Seven Acre & Sidcup 3-0 Lewisham Borough - There is room for improvement says Louie Walker

Friday 31st January 2014

NRG Gyms Kent County Under 21 League
Friday 31st January 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Bayliss Avenue

SEVEN ACRE & SIDCUP manager Louie Walker says there is room for improvement despite reaching the summit of the NRG Gyms Kent County Under 21 League.

The club dominated their ninth league game of the season and two goals from striker-turned-left-back Jemelle Hudson and one from striker Joe Roche saw them move one point clear of Herne Bay at the top with 20 points.

Lewisham Borough – who played the entire second half with ten-men – suffered their ninth league defeat of the season, which keeps them rooted to the foot of the table with one point from their ten league outings.

As the wettest January on record comes to an end, this game went ahead because it was played on the 4G pitch at Thamesmead Town’s Bayliss Avenue ground, albeit on a wet and windy Friday night.

Walker, 45, who has spent the past three season’s managing Lewisham Borough’s Southern Youth League sides before his switch to Oxford Road, was smiling at the final whistle.

“Very pleased but I think we could have got a bit more out of the game,” he said.

“I think we could have played a lot more better and there’s still things that we need to improve on.

“We have to work on keeping the ball. If we can keep the ball we can stop other people doing things to us so that’s our main game, holding onto the ball as long as possible.”

Lewisham Borough’s player-manager Marc Benitz, 30, added: “Disappointed with the first half but proud of the boys’ second half.”

The left-back added: “First half we didn’t really play to our strengths, the ball short, the simple things, just get the ball, receive the ball, pass it off, move into space and the home side were doing it better than us and they created the opportunities to score.

“Second half, down to ten-men, we came out with a plan and they got a goal from a deflected goal. We kept to the plan and they kept the ball, passed it simple and it seemed to work.”

Seven Acre & Sidcup immediately stamped their authority on the game and debutant goalkeeper Taiwo Pereira made a comfortable low save to thwart Sharif Mnanja from scoring with a right-footed hooked volley from 20-yards inside 88 seconds.

But the goalkeeper could do nothing about Seven Acre & Sidcup taking the lead inside eight-minutes.

Hudson stepped up and powered a right-footed free-kick from 22-yards, which flew over the wall into the top right-hand corner, leaving Pereira rooted to the spot.

Walker said: “Good goal, good goal!  He’s not a left-back, he’s a centre forward. He’s just done a job at left-back for us.

“He’s a good centre forward, but he’s got more time at the back for us at the moment until we can move him out. He’s a very good lad, very energetic, gets up forward.”

Benitz added: “Good strike. I said to the keeper there’s nothing you can do about that! 

“We shouldn’t give silly free-kicks away on the edge of the area but a strike like that you can’t do nothing. You just can’t defend against it.”

Pereira was in for a busy night and the Lewisham Borough keeper caught a first time shot from Amari Wood.

Seven Acre & Sidcup were desperately unlucky not to increase their advantage in the fourteenth minute when Roche’s right-footed free-kick from 25-yards clipped the top of the crossbar and went behind for a goal-kick.

Despite being outplayed, Lewisham Borough almost snatched the lead when Rafai Benkick’s header was headed off the line following Khane Wilson’s corner from the left.

Seven Acre & Sidcup’s right-back Nathan Preistnall hit a speculative right-footed free-kick towards goal from 35-yards, which dipped just over the crossbar.

Lewisham Borough were awarded a free-kick from 30-yards, which saw holding midfielder Dejohn Enoe blast his right-footed effort high over the crossbar.

But Seven Acre & Sidcup deservedly doubled their lead in the 31st minute, as they hit their struggling visitors’ on the break.

Wood was released down the left and he swept the ball inside to Roche, who drilled his first-time right-footed shot from 25-yards in off the underside of the crossbar.

Walker looked on from the balcony as the ball caressed the top right-hand corner of the net.

He said: “He’s come on very well over the last few weeks. He’s really pushed on well. He didn’t score for about four or five games. I think he might be top goalscorer in the league at the moment, I’m not sure, but I think he’s up there. He’s done very well. I’m very proud of him. He’s right come on and I’m looking to get more out of him.”

