We are really grateful for the opportunity Roy and Sam MacNeil have given us in trying to restore the clubs fortunes and we hope to repay the faith they have shown in us, says Kent Football United joint-manager Lloyd Bradley
KENT FOOTBALL United joint-manager Lloyd Bradley says his side are the underdogs going into Saturday’s FA Vase tie.
The Dartford based side travel to Bromley on Saturday in The FA Vase First Qualifying Round against their Southern Counties East Football League First Division rivals Holmesdale.
Kent Football United are second-from-bottom in the table, having lost their opening two games against Rusthall (5-1) and Greenways (2-1).
Lee Roots’ side, meanwhile, are in eighth-place in the table, having lost 4-2 at Kennington on the opening day of the season before bouncing back and beating Lydd Town 5-2 at Oakley Road last Saturday.
“We get no respite on Saturday with another very difficult away game in The FA Vase at Holmesdale,” said Bradley, the former Stansfeld and Tudor Sports manager.
“We know that our opponents are very hard to beat at home and although they suffered a 4-2 defeat away at Kennington in their season opener, they bounced back with a convincing 5-2 win at home to Lydd Town on Saturday, so we have no illusions about how difficult our task will be.
“Holmesdale have a very talented and experienced squad and with scoring seven goals in their first two games we will need to be fully focused from the first whistle.
“But this is the cup and everybody knows that anything can happen and although we will be big underdogs, we have nothing to lose.
“The FA Vase is the biggest competition we are involved in this season, so we are desperate to do well.
“Our task has been made even harder by the loss of our captain, centre-back Brad Potter, with a hamstring injury, which also forced him to miss Saturday’s home game against Greenways.
“Brad has fond memories of this competition, having played at Wembley in the Final for Cray Valley 16 months ago so he’s experience will be sorely missed but it will obviously give an opportunity for someone else to play in what is a very prestigious non-league cup.
“If we can get a result on Saturday it would give us a massive confidence boost after what has been a very disappointing start to the season.”
Reflecting on their league campaign, Bradley, who runs the side alongside his son James, a goalkeeper, who played for his dad at Stansfeld, said: “The 5-1 defeat away at Rusthall probably flattered the hosts and although they thoroughly deserved the three points, we had lots of chances on the day, mainly from set-pieces but if we had taken even one or two of those chances, the scoreline would have looked far more respectable.
“Our 2-1 home defeat to Greenways last Saturday was far more frustrating, as after going behind after only five minutes and then going down to 10 men when our keeper was shown a harsh red card on 15 minutes, we controlled most of the game and at times neutrals in the crowd would have thought that we were the team with 11 players and when Callum Flynn equalised with a superb 25-yard free-kick on 75 minutes, we thought we may have even gone on to secure all three points.
“But all the good work was undone when Greenways grabbed a winner in the final minute after some poor marking at a set-piece.
“But it was hard to criticise any of the players as they showed great character after the early setbacks.
“The only disappointment was the amount of chances we missed again and we will need to resolve this problem sooner rather than later if results are to improve.
“This is something we will be working hard on with all the players at training.”
Bradley wants as many people to attend their home games at Lowfield Street in Dartford, starting with their next home league game against Charlton-based side Meridian VP on Saturday 26 September.
“It was great to see some fans at the ground on Saturday and hopefully they will be back next time we are at home,” said Bradley.
“We really hope we can raise more interest in the team this season and hopefully this will show with bigger crowds at our home games.
“It makes such a big difference to the players when there is a decent crowd watching, so if you are local and missing watching some live football because of covid-19 please come along and have a look, hopefully you will enjoy what you see and become a regular.”
Bradley added: “Obviously with the Covid-19 situation throughout the summer it has been very difficult for myself and James to build a completely new squad from scratch.
“James has worked tirelessly throughout pre-season in trying to bring in an array of players and we have been pleasantly surprised with the quality of the new recruits we have brought in so far but it is certainly a work in progress at the moment and we will need to tweak the personnel within the group until we get things right.
“First team coach Ben Kirk worked wonders getting the players fit during what was a very difficult pre-season but all credit to the players who bought into everything we asked them to do.
“We will need to learn fast at this level if we are to improve our fortunes but we have modest ambitions for our first season and we would be satisfied with a mid-table finish, particularly after the clubs very poor season last year.
“We are really grateful for the opportunity Roy and Sam MacNeil have given us in trying to restore the clubs fortunes and we hope to repay the faith they have shown in us.
“The club is making huge progress off the field through its work with sponsors and partners and the ground improvements are hugely impressive.
“Also the junior, youth and women’s sections are in a very healthy state, so we will need to match all of this on the pitch, with not only performances but results as well and there is no better place to start than in The FA Vase at Holmesdale on Saturday.”
Holmesdale v Kent Football United
The Buildbase FA Vase First Qualifying Round
Saturday 19 September 2020
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Oakley Road, Bromley, Kent BR2 8HQ