I think the players are definitely looking forward to the final and they have worked hard to get there, says Erith & Belvedere boss Luke Coleman

Monday 09th April 2018

ERITH & BELVEDERE manager Luke Coleman says his side will have to play at their best to beat Phoenix Sports Reserves to win the London Senior Trophy for the first time.

The two club’s must travel to north London on Wednesday night to play each other on the 3G pitch at Haringey Borough’s Coles Park on White Hart Lane, where a more local venue would have been more suitable.

Erith & Belvedere go into the game sitting in eighth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table with 51 points in the bag from 31 games, while Ben Kotey’s Phoenix Sports’ second-string are six places lower with 37 points from their 31 outings.

“It is always nice to get to a cup final and it gives us probably something that keeps our season more alive more than a lot of other clubs at this stage,” said Coleman, whose side are five points adrift of fifth-placed Holmesdale.

“We are still fighting to get in the top four or five in the league which I think would be a good achievement this year for the club so winning the cup final will give us more of a springboard for the remainder.

“I think the players are definitely looking forward to the final and they have worked hard to get there.

“Obviously, it is not ideal that we are playing the final in north London given that both sides are coming from three or four miles apart from one another in south London. However, I do not think it is anything that will phase us as there has been some odd arrangements with fixtures all year.

“I think the occasion will be great for both sides and a game that both sets of players should feel proud to play in and embrace it as whatever level you play throughout your career cup finals do not come around very often.

“I think it will be a game that we will definitely need to be at our best. I know Phoenix have watched us a few times and recently and they have had an upsurge in form. Also given the occasion I am sure they will be a tough test.

“Having already played Phoenix I know they have got some talented players so my boys will know that we need to apply ourselves correctly.”

Erith & Belvedere lost their Premier Division status after finishing bottom of the pile last season and while Fisher are on course of gaining a third-place finish, Coleman saw this season as one of transition.

K Sports and Punjab United have celebrated winning promotion into the top-flight for the first time in their histories during the past couple of weeks – ironically both club’s winning promotion at Phoenix Sports Reserves.

Kris Browning’s Paperboys have 82 points but Punjab United have a game in hand and are two points behind and with a much bigger budget, are expected to land the title.

“Looking at the season there has been many positives to take given how much of a transitional year it has been for the club,” explained Coleman.

“I have assembled a new squad and that has taken time to gel. We have also had a number of comings and goings this year and I think we now have a nucleus of players which I hope to retain for next year and build on that with some additions that will strengthen us. Always when you assemble new squads there will be some parts that go better than others.

“Most people know the club do not have vast resources so attracting the right type of players is important and really trying to push to challenge in the league next season.

“I would also like to congratulate K Sports and Punjab who deserve their promotion as they are the top two and the table at the end never lies.

“I think a lot of people expected us to probably be closer to them than we are and that is my main disappointment. However, looking at club’s who get relegated it is not always easy as nobody has an automatic entitlement to win games. K Sports have been working at promotion for a few years and deservedly have achieved it this year so it shows it sometimes takes time.

“Clearly if we can win the final it will be the start to a hopeful good end to the season which will be a platform to move into next season.”

Erith & Belvedere  v  Phoenix Sports Reserves
London Senior Trophy Final
Wednesday 11 April 2018
Kick Off 7:45pm
at Coles Park, White Hart Lane, London N17 7JP