Benitz added: “Another good strike. They actually hit us on the counter but we just didn’t close him down quick enough, which was one of the things we highlighted in the second half. We need to press them earlier. We need to be pressing them the whole length of the pitch, rather than just wait until their in our own half.”

The home side built up patiently from the back before playing the ball up to Hudson, who slipped a pass to Robert Palmer, who flashed his right-footed drive just past the left-hand post from 25-yards.

Seven Acre & Sidcup should have buried the game when Preistnall floated in a cross towards the edge of the six-yard box where an unmarked Rilwan Aminu planted his header over the crossbar.

Walker added: “It was a very good effort.  We need to do more things like that and get more balls into the boxes in those areas.”

However, Lewisham Borough faced an uphill struggle on the stroke of half-time when they lost defender Atticus Long to a second-yellow card following an altercation with Roche, which saw referee Daren Rudd book the pair of them and two other players.

Walker praised the Dartford based official in the manner that he handled the player melee.

He said: “It’s the game. It’s just how the game goes. It’s just what happens in the game. Some get irate, some don’t, so if the referee gets on top of everything we have no problems.  So I trust the referee’s out there. I think they do a good job to keep everything in order.”

When asked about the flash-point, the Seven Acre & Sidcup boss replied: “Number three was at him (Roche) all the time. He was kicking at him from the first half on the other side. He had three pop shots at him and he then moved over and followed him over this side and had another go at him and the ref saw everything and took it into his own hands so I’m very pleased with the referee’s how they do their job.”

The Lewisham Borough boss replied: “I didn’t actually see the incident. I was just about to make a change and I just saw the result of what happened with the players and him being sent off.

“I’ve spoken to him after the match as well to explain if you’re on a yellow card you can’t go in with your hands up. I understand he’s trying to protect his team mate but you’ve got to think about what’s the best way to do this and it’s an unnecessary booking, unnecessary sending off.”
It would be fair to say that Lewisham Borough parked the team bus in front of goal for the second half, keeping men behind the ball and despite the home side having plenty of possession, they couldn’t find the killer pass to break down their opponents.

The negative tactics from Lewisham Borough made for an uninspiring second half to watch.

“There was nothing else left to come out of the game so what we’ve done was just kept the ball and just knocked it around,” explained Walker.

“It wasn’t as explosive as it should have been but I put it down to them losing a man and the game went a bit flat.”

But Lewisham Borough should have pulled a goal back with the first chance of the second half after 56 minutes, which was their best chance of the night.

Jonah Ebanks’ diagonal pass was dummied by lone-striker Kieran McMahon and the ball ran through to substitute Karan Ozbilenler, who had ghosted into the penalty area unchallenged.

He cut the ball back to McMahon who swept his right-footed shot agonisingly wide of the foot of the near post from the edge of the box.

“He’s disappointed with himself, normally he does hit the target,” said Benitz.

“We have been working on triangles and short passing, quick passing play to get the ball to him to create this opportunity and unfortunately it didn’t work out.”

Benitz admitted he was disappointed that his side failed to call Rilwan Anibaba into any action in testing conditions for goalkeepers.

“Yes, it was something I highlighted as well when we came in at half-time.

“We only had one shot before that, a free-kick on the edge of the box, which wasn’t actually on target as well.

“We have to create more but having a man come off just before half-time changed the game quite slightly.”

The brave souls that watched this game in horrible weather conditions had to wait for the final ten minutes for the game to liven up.

Sharif Mnanja clipped a diagonal pass to find the unmarked Roche, whose right-footed shot was palmed over the bar by Pereira.

Walker added: “I have to say their keeper did very well. He kept them in the game in areas so you have to put fair dues down to the goalkeeper.”

Benitz said: “He’s made his debut today. He’s done really well. I’m really pleased with him. 

“They were difficult conditions for a goalkeeper tonight because it was very windy, so you’ve got to judge the ball. It’s very wet, very cold, windy so you’ve got to concentrate but he seemed to do very well. He was actually beaten by two quality strikes and a good deflected goal, which he couldn’t do no more.”

