Friday 28th October 2005
Cumberbatch: There is much more room for improvement 
Ashford Town's clash with Burgess Hill Town is a great opportunity to climb the Ryman League Division One table insists joint-manager John Cumberbatch, writes Stephen McCartney.

With both side's languishing in the bottom five, Cumberbatch is looking for three points at Homelands and to find the back of the net after losing their last two games 2-0.

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk , he said: "It is a great opportunity.  These games are important, this is where I expect us to pick up points and climb (the table)."

Cumberbatch, however, admits goalscoring has been a problem for his side, after failing to find the back of the net six times this term.

"We have done work (on the training ground) but not as much as time allows," he said.  "We've worked with the strikers because goalscoring has been a problem for us throughout and although we were aware of this earlier on it's only now we've had a chance to focus on it.

"Things don't change over night but we'll certainly be looking for some improvement."

And next Tuesday night, Cumberbatch takes his side to a club he spent six years playing for in the early 1980's - looking for better luck.

"I still remember the game at Dulwich Hamlet last season, which was another one of those where we played well but lost to a sucker punch," he recalled.

Cumberbatch, however, defended his decision to use 26 players in first team action this season, but admitted it doesn't look as bad as it seems.

"This stage of the season we feel we are getting to a settled squad," he said.  "It must be remembered that although Tim (Thorogood) and I weren't jumping up and down as if we were frantic at the beginning of the season, we did have to add to a very depleted squad with the summer lock out I've mentioned several times before.

"I don't think anybody's aware of the affect it had on our plans from the squad point of view, and I find I have to keep repeating myself as to the work we have to do to get the squad together.

"However, with four of the 26 that we've used having left and with one reserve team player in that group along with one or two long term injuries, that gives you a settled squad of roughly 20, which is quite a good size, and miraculously within the club's budget."

Steve Humphrey (business commitments) is back in contention but Gary Croxton will be having a fitness test before the game.  However, long term injury victim Joby Thorogood and Darren Raymond miss out.

But the Orpington resident predicts a better winter for Ashford's long suffering fans.

"I've said before that I would expect us to be around midtable by Christmas," he said.

"I say these things knowing that I'm there to be shot down but then I don't believe in being pessimistic unless I have firm grounds for that pessimism in which I then become a realist and tell it as it is.

"The over riding important factor for us is that although we have been weak in certain areas and in certain parts our play in general we feel as a team we've played well enough and are strong enough to be midtable or slightly above.

"There is much more room for improvement and the test will be how quickly that improvement comes and if we have a little bit of luck along the way."

Ashford Town v Burgess Hill Town
Ryman League Division One
Saturday 29th October 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at The Homelands, Ashford Road, Kingsnorth