Wednesday 11th August 2004

Ford hopes it's all systems go

MANAGER Andy Ford sends his Gravesend & Northfleet team out to face new-look Northwich Victoria in Saturday's curtain-raiser at Stonebridge Road convinced the club can more than hold their own in a stronger than ever Nationwide Conference, writes Tony Hudd.

"The balance is right," said Ford, who bedded in his squad far earlier than last August after completing his transfer business a month ago.  "Now we wait to see if the team click.

"I'm a lot happier and more confident than I was this time last season." he stressed.

"The players know the system.  Now I'm keeping my fingers crossed there are no injuries between now and Saturday.

"I know people say that it's not how you start a season but how you finish that matters.  But had we made a stronger start last year we would have finished higher."

Ford singled out midfielders Andy Drury and Matt Rouse as players capable of making an impact, while Roy Essandoh's goals will be crucial.

He confessed: "I was warned off Roy by some managers but we watched him and he's done well when you look at his ratio of goals to appearances.  My worry is that should he get injured, we would be short of fire-power."

Next Tuesday, Gravesend & Northfleet travel to Canvey Island, the side they fought off for the Ryman League title when they clinched promotion to the Nationwide Conference.

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