NON-LEAGUE NEWS: Mixed fortunes for our local non-league sides over the past week, with busy fixture lists in the coming seven days too. Here, in the latest of our new exclusive feature, the managers of the area’s three biggest non-league clubs – Croydon Athletic, Croydon FC and Whyteleafe – give their insights and updates on their clubs’ progress.
Kyle Bernard – Croydon FC
With a bank holiday league fixture postponed because of the opposition’s replay commitments, the Trams’ assistant manager reflects on the harsh FA Cup exit suffered in the 6-0 defeat at Corinthian Casuals
“Saturday was a highly frustrating game. The warm up was top and boys were positive beforehand. We never really got going in the first-half. Our first good spell of football came after going 1-0 down, where we hit the crossbar.
“We were 2-0 down at half-time we still had belief, but conceding so early in the second-half killed our momentum. Throughout the second-half we played more and better football, created chances, but chasing the game left ourselves exposed at the back and we paid for it.
“We are excited for our upcoming games, looking to kick on, starting from this Saturday, then looking to get some points on the board from next Wednesday.”
Kevin Rayner – Croydon Athletic
AFC remain in the FA Cup after a 1-1 draw in the preliminary round, while their good form in the league continued with a Bank Holiday win, 2-0 against Rusthall
“It was disappointing not to go through in the cup on Saturday. But we are still in it.
“We were very comfortable. Only a very late and disputed penalty ensured Hanworth Villa took us to a replay.
“We should have seen it out and Hanworth fought hard to earn the replay, but a poor decision and our own lack of concentration meant we couldn’t. We will need to regroup next Tuesday and give it all if we want to have any chance of progressing.
“For the Bank Holiday Monday game, just 48 hours later, we had a number of players missing and made four changes to the starting line up.
“We deserved the win and it was a comfortable victory to keep us at the top end of the table. We needed to make sure we were straight back at it after a late leveler on Saturday, and it was good to get that reaction and remain unbeaten this season.
“We have an FA Vase game at home on Saturday against a Worthing side, which will be difficult to beat but we will do our best to progress. We have a full squad for both matches coming up, including the FA Cup replay on the Tuesday, so again will use a lot of squad players in the two games.
Harry Hudson – Whyteleafe
Hudson’s honeymoon period at Whyteleafe continues, the new manager seeing the side secure a 1-1 FA Cup Preliminary Round draw with Saltdean last Saturday before winning 3-1 against East Grinstead in the Bostik league in their Bank Holiday fixture
“It was quite a frustrating result last Saturday to be honest – we totally dominated them and didn’t score our chances, which leaves you open to them nicking one, which they did. We spoke about the need to finish teams off and make the score line reflect our dominance after the Herne Bay and Bedfont matches, as we knew it would come back and bite us.
“That being said it is better to learn this lesson in a cup competition than to drop points in the league. Although the result is frustrating, the boys played very well and carved the opposition apart – we are just waiting for it to click in the final third.
“The home crowd is getting bigger week by week – really starting to get behind the lads. They are still working on the Eddie D’Sane song I’m told! It is honestly so pleasing to see the crowd growing and also in turn their voices! It gives the players another 10 per cent and pushes us on – it was a shame we couldn’t reward them on Saturday with another goal but we hope to put that right against Horsham.
“On Bank Holiday Monday I thought the team executed the game plan almost perfectly. We knew they were going to over-commit on their pressing structure and try to stop us playing. By doing so, our shape allowed for a 4v4 against their defence from goal-kicks. We exploited this and were on to their defensive line.
“In the first-half we hit the post, the bar and missed countless chances – it was really pleasing to score the goal before half-time. We spoke about going up a couple of levels at half-time which we did and we got two more goals in quick succession. Although we took our foot off the gas in the last 20 minutes we always looked comfortable for the three points.
“To be honest we always try and start seasons well. During pre-season we train a lot and give our players a lot of information so we always expect to start well. That being said, apart from the Saltdean result, we are pleased with progress so far. There are some really difficult games coming up in the next month and we will know where we stand after that.
“As for the fans, we are all delighted to see us with maximum points after three games. The fans have been fantastic and I urge them to keep going and bring the enthusiasm on September 1, Church Road 3pm. Horsham have had some good results, especially against Carshalton in the FA Cup, and we will be expecting another tough game. We have started our homework and will have a plan to work on at training Thursday.
“They have had an indifferent start to the season and a couple of strange results recently. They beat Bostik Premier side Carshalton Athletic away in the FA Cup on Saturday and then went down to South East League newcomers, Haywards Heath Town 5-4 at home on Monday afternoon after leading 3-0! That must have been heartbreaking.
“They have good players in their ranks and our boys will need to be switched on for the game in a bid to secure three more points.
“The biggest issue will be the travelling midweek and trying to arrange for our squad to be available for our FA Cup replay against Saltdean United. That being said we have a young team who generally are quite flexible. The FA Cup is very important to us and the club and we are fully committed to secure a positive result on Tuesday. Hopefully we can put right the result from last Saturday.
“I would hate to tempt fate and talk too early! Corinthian Casuals is a great draw for whoever gets through – fantastic crowd and lovely pitch. Hopefully we will get the opportunity to play in the game!
“Lauris Chin returned from injury on Saturday against Saltdean and we hope to have him available this week as he continues his rehabilitation. The big piece of information though is that we fear we may have lost Ashley-Paul Robinson for a long period of time which is a huge loss for us. He hurt his knee against Bedfont and we are awaiting a scan but it doesn’t seem great – we all have our fingers crossed!”
Sat Sep 1: v Worthing Utd (H) – FA Vase 1st Qualifying Rd
Tue Sep 4: v Hanworth Villa (A) – FA Cup Preliminary Rd Replay
Sat Sep 1: v Little Common (H) – FA Vase 1st Qualifying Rd
Wed Sep 5: v Beckenham Town (A) – SCEFL Premier Division
Sat Sep 1: v Horsham (H) – Bostik League South East
Tue Sep 4: v Saltdean Utd (A) – FA Cup Preliminary Rd Replay
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