Soccer Shorts: We have nothing to lose so there's no pressure on us, says John Ovard

Friday 24th January 2014
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ASHFORD UNITED assistant manager John Ovard says the pressure is all on Hanwell Town in tomorrow’s re-arranged FA Carlsberg Vase Fourth Round tie.

The Southern Counties East Football League leaders travel to west London to play a Hanwell Town side that are in second place in the Spartan South Midlands Football League table, with a 100% record in the league in 12 home games.

The winners will travel to Spartan South Midlands League leaders Ampthill Town in the last sixteen on 15 February.

Ovard said: “We are hopeful of tomorrow’s game being on, as we have a full squad to choose from and have been looking forward to this game for a while now.

“We have nothing to lose so there’s no pressure on us.  We will go there, be positive and try our best to get a result.

“The weather forecast isn’t great for Hanwell but we’ve prepared right and will just have to wait and see.”

Ashford United were knocked out of the League Cup on Tuesday night when they were knocked out by Erith Town, who won the tie 5-4 on aggregate.

Ashford had two players red-carded in the second leg, which finished in a 4-4 draw after 120 minutes of football at Badgers Sports Ground in Eltham.

Ovard said: “We had a great team performance on Tuesday in terms of our play and commitment. The form and confidence in the squad is good.”

Ashford United return to league action, with a trip to sixth-placed Corinthian next Tuesday.

“Weather permitting, we travel to Corinthian, who I thought were a decent footballing side when we beat them earlier on in the season,” said Ovard.

“We scored late on so I’m sure they’ll want revenge for that. It will be another tough game.

“But credit to our players, they keep responding well to each challenge given to them so again we’ll go there and try to play our style of football in search for the win.”

BROMLEY coach Hugo Langton says he was pleased that the side bounced back from their only home league defeat of the season at Bath City last weekend.

Concord Rangers became the first side to come away from Hayes Lane with three points last week, but goals from Bradley Goldberg (penalty) and a Pierre Joseph-Dubois header grabbed a 2-1 win at Twerton Park last weekend.

Bromley welcome fourteenth-placed Hayes & Yeading United to Hayes Lane tomorrow and Langton said: “Hayes & Yeading are a good side, who like to get forward in numbers.

“Like all teams they’ve got some very dangerous players, so we need to make sure we’re on it tomorrow if we want to win.

“It was good to bounce back at Bath last week after Concord beat us.  It was a terrific team effort.”

Mark Goldberg’s side are eleven points clear at the top of the Skrill (Conference) South table with 56 points from 24 games.

The Ravens welcome second-placed Eastleigh to Hayes Lane next Tuesday, in a game billed as the club’s biggest game in their seven year Conference South history.

But Langton said: “We take nothing for granted.  You can’t just turn up and expect to win.  You have to earn your right to win any game in this league no matter who you play.”

CANTERBURY CITY boss Ade Gower has brought in defender Stephen Lloyd from landlords Herne Bay because Sam Baker has been ruled out through an ankle injury.

Gower takes his side to Phoenix Sports tomorrow for a hastily arranged Southern Counties East Football League fixture sitting in the bottom three in the table with four wins and a draw from thirteen games.

Looking ahead to their trip to Barnehurst, Gower said: “We lost 2-0 to them before Christmas but dominated the game.  A mistake from our keeper gifted them a goal, the other was on the break.

“We hope to get a result. It’s frustrating because of a lack of games.  We would like to get some momentum going. 

“We’re still a new side, we’ve only played eight games together.”

CRAY VALLEY manager Steve Chapman says he wants no repeat of their 6-2 defeat to Whyteleafe when they welcome the Surrey side to Badgers Sports Ground tomorrow.

“I’m looking for a spirited performance tomorrow as we didn’t turn up a few weeks ago when they beat us 6-2,” said Chapman.

“They are the best team we have played this season but I was disappointed with our defensive performance.  Conceding six is just not acceptable and I’ll be looking for a massive improvement tomorrow.

“There will be no excuses as we worked on our shape at training and Grossy (Paul Gross) put on a great session.

“Also Ben Healy, Ryan Sawyer and Lewis Wood are fit again so we are more or less full strength.

