‘Clean sheets will win ti­tles’

United boss says de­fence needs to be tight­ened up

Harefield Gazette - - SPORT - By Matt Lewis matt.lewis@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

GARRY Hay­lock be­lieves the only way Hayes & Yead­ing United can climb the Con­fer­ence South stand­ings is by keep­ing things wa­ter-tight at the back.

Hay­lock, who re­turned to the club for a sec­ond stint as man­ager in Oc­to­ber, im­me­di­ately plugged up the club’s leaky de­fence and over­saw three straight clean sheets in his first three games.

How­ever, this month’s 5-0 ham­mer­ing at the hands of Chelms­ford City was a real eye-opener for the dis­ci­plined man­ager as the club’s old prob­lems reared their ugly head at York Road. They also con­ceded two against Truro City in Sun­day’s 2-2 draw, in which they let a two-goal lead slip.

Hay­lock knows that they can­not af­ford an­other dis­as­trous de­fen­sive dis­play like the Chelms­ford match again and be­lieves peo­ple only have to look to re­cent sea­sons to see the im­pact a solid back­line can have on a team’s for­tunes.

He said: “It was some­thing that I have al­ways be­lieved in and I have al­ways felt that clean sheets win leagues.

“The team that kept the most clean sheets in League two last year won the league and it’s gen­er­ally the case. It’s not just goals, it’s not con­ced­ing.

“It’s the team as a whole. If they’re on the same page and have the same men­tal­ity things start to get a bit more pre­dictable and a bit eas­ier.

“A good de­fen­sive po­si­tion is a good at­tack­ing po­si­tion – you’re in shape and you’re ready to break. We’ve still got quite a fair num­ber of de­fi­cien­cies and there are some ar­eas where we could im­prove.

“I think we’ve been fo­cussing on clean sheets, as I said, and that sets a foun­da­tion. If we don’t con­cede we’ve got a great chance of do­ing well.”

Mean­while, over in the Spar­tan South Mid­lands League, strug­gling Harefield United had no Premier Di­vi­sion fix­ture, and nei­ther did Hilling­don Bor­ough in Di­vi­sion One, but they gave their sur­vival hopes a boost with a 1-0 win at lead­ers Edg­ware Town last Tues­day. SEAN BERRY’S de­sire to nur­ture young, hun­gry west Lon­don-based tal­ent landed him the job at AFC Hayes, writes Jon Batham.

Berry, who had a spell at Farm Park in his play­ing days when AFC went un­der the guise of Brook House, threw his hat into the ring af­ter Paul Palmer was sacked fol­low­ing a poor start to life at Com­bined Coun­ties level.

And it was his phi­los­o­phy to­wards de­vel­op­ing young play­ers which per­suaded chair­man Barry Stone there was no need to look else­where.

“We are very pos­i­tive about Sean’s ap­point­ment,” said Stone. “When Paul left we did not have any­one within the ex­ist­ing staff to use as a stop gap, so when Sean put him­self for­ward and spoke about his de­sire to de­velop young tal­ent from around the area, we felt that for a club in our po­si­tion it was the right thing to do.

“We are not go­ing to do any­thing this year now, so we are cer­tainly go­ing to give Sean time to carry his phi­los­o­phy out. We’ve got 20 points and the side sec­ond bot­tom has 11, so while we don’t want an­other rel­e­ga­tion we have a bit of a cush­ion.

“What we want now is to build on what is largely a squad of 20, 21 and 22 year-olds who want to play for the club and then next sea­son we will see how they go.”

Berry’s first game in charge last Tues­day saw them draw 2-2 with Chert­sey and they were due to be at home again last night when Westfield were the visi­tors.

Mean­while, in Southern League Cen­tral, Uxbridge skip­per Wayne Carter’s scor­ing spree shows no sign of stop­ping. The vet­eran mid­fielder bagged a hat-trick in Satur­day’s 4-0 thrash­ing of strug­gling Ar­lesey, while Mark Den­ni­son was also on tar­get for the Reds. There was no joy for North­wood though as they went down 1-0 at home to high fly­ing Chal­font St Peter.

n TIME TO DE­FEND: (Above) Garry Hay­lock wants his United side to tighten up; (be­low) Paul Palmer has de­parted AFC Hayes

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