Soccer Shorts: Let's hope come 5pm on Saturday we're in the next round of The FA Cup - Longhurst

Friday 15th August 2014
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ASHFORD UNITED player-assistant manager Lloyd Blackman is delighted with their positive start to the season.

The club sit proudly at the top of the Southern Counties East Football League table after beating Fisher 6-1 at Homelands Stadium on the opening day of the season, before coming away from Lordswood with a 4-0 win on Tuesday night.

Blackman, who is Paul Chambers’ number two, said: “It’s a positive start to the season, carrying on from our decent pre-season form.

“I think they’ll be stiffer tests ahead but we can only beat who’s put in front of us and we’ll be looking to carry that form on to The FA Cup tomorrow.

“Games come thick and fast so we need to make sure we can keep everyone fit and available.”

Ashford travel to Guildford City in The FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tomorrow, with £1,500 in prize money up for grabs for each of the 184 winners over the weekend.

The Surrey outfit have played three league games, collecting one win and two defeats and lie in fourteenth-place (out of 21 clubs) in the Combined Counties League Premier Division table.

“Guildford will be a tough test and mentalities can change because it’s a Cup competition so we’ll have to make sure we are well up for it,” said Blackman.

“The prize money is something clubs at this level require and we have to make sure we are ready come Saturday to give us the best possible chance of progressing.”

CHATHAM TOWN manager Kevin Watson has praised the character of his side despite their 50% record after the first week of the season.

The club are in eighth-place in the Ryman League Division One North table after starting their league campaign with a 3-1 home win over Dereham Town (despite having Liam Hickey sent-off with the score at 1-1), before losing 3-2 at Waltham Abbey in midweek.

Watson said: “I was pleased with the character shown on Saturday considering the circumstances with going down to ten-men.

“The players showed maturity in carrying out instructions.”

Chatham Town travel to Heybridge Swifts tomorrow for their third league fixture.

The Essex side are fifth-from-bottom in the table after opening their campaign with a 3-1 defeat at Soham Town Rangers, before bouncing back with a 1-1 draw at home to Redbridge in midweek.

Watson said: “I was on my annual holiday Tuesday but by all accounts the general consensus was we deserved more from the game.

“We were apparently on the wrong end of some decisions by officials, namely conceding a penalty in the first minute and not being awarded one in the last.

“You can’t concede three goals and expect anything out of a game at this level.”

DEAL TOWN manager Darren Anslow says he is looking forward to their FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie at home to league rivals Phoenix Sports tomorrow.

It is Phoenix’s first ever FA Cup tie and the Barnehurst-based club are staging a party at their ground on Saturday night to mark the occasion.

Phoenix Sports go into the game on the back of two league wins on the bounce having defeated Greenwich Borough 1-0 at home and coming away from Fisher with a 3-0 win last Monday night.

Deal Town, on the other hand, have lost their first two league games, going down to a 2-0 defeat at Croydon on the opening day and a 4-1 home defeat to Rochester United on Tuesday night.

Anslow said: “Obviously really looking forward to the start of The FA Cup on Saturday and definitely a tough draw against a strong team who have started really well.

“It’s been a strange start for us this season with a really young side, who have performed well in two halves and conceded in the other two, so I’m just looking for more consistency from the team and leaders to break through.”

ERITH & BELVEDERE manager Matt Longhurst says he is not getting carried away with his side’s 100% start to the new season.

The club suffered relegation after just one season in the Ryman League when they finished at the bottom of the Division One North table.

But they started their new campaign with a 6-2 win at Woodstock Sports – where former Chatham Town striker Alfie May scored five goals – before beating Holmesdale 3-1 at Park View Road on Tuesday night and are in second place in the Southern Counties East Football League table, behind Ashford United on goals scored.

“So far so good, but I’m not getting carried away by any means is the message we’re sending out to everyone at the moment,” said former Corinthian boss Longhurst.

“We’re a little bit hit and miss at the moment. We’ve played well in patches, not so well in others and poor in parts, but I expect this with a new team and a whole new look squad.

“In terms of where I want us to be, I think we’re about 50% of where we’ll be in 12 months’ time.

“Rebuilding takes time. There are a few of us in the league doing that this year and I think this will be reflected in some of the results.

“Having said that we’re very pleased to have picked up two wins from two and collect all six points, but we’ve been doing this long enough now to know we just take it game-by-game and week-by-week.

“The one thing I am very pleased with is the commitment, effort and application of the players and togetherness is brilliant after being together such a short period of time.

“We’ve made sure that we create an atmosphere that players can be themselves and enjoy coming to football.”

May has scored seven goals already this season and Longhurst is delighted with his goalscoring form so far.

