Friday 04th February 2005

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Wells on a revenge mission

TUNBRIDGE WELLS make their second trip in as many weeks to Winch's Field looking for revenge after suffering a 2-0 league defeat last time, writes Stephen McCartney.

Goals from Sam Denly and Dave Masters and a defeat by the same scoreline two days later at Erith Town, dented the Culverden Stadium outfit's promotion hopes, but Wells manager Kevin Metcalf was pleased his side bounced back with a 3-1 victory over Greenwich Borough last weekend.

"It was good to get back to winning ways," he said.

"The game didn't go according to plan at the start.  The pitch was very heavy, we lost midfielder Paul Hallett after 15 minutes with a knew injury and basically he was running the show.

"We lost our way after that, in that time Greenwich scored, and we were 1-0 down at half time."

Metcalf changed the side's formation for the second half and the introduction of midfielder Kevin Skinner - after some impressive displays in the reserve team following injury - gave the home side bite and striker Michael Ward added some flair upfront.

Metcalf said: "Within a couple of minutes his younger brother, Steve (Ward) scored.  Michael then made a run down the left hand side and crossed to Dave Hassett to score again."

The Wells could have increased their lead but Danny Barham had a goal ruled out for offside.

Steve Ward went on another of his amazing runs after good work by Barham and Aaron O'Leary in midfield to wrap up the three vital points.

Metcalf praised: "Credit must go to the players and the coaching staff - it was a real tactical coup really."

Injured Wells midfielder Kevin Brown, 30, however, praised the club's coaching staff of Martin Telford, Dave Rice and Metcalf for adding professionalism to the club.

The former Gillingham youngster, who has also played non-league football for Sittingbourne, Tonbridge Angels, Gravesend & Northfleet, Sheppey United, Canterbury City, Redhill, Herne Bay and Greenwich Borough said: "I would like to add what a great job Martin Telford, Dave Rice and Kevin Metcalf are doing this year.

"They have turned the club on its head by basically bringing in a whole team in the summer and to be challenging for honours on a shoe string budget is a great achievement.

"Though nothing is done yet, I would just like to add the massive input Martin has had on the team and the younger players there.

"I've worked with some good coaches in the past and he is up there with the best of them.  His knowledge of the game is second to none and his tactical awareness is spot on.

"He has got us playing an excellent passing/breakaway game this season and I believe if Tunbridge Wells don't get promotion this year we won't be far off next year as we would have had a season together."

Talented flying winger Steve Ward was once again instrumental in the victory and his manager added: "Talented young lad who we are trying to keep his feet on the ground.  He's been well looked after under the wing of Martin and Dave."

Metcalf takes his side to Winch's Field looking to earn a place in the two-legged semi-finals.

"Obviously we will take heart from the first game, although we lost 2-0", he said.

"Again, I'm not the only that said we were the better side but we didn't take our chances.

"I am looking forward to it.  Again, it will be a nice game.  I thought the first game was a good exhibition for the Kent League and I think this game will be the same.

"Both sides will treat each other with the respect they deserve - Herne Bay are a good side - I am looking forward to a good battle."

The Culverden Stadium pitch has come under criticism recently, but without huge finances at the club, Metcalf said he's seen the playing surface a lot worse.

"I know the club are working hard on the pitch as we speak doing some maintenance work.

"I've played at Culverden over the years and this time of year it's like a bog - but I think it's getting better."

Defeats to Herne Bay and Erith Town dampened the club's title hopes but the Tunbridge Wells boss is pleased with the club's progress - both on and off the pitch.

"Now you've got the main guns in there, we are in a nice position," Metcalf said.

"Although behind Herne Bay and Ramsgate, we are a few points adrift but their are a lot of points to play for.

"Hopefully we will be in the pack.  I said at Christmas we are going for the title but let's keep progressing each week.

"We've had a hiccup at Erith Town - a very poor display - so let's get the ball down and start playing some football."

FA Vase heroes Deal Town visit Culverden in a league game next Wednesday and Metcalf finished with: "The club are backing us all the way with our ambitions."

Meanwhile, Herne Bay's award winning manager Jason Lillis, is anticipating another hard game against the Wells.

After collecting the manager of the month award for January, the former Gillingham star will be without midfielder Ronan O'Connor, who sits out due to a one week ban.

Lillis said: "Obviously it's going to be much the same.  Beating them in the league, it doesn't take away that I do respect them as a side.

"Tunbridge Wells are a very good side and they could have got something more out of the first game.

"We are only as good as the boys make us.  Ramsgate are favourites at the moment but we are doing a good job.

"All the time we are top, you've got to be happy.  We have to wait and see if we can stay there.  Other teams are losing around us.  Ramsgate, however,  are looking quite strong at the moment."

Herne Bay v Tunbridge Wells
Go Travel Kent League Premier Division Cup Quarter-Final
Saturday 5th February 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Winch's Field, Stanley Gardens, Herne Bay