Sporting Club Thamesmead 0-0 Forest Hill Park - That ruthless streak in front of goal just wasn't there today, admits Sporting Club Thamesmead joint-manager Ennio Gonnella

Monday 26th September 2022
Sporting Club Thamesmead 0 – 0 Forest Hill Park
Location Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead, London SE28 8NJ
Kickoff 26/09/2022 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Monday 26 September 2022
Stephen McCartney reports from Bayliss Avenue

SPORTING CLUB THAMESMEAD joint-manager Ennio Gonnella insists his side will get better after a lack of quality in front of goal ensured they had to settle for a point on a frustrating night at Bayliss Avenue.

The Acre climbed up five places to 12th place in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table with seven points on the board after eight games, while Forest Hill Park remain in eleventh with eight points from six, extending their winless run to five games in all competitions.

“Saturday was a good result (6-0 at Bermondsey Town) and for a team that I took over were bottom at the time and couldn’t look likely to score and were conceding at the other end, I think what Aaron Jeffrey and I have done in a small space of time is create a team that’s now looking to win games,” said Gonnella.

“We’re now frustrated for not beating Forest Hill, whose had a good start to the season and have been together longer than us, so it’s only positives to take, four points out of two games in three days is nothing to be worried about.”

When asked what was missing tonight, Gonnella replied: “End product, end product just wasn’t there.  The chances we had, composure maybe leggy legs from Saturday. We haven’t got the depth in the squad at the moment with injuries so eight players that played the whole game on Saturday have also completed the full 90 tonight so I put it down to a lack of composure in the final third.”

Forest Hill Park manager Darrell Queeley added: “On reflection, we’ll take a draw.  I think it’s a good draw.

“We had some chances early on in the game and a chance later on in the game, like clear chances that we should’ve scored but when I reflect on the game there were some great efforts by Thamesmead and we threw our bodies in front of them. I have to come away happy with the draw.

“We played some really good football in the first half.  They were organised, they were together and Thamesmead ended really strong but we were resilient.  I’m really pleased that they didn’t cave in like we done in the previous two games that we could’ve won.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead created their first opening after only 49 seconds following a throw-in from left-back Ryan Solan and Antonio Gonnella’s first time drive from 30-yards was comfortably caught in Dillon Green’s midriff.

The home side missed their first clear-cut chance with only three minutes and 27 seconds on the clock.

Centre-half Joe Matthews pinged a right-footed diagonal out of defence for winger Jordan Samuels, who floated in a cross for striker Jesse Sentamu to steer his free header across the keeper and past the far post in a central position.

“Jesse scored four on Saturday and we automatically thought it was in. It was a good move and a good save,” said Gonnella.

Forest Hill Park produced some nice patters on play in attack and were always a threat on the counter-attack, with striker Charlie Dale impressing.

Queeley’s men were to be denied the lead in the ninth minute, courtesy of a great save from home goalkeeper Aaron Cathrew.

Abdul Sunmonu fed left-wing-back Lewis Cotter, who cut the ball back from within the left channel for Ryan Penton (who played behind the front two) and his first-time shot from 10-yards was beaten away by the diving keeper.

Queeley said: “We started brightly and some of the patterns that we’ve been working on and it was a great ball from Lewis and a really good strike.

“I was really impressed with the keeper. How he got across there, he’s obviously seen it coming and it was a great save because he got distance on the save as well, cleared his lines.”

Penton whipped in a free-kick of high quality from the right and Raheem Sunmonu, who plays at the heart of a three-man defence, flicked the ball into Cathrew’s hands at the near post.

Sporting Club Thamesmead’s winger Danny Edwards whipped in a cross from the right, which was sliced by central defender aheem Sunmonu, who was relieved to see his clearance clip the top of his own crossbar and drop behind for the fourth of eight corners from the home side.

However, Sporting Club Thamesmead lacked composure from the resulting corner.  Antonio Gonnella’s deep corner came in from the left, the ball was knocked down at the back post and Edwards lacked composure and lashed his shot over the crossbar from four-yards.

