We are having to distribute our efforts across three different competitions now and it can be a quite exhausting journey, says Sheppey United head coach Marcel Nimani

Friday 09th October 2020

SHEPPEY UNITED head coach Marcel Nimani says he feels gutted that fans are banned from their FA Cup Third Qualifying Round tie at Eastbourne

Ernie Batten’s men pulled off a FA Cup upset after they beat National League South side Welling United 2-0 at Holm Park last Saturday.

Their reward is a trip to another side at that level, a trip to Eastbourne Borough next Tuesday night in the Third Qualifying Round.

However, as the hosts hold “Elite” status, the game will be played behind closed doors, while Sheppey United are allowed restricted attendances of 300 at their Holm Park ground.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for us all and I must say a well-earned reward by the players, who have put in some outstanding performances in The FA Cup journey so far,” said Nimani.

“A great victory against Sutton Athletic and Uxbridge, an impressive away performance to Steyning Town and a stunning display at home against Welling United has seen us score 12 goals and conceded one.

“Reaching the Third Qualifying stage of the Cup not only shows our potential as a squad but also the growth of our club as a whole.

“The chairman, background staff and management team began the preparations for this season way back into the lockdown and I am extremely proud to see us in this position, still unbeaten and improving game-by-game.

“I have to also add, this short success equally belongs to our player number 12 - the fans - who may be limited in numbers due to the guidelines but certainly not in spirit or vocal presence.

“We were therefore gutted with an away draw as we cannot share this club milestone, our FA Cup tie at Eastbourne Borough, with our fans.

“I have been reading a lot about the current guideline rules, I do feel the frustration of football fans, especially with this Elite v Non-Elite differentiation.

“I encourage the fans to keep position and to keep working with their clubs. This is a short-term intervention, things will improve. It is about making the best out of the situation.

“I am aware that (chairman) Matt Smith and Ernie Batten are working together in finding ways of streaming the away games, having already provided this opportunity for the home games.”

Sheppey United go into tomorrow’s FA Vase Second Qualifying Round tie against Molesey unbeaten in 11 games played in all competitions this season.

“Going back to our season on the playing field, albeit a good start, this is no time to reflect and certainly no time to celebrate. Reflections and celebrations are for the end of the season,” said Nimani.

“We have gained the start that we worked for during the pre-season and there is a real belief around the camp that if we maintain this level of energy we stand a chance in competing to the end.

 “The trip away to Eastbourne Borough is going to be a real challenge for us all and not just for footballing reasons. Our players come from all parts of the South East region and from a variety of professions’ and we are therefore faced with many lifestyle challenges to make this trip and prepare on match night.

 “Our opponents on the other hand are a team with great history and contribution to Kent and Sussex football. A side who practise football at professional standards with an extremely talented squad.

"Danny Bloor is an individual who I briefly met towards the end of his time at Hastings and he is a great manager with a vast amount of football experience."

Sheppey United are in third-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table with 16 points from six games, a couple of points adrift of a Corinthian side with a 100% record in the league. 

 “With regards to the league, despite a disappointing result (1-1) away to K Sports, I feel that we were able to recover with a great night away to Bearsted, winning 5-2," said Nimani.

“Both Bearsted and K Sports are a very competitive squad and midweek away trips to these teams are a tough challenge for anyone. K Sports use their home pitch intelligently,  narrow in shape and defend very well, a real credit to the management team there. Whilst Bearsted are a great
footballing side and can outplay anyone.”

Molesey arrive at Holm Park tomorrow sitting second-from-bottom in the Combined Counties League Premier Division table with one win from their seven league outings.

“We are having to distribute our efforts across three different competitions now and it can be a quite exhausting journey, and I do feel that Ernie’s experience in managing these congested fixtures with player rotation has been spot on, a great learning experience for me,” said Nimani.

“We have enough experience and depth in the squad to be able to rotate and carry our performances form one competition into another. 

“Overall, the Sheppey camp is in good spirit, we are keeping our feet on the ground and our main focus remains on working on the areas where we need to improve, this is a long, long season.”

Visit Sheppey United’s website: www.sheppeyunitedfc.co.uk

Sheppey United v Molesey
The Buildbase FA Vase Second Qualifying Round
Saturday 10 October 2020
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Holm Park, Queenborough Road, Halfway, Sheerness, Kent ME12 3BD