It’s going to be a difficult and a dramatic night and we can use everything we can to get the result in the end, says Faversham Town boss Ray Turner
FAVERSHAM TOWN manager Ray Turner says his side are ready for their play-off showdown against Merstham on Tuesday night.
The Lilywhites finished their Ryman League Division One South campaign in third-place on 97 points from 46 games – scoring the most goals in the league with 111 going past opposing goalkeepers.
DELIGHTED: Faversham Town boss Ray Turner has guided the club to the Ryman League Division One South play-offs for the second time.
Photo: Faversham Town FC
Turner’s side would have probably claimed the league title in any other division, but champions Burgess Hill Town collected 109 points after losing only three games all season, while Folkestone Invicta finished runners-up on 98 points.
Faversham Town’s opponents at Salters Lane, Merstham, finished in fourth on 93 points and play attacking football, especially down the flanks.
Folkestone Invicta will face fifth-placed Whyteleafe – who won the Southern Counties East Football League title last season – at Cheriton Road in the other semi-final on Tuesday night after John Fowler collected 81 points.
“It’s not quite over for us,” said Turner.
“Delighted with our final position. Delighted with the points tally. We’ve got our highest points tally ever at this level and finished top scores was just reward for our approach this year.
“But we’ve got a week of work to do.”
Former Croydon Athletic and Bromley manager Hayden Bird brings his Merstham side to Kent for a make-or-break clash with the prize of being 90 minutes away from the Ryman Premier League.
Turner said: “From my perspective, I think they’re probably the most talented squad of players on paper with lots of experience at higher levels and very good individually, led by Fabio Saravia, who had experience at Maidstone.
“They’ve got a lot of experience in their team but we’ve built slowly over the years’ and we’ve got players that can full back on our semi-final two seasons ago and we can take a lot from that.
“It’s going to be a difficult night and a dramatic night and we can use everything we can to get the result in the end."
Faversham Town defeated Scott Porter’s Hythe Town 3-0 in the Play-Off Semi-Finals at Salters Lane two years’ ago, before going down to a disappointing 3-0 defeat at Maidstone United, who were promoted along with champions Dulwich Hamlet.
“I think on and off the pitch we’ve experienced this before. I think we’re ready,” said Turner.
“You’ve got to trust your players at this time of the year and I trust them 100%.
“I’ve got the advantage this time round to pick from a fully squad, which is a really nice problem to have.
“We’re ready to go. We know and the players’ know their jobs and from my point of view I will be very relaxed. It will be a case of being fairly relaxed on the night and the players’ can go and do the business.”
Australian midfielder Wayne Wilson is Faversham’s leading goalscorer so far this season with 25 goals.
Turner said: “He’s very influential that’s without doubt! It’s always been key for me that we’re a team and I don’t pick too many individuals out but it is fair to say he’s had an influence both with his goalscoring and assists this year. I’m sure he will be key tomorrow night.”
If Folkestone Invicta and Faversham Town get through Tuesday nights’ drama then Folkestone will stage the Play-Off Final for the second season in a row as they’ve finished the highest of the four teams.
Neil Cugley’s side lost on penalties to Richard Brady’s Leatherhead, with now Dartford keeper Deren Ibrahim saving two penalties.
The Ryman League Division One South Play-Off Final will be on Saturday 2 May.
“I just think all your energies have to go into Tuesday night,” said Turner, knowing his side must get through Merstham first.
“It will be wrong for me to speculate. They’ve (Folkestone) got to deal with their tough tie on Tuesday and we have to deal with our own so I’m literally focused on Tuesday. It will be a tough tie for us.
“I think it will be just rewards. We have to earn the right to get into the Final and it will be just rewards for the players’ achievements this year but it’s a one-off game and we can’t drop our standards on Tuesday and remain focused.”
When asked about not winning the league title on 97 points, Turner was quick to praise the other sides in and around them in the tale.
“It’s been an incredible season of consistency and you can probably put the top four in that bracket,” he said.
“You can look at it two ways. I’m not bitter of that fact that we’ve got a remarkable points tally that we haven’t won the league or certainly been in much closer contention for the league.
“The record that we’ve got will win most leagues but credit to Folkestone and Merstham who are both over the 90 points barrier as well.
“I think whoever comes through these play-offs will flourish in the league above.”
Meanwhile, Faversham Town have confirmed that normal ticket pricing will be in place for this game.
Children 12-17: £2
Under 12s: Free – but accompanied by at least one adult
Season Tickets are NOT valid.
The game will be settled on the night with extra-time and penalties if needed.
Visit Faversham Town’s website: www.favershamtownfc.co.uk
Faversham Town v Merstham
Ryman League Division One South Play-Off Semi-Final
Tuesday 28th April 2015
Kick Off 7:45pm
At Salters Lane, Faversham, Kent ME13 8ND