It was a case of good news/bad news regarding the season restarting. The good news is that our FA Trophy tie with Mickleover will definitely take place on Tuesday 8 December. The bad news is that the league programme will not now restart on 12 December. The following statement was issued by the Southern League on Thursday:
“The following is a joint statement from the Step 3 and 4 leagues, sincere apologies for the delay.
The Clubs in membership of the Northern Premier, Southern and Isthmian Leagues (the Trident Leagues) met earlier this week to consider the challenges and issues brought about by the reintroduction of Tiers after the raising of the nationwide lockdown with effect from yesterday.
The clubs were asked to vote on a proposition that the pause in fixtures be continued with a regular review in light of changes to the Tiers and/or grants becoming available. The first review to be no later than 16th December. The total votes cast by the 224 Clubs show a substantial number of Clubs in agreement with the proposition. The matter has been considered today and is subject to comment by The FA.
A further statement will be issued in due course.”
Tickets for the Mickleover game can now be purchased online and just to remind season ticket holders that they must buy a ticket for this game as we have to share the gate with Micklover. No Mickleover supporters are allowed to attend because they are from Tier 3. Please buy your tickets early to avoid disappointment as we are still limited to a maximum of 600. With no league games to be played in the next few weeks the Trophy game will be even more eagerly anticipated as supporters are desperate for their football fix. Admission prices are as normal and programmes can also be bought online.
There is £3,000 prize money for the winners and £775 for the losers.
FRIENDLY ON SATURDAY
We will be playing Harefield from the South Midlands League premier division at the Arena on Saturday 5 December with an 11.00am kick-off. There will be no charge for supporters for this friendly.
HITCHIN V COLCHESTER UNDER 23’S
There was real concern that this game would have to be cancelled on Thursday evening. Non- stop rain was the first problem with surface water a threat. But the pitch coped really well and the referee was very happy to pass the pitch as playable and it is a credit to our ground staff that it played so well.
A more pressing problem was that two of the floodlight pylons originally came on but then went out again and the remaining light would not have been enough for the game to be played. Luckily we managed to get an engineer in at very short notice and he saved the day by repairing the problem with little time to spare before the kick-off.
The game itself was very entertaining and a healthy attendance of 120 were rewarded for coming out on a horrible evening.
ACADEMY UPDATE BY MICHAEL JONES
We have now finished our in house Pro Direct tournament, which we started back when the new government guidelines were announced. We played plenty of games between the three coaches squads with the teams that finished in 2nd and 3rd playing each other for a place in a final against our 1st place team. This meant that Charlie Horlock’s team played against Josh Mollison’s team in the battle of the goalkeepers with our number one goalkeeper progressing through to the final, meaning Charlie Horlock’s team would play Damon Lathrope team in the final.
The final was a very cagey game and although Damon Lathrope’s team were 2-0 up with two minutes of added time to go, they somehow let the lead slip and finished off drawing 2-2. This meant the game would be decided on penalties and in a very nervy penalty shootout after the first 5 penalties for each team the scores were tied at 1-1.It went to sudden death and it took until the 7th penalty to find our winner with Charlie Horlock’s team coming out on top. All in all a very good tournament to keep the spirits high in this difficult period while still trying to keep a competitive environment.
We have now turned all our attention to our match preparation for Wednesday fixtures for both squads.
We continue to work towards our next trial event which is Monday 21st December 2020. If you are interested in attending this or for further information on what we offer please contact – email@example.com
MANAGER’S NOTES WITH MARK BURKE
COLCHESTER UNDER 23’S
I was delighted with the fitness levels of the players on Thursday evening and it looked as if they had never been away rather than having an enforced four week break. We played some good football in an entertaining game. We ‘’won’’ the first half 2-0 with a brace of goals from Luke Brown and we did some excellent defending and Charlie Horlock made a number of brilliant saves.
I sent out a completely different team for the second half and I was again pleased with the performance as there were a number of trialists playing. It was good to see Jake Hutchinson again even though he scored the equaliser. But I did notice that in a sign of respect he did not celebrate the goal against his former club.
We play Harefield at the Arena on Saturday with an 11.00am kick-off. It will be a similar exercise to Colchester in that I will again play two teams as I do not want players playing for too long a period ahead of Tuesday.
We face a very tough game in the FA Trophy against Mickleover on Tuesday. They are top of the Northern Premier League and have won five of their last six league games without conceding a goal (the other game was a 2-2 draw). They only lost on penalties to St Albans in the FA Cup. We will not have the chance to scout them tomorrow as their league game is no longer taking place but I have received a report on them from the St Albans management team of Ian Allinson and Steve Conroy. Mickleover will be the favourites but I always like being the underdog.
It would be great to have a big crowd behind us so please come and support us on Tuesday.
CAPTAIN’S NOTES WITH DAN WEBB
I spoke to Dan on Friday to ask him about the second lockdown and becoming a father. He told me that it has been difficult for all the players in the lockdown. Mark Burke had spoken to them all and they knew what was expected of them fitness wise. Dan said that at this level it is your responsibility to keep fit and to take pride in your performances. He said that match fitness goes very quickly and you can run as much as you want but it is just not the same as playing games. This lockdown was hard with no gyms open and team training prohibited. Running was the only real option and even this was difficult because with very little daylight running was really limited to early morning and weekends.
Dan was surprised how fit we looked in the Colchester game despite the difficulties of the past four weeks. He said it took him the first ten to fifteen minutes to get in to the game but he came out of it well. He mentioned how having a bigger squad enabled us to field two sides which avoided over playing players—something we could not have done in the past.
On his own fitness Dan has been really frustrated with the niggling injuries he has suffered this season but without tempting fate he is now feeling good and came through the Colchester game with no problems.
He told me the players had kept in touch during the lockdown with their WhatsApp group and through other social media outlets. But there was obviously no chance to meet up and he said the Colchester game felt like it was pre-season again. The players do not like the uncertainty of the Covid crisis and do sympathise with the financial impact on the club. Dan feels more money should be offered to support clubs at our level.
From captain Dan to father Dan—Robyn was born on 3 November and was a very healthy 8lbs 6oz. Dan said lockdown came at an appropriate time for his new addition as he and his wife could not go out or have visitors so they could concentrate on childcare. Apparently Robyn is sleeping well and Dan assured me he is taking his turn on the night shifts and is adept at changing nappies!
BY ROY IZZARD