KENT FOOTBALL UNITED 5-1 ELTHAM PALACE
Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Sunday 18th September 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Foxbury Avenue
KENT FOOTBALL UNITED assistant manager Dean Carpenter says there is a little bit of pressure to compete for the title this season due to having a small playing budget.
The club were forced to switch their home game against Eltham Palace to Glebe’s Foxbury Avenue ground in Chislehurst owing to pitch problems at their Dartford base.
But Eltham Palace’s home advantage turned into a humiliation as they proved that the club are still out of their depth at this level in terms of performance, quality and commitment levels needed for the First Division of the Southern Counties East Football League.
Kent Football United took less than six minutes to open the floodgates through a needless own-goal from Eltham Palace’s central midfielder Harry Gamble, before Aaron Dalhouse thumped home a cracking goal on the half-hour mark.
Eltham Palace pulled a goal back just before half-time through frustrated Billy Shinners’ placed finish, before Kent Football Untied rattled in three second half goals.
Laurent Hamici came off the bench to guide his volley into the corner, before central midfielder Antonio slotted home and Hamici poked in a fifth goal.
Kent Football United have risen to sixth-place in the table, having now scored 23 goals in their last four games, on 15 points from seven games and are seven points adrift of leaders Glebe, with a game in hand.
Eltham Palace are rooted to the bottom three on 5 points from nine games and have now conceded 22 league goals.
Kent Football United manager Ennio Gonnella sent Carpenter to do the post-match press conference.
He said: “It was ok, we kind of asked the boys we want a real professional attitude out of the boys on the pitch and off the pitch but the overall side of that result over the last four games, we’ve scored more than five goals per game so you can’t really ask too much of the boys, but we always demand a little bit of professionalism.
“We’ve just had a look at the league table now. We’ve got a tough test on Tuesday against Holmesdale. If we win that we go third and we’re putting a real title challenge on so we can’t really do much. We asked the boys to keep pulling together and enjoy it as much.”
“I’m shell-shocked at the moment,” said Lloyd Bradley, the Eltham Palace manager who criticised his players’ levels of commitment.
“We’ve had another frank debate in the dressing room, having been let down by players literally just before the meet today, so it’s absolutely killed me for a squad.
“George Lowe didn’t turn up. He played for the third team yesterday, he was only supposed to have half a game just to blow away the cob webs and he was supposed to come on the bench with me and he ended up playing a full game yesterday and scored two goals but this morning he’s too heavy legged to come.
“Aaron Firth let me down 20 minutes before kick-off as well so he couldn’t make it. He’s another striker that we’ve lost today and Charlie Burgess, who would’ve played centre half today, he got stuck at work up in town so he couldn’t get away so he’d told me at 12 that he couldn’t meet the 12:15 meet so I was really in the lurch today.
“The squad have let me down one way or another on mass. I’m losing players and you cannot run a football side with that. We’ve got three teams at the club (Stansfeld), even though I have access to all the players at the club, a lot of them are not good enough for this level of football, those that are good enough at this level aren’t always available.
“If I can get my proper side out – I’ve not been anywhere near to putting my best side out in any one week so far – we will then be able to compete, whether we’ll be able to compete at the top or middle is another matter.
“Until I get my proper side out, or I have to invest in some new players or bring some new players in. We will not be able to compete on a level footing. It’s frustrating for me as a manager and it’s also frustrating for the players and the better players are getting disgruntled with it now. I’ve got to attempt to try to keep them happy as well and keep them enthused. It’s been a tough job for me but I’m big enough and ugly enough to do that.”
Kent Football United were on the scoresheet with only five minutes and 39 seconds on the clock.
Jordan Anderson was keen to launch big long balls out of defence and his ball sailed over Cory Knight and Freddie Gamble’s head and left-winger Chris Hubbard twisted and turned Freddie Gamble before putting in a low cross which was needlessly slid into the bottom left-hand corner by Harry Gamble from four-yards.