“That will also help with our Cup tie with Beckenham as Tyrus Gordon and Phil McBean will be ineligible.”

The Millers welcome Jason Huntley’s Beckenham Town in the League Cup Quarter-Final First Leg next Tuesday.

Chapman added: “Beckenham will be a tough game as we are evenly matched so as always it will be who wants it the most!”

DULWICH HAMLET boss Gavin Rose hailed his side’s character after they came away from Margate with a 4-2 win in midweek.

Terry Brown’s Margate were 2-0 up inside 33 minutes at Hartsdown Park, before Hamlet fought back and scored four second half goals through Kevin James, Dean Lodge, Erhun Oztumer and Xavier Vidal.

“Tuesday’s fight-back was satisfying as it shows the sort of attitude I expect from my players,” said Rose.

“The boys displayed great character to come back and win the game.”

The Pink & Blues’ win on the Kent coast took them to second-place in the Ryman Premier League table with 54 points from 27 games, level on points with leaders Kingstonian.

The Champion Hill outfit are one of six clubs that could clinch the title come the end of the season as Kingstonian, Dulwich Hamlet, Maidstone United, Wealdstone, Bognor Regis Town and AFC Hornchurch are only separated by four points.

Harrow Borough visit tomorrow and Rose added: “We’ve had two competitive games with Harrow this year and expect the same again tomorrow.”

ERITH TOWN manager Mark Tompkins expects a tough examination when he takes his side to Lordswood tomorrow.

The Dockers are in fifth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League table with 35 points from sixteen games, eight points clear of Simon Halsey’s side, who are in eighth-place.

“Tomorrow’s game will be another tough one. Simon has assembled a good side, which can compete with anyone on their day,” said Tompkins.

“We need to keep picking points up as I believe other teams will drop points because there’s a lot of teams in the league on an even keel.”

Erith Town booked their place in the semi-finals of the League Cup after beating league leaders Ashford United 5-4 on aggregate, after a 4-4 draw at home in the second led, despite playing against nine men.

Tompkins, 46, added: “Tuesday’s game was tough and Ashford really had a go at us.  Paul Chambers’ team showed a lot of character, how they kept battling with nine-men of which he should be proud and hope they have a win on Saturday in the Vase.”

FAVERSHAM TOWN boss Ray Turner says he wants his side to make a late dash into the Ryman League Division One South play-offs.

The Lilywhites finished in third-place last season and defeated Hythe Town in the play-offs, before losing to Maidstone United in the play-off final on 4 May.

The Salters Lane outfit are in eighth-place in the table at the moment with 43 points from 27 games, two points adrift of fifth-placed Walton Casuals.

Faversham Town welcome eleventh-placed Worthing tomorrow and Turner wants his side to claim all three points.

He said: “We are all looking forward to a home game against Worthing tomorrow and a chance to stay within the chasing pack which includes Folkestone, Ramsgate, ourselves and Burgess Hill currently.

“I feel sure at least one more probably two of those four sides will make it into those play-off positions so it’s up to us to respond to the challenge.

“I believe the squad is in a good place mentally and physically. We are focused at a very important stage of the season when results are undoubtedly important.

“There is nothing better than challenging your players’ to find a way to win games of football, that’s when you really find out about the mental strength of the group.

“I have complete trust this group will deliver the necessary results over the coming weeks.

“We are moving towards a pivotal month in February where we take on many of the best sides currently in the league.

“I will look forward to that but right now tomorrow is all that matters.”

FLEET LEISURE manager Lee Richmond has home advantage against Southern Amateur League side West Wickham in tomorrow’s Kent Senior Trophy Sponsored by Spire Alexandra Hospital Quarter-Final tie.

West Wickham are in the bottom four in their division, but have a history of producing giant-killing acts against higher-league clubs in the competition.

But Richmond said: “We’re looking forward to it. It’s nice to get to this stage of a big cup competition.

“We haven’t played since 28 December like most teams because of the weather.

“We have been training and doing some yoga and boxercise just to keep the lads ticking over and not get bored.

“West Wickham are a good team but any team that gets this far are quality so we hope we have enough to overcome them but it will be a tough game.”

