Sporting Club Thamesmead 3-1 Kent Football United - The chairman is putting no pressure on us so we won't be under that sort of pressure from the bullet, not just yet anyway, says Kent Football United joint-manager Lloyd Bradley

Monday 05th October 2020
Sporting Club Thamesmead 3 – 1 Kent Football United
Location Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead, London SE28 8NJ
Kickoff 05/10/2020 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Monday 5 October 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Bayliss Avenue

KENT FOOTBALL United joint-manager Lloyd Bradley says his chairman will not give him the bullet - after putting in a poor performance against their local rivals Sporting Club Thamesmead.

The Dartford-based side remain in the bottom four in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table with three points from four games after losing a poor football match at Bayliss Avenue.

The game had a single goal feel to it but Aaron Jeffrey’s side snatched a flattering 3-1 win as all four goals were scored inside the final 19 minutes.

Sporting Club Thamesmead deserved to win the game and have bundles of youthful pace in attacking areas, although Kent Football United gifted them all three of their goals.

Striker Mayowa Olufeko slotted in his sixth goal of the season after poor defending from centre-half Brad Potter.

Former Charlton Athletic winger Karrem Isiaka, 18, doubled their lead, before Kent Football United pulled a goal back from the penalty spot from Callum Flynn, after Steven Ita’s penalty was saved but goalkeeper Aaron Cathrew was penalised for encroachment.

Isiaka capitalised on some more poor defending to slot in a third deep into stoppage time.

Referee Peter Crichlow put in an awful performance as he was either unfit or injured as he struggled to run 15-yards either side of the half-way line and made some bizarre decisions during the course of the game.

“I thought it was tough to start with,” admitted Sporting Club Thamesmead assistant manager Graham Norris.

“We knew it was going to be a tough match going into the game. It was going to be one of our stiffest tests at the start of the season but overall we came away with three points.

“The second half was pretty convincing. I think the first half they kind of got on top a little bit at times but in the end I think our professionalism and our battling skills and our togetherness kind of pulled us through.”

Kent Football United’s joint-manager Lloyd Bradley said: “A bit frustrating more than anything. I thought it was quite a tight game throughout, probably up to an hour and then an error sort of cost us.  They gained quite a lot of confidence from that and we lost a little bit of confidence.

“I thought we got it back shortly afterwards but the goals tonight were all errors as far as we’re concerned. A big error for the first one and then two players’ caught in possession for the other two goals.

“I’d say for the neutral I don’t think it was too pleasant out there on a cold night like this.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead created their first opening inside 135 seconds when centre-half Bode Olajide delivered a free-kick from the half-way line, the ball was cleared out to England Kurti, who hooked his left-footed volley high over the crossbar from 20-yards.

Kurti played the ball in from the right flank into central midfielder Conor Dobson, who took a touch before unleashing a right-footed drive towards the right-hand corner from 25-yards, which was gathered at the second attempt by visiting keeper Liam Northwood.

“Conor started this season very well for us. He’s an experienced player.  He’s come back into us at the end of last season and he’s good and composed and brings a lot of experience to the boys,” said Norris.

“We’ve got quite a few young guys in there who are going to bounce off his experience and he’s settled in nicely again this season. 

“He does drive forward, he has those runs and he’s got the ability on the ball to have a shot every now and then and he’s going to come up with a few goals this year.”

The sparse crowd had to wait until the 22nd minute for another chance to be created and this time the home side hit their opponents on the counter-attack.

Kent Football United’s left-back Archie Valler delivered a deep cross and Cathrew made a mess at gathering the ball at his far stick.

Seconds later, left-winger Mike Nduakulu broke down the flank and played the ball inside to Dobson, who skipped past Jason Goodchild before hitting a right-footed dipping drive from 30-yards, which bounced once and was gathered comfortably in Northwood’s midriff in the centre of the goal.

Bradley said: “At least they were hitting the target though. They were trying to open us up and have a shot from distance. It looked like a bit of a plan. They were at least getting their shots off so chance wise they were they were the chances of the first half pretty much.”

Most of the first-half stalemate was played in a midfield battle with little quality but Sporting Club Thamesmead were the more likely side to create openings.

A glorious chance came their way in the 39th minute when Isiaka easily got in behind left-back Valler and cut the ball back for Dobson at the near post but his shot was poor and tricked into the keeper.

“Chances are going to come and they’re going to go. He’s done well to get himself in that space,” said Norris.

“Kareem was pretty lively down the wing tonight. He’s got a lot of pace about him.  He’s young, energetic and he’s going to cause a few problems for teams this year.”

