Sunday 23rd January 2005

The Kent Website
Supporting Kentish Football

Catch us if you can!

HERNE BAY stretched their lead at the top of the Go Travel Kent League table to five points after their 2-0 win over Tunbridge Wells at Winch's Field on Saturday, writes Stephen McCartney.

Goals in the space of eleven minutes either side of the interval from Sam Denly, whose shot from the edge of the box beat flying goalkeeper Matt Bromby, to score his fourth of the season and tall striker Dave Masters' heading home the second after 47 minutes following Simon Brown's flag kick, scoring his seventh goal of the campaign, secured the club's fifth successive win.

Herne Bay's push for the title, however, was helped by unpredictable Greenwich Borough as the South East Londoners came away from second placed side Whitstable Town with all three points in a 2-1 win despite the Oystermen taking the lead through Steve Marshall.

However, Herne Bay manager Jason Lillis, is keeping a cool head, although his side are five points clear at the top - but urges their title rivals to catch them if they can.

The former Gillingham star said: "As long as we are putting points on the board, they have to catch us.

"We've done that today, although we rode our luck."

Lillis, however, praised Tunbridge Wells and admitted the Culverden Stadium outfit should have got more out of the game.

"First half I thought they played exceptional," he said.  I think they are the best side we've come across this year.

"But sometimes you have to ride your luck in football.  Better teams than us crumble under pressure but I think in the second half we came out and showed them why we are top."

Lillis, however, praised teenage central defender Steven Lloyd - who almost missed the game with a 35-day ban hanging over him.

Lillis announced on Thursday night that the club won their appeal against Lloyd's 35-day ban thanks to the help of Sevenoaks Town striker Andy Constable - whose currently serving his suspension.

Lillis revealed Constable wrote a letter to Lloyd stating the Herne Bay player did nothing wrong when charged with "alleged violent conduct" against the former Bromley and Whitstable Town striker.

Lillis added: "Andy Constable was a proper gentleman about the incident and as a club we thank him."

Saturday's game, however, was marred by the injury of former Bromley and Ashford Town midfielder Joe Wade.

Bay's hard-man, Ronan O'Connor, who is regularly shown cards by officials in Kent League football, challenged Wade on the right touchline and early indications are Wade has a badly bruised foot.  However, that was the indication given by his manager, Kevin Metcalf, before the player visited hospital.

Lillis, however, admitted he wouldn't like to go in a challenge with O'Connor.

He said: "I think they were trying to look after each other.

"And I wouldn't want to go in for a tackle with Ronan O'Connor.

"I don't know much about Joe Wade but obviously he doesn't know much about Ronnie.

"Ronnie is very wholehearted and committed and he will run through brick walls for me."

The Herne Bay manager admitted there is still a long way to go and isn't shouting from the roof tops of his side's chances of clinching their first Kent League title since 1998.

He added: "I am not going to say that (we will win the league).  There's a long way to go.

"There's 12 games to go, 36 points, so if you come and ask me in March then I will give a fair indication, but we only need two slip ups and we go back down to fourth and fifth."

Lillis comes across friend Nicky Johns when Erith Town make the trip to Winch's Field next Saturday and the Herne Bay boss is sure Johns will be fired up for the match.

"Erith play good football themselves, so we aren't going to take them lightly.

"I know Nicky Johns and I know he's going to be up for it.

"We've played exceptionally well up there and should have won more than 2-1 in December.

"Erith will come here thinking they could probably get something but hopefully we can overcome that." Lillis said.

Please credit story to Stephen McCartney - www.kentishfootball.co.uk