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Gill shelve promotion push with new ground on cards

By Western Gazette - North Dorset  |  Posted: December 05, 2013

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GILLINGHAM Town will remain in the Toolstation Western League for at least another season after shelving plans for promotion.

The Premier Division pace-setters had applied to join the Calor Southern League for the 2014-15 season, with manager Adrian Foster setting about building a squad not just for the present but also the future.

However, with costly ground improvements required for Hardings Lane to meet the division's requirements and a new purpose-built stadium on the horizon for Gill the club took the decision to temporarily halt their progress.

Former Yeovil Town and West Bromwich Albion forward Foster admitted he was "gutted" by the development but understood the money-saving reasons behind it.

He said: "Our new ground will hopefully be ready in the next couple of years and there is a lot of work that needs doing to our current ground. If we were to do that work and move in two years that money will be wasted.

"The club know how ambitious I am. This is our second season in the Premier Division and a lot of clubs in this league will be here for 5-6 years before thinking of applying to go up.

"We had been trying to do that now, which was great, but when you look at the bigger picture you understand that we don't need to waste the money."

The cost-saving measures have already led to the departure of former AFC Bournemouth and Dorchester Town defender Gary Bowles.

But Foster is still determined to build a Southern League-standard squad and hopes former Glovers' scholar Will Agbo will be the latest name to join.

Despite the short-term change in goal, Foster said his hunger to manage at as high a standard as possible remained undiminished.

"If players of such good quality become available you can't turn them down," he said. "Will was on the bench at the weekend and hopefully he will stay.

"If a player is available I will speak to the chairman as we are building a squad for the next few years.

"My aim is to manage as high as I can. I want to manage in the full-time game and I think I have learned a lot under other coaches and managers. That's my aim, be it with Gillingham or elsewhere."

Last weekend's 6-1 thrashing of Cadbury Heath kept Gill top of the pile, with Foster likening his team's work rate and response to instruction to that of Spanish giants Barcelona and Premier League surprise package Southampton.

Four goals from Ben Thomson along with strikes from Jack Vallis and Steve Smith earned Gill victory ahead of a crunch encounter with Bristol Manor Farm.

The boss said: "It's not necessarily that we're playing like Barcelona but it's how the manager gets their players working really hard.

"It enables us to get the ball back quickly and it allows us to play football. It's all about us working really hard.

"Everything I have asked the players to do they are doing, I can't see a fault at the moment. Everything's going really well.

"We go into Christmas and the New Year strongly and put anybody in front of us we will want to beat them.

"Bristol Manor Farm will be a really tough match but we treat every game the same. I know how they set up and they are going to be difficult to break down but we will play our same methods.

"We will keep them under pressure and hopefully we will get the result. We're scoring plenty of goals and not conceding many, which is something we have worked on in training."

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