Wednesday 24th November 2004

The Kent Website
Supporting Kentish Football

Thamesmead doing well in the cups

THAMESMEAD TOWN manager Paul Blade admits he was delighted with his depleted squad after they beat Maidstone United twice in seven days at Bayliss Avenue, writes Stephen McCartney.

The first meeting between the two Go Travel Kent League sides saw Blade's side collect three points thanks to a 3-2 victory with goals coming from Dean Burns, Curtis Williams and Pedro Knight.

However, one could argue their next meeting - in the second round of the FA Vase - was more important, and it was Thamesmead that collected £1,000 in prize money and a home tie against Vase holders Winchester City on Saturday 11th December in the third round.

Stones' prolific striker, Richard Sinden, who scored a brace in the league game, cancelled out Lee Loveridge's 15th minute opener, but Burns' late winner sent the 'Mead through to a lucrative tie against the holders.

"Well, pleased," Blade said.

"We had six players missing from the squad, so we knew it would be backs against the wall.  We knew Maidstone would be up for it and looking for revenge.  We thought we had to get on with it and the players responded."

Blade was without Peter Deadman (hamstring), Knight and Mark Dudley (work commitments), Tony Potts (attending a wedding) and Kieron Collins (holiday).

Blade added: "Obviously we were a little bit light in squad numbers but there was not much we could do about it.

"We got on with it and did exactly what we did the week before, which was, causing them problems.

"Maidstone changed their system to 4-4-2 to accommodate the pace we had but that seemed to fall into our hands and we captalised on that."

Blade, however, was delighted with Sam Thomas', who played a major part in securing the winning goal.

He broke away and raced some 40 yards with the ball and none of the visiting defenders could catch him.  He knocked the ball to Burns, who cut inside the defender and slotted home.

Blade said: "We went in at half time 1-0 up, deservedly in front.

"Obviously they came at us but we weathered the storm.

"They bombarded our box and I though if we could weather the storm in the first 15 minutes of the second half, I knew towards the latter part of the game, our pace would cause them problems, and it did."

"They slung everything at us in the last five minutes, after our winning goal, but we managed to hang on."

They can expect a bigger crowd when they entertain holders Winchester City in the next round.

However, bad news came out of Winchester this week following the departure of director of football and "money man" David Malone.

However, Neil Hards, Winchester's manager has been told it is business as usual.

Describing Malone's resignation as "a bolt out of the blue", Hards has sought clarification about the club's future from chairman Richard Newsome and, so far, he's encouraged by what he's heard.

Speaking after City opened their defence of the FA Vase with a 6-2 victory at Wessex rivals Alton Town, Hards said: "I was with Andy Forbes picking up his non-league player-of-the-year award at Wycombe when I got Dave's text saying he was resigning.  I had no idea it was coming.

"For me, the most important people at the club are the players.  I needed to make sure everything was still in place to go forward and I've had clarification from the chairman.

"I've been told that everything that's been promised will be met and as far as I'm concerned, nothing changes.

"I know a lot of people are waiting for us to fall flat on our faces, but as long as I'm here we won't do that.

"We were awesome in the first half on Saturday.  It was just the response I was looking for.

"We're a very close-knit group and we'll flight tooth and nail to stay together and be successful.  We've achieved a lot and I'm not prepared to chuck it all in the bin."

To ensure talk of Malone's departure didn't overshadow proceedings, Hards took the perfect prop along to keep his players' minds on the job.

"Team talk? I didn't need one," he said.  "I just bunged the FA Vase in the middle of the dressing room and that was all the motivation they needed.

"The reaction I got was top class and it showed the togetherness and spirit we've got."

However, Thamesmead boss, Blade is hoping Winchester suffer a fall-out, along the same lines as Essex side Hornchurch, when they lost their financial backer.

"They are probably in similar circumstances to Hornchurch, " he said.  So hopefully within the next couple of weeks they could lose a few players, become a bit unsettled."

However, Blade will have most of his players back available for the clash, which is surely going to attract a lot of interest and publicity.

"I will have a few more bodies back and we'll be stronger.  We are at home and we'll definitely be up for it.

"At the moment, if we can play to our potential, it will take a good side to beat us."

It was a case of after the Lord's Mayor Show on Tuesday when an inspiring half-time team talk, with his side 1-0 down to Sporting Bengal United, in the second round of the London Senior Cup, brought his side back to life, and a fine second half showing clinched a 4-1 victory.

Blade admitted: "I knew it would be difficult as they've had a few good results.  It was after the Lords Mayor Show.

"We came in at half-time 1-0 down, which isn't good enough and people weren't doing their jobs and taking it likely.

"I managed to bang a few heads together at half-time and told them they needed to keep up standards and they let themselves down, but I got a great response in the second half, we came out and battered them.

"I am very pleased with the response I got from the players."

Blade, however, will have to lift his players again for Saturday's Kent Senior Trophy second round tie against British Energy Kent County League side Bearsted at Bayliss Avenue.

The Bears, who play in the premier division, are sixth in the table, with five wins, three draws and four defeats in 12 games played  this season.  They have scored 27 goals, leaked 23 and have collected 18 points.

Blade said: "I don't know much about them but they are a young side with a couple of players who represent Kent.

"We are at home, I've got a few bodies back and we'll keep going, keep doing the things we are good at."

Mead will be boosted with the return of Knight, Dudley and Deadman for the match.

Saturday's Kent Senior Trophy second round ties:
Beckenham Town v West Wickham (3:00pm)
Crockenhill v Slade Green (1:30pm)
Erith Town v Tunbridge Wells (3:00pm)
Lordswood v Herne Bay (3:00pm)
Ramsgate v Maidstone United (3:00pm)
Stansfield & Oxford Bermondsey Club v Greenwich Borough (1:30pm)
Thamesmead Town v Bearsted (3:00pm)
Whitstable Town v VCD Athletic (3:00pm)

Thamesmead Town v Bearsted
Kent Senior Trophy Second Round
Saturday 27 November 2004
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead