With Tiverton sitting in 6th place in the league we knew today would be tough but that will never change our approach and the energy and enthusiasm we put into football matches as we have improved game by game. With Ryan Young’ suspension and Gedeon Okito’s injury we had to reshuffle things a bit and then Saul Williams pulled up in the warm up and forced us into a change before kick off. Despite all the injuries we showed the spirit in the camp and the players came in and were terrific including Sam who has been one of the most patient squad members. Here we are competing in this huge league with unpaid footballers and more pressing to get in the squad. I’m so proud of the attitude of the lads and spirit in the camp is proven to be unbreakable.
Not only do our players play for free but Ryan Young drove from London to get here and support the lads despite his suspension. I look behind the dugout and injured players like Aaron are there with his Dad to support us and Jonathan Barnett is leaning over the fence shaking hands and giving advice to the subs. It shows we have a bullet proof positive energy and togetherness in this football club and we will never ever give up and stop trying.
The lads yet again ran and competed so hard and we created chances into double figures and forced great saves from the Tiverton goalkeeper. Some of our approach play in the middle and last third was simply terrific and playing like that we will develop players properly for something much bigger and the wins that will come will feel that much sweeter. We could have and should have been two up in the first minutes of the game but that was countered by a sloppy piece of defending that allowed a hopeful forward ball to let Tiverton in and score. But unlike earlier in the season with these young men, they don’t crumble. They have learned to manage games better and they quickly got back on the front foot and continued to press high and play attacking attractive combination football.
Nick Hayes did make a really top save and shows why he is being rewarded and recognised by the England selectors and he will be with the England camp this week missing our match at Bishop’s Stortford. As part of the loan extension we were offered great help by Nicks mentor Richard Lee who is an experienced ex professional who played Premier League football for Watford. He’s even training with us and will feature in a one off game against Bishop’s Stortford and I am completely humbled with his gesture. He loves our project and offered to help. He’s already been fantastic in helping our young defenders.
Sam Odusoga got fouled for an unquestionable penalty and Arel Amu slotted home to bring us back level and was totally deserved. Scott Betts also came close as did others but we went in 1-1 at half time and we really felt we would go and push on for the win. Tiverton have a style of play that fits their personnel and I’m not knocking it. It’s quite affective and is dangerous. We just don’t have these players and we also have a long term strategy which you have to credit the club for 100% supporting that will keep our club sustainable in the future. Having said that, we want to win and a very harsh free kick was converted but our set up was not as we planned and the players have to take responsibility for that and they will. They are learning constantly. We couldn’t find a way to unlock them after that but we did ourselves huge credit yet again as the recent performances have been fantastic.
I’m looking forward to seeing my good friend Kevin Watson again on Tuesday at Bishop’s Stortford and we will be trying to give them a very difficult time. As we will also look to do at Hitchin Town where another good friend Mark Burke will be looking to show us no mercy. However, whilst I accept these two people are great proper football people, they have both been so good to me on a personal note and offered great help and advice. I will always be grateful to them both but for 90 minutes, we will put that to one side and go toe to toe. But I have total respect for our next two opponents and after we’ve played them I’ll be supporting them both for the rest of the season.