Carpenter said: “Chris Hubbard has pretty much been one of our most consistent players. He works hard, he always tries to improve and he always listens, that’s all we can ask and he’s enjoying his football again. That’s the reason why he’s stepped down a bit as well, which is good.”
Bradley said: ”Unfortunate goal for Harry to get back there and try to get a clearance. If you look around from where we were from the sidelines, there wasn’t really much of a threat there, there wasn’t anybody coming in and any player that was coming in was covered so a bit of information there might’ve done him a favour really. He wouldn’t have smashed it in his own net.”
Dalhouse played a one-two with Hubbard but lashed his left-footed drive over the crossbar after cutting in, before Eltham Palace’s keeper James Bradley pulled off a brilliant save in the nine minute.
Kent Football United’s right-back Josh Liverpool ran 50 yards with the ball down the line and cut the ball back to Gonnella, who picked his spot into the bottom far corner, but Bradley managed to flick the ball around the post and behind for a corner.
Bradley hailed his son’s great save, adding: “He’s kept us in it at that point. It was important at that point that we didn’t capitulate and give away another goal straight away. It was a good save.
“James is struggling, he’s got badly bruised ribs from the game on Tuesday night and really probably shouldn’t be playing today, but we didn’t have another keeper. We probably would’ve put an outfield player in if necessarily. He was struggling even in the warm-up today.”
Carpenter added: “Fantastic save! Antonio is technically a great player. I think when you’re in that kind of position it’s literally 50-50, you put it in the net or the keeper’s going to save it. The keeper actually pulled off a great save.”
Eltham Palace squandered a great chance to equalise in the 15th minute.
Left-winger Freddie Sansom cut the ball back to left-back Frankie Beale who whipped in a first time cross which was met by Shinners’ looping header. Goalkeeper James Dunn decided to punch the ball away and Billy Jolley fed the ball to Harry Gamble, who stabbed his shot straight at the goalkeeper.
Shinners then hit a first time drive, which was heading past the foot of the right-hand post, but Dunn made sure by diving low to his left to hold onto the ball.
Micky Smith played the ball out wide to Jolley, who whipped in a cross into the Kent Football United’s box, a poor clearance at the near post from Anderson went straight at Harry Gamble and the box-to-box midfielder’s drive was parried by Dunn.
Kent Football United missed a glorious chance to increase their lead in the 24th minute.
Nicholas Gonsalves’ pass split Knight and Casey Killilea to put Dalhouse through on goal but Bradley came off his line to make a vital block.
Harry Gamble clipped a ball forward and Sam Ryan brought the ball down and cracked his left-footed drive sailing over the Kent Football United crossbar from 15-yards.
Kent Football United were clinical in front of goal and they doubled their lead with 29 minutes and 19 seconds on the clock.
Liverpool hit a long ball out of defence and the ball dropped out of the sky and Dalhouse stuck out a long right leg to bring the ball down under control before drilling a stunning shot across the keeper and into the bottom far corner of the net from 16-yards, on the right hand side of the box.
Not a bad finish for a central defender turned striker!
Carpenter said: “He was actually playing his trade at centre back for pretty much the first three games. He pulled us all aside and said ‘can I have a chance up top?’ and we said ‘yes, take it’ and he’s been outstanding in training. He’s showing that kind of capabilities that he’s going to go and play higher and that’s what we want from the boys and he is probably our most professional player off the pitch and on the pitch.”
Bradley added: “It’s a nice goal. He took it very well. James is struggling with his diving, he’s ok standing upright but anything diving either side he was in a bit of trouble today. I don’t think he would’ve saved it if he was fit, it was a super strike.”
Shinners was clearly frustrated and he placed his shot past the left-hand post, as it seemed that nothing was going right for him in front of goal.
That was the case in the 35th minute.
Harry Gamble picked the ball up in his own half and he played the ball to Jolley, who played the ball over to Gamble, who had made a run without the ball towards the right wing.
The midfielder whipped in a great cross from the right, the ball was headed back across goal by Ryan and Shinners’ free header struck the top of the left-hand post from six-yards.
