Soccer Shorts: We are coming to the business end of the season. We are in a very tight position and now I feel it’s who holds their bottle in the run-in, says Hythe Town boss Clive Cook

Friday 04th March 2016

Here are tonight's Soccer Shorts Articles.

AFC CROYDON ATHLETIC boss Antony Williams says he wants to claim the local bragging rights against Croydon tomorrow.

The Rams are in ninth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League table on 35 points from 26 games, while their local rivals arrive at Mayfield Stadium in the bottom four on 28 points from the same number of games.

“Big game, we want the bragging rights,” said Williams following his side’s 1-1 draw at Fisher on Monday night.

“We beat them at their place, they beat us at ours in the Cup so we certainly like to do the double over them this year.

“We want to keep looking up rather than down, that’s important and finish the season as strong as we can.”

Williams, who revealed he’s got seven more players available to him after missing their last game, added: “While a derby is always nice, I think the lads are more looking forward to the Tuesday night game at Ashford because Ashford are still going for promotion.

“We’ve got some good fixtures coming up. We’ve certainly got a say who goes up.  We’ve got Greenwich twice and Ashford, so the boys love playing against the bigger sides so Greenwich will be interesting. We’re focusing on Croydon on Saturday.”

APM CONTRAST manager Kris Browning says his aim is to finish in the top eight at the end of their debut season in the Pain & Glory Sports Kent Invicta League.

The Aylesford-based Paperboys are presently in the top seven in the table with 13 wins and 5 draws from their 26 games and welcome third-from-bottom Rusthall to Cobdown tomorrow.

“We go into tomorrow’s game against one of my old clubs with a squad bolstered by four lads who were absent last week and new signing Nick Nowotny, who we signed on from Bearsted,” said Browning.

“We are in a good place at the moment and spirits are high.

“We will respect Rusthall, who is now run by an old foe in Dennis (Leigh), a good football man and we have had a number of battles when he was at Otford, old Kent County League.

“Our aim is to try and finish in the top eight and keep building for next season.

“We have Glebe in a couple of weeks in the semi-final of the cup and we are looking forward to that. We just want to keep our unbeaten run going and improving the squad.”

BROMLEY interim-manager Neil Smith says he’s expecting another difficult game at Chester tomorrow.

The Ravens secured their place in the Vanarama National League on Tuesday night, with a 2-0 win over their struggling Kent rivals Welling United, courtesy of goals from strikers Adam Cunnington and Moses Emmanuel (penalty).

Bromley are in thirteenth-place in the table with 47 points and travel to sixteenth-placed Chester, a side that have collected 39 points this season.

Smith, who has guided Bromley to three wins on the spin, is looking forward to his sixth game in charge since taking over from Mark Goldberg.

He said: “Another difficult game. I know Steve Burr, he’s a fantastic manager with a wealth of experience.  He knows this league inside out. He’s worked for England C, so with my limited knowledge, shall I say against someone like that, is fantastic.

“Hopefully the players lift themselves because it’s a fantastic stadium as well, an ex-League club. It will be a great club to go to and this is why we’re in the division.”

Bromley go into the game 14 points clear of the relegation zone and Smith hasn’t been told by the board if he is going to lead his home-town club next season.

Smith, who was Goldberg’s assistant manager, said: “I’ll have that conversation at the end of the season. At the moment I’ve got a job to do in terms of winning as many games as I can and then we’ll sit down when the dust has settled and we’ll discuss where we’re going to go with it.

“At the moment I’ve got a job to do and that’s to win as many games as I can and while I’m here and as long as I’m here we’ll keep doing it.”

Bromley then welcome fourth-from-bottom side FC Halifax Town to Hayes Lane next Tuesday night.

Smith added: “We seem to be fighting teams at the top or teams at the bottom.  They’re all hard. It’s a fantastic league and we’re enjoying every minute.  We’re learning along the way, good and bad.  Every game has got no surprise element to it. 

“When we played Halifax at their place we were 2-0 up with a minute to go and we drew two-all so you never count your chickens but that’s why we’re in it.”

CANTERBURY CITY joint-manager Ben Smith says he wants his side to continue their goalscoring streak when they host Erith & Belvedere tomorrow.

