Monday 26th July 2004

Hythe youngster Daffin takes centre stage

DELIGHTED Hythe Town boss Paul Fisk has re-signed the exciting Michael Yianni and key striker Mark Pollard, writes Mick Cork.

The manager had his first look at the team on Saturday in their opening pre-season friendly at Crockenhill - winners of the British Energy Kent County League Premier Division last season.

Striker Pollard and wing-back Yianni both played major parts in the club's most successful campaign for years, when the Reachfields outfit finished in sixth place in the Go Travel Kent League Premier Division.  However, both players were not at the club at the same time.

Fisk, however, will be delighted that all his star players from last season, will be available when their season gets underway on Saturday 14th August with a home clash against Sevenoaks Town.

Fisk revealed: "Mark's been working a lot lately - but he re-signed at training last week."

But the manager is looking forward to working with Yianni, after losing the wing-back in the middle of last season to Kent League rivals, Maidstone United.

He added: "We're very pleased to have Michael back after losing him to Maidstone United in the middle of last season.

"With all the changes they've had, and with the size of the squad they're going to have, he needed to be sure of regular first team football and he doesn't see coming back to Reachfields as a backwards step in any way."

Fisk has also signed centre-back Brian Pearce, who was spotted playing Sunday League football in Ashford.

He revealed: "He's a big lad and might need to play in our reserves at first, at least, to see how he gets on."

Hythe will be hoping to emulate, or improve on last season's top six finish this time out, and reported  twenty-three players at training last week. 

Fisk, however, is delighted with Roy Godden's fitness, despite his recent return from holiday.

Fisk added: "Roy Godden was only just back from holiday, but still won the running, so I've got no worries about his fitness."

Hythe got their pre-season programme underway on Saturday with a 2-0 victory at Crockenhill.

With first team regulars Ian Hayes and Dean Widnall unavailable, Stuart Daffin took his first team chance well, with an impressive first 45 minutes playing in the "hole" behind strikers Pollard and Godden.

Hythe opened the scoring on six minutes with last season's top scorer Godden cutting in from the left flank, beating his man, and rifling a shot towards the top-left corner from close range.

Fifteen minutes later Pollard saw his low shot saved after surprisingly being given on-side.

With Daffin beginning to find space on the break, Yianni took advantage overlapping the youngster before breaking clear from a well-timed through ball.  However, Crocks' goalkeeper Lee Collard was in good touch and he denied the former Maidstone United player from close range.

Just past the half-hour mark, Daffin robbed Crockenhill's left-back and cut into the box before seeing his cross converted as an own goal before it could reach Godden at the back post.

Pollard and Godden went close again courtesy of Daffin, with wasted one-on-one chances the theme of the half.

Moments later Daffin should have opened his first team account sending an attempted lob onto the top of the net after ghosting past the last man.

Yianni would be denied one more time by the excellent Collard before the break and the inevitable mass substitutions.

A typical "friendly" second half followed with roll-on-roll-off substitutions slowing the pace of the game.

On 53 minutes Pollard should have made the score 3-0 with a brilliant solo run gliding through the Crock's back line only to end with a poor final shot after rounding the goalkeeper.

Substitute goalkeeper Leigh Holdway made sure the final score didn't flatter Crockenhill with a fine late penalty save.

Hythe Town: Day, Thomas, Yianni, Miller, D Porter, Ransley, D Fisk, Daffin, Brazier, Godden, Pollard.  Subs (all used): Clifford, Pearce, King, Walmsley, Mills, D Luchford, Holdway (GK)

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