Saturday 01st January 2005

The Kent Website
Supporting Kentish Football

We must stay in the league - Dainty

CONCERNED Tonbridge Angels chairman Paul Dainty made his feelings known going into today's Ryman League Premier Division clash against third placed Braintree Town, writes Stephen McCartney.

The Angels, however, third from bottom in the table, ended their run of eleven league games without a win, beating their Essex visitors 2-1 in front of a crowd of 476 at a very wet and windy Avavan Longmead Stadium.

The chairman issued a statement on the eve of the game and made it perfectly clear the club must do all it can to beat the drop into division one - the graveyard with so many big clubs struggling to return to former glories.

Looking back at the end of last season, their disappointing start to this one and his plans for the future, Dainty told the club's website: "The end of the 2004-05 season was obviously very disappointing.

"Although we achieved promotion, winning the league would have been a tremendous achievement.

"I admit, we had many problems during our run in mainly, inevitable funding, as we sought the championship.

"I cannot express my dejection after the Eastleigh game (losing 2-0 at Longmead) and to lose the championship by three points after all that had happened that season was very depressing.

"I looked back to what had happened mid-season and realised that what we did achieve was actually quite amazing.

"We had a young, inexperienced manager (Tony Dolby) who had performed superbly on and off the pitch, nearly guiding us to the championship and we had the nucleus of a team who could survive in a higher league with some additions.

"We also were satisfied that the club would receive significant funding in the summer to clear our debts, which at that time were in the region of £30,000.

"We had held creditors off with the promise of this cash and when it did not materalise you cannot imagine how we felt.

"However, in crisis, the true Angels supporters did us proud, donations came in, creditors were understanding.

"Angel Aid and other ventures helped considerably.

"I rather reluctantly, at first agreed to carry on as chairman until the situation was resolved - I am still here - and we were able to start our Ryman League campaign albeit with very few additions to the squad from last season.

However, despite a good start, they were in 8th place in the table at the end of August, injuries took their toll and they start the new year at the wrong end of the table - but are still able to pull in the crowds.

Dainty recalls:"We got our season off to a good start and seemed to be able to cope with the demands of the league but Cheshunt thrashed us at home and from then I became very worried.

"Injuries to Brendon Cass, Dolby, Patrick Blackman, Craig Roser, Steve Searle, Tim Hambley and John Farley devastated our thin squad and we were fielding eleven fit players in some matches - hardly ideal.

"I believe that our injury crisis somehow masked our problems on the pitch as we were of the opinion that once the injured players returned we would recapture our early season form.

"What actually happened was that we did not have some of the craft and skill needed to seriously compete at this level.

"In my opinion all of the players who have played so far this season would have held their own in our side last term but this level is a massive step upwards.

"Due to our finances we were unable to put more cash into our playing budget although the budget now is the same as last season's.

"The signings of Steve Sodje and Lenny Piper (one month loan from Fisher Athletic) plus the emergence of some of our younger players are positive signs but I am very worried about our current league position.

"It is a fact that one more goal in each of our league games would have yielded us a further 21 points.

"Quite incredible when we have only amassed 19 points so far (before the Braintreee win).  

"I have been more satisfied with the sponsorships we have achieved this season - Hotpoint, Jon Smiths and Avavan."

The chairman revealed his hopes and plans for 2005 - and is adamant the club are playing Ryman Premier Division football next August.

"It is absolutely vital that we stay in this league.

"I am absolutely serious that I will do everything in my power to ensure this happens.

"I think as a club we need to be more ruthless on and off the pitch.

"Changes in personnel must be made. 19 points from a possible 66 is relegation form.

"We simply have to show more determination to succeed on the pitch.

"We need to adapt our style of play to this league urgently, most teams have a playmaker and a ruthless finisher.

"Defensively we have been reasonably sound, creatively we have not been good but we do have some powerful and fast forwards.

"With an extra 15-20% in all areas we have the basis of a good team - good enough to survive if we make changes now.

"Assuming we survive, during the summer I want to upgrade the stadium which I have to admit is not looking its best recently.

"I want to sort the area behind the dugouts by constructing some covered terracing, improving the bar - possibly replacing it and building a small gym and treatment room as we believe our players are taking longer to recover from injury than they should.

"Above all we must be in this league next season."