Sheppey United boss Ernie Batten: We have struggled a bit at home as teams come to Holm Park and appear to raise their performance

Friday 03rd February 2017

SHEPPEY UNITED manager Ernie Batten admits visiting teams raise their game when they play at Holm Park.

The Ites suffered a 2-1 defeat to Croydon last weekend, which put a dent in their title hopes and as a result have slipped seven points adrift of leaders Ashford United with 14 league games left to play.

Sheppey United are fourth in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division with 15 wins and three draws from their 24 league outings and their defeat to Croydon was only their third league defeat at their immaculate home.

“The defeat in our last game against Croydon really highlighted how competitive the league is this season,” said Batten.

“Most games are very tough and the result generally comes down to taking your chances.  We missed some great chances and Croydon were clinical with theirs. Credit must go to Croydon as they played very well on the day and had a game plan which earnt them the win.

“We have struggled a bit at home as teams come to Holm Park and appear to raise their performance.  I watch most teams before we play them and sometimes half-hour into our game I’m thinking these are miles better than when I watched them last week!

“Our chairman pointed out that opposition teams arrive at Holm Park around 1:30 and walk out onto the Football League like surface, take photos and run out in front of over 300 fans.

“It’s something that we have got to overcome and learn from.  Maybe we need to show more patience in home games but we have a lot of young inexperienced players who have done superbly well this season and it’s a learning curve for them.

“Overall, I’m happy with our season and a top six position in our first season at this level would be decent.”

Batten was full of praise for Tunbridge Wells manager Jason Bourne ahead of their trip to Culverden Stadium tomorrow.

Bourne wears his heart on his sleeve for his home-town club, both as a loyal player and now as manager.

Tunbridge Wells have had a couple of seasons of being at the wrong end of the table and go into tomorrow’s game in the bottom four.  The Wells have won five and drawn four of their 21 games and have games in hand on all three of the sides below them in the table but Bourne will be looking to climb away from the drop zone, which is only four points below them.

“I’m expecting another tough game at Tunbridge Wells tomorrow, as they are battling to climb the table,” said Batten.

“I think they are going through a transitional period and are working to re-build.  I like the way Jason Bourne is trying to re-build his squad with blooding young players, expecting his players to show a real pride in pulling on a Wells shirt. In this era of silly money flying around that vital ingredient is sometimes missing.

“However, our away form has been very good this season and I’m confident we can earn a positive result if we play somewhere near our best.”

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Tunbridge Wells  v  Sheppey United
Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Saturday 4th February 2017
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Culverden Stadium, Culverden Down, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 9SG