Ernie – Under the hat (Canterbury City Away – KST Semi-final)

“Ernie – Under the hat”, an interview with Sheppey United Manager Ernie Batten.

Are you looking forward to Saturday?

Yes very much so, we trained well on Wednesday and it would be great to get to the final again!

Are you working on anything different in training?

Nothing new as this week there were a couple of players missing due to a bug so not the time to try new things. Darren Cooper will have to have a fitness test later today or tomorrow morning as he is suffering with illness.

Who is unavailable tomorrow?

– Darren Cooper – bug

– Lewis Clarke – injured ankle

– Rob Saunders – suspended

We saw a couple of new signings last week, can you tell us a bit more about them?

Jono Richardson, he’s a big centre-back with us on dual registration from Herne Bay. He has been out of action for a few week prior to the last match, I think he felt it at the end of the last match but I think he is an asset and will be a key player.

Ryan Catmull also joins us from Herne Bay, he is a young wide player.

We have also made a couple more new signings this week.

Kieran Lightfoot another wide player, he was at Faversham Town, moved to Cray Wanderers this season but has been on loan to Chatham Town. It’s not a done deal yet and he is cup tied but we hope to have him in time for Tuesday night’s game.

Dave Cook is another coup, he left Hythe Town when Clive Cook moved on. We are pleased to have him on board!

Another signing from Hythe is Mike Ward, a young coach who was watching the game last Saturday from the boardroom and pitch side. Again, he left when Clive moved on. He will start doing a couple of sessions with the players and will gradually get more involved.

Josh Glover has had a long run in the team now, have you settled on Josh as your  number 1 choice Goalkeeper?

Yes, he’s been very good for us! He will be disappointed by last week’s second goal but he has my backing and we are not looking for anyone else!

What are you expecting from Canterbury on Saturday?

When we played them earlier in the season they were very good and physical but we played our football and run out 3-1 winners. They are in good form at the minute, 7 games unbeaten with 5 wins, it will be difficult but I’m confident if we play our football we can get a result.

Geoff – On The Record (Tunbridge Wells Away)

I am sure you were all as disappointed as the players and management team with our defeat at Rustall. It came as a shock to me, as during our last couple of games we showed signs of improvement at the back, but against Rustall we went back to defending to deep and were lucky we did not concede a couple more in the 1st half from headers and a scramble in our box. We came back stronger in the 2nd half and played a bit of football got it back to 1-1 before losing 2-1 in the dying minutes.

The players worked very hard in training during the week in preparation for our friendly against K Sports. Nearing the end of the session we worked on shooting and finishing. This gained an audience from a ladies football team who had finished their session and decided to watch us. The players started off with great finishes from Tom Brunt, Dan Bradshaw, Luke Girt to name just a few. Then bring on Kwasi, Keith, and Liam who had an absolute nightmare with their efforts missing by a mile. This prompted fits of laughter and mickey taking from the Ladies team and the other lads. It was all good fun and will stick in my football memory for some time. Onto the K Sports friendly, and one that was very worthwhile as the 1st half was very competitive and they put us under some pressure at the back. The players really stood up to that and defended very well in all areas of the side. We then came into it with good crosses from Tom and great runs from Dan and Remmel. We went 1-0 up with a great run and cross from Remmel, who was outstanding during the game working hard and making good runs across their back four, Dan And Tim executed a great crossover run in the box  and Tim finished from about 8 yards out with a bullet header. We then went on to score 2 more in a very good  run out. The players delivered on every aspect we asked of them on the day so onto our next training session and Tunbridge Well away which will be a tough away game in likely heavy conditions.

With Christmas coming up I would like to wish all you supporters your family, and all connected with the club a Very Merry Christmas. See you all at home to Whitstable, ‘who we always have great games’ with on the Sat 30th Dec.

Geoff – On the Record (Croydon Away)

Once again I must comment on the great support we had from our fans at Lordswood last Saturday. You all really got behind your team and helped pull them through a difficult time for the club. The players gave everything they had on the day in an effort to stop the poor run of results of late. We created a large number of chances in the first half and dominated the game, but could not finish. The goals came in the second half with good finishes from Dan, Timmy, and Trey.

You may remember my comments of 3 weeks ago regarding John Ralph and his amazing sprinting against Rob and Dan. Well can you believe it he has followed that up with two great passes from the back creating the first and third goals. The down side of that is he will make sure we all know about it. But keep up the progress John as its never to late to improve.