But the third goal arrived with nine minutes remaining when Hudson drove hit shot towards goal from 35-yards and the ball deflected off Wesley Borerwe to loop over the goalkeeper to drop into the bottom far corner.

Walker added: “Good strike, so I’m very happy for him. He’s doing his job and he’s coming forward and scoring goals.”

Benitz said: “That was more of a deflection. It came off our left-back. It was a good shot and it deflected off our left-back. He’s none too pleased with it but we really did reduce their chances.”

Pereira made his best save of the night when he flung himself high to his right to ensure Roche’s left-footed volley from 25-yards didn’t reach it’s intended target, the top far corner of the net.

The visiting keeper then denied substitute Flavidno Corooso scoring from a long-range left-footed drive which was heading towards the bottom near corner.

When asked about his three years at Lewisham Borough, Walker replied: “It doesn’t really mean much to me at all!  I just served my time there and I’ve left. There’s no bad feelings between us and all that so I hope it’s all on good terms and it was a good game. I just see it as another game just played.”

And asked his feelings on leapfrogging over the biggest club in the division (Herne Bay) to reach the summit, Walker said: “Happy but there is still a lot of improvement to do in there and there is a lot of things we can do in there. I’m happy at the moment but not happy. I have to tweak a little bit more in place and then I will be happy.

“Title contenders? That’s a hard question. I wouldn’t say we was and I wouldn’t say we wasn’t!

“The season ain’t over yet so I will say at the end of the season or with two games to go, yes we are title contenders but right about now I’m just saying we are enjoying the moment.”

Lewisham Borough have played five more games than Canterbury City, who have also collected a solitary point this season.

Benitz said: “Difficult first season, obviously coming in.  It was all new faces at the beginning of the season and it’s taken time to get everyone to gel and play together. That’s happened in this side of the year.  The performances have sort of been better. We’re going to strength-to-strength and we’ve got the players here that we want to keep now.

“It has been a disappointing first season for myself and the boys and we’ll be looking to push on and get some more points before the close of the season and hopefully pick up for next season.”

Both managers were asked their thoughts on the 4G pitch – in the week that Conference clubs voted against the use of artificial playing surfaces in their three divisions next season.

“Beautiful. I love it,” said the home manager.

“It just plays well. Everything’s flat, the ball moves very well and it just getting control of the ball on that surface and you do get the ball down and play well. I do like it out there. I think it’s very good.”

Lewisham Borough’s take on the surface was: “Not ideal, but given the weather conditions, actually ideal for tonight.

“It’s a nice surface to play on today. It does hold water actually quite a bit. It’s not seen on the surface but it’s very wet out there, quite slippery out there but it’s a nice surface to play on.

“Ideally we want to play as many matches on grass as we can as it does make the ball zip off the surface quite quickly on this type of pitch, but happy with the pitch today because by all accounts if it had been on grass the match wouldn’t have gone ahead.”

Seven Acre & Sidcup: Rilwan Anibaba, Nathan Preistnall (Flavidno Corooso 86), Rilwan Aminu, Hassan Oshilija, Jemelle Hudson, Sharif Mnanja, Abraham Emil (Sishir Sunnar 82), Robert Palmer, Amari Wood (Kieron Lawford 81), Yann N’Gussan (Matthew Drummond 63), Joe Roche.

Goals: Jemelle Hudson 8, 81, Joe Roche 31

Booked: Abraham Emil 34, Joe Roche 44, Hassan Oshilija 45, Rilwan Anibaba 70

Lewisham Borough: Taiwo Pereira, Liam Hanratty, Atticus Long, Dejohn Enoe, Marc Benitz, Sam Igew, Junior Adewakun (Karan Ozbilenler 31), Jonah Ebanks, Kieran McMahon (Lloyd Conteh 70), Khane Wilson (Tarell Brown 81), Rafai Benkick (Wesley Borerwe 32).

Booked: Atticus Long 37, Karan Ozbilenler 45

Sent Off: Atticus Long 45

Attendance: 25
Referee: Mr Daren Rudd (Dartford)
Assistants: Mr Damon Colvin (Bromley) & Mr Hossain Tavakkoli (Forest Hill, London SE23)