Canterbury City were held to a goal-less draw by bottom-of-the-table Holmesdale last weekend, but came away from Erith Town with a thrilling 3-3 draw in midweek.

“I was pleased with the character that we showed on Tuesday night away at Erith Town,” said Smith, whose side are in 12th place in the Southern Counties East Football League table.

“To go 2-0 down that early in the game was a kick in the teeth to be fair, as we were well in the game so we could have capitulated but instead we were brave on the ball and got ourselves back into the game.

“Then going 3-2 down when I thought we might take the lead could have hurt us but we plugged away and got back on terms with a cracking header from Jordan Casey and either side could’ve nicked it in injury time with both keeper’s pulling off good saves, so I think a point was a fair result.

“After somehow not scoring away at Holmesdale it was pleasing to see us find the net and that’s an area that we need to improve and become more clinical.”

Smith has today unveiled the signing of striker Dean Grant, who has left Whitstable Town, who have cut their budget as they come to terms with sitting at the foot of the Ryman League Division One South table and relegation into the Southern Counties East Football League a real possibility.

Smith said: “We have managed to sign Dean Grant, who should give us a huge boost in that area. He’s proven Ryman quality and a sought after player at that level.  Unfortunately he will not be available for tomorrow in what I think will be one of our hardest remaining fixtures.”

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s home game against Erith & Belvedere, Smith said: “I was impressed with them when we met in The FA Vase and they have made some good additions to their side, so we will need to step up our levels again to get a positive result but that is something we are more than capable of doing.”

CRAY WANDERERS have signed Dulwich Hamlet’s much-travelled striker Jacob Erskine on a one-month loan spell.

DEAL TOWN boss Derek Hares is pleased to be playing Sevenoaks Town at The Charles Sports Ground tomorrow.

The Kent coast outfit go into their 25th league game of the season sitting with only Rochester United and Holmesdale below them in the table, while Micky Collins’ side arrive in the top eight after thrashing Beckenham Town 7-1 at Greatness Park last weekend.

“It’ll be good to have a home game tomorrow after five away games,” said Hares, whose club are 14 points clear of the sole relegation berth.

“We have struggled away from home but have been very good at home. We know tomorrow’s game will be a difficult one against a Sevenoaks side who have had a solid season and had an excellent result against Beckenham last week.

“We should have a full squad to select from which has not been the case over the last few weeks.

“We now have 12 league games left to play and need to start picking up more points. We do have games in hand on most teams but you do have to win them. If we can do that then we can start to move up the league and finish the season well.”

DOVER ATHLETIC chairman Jim Parmenter has threatened to withdraw his investment if attendances do not improve.

Only 588 people were at Crabble on Tuesday as Chris Kinnear’s side lost 2-1 to Southport in the Vanarama National League.

"I am going to walk away from trying to get this club to the Football League unless the people of Dover get behind the club," he told BBC Radio Kent.

"There is no point in me investing hundreds of thousands of pounds if that is not what the people want."

Dover's match was the third-best attended game in Kent on Tuesday, with Bromley against Welling drawing in 1,110 and 854 watching Ebbsfleet's match against Havant & Waterlooville in National League South.

Defeat saw the Whiles slip to ninth in the table, five points off the play-offs, although Kinnear's side have games in hand on all of the teams above them.

The club is on the verge of making ground improvements which would make Crabble fulfil Football League requirements, but Parmenter says he will think twice before starting building works.

"I've all but confirmation of a £400,000 grant to rebuild a stand, with league-standard dressing rooms," he said.

"It involves personal expenditure of close to half a million pounds. When the grant is finalised - and it should be finalised in the next week - we have got six months to start building.

"If we don't start building we won't be able to get promotion. I am not going to do it unless the people want it.

"I will walk away. I have had enough."

Parmenter says he has invested close to £3m in the club over the last 11 years, during which time Dover have risen from Division One of the Ryman League to the top flight of the non-league pyramid.

Dover average 921 for home league games this season, with their highest attendance of 1,537 coming against Bromley on 28 December.

"We have been challenging at the top of the table all season and have had 10 years of success, and everybody is completely blasé about it," he added.

"People are just too used to success. They would rather stay indoors and watch European football.