Both camps were asked their thoughts at the half-time interval.

Norris said: “They needed a bit of a talk. I don’t know whether we were a little bit drained or tired from Saturday’s game (2-0 home win over Lewisham Borough), having just over 48 hours between the games. It’s quite tough for some of the boys.  Sometimes you have to remind them that they are in a game and they need to dig-in.

“We are going to have chances, we’ve got players in our team who are going to have chances. We just had to keep going and keep fighting and believe in themselves and second half they went out there and proved what they did.”

Bradley admitted: “We were really poor. We spoke to the boys at half-time. We took the wrong decisions. We were knocking it up a bit aimlessly, we were playing quite well across the back trying to open the positions up, trying to create something but the final pass was always either too long or too short, not quite there.

“That was disappointing from our point of view. We did say to the players at half-time ‘we haven’t even had a shot!’

“We were pretty happy with the way we were playing in respect of defensive wise, defending as a team and defending at the back and trying to play our football.  We had a lack of cutting edge and some wrong decisions in that final third.”

Kent Football United created an opening inside the opening six minutes of the second half.

Goodchild swept the ball out to Ita out on the right and his initial driven shot was blocked before his follow-up was drilled past the near post, with the referee struggling to keep up with play.

Northwood made a comfortable save from a Sporting Club Thamesmead free-kick in the 13th minute.

The home side appealed after Jamie Lawrence handballed the ball on the edge of his penalty area and the referee guessed the decision and awarded the home side a free-kick.

Kurti stroked his left-footed free-kick underneath the jumping wall and Northwood made a comfortable save in the middle of his goal.

“Pretty soft free-kick to be quite honest with you with the way he struck it but he’s got quality the young guy. He’s got capable of striking a ball a lot better than that,” said Norris.

“He’s going to come up with goals this season. He’s a guy that has got skill and second half he proved it.  Once the game started opening up a bit he kind of found the spaces.”

Bradley added: “This is a problem. We’ve had shorter players in the wall and stayed down this time and we’ve put taller players in the wall.  We were told they put balls underneath the wall and you’re always thinking about this now, trying to double guess. It worked out quite well and Liam saw it and made quite a comfortable save.”

Ita should have done better when a chance came his way on the hour-mark.

Goodchild fed the ball into isolated striker Javlon Campbell, who sprayed the ball out to Ita on the left.  He cut inside right-back Smith and from a tight angle the winger drilled his shot into the side netting.

“He should’ve gone across the face. It looked like he got a bit excited when he went around a player. It was a good strike, he got good contact on it but he’s hit the side-netting, which was a little bit disappointing,” added Bradley, whose side won their only game of the season at the weekend with a 2-1 home win over Meridian VP.

Norris added: “Defensively we were pretty solid tonight and we were on Saturday as well.   We decided to bring in (centre-half) Bode Olajide for tonight’s game and he showed his quality.  We’ve got quality in depth now which is a difference.”

Kent Football United’s first attempt on target came with 23 minutes and 42 seconds on the clock.

Bobby Holley launched a long throw into the penalty area for centre-half Simon Glover to glance his header straight at Cathrew, who comfortably caught the ball.

“We should’ve been a bit livelier there for the second ball really once it came off Simon there. We were a bit flat-footed there and someone should’ve been working on the back of that and made it easy for the keeper,” added Bradley.

Norris added: “It’s a long throw into the box. I think we’ve restricted them to those kind of chances. I don’t think they had any clear-cut opportunities all evening, apart from the penalty. It was a clear-cut penalty but apart from that chances were few and far between for Kent Football.”

At this point in proceedings it was very unlikely that four goals were going to be scored.

The Acre deservedly smashed the stalemate by scoring with 25 minutes and 14 seconds on the clock.

Smith put his foot through the ball to smash the ball upfield and a poor defensive header from Potter which failed to reach his goalkeeper Northwood let in Olufeko.  His initial chip was flicked backwards by Northwood and Olufeko slotted the ball into an empty net from 12-yards.

Norris said: “I mean that’s persistence, I suppose for you. He’s persisted with it. He’s read the ball. Sometimes you have to just play the ball long and take that gamble and get on the end of it and he has.

“What you’ve seen there is what Mayo is all about. He’s someone who is going to chase every single ball down and he won’t give up and he’s chased the ball down and he’s put the ball into an empty net after putting it over the goalkeeper.

“It’s the kind of goal he’s going to score and he’s going to score plenty more like that this season.”

Having lost 28 goal striker Tim Beckford, Norris has high hopes for his replacement.

