Tooting Bec 1-0 Bagshot - We're bottom of the league, we can't buy a win. We had plenty of chances and we just can't buy a goal and that's our biggest problem, admits Bagshot assistant manager Zane Wickens

Friday 11th December 2020
Tooting Bec 1 – 0 Bagshot
Location Wibbandune Stadium, Robin Hood Way, West Wimbledon, London SW20 0AA
Kickoff 11/12/2020 19:45

Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Division One
Friday 11 December 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Wibbandune Stadium

BAGSHOT assistant manager Zane Wickens admits his side cannot buy a goal after suffering their fourteenth straight defeat of the season.

The Camberley based outfit have lost every single game this season and remain rooted to the foot of the Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Division One table after 12 games but they put in a spirited performance tonight that deserved a point.

Tooting Bec climbed above Westside into third-place in the table with 23 points from their 11 league games, courtesy of striker Alistair Wiltshire’s tenth goal of the season.

Tooting Bec’s manager Matt Hancock – obviously not the Health Secretary within the Government – was promoted from reserve team manager and won his first game in charge by beating Cove 5-0 last Saturday and this win now puts them five points adrift of leaders Farnham Town.

The game was hastily switched to Colliers Wood United’s Wibbandune Stadium on the A3 yesterday as landlords Tooting & Mitcham United are using Imperial Fields for a friendly match on Saturday.

“I’m absolutely gutted to be honest with you,” said Wickens, whose brother Brett is manager and was an unused substitute tonight.

“It’s now three games on the bounce where we have been fantastic.  The results, I don’t know what to say, I’m so annoyed with it because we’re bottom of the league, we can’t buy a win, yet we’re playing against a team out here today and we had plenty, plenty of chances.

“We just can’t buy a goal at the moment and that’s our biggest problem.”

Hancock said: “It was a proper scrappy game.  Second half was just like basketball but I’m really happy how the back four defended as a unit and I’ll take the win.  That’s two clean sheets on the trot, so I’m happy with that.

“They’ve got three quarters of a new squad and Bagshot will definitely take points of other teams playing like that.”

Tooting Bec created their first opening inside the opening nine minutes when left-winger Myles Blenkinsop put left-back Carlo Fernando in behind Bagshot’s right-back Michael Chapman and he put in a low cross where right-winger Samuel Johnson cut across his marker but failed to apply the finish eight-yards from goal and the ball was gathered by Samuel Hanger.

Hanger, a left-back, bravely played in goal for Bagshot as none of their six recognised goalkeepers made themselves available for a Friday night football match, played by two zero budget outfits.

Wickens said: “Not bad from our left-back! Tonight, we were without our goalkeeper so our side this evening six days from the Westside game, out of 16 that we’re here on Saturday we’ve got 14 different players, one of them being our left-back who has gone in goal for us tonight and he hasn’t done a bad job at all. It’s not his fault we’ve lost.”

Tooting Bec’s central midfielder Liam Smith swept the ball out to Blenkinsop, who lacked composure inside the box and flashed his shot across goal and past the far post from eight-yards.

Hanger was outside his penalty area and his clearance was charged down by Blenkinsop and the ball rolled along the by-line and the rookie keeper managed to smother the ball at the wingers feet inside the six-yard box.

Struggling Bagshot weathered the storm and created good chances inside a good five minute spell.

Left-back Matthew Cox whipped in a deep cross into the box where a towering header from winger Edward Cardona from penalty spot range bounced past the far post.

Central midfielder Sam Reed impressed for Bagshot and he created an even better chance after pickpocketing Tooting Bec’s left-back Fernando inside the box and drilling his right-footed angled drive just past the foot of the far post from 15-yards, the ball taking a nick off Fernando.

“Sammy was fantastic today, his vision all over the pitch, it is brilliant,” said Wickens.

“He does pull the strings for us in midfield. I thought he had a very good game. He’s cracking, the way that he sprayed the balls out to both the young lads on the wings. He was good to watch.”

Hancock added: “I thought we started nervous and I think that was in that period. I think we didn’t get going until 20-25 minutes but once we did, I don’t think they had a clear-cut chance for the rest of the half.  There was definitely an opportunity there and we survived it.”

