Greenie's Friday Preview - Will the Fleet make it a Great Eight?

Friday 22nd September 2006

Another Saturday comes and could a magnificent seven become a great eight? Can our respective Leaders of the Ryman Premier and Division One South keep their leads and can the daftest unbeaten record of the season remain intact? All in all as I say just another Saturday in the lives of Kent football…

As we sit here this Friday morning in Greenie Towers, I must confess that our beautiful game isn’t top of my Sporting wish list this weekend. Like many many others with a love of football, I also enjoy my golf and to see the Ryder Cup come round again reminds me of a fantastic week I was fortunate enough to spend the last time the event was at the Belfry in 2002. The atmosphere of the whole week really was something to behold…. But sorry I digress at least for 90 minutes this Saturday afternoon.

Gravesend returned from Rushden on Tuesday night having been the better side, creating better chances but annoyingly for boss Liam Daish unable to finish off ten men for the second time this season.

Tomorrow it’s another trip for Daish’s charges as they travel to Clarence Park home of St Albans City. City promoted to the Conference through the Play Offs last season have had a difficult start and welcome the seventh placed Fleet in sixteenth.

Had to laugh at a comment made on the City website that although the Fleet are unbeaten in seven, four games have been drawn! Nothing mentioned about the demolition of Grays in that! To see if the Fleet can make it the "Great 8" join me and Lord Webster at from just before three - just part of Saturday Sports from Kent’s Soccer Station from the BBC – BBC Radio Kent!

Now that ridiculous record that I referred to – Welling United have a 100pct record this season and are yet too drop a point… so long as they play the game on a Saturday!

Daft as it may sound the Wings have won every single Saturday fixture they’ve played so far this season, but haven’t won a single non Saturday match – yet! Its true honest!!! But why?

That must be the question that Adie Pennock must try and answer, but to be truthful it’s bewildering.

Ah well its Saturday and with the Wings away to Basingstoke who are just four off the bottom of the table, that remarkable stat well looks like continuing tomorrow.

Margate face a real test. AFC Wimbledon come a calling, and with the Wombles currently 8th, Robin Trott’s side (who are third) can make a major stride forward if they can win their next two games.

It was a good result for the Gate winning at Fleet in the FA Cup on Tuesday – and boy doesn’t it set up a wonderful tie up for us next weekend as they now travel to face Kent League leaders Whitstable – but much much more of that next week!

Elsewhere in the Ryman Premier, Neil Cugley will be praying that Folkestone can follow up their first win of the season in the Cup at Whyteleafe seven days ago with their first League win of the season away to fellow strugglers Slough Town.

Invicta are rock bottom, whilst their hosts are currently struggling as well in 18th. Cugley knows that he must get his charges fired up and soon…

Fourth placed Tonbridge, fresh from a very workmanlike Cup win over Ashford last week, are on the road again – this time they travel to Harrow Borough.

Its never an easy place to go to, and with the home side just three places behind his side Tony Dolby knows the importance of getting it right on the road tomorrow. At least top scorer Jon Main is free of suspension and will return to the squad.

Ramsgate are on the road too – they’re off to Essex and Chelmsford City’s new home and the town’s athletic stadium.

I went there on a bitterly cold Friday night last season and I must confess was not impressed as for me I’m afraid that football pitches should never be put in the middle of an athletics track – traditionalist I may be but it always seems to me that the pitch is so very far away from the fans… Anyhow moan over, and the Rams travel in 10th and with City in 11th, its clear that a tight afternoon is in prospect!

Down to Ryman One South and arguably the game of the weekend has been switched to Monday night – no mother its not on TV but it possibly should be – Dartford vs. Maidstone for the first time since both clubs folded when playing at Watling Street all those years ago!

More on that game I’m sure right here over the weekend so I’ll turn my attention to the league leaders Dover, who I saw win 2-1 at Chatham in midweek!

A workmanlike performance from Clive Walker’s side and when I spoke to him afterwards, he was very guarded about tomorrow’s visitors to Crabble, Corinthian Casuals.

"They’re results have improved of late and they’ve got some new players in," warned Walker, "and we also seem to struggle to beat them".

So don’t be fooled by the Casuals lowly league position in 19th, but surely with the firepower of Wilkins, Tyne, Dryden at al Dover should have more than enough to stay clear of Fleet at the top of the table.

Fleet themselves are in the County tomorrow in arguably the Divisions game of the day as they’re at Hayes Lane to face Ian Jenkins’ Cray. How much will midweek Cup replays have taken out of both sides – remember Cray’s replay with Winchester went all the way to penalties before they secured a home tie in the next round.

More of the same is needed tomorrow as remember Fleet (bossed by former England international Andy Sinton) are the only team thus far to take a point off of Dover this season.

Sittingbourne who would have gone joint third if their continuing floodlight problems at Bourne Park hadn’t of meant the midweek abandonment of the game with Ashford are at home again – this time its Tooting and Mitcham United who are the visitors.

For me last season Tooting were one of the best sides in this division but their better players seem to have left during the summer (Scott Kinch to Tonbridge a prime example) and so far this they’re struggling in 18th – ten places behind Steve Lovell’s charges, and Lovell will be the first to admit that despite their lowly position, Tooting will still be a good scalp for the Brickies tomorrow.

The other manager I spoke to on Tuesday was Chatham’s Phil Miles who was ruing his sides lack of luck in recent weeks after full back James Rogers had netted Dover’s winner straight from a free kick wide out on the right.

Miles was encouraged by his sides showing but also frustrated that his charges hadn’t taken something from the leaders! In my view I think the Chats (who slipped to 13th after Tuesday’s defeat and travel tomorrow to face Kingstonian themselves 14) are just lacking a proven goal scorer at this level.

What my old mate Milo would give for one of the strikers at Clive Walker’s disposal??? That said what would most managers give for a strike force of Wilkins, Tyne and Dryden?

Ashford are up to 15th in the table (are you Nuts and Bolts fans getting giddy yet?) and tomorrow entertain Croydon Athletic at Homelands.

Croydon Athletic still smarting from their Cup defeat at the Belmont last weekend will travel knowing that Tim Thorogood’s side also of course lost last weekend but before that had won their previous three and despite that defeat to the Angels seven days ago, there were encouraging signs that maybe at long last Ashford may have turned the corner they’ve been peeking around for the past couple of seasons…

And finally its FA Vase Second Qualifying Round day, with Kent League leaders Whitstable away to Oakwood. Elsewhere there are home ties for Herne Bay, Lordswood (despite their fire damage in the week) and Tunbridge Wells against Selsey, Cobham and Farnham Town respectively, whilst Erith Town, and Slade Green travel to Bedfont and Pagham and Sevenoaks Town travel to Merland Rise to visit Epsom & Ewell.

Enjoy whatever football you’re watching over the next seven days – there are some crackers, but remember they’re just the starters for the two big Kent derbies in the FA Cup that come up in eight days time!

Mike Green