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Saturday 8th
January 2005
Southern League
Division One South
Stephen McCartney reports from Bourne Park
Sittingbourne 1 Bradley Spice 89
Erith & Belvedere 2 Chris Dickson 28,58

Statham inspires Deres to vital victory

BRIAN STATHAM made his debut for Erith & Belvedere and helped inspire them to a vital victory in this bottom five Southern League Division One East clash at a windy Bourne Park on Saturday.

The 35-year-old, signed from league rivals East Thurrock United on Friday, was the cool character the Deres needed at the back and the former Tottenham Hotspur, Brentford and Gillingham star, who has also played for non-league sides Chesham United, Chelmsford City - where he first met Deres boss Barry Lakin - and Welling United was pleased with his 69 minute stint for the Park View Road club.

"It was pretty hard fought towards the end, pretty frantic but three points were vital for us and I am very pleased," he said.

His experience will be vital to the Deres' younger players as they bid to climb away from the relegation dog fight.

"Barry (Lakin) felt I would be a good addition with the experience to just calm things down a little bit at times.

"There's a lot of young talented lads with lots of energy and enthusiasm and they just need a little bit of guidance.

"We decided the best thing for me to do was to come in today and play as sweeper and hopefully pass that on."

Statham admitted he was very impressed with his team-mates, although he only met them inside the dressing room before kick off.

"Very impressed with a lot of the young boys," he added.

"Barry's put together a team of very talented young people and if he continues in the same vein, working hard with these boys, then one or two of them could have some decent futures in football.

"We scored two fabulous goals and in fairness it could have been 6-3 or possibly 6-4.  It was pretty entertaining.

"Disappointed to have conceded a goal in the fashion that we did - it would have been nice to have kept a clean sheet but three points are three points."

In a game no-side wanted to lose, it was the visitors who started the game well but after eleven minutes David Cory headed wide of the Deres post after a cross from the left flank from Lee Browning.

Two Erith & Belvedere chances were sandwiched by Sittingbourne's best chance of the game to open the scoring.

Impressive midfielder Paul Manning's low defense splitting pass was latched onto by Clint Gooding with only goalkeeper Ricky Hall to beat.

However, the Deres stopper - making only his second appearance - stood up well and made a fine block from the 16-yard shot.

The two Deres openings that sandwiched this chance came from former Margate midfielder Ian Pulman, whose right-footed well struck 20-yarder tested Kevin Fewell who made a comfortable save on his six-yard line.

Full-back Marc Cumberbatch found himself on the edge of  the Brickes penalty box, latching onto Pulman's low diagonal pass but the former Barnet youngster dragged his shot narrowly wide of the foot of the far post.

Another chance came the Deres way when Paul Abbott's counter attack set up a chance for striker Chris Dickson but his 18-yard effort went wide.

Dickson, however, gave Deres a deserved lead after 28 minutes.

Mark Duckett sent former Thamesmead Town and Cray Wanderers striker Michael Power on a run down the left flank.  After making inroads his low centre was well controlled by Dickson - and with a right-footed shot from inside the D, he stroked the ball low into the bottom left hand corner giving Fewell no chance.

Just before the break, Manning's corner was flapped by Hall and the ball dropped for Dean Hill unmarked but the Brickies defender blazed the shot high over the bar.

After being denied inside the box by Sittingbourne's defenders, Pulman's low centre was dummied by Power for Dickson but his low 12-yard shot was comfortably saved by Fewell.

Sittingbourne twice shot over in the space of four minutes through Manning and skipper Jamie Coyle before the visitors doubled their advantage in the 58th minute.

Duckett played a lovely pass over the middle of the Brickies defence for Dickson to run on to and as he saw Fewell race off his goal-line he lobbed the ball over him and into the roof of the net from 25-yards to seal the points for Lakin's men.

Two minutes later, Sittingbourne were unlucky not to pull a goal back when Adam Douglas' header crashed off the crossbar.

Dickson almost scored a deserved hat-trick but his low shot flashed wide of the foot of the post after being set up by strike partner Power.

Sittingbourne's 18-year-old substitute Jack Tanner - whose been praised by his boss Steve Nolan - raced down the right hand side before his 25-yard shot sailed over.

Nolan, however, has high hopes for the youngster.

"Jack is definitely a player for the future," he said.

"He's one we want to get involved but we want to bring him on gradually.

"We don't want to knock his confidence.

"When things aren't going well it's difficult  to come into a side that's struggling as well.

"I think he will be a really good player - he's a good lad and a skilful player."

In the last thirteen minutes a mistake from visiting goalkeeper Hall, when he came rushing outside his box to head the ball out, fell to Coyle who blazed high over an open goal from 25-yards.

Sittingbourne, however, pulled a goal back after 89 minutes when Deres lost the ball in midfield and Gooding sprayed the ball to Spice on the right hand side.  After cutting into the penalty area he unleashed a shot, which took a deflection, and dented Deres hopes of keeping a clean sheet.

Delighted, Deres boss Barry Lakin - who admitted before the game he was under pressure from the club's board and supporters - was pleased with the victory.

"Perfect result after a very good performance, I'm very happy," he said.

"I made a signing last night - Brian Statham.  He's a very experienced player and he's come in and marshalled the defence.

"The boys have been up for their games in the past few weeks.  I thought we got what we deserved today - three points."

The 31-year-old Chelmsford based boss praised two-goal hero Chris Dickson.

"He's a good lad.  He is very raw and hopefully we are trying to pass on all my experience along with a few of the backroom staff and he's doing very well so we're pleased with him."

Deflated Brickies boss Nolan added: "It was a big Kent derby.  I like the Kent derbies in this league - it was a massive game and I am disappointed we've lost the game today."

Sittingbourne: Kevin Fewell, Jamie Coyle (Capt), Joe Dowley (Jack Tanner 63), Clint Gooding, James Campbell, Dean Hill, Paul Manning, Adam Douglas, David Cory (Toby Ashmore 82), Bradley Spice, Lee Browning (pat Nolan 90). Sub: Lijah Tucker (GK)

Erith & Belvedere: Ricky Hall, Marc Cumberbatch, Mark Duckett, Darren Williams, Wayne Brown (Capt), Dean Standen (Ryan Briggs 81), Ian Pulman, Paul Abbott, Michael Power, Chris Dickson, Brian Statham (Lewis Tozer 69). Subs: Dean Fenton, Craig Hales, Glen Knight (GK)

Attendance: 155
Referee: Tony Mason (Sidcup)
Assistants: K Pope (Tonbridge) & T Slater (Sandhurst, Kent)