First and foremost may I wish all our supporters a Happy New Year, and pray 2021 is one to remember for the right reasons.
As you know our fixtures have been suspended by the Western league and will be reviewed in accordance with FA and Government guidelines.
Just prior to this announcement both myself and Russ had a Zoom meeting with Ade Cole ( Chairman) Julian French (secretary) and Terri French ( Treasurer & Covid officer ) where we discussed the FA’s latest proposal of clubs being able to suspend games for a period of time until they feel safe to return to playing.
Due to the difficulties and challenges of hosting and travelling across different tiers, within the guidelines set by the FA, we unanimously agreed we wouldn’t compromise the health of our many volunteers, supporters, players and their subsequent families and therefore decided to suspend all fixtures until safe to do so.
All of which was put to the players in a meeting whose input we felt on this matter had to be heard. They unanimously backed our decision understanding and respecting the points made and further cementing what we all ready knew that they are a fantastic group of lads, very together both on and off the pitch.
On the pitch things have been excellent, since returning from the last lockdown we have played two league games picking up 6 very valuable points.
With the league looking like it will finish on a PPG (Points per Game)system the two wins against Hallen & Brislington have become even more important.
All credit to the players, since returning they have worked so hard on their fitness, and our 5 training sessions prior to the Hallen match were like a mini preseason, and the lads bought into it,the level of intensity was as good as I have seen. It was important also as it gave Callum Baker and Jamie Gregory time to settle in after signing during the lockdown.
With a friendly against Hengrove scheduled then postponed due to waterlogging it meant going into the Hallen game we had not played together since Oct 31st !
We picked a team including the two new signings and from the start it was clear that the work the lads had put in and the lift a couple of new faces had given, we looked a different team to the one that finished in October. Perfect debuts for both with a clean sheet and a composed performance alongside Scott Saunders at centre half for Jamie, and Callum winning us a penalty, dispatched by Jordan Metters and then scoring our 2nd to win the game 2-0.
The scoreline aside we were pleased with our performance, the slight tactical changes we made had worked, moving the ball faster through midfield, coupled with our organisation without the ball had meant we are harder to play against.
Boxing Day saw us play neighbours Brislington. If the game wasn’t going to be hard enough their teamsheet only confirmed it. Regardless, motivation was not a problem, the confidence off the back of the Hallen win was flowing in our changing room.
Picking the same starting 11 was a luxury we had not experienced this season, and the lads picked up where we left off with bells on ! We could and should have been 3-0 up in 20 mins, our football at times as good as we have played since promotion, our quick decisive passing through midfield was too much for them, eventually going 1-0 up through Jack Dancey.
Our midfield consisting of Harley Purnell, Cam Ricketts, Jack Dancey and Jordan Metters were outstanding, all bringing something different to the table and for all their talent it was their hard work and appreciation of the ugly side of the game without the ball thus dominating the midfield! Jack esp had a good day adding the second from a corner then rattling the crossbar which would have been an unlikely hatrick from our holding midfielder.
We emphasise a lot the importance of our bench, against Hallen Craig Wilson, Matt Long, & Jamie Noble made a difference and it was the latter who made it 3-0 with a superb finish lobbing the keeper.
Our job now is to maintain the standards and gain a consistency in our game, we have an honest group of lads who play for each other who I know are striving for the same.
This latest break will also help our injuries clear up and I fully expect to see Jordan Anstey, Mike Grist and Steff Lee in contention for selection.
Our future looks good on the pitch,but first of all and most importantly the health and wellbeing of everyone at the club must come first, until that time I hope everyone stays safe and well and look forward to seeing you all again at the AJN for match day.