We had to take a lot more pressure from Lordswood during the second half and we had to rely on breaking out at times. Our back four played very well and defended better than we have done for weeks. As well as we played during the game,make no mistake the game hinged on one moment of brilliance from our keeper Josh who had a great all round game on the day. At 1-0 up he made a world class save to his left to preserve our one nil lead, this created the platform to go on and score two more goals to clinch a much needed win.

We go to Croydon this Saturday which will be our hardest game for some weeks. If we are to play our way into a challenging position we must come away from these type of games and take something from the game. Moving forward during the short term we are identifying players that we think will fit into our group and we must try and sign 3 players to strengthen the squad.

Let me finish by saying every week positive comments are made in the dressing room about the great support you all bring both home and the growing away fans, please keep it up.

Ernie – Under the hat (Cray Valley PM Away)

“Ernie – Under the hat”, an interview with Sheppey United Manager Ernie Batten.

Sheppey are through to the First Round Proper of the FA Vase hosting Fisher after beating Tunbridge Wells 5-1 in the Second Qualifying Round Replay on Tuesday night. What were you thoughts after the match?

I was very pleased with the performance, we deserved the win. We took our chances and scored great goals. It was just a great team performance.

Budd picked up an injury just before half-time and was substituted early into the second half with Harvey replacing him in goal. How is Budd?

He will be side-lined, he damaged his quad taking a goal kick.

Who will be in goal tomorrow?

Josh Glover, he played in the Ryman North last season for Dereham Town but has recently moved to the area. Tom Benham has also signed to provide additional cover.

How did you rate Harvey’s appearance in the sticks?

He didn’t have a lot to do, the defence covered him well but he made one good save and ran out the box to win the ball.

Who is unavailable tomorrow?

Rob Saunders – Shoulder

Darren Cooper picked up a groin injury on Tuesday night.

Tom Brunt could be back tomorrow.

Given the good performances recently, have you seen anything that you want to work on in training?

There’s always improvements to be made, there’s been a lot of new faces this season that need to gel, defensive work and set pieces, and it’s an ongoing thing.

With James Collins taking over at Chatham, and Brad Sandeman following him as assistant, will you look to replace Brad?

We knew it would be temporary until if or when James Collins got a managers job. Brad is a great defensive coach but we are in no rush as it’s got to be the right person for the setup we have and fit in with me, Barry and Geoff.


Thanks Ernie
Mike Wood

Ernie – Under the hat (Tunbridge Wells – Buildbase FA Vase)

“Ernie – Under the hat”, an interview with Sheppey United Manager Ernie Batten.

Were you happy with Saturday’s performance?

I was overall, I think it was a fair result, I was disappointed we conceded the equaliser in the 88th minute but overall a fair result.

Were you and Jason (Bourne – Tunbridge Wells Manager) in agreement about going to a replay rather than penalties?

Yes, we both agreed ahead of the game. I don’t think penalties are the best way to decide a result, I think another game is a better route.

We saw Robert Budd in goal for the Ite’s on Saturday, why was Adam released and what else can you tell us about Rob?

Adam was recommended to me and I had never seen him play before and as always you have to make an assessment of a player. After seeing him in the games for us I thought he pulled of a few great saves but ultimately I wanted someone who can dominate the 6 yard box more. We will always try and play football on the deck but most teams in this league are more direct, because of that I prefer my Goalkeepers to come out and deal with the crosses and other aerial threats rather than the centre-backs like Girt winning them.
Rob is a proven Ryman level Goalkeeper, he was in the Ryman team of the season when with Thamesmead a couple of seasons ago. He broke his hand in pre-season with Herne Bay and is now getting back to full strength. Its a short term signing initially but could be extended.

Tom Brunt was on the bench on Saturday, how is his recovery going?

He warmed up with the lads on Saturday but he is not 100%. I know about hamstring injuries and I don’t want to risk rushing him back, he will have another fitness test tomorrow but I don’t want to rush him.

Who is unavailable for tomorrow?

Rob Saunders – His arm is in a sling for 3 more weeks, with physio, I’m hoping 4 weeks until a return.
Hicham should return tomorrow after his wife gave birth in the early hours of Saturday.

We saw David Adekoyo named on the bench on Saturday, who is he?

David is on dual registration with us from Sittingbourne. He is a full-back but Sittingbourne have quite a bit of experience in that department at the moment so we are taking a look at him.
Josue Antonio is also coming to us, he can’t play tomorrow as you have to have been available in the first match to play in the replay, but he is a 6ft4 centre half released from Swindon Town.
You may have noticed Brad Sanderman in the dugout? He is an Islander and was assistant manager under James Collins at Cray Valley and he has been helping us out since James left Cray.


