Tuesday 27th April 2004

Penalty was the turning point, says Palmer

Lee Palmer, who took charge of Hythe Town's 3-1 defeat at Cray Wanderers, due to manager Paul Fisk being away, was a very disappointed man on Monday evening, writes Stephen McCartney.

The 3-1 defeat ended their impressive run of ten league wins in a row, but a decision by referee Mr M Rogers, ten minutes after the break, changed the game.

With the score at 1-1, after Hythe took the lead in the 38th minute, when Julian Holmes headed home Jason Brazier's corner kick, the man in black pointed to the penalty spot after Dan Porter grabbed hold of David Gray's shirt as they went for Ross Lover's floated free kick.

Jamie Wood drilled home the resulting penalty kick to give Cray a 2-1 lead, after Jamie Kempster equalised on the stroke of half time, before the former Maidstone United midfielder headed home the third goal on the hour mark to seal up the hosts second title in two seasons.

Palmer, speaking after the game, said: "I believe the penalty was the turning point.  I think it was a poor decision and it definitely changed the game round.  It was pretty much 50/50 at the time and a decision like that, like you see every week on the television,  does change the game, and it certainly changed ours tonight."

Hythe did, however, try to spoil the championship winning party, with a bright opening thirty minutes at Hayes Lane.

Palmer, the club's assistant manager, added: "It was a good start, we didn't want to come here and be their pansies.  We wanted to go onto the pitch and show we are worth a top six place and I think we did that in the first twenty to thirty minutes.

"I also think we were extremely unlucky not to come in at half time one up."

The Reachfields outfit are still on course for their intended top six finish. 

Palmer added: "We said before we started the season, it's going to be a top six finish for us most definitely.  For next season, we don't know at the moment, but I would say we are looking above that."

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