Reed went close just 41 seconds later when he drilled his right-footed shot just past the near post from 30-yards but the way Bagshot were playing here tonight belied their position at the foot of the table.

“You’re not the first person to say that,” revealed a frustrated Wickens.

“We’ve had this from the last couple of teams.  Supporters have said ‘how the hell are you bottom of the league?’

“We just switch off and we make silly mistakes that we just shouldn’t do and it’s just game management at the end of the day.”

Bagshot’s right-back Chapman lost the ball inside the centre-circle and Tooting Bec hit them on the counter-attack as the impressive Panikos Oritis – who plays behind lone striker Wiltshire – fed Smith, who hit a diagonal pass and Wiltshire ran the right channel and his drilled angled drive was gathered comfortably in Hanger’s midriff at his near post.

Tooting Bec then created a couple of chances after the 25th minute mark as Oritis played the ball inside to Wiltshire, whose left-footed shot on the turn flashed just past the right-hand post from 20-yards.

“Ali is our top scorer, he’s our talisman. He puts his body where it hurts, he’s always up for a battle with more than one centre-back and Panikos is high class, you like to have him in that gap. They’re a good combination.”

Blenkinsop played the ball into Oritis from within the centre-circle and he teed up Blenkinsop, whose 20-yarder took a deflection and Hanger got down low to his right and used a strong right-hand to push the shot behind for a corner.

Tooting Bec’s centre-half Chris Thurbon heled Bagshot out in the 33rd minute, following the third of nine corners from the home side.  Incidentally, Bagshot won seven.

Oritis put it on a plate for his captain as the ball sailed over the flapping Hanger but Thurbon headed the ball away rather than in the net from underneath the crossbar as another chance went begging.

“There weren’t many opportunities. It was a weird game.  We had a few we couldn’t put them away. It was another chance,” added Hancock.

Bagshot – playing a 4-2-3-1 formation – lone striker Conor Harlowe was a threat in the air and he rose above his marker to meet Chapman’s cross but his looping header was caught by Tooting Bec goalkeeper Zdenek Machacek.

With torrential rain now falling down from the sky, Wiltshire issued a warning, unleashing a right-footed drive from 30-yards, which fizzed off the wet turf and the ball was well held by Hanger, low to his right.

However, Hanger was well beaten as Wiltshire scored the only goal of the game with 40 minutes and 59 seconds on the clock after a well-worked move down the right.

The impressive Oritis fed the ball into winger Johnson, who played the ball low in from the right inside to Wiltshire, who strode forward and a couple of step-overs later, drilled his left-footed drive towards goal from 25-yards.  The ball bounced just in front of the diving keeper and nestled nicely into the bottom right-hand corner.

“The one we did put away was superb by Ali,” said Hancock.

“Excellent finish. Regardless of how good the goalkeeper was, it was in the corner on a slippery pitch. It was a good strike, so good goal. I’m happy with that.

“He’s scored four goals in two games for me so far. He can’t be happier than that.”

Wickens added: “That’s our story of our season to be honest with you. We do reasonably well in the first half. We tend to come better in the second half but we switched off and they get a scrappy goal.  Realistically, it wasn’t a screamer or anything like that, unfortunately.

“Because we are 12 (losses) on the bounce now our heads go down and we just have to turn around that losing mentality at the minute.”

The home side called Hanger into making another save just before the break.

Blenkinsop released Wiltshire in behind Chapman and he whipped in a deep cross towards the unmarked Ross Broadway, who chested the ball before cracking a left-footed volley towards the bottom corner, forcing Hanger to move to push the ball around the post.

“Yes, you’d expect him to make the save. It was a shame the half didn’t go on a bit longer,” added Hancock.

Both were asked their thoughts at the break.

Hancock said: “I wanted more of the same. It was keep the ball away from their eight (Kabuye), who was very good on the ball, I think but he didn’t quite have the legs of my two centre midfielders so when they’ve got the ball, keep them close, make sure they don’t have any time on it and when we’ve got the ball work through the lines and it was more of the same. 

