into the top near corner of the net from 18-yards.

“I think it came off his ponytail,” joked Walton.

“A bit of a scrappy goal, helped by their goalkeeper. It was a good way to come straight back after we’ve gone 1-0 down so early on, to get straight back into it was ideal really.”

Ashmore said: “We’re usually good at set-pieces, they did whip in some good low ball but we didn’t deal with it as well as we should’ve done and we gave them a little bit of a way back in. The looping header, Joe tried to get rid of it, but he’s got bodies in front of him. It was just unfortunate it went in and ruined our good start a little bit.”

The visiting keeper was Santiago Tulian, who is on the books as second-choice keeper at Vanarama National League side Bromley.  He suffered a poor first half, spilling Rusthall shots from outside the box far on too many occasions.

A driving run from Stephen Smith saw the Rusthall winger reach the edge of the Beckenham box, before his left-footed angled drive was spilt by Tulian, diving low to his right.  Only Calum Gallie will know why he lashed his shot over the crossbar from six-yards.

“We wanted to get Steve Smith in so he can get on the turn and get a shot off,” said Ashmore. 

“It was a great following in from Calum, unfortunately the keeper has just done enough to put him off a little bit and he ended up leaning back and unfortunately put it over the bar.  It was a positive move, we got bodies following in, which is exactly what we wanted to see. It’s just a shame that didn’t go in because that would’ve shifted it back our way.”

“He could’ve dealt with it better,” admitted Walton.

“He’s obviously a good goalkeeper, otherwise he wouldn’t be at Bromley. Sam I’Anson’s unfortunately had to go away with work for a week, our first-choice keeper, so we’ve brought him in. He’s done alright tonight, he hasn’t done a lot wrong, he really didn’t have much to do.

“Goalkeeper’s get told to push it wide, he pushed it straight into his path and the lad should’ve done a lot better from that distance.  I think he’s hit the floodlights at Tunbridge Wells with that shot.”

Smith cut in again from the right and drilled a low right-footed shot towards goal from 25-yards, which was once again spilt by Tulian, low to his right.

Beckenham’s left-back Johnson was given licence to dart into a pocket of space on more than one occasion and his left-footed drive from 30-yards was tipped onto the bar by Cullip.

“Archie is a quality player, that’s why he’s at his major club where he’s at, so he’s a very good player.  I don’t want to talk too much about him but that’s it, we’ll get on to the next question,” said Walton.

Ashmore added: “Another very good save. The formation we set out tonight did allow their full-back, especially first half, a bit of room.  We were probably a bit too slow getting across to him and let him have a shot but another good save from Joe.”

Rusthall created the last chance during a frenetic opening 20 minutes, Harper curling his right-footed free-kick from 30-yards past the near post.

Ashmore said: “Generally after the first 20 minutes the game does settle down. We’ve been a part of a lot of games where the first 15-20 minutes are a bit frantic and it does settle down and people get a little bit of a foothold in the game.”

Walton added: “It petered out. They started off like a house on fire, which we fully expected after what happened to them on Saturday and the manager got a big response out of them and once they ran out of steam we sort of took over the game really and I think from that point with 75 minutes to go we just dominated and controlled the game.”

Beckenham midfield playmaker Jake Britnell lost possession after being on the end of a couple of strong challenges and Drew Crush’s low right-footed drive from 30-yards was finally held by Tulian on the half-hour mark.

But there would be no further goalscoring chances during the remainder of the first half as both sides went in level at the break.

Ashmore said: “We told them to carry on performing like they did in the first half, keep the intensity, keep the tempo, keep the work-rate and keep that desire high and keep doing the right things and see if we can get Ryan Waterman in the little pockets just in behind their two midfielders.

“We wanted to get it into feet and get Steve Smith and Steph Harper on the half turn and drive in and get in shots, very much continue what we were doing in the first half and put them under pressure and force them into mistakes and keep us on the front foot.”

