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Robinson looking for a home banker
ERITH & BELVEDERE manager Steve Robinson admitted he was disappointed with Barry Lakin for leaving the club, but fully understands his reasons, writes Stephen McCartney.
Robinson's second game in charge of the Deres cannot get any bigger. The 40-year-old, resides in Maidstone, made a record 665 appearances for the club he is looking to beat on Saturday in a game both North Kent sides cannot afford to lose.
Dartford's visit will attract the Deres highest gate of the season, although both sides are at the wrong end of the Southern League Division One East table.
The Deres are currently in the relegation zone, second from bottom in the table and the three points they were deducted for playing an illegible player in Seb Ndombe in August could prove costly at the end of the season.
Robinson, however, a Job Area manager for Nat West, where he looks after ten branches in Kent and Sussex, will be looking for a home banker.
Speaking about Lakin's decision to quit the club and to move to Ryman Premier League side Heybridge Swifts as assistant to Brian Statham, Robinson said: "Like any good partnership my initial reaction was of disappointment. As a team we worked quite well but after listening to Barry's reasons for wanting to move on and take up the offer he was given by Heybridge for personal reasons, I can fully understand where his thoughts were.
"He lives in Chelmsford, his partner has weeks to go before having their first child and whilst its a number two role the whole package obviously looks attractive to him.
"We are good friends and I've wished him well and the very best for the future - we talk regularly and that won't change."
Robinson had only two days to prepare for his first game in charge last weekend when his side showed enough character, despite losing 2-1 at Barton Rovers.
Lakin's former assistant manager added: "Having been given two days to prepare for the game it was very important a good performance was put in.
"Knowing it was going to be a tough game - Barton were challenging for a place in the play-offs - it was important I saw the fighting spirit from the players to get us out of the hole we are currently in."
Another former Dartford player, Grant Spelling, will be working ever so hard with Robinson to ensure the Deres retain their Southern League status and avoid the drop into the Go Travel Kent League.
Robinson added: "Taking over my sole objective is to make sure the club remain in the Southern League.
"Grant and I believe we have got the personnel within the club to turn things round but we will continue to be on the look out for players we might be able to bring in to strengthen the squad and battle for us for the cause."
Robinson, however, was adamant he is fully focused to bring three vital points to the Deres despite managing his side against a club he has a strong association with.
"People that know me will know I am a wholehearted character and the job that I am doing I put in 150% into it, irrelevant who the opposition is," he said.
"With that in mind, whilst this is an important game for me and Grant, we both have a job to do and unfortunately if that means putting a club - that I have a strong association with - in an awkward position themselves - that's what needed to be done.
"In an ideal world I would like both clubs to survive the season and both be in the Southern League next year and hope that does happen.
"But in terms of Saturday I only have one objective and that's to win the game. Afterwards there will be a few old friends it would be nice to catch up with."
If his side does lose against their local rivals, Robinson emphasises Saturday's clash at Park View Road isn't the be all and end all to their fight for survival.
"No matter what the result there still remains a further 14 games to play and 42 points to be had until the end of the season.
"Therefore it might seem that Saturday is a six-pointer for both clubs and without doubt it will certainly be a cup final feel to the game.
"There's still a lot more games to be played more after."
Robinson, however, spelled out the club's objective for the remainder of the season. He said: "The clubs and my objective is to ensure that Erith & Belvedere remain in the Southern League."
Dean Standen is serving a two match ban and "very influential" defender Lewis Tozer will be out for another two weeks with an ankle ligament injury.
Robinson added: "It's going to be tough to get out of the position we are in.
"The result from last weekend was slightly harsh as we deserved to get more out of the game at Barton.
"I was pleased with the players application towards the game - I want this to continue throughout.
"Whilst there is a five point gap between us and Dartford, a win on Saturday and favourable results , our game in hand will put us back very much amongst it."
The former Darts hero asked the home fans: "All I would say is to fully get behind the team.
"I realise the importance of the game baring in mind it's a local derby.
"I hope they understand where my loyalties lie - Erith & Belvedere."
Southern League Division One East table (bottom seven)
|Great Wakering Rovers
|Erith & Belvedere
*3 points deducted
Erith & Belvedere v Dartford
Southern League Division One East
Saturday 5th February 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Park View Road, Welling