We're trying the best we can to pick up the pieces, says Meridian VP joint-manager Joe Diggins
MERIDIAN VP joint-manager Joe Diggins says he has written off the rest of the season.
The Charlton-based outfit suffered their 17th league defeat in 24 league games when they went down to a 2-1 defeat to now third-placed side K Sports yesterday.
Lone striker Grant Lye grabbed Meridian the lead on the half-hour mark but two penalties from Paperboys striker Caine Smith, five minutes before half-time and 53 minutes and 36 seconds into time added on at the end of the game gave the home side a deserved victory over negative Meridian.
Both sides named three substitutes but Meridian only had 12 players at the game because Christopher Johnson and Jamie Fernandes failed to turn up due to work commitments, despite being named as substitutes.
“It was touch and go, they both had work and it was waiting on a last minute call from them if they could make it but we had a few players with the flu,” said Diggins.
“A few couldn’t make training so midweek we had 16-17 players available who we had to pick from but three hours before the meet we had 12. It’s the way it is at this level. Sometimes it happens like that especially when you’re asking players to drive all the way to Kent. Sometimes it’s difficult for them to get here and we did the best we could.”
Meridian have slipped into the bottom three with 19 points from 24 games. They have Sporting Club Thamesmead (14 points from 20) and Lewisham Borough (3 points from 21) below them in the table and with no relegation there is nothing to play for, according to James Brown’s managerial partner.
“I’m not too bothered about it because it’s not us that got us there,” said Diggins.
“We’re trying to pick up pieces, try and do the best we can. Our intentions are to get a bit of stability to the squad, add a few more in, try and get a good go until the end of the season and look to build for next year.
“This year has gone as far as I’m concerned. We’re not going to win anything, we’re not going to win the league, we’re not in any cups so we’re looking for stability and get a good team spirit and some quality players into the squad.”
Next up for Meridian is a visit from Eltham Palace next Saturday.
Lloyd Bradley's side are in the bottom six and went down to a 5-3 home defeat to Gravesham Borough yesterday.
Diggins said: “I played against them when I was at Forest Hill this season so I know exactly what they’re all about. When they played they had a little-big man up front in (Billy) Shinners and they’re organised, very good at the back so we know what to expect. No one gives you anything in these leagues, they’ll be tough.”
K Sports, meanwhile, rose to third-place in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table. The Aylesford-based outfit have collected 47 points from 21 league outings.
Rusthall remain top on 54 points from 23 games, followed by Glebe who have collected 50 points but have four games in hand and remain on course to go on and win the league title.
K Sports will be without central midfielder Jason Perry for Tuesday night’s trip to AFC Croydon Athletic in the Macron Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Third Round.
“We can go there and get something,” said assistant manager Graham Martin.
“We went to Hollands & Blair, who are a very strong side, we got something there so there’s no reason why we can’t go to Croydon (Athletic) on Tuesday night and get something from a side in the league above.
“It won’t be the same side that goes there. We’ve got a few fringe players that deserve games – but you just hope we can maybe go and nick a win and deserve a place in the next round.”
Manager Kris Browning and Martin have worked miracles to get a club without a playing budget involved in the title race.
Martin said: “It’s going ever so well considering. We look at it sometimes and there is a lot of money and a lot of finance flying about in this league. When you see what we put out on the pitch today, they’re all on zero money. We have a respect for that.
“We’re in a lot better position than we were this time last year. We finished sixth last season, which was a good first season, so hopefully we can improve on that this year.
“We’re just happy where we are. We just go out every week and just keep trying to get points on the board and see where you are. Hopefully come March and if we’re in that then we will have a look at it.
“I think Rusthall and Glebe (who play each other at Jockey Farm next Saturday) most certainly are my favourites. We played against Rusthall and they battered us so I think they’re still in with a chance and a very good chance.”