HERNE BAY manager Sam Denly says he feels frustrated after tomorrow’s game against Corinthian-Casuals has been postponed owing to the Winch’s Field pitch still being waterlogged.

The Bay went down to a late 1-0 defeat at Hastings earlier on in the week, but tomorrow’s Ryman League Division One South match was postponed following a four o’clock pitch inspection this afternoon.

“It’s been very frustrating not being able to play any home games,” complained Denly, whose side are in thirteenth-place in the table with 31 points from 25 games.

“Our last one was 14 December, so I’s been hard to build on performances and create consistency.

“We have trained well again through this week and confidence is high despite the disappointing way in which we lost to Hastings on Monday night.

“We have taken the positives out of the performance and now we must turn those performances into points.”

A club statement, posted on the club’s website said: “Plans are afoot for a complete renovation of the Winch’s Field pitch during the summer break.  Funding is being sought and as well as relaying the surface the drainage is being considered.  If you don’t spend the money the pitch will not improve and there will be many postponements, but when matches are not played income is down and there is not the money to spend.”

PHOENIX SPORTS’ joint-manager Tony Beckingham admitted their 2-0 win over Canterbury City flattered them.

The two sides meet again in the Southern Counties East Football League tomorrow, with Phoenix Sports sitting in fourth-place in the table with 37 points from 20 games.

They are two points adrift of leaders Ashford United, but have played six games more than Paul Chambers’ side.

Beckingham said: “We played Canterbury not so long ago and had a really tough time trying to break them down.  On the day the 2-0 scoreline flattered us a little with the difference being a cutting edge up front.

“I expect a very competitive game with little to choose between the sides but I do expect us to come away with the three points as we do in every game.”

SITTINGBOURNE joint-player manager Nick Davis says he is relishing the challenge of playing in-form league leaders Peacehaven & Telscombe tomorrow.

The Sussex club are playing their first season in the Ryman League Division One South and lead the table with 60 points from 26 games, eight points clear of Leatherhead.

Sittingbourne are in fourteenth-place in the table with 31 points from 24 games, eight points clear of the relegation zone and Davis is looking forward to the home game.

Davis said: “We play the runaway leaders tomorrow, who have gone seventeen unbeaten and I think they have won eight on the bounce, who have beaten everyone in their way, boasting three goalscorers in the Ryman boot chase.

“But we go into it full of confidence unbeaten since our change of formation.  We have nothing to lose. The pressure is on them. 

“They will have to come to Woodstock on a very difficult pitch and try and break us down and we are relishing the challenge.

“Let’s hope the game is on, both for the team and the club financially.”

Sittingbourne are at home again next Tuesday, this time to Kent rivals Hythe Town, with Scott Porter’s side two points and two places better off than Sittingbourne.

“Hythe have not had such a good season so far as last, but have a variety of big names and very good players,” said Davis.

“If we continue to be as organised and disciplined as we have been and players’ play how Matt (Wyatt) and I want them to play, then we will be a match for anyone.”

WHITSTABLE TOWN manager Nicky Southall says he wants to claim maximum points from their two away games this week.

The Oystermen are in the bottom five in the Ryman League Division One South table with 24 points from 22 games, one point clear of Chipstead, who are in the bottom three.

Southall says he wants his side to build on their point against Faversham Town in midweek.

He said: “After a hard earned point against Faversham last Tuesday in extremely poor pitch conditions, it was nice to get a clean sheet against a strong team, so now we need to build on that performance against a team that are chasing play-off ambitions.

“Over the last five games we’ve played better than the results have showed but haven’t had much luck in front of goal.  I do believe we’re in a false position in the league but we have to go and prove it, not to me but to each other and drive each other forward with passion and consistency and ultimately quality because that’s what puts points on the board.”

Walton Casuals, who finished bottom last season, are in fifth-place in the table with 45 points from 27 games.

Southall said: “We played Walton Casuals earlier in the season and lost 1-0 at home. We missed a penalty but overall gave Walton a real game so I’m expecting another tough game on Saturday.”

Southall then takes his side to struggling Crawley Down Gatwick next Tuesday, a side that are one place above the Oystermen.

“I know they’ve had a few troubles recently but again it’s another game that we have to try and be positive and come away with some points,” said Southall.