Sunday 18th April 2004

Ambitious Thamesmead Town face three-horse race for promotion

AMBITIOUS Thamesmead Town manager, Paul Blade was a pleased man following his side collected another three valuable points in the Go Travel Kent League Premier Division championship race on Saturday, writes Stephen McCartney.

The thirty-seven-year-old builder, who lives in Erith, saw his side move up to second spot in the table, with a comfortable 3-0 victory at Lordswood.

The Bayliss Avenue club are only two points behind leaders, and local rivals, VCD Athletic, but the Vickers complete their season next Saturday with a crunch home game against defending champions and third placed favourites, Cray Wanderers.

Thamesmead, however, are not in action next weekend, but they finish their season the following weekend against Kent Senior Trophy runners-up, Hythe Town, at home.

Cray Wanderers seem to have the upper hand, however, with Ian Jenkins side, who defeated Hythe 1-0 to land the Kent Senior Trophy, thanks to Ian Rawlings' late winner, have four league fixtures to play.

Thamesmead Town had Mark Merriden, Dean Kearley, Tony Gallgher (ankle) and Barry Stewart (groin) missing for the "banana skin" fixture at Lordswood.

Two goals from Dean Burns, who has scored 23 goals this season, despite only starting ten games this season, and being substitute on 13 occasions,  and a strike from Michael Power, with 28 goals to his name, saw them chalk up their twenty-first league victory of the season from 31 games.

Blade said: "It could have been difficult, as Lordswood are a physical side.  The game was played in difficult conditions and on a poor pitch.  Lordswood are a big strong side, so it could have been a potential banana skin.  We had a few players missing but it gave me a chance to give players, who have been waiting for a chance, to play a game."

The manager praised his two strikers for their efforts.  He added: "We started quite well, Dean Burns, who has been on the bench for the last few games, played up front with Michael Power, and they did well together up front."

Thamesmead are an ambitious club and applied to gain promotion into a higher league, but Blade revealed his club are still waiting confirmation from the Football Association, whether they will be allowed into the new-look league, if they finish in the top two.

Blade revealed: "We have applied to go up, we are just waiting for the paperwork from the Football Association to come through.  We can only wait and find out as we don't know what's going to happen to us.  All we can do is give ourselves a chance to get promoted on the pitch, but a lot is riding on the last games of the season."

Thamesmead face Cray Wanderers in the Go Travel Kent League Premier Division Cup Final on Saturday 8th May at Folkestone Invicta.

With the Kent Senior Trophy already in the cabinet, and the possibility of retaining the Kent League championship, Blade's side could deny the Wands the treble if they are successful on the Kent coast.

The last Kent League side to land the treble, which consists of the Kent League championship, League Cup and Kent Senior Trophy, were Herne Bay, managed by current Dartford boss Tommy Sampson, in 1997.

"The final will be a good day for everyone connected with the club. Our main object at the start of the season was to get promoted, which will help keep the quality players we have at the club, and obviously attract other players." Blade said.

Like everyone in life, you learn from your mistakes.  This is the case for Blade, who is only in his second season as first team manager at Bayliss Avenue.

Blade said: "I've enjoyed two years managing Thamesmead at first team level.  I've learnt from my mistakes, and when I do make them I hold my hands up.  This hopefully makes me a better manager.  I am ambitious, we have a good squad at the club, and it's a shame the season isn't a month longer, as we are looking really strong at the moment.

"We are waiting on other results, we have done the best we can.  We have dropped points but it's swings and roundabouts in football.  You take the highs and the lows but we have had more highs this season, and with a bit of luck we can reach the top two."

Your club's manager to be interviewed?
Telephone Stephen McCartney 07979 418 360
or Email:   stephen@mccartney2000.fsnet.co.uk