We will trust the young players to deliver a performance by giving the young players the opportunity to play, says Ramsgate boss Matt Longhurst

Friday 16th October 2020

RAMSGATE manager Matt Longhurst says he is not frightened to play his younger players against Canvey Island tomorrow.

Longhurst has a lengthy injury-list going into The FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round tie at Southwood Stadium.

Canvey Island - FA Trophy winners back in 2001 - currently sit in 12
th place in the Isthmian League North Division table with five points from their opening four games, while Ramsgate are in the bottom four in the South East Division table with three points from their opening four league outings.

“We’ve got a tough game against a very good Canvey Island side. They have some excellent players in the front three, Tobi Joseph and Evans Kouassi are powerful and quick with quality also,” said Longhurst.

“They have experienced players in midfield, Conor Hubble shouldn’t be playing at this level in my opinion and they are organised and a good team.

“You can see their way of playing, they like to pass the ball between the lines and are also happy to play up to the front lads quickly and close the gaps around them, so it’s certainly a tough game.”

Longhurst revealed that he has been forced to field the younger members of his squad against their Essex opponents.

“We have had a very mixed start to the season. First game of the season we were excellent in and out of possession and since that game we haven’t picked the same team due to injury,” said Longhurst, the former manager of East Grinstead Town, Erith & Belvedere and Corinthian.

“On Saturday (a 2-1 home defeat to Three Bridges) we had no fewer than six players missing that would all potentially started the game. Roman Campbell, Lee Prescott, Rory Smith, Ashley Miller, James Morrish (work), Oshaye Hutchinson were all injured, which is four forwards and two midfield players.

“This has been the harsh reality of the season so far without making excuses, not many squads at our level could have those six missing and still compete.

“We have been able though to give opportunities to the younger players and no one more so than George Nikaj, who at 18 is certainly another one to watch. He scored twice on the first day of the season and will only be getting better for the game time.

“We will have Theo White, Henry Arnold, Mitch Chapman, Sobechi Nwaokolo, Jacob Russell, Wes Hennessey, Charlie Meade, Ollie Bouling, Ed Harvey and George Nikaj in the squad, aged 22 and under and only Ryan Johnson and Jerald Aboagye over 30-years-old.

“This is the model in an ideal world we would be blooding the youngsters one or two at a time, not 10 but it can’t harm them.

“It’s a great chance for them to play in front of a good crowd against a good team and in The FA Trophy. They cannot get worse for playing games and I’m delighted to have such great young players at the club as I would love to have some of the other senior lads out there to help a few of them on the pitch but that can’t be helped and building a club and not a team takes time.

“It’s been a frustrating start to the season, to say the least but the injured lads apart from Oshaye and Rory will return next week and that will start to make a big impact on performances and results in turn.

“The players’ have trained well this week and will certainly be looking at improving on last week’s performance.

“We are lacking in continuity in team selection and this impacting the fluidity of the team and the performance but over a long season, all these things will actually benefit the group and the club as when we have injuries and suspensions etc we can utilise the young players as they have been given vital exposure and experience to plug gaps.

“That’s not the route the club wants to go down and will trust the young players to deliver a performance by giving the young players the opportunity to play.

“It’s a tough game but one we look forward to, having played and developed loads of young players over the last 10 years it doesn’t frighten me to do so again in a game of this importance.

“Hopefully we can give the supporters a performance worthy of their level of support so far this season, having come out in their numbers.”

This match was cancelled on the eve of the game after a number of the Canvey Island squad were experiencing Covid-19 symptoms.

Visit Ramsgate’s website: www.ramsgate-fc.co.uk

Ramsgate P-P Canvey Island
The Buildbase FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round
Saturday 17 October 2020
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Southwood Stadium, Prices Avenue, Ramsgate, Kent CT11 0AN