Sheppey United 4-1 Beckenham Town - You've got to respond and get back on the horse, we're down, we're not out, we're not down and out, insists Beckenham assistant Billy Walton

Saturday 22nd February 2020
Sheppey United 4 – 1 Beckenham Town
Location Holm Park, St Peters Close, Queenborough Road, Halfway, Sheerness, Kent ME12 3BD
Kickoff 22/02/2020 15:00

Sea Pioneer Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Saturday 22 February 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Holm Park

SHEPPEY UNITED manager Ernie Batten says his side have got themselves back in the promotion picture after thrashing league leaders Beckenham Town at Holm Park.

Beckenham Town surrendered their place at the summit of the Sea Pioneer Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table after failing to stop Dan Bradshaw notching a hat-trick to take his goalscoring tally to an impressive 45 goals.

Winger Danny Leonard gave Sheppey United a 2-0 lead seven minutes into the second half with his 19th goal of the season before former AFC Croydon Athletic targetman Dominic Ogun scored his first goal for Beckenham Town to bring it back to 2-1 just before the hour-mark.

Beckenham Town were dumped out of the Kent Senior Trophy Semi-Finals after losing 3-1 at Corinthian on Tuesday night and Michael Golding’s side will face Sheppey United in the Final in Maidstone on Sunday 19 April.

“Obviously very pleased with today’s result,” said Batten.

“It was like the other night, the conditions don’t seem to be easing up at the moment with the wind and swirling wind and gusting and swirling around and it made it difficult to play but I thought both sides equipped themselves fairly well and played in patches.

“I’ve just said to the lads in there, we’ve got ourselves back in the picture after the disappointment of Wednesday evening dropping a couple of points and we’re in there now.

“There’s 13 games to go. I’ve just said to them today it’s just three points, that’s all it means. If we don’t win at home against Canterbury on Tuesday it ain’t going to mean much so every game is a top-of-the-league game for us now.”

Beckenham Town assistant manager Billy Walton said: “I’m a little bit shell-shocked really.  Fair play to Sheppey though, we made mistakes and they capitalised on our mistakes and put away their goals really well, which is always going to be the case if you let someone like Dan Bradshaw have that amount of room he’s going to score so fair play to them, take my hat off to them, well done and we go again on Tuesday night away to Deal.”

The game was spoilt by the windy conditions on the Isle of Sheppey and the crowd of 401 were not treated to a game of carpet football from both sides as a result.

Walton said: “The conditions were a bit hard to play any sort of football for both teams really. I don’t know if the wind played a part in making the mistakes that we made, I’m not too sure. You’d like to watch it back again (on the video), but I just thought we made too many, against good forwards, we made too many mistakes.”

Sheppey United suffered injuries to four players during this hard-fought contest.

The first to go was right-back Callum Emptage, who took a whack to the nose and was substituted inside eight minutes for Chris Edwards, who was substituted through injury in the 57th minute and Connor Wilkins came on for the home side’s third right-back of the game.

“We had to make changes because we lost our right-back (Emptage) after a few minutes and we brought Chris Edwards on, whose a terrific right-back. We lost him to an injury second half and then we put the third one on which was Connor Wilkins who performed really well in there for us.

“They’re massive players aren’t they? We’ve got a squad now that hopefully players can come in now and at this level you can’t have any success unless you’ve got 16, 17, 18 players of equal quality.

“Dan Bradshaw’s got a slight hamstring strain so hopefully he’ll be alright for Tuesday, we’ll have to see. We won’t want to risk him.

“Danny Leonard has turned his ankle. Harrison Carnegie, he’s been out for four weeks with a knee injury, it’s a recurrence of that really so that’s a little bit worrying and Callum has a knock to the nose, he’s got a face, head injury.”

Beckenham Town started the game on the front foot for the first 10 minutes, creating their first opening after only 56 seconds.

Right-winger Stefan Cox played the ball out to Ryan Hall, who hung over a deep cross from within the right-channel for left-winger Steve Townsend, who rose above Emptage to loop his header over the crossbar from the corner of the six-yard box.