“He should’ve scored there Bill,” admitted his manager.
“He’s better than that. He’s got the whole goal to aim at there and he headed high where if he’d have headed down either corner he would’ve scored there but that’s how it’s going, he’s been struggling to score.
“It’s important that you take your chances when you get them and in a game like that when we were under the cosh a bit, when you do get a chance it would’ve taken a lot of pressure off really and given everybody a bit of a lift.”
Kent Football United goalkeeper Dunn pulled off a brilliant one-handed save when he stuck up his right hand high to his left to palm the ball over the bar after Ryan let the ball run across him and crack a right-footed drive towards the roof of the net from 30-yards.
Carpenter said: “This is his first game back. Unfortunately he got an illness about three weeks ago and he lost his spot. We were rattling our heads to play him or Bobby Sturgeon. We put him in and he’s done some point blank fantastic saves.”
“Great save, a real good save. When we need a keeper to have a bad game, they don’t seem to do it, all the keeper’s seem to be on form,” added Bradley.
Eltham Palace gave themselves hope as Shinners rolled in his second goal of the season, the goal timed at 41:43.
Referee Kane O’Beirne allowed play to go on despite Anderson’s lunge hitting Ryan’s right ankle and Jolly fed the ball to Shinners, who put keeper Dunn on his backside before rolling his shot into the bottom left-hand corner.
“It was the first bit of composure Bill showed all game really,” admitted Bradley.
“A nice finish really. He let the keeper go down and just rolled it past him. Yes, nice finish. We needed it really.
“It was a massive blow, we scored the goal and have a blow of losing Sam in the same incident. You gain one thing and you lose somebody else. Sam was having a great game as well and we needed him out there, especially second half.
“He’s got a badly bruised and twisted ankle, not only he got the impact, he got a twist on it as well, which is a shame.”
Carpenter added: “Pretty much an easy finish. We wish the lad that got injured well and our player has gone to apologise to their players about the challenge. It was nothing intentional and by him being out of position they’ve just put it in the net.”
With both teams using smaller dressing rooms, they decided to stay out on the pitch while the match officials returned to their rooms at the break.
Carpenter was seen to take the half-time break in a clam manner and he said: “I’m not going to bash their ear drum and I’ve tried to tell Ennio that you’re not going to get good information across if you’re screaming at your players.
“I said you can go and control games and they gave us the reaction we needed. I think the substitutions we made just worked.”
Not many clubs at this level can bring on the likes of Stefan Cox and Hamici.
“With Stefan and Laurent, with pretty much all the boys here all live in the same area. We’ve all grown up together. Laurent came back from travelling in the United States and he just said he’s looking for a club and we’re going to welcome him with open arms.
“Stefan just wanted to be around his friends more. I think by playing higher there is a little bit of pressure on you. He’s always been in the Ryman set-up, they just want to come down and enjoy it.”
Bradley added: “Because we finished the half on a bit of a high, I thought we just needed to carry on, just make sure we worked hard, like what we was doing.
“We wanted to keep pressure on the ball, stop them playing after giving them freedom early doors. I felt we finished the half the better side.”
Killilea went on a mazy run into the final third before hitting his 30-yard angled drive which was gobbled up by Dunn inside the opening five minutes of the second half.
But Eltham Palace created a better chance in the 51st minute.
Keeper Bradley swept a free-kick to an unmarked Sansom down the left flank and he cut into the box and floated over a cross but Harry Gamble’s free header looped over the crossbar from eight-yards.
Bradley said: “It was probably a bit high for him there. He never really got above it. He got plenty of connection on it but probably a bit too high for him to get above it and head down, which is a shame because he made a good run to get into the box.”
But Kent Football United were clinical in front of goal and they made the score 3-1 in the 56th minute.
Jolly gifted possession away in his final third and Hubbard whipped in a cross from the left and an unmarked Hamici hooked his volley into the right-hand corner from 10-yards out.
