United lacking home comforts
Run of ‘home’ games will still see club on the road
United face five home games out of six in February – it would have six but for the decision to switch the scheduled home match with Weymouth this month to a trip to the south coast.
In normal circumstances, such a run of fixtures on your own patch would be a massive advantage to a side battling to avoid successive relegations.
However the talks with Hillingdon Council over the issuing of a safety certificate for United’s Skyex Stadium are still dragging on so ‘ home’ in reality means continuing the club’s nomadic existence at Beaconsfield SYCOB’s Holloways Park and Uxbridge’s Honeycroft base.
And while boss Hughes is grateful to United’s neighbours for their willingness to play host, he knows it is not the same as the usual home comforts.
“If we were really at home it would be an advantage,” said Hughes. “But Beaconsfield are playing home games too, so the pitch is not going to help us play. However, we know that pitch better than most of our rivals and we e are not going to be doing much travelling so that helps, and the games are scheduled for Saturdays, not Sundays, whichhich is something the boys are re at least used to.”
United were due in action ction at Holloways Park last night (Tuesday), as they attemptmpted to end a run of nine e league games without a win at home to mid-table Biggleswade Town.
United came close to that at elusive win away at St Ives on Saturday, only for a soft penalty 12 minutes from time to cancel out a spectacular cular first-half effort from Connor nnor Toomey on his return from injury.
A point left United still ll in the bottom two and, with five sides being increasingly cast adrift of the rest and fourur to go down, Hughes knows the equation is a simple one.
“We have to finish on top of that pile of five teams and we have the games in hand d to do that,” he said. “It is still not impossible for Dorchester ester to be dragged into the scrap crap as well, but we know if f we get that win from one of our games in hand, we jump out of that bottom four.”
Following the Biggleswade wade game, United host Redditch ditch at Honeycroft on Saturday rday before facing Basingstokee at Holloways Park next Tuesday.day. ALMOST a whole team of strikers slipped through Gordon Bartlett’s fingers in the run-up to Wealdstone’s FA Trophy exit at home to Brackley on Saturday, writes Jon Batham.
With the talismanic Elliot Benyon expected to be sidelined for another three weeks, no less than eight potential front men were approached, at least some of whom could have led the line in what turned out to be a 4-1 defeat against the Saints.
For one reason or another a signature was not secured, and with dreams of Wembley gone and the Stones marooned in mid-table in the Conference South, Bartlett knows the search may get harder from here.
“We went after eight strikers, some of whom were cup-tied, one we could not get international clearance for in time, one we pulled out of and another the player’s agent blocked it,” said the Stones manager.
“We will go back to the drawing board again this week with the scenario that the focus is the league and the county cups, where those who were cup-tied for last week might still be interested.”
For all that, Bartlett admitted his side’s last-16 exit from non-league’s biggest cup competition stemmed from self-inflicted wounds and an inability to defend as a unit.
It marked the second week running – and the third home game in a row – in which the Stones had shipped four goals, something Bartlett cannot remember in his long career at Wealdstone or anywhere else.
And though the striker search goes on, his first priority in JAYDEN BLACKWOOD starred for comeback kings West Drayton Explorers under-13s.
Things looked bleak when they trailed 3-0 at half-time to Boyne Hill Stags but Blackwood’s double and goals from Hynan Abbas Ali Zaidi, Georgia Sutton and Gurveer Rattan turned the game around 5-3.
The U13s weren’t the only Explorers to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat on Sunday. The U16s came back from 2-0 down at the break to win 4-2 thanks to Sejdi Idrizi’s double and goals for Jack Fowler and Zubair Naseri. Ayub Raabi was man of the match.
The U6s and U7s went goal crazy. Freddie Penil’s four-timer led the rout for the U6s as they crushed Windsor 15-1. Jack Keane and Ryan Polidore hit hat-tricks, Freddie Shipperley weighed in with two Junaid Hamandishe, Jonathan Mickale and Tommy Clark also got on the scoresheet.
Kajus Cepas, meanwhile, hit five for the U7s as they won 9-4 against S4K Wolves. Filip Ponski contributed two with Aston Odeyale another youngster on target.
Christopher Burton’s double was at the heart of a dominant display by the U10 Blues as they beat Chalfont Saints 4-0, a strike by Callum Hayworthsharp and an own goal completing the scoring.
The U8 Reds too won handsomely, Odeiro Brand bagging a brace and Aleks Kovalenko and man of the match Asante also fscoring in a 5-1 win.
The U11s and U10 Purples also won with the former beating Langley Hornets 2-1 with goals from Reece Butler and Godwin Usifo, and the latter beating KS Gryf by the same score courtesy of a Rokas Batrusaitis double and a man of the match display from Tyler Palfrey.
The U8 Blues shared 12 goals with SK4 Bears, Daniel Mickale bagging two with Ava Lyon, Natu Yohannes and Hamza Naman the other Explorers on target.
Samuel Spasov’s goal could not save the U12s from a first defeat of the season, against Slough Town in the League Cup 2-1 while the U9s crashed 7-2 at Delaford Colts despite Oliver Langley’s brace.
The U10 Reds lost 3-1 to the same opponents, Tristan Villacrusis on target and the U15s lost 3-0 to Burnham Tiger Reds.
Matt Tierney led the rout for Heathrow Youth under-13s as they thrashed London Tigers on Sunday.
Tierney notched a four-timer for Youth as they tamed Tigers to the tune of 11-1. Tyler Lawler and Kai Amara both contributed doubles with a Frankie Major strike and two own goals completing the scoring. Saturday’s home game with Oxford City, and Monday night’s clash with strugglers Whitehawk, will be to tighten up at the back.
“On a personal level, I’ve never experienced this level of defensive problems,” he said. “I’ve managed some pretty poor sides over the years, but we’ve never conceded this number of goals, nor have we conceded goals in this manner.
“Tightening up and not giving easy goals away has been the foundation of my teams over so many years and we have got to get back to being hard to beat.”
Bartlett’s search for a turnaround in fortunes won’t be helped by injuries sustained in training by Matt Wichelow and Jack Smith in the runup to the Brackley tie, and he admits the short-term prognosis for both isn’t good.
“Matt’s studs caught in the ground and the ankle cracked as he went over. The swelling was so bad our team could not even begin to make a diagnosis,” added Bartlett. “Then I get back to the training ground, having taken Matt back to the club, to find Jack’s dislocated his shoulder again and needs another operation.”
POINT-INGPOINT- ING THE WAY: A spectacular Connor Toomey goal put United on the road to a draw at St Ives. Picture: Gareth Davies BA164525