Wednesday 16th February 2005

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Robinson searching for local talent

ERITH & BELVEDERE boss Steve Robinson has admitted he is on the search for local talent as he strives to maintain the club's Southern League status, writes Stephen McCartney.

The Deres are in a precarious position inside the eastern division trap door but the 40-year-old former Dartford defender, who took over from Barry Lakin last month, is confident the team can beat the drop in their remaining twelve games.

The Kent club have come under criticism in recent weeks from their supporters who feel they aren't blooding enough local players into their first team squad.

Former boss Lakin, however, decided to sign players that played against the club's the Deres were facing in the new look division.

Robinson, promoted to first team boss from being Lakin's assistant, said: "The players we've got are players that have very much been involved against sides that are in our league following the league restructuring.

"However, having said that I have been watching far more local football of late, with a view of bringing in far more local players as and when the right players become available."

Two players, although not local, have been signed by the club.  Talented midfielder Ian Pulman, who impressed during his loan spell from Nationwide Conference South Margate, has now been tied up on a permanent basis, and centre half Anthony Henry has signed from East Thurrock United with midfielder Gary Wraight joining from Ryman Leaguers Cheshunt.

Robinson, however, feels Pulman will be influential for the Deres in their fight for survival.

"Ian Pulman wasn't available for the Arlesey game when his loan period was up.  But he always indicated to me he wanted to remain with the club.  On that basis and knowing Chris Kinnear (Margate manager) well over the years, I was able to negotiate Ian signing on a permanent basis.

"In returning to the side on Tuesday night he was very influential during the game.  

"At this moment in time I am extremely pleased with the amount of chances we are creating but naturally disappointed that we are not showing that killer instinct to finish games off and move away from the bottom two, which our performances at the moment deserve."

Robinson knew Tuesday's home game against Maldon Town - who travelled to Park View Road on the back of ten straight successive wins - was going to be tough.

He reflected on the game, and added: "Having gone 1-0 down after four minutes I was pleased with how the players responded in getting ourselves back level through Chris Dickson's 14th goal of the season.

"I was naturally disappointed to have conceded yet again just before half time at a time when we were getting on top.

"However, in the second half we came out with all guns blazing to get a deserved equaliser and another slight lack of concentration from a corner allowed Maldon to take the lead again in the 72nd minute when, again, we were dictating play. 

"We created enough chances not only in the first half but the second half as well to really see them off and the evening was very much summed up in the last minute when we had a chance through Dean Standen, who skied the ball over the bar when it seemed easier to score."

League leaders Fisher Athletic, a point clear of East Thurrock United, with two games in hand, will be asking questions of the Deres at Park View Road and Robinson is hoping his players will come up with the answers.

He said: "From our past games with them already this season it would be silly to think the game won't be difficult baring in mind the quality players they've got as well as the luxurious budget they are able to use to attract players.

"That said, we very much go into the game with the confidence that the performances have improved and will continue to improve.

"If we can keep tight at the back, against the likes of Steve Watts, and continue to create chances then the game will be somewhat open. "

But it's results, against sides that are just above them in the league table, that could seal their fate.

Robinson added: "Of the twelve league games we've got left, I am very excited about the prospect of playing a vast number of sides that are in the bottom third of the league such as Leighton Town, Beaconsfield SYCOB, Tilbury, Great Wakering Rovers and Aveley - all of which are well winnable games.

"On top of a number of fixtures, where, there is a big possibility of getting points from, so having said that I remain confident that we will avoid the drop."

Robinson asks the club's fans for their full backing and to take a leaf out of Dartford's book.

"Certainly at the Dartford game two weeks ago it was very much evident that the support Dartford had very much helped their own performance and similar support from our own supporters will very much help our cause."

Current bottom seven of the Southern League Division One East table:

Pos Team P W D L F A PTS
16 Harlow Town 30 9 6 15 38 46 33
17 Beaconsfield SYCOB 29 8 8 13 34 44 32
18 Dartford 30 7 10 13 40 52 31
19 Leighton Town 29 6 12 11 37 43 30
20 Great Wakering Rovers 30 5 10 15 34 52 25
21 Erith & Belvedere 30 7 5 18 41 72 23*
22 Tilbury 30 3 8 19 26 80 17

*Erith & Belvedere had three points deducted

Erith & Belvedere v Fisher Athletic
Southern League Division One East
Saturday 19th February 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Park View Road, Welling

When using this article, please credit Stephen McCartney - www.kentishfootball.co.uk