Walton said: “We started off well, which is unusual for us. We took the game to them, which we wanted to do to get on the front foot. We wanted to keep the crowd quiet and we did that for spells. We just didn’t take our chances. The few chances we had, games like this, you have to take them.”

Batten added: “I recall that.  I thought it was slightly easier going with the wind today as you could drove balls in, flat ball in and if someone catches a good cross, they’re hard to defend in those conditions.”

Sheppey United took the lead with their second shot on target with 11 minutes and 27 seconds on the clock.

Left-winger Harrison Carnegie rolled the ball on the overlap to left-back Greg Benbow, who whipped in a deep cross which was kept in by Bradshaw on the by-line on the right-hand side of the penalty area.

Bradshaw put the ball back into the goalmouth and Billy Bennett took a touch before his right-footed drive from 15-yards was spilt by goalkeeper Michael McEntegart, low to his left and poor defending from Beckenham Town centre-half Kiki Oshilaja ensured Bradshaw drilled his first-time shot into the back of the net from four-yards out.

“He seems to be in the right place at the right time doesn’t he,” Batten said of his talisman striker, who is interesting National League South side Chelmsford City.

“I don’t think he’s doing it by accident now.  He’s definitely got some sort of knack going.

“It settled us down and enabled us to play a little bit. I thought we were countering today in the conditions and trying to get hold of the ball. It was more trying to get it into wide areas and getting Danny Leonard and Harrison Carnegie to get crosses into the box.  It was crossed in and then it came out, Billy had a shot, the goalkeeper spilt it and Dan followed it up, so I was pleased with the move.”

Walton added: “I tell defenders in the team talk and in the tactics, when the ball comes in the final third the most lively person whose going to score is Dan Bradshaw, so don’t worry about anyone else, go and mark him as tight as possible. No one was within 10 yards of him and he just scored.”

When asked if he thought his goalkeeper was at blame for the goal, Walton replied: “Could be but it’s difficult out there. It was difficult conditions out there for a goalkeeper. It must be a nightmare for them actually, it’s difficult.”

Sheppey United were now and truly on the front foot after the goal and holding midfielder Richard Hamill slipped a clever free-kick down the side of the penalty area down the left for Carnegie, whose left-footed angled drive from 15-yards was comfortably saved by McEntegart, dropping down to his knees at his near post.

“I think we had little spells of being able to get hold of the ball and carve out chances and a few half-chances and a few reasonable chances,” added Batten.

Edwards reached the by-line and floated in a cross towards the centre of the penalty area where Carnegie jumped up and planted his free downward header past the far post from 16-yards.

Sheppey United missed a glorious chance to double their lead in the 25th minute.

Centre-half Jahmal Hewitt-Mundle swept the ball forward, a poor touch from Oshilaja as he tried trapping the ball rolled to Bennett, who played in Bradshaw in behind Archie Johnson (Beckenham’s left-back) but he lacked composure and lashed his right-footed shot over the top of the near post from 12-yards with the Australian goalkeeper to beat.

Batten said:  “I have to have a word about that one!  His record is unparallel really. That’s a phenomenal amount at any level. This league is a tough league, 45 goals is fantastic really.”

Walton added: “I did expect him to hit the target to be honest with you.  Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I thought it might’ve just bobbled up and he sort of sliced it, fortunately for us, it went over.”

Beckenham Town were struggling with the windy conditions during the first half and wingers Townsend and Cox were out of the game.

“They kept them very quiet but in all fairness to them two I don’t think we gave them good service. We didn’t give them enough ball. The ball was in the air quite a lot, just a bad, bad display from us in the conditions,” admitted Walton.

Beckenham Town created a half-chance in the 44th minute when right-back Harvey Brand cut into the box, his first ball in was blocked and it came back to him and he prodded the ball just past the foot of the near post from 12-yards.

Walton admitted: “Nothing really. We didn’t really create no chances to be honest with you in the first half.  There again, you can blame the conditions all you want but I just felt we didn’t play enough football on the floor. When the ball goes in the air in that wind it could go anywhere.”

