Mon 29
First XI
Ide Hill
N Meta (37' Pen), H Bangura (88')
Menace Battle to First Win of the Season

Menace Battle to First Win of the Season

By Dominic Smith
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Dominic Smith reports as Peckham Town get off the mark at the fifth time of asking, goals from Meta and Bangura sealing a 2-0 win.

Some will have you believe that football began in 1992. Pay them no mind. Football began in 1982, when Bryan Hall lashed a notice to a tree saying “Players Wanted”.

Sadly (or maybe not) the FA were not all that quick off the mark; the online FA records that I found began in 2015/16, and a quick trawl through them suggests the start to the 22/23 season - played and lost four - is Peckham Town’s worst.

Rather than digging through the programmes, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that we never lost five out of four in the 30-odd years prior to that. Basically, despite playing well in all games, sloppy goals have been conceded and results have been poor and, well… Peckham really wanted to win this game.

While the hosts came into the game having lost 2-0 away to Chipstead on Saturday, the visitors had spent Saturday at their barbecues contemplating two wins and a draw from their opening three games. But Peckham had at least shown more of an attacking threat in that most recent defeat, and again paired Gabor with Montella up front after the latter’s return from Fisher. The same midfield - Thomas and Kemp flanked by Nieva and Dowding - was in front of a back four with one enforced change, Whittaker making his debut in place of the injured Carrick, with Meta and Matthews at full back.

So much of the early pattern of the game was familiar from the season so far. After an early shot went wide from Ide Hill’s number 10, Peckham largely dominated possession and territory. Ide Hill’s threat was confined to set pieces and the odd opportunity to break.

Peckham had clearly been instructed to shoot early. In the second minute an exciting break started by Nieva saw Kemp release Montella whose attempt to square for Gabor to tap in was just short. On seven minutes the referee played a good advantage to allow Dowding to run into the area on the left; his shot was saved. A moment later Gabor showcased his strength in holding up the ball and running into the area only to see Kemp blaze over from his layoff. On 13 minutes Montella hit the post with a shot cutting in from the right of the box after he had started the move by winning the ball back in midfield. A moment later Dowding blazed a shot just wide from the left of the area

Peckham were increasingly threatening a goal, which would surely have come had the referee given an obvious penalty after Gabor was pulled back running into the area. Undaunted, Peckham kept the pressure on and saw first a Dowding shot from the edge of the area just deflected wide for a corner and then a Gabor effort blocked by a covering defender. From the corner several threatening crosses ensued but Peckham couldn’t get a head to the ball.

Half way into the half, Ide Hill began to offer more of a threat. Peckham still carved out chances - Dowding threatened with a shot from 25 yards that the keeper took on the second attempt before Montella could pounce, and then a Montella cross from the left just evaded Gabor and Nieva at the far post after great work from Kemp to win the ball - but the visitors were growing in confidence. Probing down the left, they created an opening that saw Legg forced into an excellent save just on the half hour. When Peckham’s Joe Thomas was sin-binned for arguing with the referee on 34 minutes, the home fans began to worry that this resurgence, combined with Peckham not having converted dominance into goals, might lead to familiar woe.

Such concerns were put to bed moments later. Initially, Dowding’s wayward pass to Gabor, when perhaps he should have shot, was frustrating, but Gabor battled well and was brought down in the area. This time the referee awarded a penalty, which Nicky Meta duly converted. Peckham were ahead for the first time this season.

Ide Hill reacted well to the goal, forcing Legg into a good save after their number 10 found space outside of the area, and ending the half missing a terrific chance. The number nine won his own flick on, raced to the by line and squared a good ball; the initial shot from the edge of the box was saved by Legg, but the follow up was blazed over. The sides changed ends with the score 1-0.

Ide Hill started the second half as strongly as they’d ended the first, enjoying a solid spell of possession in the Menace half, but the best early chance fell to Peckham. Kemp won the ball in midfield and surged into the box and to the by line. Despite an Ide Hill defender handling the ball on the ground as he tried to stop him, he cut the ball back to Montella whose shot from six yards out would have doubled the lead but for a last-ditch clearance. Peckham then threatened quickly from each flank as a Dowding cross from the left was met at the far post headed by Nieva but flashed wide, and Nieva’s cut-back from the right was snatched from Gabor’s head by the Ide Hill keeper.

From 60 to 80 minutes, the game became increasingly tense. Peckham appeared to be happy to play on the break, but this led to nervousness amongst the support and occasionally the players. This was epitomised most on 77 minutes; Legg thought he was being given the ball to take a free kick, when in fact the free kick had been deemed taken and he was fortunate that the Ide Hill forward who won the ball from him shot wide from distance. A moment later, a dangerous shot from the the edge of the box was deflected wide, as Ide Hill looked for an equaliser.

In hindsight, this was as close as Ide Hill came to leveling things up. Emmanuel Thompson, on as a substitute, caused havoc on the right wing, with first a rasping shot and then a dangerous cross. On 82 minutes, linesman and referee continued their “nothing to see here” act in ignoring a clear trip in the area on Bangura. Peckham had a great chance to seal the points on 88 minutes when Thomas lobbed wide from 40 yards after a poor clearance from the Ide Hill keeper. But this wasn’t to prove costly as minutes later Bangura blasted the ball into the net from the right side of area to make it 2-0 and seal the points.

Peckham walked off winners for the first time this season. Mark Matthews was crowned King of the Match; honourable mentions (in my opinion) to Jacob Kemp who was progressive from midfield and to Ben Williams in defence - whenever a clearance needed to be made, he seemed to be there making it.

Mary Phillip, asked afterwards for a quote by a starstruck match reporter, said “We’ve turned a corner. We’ve just kept going and the difference is that today we’ve got a couple of decisions go our way - although there were still plenty that weren’t given”.

Adam Carrick (out with a dead leg) added “Not much point me turning up now”.

Peckham Town: Legg; Matthews, Meta, Whittaker, Eggleton; Andres-Nieva, Dowding, Kemp, Thomas; Gabor, Montella. Subs: Suarez, Thompson, Titre-Wilson, Bangura

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Match date

Mon 29, Aug 2022