I know there’s a lot riding on these games as they are two of five down there but my interest is doing the right thing for our club and that’s having a look at these lads, says Canterbury City boss Ben Smith
CANTERBURY CITY boss Ben Smith has defended his decision to blood the youngsters against a Lordswood side fighting for their lives tomorrow.
Canterbury City go into their final two games of the season sitting in the top nine in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with 55 points.
Lordswood have won two of their last three league games and as a result have got themselves out of the relegation zone.
Richard Styles’ side have climbed up to into the bottom five with 30 points and are now four points clear of the relegation zone.
But Smith’s team selection will raise eye brows with the managers of Beckenham Town, Erith Town, Erith & Belvedere and Fisher who are fighting like crazy to ensure they are now one of the two relegated clubs.
“The fixture against Lordswood is a great opportunity to have a look at the young players we have in the squad,” said Smith.
“They have been patient and deserve the chance to gain some experience and show what they can do in a competitive fixture, which this will certainly be against a side fighting for survival.
“Our hand is forced slightly with eight players either injured or unavailable but these last two games have been the ones we’ve looked at for the youngsters for a while really.
“I know there’s a lot riding on these games as they are two of five down there but my interest is doing the right thing for our club and that’s having a look at these lads and we’ve earned the right to be able to do that.”
Ashford United took one step towards the title after beating Canterbury City 3-1 on Easter Monday.
“We pushed as hard as we could with what we had available against Ashford but in the end they had that bit too much quality and I can’t see anyone stopping them taking the league to be honest, only maybe a miracle goal difference swing,” added Smith.
“It’s been tough over the last few weeks where the squad has been stretched to its limit but we’ve shown we are on the up as a club, especially since January.
“It’s a stronger league this year with more and more money being ploughed in. I look at the table and there’s only really one club ahead of us that don’t have a considerably better budget, so we’ve done pretty well all things considered.
“However, it’s now about improving the depth of the squad and trying to break into that category of challengers for next season as we certainly aren’t claiming moral achievement points as you get absolutely nothing for that.”
Styles says his players’ are positive that they can maintain their league status against Canterbury City and at home to AFC Croydon Athletic on 29 April.
“My thoughts coming into the game tomorrow is positive,” said Styles, who is coming to the end of his first season in charge.
“We are taking each game as it comes, trying to play as well as we can and it’s pretty much as simple as that.
“We want to carry on the level of performance on Saturday.”
Lordswood beat Whitstable Town 2-1 on Easter Monday and Styles said:
“I was very pleased with the performance and deserved result. We need to keep that level up in all of our games going forward now and in the future.
“There have been many positives recently which has been pleasing, we just need to carry it on.
“In terms of the season, it has been a difficult one, starting with no team or squad and having to rush one together to start the season was never going to be easy.
“The number of players has been too many, too many have let me down, but luckily all of those in that category are not part of the strong and united squad I have now.
“The situation isn’t ideal being in a relegation battle and never one we contemplated but it is what it is and we have to keep applying ourselves and working hard to get out of it.
“There are two games left and we need to put as many points on the board as possible.”
Visit Canterbury City’s website: www.canterburycityfc.net
Visit Lordswood’s website: www.lordswoodfc.co.uk
Canterbury City v Lordswood
Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Saturday 22nd April 2017
Kick Off 3:00pm
At Homelands Stadium, Ashford Road, Kingsnorth, Ashford, Kent TN26 1NJ