KENT SENIOR TROPHY FINAL PREVIEW
by Stephen McCartney
TROPHY FINALISTS EXPECTING TOUGH ENCOUNTER
CRAY WANDERERS vs HYTHE TOWN
Saturday 17 April 2004
3.00pm @ Ashford Town FC, Homelands, Ashford Road, Kingsnorth
Kent Senior Trophy Final between Cray Wanderers and Hythe Town appears to be a
tough encounter for both sides, writes Stephen McCartney.
Although they look to be favourites to lift the trophy, Cray Wanderers manager Ian Jenkins will be hoping it's third time lucky this time round.
They have lost the last two finals to Thamesmead Town and Maidstone United. Although they are on course to retain their Go Travel Kent League Premier Division crown, they currently sit in second place in the table, only one point behind leaders VCD Athletic, and with two games in hand.
Jenkins admitted their away league game at VCD Athletic, to be played at Lordswood's North Dane Way ground, is a "massive game" next Saturday. Before that, however, they have a cup final against in-form Hythe Town to contemplate.
Jenkins said: "We go in as favourites obviously, but that can sometimes work against us. It's our third appearance in the final in three years, having lost the last two against Thamesmead Town and Maidstone United. It would be nice to get this cup."
Jenkins revealed he has a full strength side to choose from with only Phil Turner, injured for the rest of the season, missing from his treble chasing squad.
Jenkins added: "Hythe are a good side and are on a good run recently and it won't be easy. They are never easy to beat. We drew them 1-1 away from home on the first day of the season."
With four league games to play, Cray are certain favourites to retain the Go Travel Kent League Premier Division crown. They do, however, have to travel to VCD Athletic on Saturday 24th April before playing Hythe Town at Hayes Lane two days later. Their season, and promotion, could go down to their last two games of the campaign - against Maidstone United - at Bourne Park on Saturday 1st May and at Hayes Lane on Bank Holiday Monday.
Jenkins said: "It's down to those games. If we can beat VCD Athletic and Hythe we will have a chance. But it's all about us not dropping any points."
Looking ahead to next season, Cray aim to be playing at a higher level of football. This will come at a price, though the Sidcup based manager, added: "Get top two position to get in a higher league, all the work starts in the summer securing players and getting new ones. The chairman will have to find some more money for next season and hopefully we can get new backers coming into the club."
Hythe Town, however, are going into the final on a rich vein of form . The Reachfields outfit are unbeaten in their last nine games, having won their last seven.
Paul Fisk, has been Hythe's manager for the last eighteen months. Whilst reserve team manager at Folkestone Invicta his side won the Kent Intermediate Cup and were runners up in the league.
Living in New Romney, the forty-year-old, who coaches football in local schools, admitted his side will give it their best shot to win the game.
Fisk said: "I hope we are going to win. Cray Wanderers are a good side, probably the best side in the Kent League and they are looking to retain their Kent League title so it's going to be hard. We are at the final and we will give it our best shot to win the game."
He added: "We've won our last seven games and are unbeaten in nine, so we are going into the game in good form. However, I think Cray's form is equally as good, so it should be a good game."
Mark Pollard, who joined Hythe from Herne Bay will be unavailable for the showpiece final, having played for the Bay in the competition earlier in the campaign.
Hythe's league position maybe a surprise to some people, but they are currently in seventh place in the table with four games to play, but sixth place for this and next season is in Fisk's sights.
He added: "I think at the beginning of the season, we hoped for a top six finish. If we can finish in sixth position we will be pleased with that.
"The season has been better than we expected," admitted Fisk. "Next season we are looking to improve again, and a top six finish will be good for the club." he insisted.
Former Dover Athletic and St Leonards striker Roy Godden has been Hythe's star man according to the manager. Both he and Jason Brazier have netted fourteen goals this season.
Fisk praised: "Roy Godden has done well for us up front. The whole side have been good this season. We've had a few injuries and the people who have come in have done a good job."
Fisk gave a message to the club's supporters. He said: "We will give it our best shot and enjoy the day. This season is better than we expected - we are going into the final with nothing to lose!"
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