Herne Bay boss Ben Smith has spoken of his admiration for Tony Russell as his side prepare to host Lewes this Saturday.
Russell’s Lewes head into the match after an 8-0 FA Cup thrashing of Sheppey on Tuesday. Ex-Sittingbourne, Ramsgate, Folkestone and Margate striker Joe Taylor scored five of their goals.
Smith has a lot of respect for what Russell did at Cray Wanderers before he left last year and believes it’s no surprise Lewes are just outside the Isthmian Premier play-offs this term.
“I had a lot of appreciation for Cray Wanderers with what Tony Russell did there,” said Smith, whose team will visit Margate on Tuesday.
“We tried to base ourselves around what Cray did, I’m sure a lot of other clubs are trying to emulate that as well. It says an awful lot about what they had done.
“It’s no surprise they have done well at Lewes.
“It’s nice to test yourself against good quality - Andy Drury at Margate included - so let’s roll the dice and see how we go.”
While Lewes are fighting at the right end of the table, 19th-placed Herne Bay are in the relegation zone and Margate have only collected one point more from their opening five league fixtures and sit 15th.
Smith said: “They are two tough games against two good sides. They have two very different styles.
“Lewes, we know they will have a lot of the ball and we will need to ride our luck a bit.
“Margate, I have watched them a couple of times this season. They have shown how resilient they are but, also, they have a lot of quality.
"Ben Greenhalgh is one of the best players in the league but we are no mugs.
“It will be interesting to know when Margate last played Herne Bay in a league game, I certainly don’t know off the top of my head.
“It’s a shame it’s on a Tuesday night and not on a Bank Holiday but I don’t do the fixtures.”
After two "home" matches at Ramsgate, it was initially hoped Bay would be back at Winch's Field for their clash with Lewes, marking their first game on the new 3G pitch, however the club have since advertised this game will also be played at Southwood.
Bay head into the game after a 2-1 FA Cup success over league rivals Horsham to set up a home FA Cup Second Qualifying Round tie against Ashford, which is a repeat of last season’s Isthmian South East play-off final.
Striker Marcel Barrington scored his first Bay goal in open play while on-loan Tonbridge winger Mason Saunders-Henry also opened his account for the club, before coming off with a knee injury in the first half. Horsham were unable to equalise after they had converted a controversial late penalty.
Smith, who labelled the decision to award the spot-kick a disgrace, said: “Mason’s was a great goal, it was a really nice move from us as well, and it’s a great show of the individual quality that he’s got.
“He was highly regarded by Peter Taylor when he was at Welling and by Jay Saunders at Tonbridge, that shows that he has a bit of quality. Unfortunately, he picked up a bit of a knee injury.
“It’s nice to bring in a player on loan that buys into what we are doing.
“Marcel looked an absolute handful on Saturday. The goal is nothing special to look at but it shows a lot of the attributes that Marc brings to us.
“He had their back-three worried about him all the time as well. He had a good game.
“The supporters are excited by him but that’s the minimum I expect from him because he has so many gears to go through. That’s what excites me.”
While Saunders-Henry’s injury is not as bad as first feared, defender Keano Robinson is a doubt for the Lewes match.
Smith said: “We rested him on Saturday and he came on for the last 10 or 15 minutes. We went three at the back but he has picked up a foot infection.
“We gave the boys a night off on Tuesday and we will be back in on Thursday.
"We will see him on Thursday and then go from there.”