Sunday 11th September 2005

The league table is lying, insists Thorogood

Ashford Town's joint-manager Tim Thorogood admits his side face a tough test when they travel to Tonbridge Angels next Saturday, writes Stephen McCartney.

With his side languishing at the foot of the table after losing their first four Ryman League Division One games, Thorogood insists the league table is lying, and his side have just been unlucky and leaking soft goals.

But their Kent rivals, Cray Wanderers (12 points), Dover Athletic (12), Tonbridge Angels (10) and Ramsgate (9) are all sitting nicely in the top four.

"It's disappointing to be honest with you," the Ashford chief said in an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk

"I think certainly the way we've played at the beginning in the pre-season friendlies, I would say that nothing's gone massively wrong because we've conceeded soft goals as we're a young side.  

"Other than that, I have to say in the four games we've played in the league, I wouldn't say we've been outplayed by any of them, and in the case of Newport IOW and Whyteleafe, we were better than them."

Making silly errors and missing great chances is causing Thorogood a major headache at present.

Their only win of the season was their 3-1 win over Kentish Observer League side Slade Green in the preliminary round of the FA Cup.

Reflecting on that game, Thorogood said: "On that occasion we get a 3-1 win, which was our worse performance, but we win.  But I think we didn't play particularly well."

Thorogood is suffering from one of the problems, which faces non-league managers up and down the country - players having to work.

The Homelands outfit were dumped out of the Westview (Ryman League) Cup last Tuesday by second division side Wembley (5-2).

"Again we started off great for 20 minutes and dominated the game and went 1-0 up.

"But we had to make some changes in defence because of Marc Cumberbatch and Eddie Achoko both being away for the next two weeks due to work commitments abroad, so we've lost them and we also made a couple of changes due to injuries.

"We wanted to look at people and to be fair, we felt Wembley wouldn't be a major obstacle but it showed frailties with those players we brought in."

Due to the unavailability's of goalkeepers Sean Glover and Jani Seitsonen (who arrived late), Ray Riley, the club's goalkeeping coach played and was at fault for all five goals.

"Ray went in goal and to be quite honest it was a poor performance and Ray will be first to admit he didn't have time to warm up but he did make mistakes for the goals - all in all a poor performance.

"We had a chance to look at players but at this moment in time, they aren't just good enough," admitted Thorogood.

Although his side lost 3-0 at home to Ryman Premier League side Windsor & Eton yesterday, in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup, Thorogood took some satisfaction from the game, as his side sparked into life once they changed formation for the final half an hour.

Although the damage had already been done courtesy of Paul Holsgrove's brace and Warner's third, Ashford changed from a 4-5-1 (with Joby Thorogood on his own up front) formation to 4-4-2.

"We reverted to a 4-5-1 formation yesterday because we were playing a good side," revealed the manager.  "We are looking to just shore up the midfield because we've got one or two players not fit enough and were short of four players yesterday.

"We've had to make changes again, and to be fair, those changes probably caused us a few too many problems.

"We got too deep and we struggled in the first half, we were never at the races and our defending was poor.

"I looked at yesterday and we didn't have the legs around the midfield, we were too far off the pace due to fitness levels.

"However, in the last 30 minutes we changed it, we put on not the most gifted players but they gave us the ability to get us around the park.

"We dominated the last 30 minutes, went back to 4-4-2 and played very much like the first four games of the season.  We will continue with 4-4-2."

Thanks to Sussex referee Mr Frank Meilack, Ashford will be without the suspended, forward Joby Thorogood (2 games) and right-back Tom Adlington (1 game) for their Kent derby at Tonbridge Angels on Saturday.

The pair were dubiously sent-off by the official - who sent off six players during Cray Wanderers' 4-1 win over stunned Kingstonian in the FA Cup first qualifying round tie at the Courage Stadium yesterday - during their 1-0 home defeat to Newport IOW recently.

And Thorogood will also be without Achoko and Cumberbatch (work) and Ian Ross.

Looking ahead to their game against the resurgent Angels, Thorogood said:
"It's a tough game and we are six players down already.  We've got suspensions, injuries and have players away.

"It's a tough game at the best of times and it will be even tougher with six players missing."

Thorogood revealed he is currently in the process of bringing in experienced players to the club - but is having problems doing so as players don't want to leave their current clubs so early in the season.

"We are looking to get in new players," he revealed.  "We tried last week without no success, but we need a big forward, which we are looking for, and we need a ball winner in midfield and we need another good central defender.

"We are looking to strengthen in the middle of the park.  We do lack experience so we are looking for players with experience.

"We made a few contacts, we are trying again this week to bring in two or three players.

"It's not easy because club's don't want to let players go at the moment as they are still in the FA Cup."

The word coming out of Homelands is "patience".  "The league table is lying and I still feel once we get things right - and it's always going to be difficult with a young side - people need patience.

"People should look at those four (league) games and with more luck and better finishing we would be sitting comfortably in the top eight - we didn't deserve to lose any of them."

Tonbridge Angels v Ashford Town
Ryman League Division One
Saturday 17th September 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Betterview Longmead Stadium, Darenth Avenue, Tonbridge