Sporting Club Thamesmead 1-1 Stansfeld - A lot of teams don't like playing against us because we don't stop, says promotion-chasing Stansfeld joint-manager Billy Hamlin

Monday 09th March 2020
Sporting Club Thamesmead 1 – 1 Stansfeld
Location Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead, London SE28 8NJ
Kickoff 09/03/2020 19:45

Sea Pioneer Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Monday 9 March 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Bayliss Avenue

STANSFELD joint-manager Billy Hamlin says his players believe they can clinch promotion at the end of the season.


Stansfeld extended their unbeaten run to six games after being held to a draw by Sporting Club Thamesmead, largely due to the outstanding performance of goalkeeper Aaron Cathrew, 19, who made a string of fine saves to thwart Hamlin’s men.

Both sides have hit great form going into this vital part of the campaign.  Sporting Club Thamesmead have lost just once in their last 12 games, while Stansfeld have lost just once in 14 league and cup games.

The Acre grabbed the lead with 69 minutes on the clock through Chris Hubbard’s planted drive from 25-yards before Cathrew was finally beaten with just four minutes remaining, courtesy of Ollie Milton’s debut goal.

Sporting Club Thamesmead went into this game sitting in seventh-place in the Sea Pioneer Southern Counties East Football League First Division table with 41 points from 22 games, while Stansfeld sit one place above them with 43 points but with two games in hand.

“I thought we was unlucky to draw if I’m perfectly honest with you,” said Hamlin, 43.

“They’ve scored a great goal, we had two or three chances to clear it. It was a great goal and a great finish from Chris Hubbard from the edge of the box.

“We’re proud of this season with the amount of clean sheets we’ve kept and we don’t know when we’re beat.

“We’ve signed young Ollie Milton there, he’s 19, we’ve had young Red Jenkins playing, Ian Jenkins’ boy, he’s 18. We had Rob Hughes out on the left, he’s 18 so the future for the club is fantastic.

“I say it every time, it sounds boring but you’ve got people in this league shouting their mouth off (about how much they get paid) but all of those boys out there play for nothing, they play for nothing and they’re a credit to our club because they don’t know when they’re beaten.

“A lot of teams don’t like playing us because we don’t stop. After a game on Saturday we all go back to Metrogas, the boys all end up out together, they’re mates and that’s why we will never give in because we’re all such a tight nit unit.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead manager Jason Long said: “I think it’s a good result in the end. I don’t think it was our best performance tonight.

“I felt we didn’t really get a foothold in the game. We did have a few chances in the first half but weren’t clinical enough.  If you don’t take your chances, you ain’t going to win games of football.”

Both admitted a draw wasn’t their most favourable outcome in the pursuit for promotion.

Long said: “No, of course. We wanted to come into this game tonight, we knew a win was massive, as it was for them. I still believe there’s a lot of football left for all of the teams and there’s a few more twists to come from it.  I don’t think it’s dead and buried, nowhere near!”

Hamlin said: “When you look at the bigger picture, we’ve gone away to Lewisham on Saturday, not the best conditions, and we’ve won 1-0 there. We’ve come here and I think we should’ve won tonight.

“Before the weekend if you’d have said come away from Lewisham and Thamesmead with four points, we would’ve taken it!”

Yet another wet and windy night, it was Stansfeld who created the first chance of the game after only 37 seconds.

Sam Ryan, who sits in front of the Stansfeld back four alongside Greg Summersby, stroked his right-footed free-kick from 25-yards from within the left-channel, the ball bouncing three times before being saved by Cathrew down on to his knees, as Ryan tried to find the bottom near corner.

“We spoke about it before the game,” said Hamlin.  “It was so wet, we had that downpour and we said they’re all expecting us to lump it in with Lennie Wise and Billy Parkinson, whose been absolutely magnificent.

“We tried to mix it up. We said let’s not just try to get it in, let’s try and zip the first free-kick along the floor and try to take them by surprise and to be fair it took everyone by surprise and went straight through to the keeper.”

Long added: I think Aaron’s been great tonight. He’s pulled off a couple of good saves. His handling has been good, his kicking was good. He was man-of-the-match.”

Another chance came Stansfeld’s way in the ninth minute when Cathrew punched Freddie Cray’s free-kick, the home side cleared the ball out to Cray, who hooked his left-footed volley just past the right-post from 25-yards.

Sporting Club Thamesmead created their first opening in the 13th minute, through route-one football.