“Alfie May will obviously take a lot of the headlines with his goals but he knows the importance of the team around him and what they do to provide him with the chances he gets,” said Longhurst, who managed the striker at Corinthian.

Holmesdale arrived at Park View Road on the back of their 8-1 home win over Lingfield on the opening day of the season.

Longhurst said: “Holmesdale was a tough test on Tuesday night and I truly believe that they will win a vast amount of their games this season. 

“They are difficult to play against and on the back of an 8-1 win, it was always going to be tough.

“As a team I want us to start getting some clean sheets on board as I do think that we have goals in us with the forwards we have in the squad with Richmond Kissi still to come back after next Tuesday’s home game against Erith Town, it’ll add to the fire power.”

So it’s on to The FA Cup tomorrow and The Deres welcome AFC Croydon Athletic to Park View Road in the Extra Preliminary Round.

The Rams play in the second-tier of the Combined Counties League (one below Erith & Belvedere) and are in seventh-place in the table after two games.

They have played their first two games away from home, losing 1-0 to CB Hounslow United and coming away from Chessington & Hook United with a 3-2 win, whilst they get their old ground in Thornton Heath back up to standard after their problems.

Longhurst will play midfielder Charley Hearn, 30, who was part of Millwall’s FA Cup Final squad back in 2004.

He said: “I’m not sure if I’m correct but we’ve got to be one of the only teams with an FA Cup finalist in their squad in such an early round in Charley Hearn.

“The lads have been asking him questions this week on what the build-up was like etc. He’s still got his Cup Final suit at home in the wardrobe.

“It’s fantastic to have someone of that calibre around the dressing room and with young players like Alfie May, Bill Parkinson and Ben Wilson amongst others.

“We look forward to the game but everyone knows that you’re not going to win The FA Cup but it does bring valuable revenue into clubs at our level and also the aim is to go as far as you can to play teams from a higher level.

“I watched AFC Croydon Athletic in pre-season and it will certainly be a tough game. They have pace and power in their side and a few players I know, but as ever as aim to win the game and try to progress.

“Let’s hope come 5pm on Saturday, we’re in the next round!”

ERITH TOWN manager Simon Austin says he’s feeling disappointed and frustrated with his first week in charge of the club.

The Dockers are in fifteenth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League table after losing 1-0 at Sevenoaks Town on the opening day of the season, before Croydon came away from Middle Park Avenue with a 2-0 win in midweek.

Austin left Ryman League Division One South side Folkestone Invicta in the summer to take charge of Erith Town, after former manager Mark Tompkins moved upstairs.

Austin said: “I can’t say I have been massively disappointed with how we have played in our first two league games. Results, yes, hugely disappointed, frustrated but that’s football and no one can do anything about that but us and we will, I promise you that.

“I’m working on something after this weekend, things will change slightly.”

Reflecting on their home defeat to Croydon, Austin said: “We started really strong, exactly what we have been working on, implemented the game plan brilliantly but we didn’t score and then they go and get a fluky goal from 35 yards and it’s going straight to Richard (Stroud), it then hits someone and deflects about one mile in the air and loops in to the back of the net!

“We’ll get there but it’s going to take a bit of time to implement my brand of football.  We only get a few hours a week to work on it, the lads so far have very reciprocal, taking it on board, enjoyed training but there is definitely more to come from all of them.”

There are two FA Cup ties taking place at Badgers this weekend.  First up is Erith Town’s game against St Francis Rangers before Cray Valley face Raynes Park Vale at 13:00 on Sunday afternoon.

“We’ve got The FA Cup this weekend, so a good opportunity to forget the league, so that’s a massive positive,” said Austin, who in 2007 played for Ryman League club Horsham, in two Second Round ties against then League One side Swansea City.

“It’s The FA Cup so I expect the boys to be buzzing come Saturday,” said Austin, who has experience managing in this league with Canterbury City.

“I have had them watched on Wednesday and spoke to a few people I know down that way.

“We are going in to this game the right way.  They have won their first two league games so I’m sure they are full of confidence but I’m really looking for us to get this game to start us.

“I am 100% confident if we score first, if we turn our possession and chances into the goals our play deserves then that will just give us that small lift we need at the moment.

“Honestly that first goal and you’ll see a huge lift in my players.”

FAVERSHAM TOWN manager Ray Turner says he is giving youngsters a chance to shine during tomorrow’s league trip to Merstham.

The Lilywhites are in thirteenth-place in the Ryman League Division One South table after opening their campaign with a 2-1 home win over Worthing, before losing 2-1 at Folkestone Invicta, last season’s runners-up and play-off finalists, on Tuesday night.