Carpenter said: “What I’ve asked of the boys off the ball is that you just got to work hard in this league. It’s not turning up and getting on with it, you have to work hard and I said to the boys that’s how we’ll win the league.”
Bradley added: “What’s happened there, James is giving it out there because people want to play from the back but they’ve lacked responsibility and they’ve given it to someone else and what’s happened in the end Billy Jolley has a ball facing his own goal. It’s spun up on him and he’s got beaten for the ball, the cross has come in and goal.
“We shot ourselves right in the foot at the wrong time and that’s the crucial goal as well. It’s the third goal, which is key for them, it gave them a cushion again.
“You could see instantly as they scored that goal our heads dropped and their heads rose again and their confidence levels just picked up instantly from that goal.”
Kent Football United were to be denied a fourth goal through offside when Stefan Cox cut a corner back to fellow sub Kieron Burrell, who bent an excellent low shot into the bottom corner from 30-yards, but assistant referee Vince Kennedy spotted one of his team-mates was in an offside position when they touched the ball, frustrating Carpenter.
“I think it was either Jordan or Laurent. What the linesman has said was that there may have been a touch or blocked the keepers vision – but it was a good strike!”
Cox’s passed the ball to Hubbard, who cut inside and floated over a cross towards the far post, where Hamici brought the ball down before volleying the ball across goal and clipping the outside of the far post from 12-yards.
“Laurent brought it down and took it on the volley and hit it first time and he’s literally clipped the outside of the post,” agonised Carpenter.
“Laurent is taking his chance, he’s been a bit frustrated because he’s been working hard, training hard and he’s come in and he’s actually taking it now.”
But Hamici played a big part in Kent Football United scoring their fourth goal in the 68th minute.
He used his strength to hold off Knight, who was holding his body from behind, slipped a short pass to Cox, who put Gonnella in behind the midfielder slotted the ball across Bradley for the ball to nestle into the bottom far corner of the net.
“Very easy finish. Personally I think the keeper probably could’ve done a bit better, it’s kind of rolled straight past him,” said Carpenter, unaware of the keeper’s injury.
“Antonio has come back from holiday and he’s just been a bit unplayable. He’s a very consistent player and we can’t ask more from him.”
Bradley added: “Easy goal at that point. People were not tracking runners. It was a poor goal, another poor goal.
“Cory’s got himself tight on the marker, which is sort of what we wanted but we were looking for a bit of cover around the back but we’ve not done it as a group and that’s a goal where defensively we’ve not really performed to our best there.
“That’s at a time when people’s heads are dropping a bit and they’re not doing the things they should do, the bread and butter of running and supporting and doing the cover and being aware of danger and we got punished again.”
And Kent Football United completed the humiliation with a fifth goal scored just 107 seconds later.
Anderson pumped another long ball out of defence, Hamici shrugged off Knight again and poked the ball into the back of an empty net. It was clear that Bradley, who had advanced off his line, was not on the same wavelength as Knight, the sole survivor of Eltham Palace’s squad from last season.
It wasn’t the first long ball out of defence that former Bromley defender Anderson played today.
“He’s got a fantastic strike on him, absolutely fantastic but we’re trying to tell him to do it in the right areas,” said Carpenter.
“You can’t do it from 80-yards down the pitch if you’re a bit more advanced then you’ll find it a bit more beneficial.
“Laurent has just gone away and he’s a personal trainer so he’s very strong, probably one of the strongest boys in our team as well as Aaron Dalhouse. We just put him up there for a little bit of a battle.”
Bradley added: “That was a real mess up there as well. On another day James would’ve gone right through that and cleared everybody out there but because he's protecting his ribs he hasn’t done that so he’s allowed Cory to have time on the ball and they were too close to each other and they’ve messed it up between them.
“It looks like a comedy of errors there all round so it’s a real shocking goal, just compounds our day really.”
Cox steered his low shot, while under pressure, into the keeper’s hands at the near post after he was released down the right channel by Gonnella’s ball over the top.
But to their credit, a spirited Eltham Palace side kept going and created a trio of headed chances inside the final ten minutes.
