Daish "quite excited about" new faces on trial

Sunday 16th July 2006

Gravesend & Northfleet manager Liam Daish want his new-look side to get back to “good old habits” during their pre-season campaign, writes Stephen McCartney.

The Fleet, who are now a full-time outfit, kicked off their pre-season programme with a 3-1 defeat at Ryman Premier League side Folkestone Invicta yesterday.

Only two players that played at the Buzzlines Stadium finished last season’s Nationwide Conference campaign - Peter Hawkins and Ross Smith - and star striker Charlie MacDonald watched the game from the sidelines.

Daish, who released eleven players during the close season, has already signed 14 players on for this season, but hopes some of the players that played yesterday will force their way into his thoughts.

Gravesend & Northfleet
manager Liam Daish cast
his eye over plenty of
trialists at Folkestone

Pic: www.gnfc.co.uk


“We’ve worked very hard in training, put a lot of fitness work in,” he told www.kentishfootball.co.uk yesterday.

“I’ve played a lot of lads that I’ve had down on trial and having a look at, and the work they’ve put in they deserve to play in a proper pre-season (friendly).”

One player to impress during his first half showing was new signing John Keeling.

And Daish has high hopes for the former Canvey Island star. “John’s always going to bring me a lot of quality there.

“John’s got that ability to go by people and he’s a good lad to have and he’s going to be a good acquisition for us.”

Daish, however, was forced to telephone Folkestone Invicta manager Neil Cugley on the eve of the match to find a replacement goalkeeper.

With Craig Holloway working hard to get fit, an unnamed goalkeeper pulled his calf in training on the eve of the game so Paul Egan, whose played for Folkestone, Hythe Town and Margate, was drafted in as a late replacement.

But Egan conceded goals from a Paul Jones header, a Kevin Watson penalty and a 25-yard drive from youngster Simon Rainbow.

Invicta’s Gravesend based goalkeeper Tony Kessell, meanwhile, pulled off a string of fine saves until the 73rd minute when he was beaten by Mark Lovell, whose on trial from Sittingbourne, where he scored 13 goals last season.

“Craig’s progressing well from his injury last year so he shouldn’t be too long,” revealed Daish.

“Sam Mott is away at the moment and I had a keeper all sorted and then yesterday in training he pulled his calf so I was ringing round and luckily Cugs lent me Paul Egan.”

Speaking about Kessell’s heroics, Daish added: “He’s pulled off some great saves - well done to him.”

Daish, who takes his side to Ryman League Division One South outfit Dover Athletic on Tuesday night, wants improvement ahead of their league opener at Aldershot Town on 12th August.

“I’ve said to the lads it’s pre-season, that’s our first game in difficult conditions, but each game, collectively or individually we’re looking for an improvement and that’s what’s pre-season’s all about,” he said.

“Each game, getting your game together, getting your timing, getting back to old habits so when we eventually get to serious stuff we’re on form.

“I’ll have another look at them on Tuesday. There’s some players I’m quite excited about - If I can crack a deal with them….

But Daish is pleased that his trialists are taking “on board” his instructions as the Stonebridge Road outfit prepare for another Conference campaign.

He said: “It soon comes round, there’s a lot of training sessions and games that are coming inbetween today and the kick off.

“It’s so early, with a lot of work to be done, but to be fair to the lads they’ve taken on board everything I’ve said.

“I’m just looking for them to improve individually and collectively throughout this pre-season.”

Daish, however, admitted he’s looking to finish in the top fifteen.

“What’s my aims? To finish higher what I did last year, and you never know,” he said.

And on squad numbers, Daish, whose not running a reserve side this season, said: “That all depends on budgets and things like that, but I’m looking to run with a squad of 18-19.”

The Fleet have arranged two matches on Friday night’s this season, against Cambridge United (6th October) and Aldershot Town (23rd March).

Last season, Friday night games against Canvey Island and Accrington Stanley attracted the club’s two highest crowds.

“I think the club’s pleased with that,” Daish said. “You get some good atmosphere’s and hopefully they’ll be successful as they were last year.”

Who were the trialists on show at Folkestone?  Thanks to Fleet fan Charles Webster for the details: 

Danny Brown (ex Wycombe Wanderers)
Jermaine Boyce (ex West Ham United)
Stacy Long (ex Charlton Athletic and Notts County)
Jefferson Louis (ex Stevenage Borough and Exeter City)
Mark Debolla (ex Grays Athletic)
Guy Lopez (ex Barnet)
Vladimir Petrovic (Eastern European trialist)
George Purcell (ex Gillingham)
Shane Garrick (ex Swindon Town)
Charlie Ball (ex Dagenham & Redbridge)
Mark Lovell (Sittingbourne)

Gravesend & Northfleet’s pre-season programme:

Tuesday 18th July (a) Dover Athletic
Saturday 22nd July (a) Eastbourne Borough
Wednesday 26th July (H) Milton Keynes Dons
Tuesday 1st August (a) AFC Hornchurch
Friday 4th August (a) Chelmsford City

Visit Gravesend & Northfleet’s website: www.gnfc.co.uk