"We should be getting crowds of 1,000 plus where we are and what we are doing.

"Everyone in the area needs to make up their mind - do they want a club that is ready to go in the league, or do they want us to go back down to the Ryman League and play local football?

"If that is what people want, fine. I am ready to say 'I give in'."

EBBSFLEET UNITED manager Daryl McMahon has made his second signing of the week by concluding a deal today for Whitehawk midfielder Sam Deering. The player arrives for a nominal fee on a permanent contract to the end of this season, with an option to extend.

Another star performer at National League South level, the 25-year-old Londoner was a youth player with Chelsea, Charlton Athletic and Oxford United, breaking into the Us first-team as a 17-year-old in 2008. He played in the 2010 Conference promotion final to help Oxford back into the Football League, earning England C honours in the process, before making a move to Barnet in 2011 where he played alongside Jordan Parkes.

After turning down a new contract, Deering moved west to Cheltenham Town and played in another Wembley showpiece as Cheltenham contested the 2013 League Two promotion final. In all, he played more than 150 times in the Football League before signing for Whitehawk in 2014 and, alongside John Paul Kissock, guiding them to the Conference South promotion final last season.

An attacking player with flair who is excellent with the ball at his feet, Deering has shown on numerous occasions against the Fleet what a torment he can be for defences. He scored 28 goals in 75 games for Whitehawk.

In related news, Craig Braham-Barrett’s loan at the Enclosed Ground is confirmed to the end of the season and he will be joined by Michael West who returns to Sussex for a second spell with the Hawks, again until the end of the season.

Fleet boss McMahon told “Sam’s another player with obvious qualities to strengthen us in certain areas going into this crucial final period. He’s been involved in promotion races at this and higher levels and he’ll add another dimension for us.”

Vice chairman Peter Varney commented: “I’m aware with this signing and that of Nathan Ashmore that our fans may have been alerted to news that had filtered on to social media. We are reluctant to make deals public until we are satisfied that everything is complete at our end but endeavour where possible to get this information to our supporters first.”

The Fleet have snapped up Gosport Borough goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore, 26, who arrives at Stonebridge Road for an undisclosed fee, having signed a two-and-a-half year contract for Gosport in February 2015.

Ashmore began his career on the south coast with Gosport’s neighbours and rivals Havant & Waterlooville, coming through the Hawks’ Academy and breaking into the first team in 2008. He moved to Gosport, initially on loan, in 2011 and produced such displays that his stay was made permanent.

Over the past five years, Ashmore has been instrumental in helping Gosport win two successive promotions, reach an FA Trophy Final at Wembley and become a play-off-challenging force in the National League South. He has impressed on several occasions in Gosport colours against the Fleet and, with the squad looking to strengthen for the final push towards promotion this season, manager McMahon was quick to make his move for a goalkeeper who has attracted plenty of attention from Football League scouts.

McMahon told the club’s website: “Nathan’s obviously a top keeper, that much is clear to any supporter at this level. He’s someone I’m looking forward to working with and he’s available to play on Saturday. He wants to play, he hasn’t come here to sit around.

“The opportunity to sign Nathan presented itself suddenly even though we’ve looked at him before. It’s an opportunity for me to strengthen a position with a fantastic player to try to help us win the league.

“Brandon Hall has been terrific this year, he’s a young goalkeeper and he’s learning all the time. Bringing Nathan in is nothing against Brandon who’s still got a big future at this club and in the game. I still believe he’s going to be a Football League goalkeeper.”

GREENWICH BOROUGH will claim top spot in the Southern Counties East Football League table with a victory over basement side Holmesdale at Princes Park tomorrow.

Leaders Hollands & Blair are without a game so Gary Alexander’s side will go a point clear at the summit should they beat Byron Beard’s side, who are 12 points adrift of safety.

Alexander says he is still coming to terms with Jessie Darko’s broken leg during their 1-0 win at Lordswood last weekend.

He said: “A tough week after what happened to Jessie, who our thoughts are still firmly with.  I’m sure Lordswood will agree a tough game was marred by Jessie’s injury but a fully deserved three points.