Batten added: “We all want to play good football but the conditions made it difficult today and I was pleased that we were able to defend well.  I thought the two centre-halves at the back performed and we had to make changes.”

At half-time, Batten said: “I just said I was pleased with it because I thought that we got the goal and we looked solid and we had good shape to us.

“Beckenham are a very good team and you can’t switch off for a second. They’ve got good players, that’s why they’re top of the league so I was pleased with the first half.  I said if we can go and get the second goal, I fancy us to get three or four.”

Walton added: “I just asked them to play a bit more football. It’s windy conditions, rather than put the ball in the air, let’s keep it on the floor and play a bit more out from the back.

“When Macca had it, what we were trying to do, saying to Macca when you get it lets throw it out to our full-backs and get on the front foot and drive forward and try to get us playing a bit more.  We wanted a bit more urgency, get a bit more closer to players, all that sort of stuff really.”

Beckenham Town started the second half on the front foot with the introduction of Shameek Farrell for Townsend down the left flank putting more urgency in to their play.

Beckenham Town created an opening inside the opening six minutes and midfielder Luke Rooney’s first time wind-assisted through ball put Ogun through on goal and with Hewitt-Mundle in his wake, Ogun’s downward header was comfortably saved by Josh Pelling as he rushed off his line to narrow the angle.

Walton said: “That was disappointing to be honest with you.  I thought you either head it over him or you chest it down.  The ball goes in front of him, the two defenders are slightly behind him, they weren’t going to get a tackle on him, not in that position and put it away and he did neither or really, so that was disappointing to bring us back in the game.”

Batten added: “Beckenham are good going forward and Ogun’s a good player. He plays off the shoulder and he holds the ball up well and he’s a real danger and needs looking after.”

Sheppey United were clinical in front of goal and doubled their lead with six minutes and 25 seconds on the clock.

Bennett, playing against his old club, was the driving force as he fed Leonard down the right, who played the ball inside to Bradshaw, who teed up Leonard, whose shot was parried by McEntegart into Leonard’s path and the winger swept his shot into the far corner from eight-yards.

“I think it was a good goal, good inter-play and getting that goal was important and it was a good time to get it,” admitted Batten.

Walton said: “It was another bit of bad defending from us. We had a great opportunity after Macca made the save.  I think it fell to Archie Johnson to put his foot through it and clear it and he’s totally missed it, totally missed the clearance and it’s fallen to Danny Leonard and he’s scored.”

Beckenham Town showed great character to pull a goal back with 13 minutes and 51 seconds on the clock.

Cox’s clever through ball along the deck split open the Sheppey United defence as Ogun beat the offside trap and got in behind Benbow and George Crimmen to race into the box and after cut the ball onto his left-foot before slipping the ball underneath the body of the diving Pelling to score from 14-yards.

“It was a good goal and I’m pleased for him. It’s his first goal for us, first of many, I hope,” said Walton.

“He didn’t have a great amount of chances to get on the end of but he took that one well, so fair play to him, with his weak foot as well. He put it away well.”

Batten added: “We were a little bit disappointed with that. I think we had possession down the left-hand corner and we gave it away cheaply. I think we tried to play a back-heal and they intercepted it and they broke quite quickly and Ogun sprung the offside trap. I felt he just timed his run beautifully and he was well composed and it was a good goal.”

Beckenham Town were then on the front foot and it was only a matter of time that Jason Huntley’s men would score the equaliser as Sheppey United were hanging on.

Farrell played the ball into Brand, whose good touch on the edge of the box saw him tee up Ogun, whose left-footed shot from a central position inside the box was blocked by Pelling’s legs.

“I thought the next 15 minutes we were totally dominant, on the front foot, totally, totally dominated, a bit like Corinthian the other night. We had a great spell of dominance. We didn’t capitalise enough on our dominance,” added Walton.

“When you score, you’re in the ascendancy, they’re 2-0 up and all off a sudden you pull it back to two-all and you’re the team in the ascendancy and you tend to go on and get a result but then we go and commit suicide for the third goal again.”

