Whyteleafe 0-3 Beckenham Town - We've deserved all three trophies, says Jason Huntley

Saturday 02nd August 2014

Roy Vinter Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Shield
Saturday 2nd August 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Church Road

BECKENHAM TOWN manager Jason Huntley says it’s crazy that the club’s first ever three trophies have come within a glorious 111 day period.

Huntley’s men defeated Ashford United (4-0) and Corinthian (2-0) to land the Kent Senior Trophy and Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup respectively and today they stunned newly-promoted league champions Whyteleafe to win the annual curtain raiser to the season, the Roy Vinter Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Shield.

A mature performance from skipper Alfie Nunn was capped off with an early headed goal, before Adam Wadmore doubled their lead with a free-kick.

Steve McNamara grabbed the ball to slot home a second half penalty to score against his former club, who have extended their winless run on their new artificial pitch to four games.

Huntley left the away changing room, walked down the steps and said he was very pleased with his side’s cup treble.

“Pleased with the all-round performance to be fair,” said Beckenham Town’s most successful manager.

“We’ve had a good pre-season. We’ve played better opposition, higher opposition in every game. I wasn’t realty concerned about the results, but if you’ve been there and seen the games they’re not those sorts of games.

“But we took the game seriously today. I said our season starts today and I think with the performance it showed all the boys were up for it!

“We came out of the flying blocks and they didn’t get out of their stride.

“Maybe they underestimated us. They beat us twice last year. I think they’ll be alright (in the Ryman League).  I know a few of their players. They’ve got some decent players. It’s a well-run club.”

Whyteleafe manager John Fowler was clearly bitter disappointed following their third home defeat on the bounce.

He said: “Embarrassing! Not good enough all round!

“There’s only one player that came out of it with any credit! There’s no positives to take out of the day. 

“Lacklustre, no desire, no effort.  They thought we won the game when they turned up. In the warm-up (my players’) strode around thinking they were big time and it just carried on in the game.

“We started sloppy. We started slow and Beckenham really came out of the traps really fast and in fairness to them gave us a bit of a lesson today, so I’m glad it happened a week before the season started and not when the season’s on.

“Obviously it was a competitive fixture with the silverware on offer but I thought they just turned up with the wrong attitude. 

“They got a bit of praise after Tuesday night’s (3-0 win at Phoenix Sports) in a really good team performance and it just went backwards and thought they were there already.

“We’ll be looking for a massive reaction for Saturday because we’ve got the opening Ryman game.”

Beckenham Town arrived at Church Road with five successive defeats in pre-season, losing to Crystal Palace (1-4), Guildford City (1-2), Dulwich Hamlet (1-4), Cray Wanderers (1-4) and Bromley (1-4).

Since laying their new artificial playing surface, Whyteleafe have failed to beat Kingstonian (2-2), Bromley (1-5) and Dulwich Hamlet (1-4) going into this game.

Fowler admits his players have not adapted to the artificial playing surface.

He said: “In all fairness it’s getting used to the pitch as well because a lot of them are used to playing on grass for most of their careers but you’ve got to adapt and you’ve got to adapt quickly.”

Huntley added: “If I’m being honest, I’m not really a big lover of it because I think you don’t get a true game on it.  It does suit a football side, if you pass the ball on the floor.

“There’s a few times when the ball spun back. It’s a bit unpredictable sometimes but if you play on it week-in-week-out you’ll get used to that anyway, but I prefer to play on grass but when you do come and play it’s a lovely flat surface and it’s for a football side so it played to our strengths.”

The Leafe return to Ryman League Division One South after a two-year absence and welcome Dean Hill’s Ramsgate to Church Road next Saturday and will have to perform much better if they are to win their first home game on their new pitch.

Beckenham Town were a joy to watch during a dominant first half and it was Huntley’s side that looked like the side that are preparing for life in the Ryman League.

Jake Britnell released winger Ed Walker down the right but his right-footed angled drive flashed past the near post inside the opening four minutes.

But Beckenham Town stunned the home fans when they took the lead inside eight minutes.

They were awarded a free-kick near to the by-line on the left-hand side and striker Jamie Humphries floated the ball over towards the far post.  Nunn ghosted in to plant his downward header into the bottom near corner and it just got worse for the home side from then on.

“I’m pleased for Alf,” said Huntley.

“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs with Alf. His discipline lets him down. He’s a top quality player when he keeps his mouth shut and he doesn’t get involved with officials’ and all that.

“He showed today he was brilliant. He didn’t speak to the referee once. I tell him there’s no need to do it. Once he speaks to them his game goes to pot, he doesn’t concentrate on his own game but he was exceptional today.

“I think he led the team and he was a good leader for us today.”

Fowler, who Whyteleafe to the League title at the end of his first season in charge, added: “C**p marking! He had a free header at the fat post.  No-one went looking for him. They all had their men, one said they got blocked off, but that’s a part of the game and if you’re not intelligent enough to be able to cope with that and stay with your marker and defend correctly then you’re going to concede s**t goals like that!”

Beckenham Town keeper Dillon Barnes was forced to dive to his left to palm away Greg Andrews’ in-swinging corner from the left, but the new keeper was hardly tested.