“Holmesdale will be no different as they aim to pick up points for very different reasons. We will be taking nothing for granted and will be giving them all the respect they deserve as on their day they can beat anyone, that’s this league, drop standards and you lose.

“I’m expecting another tough encounter as we aim to catch the leaders.”

HYTHE TOWN manager Clive Cook says he wants his side to keep their bottle going into tomorrow’s play-off cruncher against fellow promotion chasing side Dorking Wanderers.

The Cannons climbed into fifth-place in the Ryman League Division One South table on Tuesday night with a 3-0 win away to relegation threatened Peaceheaven & Telscombe.

“Our last game against Peaceheaven was a horrible game on a bumpy pitch with very windy conditions, it was not a good advert for Ryman League football to say the least,” reflected Cook.

“Going down there in very cold and windy conditions was not the best but we got the three points, a clean sheet, job done, without getting out of first gear really, so I was happy with that and we move on to Saturday’s game against Dorking Wanderers.”

Hythe Town have won their last nine league games and welcome a Dorking Wanderers side that arrive at Reachfields Stadium in second place on 71 points from 37 games, 18 points adrift of champions-elect Folkestone Invicta.

“I am really looking forward to the game,” said Cook.

“The play decent football and it will be another big test in our quest to reach the play-offs.

“We must be at the top of our game to get anything from it.  Our mind-set must be spot on, our work-rate 110% and our want to earn the right to gain the three points to keep us in the play-off position.

“We are coming to the business end of the season. We are in a very tight position and now I feel it’s who holds their bottle in the run-in. There is probably 10 clubs going for four places as Folkestone, fair play to Cugs (Neil Cugley) and his boys have almost tied up the title.

“There will be many twists and turns before the four teams are sorted out, so we must concentrate on our game, stay focused, be patient and hopefully we will be one of the four, who knows, so enjoy the ride.”

LEWISHAM BOROUGH chairman Ray Simpson says Ladywell Arena will be up to scratch to stage Step Six football next season.

“Our facilities continue to improve and the 100-seater stand is expected to be in place in March-April along with other improvements which should ensure that we meet the necessary ground grading requirements,” he said.

The club are rooted in the bottom two in the Pain & Glory Sports Kent Invicta League table on 7 points from 28 games.  The seated stand is expected to be installed in the corner of the ground, although spectators would prefer to watch the game from the centre of the pitch.

MARGATE have announced the signing of 18 year old striker Greg Cundle on loan from League One side Gillingham.  

Cundle joins the Blues on an initial 28 day loan which runs until Saturday 2nd April 2016, meaning he could play six times for Nikki Bull’s side during his stay.

Cundle has spent time out on loan already this season with Ryman Division One South side East Grinstead Town, where he netted 14 times before then joining Ryman Division One North side Tilbury where he netted four times in seven appearances.

Cundle is available for selection ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Maidenhead United, where the Blues will be looking to bounce back from two defeats on the spin.

OLD BROMLEIANS – a Bromley based side that are in the bottom four in the NRG Gym Kent County League Division Two West – begin the search for a new manager with next season in mind.

RUSTHALL manager Dave Rusbridge has explained why the club will enter a reserve side in the Kent County League next season.

He told the club’s website: “The club have decided to enter the reserves into the Kent County League next season in an effort to get the team nearer to the first team level.

“It is hoped a closer relationship between the sides in terms of training, commitment and player quality will benefit all.  We will retain a side in the Tonbridge League. Management and coaches for all three teams are now being considered.”

SEVEN ACRE & SIDCUP manager Lee Hill says he wants to finish the season on a high note.

The Thamesmead-based club defeated Pain & Glory Sports Kent Invicta League leaders Glebe 3-2 on Tuesday night, courtesy of goals from Anthony Fenech, Tony Hill and Dan Stokley.

Glebe responded to their third league defeat of the season by not providing post-match food to their opponents - and the title race has intensified going into the last two months of the season.

“This week started well with a good win over league leaders Glebe.  The boys were outstanding and produced a good all-round team performance on a very heavy pitch against a well-drilled Glebe team,” said Hill.

Last night, Seven Acre & Sidcup needed extra-time to beat league rivals Kent Football United 4-3 in the Hospital Charity Cup Quarter-Final.