“I just wanted them to show a bit of character really, there’s no more you can do,” added Bradley.
“Try to keep playing, try to finish on a high. I always say to the boys if you can nick a goal, even in the 99th minute it doesn’t matter. That’s what we need to try and do and finish on a high.
“We kept going and we had three decent chances. At least we finished on the front foot and the boys sort of hung in there. You don’t want everybody’s heads just to completely drop and it ends up becoming seven or eight one, something ridiculous like that. Five-one is a big enough humiliation. You don’t want it to be any worse and last ten minutes the boys dug in there and we kept going.
“It wasn’t pretty. We had a few chances where we could’ve made the scoreline a little bit more respectable.”
Jolley whipped in a cross from the right and substitute Peter Tarrant’s flying diving header at the near post screamed over the crossbar from six-yards.
Beale swung in a corner from the right and Shinners’ downward header clipped a defender on the line and dropped just over the crossbar.
And Jolley’s deep cross was headed into the side netting by Tarrant, who came around the back unchallenged.
Eltham Palace created the final chance of the game when Beale’s deep cross, was cleared away by Anderson and Tarrant stabbed his shot past the foot of the left-hand post.
Both sides are in action on Tuesday night. Kent Football United travel to fourth-placed Holmesdale, while Eltham Palace host thirteenth-placed Meridian VP.
Carpenter said: “We’ve heard rumours that Holmesdale took a lot of players from Glebe last year and as far as I’m concerned Glebe were quite a good set-up last year.
“We’re going into the game, we’re trying to get away from not giving teams respect because although we’ve scored 23 goals in the last four, the boys get a bit complacent and walk out on the pitch and expect to score five or six.
“We’ve heard that Holmesdale are going to compete this year and ideally we’re trying to change Kent Football United’s status from being a club that’s always competed but personally I don’t know if they’ve pushed in the top half so hopefully we can make a change.
“Personally if the boys can keep working hard, I see us really challenging. I think there was a little bit of pressure on us with a small budget coming in and the changes to the ground so the pressure is on us. If you’re at a club and their doing things off the pitch for you we’ve got to go and compete.
“We say we still don’t think we’re playing well, but we’re still beating teams four, five and sixes.”
Bradley added: “It’s not really what I want at the moment to be fair. I could do with gaps between the games so we can get the players back.
“James (Bradley) will probably not going to play on Tuesday, Sam (Ryan) looks like he’s going to be out again so it looks like it’s going to be another re-group.
“Night games are always difficult with players working and other stuff like that. It's hard to always get them there so you always get a disjointed squad, so once you start losing big players like those two to start off with it’s even more difficult.
“It’s a busy time for managers, I’ve got to get on the phone all day tomorrow to make sure I can get a squad.”
Kent Football United: James Dunn, Josh Liverpool, Daryl Dylan, Antonio Gonnella, Jordan Anderson, Danny Willis, Perrie Rose (Stefan Cox 54), Mark Allen, Aaron Dalhouse (Laurent Hamici 54), Nicholas Gonsalves (Kieron Burrell 62), Chris Hubbard.
Subs: Dean Carpenter, Dominic Weston
Goals: Harry Gamble 6 (own goal), Aaron Dalhouse 30, Laurent Hamici 56, 70, Antonio Gonnella 68
Booked: Jordan Anderson 42
Eltham Palace: James Bradley, Freddie Gamble, Frankie Beale, Harry Gamble, Casey killilea, Cory Knight, Billy Jolley, Micky Smith, Billy Shinners, Sam Ryan (Peter Tarrant 46), Freddie Sansom.
Subs: George Lowe, Harry Fox, George Martin
Goal: Billy Shinners 42
Booked: Harry Gamble 60
Updated 13:40 - 19 Sep 2016 by K.F.A Admin
Referee: Mr Kane O’Beirne (Bexleyheath)
Assistants: Mr Vince Kennedy (Welling) & Mr Dan Wyatt (Woolwich, London SE18)