Friday 30th July 2004

Fisk is pleased with pre-season preparations

HYTHE TOWN boss Paul Fisk has admitted he is pleased with the team's fitness, as they prepare for their Go Travel Kent League campaign, writes Stephen McCartney.

The Reachfields outfit, who have won their opening two friendlies by a 2-0 scoreline, against Crockenhill and Hastings United, are pleased with the competition in the squad for opening day places.

Fisk admitted: "The performances were good and everyone's looking fit from those who started to the subs that came on.

"We should have been 5-0 up after the first half at Crockenhill, but we need these games to sharpen up."

Ian Hayes, Dean Widnall and Farrell Cox all missed the 2-0 win at Crockenhill last Saturday, but the trio returned for the win over Hastings United in midweek.

Fisk, however, thinks former Deal Town player, Cox looks promising.

He said: "I've signed Farrell to play at the back and I think he can do a good job.

"He's not the biggest but he is still good in the air and he looks a decent footballer."

With long-term injury victim Mick Heather still waiting for his knee operation, Fisk is keen to have defensive cover, but he says more signings are unlikely simply because of the financial restraints he is under.

The club are waiting to hear whether former Kent League Golden Boot winner Steve Jones will play for them this season.

Fisk explained: "Steve's not signed a form yet, but he's mates with several of our players.  The rumour is that he may turn up but if he does he'll still need to get himself match fit."

Hythe host Westfield at Reachfields on Saturday (3pm), with the only doubts being Gavin Ransley and Kevin Clifford.  However, the duo are both expected to recover from knocks in time.

Meanwhile, Hythe's second string are also in action, and play at Tenterden Town.

Steve Lovell once visited Reachfields as part of a Gillingham side taking on Hythe Town during the "Tony Walton era".

On this occasion, however, he was in charge of his physical Hastings United side, but met his match with a fine workman-like performance from  Hythe that has been a hallmark of the "Paul Fisk era".

Frustrating sides that are supposedly from a higher standard has been a trademark of both of Fisk's pre-seasons campaigns and also cup runs once the season has got started, and Hythe never looked like losing this one against the Ryman League Division One newcomers.

The major change for Hythe was the re-signing of former Deal Town player Farrell Cox. 

A Hythe midfielder several years ago, this time round Farrell will be competing for a place at centre-back.

Fisk, however, has numerous options in central midfield, and this was highlighted by the improvement of Dean Widnall and Ian Hayes, both unavailable at Crockenhill.

But one area of the pitch Fisk does need cover is for his backline, with veteran Julian Holmes unavailable for two months, and Mike Heather awaiting knee surgery, Cox may well be involved on a regular basis.

Hythe started brightly on four minutes with Pollard seeing his header cleared off the line following Dan Fisk's corner.

Following on the rebound was Kevin Clifford who's rising shot hit the top of the crossbar.

Clifford and Michael Yianni's battle for the right-wing berth is a nice headache for the manager to have, with both seemingly un-droppable yet vying for the same place in the side.

A niggly first 30 minutes followed, with the best chance falling to Godden, who had his header palmed away from a Fisk free kick.

Hythe goalkeeper Nick Day's blushes were saved when he completely missed a routine clearance, luckily big Dan Porter was on hand to clear off the line.

Moments earlier, however, the excellent Clifford had an angled shot blocked to safety following a brilliant raking cross field pass from Fisk.

Hythe's best passing move of the game came shortly after the re-start with a Godden through ball finding Pollard on the left.  His cross then being laid off by Widnall to Brazier whose shot from just inside the box was well saved.

Just after the hour, second-half substitute Stuart Daffin, who impressed at Crockenhill, saw a spectacular 25-yard volley turn round the post.

Also in the second half, Walmsley saw a firm header well held following some excellent wing-play from Dane Luchford.

Hythe had the ball in the back of the net on 74 minutes, but Godden was adjudged offside, following in a Walmsley strike, after the home side had broke quickly with a Yianni run.

But Hythe would finally make the breakthrough on 80 minutes with the excellent Ian Hayes winning possession and allowing Luchford to release Walmsley who slotted home with ease.

Five minutes later, however, it was all over as Walmsley returned the favour for Luchford to finish in an almost identical manner.

Hythe Town:  Day, Clifford, Thomas, Cox, Ransley, D. Porter, D. Fisk, Hayes, Brazier, Godden, Pollard.  Subs (all used): Yianni, Miller, Widnall, Daffin, D Luchford, Walmsley, Pearce

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