Sunday 27th March 2005

Please credit article to Stephen McCartney  - www.kentishfootball.co.uk

Wells forced to blood youngsters

INJURIES to their senior players has forced Tunbridge Wells manager Kevin Metcalf to throw in their youngsters, writes Stephen McCartney.

Metcalf will have TEN players missing for tomorrow morning's local derby with Sevenoaks Town at Culverden Stadium (11:00am).

Martin Anderson (shoulder), Aaron O'Leary (ankle), Lee Porter (back), Danny Barham (back), Dean Walker (ankle), Paul Hallett (knee ligaments), Steve Smith (knee), Joe Wade (ankle) and Jay Westwood (knee) are all out of action.  Meanwhile, striker Michael Ward misses the derby due to work commitments.

With such a crippling injury list, Metcalf has been forced to throw in the youngsters, which has affected the team's results on the pitch.

Tunbridge Wells suffered a "disgraceful" 5-0 defeat at Greenwich Borough - where midfielder Peter Garland netted four times - but they did play well on Saturday, despite losing 2-0 at Whitstable Town.

Reflecting on their abject performance at Harrow Meadow, Metcalf said: "Would rather not talk about the Greenwich Borough game.  That was definitely the worse performance I've seen from Tunbridge Wells.

"We told them (the players) after the game that they didn't deserve to wear the badge on their shirts.

"We had eight or nine players that had bad games.  We gave the ball away far too many times.  Greenwich Borough didn't score a good goal as bad mistakes from our senior players, Luke Williams, Buster Beaney and Kevin Skinner gave the ball away far too often.

However, following a discussion between Metcalf and his bench team of Dave Rice and Martin Telford, the trio decided it was time to throw in the club's promising youngsters, from their youth and reserve team.

Strikers, Jasper Kaine, 17, and eighteen-year-old Alex Rich are both expected to lead the line against Sevenoaks with Joshua Newman, 17, and reserve team midfielder Drew Menzies both expected to play some part.

Metcalf reflected on their 2-0 loss at third placed side Whitstable Town on Saturday.

"Their first goal was a gift, losing the ball in midfield, again, and Andy Constable cottoned onto the loose ball to score.

"The first half was quite close really," he said.  "However, there was only one team in it during the first 30 minutes of the second half.  We had them on the rack but just couldn't score.  Dave Hassett hit the post, we hit the bar but just couldn't score.

"I had friends in the crowd and they said we looked like a youth team but we played very well."

Metcalf, however, is boosted with the return from injury of Kevin Smith, who has been drafted into first team action to "help the youngsters come through."

Metcalf added: "Again, although results aren't going our way there's a lot of positives at the club, apart from the Greenwich Borough game, which was disgusting."

Tunbridge Wells are expecting their highest crowd of the season for the 11:00am showdown against Sevenoaks Town, with many fans expected to travel up the A26 to watch Tonbridge Angels' Ryman Premier League clash with Worthing at the Avavan Longmead Stadium, which kick's off at 3pm.

"There's plenty of pride at stake and we will be treating Sevenoaks Town with the utmost respect, said Metcalf.

"But the important thing for Tunbridge Wells Football Club is to get some of these youngsters some games under their belts.

"Although we will be looking for three points, the important factor are the youngsters.

"I think this is how far Tunbridge Wells have come now.  Big sides release players and bring people through but we've got no money but are looking to bring people through.

"If they adapt like they did at Whitstable on Saturday it will be a good game.

"The management team believe we can put them in against any side, to give the players a run in the team."

Meanwhile, Gary Davies, the joint-manager of Sevenoaks Town is pleased with his players commitment since he and Julian Leigh replaced John James at Greatness Park.

They go into the game on the back of a 2-1 defeat at ten-man Beckenham Town on Saturday, but a 4-2 defeat at home to Maidstone Untied was followed by a 1-0 win at Lordswood.

Davies reflected on those games and said: "With Lordswood winning their last two games, we needed to pick ourselves up after the Maidstone game.

"The conditions weren't the best in the world, it was windy, a bouncy pitch but we had more of the play and the chances but didn't score until late on through Dave Forster."

But he was disappointed his side couldn't beat his former club - Beckenham Town - at Eden Park Avenue on Saturday.

"We started off slowly and Beckenham's Danny Beszant scored a great goal, a right-footed strike from outside the box," he said.

"Tony Sinclair (Beckenham) gave the ball away and tried to win it back but brought down Phil Cramp on the edge of the box.  Sinclair got red carded and we scored from the resulting free kick (Phil Cramp).

"Asher Edwards (Beckenham) scored in the second half but it was a weak goal to give away.

"Against ten men we had numerous chances, two or three clear cut chances to score but we didn't take them.  So full credit to Beckenham for hanging on with ten men."

Sevenoaks finish their season with two home games against Slade Green and Deal Town after their short trip to Culverden.  Currently five places off the bottom in 12th place, they have achieved their aim of 30 points for the season.

Davies added: "It should be a close game and hopefully we can collect three points to move away from the sides at the bottom of the table.

"We do have three or four players carrying injuries at the moment, which doesn't help.

"Since Julian and I have taken over, the players have given and shown great commitment and have given 110% and have done everything we have asked of them."

Tunbridge Wells v Sevenoaks Town
Go Travel Kent League Premier Division
Easter Monday, 28th March 2005
Kick Off 11:00am
at Culverden Staduim, Culverden Down, Tunbridge Wells