“We are a little disappointed that we have not stayed unbeaten after Tuesday’s fixture at Folkestone,” said Turner.

“Pleased to win our first game in front of our own supporters. We left it late but generally had good control of the game against Worthing. 

“I travelled down to watch their last pre-season game and it proved a worthwhile trip as they have a certain way of playing that needs a tactical adjustment.

“Worthing are a young side that I feel will improve and get stronger through the season.

“Folkestone for me historically are the benchmark in this league. If you finish above them you will be sitting in a play-off position at the very least.

“It was a game played to a very high standard this early on in the league campaign.

“I felt on the night the difference was the clinical nature of the front two of Paul Booth and Ian Draycott.

“Booth struck with his only chance in the game up until then and it changed the flow of the game.

“Folkestone are a very good side when they take the lead as they have played to exploit the gaps that naturally occur when you try and open the game up.

“Draycott is someone that looks at home down there and he will undoubtedly benefit from the influence and direction from Booth.

“There were some signs for us though and I think we are getting closer to them.”

Turner said he is pleased with the quality within his squad this season. 

“I have added Josh Stanford to the squad now he has had his international clearance and I will also be adding another striker once some administration issues have been cleared up.

“This represents the strongest squad I have put together at Faversham and although it has always been a slow and steady build at this club we continue to get stronger and I think we are an example to many small clubs in this league.

“We have earnt the respect of other clubs and we represent a tough challenge for anyone in this league.

“I appreciate our season being a slow burner for a while and I’m prepared for a small period of inconsistent results until we get everyone I want fit and available.

“We have a problem at centre half to sort out with four currently out, which is both unusual and unwelcome.

“John Scarborough is not too bad and should be back two weeks. Jordan Miller is out a little longer at around the three week mark and with Ashley Brown and now Dan Carrington in America it is not ideal as any manager would say to keep having to adjust this key part of your team structure.

“The benefit of having a strong group of under 21s though is that it enables me to promote from within the club and Saturday Freeman Rogers, who signed in the summer from the Dartford Academy, will get his chance.”

Turner takes his side to Merstham tomorrow.  Hayden Bird’s side have opened their campaign with a 1-1 draw at Tooting & Mitcham United before thrashing Three Bridges 6-0 at home in midweek.

Turner said: “Saturday at Merstham is a tough one. They are coming off the back of a big win and they are a real momentum side who are capable of going on winning runs and scoring lots of goals.

“They pay good money and it’s no coincidence they have good players. Hayden (Bird) has kept last season’s squad and added quality.

“I felt they should have got in the play-offs last season so feel sure they will be targeting that as a minimum this time round. 
“They know we always give them a hard game and we look forward to the trip.”

HOLMESDALE player-manager John-Paul Collier says he’s feeling excited about tomorrow’s home FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie against Tunbridge Wells.

The Dalers began their Southern Counties East Football League campaign with an 8-1 home win over debutants Lingfield, but went down to a 3-1 defeat at Erith & Belvedere on Tuesday night.

Midfielder Collier said: “We had a fantastic start to the season with an 8-1 home win.  It sounds funny to say but we weren’t too happy with the performance!

“At 1-0 up our goalkeeper made a fantastic penalty save which changed the game completely.

“From then on we managed to create some fantastic opportunities and take a lot of them.”

Collier added: “Tuesday’s game away to Erith & Belvedere was an extremely frustrating game. We made a few decisions as a management team on player selection, which on reflection we feel were not the right ones.

“Going into the match we really felt we could get the win.  They scored a very good first goal then we equalised well, but two mistakes from us allowed Erith & Belvedere to go in at half-time 3-1 up.

“The second half was very frustrating for us as they did everything to waste time, to slow down play and frustrate us, which worked well for them as they held onto the victory.”

Holmesdale go into tomorrow’s FA Cup tie sitting in seventh-place in the table.

Tunbridge Wells are third after beating Cray Valley (3-0) and Lingfield (2-0) during the first week of the season.

“Our thoughts going into tomorrow’s game are that we have trained very well last night and understand exactly what we have to do to win,” said Collier.

“Tunbridge Wells are a very strong, well-organised team who are excellent from set-plays.

“We need to be able to cope with this at the same time as taking our play to them.

“It’s an exciting day for everyone and a day that we are very much looking forward to.”

TONBRIDGE ANGELS manager Steve McKimm says he’s pleased with certain aspects during his first two games in charge of the club.

The club suffered relegation after three seasons in Conference South and began their Ryman Premier League campaign with a 4-1 home win over last season’s Ryman League Division One North champions, VCD Athletic.

But they crashed to a 4-1 defeat away to Peacehaven & Telscombe on Wednesday night and as a result have slipped down to thirteenth-place.

