Sunday 13th February 2005

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Daish pleased with battling qualities

AFTER his side came from two goals down to earn a draw in his first game in charge, Gravesend & Northfleet's new boss Liam Daish praised his side's battling qualities, writes Stephen McCartney.

The 36-year-old was appointed the new 'Fleet manager following the departure of long serving boss Andy Ford, who spent eight successful years at Stonebridge Road.

Daish, who played for the Republic of Ireland, was appointed Ford's successor last Thursday, 10th February, having enjoyed a successful playing career and cutting his managerial teeth in Hampshire.

After making his Portsmouth first team debut at the age of just eighteen, he moved to Cambridge United in 1998 and was made their captain on his return to the Abbey Stadium following a loan spell at Barnet.

In 1994 he moved to Birmingham City and two years later earned a £1.6 million pound move to their Midland rivals, Coventry City, who were playing Premier League football at the time.

He was forced to retire from the professional game in 1999 due to a knee injury but joined Havant & Waterlooville, where he enjoyed four years as their player-boss, helping the Hawks to two FA Cup first round appearances and reaching the last four of the FA Trophy in 2003.

This season, he was on the coaching staff at Nationwide Conference South outfit Welling United, and was unbeaten in his four game spell as caretaker manager in December following the departure of Park Parker.

Disappointed not to get the job - it was handed to Gravesend & Northfleet's Adrian Pennock instead - Daish didn't wait long to become the manager at a Kent club when he was appointed Ford's successor at Stonebridge Road.

His first game was a baptism of fire.  A trip to Carlisle United - on their return to Brunton Park, following five weeks away due to the floods.

It was billed as Carlisle United's homecoming party - but the Kent side gate crashed to come back from 2-0 down at half time to come away from their longest trip of the season with a point in the bag.

Gravesend - inspired by a spectacular 66th minute strike from substitute Matt Lovell - battled back to earn a point as Lee Protheroe provided the ammunition with a free kick just inside the Carlisle half and Jay Saunders popped up eight yards out to stab the ball into the net.

Daish, whose first home game is against Tamworth next Saturday, told the Non-League Paper: "The players worked tirelessly and we deserved everything we go today.

"Even though we were 2-0 down at half-time, I couldn't criticise them.

"I told them the next goal will make a big difference to the game.  If we score, we're in with a chance.  If Carlisle score, they'll kill the match.

"We scored a great goal to get back to 2-1 and the lads worked for each other and ran hard.

"I thought we were in control of the game, except for the two set pieces that Carlisle scored from."

Speaking about the appointment of Daish, 'Fleet chairman Brian Kilcullen said:   "Liam comes to us with an excellent football background.  Over the course of the last few weeks we have spoken to many people in the game and met some excellent candidates for the job but once you meet Liam you can't help but have confidence in him.

"He has the experience and is a leader with drive and insight.

"We are very much looking forward to working with him in trying to take this club further forward."

The 'Fleet, however, have two chances to fill up their trophy cabinet this season.  They face two Ryman Premier League sides in Slough Town (FA Trophy, fifth round, Saturday 26th February, at Stonebridge Road) and Dover Athletic (away) in the John Ullmann Kent Senior Cup semi-final.