Lewisham Borough 1 Woodstock Park 5

Saturday 28th January 2012
Lewisham Borough 1 Woodstock Park 5
Kent Invicta League
At: Ladywell Arena
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £3 including 16 page programme
Weather: cold, dry, sunny spells
Attendance: 31
Duration: first-half: 47:57; second-half: 46:22

With the forecast freezing overnight temperatures a reality this morning, I decided to press ahead with my plan to head to the capital on a £20 London Midland day return with watching a first-ever game in the new Kent Invicta League in mind. From a shortlist of three options, I chose Lewisham Borough’s Ladywell Arena, once I established I’d not been there before, and saw an entertaining six-goal encounter; unfortunately for the home side five of the six were scored by opponents Woodstock Park.

Last night on the Non-League Matters Forum in response to my query about previous teams using the ground, ‘Main Drain Man’ wrote that: Catford Wanderers in London Spartan League played there and were definitely around in that league in season 1991/2. They may have started playing there in early the noughties, outside your target dates, but Groundhoppers FC (honestly) in the Kent League at the time also played there.

A quick call from London Bridge to Chief Executive Ray Simpson confirmed the game was on (I guessed that anyway but wanted to make sure) so I headed to Catford Bridge station and a 10-minute walk past the site of the former Catford greyhound stadium to the ground. The ease of the final leg of the journey was in contrast to the part from Stafford Station to Euston as an incident at Atherstone, which closed the direct Trent Valley line, meant a longer and slower route via Birmingham New Street.

As usual, Andy of Kent’s directions proved invaluable: Left out of station, left into Doggett Road, then at end (road bends sharply right and becomes Silvermere Road) go straight on into ground.

On arrival, I was warmly welcomed by the programme seller who pointed out Ray Simpson to me. He came over for a chat and filled me in with information about the club, ground and plans for the future, as well as making sure the Assistant Secretary showed me the teamsheets.

Lewisham Borough (Community) FC, to give the full title, was formed in 2003 from the merger of Moonshot FC, Ten Em Bee FC and Elms FC.

The Kent Invicta League was formed during last summer as a step 6 feeder to the Kent League. Of the 16 founder members, 14 were members of the Kent County League last season along with the reformed Ashford United and newish club Erith and Dartford Town.

The ground itself is a multi-use venue with the football pitch inside a six-lane athletics track. The reception building at the near end incorporated changing rooms and a tea bar but, at present, there is no covered standing or seats. The left-hand touchline was roped off up to the half-way line and spectators watched the game from here or near the changing rooms. Dugouts were positions either side of half-way down the right-hand side. I was told of plans to erect a stand and a separate hospitality building.

Lewisham (33 points from 20 games) went into this fixture in 5th position as one of the league’s form sides. Visitors Woodstock Park (30 points from 21 games) stood three places below in the table. Last Saturday, Lewisham suffered a ‘terrible day’ by losing 4-0 at bottom side Orpington while Woddstock Park recorded an emphatic 6-3 home win over Crockenhill.

The referee wrong-footed me by lining up the players for the fair-play handshakes with their backs to the crowd facing the totally empty dugouts! “As we are lads, blue kick-off,” he announced after the toss and Woodstock Park (wearing all navy blue) got the game underway attacking the Silvermere Road end in the first half.

The visitors, no doubt buoyed by their win last Saturday, created several chances during the opening five minutes. Lewisham keeper Rilwan Anibaba leapt up to his left to palm round Liam Lewry’s 30-yard rising drive at the expense of a corner.

Despite Lewisham starting to enjoy plenty of possession, Woodstock Park took the lead in the 20th minute. Following a foul on Sabeur Trabelsi by Marvin Alebiosu near the left-corner of the area, deal ball specialist Craig Harvey delivered a delicious free-kick which the leaping Adam Overton headed home to score his ninth goal of the season (see right).

Anibaba may have had no chance of keeping out the first goal but six minutes later he did well to keep the deficit to just one. After having trouble dealing with a bouncing ball on the edge of his area, the keeper stuck up an arm to block Tommy Price’s resulting shot that seemed destined for the unguarded net.