Dominant Beckenham Town were unlucky not to double their lead after sixteen minutes with a free-kick 22-yards from goal.

McNamara curled his left-footed effort over Highsted’s right shoulder, who was relieved to see the ball crash down off the underside of the crossbar.

Huntley said: “A great strike! I was right behind it from that side. When he hit it I thought it was in all the way! He hit the bar but he’s got a good left-foot from that side.  On target I fancied him to score but it’s one of those things.”

A long diagonal pass out of defence by Jalloh Gassimo released Walker down the right and after cutting in towards the edge of the box the ball was played inside to Damien Ramsamy, who lashed his left-footed shot over the bar.

Britnell penetrated the Whyteleafe defence and Walker should have done better instead of screwing his first time right-footed drive harmlessly wide.

Whyteleafe’s first real chance, however, arrived in the 24th minute, following a set-piece.

Jason Thompson, who lifted the league title following the club’s 2-0 home win over Ashford United on 21 April, whipped in a corner from the right and Andrews leapt above his marker at the far post to plant his header from inside the six-yard box into Barnes’ gloves.

Whyteleafe went close to equalising through Andrews’ right-footed free-kick from 35-yards, which dipped just wide of the near post.

But Beckenham Town killed the game off with their second goal in the 34th minute.

There were calls for a penalty when Humphries’ right-footed free-kick appeared to have struck a Whyteleafe hand just inside a crowded penalty area but referee Craig Burton awarded Beckenham Town a free-kick a yard outside the box instead.

A calm Huntley said: “It looked like it was just inside the box but the referee deemed it to be outside so we’ve just got to get on with that.  He’s made that decision, the linesman made that decision so we’ve just got to abide by that.”

Fowler added: “I couldn’t really see it from where I was to be fair. If it’s a penalty, it’s a penalty, but I can’t really comment.”

Right-back Wadmore stepped up and stroked his right-footed free-kick towards the left-hand corner, which Highsted dived to his right and got a strong hand to the shot but couldn’t prevent the ball bouncing into the corner of the net.

Fowler said: “It took a bit of a deflection through the wall and he was sort of wrong-footed. As you say he got a bit of a hand to it and he was a bit unlucky with it so not a lot he can do about it really.”

A sympathetic Huntley added: “He was unlucky the goalkeeper. He’s got a big hand on it but the power of the shot was enough to get past the line.”

Humphries played a sublime diagonal pass to Walker who cut into the penalty area before rolling the ball to Frankie Warren, whose left-footed shot rolled wide from 18-yards.

Walker’s pace down the right was causing Whyteleafe left-back Alex Penfold problems – just like Phoenix Sports’ winger Louis Valancia did during Leafe’s 3-0 win at Phoenix Sports in midweek. 

The quick Walker seemed to lose composure as he reached the edge of the penalty area, opting to lay the ball off at every opportunity, this time to Warren who hit his angled drive over.

Thompson can’t blame a bobble for clipping his shot over the Beckenham Town crossbar on the stroke of half-time.

Beckenham Town led 2-0 at the break, but it should have been more, such was their dominance.

Fowler gave his outplayed players the hairdryer treatment during the half-time interval, because his players’ performances were woeful.

He said: I think if you lose with a bit of dignity and put in a good shift and you play and you have to get things out of games what you can at this time of pre-season and that was just a waste of an afternoon in all honesty.”

Huntley added: “I told them do all the positives, carry on maintaining that.  Last year we played like that quite a lot of times first half and we left it inside the changing room second half.

“The only qualms I had about the first half performance was not taking more of the chances because I think the game could have been over at half-time if I’m being honest.  It could have been at least four goals!

“They obviously got a telling off at half-time, they’re going to come out as they’re the home side, (I told my players to) keep it tight for ten minutes and get our football going again, which I thought we done that.

“There were tackles going in here and everywhere but that was to be expected. They want to win this game as well.  They don’t want to go through the motions.

“They’ve gone up this year, they’ve got a big season ahead of them.  I think their season started today and they’d like to get a win and head into their opening game of their season.”

The second half started in a feisty fashion and Beckenham Town missed another decent chance on the break when Walker put through Britnell, who blasted his right-footed drive over from the edge of the box.

Bentley Graham whipped in a low centre from the right but Whyteleafe’s star-striker Roscoe Dsane, 33, poked his deflected shot past the near post under pressure.

Whyteleafe should have pulled a goal back in the 52nd minute when Jensen Grant played the ball to Graham, who hit a low right-footed shot towards goal from 25-yards, which rolled into Barnes’ gloves for a comfortable save.

Barnes was called into action just before the hour mark.

Thompson clipped the ball down the line which was brought under control on the chest by Andrews, who played the ball inside to Sam Clayton, whose left-footed drive was pushed away by the Beckenham keeper.

Fowler brought on substitute goalkeeper Sheikh Ceesay at the interval and he made a fine diving save to push over Ramsamy’s drive after Walker hit the home side on the break down the left again.

