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Isthmian League aim for new Redhill Football Club boss Jordan Clark

Surrey Live logo Surrey Live 30/03/2023 Kaylee Seckington

New Redhill Football Club manager Jordan Clark wants to see the Lobsters back in the Isthmian League – and as quickly as possible.

With only eight games of the current Combined Counties League Premier South campaign left, Clark, who was previously manager of Alford in the Southern Combination League, is already looking ahead to 2023-24.

And with the announcement that play-offs will be introduced at Step 5 from next season, Clark is confident the Lobsters have a good shot at promotion.

“I’m loving it here,” Clark said. “It’s a project. We are in a position where this season we aren’t going to go up but we can’t go down either, so we are building for next season.

“We have some players already who I think will be good enough but I’m also on the lookout for new players.

“With the addition of the play-offs for 2023-24, that’s our focus and we’re really gearing up for that. I think having play-offs will be great for Step 5.

“We [as a management team] see the end of this season as a chance to work out the league, as it’s our first time in it, and get a headstart on the new season.

“We have played both Badshot Lea and Raynes Park now and that’s where we want to be in a year’s time.

“The summer is going to be massive for us and we’re already planning for that now in terms of pre-season and recruitment. I’ve had a few conversations with players.

“We want to make sure we are competing at the right end of the league next season.

“Alford was fantastic for me and I can’t thank them enough for giving me the opportunity but Redhill came up and it was too good to turn down.

“They have been an Isthmian club before and the idea is to get them back there as quickly as we can.”

On Saturday, it was Redhill versus Redhill and Dorking Wanderers versus Dorking Wanderers but in the end it was Raynes Park Vale that edged past the Lobsters thanks to a 95th minute winner from former Merstham striker Charlie Penny.

But having been Redhill manager for just a month, Clark was pleased with the progress his side have made.

And with good reason – they were unlucky to lose to Premier South leaders Vale in south London.

While not a derby by any means, it certainly had the feel of one at times due to the connections between the two clubs.

Clark, who is the head of academy at Dorking Wanderers during the week, was facing two of his Dorking Wanderers academy coaches on Saturday - Raynes Park Vale player-manager Josh Gallagher and Vale right-back Ben Dyson.

And incidentally, Gallagher and his assistant manager at Vale, Anthony Panayi, are both residents of Redhill - one living either side of the A23 from Kiln Brow.

But it was the Wanderers Academy employees who got the last laugh as Vale triumphed 3-2 – although their joy didn’t last long as Clark had them both in for work on Sunday!

However, Clark was philosophical in defeat, focusing on the positives for the Lobsters.

“On the balance of the game, Vale have so much quality,” he said. “The changes they made at half-time made a difference. I think the result, based on chances, is probably fair but I felt for our endeavour, our hard work and the fact we’ve only been together two weeks, I felt we deserved something for that.

“The only gripe I have is the referee said there was five minutes [left] and it ended up being nine.

“I think both penalties were soft and in terms of the red cards, the game wasn’t in bad-blood. I think the referee got a bit card-happy.

“Jake [Gallagher] was a bit unlucky to get sent off and I’m not sure what Kareem Akinnibi even did, but the guys on the side think there might have been some pushing and shoving.

“We’ve been here two and a half weeks now though and this was our best performance so far.”

One of the highlights for the visitors was the performance of Tyrese Sutherland, who demonstrated his lethal pace and fantastic finishing - netting a brace.

And Clark is hoping Sutherland spearheads Redhill’s promotion push next season - although Badshot Lea have already shown an interest.

“We played Badshot and T scored and they enquired about him,” Clark said. “He’s a top-quality player. We had him with us at Dorking last year.

“I’d like to think he enjoys the environment and so we’ll keep him. He’s one I wan to get done for next year sooner rather than later.”

Redhill host Guildford City on Saturday.

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