Lewisham needed to reorganise at the back with the departure of defender Peter Adewumi-Martin through injury and could have equalised in first-half stoppage time. Alebiosu rounded the keeper inside the area only to see his angled shot deflected out for a corner by a covering defender.

I watched the first-half (and indeed the second-half as well) from around the half-way line behind the rope. Close to me were two supporters who, through their chat, sounded like groundhoppers from their chat. Alas, they did not want to engage in any conversation as I started a walk round the pitch at the interval.

Now attacking the far end, dominated the large University Hospital Lewisham, Woodstock Park doubled their advantage five minutes after the restart. Once again the home side were undone by a set piece when Overton headed home Jamie Sharman’s left-wing corner.

Needing a goal to get back into the game, there was hope for Lewisham when Alebiosu received a pass from Enoch Adjepong-Akosah and forced a save out of Ryan Bolton who hadn’t had a lot to do up to this point.

Hope, however, turned to despair when Woodstock Park scored their third goal in the 63rd minute. With a suspicion of offside, Tommy Price flicked the ball into the path of substitute Pat Bishenden on the right who fired home a low drive.

Needing to get forward and test Bolton, the home side did just that when Darren Flaherty, marked by two defenders managed to get in a low right-foot shot which the diving Woodstcok keeper got down to hold.

The two hoppers (see photo right) chatted about the Hellenic League!

Two more goals scored for the visitors in the space of 150 seconds turned what was a comfortable lead and into an emphatic one.

In the 73rd minute, Dave Boichat played the ball forward to Price who stayed onside and got down the left before crossing low across the face of goal where Bishenden bundled home at close range.

Two minutes later, after Alebiosu saw a shot blocked inside the Woodstock area, the visitors broke forward and exploited gaps in the Lewisham defence. Price fed Overton who completed his hat-trick with an angled shot from the left.

With the points secure, the aim of Woodstock Park was “clean sheet, all of us” and keeper Bolton did his bit with a diving save to keep out Kemo Darboe’s well-struck shot.

Not content with five goals, the visitors continued to press forward. Overton, looking for his fourth goal, saw a shot blocked and Craig Harvey’s effort was deflected wide for a corner.

I was pleased that Lewisham got on the scoresheet in the 83rd minute thanks to “a bit of quality”. Darboe battled inside a populated area and set up Flaherty who fired home a left-foot shot from eight yards out.

Lewisham keeper Anibaba prevented the visitors from scoring again with a superb double save in the 85th minute. He first kept out Aron McMullen’s initial shot and somehow regained his position to brilliantly keep out the follow-up from Overton.

At full-time, I had a quick chat with Ray Simpson and offered his club “best of luck for the rest of the season”, making it back to Catford Bridge in time to catch the 17:08 train to London Bridge.

I certainly have fond memories of my visit to the Ladywell Arena. As Mishi wrote on the Non-League Matters Forum, ‘the people who run Lewisham are very friendly’ and I totally agree!

Lewisham Borough (red/red/red): 1. Rilwan Anibaba, 2. Peter Adewumi-Martin, 13. Tashin Nicholas, 4. Enoch Adjepong-Akosah, 5. Nicky Brown (capt), 6. Nytram Dixon-Baker, 7. Dwayne Morris, 15. Durrand Iemott, 9. Matt Piper, 10. Marvin Alebiosu, 11. Darren Flaterly. Subs: 12. Jason Piper (for Adewumi-Martin, 27) 14. Kemo Darboe (for Piper, 67).

Woodstock Park (blue/blue/blue): 1. Ryan Bolton, 2. Marc Morrison, 3. Elliott Chandler, 4. Dave Boichat (capt), 5. Steve Collar, 6. Aron McMullen, 7. Craig Harvey, 8. Sabeur Trabelsi, 9. Adam Overton, 10. Tommy Price, 11. Liam Lewry. Subs: 12. Patrick Bishenden (for Trabelsi, ht), 14. Jamie Sharman (for Lewry, ht), 15. Lee Dengate (for Morrison, 62).

0-1 Adam Overton (21)
0-2 Adam Overton (50)
0-3 Pat Bishenden (63)
0-4 Pat Bishenden (73)
0-5 Adam Overton (75)
1-5 Darren Flaherty (83)

Lewisham: Nicky Brown (YC, 84)
Woodstock Park: none