Keeper Cathrew launched a big kick straight down the middle of the pitch, quiet striker Tim Beckford flicked the ball on just outside the D but Dan Edwards couldn’t get the desired touch and Charlie Cottrell gathered the ball from inside his six-yard box.

Sporting Club Thamesmead’s centre-half Jordan Lovell launched eight long throws into the Stansfeld box, which was usually dealt with by centre-halves Lennie Wise or Casey Killilea but on this occasion, Beckford flicked the ball past the near post from a tight angle, nipping in front of the goalkeeper.

Stansfeld left-back Frankie Beale slid in to prevent Edwards hitting his side on the counter-attack before Beale floated in a cross for striker Macey Malyon to loop his header into Cathrew’s hands from 15-yards.

Sporting Club Thamesmead left-winger Dieko Falade wasted two golden chances inside the Stansfeld box where he wanted too many touches inside the box.

Josh Jackson split Wise and Killilea with a sublime through ball along the floor to put Falade through on goal but he took a touch before hitting a right-footed drive which was blocked and cleared.

Aaron Jeffrey - who started in midfield before joining Beckford in a more advanced striker position in the second half after Long replaced the ineffective Falade and brought on substitute Connor Dobson, who replaced Jeffrey in midfield - created an opening for himself just 41 seconds later but his shot on the turn took a deflection and was comfortably gathered by Cottrell, stepping to his right.

Despite being caught by McFarlane’s challenge, Beale released Rob Hughes down the left and he played the ball inside to Cray, who curled his right-footed shot around the top of the right-hand post from 25-yards in the 33rd minute.

Falade fluffed another great chance for Sporting Club Thamesmead to break the deadlock five minutes later.

McFarlane floated a free-kick into the Stansfeld box, keeper Cottrell punched the ball away and Falade took a touch, spun before lashing his right-footed shot over from 12-yards.

“Credit to him, he’s getting himself into positions to have chances, he just has to react and do things a little bit quicker in the box and final third,” Long said of Falade.

“He scored one the other week, he took it first time and he just has to do that a little bit more, just take a chance.”

Stansfeld were the more pressing side during the first half and they were to be denied a deserved equaliser in the 41st minute.

Stansfeld won the corner count by 9-1. Beale swung in their third flag-kick, left-footed from the right, the ball was cleared out to Ryan, who cut the ball onto his left-boot and stroked a gentle shot towards the far corner from 30-yards, forcing Cathrew to dive to his right to tip the ball behind for a corner.

Hamlin said: “Good save, decent save. The only trouble with that, Sam’s took it really well. It’s on his weaker side so he hasn’t got the power he wanted to get. It’s a nice height for the keeper. Take nothing away from him, it was a good save and he pushed it away. He done well their keeper.”

Long added: “Aaron is growing in confidence in every game he plays in. I feel he’s gone away from being a boy now and he’s grown into being a man and really enjoying his men’s football with us, he’s doing really well.”

McFarlane stroked a right-footed free-kick towards goal from 35-yards, which was comfortably caught by Cottrell in his midriff as half-time approached.

“Reion’s good over a set-piece and very confident with the ball as well. He got one the other week but not to be tonight,” added Long.

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

Long said: “We’re still in the game. We haven’t been the greatest but we’re still in a game of football. We’ve just got to keep going. It’s taking your chances, staying disciplined.  We’ve kept a lot of clean-sheets over the last 10 games and let’s be difficult to break down, don’t concede and we will get a chance and if you take it, you’re in the game.”

Hamlin added: “Just keep doing what you’re doing!  We knew their keeper wasn’t going to kick it as far (as he did) in the first half. The wind was really, really in their favour and it seemed to drop a bit at half-time.”

Stansfeld goalkeeper Cottrell almost scored from the edge of his own penalty area just three minutes and 49 seconds into the second half.

He launched a big left-footed kick which sailed over the home side’s centre-halves and Cathrew grabbed hold of the ball with one hand, his left hand plucking the ball above his head to prevent being beaten by his opposite number.

Cathrew pulled off a brilliant save to deny Stansfeld in the ninth minute.

Billy Parkinson launched a long throw into the box, Wise flicked the ball on at the near post and Hughes was certain to score at the back post but the outstanding Cathrew dived to his left to claw the ball out to prevent the ball nestling into the corner of the net.

“It was a good save, a great save from the kid,” said Hamlin, who was full of praise for the diminutive Hughes.

