Longhurst: We just want to get playing again
Ramsgate boss Matt Longhurst vowed not to be left behind when competitive Isthmian League football finally recommences and urged for the league to rethink their shutdown, following a controlled performance and a 3-1 victory away at Isthmian Central highfliers Staines Town.
Once again, the Ramsgate side averaged just 22 years old but played with maturity beyond their years playing a fantastic possession-based game with goals coming and a pacey trialist up front, Ashley Miller and Luke Carey who excelled in a deeper role.
Despite the signal from DCMS for crowds to return at all COVID Tiers, the Isthmian League last week voted to extend the hiatus, to the confusion of many clubs in the league and also to Longhurst:
“To be honest, I see no reason why we cannot start Saturday. We are allowed crowds, that is what everyone wanted, but we still haven’t been given a date,” questioned The Rams manager.
“From a safety point of view, it’s an outside event that the government have given the go ahead to.
“We are allowed to play, crowds are allowed in so I don’t see any reason why we can’t play our league fixtures. Friendlies are great but everyone just wants to get back to competitive football.
“I really do think we can start next Saturday, but I wouldn’t be surprised if January 2nd is the first league game to give everyone a couple of weeks’ notice.” He Said.
Without a clear road map, Longhurst is currently building a large squad that will be ready to play twice a week between the restart and the summer, knowing the luxury of promoting youth from reserve and u18 teams will not be as simple as in previous times:
“We have a very strong squad of 20 players which may seem a lot but that could be vital.
“If we did start Saturday, we would have 11 games between then and the end of January. Playing so much football you are going to pick up injuries, illnesses and games players can’t make.
“There isn’t just the first team either, there are a lot of games for the whole club to think about too. The reserves are going to have games, the u18s are going to have games and the first team are going to have games so we have had to bring in four or five new faces otherwise there would be a huge knock on and every side at the club would suffer.”
While new faces have joined, existing ones have also changed over the past six weeks. Some physical and others tactical:
“I spoke to Luke(Carey) after our match with Maidstone last week and said I feel he is wasted playing as an out an out number ten as he doesn’t get involved in the games as much as I would like.
“Some of the pitches at this level you aren’t going to be playing fluid football and I find in matches like that he drifts out the game. For someone of his ability he needs to he on the ball more, so that is why we played him there today.
“Lee Prescott is a stone and a half lighter since he last played, and that will definitely help him get around the pitch more.
“Rory, Roman and Ashley are all returning to fitness too which is great to see.” He Concluded
The Rams return to action on Wednesday night at Southwood Stadium, with a limit capacity of 200 supporters, when they take on SCEFL neighbours Canterbury City.
The Rams will not be charging an entrance fee, and tickets can be secured online at: https://www.cognitoforms.com/RamsgateFC/RamsgateVsCanterbury