Antonio Gonnella robbed Jamie Obianigwe off the ball some 30-yards from the Forest Hill Park goal but his shot on the turn bounced in front of Green, who made a comfortable save to his right, at the half-way point of the first half.

Green pulled off heroics to frustrate the home side in the 33rd minute.

Antonio Gonnella’s 30-yard pass release Sentamu down the left channel and he hung over a cross towards an unmarked Samuels inside the box.  His initial shot was superbly saved by Green and Samuels lashed the rebound over the crossbar as he aimed for the top left-hand corner.

“Jesse’s first touch took him a little bit wide and I think Jesse could’ve gone on, maybe go one-on-one.  Jordan, nine times out of 10, they go in. It just wasn’t for us today,” admitted Gonnella.

Queeley added: “That was a heart in mouth moment. It was an unbelievable save. He’s made the first save and I thought that was a really good save and then it’s bounced up to the player on the rebound and I’ve almost turned away because it was going in and how Dillon has jumped up, it was a great save.”

Acre's other manager Aaron Jeffery was stressing out as another gilt-edged chance was squandered following Antonio Gonnella’s superbly floated corner from the left, which was met by centre-half John Foster but the former Holmesdale defender glanced his header across goal and past the far post from six-yards.

Forest Hill Park’s chances were limited but a tad more clear-cut than their hosts and they missed a chance to grab the lead in the 42nd minute.

Right-wing-back Scott Jarvis recycled the ball back into the penalty area and Dale took a touch before dragging his low right-footed shot across the keeper and past the far post from 15-yards.

“He’s a player, since he’s come along, has really impressed us,” Queeley said of Dale.

“His work-rate, his endeavour, his good movement, aggression and he’s got a good shot on him. I’d like him to get more shots off. He’s a young player, he’s an improving player and he hasn’t got what he’s deserved in games if I’m being quite honest with you.  He should have another four or five goals (to his two goal tally) but hopefully he keeps plugging away and improves and starts getting his rewards.

Gonnella added: “I was just behind it. He’s normally got a better connection on him. I’ve seen him play a couple of times this season. We feared the worse but luckily enough for us he scuffed it wide.”

Both manager’s were asked their thoughts at the interval.

Gonnella said: “I felt first half especially, Forest Hill were a lot more composed than us on the ball. We just wanted a bit more bravery on the ball. 

“Defensively, playing against a 3-5-2, I felt they struggled to diagnose what the problems were and how to make things a bit easier, so we just worked on shape as well but nothing too ruthless, nothing angry, just keep doing what you’re doing.”

Queeley added: “I wanted consistency and patience in the final third because we entered the final third constantly in the first half and we didn’t create the opportunities or the chance that we should be creating, so we just asked for a little bit more quality in the final third and a little bit more patience.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead will have to work on their finishing as another chance went begging after 132 seconds into the second half.

Antonio Gonnella’s inswinging corner came in from the left and was poorly cleared by the first man and Foster looped his left-footed shot over the crossbar.

Forest Hill should have smashed the stalemate in the eighth minute, however.

Jarvis switched the play over to fellow wing-back Cotter, who released Penton and his left-footed cross set up Abdul Sunmonu, who held off Matthews inside the box and prodded his shot across the keeper and watched the ball trickle against the base of the far post.

Substitute striker Ade Onasanya put it on a plate for Penton, who lacked composure and drilled his shot past the near post in the second phase.

A frustrated Queeley said: “I have just spoken to Abdul about that chance. He’s done all of the right things. He’s taken a good touch, he knows he can beat that defender, he’s a big strong boy, put his body in the way and he’s through one-v-one with the keeper, opened his body up and all it needs it a bit of backspin on it.  It’s just gone straight and it never looks like it’s going back in and it always looks like it was going away and then it hits the post.

“That was a really good opportunity for me, other than the keeper making the save in the first half.  It was the clearest opportunity in the game.”

Gonnella added: “We’ve got away with a couple but I’ll be honest with you, I think Forest Hill got away with a lot more than us tonight!”