“Little Rob, he’s 18, he got three in three for our reserves a few weeks back and we’ve brought him in. He’s been absolutely brilliant. He’s such a lovely kid as well. They all stop to have a drink after and they’re proper club boys.”

Long added: “He’s so agile. He really does get himself across the goal. He got us out of trouble a couple of times tonight.”

Stansfeld joint-bosses Hamlin and Jamie Phipps threw Milton on in the 56th minute and he was quickly in the action.

His first time pass from the centre of the park released Hughes down the left and he cut in but his shot failed to trouble Cathrew from 16-yards, the keeper making a comfortable save.

Despite scoring 27 goals this season, Sporting Club Thamesmead striker Beckford suffered a quiet night.

He had his big chance to score in the 13th minute when a pass from left-back Bode Olajide was dummied by Jeffrey and some good defending from Stansfeld right-back Parkinson forced the striker wide before he ran out of room and from a tight angle steered his left-footed shot into the base of the side netting from eight-yards.

“Maybe that’s a chance, I think Tim could’ve taken,” said Long.

“If Tim takes that chance it would be good for his confidence but he’s a big threat for us and he will go again.

“He does get his rewards and he will get his goals. He’s flying, he’s got a few hat-tricks in there and that’s helped. He’s a big contribution to the team, we want him to be more consistently scoring.”

When asked about snuffing out Beckford’s threat on the night, Hamlin insisted: “Because in my opinion we have got the best two centre-halves in the league, Lennie Wise and Casey Killilea.

“Lennie couldn’t make it on Saturday because he was working and Billy Parkinson went in there and was the best player on the pitch against Lewisham. We’re lucky to have these boys.

“Billy didn’t play last season so when he first came he will still finding his feet but the last few weeks he’s been magnificent, absolutely brilliant.

“We’ve signed him because he’s Joe Minter’s mate, Billy Shinners played with him, Sam Ryan knows him so we’ve brought him in on their reputation and we’re luck to have them.”

Stansfeld produced a sweeping move, which involved Milton playing the ball up to Malyon, who flicked the ball on and in the end Cray latched onto a through ball but lacked composure when just inside the box and his left-footed drive sailed over the diving keeper and over the crossbar.

It was inevitable that Sporting Club Thamesmead would score the first goal, despite it clearly being against-the-run-of play when it came with 23 minutes and 34 seconds on the clock.

Some poor defending helped them out as Wise and Summersby got in each others way just outside their penalty area and failed to clear their lines.  Hubbard picked up the loose ball and planted a sublime right-footed drive across the keeper into the bottom far corner of the net from 25-yards to score his seventh goal of the season.

“I’ve seen him do that a few times in training,” said Long.

“It’s good for the captain, he leads by example there. He gave us a good chance, probably against-the-run-of play, so sometimes that’s going to happen when you get that goal, you have to learn to keep the lead.”

Hamlin said: “Great goal but if there’s any two people in our team who got and smash it into Row Z it’s Greg and Lennie and they both left it for each other.

“Greg’s come off, he’s on a booking, he’s had a dig so we’ve taken him off to protect him and he’s come in the dug-out and he’s fuming saying ‘it’s his fault’, and that’s the beauty of this season, people are taking more responsibility and we are where we are because of that.”

Stansfeld’s response was positive, however, and Cathrew was called into making a fine double save just 115 seconds after the goal.

The impressive Milton exchanged a one-two with Hughes before drilling a low shot straight into the legs of Cathrew from 16-yards. The ball came out to Stansfeld talisman striker, substitute Billy Shinners on the edge of the box but his shot was weak and was comfortably dealt with by the busy goalkeeper.

Hamlin said of Cathrew: “He’s a young kid and he’s done really well, done really well.”

Long added: “Again, he’s been busy tonight, concentrating to deal with shots from all angles, all distances and that was shown there. There were so many chances all over the pitch that he made it look quite comfortable at times. He was really good tonight, he was on it!”

Stansfeld kept knocking on the door and Cathrew pulled off another great save in the final seven minutes, on a night that proved he should be playing higher than the tenth-tier.

Cray threw the ball back to Killilea, who used his right-boot to wallop the ball upfield. The ball dipped and was destined to drop in underneath the crossbar but Cathrew tipped the ball onto the bar and watched it drop over for the away side’s eighth corner of the night.

Hamlin said: “I was right behind it and he’s hit it and you could see it bending all the time and I called it ‘this is in’ and the keeper’s made another good save.”