Thanks Ernie
Mike Wood

Ernie – Under the hat (Loxwood – Buildbase FA Vase)

“Ernie – Under the hat”, an interview with Sheppey United Manager Ernie Batten.

Did you think 7+ minutes of injury time was warranted against Lordswood on Tuesday night?

No, mental, when Lordswood went 1-0 up in the first half, their Goalkeeper was taking ages to retrieve the ball and take a goal kick and the referee only added 1 minute! It’s disappointing but it happens.

Is the Mahoney goal an early contender for goal of the season?

It was a cracking strike! We have scored some great goals already this season but that one is at the top.

It’s been mentioned on social media about the lack of height in the team, some saying that it could have affected the Whitstable/Lordswood results. Is this a concern for you?

Yes it is, I think it’s a valid point. It’s difficult to replace someone like Ralphy and if we did get someone of Ralphs quality then you’ve got the difficulty of balancing the squad. But losing key players affects clubs at all levels.

Young Darren Cooper’s debut caught the attention of the supporters, is he with us for the season?

Yes he is

Tomorrow we enter the FA Vase hosting Loxwood. What do you know about Loxwood?

Not a lot to be honest but they come from the same league Chichester who we played last season so I am expecting a tough game.

Who is missing for tomorrow’s game?

Ralph – Dead Leg

Remell – Suspension

Kwasi – Ankle knock

Ian and George (Batten) are best men at a wedding.

Tomorrow will give a few players who have been on the bench recently a chance to show what they can do.

How about Froggatt?

He’s got a scan but he is still out with his groin – he will be out for a while.

Rob Saunders has been given the captains armband even when Ian has been selected, is that a permanent switch?

I didn’t want to keep switching the armband between the two as I knew Ian was unavailable but it’s under review.

Do you read Robbo’s View?

Yes, very entertaining!

Would you welcome him to give a guest team talk?

Definitely one for the Christmas party!

Thanks Ernie – I will catch up with you later in the week ahead of the Chatham game.
Mike Wood

Ernie – Under the hat (FA Cup Exit)

“Ernie – Under the hat”, an interview with Sheppey United Manager Ernie Batten.


Was Saturday the right result considering the performance by both teams?

I can’t say it was the right result, it came down to two important moments, the two great goals. We didn’t really trouble them and they didn’t really trouble us other than the two great goals. Overall I was pleased with the performance. If you were to ask the other manager the same question I think he would say the same thing.

Remell was named in the starting 11 and then replaced by Lyones, is he ok?

He is fine, he missed his connection and lift to the ground so just missed kick-off.

With Jeffrey and King moving on and Harvey on dual registration, are you in the market for another forward?

Yes, definitely, we are looking all the time.

The squad has slimmed over the last couple of weeks, is that making your team selections easier?

Not really. We still have a quality group of players and they all want to play and you have got to try and keep them all happy and participate.

Will Graham announced his departure on social media? What were his reason he gave to you?

When he joined we agreed a trial period, after a week or so he wanted a bit more say but I wanted to ease him in as his ideas had to fit in with what we were already doing, so I guess it wasn’t for him.

You and Jim Huggins spoke after the Hastings game and Jim announced on Sunday he is looking for another club. How did that conversation go?

Fantastic player for the club over the last couple of seasons! Jim wanted more minutes and to play in his preferred positon centre midfield and unfortunately he is going to find that with another club.

Everyone at the club thanks Jim for his loyal service, he will be a big loss but i understand his reasons.

Goalkeeper Jordan Carey has said some remarks about the club and leaving the club that have appeared on social media, what do you know?

He is going to look for another club.


Thanks Ernie – I will catch up with you later in the week ahead of the Chatham game.

Mike Wood

Ernie – Under the hat (Hastings United – Emirates FA Cup)

“Ernie – Under the hat”, our pre-match interview with Sheppey United Manager Ernie Batten.


With there being a midweek game, have you had chance to train this week?

Yes on Thursday, both Goalkeepers and a few of the lads who were subs or not involved on Tuesday night came along.

We saw new Goalkeeper Adam Highsted in action on Tuesday night, is Jordan injured?

No, we wanted another Goalkeeper to create competition for places, and because we don’t have a reserves any more, to cover any absences like injuries.

Forward Luke Harvey also started on Tuesday night, is he available tomorrow?

He played really well but no, we can’t cup tie him. He is on dual registration with Faversham Town. He missed a lot of pre-season and is trying to gain match fitness but we will check his availability game by game and see how he gets on at Faversham and us really.

Why has King left the club?

