|Date||29 December 2018|
|Venue||68 Oakley Road, BR2 8HG|
|Result||W 3 - 0|
|Time played||Normal time|
Erith and Belvedere 3 Barrett 17, Ogunbiyi 60, Harding 78
DERES REACH TURNING POINT IN RUDE HEALTH
For some time, critics had been pointing out that Erith and Belvedere’s good placing in the table was deceptive because they hadn’t beaten anybody in the top half. Their heaviest defeat had come at home to leaders Welling Town, and home fixtures v Kennington and Thamesmead had been drawn. Which is why this was probably the best result of the season so far.
Holmesdale lay 4th, 11 points off the lead with three games in hand, the Deres 6th, 17 points off the lead with six in hand. The Dalers fielded five ex-Deres including the prolific Andy Constable, always a threat.
The opening exchanges were cautious with few openings, but the Deres had territorial advantage and were worth the lead that fell to them in the 17th minute when goalkeeper Chris Arnold came for a corner, mishandled and the ball dropped kindly for Deres left-back Reece Barrett to open his scoring account for the club.
Three minutes later Harry Harding seemed to have a good shout for a penalty when brought down heavily in the box by Jason Mensah, but the referee turned it down. Dale came back into the game and drew two outstanding saves from Dillon Green, making his first Deres appearance since September. On 39 minutes Joseph Ogunbiyi played an inviting ball across the face of goal which Harding and Chan Quan in turn only just failed to reach.
As the second half opened the bumpy surface was hindering the Deres’ passing movements, and Harding was expressing frustration, earning a reassuring word from the bench. But on the hour mark the magic came, as he released the perfect through ball for Joseph Ogunbiyi to run onto and finish emphatically with his fifth goal in his last four games, against his former club on his 24th birthday.
Harding and a couple of others went close in an almighty scramble five minutes later, but twelve minutes from time a break down the right ended with a fierce drive by Harding to put the result beyond doubt with his 22nd goal from 23 appearances.
8 minutes from time Dale sub James Fitzgerald was sent off for bringing down Ogunbiyi: it seemed harsh as the trip didn’t deny a clear scoring opportunity, and in truth Ogunbiyi maybe rolled further than necessary – but the result had already been settled. And a telling statistic: for a club with a rapid turnover of players in recent history, the Deres have fielded just 28 players before the turn of the year, the lowest such figure since their Southern League days 16 years ago. An encouraging day all round.
DERES: Green; Hill, Barrett, Taylor, Yembra, Jones, Dobson (Muchenje 72), Quan, Ogunbiyi (Holley 89), Harding, Mpungi.
HOLMESDALE: Arnold, Stevens-King (J Fitzgerald ht), Lake, Richards, S Fitzgerald, Mensah, Muckle, Borode, Constable (Ouani 66), Hubbard (Doukoure 72), Marshall-Katung.