Hayden Bird's September Report
The gaffer goes through the good, the bad and the ugly of an eventful September.
Since my last report on 28th August, the team has won three, drawn one and lost one.
We travelled to Merstham for a fixture that we knew would be emotive. As we approached the game, we decided on one or two tactical changes, including a change of formation to 4-4-2.
In a dominant team performance, the team thoroughly deserved to win 1-0. In truth, we should have won by a greater margin. However, we were delighted to secure our first victory of the league campaign courtesy of a good strike by Tom Kavanagh. The support that day was unbelievable - thank you!
We followed this victory with a much anticipated FA Cup tie, at home to Walton Casuals. Since arriving at the club, one thing everyone stressed is how desperate they are for a run in the FA Cup. With this in mind, we were aware how important the game was to Kingstonian and were determined to win the match to repay the supporters.
Although I wasn't particularly pleased with the performance, once again the team was solid, organised and played with a great spirit. Goals from Ollie Cook and Louie Theophanous secured a 2-0 victory.
I was delighted for the club, but I wasn't delighted with the way we played. The team played far too directly. We lacked the control and dominant possession that I am looking for.
On the positive side, it was our second consecutive victory and our second consecutive clean sheet. More importantly, of course, we were in the hat!
We returned to League action with a home fixture with Bowers and Pitsea. Playing newly promoted clubs early in the season is never an easy task. Bowers were at the beginning of an exciting new journey and were known to be resolute. With this in mind, we knew the game would be a tough encounter.
This game was possibly the most frustrating match so far. We dominated play, controlled the game throughout and had the chances to win. Yet again, we were confronted with an outstanding goalkeeping performance and were guilty of missing clear-cut chances. As the game continued, Bowers and Pitsea sat deeper and deeper, committing less bodies forward. Needless to say, this made the visitors more difficult to break down. The frustration increased as the game continued and ultimately, we were forced to settle for a point. Although there were certainly positives from the game, this was most certainly two points dropped. Not for the first time.
Having expected to play Grays Athletic, we were unexpectedly facing March Town United in the next round of the FA Cup. In the proverbial banana skin tie, the boys displayed a very professional performance. With as much as 95% possession of the football, we created chances without exhibiting the ruthless streak required to win the game more convincingly. However, a brace from Dan Bennett and a fine individual effort from Youssef Bamba resulted in a thoroughly convincing 3-0 victory.
These games are never as easy as they appear. I was pleased with the players. Furthermore, the much desired cup run was now gathering momentum! We look forward to facing Weston-super-Mare in the next round.
We approached the Worthing game in a very positive mood. We knew it would be a difficult fixture, it always is at Woodside Road. I think it's fair to say it's not not the best astroturf surface and Worthing, as a team, have excellent values. For our part, we entered the game being unbeaten in four, having kept four consecutive clean sheets and in confident mood.
To be frank, I was absolutely furious with the team. The standards on the football pitch were totally unacceptable. Whilst I don't want to hang the players out to dry, my work on the training ground was not not reflected on the pitch, at all. My footballing philosophies were abandoned, we conceded two goals from terrible mistakes and AGAIN missed two or three very, very easy chances.
The players have been told in no uncertain terms that our performance was not acceptable and we let the club and our supporters down.
Despite the recent form being W3 D1 L1 with four clean sheets in five games, there is a mountain of work to do. I'm not concerned with our league position but I am aware of it. Speaking openly, poor finishing and missing blatant chances have thrown away at least six points. Look at the chances we missing yesterday - Dan, Fabio and Reece simply have to score! Add that to a long list (Cray, Wingate and Bowers are only three examples) of how we have absolutely thrown away at least six points already! If not six points, probably more!
The league is still in its infancy. We sit only 3pts from 10th. We knew the start of the season would be difficult and bring periods of frustration. I've maintained from Day One that it would take time to see the rewards of our work on the pitch. Patience is required.
To draw comparisons, last season Merstham entered the Potters Bar game on Saturday 15th December in 18th position. No-one panicked, we knew we were close to finding the right formula and by March we were 3rd. I can see so many similarities here.
All of that said, the players are also aware that we cannot continue to throw points away and unless I see an improvement in the coming weeks, new players will be signed. I'm not a manager who believes in constant changes and prefer to resolve issues by working with players on the training ground. However, if players continue to make the same mistakes, changes will be made.
My thanks again for your tremendous support. Tomorrow night we face Haringey without Tom Kavanagh. Simon Cooper, Kenny Beaney and Youssef Bamba are also doubtful. It will be another difficult fixture and your supporter, as always, will be greatly appreciated. October presents a string of tough fixtures with games such as Carshalton and Enfield to look forward to.
Added to that, there is the small matter of the FA Cup! Next Saturday we are at home to Weston-super-Mare and victory will position us just one game from the prospect of facing one of the professional clubs. Let's all pull together to realise our dreams!
Thanks again for your fantastic support!
Manager, Kingstonian Football Club