He has been out of the game a long time, we haven’t got a reserve team for him to play in and it was going to take too long for him to get up to speed.

You changed the formation against Deal, was it tactical or making the most of who was available?

A little bit of both really, we tried 3 at the back but it hasn’t worked out as we would have liked so we have switched back to 4 at the back for stability and it worked well at Deal.

Was Deal a point gained or two dropped?

It was a good point but having played so well it was disappointing not to get all 3 points, I was very pleased with the performance!

Who is missing for tomorrow’s game against Hastings United?

Rob Saunders – Hamstring – he is having a fitness test today but I’m very doubtful, you will find out tomorrow.

Tom Montgomery has work commitments.

Everyone else is available including Hicham Akhazzan after his achilles strain.

What do you expect from Hastings tomorrow?

It will be extremely tough, I went and watched Hastings on Monday night away at Carshalton and they were very good, definitely one of the best sides in the Bostik South, but it’s the FA Cup so anything can happen!


Thanks Ernie – good luck tomorrow!

Mike Wood

Ernie – Under the hat (Rusthall @ Home)

“Ernie – Under the hat”, our pre-match interview with Sheppey United Manager Ernie Batten.

How was training this week after last weekend’s FA Cup win?

Very good, we trained twice this week, Tuesday and Thursday. We worked on some bits defensively and hopefully we see some improvements tomorrow but its a work in progress and we can measure it in the next few games.

Who is missing for tomorrow’s game against Rusthall?

We have a few injuries. Rob Saunders – Hamstring. Rob will be out for a few weeks.

Stuart King picked up a groin strain in training on Tuesday.

Hicham Akhazzan has an achilles strain. He felt it last Saturday and was unable to train this week.

Everyone else is fit and available.

Any new additions to the squad?

We have brought in Darren Cooper. He is a left sided player at Maidstone’s Academy.

Ross Pagett has joined Gravesham Borough on loan.

Aaron Jeffrey has joined Cray Valley PM. Aaron was struggling to get to training after work so we mutually agreed it would be better for him to join a club closer to where he lives.

What do you expect from Rusthall tomorrow?

Well they were promoted last season from the first division so I expect there is generally an excitement about the club so it will be tough. Also teams raise their game when coming to us because of the nice pitch, the setup and the fans here and we have to deal with that.

Ites fan favourite Andy Constable returns to The Havill Stadium tomorrow, what is your take on players celebrating a goal against their former clubs?

I know Andy has a special place for Sheppey. He is a proven goal scorer. He has scored goals everywhere he has gone and at different levels. Give him half a chance and he will put it away.

I’m not bothered if a former player celebrates a goal. It adds to the match, footballs an emotional game and you are buoyant if you succeed so why not.

Although if Andy scores a couple, I won’t be buying him a pint in the bar after!


Thanks Ernie – good luck tomorrow!

Mike Wood

Ernie – Under the hat (AFC Croydon – Emirates FA Cup)

This is our first edition of “Ernie – Under the hat”, our pre-match interview with Sheppey United Manager Ernie Batten.

Who is missing for tomorrows Emirates FA Cup game against AFC Croydon?

Ian Batten is suspended.

John Ralph picked up an injury 10 days ago, it looks like a reaction from the Achilles injury that kept him out last season but we have been nursing him and he will have a late fitness test tomorrow.

Jim Huggins is also doubtful, he couldn’t train last night because of an ankle knock.

With Ian suspended, who will be captain tomorrow?

Ian and Rob Saunders will remain as Captain and Vice-captain this campaign so Rob takes the armband tomorrow.

Now pre-season is finished, have you got an idea of your starting 11?

I’ve got a good idea, pre-season was interesting as we haven’t had all the players together at the same time until now, but I have a good idea who will be starting but waiting on the 1 or 2 fitness tests.

Are you happy with the size of the squad?

Yes, 1 or 2 might come in depending on injuries and also performances. We need to see how the players gel together as the season progresses then asses again.

Who was your stand out player in pre-season?

That’s a difficult one but I have got to say Kwasi. He has come to us from a lower league and we are really happy with his progress.

What were your reasons behind expanding the coaching team?

We needed additional hands. Geoff does shift work and Barry is sometimes unavailable due to work so we needed another coach to cover any absences.

Are cups or the league your priority this year?

Definitely the league. Going on a cup run is great for the players and fans but cups are a bonus, the league is our bread and butter so it takes priority.

Will your hat be making an appearance tomorrow?

It’s a little early isn’t it but it might come out for a bit of luck


Thanks Ernie – good luck tomorrow!

Mike Wood