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Ramsgate manager Steve Lovell says his Isthmian South East leaders haven't played well this season

Manager Steve Lovell feels Ramsgate are still to fire despite sitting top at Christmas.

Rams are three points clear of Chatham in Isthmian South East after a goalless draw at home to Chichester on Saturday.

Ramsgate manager Steve Lovell.
Ramsgate manager Steve Lovell.

Recent victories over promotion rivals Ashford and Whitehawk showed the potential but Rams need to hit those levels consistently if they are going to see the job through.

They’re back in action at Hythe on Boxing Day (2pm).

“It’s strange,” said Lovell. “I was talking to the chairman (James Lawson) and Mark (Lovell, assistant manager) about this and we haven’t been brilliant to get to the top. We’ve not really played well at all.

“The two games before Saturday, against Ashford and Whitehawk, were the first time I’ve felt we’re starting to get some sort of pattern and a way of playing.

“It reflected in the results and the performances but then you lose three or four players for Chichester and take a step backwards.

“We’ve got to make sure on Monday we get back to the way we played against Ashford and Whitehawk.”

To be top at Christmas, without playing well, must bode well for Ramsgate.

It’s an argument Lovell has weighed up in his mind, reaching the same conclusion.

“There’s two ways of looking at it,” he said. “Because we’ve not played well, are the players good enough?

“Are they good enough to do the things we’re asking them to do and work on?

“At Gillingham I had the players in every day to work on things, so there were no excuses come Saturday.

“When you’re seeing them once a week at this level it’s hard to get them to understand what you want in a short space of time.

“But the answer to the question, ‘Are they good enough?’ is, yes, they are.

“They showed it against Ashford and Whitehawk.

“They did what we wanted them to do in those games and started to show signs of progression. It’s just a matter of putting it all together as a team.”

Lovell was happy enough with a point against Chichester.

Rams lost Lee Prescott through illness on the morning of the game, while Jack Paxman and in-form striker Kane Rowland had family commitments.

Jamie Coyle, Denzelle Olopade and Lauric Diakiesse returned to the starting XI in their absence.

Lovell said: “We had a few players out and Chichester were good - a point was a fair reflection.

“Their keeper made a couple of really good saves at the end but it would have been harsh on them if we’d nicked it.

“We huffed and puffed. A few of the boys had bad games individually, so to come away with a point when we’ve not played well is good. It’s only the second time we’ve not scored this season.”

Hythe gave Ramsgate one of their biggest tests when the sides met at Southwood in August.

Rams battled back from a goal down to win 2-1 and Lovell knows they’ll be in for a game at Reachfields.

“They played really well in the first half at our place - they could have gone two or three up,” said Lovell.

“Watty (Hythe boss Steve Watt) is a good coach. He knows what he’s doing. He’ll know everything about us, like we know everything about them.

“It’ll be a hard game, it always is down there. They came at us with set-plays - corners, free-kicks and long throws, which are like a corner - and we defended very well.

“We’ll have to do that again on Monday but they can also play as well.”

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