Greenie's Friday Preview
Firstly an apology that the Preview is the "Saturday morning Preview" and a bit late!!!
Anyhow after both the Fleet and the Wings begin their respective seasons with a home win and an away defeat. And in all honesty Welling struggled for the first half against Weston before finally getting the ball down and playing football to win the game, whilst the Fleet on Tuesday night beat in all honesty a very poor Tamworth side, and a keeper who I think needs to rapidly reassess his positioning at free kicks not that the two free kicks that mark De Bolla scored from weren’t crackers!
And so to today and at long long last the opening day of the Ryman League season!
Even though I’m (as most people know) a lifelong Gills fan, the story of the day for me is the return to a national League for the first time since 1992 of Maidstone United.
Its not for me or anyone reading this to comment on the events that caused them to resign from the Football League, but to start in Division Four West of the Kent County League and make it back to a national League deserves all the plaudits that it will undoubtedly receive.
But to all of those (like me) heading for Pilot Field in Hastings this afternoon, a word of warning – don’t expect to run before you can walk!
Yes the Stones have the players to emulate the feats of the last two Kent League Champions (Cray and Ramsgate) in reaching the Play Offs and gaining promotion in their respective first seasons, but as Darren Lovell (the Stones long suffering secretary) said to me this week, "to be upset once by the new boys is to a degree partially expected; for it to happen twice is a surprise; for it to happen three years running would be (for the established sides in the League) almost unforgivable!"
If you cant get to the Sussex coast, join me for regular updates and goals as they happen on Matt Davison’s Saturday Sport from Kent’s Soccer Station from the BBC.
Elsewhere in Ryman One, Dover will be looking to ease their heartbreak of the Play Off final defeat as a new season starts with the Whites on the road at Molesey.
Clive Walker has made some shrewd signings in the summer – most notably John Keister from Margate and young striker Bradley Spice from Sittingbourne – and expect another assault on promotion.
Horsham were beaten finalists in the Play offs two years ago and went straight up last time – history to be repeated I wonder?
For Chatham, Dartford and Sittingbourne – its their respective debut’s in the Ryman League after the powers that be finally saw the errors of their ways and moved the three North Kent clubs across from the Southern League (meaning for the first time ever there’s no Kent representation in that league) and into the Ryman meaning less travelling and potentially bigger gates. But why has it taken so long??? A thought for another day!
And I just have a feeling that all three could be dark horses for challenging. For new boss Phil Miles its his first competitive game in charge as they welcome Croydon Athletic to Maidstone Road, and I wish "Milo" well – known him for longer than both of us care to remember and wish him and his number two Steve Best the best wishes for the season.
At Bourne Park, Sittingbourne boss Steve Lovell has rebuilt his side after losing son Mark to Welling and the chairman’s son to Dover (Bradley Spice) and is optimistic of the Bourne’s chances (they begin at home to Godalming) whilst arguably the biggest season in the history of Dartford Football Club begins at Burgess Hill.
Tony Burman and his players can't wait to finally go home, but their return to Princes Park is in the future (looks like being October / November time) but Burman is wise enough to keep his side focused, and of the three ex Southern League clubs, they’re the one I really do fancy to possibly spring a surprise!
Which leaves us with Ashford Town and Cray Wanderers – who incidentally meet at Homelands on Tuesday in the first Kent derby in the division.
Ashford will be looking to have a better season (lets be absolutely honest – with successive finishes one place above the relegation zone it can hardly get worse), though Tim Thorogood will tell you that survival during their re building is the aim and that’s been achieved!
With the "re" introduction of Graham Porter and the arrival of Simon Glover, we may at long last have to look further up the table for the men from Homelands… Lets hope so anyway…
And so to Cray Wanderers, who entertain Horsham YMCA and a familiar face returns to Kent, in the visitors assistant manager – one Mr Thomas Sampson esquire!
Ironic isn’t it given the relationship enjoyed between Cray’s "dynamic duo" (well in a former life anyway) messers Jenkins and Francis and Sampson! It’ll be "entertaining" anyway at Hayes Lane, and just a quick apology to the Wand’s programme team for not getting the requested article to you on time! Sorry Greg – hope you have a good one today!
Up in the Premier Division, our two promoted teams face contrasting starts – Division One champions welcome Heybridge to Southwood whilst Tonbridge go to Hendon.
Jimmy Ward could hardly have wished for a tougher start as the Swifts last season were denied promotion to Conference South when they lost out in the Play Offs. That said though if you’d bet against any Kent manager springing a surprise this weekend it would be Ward wouldn’t it? Matt Gerrard will be at this game for Saturday Sport…
Meantime, the Angels go to Hendon as I say – a place where for some reason Kent sides do not do well! Can't explain why, but here’s hoping that Tony Dolby’s charges and their new men can pull off a good result before they head home for a game with Worthing on Tuesday night – a game incidentally that will be featured by yours truly on a Soccer Special from Radio Kent from 7:00pm on 774MW only!
When I saw Folkestone Invicta in pre season I joked with Neil Cugley that he’d done his pre season trading last April such was the cohesion that Invicta showed that particular day.
Folkestone could challenge for a Play Off spot but deep down those within the club would gladly welcome another "trip" to the first round of the FA Cup where they cam so close to beating Chester last season – they start today at home to Harrow.
Robin Trott starts his first full season in charge at Margate with a trip to Worthing, and given the signings he’s made during the summer (particularly the familiar faces from Gravesend – messers Jackson, McKimm and Skinner) there’s a train of thought developing that if they can getaway to a good start, the Gate could well challenge for honours come May.
Bromley meantime start with a trip to Chelmsford City.
For the third games of their Conference season, the Fleet welcome York to Stonebridge Road, and in the past, the Minstermen have not been good travellers to Northfleet which is a surprise considering their record against the Gills when they were in the Football League!
With that in mind, there’s no way really that the Fleet should fear the Yorkshire side, and with Liam Daish keen to turn Stonebridge Road into a fortress what better place to start. My good buddy Charles Webster will be on the radio from this one!
Finally to Welling and Adie Pennock’s side head for Eastleigh this afternoon looking to put Wednesday defeat to big spending Lewes behind them.
One good thing to come out of Wednesday’s defeat was the goal for Danny Kedwell on his return to the side from suspension but the four conceded will be a cause for concern… And of course the question is can Andrew Sam come off the bench and net for the third game running??? Whatever happens Pennock needs an improved performance this afternoon.
That’s it then a lot got through – the Preview will be back on time next week, and hopefully we’ll have a Bank Holiday Monday Preview for you too – all depends on what plans Mrs Green has for me!!!
Don’t forget then, regular radio reports from Pilot Field along with website updates right here on www.kentishfootball.co.uk and if a goal goes in anywhere you’ll hear about first on Kent’s Soccer Station from the BBC – BBC Radio Kent and Matt Davison’s Saturday Sport from 2:00 till 6:00