Huntley said: “What we have got, we’ve got a lot of pace, a hell of a lot of pace throughout the team. It’s difficult to play and with them the ball is always close to their feet.  They’ve got a lot of tricks in their sleeve so it bodes quite well.”

Whyteleafe’s defence fell asleep again when McNamara cut a corner short to Humphries, who flashed his first time shot past the near post.

Whyteleafe substitute striker Shawn Lyle’s first contribution to the game was playing the ball inside to Clayton, who set up Graham, who drilled his first time shot high and wide from 18-yards.

This was not the Whyteleafe that clinched the league title by 11 points last season!

Another cross from the left from Walker slid its way to Britnell at the far post, who took a touch, cut inside and stroked his shot towards the corner, which forced Ceesay to dive to his left to hold onto.

Fowler admits he remains unsure who to start with in goal against Ramsgate next weekend.

He said: “It’s good competition for the two goalies and both of them done nothing wrong, so it’s going to be really tough decision to see who we’re going to go with on Saturday.”

McNamara ventured forward and was denied by the goalkeeper’s legs before Walker cut in from the left and flashed his right-footed angled drive past the far post.

It was to be no surprise when Beckenham Town scored a deserved third with nineteen minutes left.

Talented Britnell – who should be playing in the Ryman League – cut inside Whyteleafe central defender Kieron Kenlock and was fouled and referee Mr Burton pointed to the spot.

Huntley said: “As soon as he went there I could see it was going to be pen because he is that tricky. He’s a difficult player, Britnell, he’s an exceptional player on the ball.

“We’re fortunate to have him. We’re trying to do things – I can’t say what I’m doing – to get him to go higher but that’s in the pipeline but in the meantime as long as we’ve got him he’s a massive asset to us.”

Fowler added: “Referee’s interpretations are different from referee to referee. I thought he stepped across him. His hand was a bit high but the guy’s a lot shorted to what Kieron is as well so it shouldn’t have got to that position.  Our right-back Cedric (Abraham) is well out of position.”

Ramsamy, Humphries and McNamara stood on the penalty spot and discussed who should take the resulting penalty.

McNamara grabbed the ball and stepped up to send the diving Ceesay the wrong way to slot home his left-footed spot-kick.

Huntley said: “McNamara wanted to take it because it’s (against) his old club so in the end ultimately he took it.

“Jamie Humphries was down as the penalty taker. He’s missed a couple but we do nominate him to do the penalties but if I would’ve known it’s McNamara’s old club I would’ve just let him do it but that’s something we don’t want people trying to snatch the ball off each other. It’s not very professional but we’ll sort it out at a later date.

“Good penalty. He put it in. He’s got a nice left foot Macca. He’s been around a long time, an experienced player, so I would fancy him from there.”

Clayton cut in from the right and his angled drive from 20-yards rolled to Barnes for a comfortable save.

Beckenham Town missed a decent chance in the final seven minutes when Clayton played the ball to Humphries, who floated over a cross towards the far post and Warren directed his free-header straight at Ceesay from seven-yards.

And Beckenham central defender Gassimo was given licence to venture forward with the ball to drag his shot across goal and past the far post from inside the Whyteleafe box.

And like London red buses, you wait ages for one, and three come along at once as Nathan Paul and Nunn accepted the large shield from League officials after the final whistle.

Huntley said: “It’s crazy! It is mad! We’ve deserved all three of them. If you look at all three games we’ve played very well in all three games so we have deserved it.

“It’s been a long time coming for Beckenham, haven’t had a trophy for 125 years’ and then three in a season.

“It’s great for us. I’m pleased for (club secretary) Peter Palmer at the club and all the other committee members who have been there for years’ and years’.  

“It’s a couple of nice days out for them and they’ve enjoyed themselves today as well so it’s good for them and it makes me happy.”

Fowler admitted only one player in a white shirt can take any credit from this performance.

The former Croydon manager said: “No positives. The only positive really was Dylan Merchant, the centre back, who was superb for us. He’s the only one for us who can actually come out of it with a bit of credit. 

“The other positive really is it ain’t the season, it ain’t a league game!”

Whyteleafe:  Adam Highsted (Sheikh Ceesay 46), Kieron Kenlock, Alex Penfold, Cedric Abraham, Dylan Merchant, Jason Thompson (Simon Mensah 76), Bentley Graham, Jensen Grant, Roscoe Dsane (Shawn Lyle 64), Sam Clayton, Greg Andrews.
Subs: Tom Pratt, Tommy Harper

Beckenham Town:  Dillon Barnes, Adam Wadmore, Steve McNamara, Jalloh Gassimo, Nathan Paul (Joe Jackson 85), Alfie Nunn, Frankie Warren, Jake Britnell (Jamie Turner 71), Damian Ramsamy (Adam Griffin 71), Jamie Humphries, Ed Walker.
Subs: Tyrone Guthrie, Alfie George

Goals:  Alfie Nunn 8, Adam Wadmore 34, Steve McNamara 71 (penalty)

Attendance: 130
Referee: Mr Craig Burton (Rochester)
Assistants: Mr Marcin Indyk (Maidstone) & Mr Chris Clarke (Maidstone)