*BS*STEVE NOLAN has praised John Keister after the veteran midfielder gave a masterclass at Crabble on his Whites debut this week.
*BF*Keister, 35, who signed from neighbours Margate, had been playing regular Conference football only two seasons ago before the Gate were forced to drop out of non-league’s elite.
And the man that is nicknamed “The Assassin” from his days as a League player at Walsall was still very much a darling of the Hartsdown Park faithful when we snapped him up, right under the noses of many of our rivals.
Nolan said: “I thought everything he did was excellent in the 3-2 win against Gravesend on Tuesday. He was outstanding. John gives us some real quality in the middle of the park and is going to be a big, big player for us.
“His passing and tackling was top drawer and I know he cannot wait for the season to start.”
Nolan was impressed with how his side managed to hold their own against a Gravesend starting XI that play at a much higher standard than Whites.
The Fleet had a number of trialists on display, along with several regular first-teamers, but nearly every player is established at Conference level.
*Lpic1*Nolan said: “Liam Daish, the Gravesend manager, told me he only had five players missing from his squad that night. He’s giving a runout to trialists who he’s hoping to sign as they undertake their first season as a full-time club.
“Apart from the final 15 minutes when we made a lot of changes to the side, to give everyone a run-out, and their full-time training showed their better fitness, we were the better side.”
Gravesend were beaten 3-1 by Folkestone in their previous game – but Nolan has told Fleet fans: “Don’t panic. You’ll be fine this season.”
Daish is looking at several trailists and results are of little importance to the Fleet boss at this stage.
Nolan said: “It’s all about looking at players for Liam at the moment. I wouldn’t read too much into their friendly results. Once they kick-off their Conference campaign, I am sure Gravesend will be a strong outfit.”
Chris Chase, who scored twice, also came in for a rave review from the Whites No 2.
He said: “Chris was the first to arrive at the ground and he walks in with a big smile on his face. That’s the way he is. He’s such a bubbly lad and lifts everyone.
“He’s got a great attitude to training and playing. I asked him to play in a slightly different role and didn’t complain. He played wide left of our midfield but in an position where he was a third striker when we were attacking – and a fourth midfielder when we were defending. We just wanted to have a look at that.
*Q1*“Chasey did well and we’re hopeful of getting him signed up for the coming season.”
Bradley Spice’s stunning goal on his debut would have settled any nerves he may have had.
Nolan said: “He’s got a lot of pace – and it was a cracking strike. He’s not fit at the moment but did well.”
Danny Chapman did not play as a precaution. He had only two training sessions under his belt before Tuesday’s game.
Anthony Hogg also did not play as he recovers from a broken toe.
Now Whites must keep up the standard against Conference North Hinckley United on Saturday.
Steve said: “Apart from the game against Great Wakering, all our friendlies are against teams from a higher standard – so the friendlies will give our lads a proper workout.”