Thursday 06th January 2005

The Kent Website
Supporting Kentish Football


Managers know importance of basement clash

WITH both Sittingbourne and Erith & Belvedere in the bottom five of the Southern League Division One East table, both managers admitted Saturday's clash at Bourne Park is a big game, writes Stephen McCartney.

Sittingbourne manager Steve Nolan has won only one game in six after replacing Mark Beeney at the helm at Bourne Park and this run has seen the Brickies slump to 18th in the table with 25 points from 22 games.

His opposite number, Barry Lakin, however, goes into the game only one point above the drop zone with 19 points from 23 games.

The bottom two sides - Great Wakering Rovers and Tilbury - clash as well on Saturday so it's very important the Park View Road club collect all three points against their Kent rivals on Saturday, according to the Deres boss.

"It's a big game - we desperately need the three points to bring back our self belief and confidence," he said.

"Obviously we are underachieving as a team.  I think this is because of a lack of experience, not knowing when to kill games off and not taking our chances."

Lakin will give fitness tests to goalkeeper Glen Knight and defender Lewis Tozer before the derby.

He added: "We probably have Lewis Tozer back and I am looking for all my talented players to dig in and work that bit harder - which they have done over the past two games but the results don't reflect that."

Lakin, however, admitted he is feeling a bit of pressure but insists he is the right man to lead Erith & Belvedere into 2005 and beyond.

"It's been a fantastic six months for me," he said.

"I feel I have moved the club forwards at times."

However, he didn't want to explain what he meant by: "I feel I have been restricted in what I wanted to do."

The 31-year-old boss added: "The experience that I've gained - if I can keep the faith with the supporters and especially the board I really feel I can move the club to where it wants to be - fighting for promotion.

"The board are very disappointed with our position - like everyone connected with Erith & Belvedere."

Lakin revealed goalkeeper Jani Seitsonen - although still registered with the club - is playing Kent County League football and that should give 23-year-old Ricky Hall a chance to earn his second appearance if Knight fails his fitness test on Saturday.

"It's going to be between Glen Knight or  Ricky Hall" revealed Lakin on his goalkeeping selection against the Brickies.

"Ricky was at Chatham last year and I knew off him, got him down to training, he looks good, he is a fresh face and he is a good asset for my squad.

"He made his debut against Barking last week - he had a very good game, which didn't reflect as he let four in."

Lakin whose in his first managerial post at this level insists he is the man for the job and revealed a new signing should be wearing the blue and white quartered shirts at Bourne Park on Saturday - if the central defenders wife doesn't go into labour.

"I've learnt so much that the club needs stability and I know its frustrating times for everyone but we have got plans and we want to put them into action," Lakin promised.

Deres fans are unlikely to see Ray Aboagye for the rest of the season.  The IT Consultant, who fractured his cheek bone in three places during the 1-1 draw at Dartford in October, has decided he is having a rest from football for the time being and is concentrating on working.

However, a famous name is expected to make his debut for the club on Saturday.

Very experienced defender, 34-year-old Bryan Statham - the former Tottenham Hotspur ace is expected to play, having played for East Thurrock United earlier in the season before he got injured.

Speaking about the former Chelmsford City player, Lakin added: "He is a pal, we've had a chat and he can come in and do a good job for our youngsters.  He is very enthusiastic about the game.

"His wife is expecting a child anytime now.

"Sometimes it's handy being well known in football, having a few friends in the game."

Brickies boss Steve Nolan, however, will be without midfielder Kieron Marsh (torn ankle ligaments) for six weeks and striker Jon Neal (groin) for two but influential skipper and defender Jamie Coyle is back in contention for a place having trained on Thursday night after missing the last three weeks with a knee ligament injury.

Nolan who reveled former boss Mark Beeney is enjoying himself at Chelsea after going full-time at the Premiership leaders but Nolan admitted the game against the Deres is a big one - due to the fact his side have turned it into a big game themselves.

"I think we've turned it into a big game with two draws and two defeats making it into a real bottom of the table game.

"In this league, where everyone is beating everyone, two defeats you go down and two wins puts you up into midtable," Nolan explianed.

Nolan, however, admitted he is enjoying being first team manager but added: "I am enjoying it -  I did it quite a long time at Dover Athletic's reserves so managing is not completely new to me.

"I was with Mark (Beeney) for three seasons so I know the players and the set up here."

And speaking on the importance of Saturday's Kent derby, the 45-year-old added: "It's a big game for us.

"Erith have been improving in their last few games.

"I know some of their players and the management staff up there.

"From my point of view I am looking for a win, a good performance and to bounce back from our last couple of games."

Sittingbourne v Erith & Belvedere
Saturday 8th January 2005
Southern  League Division One East
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Bourne Park, Central Park Stadium, Eurolink, Sittingbourne

Please feel free to use this article.  However, if you do, please credit the article to:
Stephen McCartney - www.kentishfootball.co.uk