“I wanted to work it to the channels with our midfield three working in there with the front three and we sort of did it but it was one of those things when the game plan went a little bit out of the window and it was backs to the wall really.”

Wickens added: “Go out there lads, you know you’re a good side.  You know you can play, it’s been seen over the season bar one game maybe, that we are a quality outfit,  Just don’t make silly mistakes by switching off and just letting the game get to your head that we’re 1-0 down.

“They came out second half and really gave an extremely good account of themselves.”

Tooting Bec went close to doubling their lead following their seventh corner of the night just 189 seconds into the second half.

Oritis drove the ball in from the right and centre-half Matthew Stone nipped in front of his marker at the near post to flick the ball just past the upright from three-yards.

However, Bagshot then dominated large chunks of the second half and all that was missing was someone to put the ball in the back of the net.

Hancock added: “We know what this team, Bagshot, are all about and they’re up for the fight so we knew the second half was going to be tough and it was.”

Reed pinged a superb crossfield diagonal pass which picked out the unmarked Cardona, who stung the keeper’s fingers with a 25-yard angled drive.

“It’s the first game this season that I’ve heard opposite players’ moaning at their bench to change because they can’t handle us, simple as that but we just didn’t get a goal,” said Wickens.

“Edward won’t like me saying it but it was a cracking run and it was a cracking shot and it was probably the first time that he’s got one on target like that this season but it was absolutely fantastic.  You’ve got to be there to make that opportunity happen and thankfully for us he is doing that.”

Hancock added: “It was one of those where they were trying that diagonal a lot and that one was perfect for Cardona, a good strike and a good save.”

Reed turned provider as his corner came in from the right and captain Bobby Dormer came up from the back to plant his free-header towards goal but Tooting Bec’s right-back Nicholas Thompson got in the way and was able to head the ball clear.

Bagshot continued to press for an equaliser and they called Machacek into making a block on the hour-mark.

Broadway was penalised by referee Harry Yellen for a foul on Reed, who drilled the resulting right-footed free-kick from 35-yards from a central position, which was punched away by the left-hand of the Tooting Bec stopper.

“We’ve been very unlucky with free-kicks this season. I don’t think we’ve scored directly from one this season,” revealed Wickens, who needs to get his players’ out on the training pitch to turn fine margins into goals and points on the board and build his side around Reed.

“I think for us as a management team the thing that we’re more frustrated with is that the goalkeeper has made a good save, it was a good free-kick, there’s nothing wrong with that.  We’re a bit slow to seconds.  That’s the one thing I think we can work on and it’s just not with that, it’s all over the pitch.”

Hancock added: “Zdenek had a good game, apart from when he sliced a couple in the first half in the rain but I thought he commanded his penalty area well and it was a good punch.”

Bagshot seemed to run out of steam after failing to equalise following their seventh flag-kick with 15 minutes left.

Aaron Ross delivered a deep corner from the right and up came centre-half Dormer at the far post but his downward header bounced into Machacek hands, as the goalkeeper stepped to his right.

“We were holding off from making subs because it was such a close game. We thought it (the equaliser) was going to come with the amount of pressure that we had in the second half.  We just thought it was going to be any time until we got the goal,” said Wickens.

“Any game that we play we generally tend to die a little bit in the last 15 minutes. If you look at our results if anyone wants to do a stat on the games that we concede the majority are in that time.

“I think a lot of that is down to fitness.  Unfortunately with the Covid situation, we don’t get to train as often as we can because most places are taken so we’re not as fit as some of the other clubs around who have that facility, which we don’t unfortunately.

“We don’t have a budget at all so everyone who plays for us plays because they want to play football, so for us to get the lads out there who are as good as they are but unfortunately the results aren’t coming, I think it’s something about the club that we are a nice little club but unfortunately results need to come soon.”

Tooting Bec finished the game by playing the game on the front foot.

A big kick from the home keeper played in Johnson, who skipped past left-back Matthew Cox and cut into the box and his progress was ended by Hanger, who smothered the ball at his feet at the near post.

Hancock revealed why his two impressive attackers Wiltshire and Oritis didn’t finish the game.

