The support from the local community has been fantastic and confirms my view that Sheppey United could return to their former glory and become a force in non-league football, says boss Ernie Batten
SHEPPEY UNITED manager Ernie Batten says the club are on the verge of becoming a force in non-league football.
The club are currently in second-place in the Pain & Glory Sports Kent Invicta League and attracted a League record crowd of 715 to Holm Park for their top-of-the-table clash against Glebe over Easter.
The Ites lock horns with Southern Counties East Football League side Ashford United to contest the Kent Reliance Senior Trophy Final at Maidstone United on Sunday.
“The Cup Final against Ashford United is a great game for the club, so early in its resurrection,” said Batten.
“Looking out over our new stadium Holm Park it’s hard to believe that only three years ago Sheppey United were playing county football in front of a handful of people.
“I’m particularly pleased for the chairman and back room staff who have worked so hard to progress the club.
“Our fan base has grown week in week out culminating in the incredible 715 who attended on Easter Monday.
“The support from the local community has been fantastic and confirms my view that Sheppey United could return to their former glory and become a force in non-league football. Of course, for this to happen, all of us at the club will need to keep working very hard into the future and take nothing for granted.
“The game against Ashford United will be a big test for us against a side at the top end of the league above us.
“Ashford manager Danny Lye has put together a good side who have some very experienced players from their league and the Ryman League above. However, I feel we have nothing to fear as I know what ability we have in our team.
“We have shown in earlier rounds against SCEFL sides Fisher and Erith & Belvedere that we can compete at this level.
“On the day I feel our fans’ vocal support could also be a factor in us succeeding in lifting the trophy and given that Ashford United are a well-supported club it wouldn’t surprise me if we see a record attendance for this final.”
Sheppey United have collected 74 points, one less than league leaders Glebe and are gunning it out for the two promotion places into the Southern Counties East Football League.
Reflecting on their win at Oakley Road last weekend, Batten said: “Our last game at FC Elmstead was on paper a tricky game but we played some good first half football and went in 5-1 up at the break, which is how the game ended.
“Our squad has been developing during most of this season and as we near the end I’m happy with the players that are now at the club. We have got quality throughout the squad and cover for most positions.
“Our aims for the rest of the season is for the club to be promoted to the SCEFL. We are sitting second in the league and it’s very tight with two promotion places up for grabs.
“We have five crucial league games left this season and for us it means five more cup finals to follow Sunday’s final.”
Visit Sheppey United’s website: www.sheppeyunitedfc.co.uk
Ashford United v Sheppey United
Kent Reliance Senior Trophy Final
Sunday 10th April 2016
Kick Off 2:00pm
at Gallagher Stadium, James Whatman Way, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1LQ