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Herne Bay sign Ryan Cooper and Patrick Nzuzi in bid to strengthen defence

ByCameron Hogwood

Herne Bay have been using their extended break to not only regroup but also strengthen as they look to get their season on track.

Bay haven’t played since their Velocity Trophy defeat to Ashford on September 28, with Tuesday night’s clash with Ramsgate in the same competition having been postponed.

In that time manager Ben Smith has addressed his defence with the signings of Ryan Cooper and Patrick Nzuzi.

Herne Bay Ben Smith. Picture: Chris Davey
Herne Bay Ben Smith. Picture: Chris Davey

Smith said: “It’s been good in one sense to get time on the training pitch and then it’s also given us a chance to bring in a couple of players that we need and the chance to look at a few others.

“Although you want a run of games to put things right, you sort of take it as it comes.

“Ryan Cooper is a good full-back, he’s previously of Faversham, Folkestone, Hythe and he had a small spell at Canterbury with me during last season’s Vase run.

“He comes with a lot of experience, he’s a quality full-back.

“We’ve also signed another full-back in Patrick Nzuzi, he brings a lot of pace, more experience and he’s another one I had around me at Canterbury for a season while he was at university.

“He’s played professionally in Ireland, he’s also played out in Belgium and Congo so he brings a wealth of experience and much-needed pace to our backline.

“At the end of the day, I’ve got faith in the players at the back but things haven’t been working so I needed to bring in some fresh competition.

“We maybe haven’t quite had the right blend.”

Phil Starkey tries to regain possession during his time at Folkestone Invicta. Picture: Paul Amos
Phil Starkey tries to regain possession during his time at Folkestone Invicta. Picture: Paul Amos

Bay recently added the experience of Phil Starkey to their squad, the 32-year-old having briefly played under Smith at Canterbury last season.

Smith added: “He came in at Canterbury for the quarter-finals of the Vase, it’s the first time he’s dropped below the Isthmian South level so his experience comes from higher up the pyramid.

“He’s a good defensive head, hopefully that blend now will improve things.

“The annoying thing about a week break is that it comes after we put in a half decent performance against Ashford when individual errors cost us.

“We gifted them two goals and then we missed the penalty which was probably typical of our luck this season, it just wasn’t to be really.”

Smith’s visit Isthmian Southern Central leaders Berkhamsted in the FA Trophy preliminary round on Saturday.

“They played Hemel Hempstead and I’ve got good links there so I got a bit of information about them,” said Smith.

“They’re flying in their league so it will be a tough one especially with it being a long trip away.

“They don’t really get any easier for us but it’s a perfect opportunity to go and make a dent.

“My priority is the league really, I’m already thinking about Guernsey at home (on October 19) and what we’re likely to do in that game, but if we can get supporters a run in the cup that would be brilliant.”

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