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Herne Bay boss Ben Smith reminds his players their season will not simply be defined by wins over Whitstable Town during promotion challenge


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Ben Smith was delighted with Herne Bay’s derby demolition of Whitstable - but reminded his players their season will not be defined solely by such wins.

Bay’s 7-2 success on Monday moved them back into the Isthmian South East play-offs, heading into 2022.

Kemo Darboe fires wide for Whitstable under pressure from Herne Bay's Dan Johnson. Picture: Les Biggs
Kemo Darboe fires wide for Whitstable under pressure from Herne Bay's Dan Johnson. Picture: Les Biggs

The Oystermen actually drew first blood through Kemo Darboe in front of a huge crowd at Winch’s Field of 1,119 but it was 4-1 to Bay by half-time with Aaron Millbank, Kieron Campbell, Rory Smith and Bode Anidugbe netting in a remarkable eight-minute period.

Herne Bay captain Laurence Harvey added a fifth before Whitstable pulled one back through substitute Harry Goodger, only for late Bradley Schafer and Zak Ansah goals to round off the victory.

It completed Bay's league double over Whitstable this season, having beaten them at the Belmont in August.

Asked if he felt the win made a statement towards Bay’s promotion rivals, boss Smith replied: “I think 7-2 flattered them.

“I know I’m a local boy and that probably stokes the fire a little bit. But as much as I felt they did well for 25 minutes, 7-2 absolutely flattered them today. Maybe take Dan Eason out of their goal and it’s a lot more.

“Aaron Millbank hit the post from five yards out. I’m not really thinking about Kieron Campbell hitting the bar, I’m thinking about the chances where we are dribbling it in and we are five yards out, but end up dragging it wide. It’s schoolboy stuff at times.

“You are wanting the chances to fall to Ansah. I thought Bode was outstanding in midfield but you want the chances falling to Ansah and not Bode.

“But overall, you have got to be really happy with that (the win).

“Does it make a statement? Maybe a couple of years ago I’d have said yes but at the minute, for us, it’s just another three points.

“I said to you last week that I don’t see Whitstable as rivals and I’ve seen people give me stick on social media about that. But I don’t.

“Yes, it’s going to bring a bit more local interest but our fans are singing every week so it’s not like, suddenly, we have a crowd here and they sing for one game. That’s not the case. Our supporters have been doing that all season.

“But for us, we need to get away from the mentality of 'As long as we beat Whitstable this season, we will be happy’. That’s where my point of them not being rivals comes from.

“We have got to be thinking bigger than that because, otherwise, we will be on the same merry-go-round every season.”

Fifth-placed Bay also have a game in hand on everyone around them, bar third-placed Ashford, as they prepare to visit Hythe on New Year’s Day before hosting Sittingbourne on January 3.

Smith, who also praised Keith McMahon’s Whitstable for the way they started the game, admitted: “It takes a lot to get out of this league.

“I don’t how much because I’ve never got out of this league.

“But we have got to have our focus on every game rather than building ourselves up for this one game - getting a few red cards and maybe losing to a last-minute goal - then the rest of our season being on a downer because we lost the derby.

“Now we have won it, yes, that’s brilliant. It’s a great feeling seeing the fans so happy afterwards. I said to the players before the game that these games are for the fans.

“Yes, we can get three points but you can also make memories. In 10 years’ time when you have stopped playing, you will remember this game.

“I remember Ansah whipping one into the top corner against Whitstable earlier in the season at their place. I remember Brad Stevenson going on a run from his own half and smashing one in the top corner and, last season, TT Walters bending one in on New Year’s Day.

“Those things these supporters will remember for a long time.

"I remember the players who used to play in these derbies way back when. Your Lee Bossons and Marc Seagers of this world.

“Those things stick with you and, certainly the younger generation that were here, they will remember in 10 years’ time what happened here.

“I also said to the players they need to think about what they get out of non-league football. Yes, you get a bit of money.

“But when you stop playing, it’s about the trophies you win and the memories you make, isn’t it?

"Today was a good day to write yourself in this derby’s history books because this derby is going to go on for 50 years or longer.

“So I told them 'write your name into the book' and I think some of the players did that.”

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