Thursday 01st September 2005

Cumberbatch asks for patience


Saturday 23rd
July 2005
Pre-Season Friendly Stephen McCartney reports from
Winch's Field
Herne Bay 2 Simon Brown 37,90
Ashford Town 2 Shaun Bradshaw 13
Gary Clarke 84

John Cumberbatch has asked Ashford Town fans to be patient for the early stages of their Ryman League division one campaign, writes Stephen McCartney.

Cumberbatch, who was appointed joint-manager in the close season to work alongside Tim Thorogood, who is also the club's chairman, gave an honest view on life at The Homelands, following their opening pre-season match, which was drawn 2-2 at Kent Leaguers Herne Bay.

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with, Cumberbatch warned the squad may take time to fulfill their potential.

"It's a very young squad, when we start off we might struggle," he warned.

"And when I say struggle, I don't necessary mean that we're going to be near the foot of the table, but things won't go well that we'll be challenging at the top.

"We'll need to work on things and we'll need to coach them through training and I will expect that come towards the middle of the season, coming up to Christmas, we'll have things exactly how we want it and really see a push from the team from there."

Therefore, Cumberbatch asks the fans to be patient.

"I ask them to be patient towards the beginning of the season," he pleaded. 

"I've never been involved with a club that's been near the foot of the table, only since I came here, when we were already in that position.

"I certainly won't expect us to be anywhere near the foot of the table - we'll be nearer the middle of the table and that to us won't be satisfactory, but I expect us from there to be moving upwards.

"So I say to the fans to be very patient in the early games of the friendlies and in the first few league games but it won't take us long to get it right as we have some very good quality players in our squad."

Ashford fans had their first look at the new players on show, as they brought a 23-man squad to play Herne Bay at Winch's Filed.

And they took the lead against the run of play after 13 minutes when midfielder Eddie Achoko played in striker Shaun Bradshaw and he slotted home past Herne Bay goalkeeper Jack Delo.

Ashford goalkeeper Shaun Glover turned from hero to villain in the matter of seconds.  First he made a brilliant double save, clawing out Steven Lloyds' powerful header and blocking the follow up shot, but then Herne Bay equalised from a free kick on the right hand side of the box moments later.

Wearing the number eight shirt - which was worn by prolific striker Danny Kedwell last season - Simon Brown appears to be the man to replace the man that has been snapped up by Nationwide South club Welling United.

Whipping in a free kick towards the far post, he saw Glover dive to his right and the ball crept under his body, finding the corner of the net.

Ashford created numerous chances in the second half.  Steve Humphrey's screamer crashed off the crossbar after 57 minutes and Joby Thorogood squandered a couple of chances.

However, Ashford took the lead with six minutes left, a minute after they made a double substitution.

Ian Ross' corner was flicked on at the near post and Gary Clarke stooped to head home from close range at the far post.

But substitute goalkeeper Jani Seitsonnen was beaten in the final minute from Brown's 16-yard shot, but Cumberbatch admitted his side should have won the game.

"We didn't play that well in the first half, which was disappointing, as the team we had out we thought were slightly stronger than the second half team," he said.

But he was pleased with the levels of fitness shown by his players.  "They have been working very hard in training," he praised.

"I've made a list of some of the players that have got a little bit more stamina work to do, but it's only a small list, which we're pleased about.

"We've packed in a lot of work in two weeks training and the players' attitude has been absolutely spot on.

"But I think it showed in this game towards the end, we were far more stronger than them fitness wise."

Although a much-changed side from last season, Cumberbatch was concerned that they conceeded a goal in the final minute.

He added: "It was disappointing and its something we worked on towards the end of last season.

"Earlier last season there were a lot of goals that were scored against us late in the first half and late in the second half.

"And we managed to eradicate that towards the end of the season, but again its something that's happened today, but I am not too disappointed with that because we've got a new squad.

"There's a lot of players who we haven't had a chance to work with, and once we get into league games I don't expect that to happen."

Aspirations were high at the club before the highly publicised problems they faced a month ago.

"From (the management team's) point of view we could say it affected the team because just before that happened, we had a meeting on the Monday evening with various key players, who are very good quality players, who had offers from other clubs, players who are playing at a higher level, and we managed to persuade them to come to Ashford," he revealed.

"And then literally, the next day the whole thing blew up and we lost those players because they couldn't wait and they were concerned there would be problems with the club.

"So from that point of view it affected us but it certainly hasn't affected the players that are here at the moment.

"We've managed to get a good crop of players together after that and its not on the mind of any of the players we've got currently - not at all!"

Cumberbatch admitted he has contacts to bring in more players if things aren't going as planned.

"If we feel that we pick the squad and still have one or two key positions that are a major problem then there are other players I can get in, who will be playing a senior level, including Football League players.

"So I will be very surprised if we struggle like we did last season - even if we started and lost our first three (league) games.

"At the moment, especially since a few of the lads we've got are from the Ashford area, we want to try and stick with what we've got."

Meanwhile, Herne Bay manager, Jason Lillis was unavailable for an interview as he is currently on holiday.

Herne Bay: (Starting line-up and surnames only)
Delo, Winch, Williams, Soutan, Lloyd, Eastwood, Simon Brown, O'Conner, Shaun Brown, Harvey, Blanchard

Ashford Town:
(First Half):  Shaun Glover, Tom Adlington, Jacob Stone (Ian Ross 9), Matt Gilbert, Nick King, Eddie Achoko, Oscar Staner, John Collier, Shaun Bradshaw, Gary Mickelborough, Aaron Hamilton.

(Second Half): Shaun Glover (Jani Seitsonnen 62), Lee Skinner, Tom Adlington, Mark Banks (Paul Farmer 83), Gary Caxton, Anthony Pace, Joff Thorogood, Gary Clarke, Ian Ross, Steve Humphrey, Joby Thorogood (David Johnson 83)

Referee:   Ian Cooper
Assistants: Mark Sage & Dick French