Walton added: “They played three tight centre backs and two wing-backs. What we found just over the halfway line and just inside our half there was a great big pocket of space that we could get our full back into so what we were saying to them, once we win the ball, let’s get into those areas and we’ll play in from there into the feet of Richard Atkins and Huender Santos and play off them.  We’ve got some dangerous players up front. They were little pockets and little areas that we wanted to get into and we did.”

The first action of the second half saw Beckenham Town grab the lead with 11 minutes and 39 seconds on the clock.

It came from Beckenham’s fifth and penultimate corner, taken short and quickly by Farrell, the ball was cut back to Johnson, who was given time and space to drill his unstoppable left-footed drive into the top near corner from 25-yards.

“It’s nothing we worked on, I’m not going to come out and say we worked on it but the manager (Jason Huntley) turned round to the players and asked them to be a little bit more imaginative with our corners, just do a few different things,” revealed Walton.

“We sucked them in and we played it out short and he’s got a shot like a bullet. It hit the back of the net and then the goalkeeper dived, it went that fast so yes, it was a great shot.

“I’m always nervous at 2-1. I fear every team we play, I fear them until the final whistle goes. Anything can happen and luckily we got the third goal and we killed the game and maybe we should’ve got four or five.”

Ashmore admitted: “It was a good finish but he had far too much time to pick it out. It’s the bit that we’re learning and need to get better at. We need to squeeze it down. If we get there early he doesn’t get a shot off but it’s a great strike, a lesson we’ll have to learn.”

Rusthall central midfielder Crush couldn’t bring under control a hand grenade of a bouncing ball and all he could do was steer his right-footed shot wide from 30-yards.

Beckenham Town completed the scoring with their third goal, timed at 19 minute and 20 seconds.

Branco played in a low free-kick towards the far post, the ball was dummied by substitute Jamie Humphris and an unmarked Wadmore poked his shot past Cullip from six-yards.

“Did it hit him on the belly? I think it might’ve hit him on his knee and his belly and then on to his foot.  No, we’ll take it, he’s a good lad Adam. I was pleased for him he scored,” said Walton.

“I don’t care who scores, just as long as we win. That’s what they’re there for, they can contribute. It ain’t all down on Atkins and the others so we’re a threat from all over.”

“Unfortunately, it’s another lapse in concentration,” admitted the Rusthall boss, who alongside Steve Sands guided the club to a SCEFL First Division runners-up spot last season.

“A bit of a poor free-kick to give away in the first place, in a place where we didn’t really need to and we’ve not defended it like we needed to,” said Ashmore.

“At the beginning of the season we were very good on set-pieces. We didn’t quite concede them at all and when things aren’t going right sometimes you can defensively switch off and that’s our job to make sure that changes.”

Holding midfielder Adam Allen’s dink pass played in Richard Atkins but the Bekenham striker endured a frustrating night in front of goal, lashing his left-footed shot over the crossbar from the edge of the Rusthall box.

Crush hit a speculative shot looping into Tulian’s hands from 35-yards, before Rusthall missed a glorious chance to claw themselves back into the game inside the final eight minutes.

Substitute John Sebbar whipped in a cross from the right wing towards the far post which Crush miss-kicked before Smith lashed his shot high over the bar.

Ashmore said: “Another one where it didn’t quite fall for Drew. It was right up his knee on his left-hand side, which is not his strongest.  That could’ve so easily dropped at his toe and just sidefoots it in but unfortunately when it’s not going for you, you don’t get those ones.

“They were getting deeper and deeper and we were starting to look promising on the front foot.  The second goal there, they might’ve been a few more gaps created but we would certainly would’ve had a go. We’re not here to sit on a 3-1 and be happy with it.”

Walton said: “That’s what I say, anything can happen.  Some players lose concentration and focus and leave their man and things like that can happen.”

Beckenham Town hit Rusthall on the counter-attack inside the final three minutes.

A short timewasting corner was played into Johnson, who slipped the ball into Atkins feet and he crossed inside for substitute right-winger Jerome Walker to place his shot straight at the goalkeeper from inside the six-yards, the ball bouncing off Cullips’ back before he smothered the ball on his goal-line.

