Chatham Town 3 Wingate & Finchley 1 (EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW)

Saturday 04th February 2006

Rob Denness 31
Byron Walker 49
Mark Brooks 83

Guy Morris 78

Stephen McCartney reports from Maidstone Road
Southern League Division One East

Chatham Town climbed three places to sixth in the Southern League Division One play-off zone following their comfortable 3-1 victory over Wingate & Finchley on Saturday, but manager Steve Binks admits his side may not qualify for the end of season lottery, writes Stephen McCartney.




The Medway side clash with all of the top eight sides in their remaining fourteen league games but the long serving stalwart admitted “it’s all in our hands.”

”We’ve got an interesting six-seven weeks coming up now,” he said.  “If we can go on a little run against these sides we could be flying.  It’s a big ask to win all of these but it’s all in our hands.”

The Maidstone Road outfit tackle FA Trophy heroes and current league leaders Boreham Wood (home), Enfield Town (home), Corby Town (away), Stamford (away), Dartford (away), Waltham Forest (away), Arlesey Town (away) and Barking & East Ham United (home) between now and the end of the season as they bid to reach the play-off’s alongside local rivals Dartford, who are in fifth place but six points clear.
Binks, however, added: “I just hope some points we’ve let slip earlier in the season don’t come to haunt us.

”There’s been two or three games where we’ve conceded late goals that’s cost us two points a game so we could very easily have six, eight, nine more points.”

With such a tough run-in to the season, Binks warned: “I’m not quite sure we’ve got the experience to push on for a play-off this year.

”I think we’ve got the ability, and I think we’ve got some real cracking youngsters, but this club has made steady progress year on year.

”If we can get there or thereabouts this year that will be another notch up and with the progression of the youngsters, then the year after, who knows?

”I think we’ve got enough old heads in key positions down the spine of the side but unfortunately we haven’t had them all available all the time.

”If we can get a good little run with them in the side regular than I think we’re going to have the experience and then that helps the youngsters. 

”It’s a big ask for some of the youngsters.  There’s some cracking youngsters but if they had another 50 games under their belts we’d be better off for it. 
“It might just be one season beyond us this season but who knows?  There’s still a bit of football to be played.  14 games. 42 points.  You could get four all you could get 42.
A crowd of just 205 at Maidstone Road was the division’s highest attendance of the day, and Chatham’s guests for the day were local side The Swallows who brought their under nine side to show their “developing talents” on the pitch before the game and during the half-time interval.

Chatham, with an average crowd of 163, rely on home grown talent with many  youngsters playing in the first team.
Speaking about the club opening its doors to the local kids team, Binks said: “Hopefully we’ve put on a good performance today and they’ll come back again.
“I welcome the local sides like that coming up here.  They do help with the atmosphere.  I think the young boys really enjoy themselves going out on the pitch and doing a little bit.  I think they enjoyed being part of the game like today.”

But it were Binks’ young stars that shone against draw specialists Wingate & Finchley, who were restricted to just three clear-cut chances during the 90 minutes.

Robert Denness may only be 18-years-old but the strong Chatham striker has netted eleven goals in his first Southern League campaign.

And with 19-goal Brendan Cass now playing for local rivals Dartford, the mantle has been passed to Denness.

He was desperately unlucky not to open the scoring after 19 minutes when, seeing goalkeeper Edward Thompson off his line, his 30-yard lob dropped and agonisingly clipped the foot of the left upright.

The black haired striker, however, kept his composure to hand the Kent side a deserved lead 12 minutes later.

Full credit has to go to central defender Matthew Bourne for stopping a Wingate & Finchley raid with a crunching tackle some 30-yards from his goal.

But his ball over the top of their defence was exquisite allowing Denness to use his strength and pace to leave the visiting back line in his wake.  Out came Thompson, with a rush of blood, but the youngster kept his composure, took the ball around him, but instead of rushing his shot, took a couple of touches, and with a defender getting back on the line, calmly slotted home.

Although not the greatest first half, Binks was happy that his side won the “ugly” bits, but the second half was much better for the Kent side.

The second half was only 105 seconds old when they should have doubled their lead but Denness’ glancing header, following a perfectly flighted Daniel Larkin cross, from close range sailed wide of the far post.
But after 49 minutes, Denness used his strength to scare the visiting defence and another talented youngster, winger Byron Walker stole the ball off Jon Ellis, raced towards goal and drilled a shot inside the foot of the far post.

Chatham’s former Sittingbourne goalkeeper, Kevin Fewell, was finally called into action after 67 minutes when he clawed Sam Sloma’s long range free kick against the top of his post, as he took off from his heavily sanded goal mouth. 

Eleven minutes later he was beaten when Guy Morris header – following another Sloma’s floated free kick – found the far corner.
The goalkeeper prevented the North Londoners stealing an equaliser a minute later when he blocked substitute Adam Stolerman’s effort.

The goal lifted the visitors during an inspired five-minute spell, but their hopes were dashed with seven minutes left courtesy of Mark Brooks 25-yard volley, which floated into the top left hand corner to seal Chatham’s eleventh league win of the season.
”Well pleased!  Excellent, hardworking performance and done a good solid job today with three well-taken goals,” the manager beamed.
Binks will be interested in the outcome of Tuesday’s Errea Cup fourth round tie between Premier division sides Bedford Town and Cheshunt, as the winners travel to Maidstone Road on Valentines Day or the 14th February to those who are not dating.
There are a few fixtures involving Kent sides on that evening – a tough decision for male football followers, but Binks has the perfect answer.
“What better present can they give their wives and girlfriends than a semi-final place in the Errea Cup?

”I think the club are trying to do something special for Valentines Day, whether it’s free entry for ladies or a free red rose.  We’re trying to sort something out – watch this space!”

Binks, who takes his side to sixth from bottom side Great Wakering Rovers next Saturday, could hand promising reserve team player Luke Mortimore his debut especially as Tom Binks (one match suspension and hamstring strain) and Andy Larkin (work commitments) won’t be making the trip into South Essex.
Two goals from Bourne and one from Denness helped the Chats to a 3-2 victory over the Essex side at Maidstone Road in November, and Binks knows what to expect.

”Big strong physical side,” he said.  “They’re really going to be batting as they’re fighting relegation again and going to be a hard side to break down.”

A Dartford-Chatham Town play-off final?  Now that would be interesting!

Chatham Town:  Kevin Fewell, Tom Binks (Andrew Boyle 45), Daniel Larkin, Andrew Larkin, Matthew Bourne, Steve Best (Capt), James Lyons, Mark Austin Brooks, Robert Denness (Joseph Momoh 86), Hickham Akhazzan, Byron Walker (Glenn Billiness 71).  Subs: Phillip Miles, Louis Green (GK)

Wingate & Finchley:  Edward Thompson, Jon Ellis (Anthony Limbrick 58), Jirka Houdek, Craig Ellis, Billy Armateifio, Guy Morris, Daniel Stanton (Adam Stolerman 53), Mustafa Dumbuya, Shahed Ahmed, Simon Patterson, Sam Sloma.  Subs: Andy Douglas, Paul Linger
Attendance: 205
Referee: Mr D Buck
Assistants: Mr A Carter & Mr P Knight