Wells coach Gibbons reflects on a "mixed season"

Thursday 04th May 2006

Tunbridge Wells coach Steve Gibbons reflects on the season but insists the club must improve on their eleventh place finish (out of sixteen sides) in the Kentish Observer League, writes Stephen McCartney.

Speaking on www.tunbridgewellsfc.co.uk, the Wells stalwart said: “That’s it. All done. No more football until we drag the lads in to pre season training on the 1st of July.

“All of the squad have been invited back for next season and we would like to think that they are all going to return to the Wells.

“As yet, none have said that they are moving on but its early days, I’ll keep you all updated on the squad situation as the summer goes on.”

The Culverden Stadium outfit came so close to ending their 18-year draught without a trophy when they lost their Kent Senior Trophy Final to VCD Athletic, who won the game 3-1 on penalties after the game finished 1-1 after extra time.

He said: “Looking back at last season and most notably the Cup Final brings mixed emotions. The final itself was a great day, the club organised a magnificent breakfast for all the players and they all really appreciated the effort made by the club on their behalf.

“We went into the game in great spirits and felt with a good performance and a bit of good luck we would return home with the trophy.

“Sadly it wasn’t to be, we played extremely well against a very capable VCD side who we took right to the wire, the luck in the penalty shootouts was going to run out sooner or later…unfortunately it was sooner.”

Gibbons reflected on the key moments during the game at Welling United’s Park View Road. “The clearance off the line from Alex Rich’s shot, the strike against the post from Dave Hassett and the shot Brad fired over were all big moments,” he said.

“Yet had John Whitehouse not been at the top of his game, they could have taken the game before it got to the dreaded spot kicks. The rest as they say is history.”

But following their brave cup defeat, the side bounced back to collect seven points from their last three league games.

“From the defeat we had to get ourselves back up for the remaining league fixtures, the first game was three days after the final at home to Lordswood, then Deal away, finishing with Whitstable at home as the last game of the campaign.

“With nothing to play for in the league and still smarting it was difficult to judge just what we could get performance wise. We needn’t have worried.

“Drawing with Lordswood and then beating Deal with a superb second half fight back showed the magnificent team spirit that the team now has and set us up nicely for the final home game with Whitstable.

“With the added ranks of the players and parents of our feeder club Foresters FC joining the Culverden faithful for the Whitstable game the atmosphere was exactly how a football ground should be, full of life and noise.

“The kids came onto the pitch before the game and played football with the players and had a great time.

“Whitstable had plenty to play for and started brightly and they gave us plenty of near misses hitting the post and making John Whitehouse earn his money again.

“We played some great football and with some excellent finishing earning the points.

"So overall, a mixed bag of a season.  The final league position was a disappointing one and we need to improve on this for next season if we are to be seen as a club challenging for honours.”

Next season will be a big-one for the club, and with many good youngsters coming through, Gibbons admits things are looking good.

He added: “Another plus point was the emergence of young talent in the form of Sam Phillips, Alex Rich, Mike McKeown and 16 year old Charlie Sharman who all impressed when they were called on.

“The Club has big plans so with the continued support of the fans and the tireless work of the people who volunteer their time to keep the club running lets hope next season brings more success both on and off the pitch.”