We're the underdogs for the third year running, claims Corinthian boss Matt Longhurst
The amateur club finished with 58 points (16 wins, 10 draws and 6 defeats) from their 32 league games, 22 points adrift of promoted champions Whyteleafe.
“To a certain extent we’re pleased with it,” said Longhurst.
“Possibly a little bit disappointed. We’ve drawn ten games this season and I’m purely saying we didn’t score enough goals.
“I’m right in saying that Whyteleafe scored 51 goals more than us. We beat the teams above us, we beat Erith Town, we beat Whyteleafe, we beat Ashford and we beat Tunbridge Wells so we dropped points against the teams below us and that’s probably why we ended up finishing fifth rather than a little bit higher up in the table.
“We lost Alfie May and it’s difficult to replace someone of that calibre who scored 32 goals but all round the team could have done with more goals being shared across the rest of the group.
“It’s pleasing in terms of we’ve probably finished behind some of the bigger clubs in the league (Whyteleafe, Ashford United, Erith Town and Tunbridge Wells) but disappointing in the fact that we lost six games, one of which was against Canterbury when we put a lot of the youngsters in with one eye on the cup final because we knew we couldn’t finish higher or lower than fifth.
“But up until that point we lost five games. One of those being Ashford and Whyteleafe. We’ve lost one game at home in sixteen months and that was Lordswood this year so I don’t think we’ve lost (at home) since about November 2012 apart from that one game.
“I can’t fault the players but possibly a bit disappointed with the position if I’m honest.
“We finished fourth last year. We finished one point less than we did last year but having said that the last couple of games we did change the team up with one eye on the cup final.”
Longhurst takes his side to Bromley on Bank Holiday Monday (3pm) to contest the Macron Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Final against Beckenham Town.
Beckenham make the short trip to Hayes Lane with the Kent Senior Trophy already in the bag, after beating Ashford United 4-0 at Longmead Stadium last month.
“Myself and Lee Barnett went down (to Tonbridge) to watch the Cup Final against Ashford and I actually said to a couple of people that we knew that Beckenham would win the game,” said Longhurst.
“We’ve watched Beckenham on numerous occasions and they are decent. They’ve got a front four that are very, very good and I just felt on the day they were the better side and they comfortably deserved to beat Ashford.
“They (Ashford) weren’t even in the game and the (Beckenham) goalkeeper had nothing to do.
“We’re expecting a very tough game. I’ve been told the pitch over at Bromley isn’t the best, which is disappointing a little bit. We haven’t seen it ourselves. A lot of us are going over there on Saturday to watch a couple of lads that we know play in the semi-finals of the Conference South play-offs, Jay May (Bromley) and Ben May (Ebbsfleet).
“We’ll go over and watch that and give ourselves a chance to look at the pitch.”
“We know the way Beckenham will set up and we’ll go through that in training tonight and Saturday morning.
“We’ll be prepared the best we can but it certainly will be a difficult game. I think everybody knows Beckenham, on their day, are as good a side in the league.”
Longhurst is keen to shake off the club’s bridesmaid’s tag after they were beaten finalists in this competition in the past two season’s, losing to VCD Athletic and Erith & Belvedere.
“This is our third one,” said the Corinthian manager proudly.
“Is it a great achievement to get to three cup finals? Yes!
“We beat Erith & Belvedere in the Charity Shield pre-season which has got a friendly tag to it but at the end of the day it’s still an opportunity to put silverware on the table, which we’ve done and hopefully by doing that this year by winning the cup final already the players will be a little bit tougher mentally, with another season under our belts.
“But the way we look at it we’ve got eight or nine players who played in the Charity Shield at the start of the season.
“We’re continuing to build. Losing one or two quality players that we’ve had Chris Kinnear has played in nearly every game for (Conference South side) Dover this year, so that’s a loss. Alfie May scored 20 odd goals in the Ryman League and that’s a loss.
“If you like it or not when you haven’t got a budget it’s difficult to replace those type of players and we’ve finished in the top five in the Kent League and still managed to get to a cup final.
“We’re going into the cup final with Beckenham beating Ashford so convincingly in the Kent Senior Trophy, for the third year in a row we probably go into it as underdogs, although we beat Beckenham in the league.
“But we’re confident going into the game and we’re looking forward to it and we go into the game with no fear whatsoever and we’ll see how we end up.”
Corinthian clinched the Suburban League Southern Division following their 8-0 win away to Dorking Wanderers last night, finishing one point above Kent rivals Phoenix Sports.
“It’s fantastic to be honest,” said Longhurst, in praising the club’s reserve side.
“I came into the club four years’ ago now. I came in to originally worked under Tony Sitford and then I took over and since we’ve taken over the pleasing this is we’ve built a club here and that’s the biggest thing for me.
“We’ve built the club underneath the first team because of the way it’s run so that’s not solely down to myself, that’s the way the club is run. It’s a fantastic run club.
“Sometimes that can hold us back at times but underneath us we’ve got an under 14 side get to a cup final. We’ve got an unbelievably good under 15 team. The under 16s have had an up and down season this year. The under 18s have won the Ryman Youth League this season and they can win the Kent Youth League as well and they’re in the semi-finals of the John Ullman Cup against Dartford on Friday. They did reasonably well in the FA Youth Cup and the reserves have won their division and the first team have finished fifth.
“As a club as a whole we’ve got a great coaching structure. We’ve got everything in place for it to be successful for the next four or five years and to me that’s part of being the first team manager’s job.
“It’s about building a club and I feel that we’ve done that. All the staff have done fantastic with the time and effort they put into the club, it’s unbelievable and everybody’s built into trying to do that.
“The idea is we’re trying to get players playing for the first team. We’ve got ten to twelve youth team players watching the first team every week.
“It’s extremely pleasing last night there was five, six, seven under 18s players playing in the reserve division and now they can close the gap between first team and reserves because some of the teams in the league their playing in aren’t great. Do you want our teams winning 8-0? Not really. It’s nice but it’s not very realistic when they come up into the first team.
“Next year they’ll compete against Tonbridge, Tooting, Woking and Welling etc (in the Premier Division) and that’s much better for our youngsters to play against better teams, on better pitches in better stadiums.”
Admission prices for Monday’s showpiece final have been confirmed by the league as being £8 (adults) and £4 (concessions).
Visit Corinthian’s website: www.pitchero.com/clubs/corinthianfc
Corinthian v Beckenham Town
Macron Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Final
Bank Holiday Monday, 5 May 2014
Kick Off 3:00pm
At Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF