It's a hard one to call this season. If we're not champions we want to be in the top three or top four, says Sheppey United boss Ernie Batten
SHEPPEY UNITED manager Ernie Batten says he expects his side to finish the season in the top three or four.
The Ites booked their place in the Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Quarter-Finals after beating First Division side FC Elmstead 2-0 on Tuesday night at Lower Road.
The home side missed a nineteenth-minute penalty when goalkeeper Aaron Lee-Wharton saved Ben Lockett’s poor penalty and eight-goal striker Alvin Turyatemba and Michael (Jay) Garrick also missed chances.
Tarik Ibrahim and David Botterill scored in the space of nine minutes in the first half to see Sheppey United – who dominated the entire second half – through to the last eight.
Batten made six changes to the side that were held to a 3-3 draw by Lordswood at Holm Park last weekend.
“We’ve got a number of players at the club now, especially forward players, wide players and midfield players and we needed to play them on Tuesday night,” explained Batten.
“It doesn’t particularly weaken us because we’ve got a lot of players out who are at the same ilk now and it’s up to them now. The lads had an opportunity and the shirt is up for grabs for Saturday so they’re all competing and trying to get a shirt for the next game.”
Sheppey United are one of six clubs vying to win the Premier Division title.
Fisher lead the way with 47 points from 22 games and they are closely followed by Corinthian (47 points from 21 games); Beckenham Town (46 points from 23 games); Chatham Town (43 points from 20 games); Sheppey United (38 points from 21 games) and Cray Valley (37 points from 19 games).
“It’s a hard one to call this season. Our own situation is I think we’re better than what we were last year and we want to finish the season better than we were last year,” said Batten.
“If we’re not champions, we want to be in the top three or the top four. I think we’re outside in the pack and we need to put yourselves into a position where we’re very strong going into the next year.”
Batten takes his side to Rusthall on Saturday, a side that slumped to the foot of the table last weekend.
The Rustics have won just the one and drawn three of their 20 league outings this season and newly-appointed manager James Anderson has been in charge of two games.
They threw away a 2-0 lead at Glebe to lose 3-2 and were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Erith Town last weekend.
Croydon climbed off the foot of the table last weekend after beating Glebe 2-1 at Croydon Sports Arena.
The struggling club announced on their Twitter account that they are searching for a new manager, despite caretaker manager Chris Brown still being in charge of the club and that kick up the backside obviously worked as they claimed their second league win in 20 games.
Batten said: “Well I haven’t done very well down there the last couple of seasons. We’ve had a couple of defeats so we won’t take our foot of the pedal and go all blasé about it or we’ll come unstuck.
“This league has proved this season that no one’s running away with it. It’s very tight, you couldn’t bet against a midtable team beating one of the top teams so we won’t be taking that lightly as all. We’ll be pleased taking points down there.”
Visit Sheppey United’s website: www.sheppeyunitedfc.co.uk
Rusthall v Sheppey United
Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Saturday 12 January 2019
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Jockey Farm Stadium, Nellington Road, Rusthall, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 8SH