So here we are. The final game of our Ryman League Premier Division life, for at least a year. I can’t say it’s been an especially lucky league for us but likewise I’d much rather be heading up than down! I’m sure we all want to put this season behind us and move onto 2016/17….but let’s not quit just yet.
Let’s just remind ourselves that last Saturday we lost for the first time in 8 games against a team in the Play-offs. Our unbeaten home record stretches back to a time when we still had Ronnie Corbett, Victoria Wood and David Bowie in our lives, and its one of the best in the division. We are ninety minutes away from being almost immortal at home in 2016 having won three and drawn six of our nine league games.
Standing in our way are Play-off qualifiers East Thurrock United, a team that many would have put down at the start of the season as relegation candidates. How they have proved everyone wrong week after week. The form of both Hampton & Richmond Borough and Bognor Regis Town has been astonishing and in any normal season East Thurrock could have claimed the title themselves but instead will have to gamble (literally before anyone from the FA is reading) on the Play-off lottery. Of course we wish them all the luck next week.
Our record against The Rocks has been a bit of a mixed bag. Up until our last meeting in December our record had been OK against them, but on that cold day in December we were beaten 4-1, the turning point of the game the terrible decision by the referee to send off James Hammond for nothing more than a 50/50 challenge for the ball. It was an eventful afternoon with both Alex Laing and Alex Malins spending their Saturday night in Basildon A & E with Barry Collins for company, along with an East Thurrock United. I’m sure that evening won’t factor highly on any of that quartets “Best Saturday Night’s Ever” DVD. So in the past four seasons the record looks like:-
P 9 W 3 D 4 L 2 GF 12 GA 12
East Thurrock’s recent form has been good with seven wins from their last ten games although it is understandable that they rest a few key players tomorrow with an eye on the Play-offs next week where they will have home advantage against either Tonbridge Angels, Dulwich Hamlet or the outsiders, Enfield Town. San Higgins has scored 42 goals in all competitions for them this season and will be a huge threat up front along with 22 goal partner Tom Wraight.
Darren has a strong squad to choose from with Alex Malins likely to be available after his head injury against Staines Town two weeks ago the only real concern. Don’t forget that you can vote for YOUR Player of the Season before the game tomorrow, to be presented at a short award ceremony post match which will include Darren’s Player of the Season:-
“Obviously, this season hasn’t panned out as any of us would have liked. Yet, since taking over, I feel – and hopefully you do too – that things are improving. From first game I took over at Grays Athletic, to how we’re playing now, I can’t believe the difference in the attitude of the players and the way we’ve played.
Another sign of our progress is how players are progressing through the ranks and being noticed by bigger clubs. It was great to see Charlie Coppola score last week, his first senior goal for the club coming just after a trial with Leicester City. We’ve had Yasin trialling with Chelsea, Stacey’s been down at Crawley and is going back in there next week, Alife Rogers has been to Premier League clubs, and then there was Junior, who left us to sign for a professional side in Turkey. It shows how far we’ve come and how we’re producing players, and we have to continue doing it.
Even though we were mathematically down after the Kingstonian game, the boys haven’t missed a training session. They’ve continued to go out there and give their all. That’s credit to the lads. It shows how much it means to them to put the Lewes shirt on. Now we need to continue with that attitude and take it into next season. If we can keep the nucleus of the squad together and bring in four or five players, with a good pre-season behind us, it’s exciting times ahead for Lewes FC.
We’ve already started planning for next season and spoken to several players. We’ve arranged a number of pre-season friendlies and got our training plans sorted. Preparation is key. We won’t leave anything to chance.”