“I’m pleased with certain aspects of the first two games,” said McKimm.

“I’ve got stuff to work on with my young squad. It’s a work in progress so things don’t happen overnight.

“We wasn’t celebrating after the first win and won’t panic after the first defeat.”

The Angels are on the road tomorrow and play a Metropolitan Police side that have lost 3-1 at Maidstone United on opening day, despite taking the lead, before bouncing back with a midweek 2-0 home win over Hendon.

“Met Police are a very good organised side with a good manager in Jim Cooper,” said McKimm.

“We will still try to play the right way and see what result it gives us at 4:45pm on Saturday.

“Fans were fantastic at home and away and hopefully we can give them something to shout about and keep coming to the games.”

WELLING UNITED manager Jamie Day expects a tough game up at FC Halifax Town tomorrow.

The Wings are in the bottom seven in the Vanarama Conference after opening their campaign with a 1-1 home draw against AFC Telford United, before making the long trip to Torquay United on Tuesday night, going down to a 3-0 defeat.

Day said: “First two games I think we have played well in patches. 

“We should have got three points against Telford but we never took our chances and Tuesday apart from three mistakes and a bit of pressure from the home team in the first half, we more than competed and should have scored but at the moment we are getting punished from our mistakes and not taking our chances.

“We know at this level if you fail to take them you get beat.”

Fourth-placed Halifax, meanwhile, defeated Dover Athletic 1-0 at Crabble on the opening day of the season and followed up with a 3-1 home win over Southport in midweek.

Day said: “Tomorrow is another tough game against a team who will be a big, powerful side who will be looking to get in the play-offs, so we need to be at our best to get anything from it.

“It’s going to be a tough season with the amount of money teams are spending in this league but we need to keep playing the right way and become more ruthless.”

WOODSTOCK SPORTS assistant manager Chris Cooper says he has mixed thoughts of the first week to the season.

The Sittingbourne based have club opened their new Southern Counties East Football League campaign with two defeats, a 6-2 home defeat to relegated Erith & Belvedere, before losing 1-0 at Canterbury City on Wednesday night.

Lee Hockey’s side finished at the foot of the table last season but were handed a reprieve after Kent Invicta League champions Hollands & Blair were denied promotion due to ground grading issues.
“In terms of the first two games we have mixed thoughts,” said Cooper.

“The first game against Erith & Belvedere was tough and unfortunately the lads didn't execute the game plan we had.

“Erith & Belvedere were up for it right from the first whistle, didn't give us the chance to settle, they contested everything with great passion and played the conditions really well.

“When we reflect back they didn't really string more than 3-4 passes together they just played the ball in the right areas, won the majority of second balls and when the ball dropped in our box they were clinical.

“We had an honest chat after the game and the lads all agreed that the performance level needed to be improved.

“Pre-season had been excellent and as a club we know we are more organised and professional than ever.  Simply speaking Erith & Belvedere earned the right to play and had the class needed when it mattered.  Credit to them they will be up there competing at the end of the season, we will learn and move on.”

Woodstock’s trip to Canterbury City was the home club’s first game at Ashford United’s Homelands Stadium.

Cooper said: “Canterbury on Wednesday was a very hard fought game.  We were very unlucky not to get something out of it. With a little bit more quality and luck in key areas we could have scored four or five.

“As it was, we hit the post, bar and had two cleared off the line, its fine margins that win and lose games.

“Their goal came from a very dodgy free kick, which they took quickly.  We were still asking the ref what it was given for and we just switched off for a matter of seconds and they scored!

“That's another lesson we need to learn you can't afford to switch off at all.

“The loss on Wednesday was more gutting than the Erith & Belvedere game, as it was a game we deserved to win. We competed well against a very physical side and the lads came off the pitch having given their all, a tough blow to take but one we are confident we can bounce back from.”

Woodstock Sports travel to Pagham in The FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tomorrow.

Pagham are in eighth-place in the Sussex County League top-flight after coming away from Hassocks with an opening day 2-1 win, before being held at home to 1-1 draw by Arundel.
Cooper said: “Saturday is the FA Cup and a great chance for our young side to get back to it.

“We went to watch Pagham on Tuesday and we are aware of their strengths and their weaknesses.

“It’s a long way to travel to not give a good account of yourself.  The team will all know their roles and will be given the chance to express themselves, rest assured we will be up for it.

“We have some excellent young talent playing for us and a great spirit developing at the club, the board are a great support and despite the first couple of results the mood is very positive. 

“We are very confident we can push on in the league and hopefully we can have a nice run in the cups.

“A win in the FA Cup tomorrow will add to the morale and also bring in some decent prize money into the club. We will give it everything we can to get to the next round.”