Onasanya picked up a booking from referee Stephen Gorman for a lunge on left-back Solan and Cathew’s free-kick was cleared out to David Jesus, whose right-footed drive from 30-yards was comfortably saved in Green’s midriff.

Cathrew’s direct clearance hit the right channel and right-back Amari Kpodo cut the ball back to Samuels, who went to pieces inside the box and his weak shot rolled into Green’s hands as the game headed into the final 15 minutes.

Gonnella added: “It was a comfortable save. Another one where he should be doing a lot more better.”

The writing was on the wall that the game would finish goal-less when Edwards’ cross was chested down by Sentamu on the edge of the Forest Hill Park box and his shot deflected off Azariah Lawal and Green smothered the shot low to his right and Forest Hill’s players put their bodies on the line to prevent the ball trickling into the bottom left-hand corner in a scramble.

Queeley was delighted with his side’s defensive work, as they bounced back from their FA Vase exit at the hands of Premier Division bottom side Fisher at the weekend.

“I mean, how I saw it, they had lots of efforts and we threw bodies in the way.  They ended really strongly in the last 15 minutes, I’d say, trying to get shots off, working the ball into our box.  We constantly had bodies there, making blocks.”

Gonnella admitted: “It was one of those ones, we could be here until the following game on Saturday, I don’t think it would’ve hit the net!

“I think Aaron Jeffrey said it correctly, when he was playing there would’ve been a player going in the net with the ball!

“I think that hungry, that ruthless streak in front of goal just wasn’t there today but we’re going to put it down to a lot of hard work, a lot of heavy legs and we’ll just regroup for Saturday.

“If you’re a team that’s not creating anything, I’d be worried.  The fact that they’ve created so many chances, we’ll have a game like last Saturday and they’ll all go in.

“There’s still a lot to work on. We’ve turned a corner from being a team that concedes a lot and scores very few to now a team that’s frustrated that hasn’t beaten a team that’s higher than them, so we’ve definitely turned corners in the last four weeks and for sure we can only get better and better.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead welcome second-placed surprise-package Faversham Strike Force to Bayliss Avenue on Saturday, a side that are three points behind surprise leaders Lydd Town.

Forest Hill Park, meanwhile, welcome tenth-placed side Tooting Bec to Ladywell Arena.

“I’m happy with the point, even though I thought our chances were clear, especially the one that Abdul missed,” added Queeley.

“We’ve been ok, we’ve been ok to good. I’m pleased with the direction that we’re going in.  We’ve dropped some points where we could’ve won games and we’ve just got to consistently work on making the right decision and I think we can only get better.”

When asked about his side’s current winless run of form, Queeley replied: “There’s two draws in there and we’ve lost to the two top teams and Fisher.

“There’s no any real concerns, in fact, I’m trying to do the opposite of panic and I’m trying to be calm and look at all the positives from those games.  We could’ve beaten Faversham Strike Force (a 1-1 draw) and Lydd (a 2-1 defeat), we didn’t and football doesn’t lie.  We didn’t get the results for whatever reason. We didn’t stand firm or tall in the dying minutes of the game and you get what you deserve in football, there’s no concerns whatsoever.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead: Aaron Cathrew, Amari Kpodo, Ryan Solan, David Jesus (Abodu Jobe 66), Joe Matthews, John Foster (Aiden Smith 57), Danny Edwards, Jamie Taylor (Kwasi Amoah 57), Jesse Sentamu, Antonio Gonnella, Jordan Samuels (Merrick Simms 76).
Sub: Ashley Martin

Booked: John Foster 15

Forest Hill Park: Dillon Green, Scott Jarvis, Lewis Cotter, Raheem Sunmonu (Tyreece Webb 86), Qaseem Sotonwa, Azariah Lawal, Abdul Sunmonu, Jamie Obianigwe, Harry Smith (Ade Onasanya 46), Charlie Dale (Devontae Young 72), Ryan Penton (John Garcia 79)
Sub: William Able

Booked: Ade Onasanya 63, Azariah Lawal 89

Attendance: 104
Referee: Mr Stephen Gorman
Assistants: Mr Gavin Farrington & Mr Silvester Aina