Bottoms up: Laugharne looks to rebuild Woodley
JON LAUGHARNE admits the rebuilding job required at Woodley United this season has been bigger than he anticipated.
The former Finchampstead boss took over the reins from James Anderson in the summer, but has endured a nightmare start with defeats in each of his 10 games in charge so far.
That comes on the back of Woodley’s debut season in the Hellenic Premier Division last time out, which ultimately ended in relegation back to One East.
And Laugharne says it has been a tough return to management.
“It’s been a brand new start,” he told The Wokingham Paper.
“All the players from last year, bar about four, left the club. More left than I thought would.
“We had to start over.
“It’s been quite tough. We’re still looking about for players.”
After the opening game of the season on August 4, Woodley played again the following Saturday before a three-week break in between that and their next game.
Four matches in eight days followed and while the routine is now beginning to settle into a more regular pattern, they will have waited 12 days between their defeat to Wokingham and Emmbrook last Monday and this Saturday’s cup clash against Thatcham Town Development.
“We’ve not had games every week,” he said.
“We’ve had huge breaks. We just can’t get any consistency in our fixtures at all.
“We played four games in eight days after a three-week lay-off, so we were right up against it.
“At that time we only had 13 players so they played four games back-to-back from doing nothing for three weeks, which didn’t help, and then things have kind of conspired against us a little bit.”
He continued: “We’re in this Subsidiary Cup and I’m not sure what good it’s doing to us really.
“We’ve played Aldermaston three times, Holyport twice already and it’s sporadic fixtures.
“Everyone else trains once a week and then plays on a Saturday, but we don’t have that.
“We’ll have a game on Monday night, then we’ll train, then we don’t have a game for 10 days, then we have another game midweek, then we don’t play Saturday and it’s a little bit difficult to get a run in there.
“If you look at our teams, it’s not the same players (each week).”
Having been unable to battle for promotion during his lengthy stint at Finchampstead due to ground grading regulations, Laugharne does now have the chance to build towards taking a team into the top flight of the Hellenic League system.
And he says it did not take long to accept the job offer over the summer.
“I’ve known Mark Rozzier (Kestrels general manager) for a while because we used to play against Woodley,” explained Laugharne.
“They’re a really good club. Really well run, really well organised and a really good set-up there.
“It was an easy decision really. “We weren’t set any targets. They’re realistic down there so we weren’t told ‘you’ve got to get straight back in the Prem’, because everyone had left.
“They did really well last year, considering it was the first time they’ve ever been in the Prem as well.
“It’s a case of seeing what we’ve got and we will try and move forward.”
He added: “There is the opportunity (to get promoted) if we get a good enough team together. “But we appreciate in the league we’ve lost five out of five and with results like that, you’re not going to achieve anything.”
Woodley have three more cup games coming up before trying to haul themselves off the foot of the league table later this month.
And Laugharne is confident his team will get that elusive win sooner rather than later.
“We just need to be better in both boxes and we’ll be alright,” he said.
“We’re competitive. We’re not getting hammered.
“We played Penn and Tylers and by their admission, they’ve scored two absolute screamers against us. “We were pushing to get back into the game and they’ve got the goal right at the end and we lost 3-0. “So Woodley have lost 3-0, but that wasn’t really the whole story and that seems to be a trend that we need to stop.”