We feel our season has now begun and we approach this match against AFC Croydon Athletic with caution but in positive frame of mind and modestly confident, says Sheppey United coach Marcel Nimani

Friday 30th August 2019

SHEPPEY UNITED coach Marcel Nimani says his side are modestly confident as they bid to beat AFC Croydon Athletic in The Buildbase FA Vase First Qualifying Round tomorrow.


The Ites are thirteenth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table, having collected five points from as many games.

AFC Croydon Athletic, meanwhile, arrive at Holm Park sitting in the top eight with seven points from their four league outings.

Kevin Rayner’s side host Isthmian League South East Division side Herne Bay next Tuesday in The FA Cup Preliminary Round Replay.

“Following a positive week of training, we went into the Bank Holiday weekend with two home fixtures, in full confidence and in a cohesive spirit,” said Nimani.

“On Saturday we faced Glebe in the Preliminary Round of the magical FA Cup.

As we had scouted our opponents in their previous match, we were fully aware of their strength and had dedicated large parts of our training session to work on our system.

“From the arrival, our boys were in positive mood and lived up to the expectations of the Cup.

“We started really quickly and began the dominance in possession, playing with clear attacking objectives.

“This was clearly rewarded as on the 15th minute, following some great work on the left-side by Greg Benbow and Harrison Carnegie, who put in a great cross wazs then met by Connor Wilkins, who headed home the first goal.

“A well-deserved goal for the local boy, who has had a fantastic start to the season.

“The first half continued with Sheppey producing some outstanding footballing display.

“Following some positive words from our gaffer Ernie Batten, who clearly was very proud of his team, and a few tactical reminders from the assistant Jono Richardson, the team began the second half where they left it, full of energy and in the mood to compete.

“On a hot sunny day and with our opponents trying to get an equaliser, the game became much open and entertaining.

“The entertainment was sparked by an accelerating start from our boys who went on to score two minutes later with Dan Bradshaw poking home his fourth goal in The FA Cup in just two rounds.

“Later on in the half the opponents were rewarded with a penalty in a freaky handball situation, in which Glebe finished well.

“The enthusiasm and efforts of our opponents, as they looked to push for an equaliser, was matched brilliantly by our impressive trio in the middle of the park, led by Ian Batten, who was supported by Richie Hamill and Connor Wilkins.

“The three continued to dominant possession and created a number of chances and created a number of chances, particularly on the right-hand side for Danny Leonard, who was having an outstanding game and was a real threat throughout the day.

“Our opponents were able to hit us on a few occasions through counter-attacks but our back four, along with our goalkeeper Josh Pelling, were more than capable dealing with their threats.

“A few encouraging words from the management team to keep the ball and to maintain pushing forward proved to be vital.

“Following a good phase of play, our boys were rewarded with a penalty for a handball in the box.  There was only one man for this job, Dan Bradshaw, comfortably slotted home his second of the afternoon and his fifth goal of The FA Cup.

“We’ve got a tough draw against Chertsey Town in the next round, which we will start to prepare for at training on Tuesday night.

“On Bank Holiday Monday, just 48 hours later, we faced Chatham Town in a League thrilling encounter, which ended 2-2, concluding three games in seven days with two wins and a draw.

“To earn this vital point against the league favourites, we had to put in a similar performance to that of The FA Cup.

“The crowd reached a season all-time high of 358 with the Chatham fans matching the enthusiasm of ours, creating a real buzz stadium affect.

“Considering that eight of our players had already played 90 minutes two days earlier, would have favoured Chatham to go on and take the three vital points.”

Ernie Batten has signed much-travelled striker Laurent Hamici on the eve of the game following his release from league rivals Punjab United.

Looking forward to the visit of the Rams, Ninami said:  “We are expecting to play against a tough team who drew with Herne Bay and went on to beat Fisher.

“We welcome Laurent Hamici straight into the squad for tomorrow.

“We feel our season has now begun and we approach this match with caution but in positive frame of mind and modestly confident.”

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

Sheppey United  v  AFC Croydon Athletic
The Buildbase FA Vase First Qualifying Round
Saturday 31 August 2019
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Holm Park, Queenborough Road, Halfway, Sheerness, Kent ME12 3DB