Football: Chapple concentrates on Conference ambition at Kingstonian

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The Independent Online
The last time Geoff Chapple and Ted Hardy sat in opposing dug- outs was at Wembley in May, when Chapple's Woking side overcame Hardy's underdogs from Dagenham & Redbridge in the FA Umbro Trophy final.

Tomorrow the two veterans of non-League management lock horns again, when the Daggers travel to Kingstonian (whom Chapple joined in the summer after resigning from Woking), for semi-professional football's match of the day.

Dagenham have a formidable eight-point lead at the top of the Ryman League Premier Division. Kingstonian are third, a point behind Sutton United, with both clubs having played one game less that the Daggers. Hardy's men had the better of the midweek action: Dave Pratt scored a hat-trick in a 6-2 win over Heybridge on Monday while the following evening both Kingstonian and Sutton were held to draws.

"Whoever finishes above Dagenham will win the league," Chapple declared yesterday. "They did well at Wembley against Woking and I knew they'd be there or thereabouts."

Unlike the Daggers, who are looking forward to a trip to Barry Fry's Peterborough a week tomorrow for a second-round FA Cup tie, Kingstonian have just the league to concentrate on. "We were beaten by Crawley [in the Trophy] and then by Slough the following week [in the FA Cup] when we had a few players out. We've got a full squad of players tomorrow, though," Chapple said.

Chapple does not regret leaving Woking. "Things are going well here," he said. "I made the right decision. It was a matter of principle. All I was looking for was a bit of security. I saw myself staying at Woking for the rest of my career, but the new chairman [Jon Davies] didn't want me. I do miss the Conference, though." If he can inspire his new team to victory at Kingsmeadow tomorrow, a return to the non-League elite may be on the cards.

- Rupert Metcalf