Herne Bay boss Ben Smith wants to create good FA Cup memories

Thursday 19th August 2021

HERNE BAY manager Ben Smith says he wants his players to create FA Cup memories for their supporters this season.

Smith believes his side has “closed the gap” on Hastings United, having come home from the south coast with a point in a 1-1 draw on the opening day of the Isthmian League South East Division season last Saturday.

“Before the game, I think most people would take a point down at Hastings if you look at their record over the last couple of years,” said Smith.

“We definitely came away thinking potentially we should have got three points but don’t take nothing away from them, they’re a very good side.

“I just felt in terms of possession, it was probably 50-50. I think we were happy for them to have the ball in certain areas and we had a strategy of how we were going to deal with them without the ball and it worked a treat.

“It was a disaster going behind after four minutes but it was a freak goal, huge errors gifted a run through and the quality they have, they’re not going to give up chances like that.

“All in all we’re looking at it as a positive. The performance was very good, chance wise we certainly out-chanced them, if that makes sense?”

Smith pulled off a summer transfer coup by enticing attacker Adem Ramadan to Winch’s Field and he notched his first goal for the club by scoring an 19th minute equaliser.

“I thought he was good, he’s been in and out in pre-season, he’s had quite a few niggles. Like most clubs have had with players coming back after such a long spell out.

“He performed a lot better physically than I thought he would be able to do in that game.

“it was a real toss up between the three or four wingers that we’ve got. We went with Adem because I know his character in the big games. He delivers. When he was at Tonbridge he always turned up and scored in the big games.

“He’s the type of lad with the character that he’s got the big games doesn’t faze him and he rises to that and he showed that in the game on Saturday.

“It was a really solid performance from him and there’s so much to come from him, which is great and is a good position to be in.”

Herne Bay were on course of reaching the play-offs for the first time but Covid-19 put pay to their chances during the 2019-20 campaign and the less said about last season the better.

“Hard one isn’t it? A hard one to predict,” Smith said when asked about Herne Bay’s aspirations this season.

“There’s clubs out there that have not been in and around it over the last few seasons but have certainly done some business over the Covid period and the summer.

“I expect us to be up there but you can never take anything for granted.

“I think it’s going to be a much tighter league that’s for sure and I think we’ve seen that. If you go by the game against Hastings, I feel like we’ve definitely closed the gap and it will be interesting to see what other clubs have done to close the gap.

“Hastings are the heavy favourites over what they’ve done over the last two seasons. Points-per-game, they would have been long gone and should have been but they’re not. It’s just about everyone closing the gap and making it tight in that top area.”

Focus now turns to Saturday’s trip to Bedfont Sports in The FA Cup Preliminary Round.

Herne Bay are in 12th place in the Isthmian League South East Division while their hosts play at the same level and are in sixth-place in the Isthmian League South Central Division following their opening day 2-1 home win over Chipstead.

Chipstead were leading 1-0 with only four minutes to go but Bedfont Sports scored two late goals from Jordan Esprit and a Darryl Sanders penalty to grab the win.

Smith said: “It’s The FA Cup, the old cliché of anything can happen comes out really.  They won’t know that much about us and we don’t know huge amounts about them but we’ve had them watched.

“I’ve seen that they were behind against Chipstead and although the scoreline was only 1-0 it sounded like they were out of the game, such was the dominance of Chipstead but they didn’t take their chances and Bedfont Sports scored two later goals.

“We know what we’re expecting to play against on Saturday. They’ve come back from 1-0 down and changed formation and scored two later goals so it’s highly likely that’s how they’re going to go with.

“We just have to worry about ourselves and if we put in the level of performance against Hastings then we’re a team to worry about but the proof is in the pudding and you’ve got to back that up again with another solid performance.”

Smith is keen to give the club some happy FA Cup memories.

“It doesn’t really mean a lot to me, it’s more the fans. They bang on a lot about they want a good run in The FA Cup and for the club and the history books it will be great for them,” said Smith.

“They look back in the Vase run years’ ago with good fondness although they didn’t reach the final so that’s a good memory – I know the feeling of that as well.

“Yes, you get good money, you can’t hide that fact, it’s always nice but it’s more so making memories.

“I don’t think The FA care about the non-league clubs at all in the way that they’ve cut the prize money over the last few years etc. It’s more of a case of can we give our supporters a run for them to go to different clubs and create good memories for them.”

Visit Herne Bay’s website: www.hernebayfootballclub.co.uk

Bedfont Sports  v  Herne Bay
The Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round
Saturday 21 August 2021
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Bedfont Sports Recreation Ground, Hatton Road, Bedfont, Middlesex TW14 9QT