We have no pressure on us being the underdog, says Corinthian boss Matt Longhurst
The two sides meet at Gay Dawn Farm on Tuesday night in the Macron Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Semi-Final First Leg, before meeting at Cray Valley’s Badgers Sports Ground at Middle Park Avenue in the Second Leg next Tuesday.
The winner will contest the showpiece final against the winner of the Fisher and Beckenham Town tie.
Erith Town arrive at Gay Dawn Farm sitting in fifth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League, having collected 12 wins and 3 draws from their 20 league games.
The Dockers are ten points adrift of league leaders Whyteleafe, which is one of many of Mark Tompkins’ former clubs as a player.
Corinthian, meanwhile, sit in sixth-place, with 11 wins and 5 draws from their 20 league outings.
“The semi-final first leg is obviously against a team hotly tipped to win the league this season and they are still in with a shout in my opinion with all the games left,” said Longhurst.
“We’re used to being the underdogs in these games and that will be no different tomorrow.
“Erith have a vastly experienced manager and staff who’s managed in a higher league and they have players’ that have played at a very good level with Rikki Cable, one of arguably the best footballers in the league in their side. Accompany him with Lee Coburn, Russell Bedford, Danny Moore amongst others their experience and quality will make tomorrow night a really tough test – but one we relish.
“I can guarantee one thing from my players – they will play with no fear and will try and play the right way, I believe how the game should be played.
“If we can do all of that and have a little bit of luck then we have a chance, of course, but we know it’ll be tough going.
“With these ties being played over two legs it makes it even more difficult but we’ll be trying our very best to reach our third final in three seasons, which would be a massive achievement for the club.
“We go into the game under no illusions of the big task ahead of us, but we have no pressure on us being the underdog so we can go and enjoy the occasions.”
Corinthian, like Erith Town, have 12 league games remaining and Longhurst is pleased with progress being made at the amateur club.
“We are fairly happy with our current league position at present with the games we have left,” said the Corinthian manager.
“The top two have slightly pulled away but they have still to play each other and as we’ve seen already this season anyone can beat anyone on their day, so there are still a few twists and turns, I believe, in the title race.”
Corinthian lost three players to higher league clubs in the summer, with defender Dan Bent signing for League One club Gillingham, central midfielder Chris Kinnear joining his dad at Conference South Dover Athletic and striker Alfie May signing for Ryman League Division One North side Chatham Town.
May scored 23 goals for Chatham Town this season, before a recent move to their league rivals VCD Athletic, where he has already banged in two for Tony Russell’s league leaders.
“We’ve had another progressive season,” said Longhurst.
“Losing three players all to higher levels has had an impact on our young squad. To still be in amongst the leading group of six top sides is a credit to the players I have here.
“They come in twice a week, do everything asked of them and lots of them have bright futures in the game and will follow those other lads mentioned up the pyramid.
“Saturday’s game against Cray Valley we had one player in the starting XI over 23-years-old and that was the goalie!
“We had five teenagers start the game so when people talk about success I feel that has to be measured within what you have. If we had a budget or a big budget as some have in this league our success would be measured differently to that of a team with none.
“Over the last two seasons, we’ve reached two cup finals, finished seventh and fourth and won the Charity Shield. That’s progress alongside that we’ve produced some of the best young players in Kent and I truly believe that.
“With so many games left in the league I wouldn’t want to comment further than so far so good – but there’s a long way to go to finishing the season and only then will we know if we’ve achieved what we set out to do.”
Visit Corinthian’s website: www.pitchero.com/clubs/corinthianfc
Corinthian v Erith Town
Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Semi-Final First Leg
Tuesday 11th March 2014
Kick Off 7:45pm
At Gay Dawn Farm, Valley Road, Fawkham, Near Longfield, Kent DA3 8LY