Sunday 03rd October 2004
www.yourcounty.co.uk - The Kent Website - Supporting Kentish Football

Third placed Gravesend avoid banana skin

ANDY FORD celebrated seven years in charge of Gravesend & Northfleet by guiding his side to a 4-1 victory over Leigh RMI in the Nationwide Conference - when a forgettable first half was eclipsed by a memorable second 45 minutes.

Ford, the Fleet's longest-serving manager, engineered a half-time transformation that saw his side take their points tally to 23 for the season, a figure reached at Christmas last term.

Speaking to the Non-League Paper, Ford didn't want this to be the proverbial "banana skin" for the Fleet.

"I thought the game was going to be more difficult than most people believed," he said.

"I threw a banana skin in the middle of the dressing room floor before kick off to signify that we knew what this game could have been all about.

"I thought the first half was very tight, there was nothing in it.

"Patience was the key today and the longer the game went on I felt that we were going to turn the screw with the pace of the three lads we had up front.  That proved to be the case.

"At half time we said we felt we had been playing too deep.  Our back four were playing so deep that the midfield players couldn't get the ball off the front men.

"Our back four need to come out with a sprint, and they were barely walking out.  The consequence was our midfield couldn't get around people.  But in the second half we kept a better line and it allowed our midfield to snap at people.

"In the first half we were putting in crosses that were too deep and we needed to whip them in across the floor sometimes.

"We didn't have enough people in the box either.  All credit to the lads, they listened and learned and their second half performance was a lot better.

"At half time I said to the boys "What are you going to feel tomorrow, how do you want to feel tonight - do you want to be happy or do you want to be miserable?" They turned it around and made sure everyone was happy."

Ford gave credit to his scouts. "At this level you can't go into matches blind.

"You have to know about opposition players, set plays etc.  I have some very able people doing an excellent job."

On Tuesday evening, the Fleet, sitting in third place travel to Aldershot Town - in fifth - and the Stonebridge Road site could actually rise to the summit of the Nationwide Conference table if they win at the Recreation Ground and only if leaders Barnet and unbeaten Carlisle United both lose.