Batten said: “I said to the lads any successful team has to be able to withstand some pressure because you’re playing other good sides and you can’t have it all your own way.

“There’s going to be periods against quality teams that you have to dig in and you have to defend.  I thought we did that extremely well for those 15 minutes. We dug in and we didn’t give nothing away. If they were going to score, it had to be another quality goal.”

Halfway through the second half, Rooney cut the ball onto his left-boot and stroked his shot towards goal from 22-yards out, just outside the D, which Pelling made a comfortable save, smothering the ball and grabbing hold of it low to his left.

“A good effort from Luke.  I don’t think it was really, really one where he done a fantastic save. I think it was quite a comfortable save for him,” added Walton.

However, Sheppey United weathered the storm and grabbed a third goal with 25 minutes and 14 seconds on the clock, hitting Beckenham on a clinical counter-attack.

Bradshaw scored at Hollands & Blair on Wednesday night just 17 seconds into the second half but missed four other glorious chances in the 1-1 draw at Darland Avenue but the contracted striker was back to his best today.

Substitute left-winger Jordan Wright played a sublime through ball along the deck which split open Oshilaja and Bradshaw let the ball run across his body before unleashing his right-footed angled drive across the keeper to find the bottom far corner from inside the box.

Batten said: “Dan doing what Dan does best! I thought Jordan did really well there. He came inside, he was very composed, he got his head up and played a lovely weighted pass to Dan. 

“You can’t teach players how to finish like that, that’s a natural finish, a natural goalscorer’s finish. He knows where the keeper is, he knows where the far post is and it was the perfect execution.”

Walton added: “A couple of things, we lost the ball in midfield when we had total control of it, then it fell to our centre-half (Bannan), he doesn’t put his foot through it and clear it up the other end and he gets robbed off the ball, they break and Dan’s left unmarked again. They’ve passed it to him, Dan runs through and scores.

“I tell you it’s so annoying when you talk about it, it’s a bit like when Gary Lineker had 49 goals in one season, everything fell to him and he scored.

“When you come here the main person in their team is Dan Bradshaw so stop giving him all the time in the word.  It’s a good goal. He took it really well, fair play to him. He took his chance really well.”

Bennett drove into the Beckenham box and more poor defending from Oshilaja set up a chance for Wright, who dragged his left-footed angled drive across the keeper and just past the foot of the far post.

Batten said: “Jordan’s come in from Folkestone, he had a couple of seasons there. We felt we needed another wide player, he can play across the middle but he’s another player of quality.  We like players with a lot of ability and Jordan’s one of them. I thought he came on and had those chances and created a goal for Dan.”

Walton added: “At that stage of the game, we already shot ourselves in the foot earlier on in the game from being on the ascendancy and taking the game to them at 2-1 down and I could see us scoring and forcing a real issue here and then we got caught on the sucker-punch for their third.

“The last 10 minutes is tough, you never give up but we were never going to get back into the game.”

Beckenham Town’s players looked well and truly shell-shocked when Sheppey United notched their fourth goal of the game, with 32 minutes and 19 seconds on the clock.

Beckenham centre-half Joe Bannan lost the ball in a central position some 35-yards from goal to Bradshaw, racing down the middle of the pitch and shrugging past Bertie Valler before dinking his shot past McEntegart to score his fourth hat-trick of the season.

Batten said: “I thought that was a good finish because I think he got tugged back as he went through. I thought he got pulled back and then he had to go again. He lost his momentum a little bit and he had to go again and I wasn’t quite sure he would get there. He just got there and as the keeper comes he just dinked it over him so it might not looked it to an untrained eye, but I thought it was a quality, quality finish.”

Walton added: “Young Bertie Valler gets back and gets in front of him and whether the wind or it takes a bounce, it took it away from him and he’s lost it.  Again, it was a bit unfortunate that and straight away when you’re a goalscoring it falls to you and he scored, so it’s disappointing.”

Wilkins tried to score from a free-kick from the half-way line out on the right touchline but the ball was plucked out of the air just underneath his crossbar by McEntegart as the game reached its conclusion.

