Thursday 11th August 2005

Cumberbatch fairly satisfied with pre-season preparations


As the row between Folkestone Invicta and Dover Athletic fans rumbles on over James Dryden's testimonial, Invicta return to action at neighbours Ashford Town tonight, writes Stephen McCartney.

Ashford's newly appointed, joint-manager, John Cumberbatch has told supporters about the progress his team have made as they prepare for their opening game of their Ryman League Division One season.

They make the trip to Imber Court on Saturday, 20th August to tackle Metropolitan Police.  The Blues were defeated on penalties by Bromley in a promotion play-off semi-final three months ago, and will be tough opening day opponents for new-look Ashford.

"Though the time span seems long, the actual time spent working with players during pre-season training is very limited," Cumberbatch told the club's website www.ashfordtownfc.co.uk

"I am sure the professionals will say the same thing, but what bliss to have players available to you every day of the week.

"I do feel we have, however, made good use of the time available we had.  Though we have not yet cut the new squad to the size we need, we have a reasonably clear idea as to what direction we are going."

Cumberbatch who insists "This club is a giant in waiting.  This is a big club," still asks for patience from the club's fans, although that could be in short supply after the club escaped relegation into the Kent League by just one point last season.

"I repeat what I said recently.  We have a predominantly young side.  The early results may not be good," he warned.

"As importantly is the fact that early results may be good and then dip and on occasions drastically.

"It is all a matter of maintaining fitness levels and keeping players free from injury. 

"It is vital to keep players confident if we are doing badly or to keep them concentrating on maintaining the same level of performance if we are doing well.

"It is important to retain players who are playing well and who are approached by other clubs, offering either a higher level of football or financial rewards, or both.

"These are many factors that can affect the way results go.  Tim (Thorogood) and I and you, the fans, have to be patient.

"Tim and "patience" do not sit comfortably together and neither do football fans of any club find it easy to be patient.

"Nobody wants to support a side that is not winning.  It is important though to understand that with you, consistency is hard to maintain."

In his website notes, Cumberbatch analysed the team's performance in their matches against Kent Police (an unofficial, behind closed doors friendly, which they won 3-1), Herne Bay (2-2), Sittingbourne (3-2), Bromley (0-0), Hythe Town (3-1), Margate (0-1) and their 2-2 draw at namesakes, Ashford Town (Middlesex).  They defeated Southall by two goals to one at Homelands two night's ago.

Looking ahead to their clash with local rivals, Folkestone Invicta tonight, Cumberbatch added: "We go into the final pre-season matches with a satisfyingly clear idea of the players we want in the squad and their positions.

"There are still issues to discuss and negotiate with some of the players but these will be dealt with in the days after tonight's game and before the season starts.

"Saturday and next week have been left deliberately free of matches to enable us to prepare properly for the first league match at Metropolitan Police's Imber Court.

"I will give more information about the new players in the squad once we get underway and once we have finalised the places and positions."

Cumberbatch revealed the current situation with players' injuries.

"It is pleased to say that our regular strikers, as well as new squad member, Steve Humphrey are already sharing goals between them.

"They are all looking very sharp, but are also fully aware that chances missed play a very big part in a striker's progress and in a team's success or failure.

"Ian Ross is slowly getting back to fitness as he gets more match minutes under his belt.

"Soloman Henry is still recovering from the shin injury, which hampered his performances towards the end of last season.

"He is under the guidance of a highly respected specialist with whom he is making good progress.

"Joffy and Joby Thorogood, Steve Humphrey and Tom Adlington have all suffered minor injuries from the last few matches but none are severe."

But he added: "So far it has been a fairly satisfying pre-season.  We know there is still much more to be done and improvement to be drawn from players, but I am reasonably content with the progress of the new squad, although very mindful that friendly matches differ greatly from competitive ones."

Ashford Town v Folkestone Invicta
Pre-Season Friendly
Thursday 11th August 2005
Kick Off 7:45pm
at The Homelands, Ashford Road, Kingsnorth