“Panikos felt a little bit in his calf so he came off and when Ali ran into the keeper in the first half he just lost feeling in his ribs.”

Stone’s diagonal ball out of defence set up another chance for the home side as substitutes Luke Fenlon and Kerr Horn linked up down the left and Fenlon’s right-footed 25-yard drive bounced once into Hanger’s midriff – not a bad goalkeeper for a stand-in.

Johnson and Fenlon linked up and Horn's shot on the turn bounced into Hanger’s hands for a comfortable save as this entertaining game reached it’s conclusion.

Hancock said: “Just lacking any clinical finishing. It was so inviting because they were playing so stretched, it was so inviting to play those balls through and some worked and some didn’t. I just wanted the boys to be a bit more composed.”

Hanger did switch off when he allowed Fenlon’s deep drilled cross from the halfway line sail over his head and no one tracked Johnson’s run and the winger hooked the ball across the keeper and just past the far post from a very tight angle at the back stick.

Hancock was delighted that his side have kept back-to-back clean-sheets in his first two games in charge since stepping up from the reserve side.

“Happy, happy with that. In this league if you keep your clean-sheets you win games and you go up the league table,” he said, now level on points with second-placed Walton & Hersham.

The Swans have suffered two relegations in four years, having crashed out of the Isthmian League down to the tenth-tier of English football in a short period of time.

Hancock added: “For me as a manager, the second half wasn’t pretty but I was really happy. The team spirt, how we worked defensively, so it’s a good basis for us to work off. If we’re not letting in goals I’m happy.”

Tooting Bec return home to Tooting & Mitcham’s Imperial Fields on Saturday 19 December to lock horns with Cove again.

“We played them Saturday just gone up there and it was a 5-0 but that was turned on its head by two of their players’ being sent off when we were 2-0 up at the time,” said Hancock.

“The game went as you expect nine-v-eleven so I’m expecting a strong challenge from them.  They beat Eversley & California 5-1 on Tuesday, so they’ll have their tails up and we’ll have to play well to beat them.

“We’ve got one more game before Christmas and all I want are three more points because we’ve got a big break over New Year currently.  We’ve got no game on the 28 December so three wins from my first three games and I’ll be ecstatic and sets us up really well for the New Year.”

Bagshot are seven points adrift of Ash United in the league table – Bagshot having played three more games - and the Wickens’ brothers travel there on Tuesday night (19:30) in the Surrey Premier Cup.

“I think we can get a result in that one. Unfortunately, it’s not a league game, it’s the Surrey Cup but we’re looking forward to that game,” said Wickens.

“We need to pay them back for the 7-0 drubbing that we took at the start of the season.

“We’re confident after watching what we’ve just watched tonight, I don’t see any reason why we can’t go there and get a result.”

Bagshot then welcome seventh-placed side Kensington & Eailing Borough to Krooner Park on 19 December.

“I don’t really know what more we can do or say to the players to get that goal. We just can’t buy a goal,” admitted Wickens.

“I can moan and say that we’re not getting results. We’re great, we just cannot score a goal. It doesn’t matter what we do. If we have a shot on goal it’s either a fantastic save, it hits the crossbar, it hits the post. We can’t put it in the back of the net, unfortunately.”

Tooting Bec:  Zdenek Machacek, Nicholas Thompson, Carlo Fernando, Ross Broadway, Chris Thurbon, Matthew Stone, Myles Blenkinsop, Liam Smith, Alistair Wiltshire (Kerr Horn 73), Panikos Oritis (Luke Fenlon 70), Samuel Johnson.
Subs: Eddie M’Bango, Sebastian Morally

Goal: Alistair Wiltshire 41

Bagshot:  Samuel Hanger, Michael Chapman (Danny Patterson 77), Matthew Cox, Arafat Kabuye (Mason Roseboom 80), Jordan Ranger, Bobby Dormer, Tommy Barrell, Sam Reed, Conor Harlowe, Aaron Ross, Edward Cardona.
Subs: Brett Wickens, Rommel Simmonds

Booked:  Aaron Ross 90

Attendance: 52
Referee: Mr Harry Yellen
Assistants:  Mr Peter Crichlow & Mr Martin Etheridge