Sunday 01st January 2006

Five return for Brickies trip to Darts

Sittingbourne manager Steve Lovell has five players back available to him for tomorrow's Kent derby at Dartford, writes Stephen McCartney.

Jon Neal (hamstring), Ricky Spiller (ribs), Lee Browning (suspended), Bradley Spice (suspended) and Paul Ainsworth (family bereavement) are all available for selection for their trip to Stonebridge Road.

Spiller scored the only goal of the game when the Brickies defeated the Darts at Bourne Park in September.  That marked a poor run for them, collecting just four points as they went ten games without a win.

But two wins in their last three games, including their 2-1 win over local rivals Chatham Town on Boxing Day, has Lovell looking towards the play-offs.

Top scorer with nine goals, Mark Lovell is expected to be back in the next week or so and raring to go after some time out with a knee injury.

Reflecting on their win over Chatham Town, Steve Lovell said in an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk: "It was a good win.  It could have gone either way really but we scored a good goal to start with and got a penalty so I'm quite happy to get three points."

With his side 16th in the Southern League Division One East table, the Welshman is aiming to improve matters in the second half of the season after collecting six wins from their first 21 league games.

"We are trying to move up towards the top six," he said.  "We are not halfway through the season yet and it will be nice to have my full squad to choose from.

"At the start of the New Year everyone will be available and fighting for places.

"At this stage of the season you don't rule anything out.  You need to put together four or five wins on the spin and you're in the top five or six.

"Obviously we take each game as it comes and Dartford will be a tough game because they are in the play-off positions at the moment."

With five players back available against Tony Burman's men - who lost 3-1 at Uxbridge on Saturday - Lovell is pleased to have "selection problems."

He said: "I've got players back after suspensions and injuries so I'm in a nice position that I've got selection problems.

"But it's a long season and the squad that we've got when everyone's fit that should move up the league."

What can Brickies fans expect for the rest of the campaign? Lovell replied: "Considering the injuries and suspensions we've had we are taking shape.  We are getting there, very slowly but we are getting there.

"But with the full availability with our squad, we'll give anyone a game.  Everyone in this league is capable of beating anyone else.  It's a very open league.  We are trying to move up towards the top six."

Dartford, who are unbeaten at home in the league, will be looking to bounce back from their defeat on a poor pitch at Uxbridge on Saturday, where winger Ryan Hayes scored a late consolation goal.

Dartford v Sittingbourne
Southern League Division One East
Monday 2nd January 2006
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Stonebridge Road, Northfleet