This post-match interview seemed to be Long answering questions about his goalkeeper and on this occasion, Long replied: “He didn’t get caught out, so that was the good thing!”

Stansfeld’s deserved equaliser finally arrived with 40 minutes and 58 seconds, courtesy of an impressive three-man move.

Beale released substitute Jay Oborne down the left and he got as close to the by-line as he could before cutting the ball back for the unmarked Milton to place a first time right-footed drive past the keeper to find the bottom left-hand corner from 12-yards.

“It’s his first game for us. He was ill on Saturday. He got a run out for our third team the other week and he got a couple of goals just to get him in the shirt,” Hamlin said of Milton.

“It’s hard for him, it’s all new to him. It was 100 mile-per-hour, really competitive and to have the coolness from the edge of the box and cut it back across the keeper, the keeper’s had a great night but he wasn’t saving that was he, let’s be honest. It was a great finish!”

Long added: “I thought we could’ve held on.  I think 1-0 against-the-run-of-play was good, just have to stay switched on. It’s a 90 minute game of football. If you don’t stay switched on and you don’t defend as units then unfortunately, you’re going to get caught out.  We didn’t get out quickly enough to the guy and they got a goal from it.

“I know it’s tiring as the game goes on but that’s the difference when you’re fighting for a promotion.”

The home side almost snatched a winner following their only corner of the night.

Substitute England Kurti delivered the ball in from the right and centre-half Rolex Buiti had two bites of the cherry at the far post but his second attempt ended up in the base of the side netting from a tight angle.

Seven sides are all vying for one of the top four promotion places.

Rusthall (53 points with eight games remaining); Kennington (52 points with seven games remaining); Holmesdale (48 points with nine games remaining) and Rochester United (45 points with nine games remaining) are all in the automatic promotion spots.

FC Elmstead (45 points with nine games remaining), Stansfeld (44 points with nine games remaining) and Sporting Club Thamesmead (42 points with seven games remaining) are all in with a shout too.

Sporting Club Thamesmead welcome bottom-three side Meridian VP to Bayliss Avenue on Saturday, while Stansfeld welcome top-eight side Greenways to Foxbury Avenue.

Long insisted he is still chasing promotion.

“Must-win game! If you want to stay in the mix of it, simple as that!

“I believe we can do it. I believe we can compete against the teams above us in the league and show we can do that as long as the boys prepare well. They still know it’s achievable, it’s mathematically achievable. We’ve just got to go and win every game.

“Promotion will be massive for the club. We’ve all stuck together, which has been nice. The board and chair have been good, we’ve all communicated well, we’ve done what we’ve had to do.

“We’ve not got lots of money to work with, it’s very bare bones that we’ve got to work with but we’ve stuck together and we try to make it as professional as possible.

“We keep it fun, we’ve had a few good nights out with the boys, which brings that team morale and there’s some good players in there as well. Hopefully we keep going and we can hit that top four.”

On a Stansfeld perspective, Hamlin said: “We’re at home, we fancy ourselves against anyone at home but if you’re going to have any aspirations of going up, being near the top, you have to fancy yourself at home.

“We’ve come down here on a cold wet windy night and we should’ve won and we haven’t but we have to go and win Saturday now and promotion is on. The boys really believe it, really, really believe it and we’re having a right go.”

Sporting Club Thamesmead: Aaron Cathrew, Reion McFarlane, Bode Olajide, Chris Hubbard, Jordan Lovell, Rolex Buiti, Dieko Falade (Connor Dobson 46), Aaron Jeffrey, Josh Jackson (England Kurti 70), Dan Edwards.
Subs: Greg Smith, Connor Watson, Bruno Lima

Goals: Chris Hubbard 69

Booked: Aaron Jeffrey 23, Reion McFarlane 34, Connor Dobson 90

Stansfeld: Charlie Cottrell, Billy Parkinson, Frankie Beale, Greg Summersby (Jay Oborne 73), Lennie Wise, Casey Killilea, Freddie Cray, Sam Ryan, Macey Malyon (Billy Shinners 65), Rob Hughes, Red Jenkins (Ollie Milton 56).
Subs: Lewis Oborne, Liam Rankin

Goal: Ollie Milton 86

Booked: Greg Summersby 43, Charlie Cottrell 70, Freddie Cray 78

Attendance: 120
Referee: Mr Steven Tunnicliffe
Assistants: Mr Adam Bakalarz & Mr Adam Peters