Thursday 18th November 2004

The Kent Website
Supporting Kentish Football

Thamesmead looking for repeat performance - as football comes home to Maidstone

AFTER beating Maidstone United in the Go Travel Kent League last week, Thamesmead Town manager Paul Blade admits the pressure is off his side when the two club's clash in the FA Vase second round on Saturday, writes Stephen McCartney.

Blade was without striker Jason Clews and midfielders Kieron Collins and Peter Deadman in their 3-2 league victory, but the midfield duo should be available for the Vase clash at Bayliss Avenue.  Clews, however, hasn't shrugged off his hamstring injury in time.

Blade said: "The league is paramount, obviously.  It was a big three points for us, which I think we deserved.

"I think Maidstone came to us expecting to win.

"We didn't go into the game with a full squad, which you have to against Maidstone but we did really well.  A really good team performance and it's a big bonus beating Maidstone in the league."

Blade, however, will be hoping for a repeat performance and with £1,000 at stake for the winners, the money will come in handy for team strengthening.

"There is no pressure on us," admitted Blade.

"All the pressure is on Maidstone to keep their season going.

"All we need to do is go about it like we did last Saturday.

"I learnt a few things about them - they are a very direct side, don't play that much football and utilise the long throw from Aaron Lacy."

Blade, whose side, like the Stones, are at the wrong end of the table, is confident his side can progress into the third round.

"If we do our jobs properly and perform to a high level, it will take a good side to beat us on the day," he said.

With BBC Radio Kent covering the game, Blade promised: "It will be a good game!"

With Collins and Deadman strengthening his squad, Blade added: "We will be a little bit stronger.  We will take nothing for granted - Maidstone will be out for revenge.

"We've got an excellent team spirit at the moment, and I expect our players to go in with a positive attitude and give Maidstone respect, as they are a good side.

"As long as we can deal with the aerial threat from the long throws, and get behind them, we'll have a game plan and we'll see where that takes us."

Meanwhile, Maidstone Borough Council has approved the Stones' plans for a new 3,000 capacity football stadium at James Whatman Way.

The Stones last owned their own ground in the county town in season 1987-88, after which it was sold to make way for a superstore development.  Since that time, they have played their football in Dartford (including a spell in the Football Club) and currently in Sittingbourne.

The success of their planning application was greeted with delight by chairman Paul Bowden-Brown.

"It has been my ambition from day one to bring the club back where it belongs", he told the club's website.

"I'm absolutely delighted that all of the hard work that has been put in by, not only me but by my loyal and hard working team of helpers and advisors, has paid off.

"Not only Maidstone United now have a home of their own within the town that they can be rightly proud off but the people of the town will also have a first class sporting facility to watch their local football club.

"The stadium will be for the benefit of Maidstone United and the benefit of the local football community too."

Mr Bowden-Brown, who has almost single-handedly kept the club alive in the years since the Stones folded and left the Football League, added: "I would like to place on record my thanks to Trevor Gasson and his team at Maidstone Borough Council Planning Department and also to the many officials from the Ministry of Defence, who have all been instrumental in making this an historic event in the history of Maidstone United Football Club."

The riverside stadium, which will take 12 months to complete, incorporates a main stand, two covered terraces, club house, changing rooms and parking.

Building work is not expected to start until early next year while the club finalise all the legal details of the planning conditions and the lease.

It is expected that the new stadium, which is yet to be named, will be ready for use by August 2006.

And with Margate, Dartford and VCD Athletic all  returning home in the near future, and Faversham Town hopefully returning to the Kent League next season, Kent football can, at last, look forward to a brighter future.

Thamesmead Town v Maidstone United
FA Vase Second Round
Saturday 20th November 2004
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead