Tuesday evening saw the last scheduled midweek game for East Preston after a busy couple of months cramming games in a fixture list than began a month behind its usual start date in August.
Like most clubs at this level and I know I’ve mentioned it fairly regularly, but they’ve done well off the pitch to keep people safe at games against a backdrop of diminishing volunteers and a constant battering of regulations to further reduce income that keeps these smaller clubs alive.
On the pitch things haven’t gone quite as expected since the game began again on 1st September. Just one win in all competitions in nearly two months wasn’t the way it was supposed to pan out and this time last week Terry Dodd tendered his resignation to the club committee which was accepted, Terry as we know through this blog doesn’t like losing and maybe just felt there was little he could to change things around despite his best efforts, money talks at all levels of the game.
Step forward Chris Horner! A rapid rise from the Under 23’s to 1st team manager in a few weeks, football does not stand still. As expected and often happens in the County League when a manager leaves, players invariably do as well and this situation is no different.
Despite most playing in the weekend defeat to Longfield, around eight left the club prior to Steyning’s visit to the Lashmar, Guy Church and Tijan Sparks appearing to be the only survivors from the Dodd reign and the side littered with new signings and promotions from the Under 23 squad.
Having seen EP two weeks or so prior to this one, they put up a strong fight in the Vase against Fisher, but capitulated three days later, 4-0 down at half time to Hassocks before rallying back to 4-3 which in a way leaves you unsure which EP makes its onto the pitch.
It did look to be a long night in front of the home side as they dealt with some strong attacking pressure in the opening minutes, the visitors coming close to opening the scoring on eleven minutes the EP defence just managing to clear off the line after pinball in the penalty area.
The hosts were able just to deal with everything the visitors threw at them and a fine save from debutant keeper Adam Brodrick kept the scores level. Steyning though eventually took the lead just before the half hour mark, an unmarked George Cousins on hand to fire past Brodrick, who was unable to hold onto the ball, and give Town a deserved lead that they took into half time.
With the ball just not holding up with the strikers, EP struggled to fashion many clear cut chances despite the midfield promptings of Jamie Frankling and the returning Tijan Sparkes.
The lead was increased for the visitors on 58 minutes, James Magrath’s header from a corner couldn’t be kept out and EP were now having to take a few more risks to try and get back into the game.
The introduction of Matt Storm from the bench provided a few flurries in the visitor’s penalty area and EP indeed should have pulled one back but as so often this season the lack of attacking intent send the home side to another league defeat.
Plenty of work to be done for the new boss and I caught up with him after the game to see what’s planned to try and turn things around:
‘My first objective is to get the goal average down and I guess we did alright with that tonight, that was our lowest defeat for a while, but at the same not clinical enough still in front of goal. I thought Adam did well in goal for his debut and will get sharper with games.’
‘Both of my strikers are deadly in front of goal and once they get into a good rhythm as a partnership I’m hoping things change.’
‘I am actively looking to bring some more experienced bodies in, I have dialogue open with a few clubs, but they have to be the right person both on and off the pitch to take us in the right direction. With no budget it is making things harder, but watch this space……’
Have to mention Dan Howick who had a fantastic game alongside skipper Charlie Robinson at the back for EP, head or foot on everything that came his way, those two could be key along with Sparks and Frankling in front of them plus three or four players with good experience to get the side up the table.