DERES' TOP 100 GAMES - No 91

Posted by Mickey Cooper on 6 August 2019

Erith & Belvedere   5          Devine 45, 82, 90, Walsh 52, Falana 57

Braintree Town      5          Bishop 12, 39, Haycock 21, Cranfield 28, Grace 71

Southern League Southern Division, 23 August 1994


Continuing the series counting down the 100 most memorable games in our history.  Today, a game I missed for a very good reason, which gave my deputy newspaper reporter a hell of a debut!


Deres manager Harry Richardson enjoyed the end-of-season presentation night in 1994.  He was telling anybody who’d listen “We’re top four certainties next season – it’s like having a Porsche turbo in the garage”.  Over the summer he unveiled his “Porsche turbo” team – Sean Devine, ex-Millwall; Wade Falana, ex-Sheffield United; Mario Walsh, ex-Southend; Billy Logan, ex-Brighton; Wayne Schwieso, ex- Gravesend; and the biggest name of all, Peter Hucker, former QPR goalkeeper and man of the match in the 1982 Cup Final draw v Spurs.


The new-look side began the season with a 2-0 win at Havant Town on 20 August and had its first competitive home match three days later.  But the local newspaper reporter – me – was absent.  I was on honeymoon in Royan, near Bordeaux, being lucky enough to take in a France v Czech Republic U-21 match featuring a youngster named Robert Pires (the full international on the same day saw the debut of Zinedine Zidane, so exciting times were ahead for the French!)  So reporting duties were taken up by a young lad named Ben Dryland, who was maybe hoping for a nice gentle introduction to the art of match reports.  Instead he got a 10-goal thriller! – and described it thus…





Deres’ faithful fans finally received the reward for their loyalty on Tuesday night by witnessing as remarkable a game as the old ground has ever seen.  Four goals down on the stroke of half-time - and apparently sunk without trace - Erith pulled one back before the break and then staged an astonishing comeback - despite losing their keeper.


When Sean Devine grabbed the final, 90th-minute goal and dived Klinsmann-like to the ground in celebration, it prompted ecstatic scenes more in keeping with a World Cup final than the Beazer Homes Southern Division.


Despite Saturday’s excellent 2-0 opening victory at Havant - with goals from Wade Falana and Wayne Schwieso - it had looked like more Deres’ despair as Braintree eased 4-0 ahead in 39 minutes.


And the visitors were good value for their lead, with John Bishop putting them in front on 12 minutes.  Haycock added a second nine minutes later, only seconds after Christian McLean had headed against the bar.


Glen Stapley replaced the injured former QPR keeper Peter Hucker - who perhaps feared the worst - on 27 minutes, but the punishment continued almost immediately when Mark Cranfield combined with Roy McDonough to volley the third from eight yards.  And Bishop got his second on 39 minutes with an unstoppable volley from the edge of the box.


Two Falana efforts had been virtually the solitary interruptions to the tide towards the Erith goal, and the Deres’ man missed an opportunity to reduce the arrears when he blazed a Jed Nohilly corner over the bar from eight yards.  But on the stroke of half-time Erith did pull one back, with Sean Devine converting right-back Jamie McCarthy’s cross.  Nonetheless, nothing prepared the 150 crowd for what was to follow.


Mario Walsh reduced the arrears further on 52 minutes following good work on the wing from Schwieso and Nohilly, and five minutes later the Deres were right back in it when  Falana lobbed home from 20 yards after a McCarthy pass.  But Braintree made it 5-3 on 71 minutes when a Nohilly corner was cleared to Gary Bennett and the visiting striker put Neil Grace clean through to score from just outside the box.


Still Erith fought for a share of the spoils, with Devine heading narrowly wide from Nohilly’s cross and a strong penalty appeal for handball denied.  Eight minutes from time they closed the gap again, with Devine sidestepping a heavy challenge and finding himself clear to despatch Deres’ fourth low under the keeper from ten yards - 5-4.  Devine then had an effort ruled out for offside and keeper Micky Desborough saved well from a Falana header.


Fittingly, for this extraordinary contest, the equaliser did not come until injury time.  And just as aptly it was Devine who got it, scoring at the second attempt from six yards after a desperate scramble in the penalty area. Unbelievable!


Deres: Peter Hucker (Glen Stapley 27), Jamie McCarthy, Jed Nohilly, Martin Johnson, John Palmer, Wayne Schwieso, Kenny Hoyte, Sean Devine, Mario Walsh, Wade Falana, Billy Logan. 



This game began a strange scoring sequence for the Deres of 5-0-0-0-5-0-0-5, including away wins at Burnham and Poole in which Devine and Falana shared the goals.  But Falana left the club after an unsavoury incident following a match v Ashford, and both Devine and Harry Richardson left following a trip to Weston-super-Mare for a postponed game.  The season then declined into a relegation struggle.

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