Monday 08th August 2005

Chatham aiming for play-off place


Chatham Town kick off their Southern League division one east campaign at 3:00pm on Saturday, and will be looking to get off to winning ways against Corby Town, writes Stephen McCartney.

Last season was a miserable one for most Kent sides, but the Maidstone Road outfit were one of a few success stories, finishing in eleventh place, and manager Steve Binks will be aiming for a play-off place this time out.

And in an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk Binks admits he is pleased with their performances during pre-season, which started later than other Kent clubs.

"I'm absolutely delighted with the quality of performances put in against opposition from a higher level," he said.

"We've given a really good account of ourselves against Margate, Folkestone and Dover and confidence is high going into the start of the season.

"Results are not important in these games, more so the fitness, sharpness and team understanding.

"Clive Walker (Dover Athletic manager) said we got behind his team more times than Charlton Athletic did against them, which resulted in us hitting the woodwork twice in the first fifteen minutes.

"But I'd rather be hitting the woodwork in the pre-season games, then they will start to go in for real during the season!"

But Binks revealed he will be without Steve Best for their league opener.  "Steve has badly cut a knee (against Dover) and is unavailable for the first league game anyway because of a family wedding.

"He should be back in contention for a place for the game at Barking on the following Tuesday.

"There are minor niggly injuries to a couple of other players, who have been rested during pre-season games.  So apart from Steve we should have a fully fit squad to choose from against Corby."

Binks, however, admitted he knows "very little" about Saturday's opponents, and added: "Corby have moved from the Western Division to the Eastern Division this season.

"We last played them two years ago.  They now have a different manager and several different players from when we last played them.

"I suspect that, just like ourselves, they will be giving it their all in their first game in order to get off to a solid start."

Binks is relishing the opening day of the season, and added: "It's important to play to the best of our ability and to work as hard as we can.

"I'm convinced results will then start to come.  It's a long season and just as important to finish strong as well as get off to a solid start."

Despite losing talented teenager, Frannie Collin to Gillingham, Binks has high hopes for his new strike force.

"Brendan Cass has been a fantastic capture for us and is just one of many players who are capable of scoring goals and causing problems for opponents.

"I think Brendan (who joined Chatham towards the end of last season from Tonbridge Angels), is just going to get better and better for us as we play more games with a settled side, and builds an understanding with both new signing Dexley Fidyk and Glen Billeness, who missed a lot of late, last season due to injury."

Chatham then make the short trip to Barking & East Ham United next Tuesday, a game that will test Binks' side.

"This is probably one of our toughest away games of the season," he said.

"Last year I thought Barking were one of the best footballing sides in our division, and fully expect the same again this year.  A point away will be a great result."

Binks is confident his side can push towards the play-off's.

"Our aim is to continue to make steady progress, hopefully improve gates by playing an attractive type of game that the fans want to see and ideally be pushing strongly for a play-off position.  A decent cup run would go down really well too!"

In an ideal world, we would like to see all Kent clubs pushing for honours, and Binks is no different.

"Nothing would please me more to be pushing for a play-off/promotion place with both Dartford and Sittingbourne, with ourselves coming out just on top, of course!

"Anybody is capable of beating anyone else in this league.  It's a long hard season and you all have to have that little bit of luck with avoiding injuries to players."

Binks gave a run down on his new signings and the players that have departed the Maidstone Road club.

"Andy Garrett was recommended to me by Andy Boyle and although normally a centre half, I've used him in both full-back and wide midfield positions in pre-season friendlies.

"He's going to be a superb signing for us and he's already gained the players respect for his attitude at both training and in these games.

"Striker Dexley Fidyk played against us for Margate the week before and then played his first game for us against Dover.

"His movement was excellent and together with Brendan (Cass) and Glen Billeness, I believe we have strong competition for places up front, with plenty of goals between them.

"Furthermore a big bonus for me is that the two debutants from last season's reserve team, namely 17-year-old striker, Rob Denness and 19-year-old winger, Bryon Walker have both played superbly in the pre-season friendlies and indeed scored a goal each.

"I was sorry to see Kevin Spriggs return to his "hometown" club Dartford and wish him all the very best for the season.  It won't be too long before we meet again.

"Darren Adams' has signed for a more local side in Erith & Belvedere of the Kent League and of course young England Schoolboy, Frannie Collin has moved to Gillingham.

"He's played in several reserve team games and also came on as a sub against Notts County for their first team friendly.

"I wish them all the very best and they are all very welcome back at Chatham anytime in the future."

Binks ended the interview welcoming Phil Miles (not the joint-manager of Kent League side Slade Green) to the club.

"I'm also delighted to have Phil as my assistant," he said.  "Phil is brilliant on the training ground, in the dressing room and gets on superbly with all the players.

"The pre-season training has gone well and Phil has been instrumental in improving the players fitness and assisting in motivation.

"Eugene, the club's physio, has also done a great job during the summer helping players rehabilitation and conditioning for pre-season.

"Gary Tiley has started light training on recovering from his broken leg and I look forward to his return in the new year.

"We also have several other very promising young players in our reserve team, who I'm sure will also be pushing for a first team place too."

Chatham Town manager Steve Binks
Photograph: Adrian Line (Chatham Town FC)

Chatham Town v Corby Town
Southern League Division One East
Saturday 13th August 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Maidstone Road, Chatham