Farnie: We need more league points before Trophy Final (EXCLUSIVE)

Sunday 05th March 2006
Tunbridge Wells manager Martin Farnie is desperate to end the club’s eighteen-year silverware draught, writes Stephen McCartney.




His side stunned Beckenham Town in their Kent Senior Trophy semi-final tie at Eden Park Avenue yesterday.

Alex Rich, a youth team product, scored the only goal of the game with 12 minutes left as the Culverden Stadium outfit reached their first final since 1992, when they lost to Slade Green in the same competition.
Ironically, the Wells knocked Slade Green out in the first round of this season’s competition – winning a penalty shoot out 4-2, after the game finished 1-1 after extra time.

Following the departures of Kevin Metcalf and Martin Telford, the team were led by caretaker manager Mike D’Arcy at the Small Glen, but Farnie led the side to victories over Maidstone United
(3-1), Erith Town (winning 4-1 on penalties after a 3-3 draw after 120 minutes of football) and their win at much fancied Beckenham.

Former Maidstone United midfielder, Matthew Nicholls’ diagonal ball from just inside Beckenham’s half found Rich, whose glancing header went over goalkeeper Rob Tolfrey and into an empty net.
“We are pleased.  It was just a great day yesterday,” said the delighted manager, who also paid tribute to D’Arcy.

”We had a plan on how to play against them and it worked, he added.  “I am pleased, not just for myself, but before I took over the reserve team manager had the game at Slade Green, which they won on penalties to keep us in the competition.
“Since I’ve taken over we’ve beaten Erith Town on penalties, Maidstone and now Beckenham – so it’s been a good competition for us.”

Their opponents in the showpiece final, to be played on Saturday, 15th April, will be VCD Athletic, who are also in the two-legged semi-finals of the Kent League Cup, starting with a home tie against Herne Bay on Thursday (9th March) night.
Martin Ford’s side have beaten Hythe Town (5-1), Deal Town (4-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw after extra time) and Paul Foley’s 70th minute goal was enough to see off Whitstable Town at the Belmont yesterday.
Kent County Football Association officials, meanwhile, are yet to decide which venue will stage this prestigious final, but Park View Road is favourite.

But the Kent League will have to switch Erith & Belvedere’s home game against Herne Bay in order for that to happen, but Chatham Town’s Maidstone Road and Folkestone Invicta’s Buzzlines Stadium in Cheriton Road are available.

Looking ahead to the showpiece final, Farnie said: “Now we’ve got VCD in the final, that's going to be another tough game.

”They’ve got loads of games on their plate so we need to see what shape they're in before the final.  I’m looking forward to it.  It keeps our season going.”

VCD lost three league games before their FA Vase fifth round tie at Cammall Laird, which they lost 1-0, but Farnie insists if players don’t perform in their league games before the final, they won’t make it.

”If we had lost it would be tough to motivate everyone during the run-on so it keeps the interest going,” he said.

”It keeps it alive for us.  We need to get a few more points and climb the league table and get into the top half, which will be nice.

”That would be quite a successful season – we are making some good progress since I’ve been here.”

However, under Metcalf, Telford and Dave Rice, the Culverden Stadium outfit regularly spoke about promotion – but Farnie asks for patience.

”Everybody talks about promotion, but every single club in the league talks about promotion but the restructuring of non-league football may benefit us.  We’ll see what league we’re in and go from there.

”If we stay in the Kent League, promotion will probably be in a couple of seasons.”

Wells are expected to collect all three points against basement boys Erith Town, who make the trip to Culverden Stadium on Saturday, having picked up just 10 points from 21 league outings.

But Farnie warned: “We’ve had two tough games against them.  To be honest I don’t know what they’ve been upto recently, I shall have a look at it.

”Are they bottom in the league?  How did they get on yesterday?”

When told they lost 2-1 at home to Thamesmead Town, who are now in third place and just three points behind Beckenham, Farnie replied: “That’s not a bad result.  Thamesmead are up there in the league.

”No-one’s giving Erith Town a good spanking, unlike Sporting Bengal when they go out and get murdered.

”It will be tough, like every game in the Kent League.  People think it’s easy.”

Farnie will get all his playing staff into training on Tuesday night and get them focused for some important league games before their final.

”I’m looking forward to get back to training Tuesday night and get their heads focused on getting some league points,” he said.  “That’s our main aim.  We’ll worry about the cup final when it comes along.

”Motivating them is going to be easy – if you’re not playing well you won’t play in the cup final,” he warned.

”Yesterday I had to make the decision to take Bradley Mortimer off as he was carrying a knock, although he said he was fine.

”I’m going to be ruthless, the league is important and we need to get more points.”

The club are in eleventh place with 28 points but only have seven league games left to play.

”If we are going to be title contenders, no disrespect to them, but we’ve got to beat Erith Town, Slade Green, Deal Town and Lordswood.

”If we want to get in the top half of the table and challenging for promotion we have to beat teams like these.

”But it won’t be hard to keep playing focused.  They’re a great bunch of lads and I can see them go on a good run – the team spirit is good.”

* Tunbridge Wells’ last piece of silverware came in 1987-88, when they lifted the Kent League Cup for the fourth time.