Walton added: “He’s got to score that, it’s a sitter.  A great save from the keeper, but that should’ve been 4-1 without a doubt.”

Rusthall suffered their second red-card in as many games when Mitchell picked up his second yellow card from referee Dan Doyle after catching Pat Campbell late on the half-way line.

“Unfortunate because it probably means now he’s going to miss the Crowborough game (here on 4 November), which should be a big one for us,” said Ashmore.

“It happens in football, I can’t say more than that. He’s trying to win the ball, he’s not quite got there, he’s on a booking and the ref’s given him a second one. We know it’s football, people make decisions, sometimes they’re not but Mitchell was good again. It’s just unfortunate he’s going to miss the derby, one of the derbies.”

Rusthall committed 10 of their 16 fouls during the opening 30 minutes and when asked about the sending-off, Walton claimed: “They should’ve lost three or four players. I think Jake Britnell had the life kicked out of him as well, as well as one other of our players. I don’t know how they kept those players on the pitch.  Every single time Jake got the ball they kicked him up in the air, every single time.”

It was too late in the game to have any real impact but Beckenham Town created one final chance on the break.

Walker released Allen down the right and he showed desire to beat his man before whipping in a cross towards the near post, which was planted past the near post by substitute Jamie Humphris.

Walton said: “He should’ve buried it. It was a good move, a good break out. We set up to defend for the last 10 minute and hit them on the counter-attack and that was a perfect counter attacking move, two passes out from the back, broke away and should’ve scored.”

With only two wins in 12 league games, Rusthall are finding the SCEFL top-flight tough and are now involved in a relegation dog-fight, which is even tougher without a playing budget at their disposal.

“We knew how tough this league was going to be when we came into it, there’s no surprise for us,” said Ashmore, who has lost his last five games and are now six without any win.

“We always knew there would be a period of the season when things weren’t quite going for us. It was never going to be like last year when we had a lot of things going our way and we’ve got to dig in.  We’ve had quite a tough run but the boys know exactly what’s coming.  They know the games are going to be hard.

“If we keep doing the right things, if we keep working hard then it will come, it will turn around. We’ve got more than enough quality there to make sure we can turn it around. I know that the next win is not too far away, hopefully it starts on Saturday at Lordswood.”

Reflecting on their good night’s work, Walton, who is preparing for Saturday’s home game against Whitstable Town, added: “You will see we were missing three or four players tonight that couldn’t make it. We’ve come to a difficult place to come to, they’ll beat teams down here when the weather turns and the conditions turn and they’re up for it.  People will come here and get beat so you’ve got to come here and win.  We’ve come here and won, it’s up to other people to come here and win now.

“It’s great to be involved in Beckenham at the moment. Everything’s going well for us. We’ve got some good players, we’ve got a good squad, we’re winning games and we’re up there challenging. I think we’ll just get better.”

Rusthall: Joe Cullip, Michael Tubb (Jacob Wright 82), Alex Rich, Joe Fuller (John Phillips 76), Stewart Gostlow, Daniel Mitchell, Stephen Smith, Drew Crush, Stephen Harper (John Sebbar 71), Ryan Waterman, Calum Gallie.
Sub: Paul Butler

Goal: Ryan Waterman 4

Booked: Ryan Waterman 34, Daniel Mitchell 64

Sent Off: Daniel Mitchell 90

Beckenham Town: Santiago Tulian, Jack Hope, Archie Johnson, Adam Allen, Adam Wadmore, Carlos Branco, James Fray (Pat Campbell 77), Jake Britnell (Jerome Walker 69), Richard Atkins, Huender Santos (Jamie Humphris 60), Shameek Farrell.
Subs: Frankie Warren, Michak Stanic-Stewart

Goals: Archie Johnson 9, 57, Adam Wadmore 65

Booked: Adam Wadmore 43, Jamie Humphris 87

Attendance: 128
Referee: Mr Dan Doyle (Maidstone)
Assistants: Mr Harry Wager (Tunbridge Wells) & Mr Max Sollis (Tonbridge)

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