‘Clean sheets will win titles’
United boss says defence needs to be tightened up
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