We can be around the top come the end of the season, says Maidstone United coach Jack Parkinson
The Stones reached the summit of the Ryman Premier League table after they came away from Wingate & Finchley with a 4-2 win on Tuesday night.
Frannie Collin scored before former Merstham midfielder Fabio Saraiva netted a hat-trick in north London as Jay Saunders’ side returned to the top with 52 points from 25 games.
Only two points separate the top four clubs with Wealdstone, Kingstonian and Dulwich Hamlet all in hot pursuit for the league title.
“It’s great to be top at this stage of the season but we’re under no illusions that there’s a long way to go and a lot of points on offer still,” said Parkinson, 24.
“But with players now starting to return from injury and having some quality young lads in the squad we feel that as long as we can show some sign of consistency we can be around the top come the end of the season.”
The Stones return home on Saturday, when Metropolitan Police visit.
The Surrey based outfit are in sixteenth-place in the table with 31 points from 24 games and Parkinson wants to collect three points in front of their home support.
Parkinson, who has previously played for Conference South side Welling United and Conference Premier outfit Woking, said: “I don’t know too much about Met Police but there’s no easy games in this league and we will have to be on the ball on Saturday, but hoping that we can put on a good display in front of our home fans and pick up three points.”
Parkinson is a full-time employee at Maidstone United and the UEFA A License holder is head coach at the club’s outstanding Academy.
“It’s been a fantastic year for the Academy with the success we’ve had on and off the pitch,” said Parkinson.
“We’ve had 12 players represent the first team so far this year and a great run in the FA Youth Cup.
“If a young lad who is leaving school and looking for a chance to push into the next level of football then with the fantastic facilities we have and opportunities on and off the pitch we can offer it’s a great place to be.
Trials for the Academy take place next month.
Saunders and Parkinson will put trialists through their paces on Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 February at The Gallagher Stadium.
Successful players will start a two-year course with the club from September – studying for a BTEC National Diploma in Sport (Level 3), training daily and playing in prestigious competitions such as the Football Conference Youth Alliance and FA Youth Cup.
Chief executive Bill Williams told www.maidstoneunited.co.uk: “Our academy is going from strength to strength and bridging that gap between youth football and the first team.
“It is an ideal opportunity for school-leavers, who are serious about a career in sport, to continue their studies while playing and training at one of the best venues in the county.”
The academy is providing a springboard into the first team, especially with Saunders coaching the students full time. Twelve players have lined up for the Stones this season, two of them regularly. The majority of the club’s under 21 squad are from the academy too.
Saunders said: “As a manager it’s great for me to have young players coming through and now that I am coaching at the academy I get to see and develop that talent.
“It’s also good to have that first-hand knowledge of the lads and the dozen I’ve brought through to the first team have always done well. We’ve had some strong applicants for this September and I am looking forward to seeing what they’ve got to offer at next month’s trials.”
One of the first team regulars is Charley Robertson. He said: “The academy has been really good for me and it’s given me the opportunity to break into the first team. To be playing Ryman Premier football at 17 is a great experience, especially at a club like Maidstone.”
The course, which is provided in association with Mid Kent College, also offers a range of vocational qualifications including Football Association coaching badges (Levels 1 and 2), first aid and refereeing awards.
At the end of the two years students have a range of options open to them from university to a career in the sports or leisure industry.
Maidstone United v Metropolitan Police
Ryman Premier League
Saturday 18th January 2014
Kick Off 3:00pm
at The Gallagher Stadium, James Whatman Way, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1LQ