“You kind of look around and think ‘where’s the goals going to come from?’ but Mayo’s come in and he’s scoring goals and that’s all we can ask for the guy.

“He’s got good quality, he’s strong, got a bit of pace about him and he’s a very good striker.”

The finger of blame was pointed at Potter.

“Brad missed his header there, he should’ve headed it on the full and he headed it back with no legs on it and we was dead in the water at that point,” admitted Bradley.

“I think he thought he had a bit more time and thought he could get a bit more power on it but these things happen.

“It’s his first game of the season so he’s probably a little bit rusty out there. That was a bit of a gutter really. At that point the game was still a bit of a stalemate really, no one doing anything.  It looked like a bit of brilliance or an error was going to lead to a goal.”

The impressive Kurti should have been awarded a penalty when he was fouled by now left-back Flynn inside the box but stayed on his feet and teed up substitute Max Williams, whose right-footed drive was palmed away by the diving Northwood.

Norris said: “England is young, a bit inexperienced and sometimes when you feel that contact you just have to go down. He’s being too honest there.

“He’s got himself in a good position, he’s gone around a few players, feel the contact, go down, he’s just a guy being honest so sometimes you’ve got to credit him what he’s done tonight.”

The Acre doubled their lead with 33 minutes and 51 seconds on the clock, courtesy of a fine pass from Kurti.

He played a sweet diagonal pass in behind Flynn on the deck to put Isiaka through on goal and he showed great composure three yards inside the corner of the box to dink his right-footed shot over the advancing keeper and watched the ball nestle inside the bottom far corner of the net.

“Very good finish and very good build-up play as well,” said Norris.

“I think young England’s got himself in the 10 role there and he’s just turned on the ball and he’s threaded a lovely little pass into Kareem and where he’s quick enough, he’s bene able to nip in before the keeper before he gets down to just dink it over him.”

This time substitute James Owolabi was the guilty-party.

“When we follow the move back, we were in good possession on the half-way line and James Owolabi got caught in possession trying to do a turn on the half-way line and we’ve got punished,” said Bradley.

“We were trying to push out at that point as well. You end up flat-footed when your players do things like that, when you’re not expecting it to happen. If it comes off in the final third that’s fine but it’s in the wrong position to do things like that!”

Then came Crichlow’s baffling decision in the 38th minute of the half.

Pacey left-winger substitute Merrick Simms sprinted down the left, cut into the box and was clearly sent crashing to the ground by Kent Football United’s RIGHT-BACK Holley, wearing the number two shirt.

The referee pointed to the spot to award a penalty.  He then changed his mind and awarded a corner instead.  Holley was on a yellow card for a 43rd minute bookable offence for a foul on Nduakulu and instead of brandishing a second yellow card and then a red, he booked the wrong player in Goodchild.

Norris said: “Very strange, very strange! I think everyone’s still baffled by the situation, maybe the referee maybe a little bit baffled by the situation as well.

“It should’ve been a penalty! Everyone knows it should’ve been a penalty. He’s given a penalty, then decided to book the (wrong) player because it’s a penalty and then decided to give a corner, which I’m baffled with.  I’m going to be thankful he hasn’t changed the outcome of the game.”

Bradley added: “Well, where we were looking at, it looked like the ball changed direction and went the other way. We looked at the linesman and the linesman pointed to the corner so we presumed it was a corner, so that’s why we couldn’t work out what was going on after that.

“I must admit, we were worried, we didn’t think it was a pen. The way the referee approached it, he was a little bit unclear all night, the ref.”

There was no doubt in the referee awarding Kent Football United a penalty of their own when substitute Mason Simms was guilty of a bad two-footed sliding lunge to bring down Glover just inside of a crowded penalty area following a set-piece.

Ita stepped up and stroked a weak left-footed penalty, which was easily gathered by Cathrew, just low to his right.

However, assistant referee John Monksfield flagged and a retake was ordered and this time it was down to Flynn to stroke his left-footed penalty past the diving keeper into the bottom right-hand corner to score his third goal of the season, the goal being timed at 42 minutes and 5 seconds.

Bradley revealed: “Javlon Campbell is the penalty taker and we had two penalties against Meridian. He scored the first one, missed the second, so by rights we should change the penalty taker but we left Javlon on it just for confidence.

“He handed it over, he didn’t fancy it so he gave it to Steve. Perhaps he wouldn’t have been our choice but we’ve got two left-footers, one after the other and Callum’s a confident player, he’s one of our set-piece experts anyway and he put it away well.”