Hill added: “We made several changes from the Glebe game but just managed to scrape through 4-3 after extra time with two goals from Josh Patrick and one each for Tony Ecuer and Sid Badaru.

“Tomorrow we visit Sutton, who are challenging for the league. This will be another good test against a very strong and good team who try to play football the right way. We go there with a full squad to choose from.

“We have been very inconsistent this season as you can tell by our league position. We hope to have a good end to the season and hopefully finish in the top half of the table.”

SHEPPEY UNITED assistant manager Barry Morgan says the club have another big game, when Meridian VP visit Holm Park tomorrow.

The Ites are involved in a compelling Pain & Glory Sports Kent Invicta League title race and play Richard Dimmock’s side sitting in second-place in the table on 60 points from 26 games, level on points with Glebe.

Two clubs will be promoted into the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division next season, but while Glebe and Sheppey United are the favourites, Bearsted (58 points) and Sutton Athletic (55) also have a say on who wins the league title.

Reflecting on the club’s 3-2 win at Phoenix Sports Reserves on Tuesday night, Morgan said: “Thoughts on Tuesday night’s game, as you can imagine are good thoughts, coming back from 2-0 down against a good Phoenix side including a few first team players, to win 3-2, away from home, it doesn’t get much better than that!

“We started poorly in this match, gave them too much room to play in and got punished as a result.  It was a big bonus to get a goal back before half-time an we always fancied ourselves down the slope in the second half.”

Meridian arrive at Holm Park sitting in 12th place in the table.

“Another big game tomorrow at home to Meridian, whose results and performances have really improved of late, so we’ll have to step up to the plate again to get the required three points,” said Morgan.

“Home advantage is important to us but sometimes it’s a bit of a disadvantage in that everybody whose come to Holm Park so far this season has treated it like a Cup Final and performed accordingly, so just like all of our opponents we will treat Meridian with the utmost respect.

“As far as targets for the season are concerned, no crazy predictions here. A top four finish would be great and I’m afraid I’m going to roll out all the appropriate clichés here, we will take one game at a time and see where it takes us.

“Obviously we have a Cup Final with Ashford to look forward to – great for our club and magnificent supporters.”

THAMESMEAD TOWN boss Terry Spillane says his hopes of snatching a play-off berth are still alive.

The Mead are in ninth-place in the Ryman League Division One North table on 58 points and have 11 games left of their season to play and are 10 points adrift of fifth-placed Cheshunt, who occupy the last play-off place.

“We were very pleased with our 3-2 away win at Great Wakering Rovers last Saturday as it’s always a difficult place to go to and get points,” said Spillane.

“We had to grind this one out as both the strong winds and bobbly pitch made it very difficult for both sides.”

Thamesmead Town host fifteenth-placed Soham Town Rangers at  Bayliss Avenue tomorrow and Spillane said: “Tomorrow’s game against Soham will be another tough test for us as they’re on a very good run at the moment.

“We drew 2-2 in our last game with them after being 2-0 up with five minutes to go, which was obviously very disappointing for us.

“Our play-off hopes are still alive and as long as we have a chance that will be our aim and target set for the boys.  I still think there’s five or six clubs with a chance of the fifth spot.

“In my opinion Sudbury have won it and I think Thurrock, Hornchurch and Harlow have three of the four play-off spots available.  Unlike a few teams above us there’s absolutely no pressure on us at all, simply because – and there’s no doubt about it – we are rank outsiders to get a play-off spot but we know if we can go on a winning run it puts pressure on the teams above us and we want to make sure if any of the teams above us falter then we are in a position to take advantage.

“It’s going to be an exciting end to the season and I hope we are involved in it.”

WELLING UNITED have confirmed that former captain Ricky Wellard has left the club after coming to an agreement to terminate his contract early.

Wellard joined the Wings at the start of the season but scored just three goals in 34 games during his eight month spell at Park View Road.

“The club would like to wish Ricky all the best for the future and thank him for his services this season,” said a club statement.

Welling, who slipped down a place into the bottom two in the Vanarama National League table after losing 2-0 at Bromley on Tuesday night, have signed Scott Kashket from Leyton Orient on a one-month youth loan and he goes into tomorrow’s squad against title-challengers Cheltenham Town.