Thursday 01st September 2005

Ashford looking to get off the mark

Ashford Town will be without Joff Thorogood and John-Paul Collier for Saturday's home clash with Newport IOW, writes Stephen McCartney.

Thorogood suffered a freak hamstring injury at training on Tuesday night, and this new injury may have set him back another week or two.

However, he had been making very good progress from the knee injury he sustained during a pre-season friendly at Maldon Town a week before their Ryman League division one campaign got underway.

Collier, however, is still suffering from a calf strain, which caused him to be substituted during their 3-1 FA Cup preliminary round win over Kentish Observer League side Slade Green last Saturday.

Meanwhile, Gary Clarke and Jacob Stone have been drafted into the squad, having both returned from their respective holidays.

John Cumberbatch, the honest joint-manager of Ashford Town, told the club website www.ashfordtownfc.co.uk: "From the moment I joined last season, I said that we would avoid relegation, which we did.

"I have also stated that we expect to finish in the play-offs or just below," he added.

"That is very much a positive view.  Some may even call it an optimistic outlook.

"The season is long and it is only around the mid-term that you can start assessing how teams will finish.

"There may be some obvious early indications, but on the whole it takes until Christmas before conclusions can begin to be estimated.

"Despite results so far, I remain confident that we will have a good season," he predicted.

Reflecting on their 3-1 win over Slade Green, Cumberbatch was pleased his side won the game - despite playing badly.

He added: "The win was very much welcome, not only because it was our first competitive win and not only because of the revenue, but mainly it showed the youngsters the peculiarity of the sport.

"It was a good feeling to play badly and get a result after having played so well in the league fixtures and gained absolutely nothing.

"The cup win provided some balance to some of the injustices suffered in the league.  We look forward to the (home) clash against Windsor & Eton in the next round (10th September)."

Cumberbatch - whose side lost 1-0 at Dover Athletic on Bank Holiday Monday, will be hoping his side can win their first league game of the season when the Islanders visit The Homelands.

So instead of watching Sven's men in a pub somewhere, I'm sure the club and team will value your support.

"It will provide us with yet another opportunity to start our points tally," he said.

"There is no lack of confidence amongst the management team.  The players tell us that they feel the same.

"We will be able to judge whether they really are confident by the way they perform.

"We need every one of them to display confidence in their play.  We have stressed to them and I now make it clear to the fans that keeping them behind half and hour after the previous games has not been to admonish them for playing badly."

Cumberbatch hopes keeping the players inside the sanctuary of the dressing room after matches to thrash out what's gone wrong - and right - during their games will benefit them in the long term.

"It has been to discuss immediately points about each game and to point out issues, which need addressing, many of these are good issues as well as bad."

But Cumberbatch is expecting a tough time from their much-improved visitors.

"The response from the squad has been extremely good.  In our search for points we must not underestimate the opposition," he warned.

"Newport have had a much better start than us.  Also their results and match reports suggest to me that they are much improved from last year.  We look forward to a tough encounter."

Ashford Town v Newport IOW
Ryman League Division One
Saturday 3rd September 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at The Homelands, Ashford Road, Kingsnorth