Sunday 12th December 2004

The Kent Website
Supporting Kentish Football

Huggins signs for ambitious Beckenham

LOOKING at the top of the Go Travel Kent League premier division table, only EIGHT points separates fifteen of the sixteen clubs and the championship crown is open to any of them, writes Stephen McCartney.

Herne Bay can leapfrog over leaders Ramsgate if they collect at least a point at Erith Town on Monday night.

However, 24-hours later, the leadership can change again.  Third placed VCD Athletic - level on points with both Ramsgate and Herne Bay - face fourth placed Beckenham Town at North Dane Way and sixth placed Whitstable Town can come back into the title race if they beat in-form Greenwich Borough - who appear to be the only team in form - having risen from bottom to tenth place after winning their last three games.

Although they have played 16 games, Beckenham Town are pleased with their progress so far but assistant manager Jason Taylor admitted the title is maybe beyond the Eden Park Avenue outfit this time out.

But the capture of strikers Lewis Wood and Paul Vines in the middle of November from Southern League Division One East side Erith & Belvedere have shot the club up the table but it's the capture of former Fisher Athletic striker Leroy Huggins in the week that will make other teams in the league stand up and take notice of them.

Huggins' was released by former Bromley boss Stuart McIntyre recently - and teams up with former Bromley team-mate Vines, and made an impressive debut in Beckenham's 3-0 win over Sporting Bengal United at Eden Park Avenue on Saturday.

Huggins, who was ahead of Vines in the pecking order when they were both at Hayes Lane together, stars in the front three with the former Erith & Belvedere pair.

Taylor commented after the match: "We made our intentions very clear before the match that we needed to win this game and the lads responded by giving us a performance and a result.

"The formation was changed as we needed to start pegging our opposition back to give us the breathing space in midfield to be more creative.

"I was impressed with Leroy (Huggins) he's a very experienced player and we are delighted that he has signed for the club."

With two former Dulwich Hamlet youngsters in Mario Celaire and Nathan Paul performing well at the back, there is another striker of Ryman League experience waiting in the wings.

Grant Watts, 30, was assistant manager to McIntyre at Bromley before George Wakeling returned to the club last Thursday, is playing reserve team football for Beckenham to regain match-fitness, but should be playing first team football for his home-town club soon.

Taylor revealed: "We signed Grant but he needs a few games for the reserves as he has been out injured.

"He needs 2-3 games and once he is match fit we will be looking to bring him into the first team."

Watts, a former Crystal Palace first teamer earlier in his career, will be very useful to the Kent League side in the holding role behind the strikers, and his experience will be beneficial to them.

And Beckenham could go top if they beat VCD Athletic at Lordswood's North Dane Way ground - and other results go for them.

Taylor added: "We've obviously played a few more games than everyone else, but it's more about points than games in hand and we will be looking to get at least a point at VCD to keep the momentum going."

Taylor praised prolific strikers, Wood - who scored once - and Vines who scored twice - against Sporting Bengal on Saturday.

"We played ever so well, playing some good football in the first half and with Huggins, Wood and Vines we are always going to score goals.

"At the back we are very tight with Mario Celaire and Nathan Paul, good young players we've picked up from Dulwich Hamlet, so we are happy with the squad we've got.

"It may be too late for us to win the title this year but maybe next year.

"We're going to keep the squad together, add a few more and next year we should be in the top three."

Taylor, however, praised chairman John Weathehead, for making all this possible.

"We've attracted some better players this year," he said.

"We've been backed by our chairman and he's looking for the club to move on.

"He has spoken to these Ryman League players telling them what we are doing at the club - with the new pitch and ground improvements - and we are going in the right direction and picking up some quality players now."

Tuesday 14th December 2004
Go Travel Kent League Premier Division
VCD Athletic v Beckenham Town
Kick Off 7:45pm
at Lordswood FC, North Dane Way, Walderslade, Chatham