Norris said: “It is a penalty to them. Mason has gone in quite heavy but it’s one of those ones.  Aaron saved well, who knows whether if he’s off his line? I can’t see from where I’m standing so you just go by the linesman’s word and if he has come off his line the rules are the rules now (incorrect, they are Laws not rules).

“You’re not allowed off the line and the penalty has to be retaken so fair enough. It is what it is. We can’t do anything about that and unfortunately he hasn’t been able to get his hands to the second one.”

Glover got away with it when his clearance was charged down by a pressing Olufeko some 35-yards from goal and the striker cut into the box and poked his shot towards goal, which was saved by Northwood.

Any chance the Dartford side had of snatching an unlikely point vanished thanks to some more poor defending with four minutes and 52 seconds into stoppage time.

Goodchild gifted the ball to Isiaka, who strode forward and slotting his shot across the keeper to find the bottom far corner.

Norris said: “They gave the ball away and Kareem’s kind of nipped in front of the defender, just poked it past him and gone through one-on-one and a nice composed finish from Kareem.

“He’s someone who is going to score goals for us. He got released by Charlton last year and he’s come into us and the guy has got quality. He’s got pace and he’s going to frighten a lot of defenders, as you’ve seen.  Attacking wise we’ve got some quick, young exciting players who will scare a lot of defenders this year.

“I think it was a pretty fair convincing result in all honesty. I thought we were the better team. Kent Football dug in well, they battled. I think overall we were the better team.”

Bradley added: “Again, it’s just individual errors by players really. He can just easily pass it back to the keeper and the keeper can get it down from there but instead of that he’s trying to do a turn and got caught in possession and we were all over the show again.

“All three goals were all errors as far as we’re concerned. We can analyse them back, we haven’t been carved open by them. They’re quite a good side as well. I thought they were a decent side, they played well, they’re tight at the back and have got plenty of pace in the forward areas.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead travel to Snodland Town on Saturday sitting in fifth-place in the table with nine points from four games.

“It’s going to be another tough game. We know they’re nowhere near the same team as what they’ve been for the last couple of years. They’ve got new management and we know they’re going to be a tough team to break down.

“They’ve had a fairly decent start to the season and we’ll look forward to the challenge.  It is another one where we’ve got to get going and compete. We know we have to turn up and the boys we put out there on Saturday, we know they will do a job.

“It’s going to be another season where we want to be up there in that top four pushing for promotion but we know we’ll have to compete in every single game.”

For a team that contains the likes of Lawrence, Potter, Glover, Ita and Goodchild, Kent Football United should be doing much better.

“We’re not a million miles away but it’s still not good enough,” admitted Bradley, whose side are at home to Lewisham Borough on Saturday.

“We can’t be happy with that return from four games.  I’m sure we’ll be good enough to take on the likes of Sporting Club Thamesmead in the second half of the season or nearer Christmas as long as we can keep going.

“Lewisham will be another tough game, a side that are in midtable. They’ve had their troubles over the years.  We look at these games as winnable really. We will need to win these games if we’re going to do better than they did last season (finishing bottom).

“We were looking at a win or a draw tonight and to come away with nothing is not good, so each time you’re chasing and the pressure builds a little bit.

“We’re trying to keep the pressure off the players and just keep it on ourselves and gradually trying to improve what we’re doing down here with the group and as a team.

“Hopefully you’ll see better things over the next two or three months.

“The chairman has been ever so good as well. He’s putting no pressure on us. He can see what we’re trying to do so hopefully with that in mind we won’t be under that sort of pressure at least from the bullet, not just yet anyway.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead: Aaron Cathrew, Aidan Smith, Steffan Dixon, David Jesus (Max Williams 67), Rolex Buiti, Bode Olajide, Mike Nduakulu (Merrick Simms 53), Conor Dobson (Mason Simms 82), Mayowa Olufeko, England Kurti, Kareem Isiaka.
Subs: Danny Edwards, Chris Hubbard

Goals: Mayowa Olufeko 71, Kareem Isiaka 79, 90

Booked: David Jesus 63, Max Williams 90

Kent Football United: Liam Northwood, Bobby Holley, Archie Valler (Emilio Regini-Moran 67), Jamie Lawrence (James Owolabi 73), Brad Potter, Simon Glover, Callum Flynn, Terry Cohen (Charlie Tagg 80), Javlon Campbell, Jason Goodchild, Steven Ita.
Subs: Harry Staley, David Akinuli

Goal: Callum Flynn 88 (penalty)

Booked: Jamie Lawrence 29, Bobby Holley 43, Jason Goodchild 83

Attendance: 50
Referee: Mr Peter Crichlow
Assistants: Mr Kevin Greenhead & Mr John Monksfield