Webber’s lovely through ball from the middle of the park released Wright through on goal and from the edge of the box his attempted right-footed curler sailed around the top of the far post.

Corinthian – 4-1 winners over K Sports at Gay Dawn Farm today – have climbed up a place to reach the summit with 49 points with 13 games remaining.

Beckenham Town have slipped a place and are second on 48 points; Sheppey United are now third on 45 points; while Chatham Town are fourth on 44 points.  Tunbridge Wells (with two games in hand) are fifth with 43 points.

Sheppey United welcome ninth-placed side Canterbury City to Holm Park on Tuesday night; while Beckenham Town travel to tenth-placed Deal Town.

Batten said: “We’ve put ourselves back in the hunt. It’s each game at a time now. We’ve got to chalk them off and keep going and the sides that last the course are successful.  You need a little bit of luck. We’ve had those injuries today but hopefully a couple of them will be ok for Tuesday. We’ve got the squad for players to come in and fill their spots.

“Canterbury will be a tough game. They play with no fear, they’ll come here, it will be a big night for them.  They didn’t have a game today so they rested today.  The next game is the biggest game isn’t it now. It doesn’t matter who were’ playing, if you’re in the promotion hunt, they’re all massive.

“We’re getting into the business end, we’re coming into the end of February, the start of March, so we’ve got 13 games to go. I think there will be some twists and turns. I don’t think it’s going to be as straight forward as it could be. There’s a lot of decent sides in this league, any particular day if you’re not on your game you can drop points.

“Chatham drew today (0-0 at home to Welling Town), I’m sure they’ll be disappointed drawing at home but it can happen, it can happen.”

Huntley, Walton, Phil Wilson and Jason Clews now face a challenge to lift their troops ahead of their trip to Deal.

“If we carry on playing performances like that, we’ll drop even further so it’s up to us to pick ourselves up,” said Walton.

“We’re not top anymore and we go to Deal on Tuesday night, which will be a hard game and go there and win on Tuesday night and get back to top.

“This (title race) will go all the way to the last game of the season and we’ve got Deal at home on the last game of the season so hopefully it will go to them.

“I’ll go home and think about it tonight and tomorrow and analyse it. We haven’t got the video facilities that Sheppey have got and see what went wrong and what went right but we’ll sit down and analyse the game and work out what we need to strengthen  and what we need to sort out for the remaining games.”

With back-to-back defeats to Corinthian and Sheppey United, is this the week that broke the camel’s back and Beckenham Town are throwing it away, again?

“Today is a bad day at the office. We’ve got knocked out, it’s been a couple of bad days, that’s football, that’s football.  You’ve got to respond and get back on the horse and start going again, so although we’re down, we’re not out, we’re not down and out,” said Walton.

“We’re very much in it. We’re chasing someone now. I know we had the lead and I know what people are saying but it’s nearly March and we’re one point behind the leaders and we’ve got to a great chance of winning promotion, a great chance.”

Sheppey United: Josh Pelling, Callum Emptage (Chris Edwards 8, Connor Wilkins 57)), Greg Benbow, Richard Hamill, Jahmal Hewitt-Mundle, George Crimmen, Harrison Carnegie (Jordan Wright 65), Chris Webber, Dan Bradshaw, Billy Bennett, Danny Leonard.
Subs: Ian Batten, Miles Cornwell

Goals: Dan Bradshaw 12, 71, 78, Danny Leonard 52

Booked: Harrison Carnegie 48

Beckenham Town: Michael McEntegart, Harvey Brand, Archie Johnson, Junior Kaffo (Bertie Valler 75), Joe Bannan, Kiki Oshilaja, Steve Townsend (Shameek Farrell 46), Luke Rooney, Dominic Ogun, Ryan Hall (Malik Nosike 84), Stefan Cox.
Subs: Ashley Carew, Mudiagha Wanogho

Goal: Dominic Ogun 59

Booked: Joe Bannan 16, Stefan Cox 35, Luke Rooney 39

Attendance: 401
Referee: Mr Dan Friar
Assistants: Marcin Indyk & Mr Matt Charles