Dockers fume over "cup-final" jibes
losing 3-2 at Deal Town at the beginning of December, Maidstone United have
climbed the Go Travel Kent League table after collecting 13 points from their
last five games, writes Stephen McCartney.
The Stones play their return game at Erith Town on Saturday but it was their home game with the Dockers that started their revival and their climb up to fifth place in the table.
After scraping a 1-0 win over them at Bourne Park the Stones inflicted Tunbridge Wells' second league defeat of the season with a 2-1 win at Culverden Stadium just before Christmas.
However, after the festive break the Stones won 2-0 at Greenwich Borough, drew 1-1 at home to Hythe and punished fellow promotion applicants, Thamesmead Town 4-1 at Bourne Park last weekend.
Although the Stones
travel to a team lying second from bottom in the table, coach Alan Walker
predicts another tough game and admitted the Dockers should have got something
from the game at Bourne Park.
He told the club's website: "When we played them at the end of last year, it was a very tough game and to be honest they deserved more from that game.
"But we're on a very good run of form and league tables don't tend to lie, so I expect us to win.
"Equally though, as they showed in our last game, Erith are a very tough side and like any side playing is, it will be their cup final.
"But our lads will be on a high after some really good results against some very good sides and a very good playing surface at Erith will also benefit us."
However, there is still some concern over Ben Taylor's ankle injury, picked up against Hythe but Peter Taylor is expected to return to the squad after turning out for Kent County League side Snodland last Saturday in a bid to build up his match fitness.
Tom Berry is expected to return to the squad but midfielder Peter Overton - who has resumed training - won't be rushed back by the management team after such a lengthy lay-off.
Dockers boss Willie O'Sullivan, however, fumed at Walker's comments suggesting the game will be his side's "cup-final."
He said: "That does irritate me. For all the money they are paying out, they are no better than what we are, if our players decide to play.
"These comments really pee me off.
"I'd like to see Alan Walker and his manager (Lloyd Hume) do what they do without any money. I don't see them doing it, like what Nicky Johns and myself have to do.
"When they come out with silly comments like that - I find it degrading really."
Erith will be without key central midfielder Alan Hanlon who is suspended and O'Sullivan added: "It's a big miss for us. He has been at the club for a long while but he's essential to this club but we haven't got him so we've got to get on with it."
The Dockers boss admitted losing to Tunbridge Wells in the second round of the FA Vase at the end of November has knocked the stuffing out of his team.
He said: "Everyone seems to be a bit tight at the moment, not playing to their capabilities and when that happens it's very hard to put that right.
"It's hard to put your finger on why. I think the cup game, which we lost at Tunbridge Wells has really knocked us.
"We were 3-1 up with ten minutes to go and to go on to lose 4-3 has seemed to knocked the stuffing out of us."
Erith Town v Maidstone United
Go Travel Kent League Premier Division
Saturday 22nd January 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
At Erith Sports Stadium, Avenue Road, Erith