After last week’s epic battle at Hayes Lane against Cray Wanderers, the Rooks return home with 3 more points, their place at the top of the table once more and the noise of the fantastic three-figure away support still ringing in their ears. However, just as we put to bed one tough game, another comes around the corner and on Saturday we welcome 4th placed Walton Casuals to The Pan who have won four, drawn one and lost one of their last six games.
Thankfully, the team came through last week’s encounter unscathed and it was great to see a swashbuckling Lloyd Cotton back in the starting XI. The good news is that the squad is likely to remain unchanged for Saturday meaning Darren is still missing Matthew George (could be in the running for the squad next week at Thamesmead Town), Alex Malins (a few more weeks away) and Stacey Freeman. Stacey actually got 45 minutes under his belt in the DS’s magnificent 13-1 win against Leatherhead on Monday night.
Understandably, the boss is in a confident mood ahead of Saturday’s game.
“We had a tough game with Walton when we went up there when the sun was shining back in September, and we’re going to need to keep our good form going if we’re going to get anything out of today.
I want to start this week’s notes with a huge thank you to the fans. We had more than 150 people at Cray last week, making a huge noise throughout the game, especially in the last 15 minutes when it was backs to the wall. I cannot tell you what a difference it makes to players to have your fans behind you in huge numbers at away games, and we really did win together last week. Thanks to everyone who came and to everyone who continues to support the 12th Man Scheme, which helps us get great results like we got last week.
Since the last programme notes, we’ve had three games. I’ve been over the moon with the way we’ve conducted ourselves on and off the pitch. The boys have worked tremendously hard at training and it’s paid off. We really did our homework on Cray. We had them watched several times and we had a video of one of their recent matches. That meant we could show the players passages of play before training last week and show them weaknesses in Cray’s game that we could exploit. I was really pleased with how the preparation and instructions we gave to the players on Thursday were carried out during the game on Saturday.
Preparations for today’s game will be the same, and that’s how we want to approach every game when we’ve got a free midweek and time to prepare.”
Walton Casuals topped the table earlier in the season before a poor patch of form in the Autumn saw them drop down to 9th in the table. However, Anthony Gale changed things around in the squad and the results have been impressive as they forced their way back into the top six in December and come into the game against The Rooks with eight wins in their last ten games, with the only defeat being away at Corinthian Casuals. Their away form hasn’t been as impressive as that at their new home with six wins, four draws and five defeats on the road, scoring 25 and conceding 20. The Rooks have the third best home record in the Bostik League with ten wins and three draws from their fourteen games at The Dripping Pan, which on a points per game basis is the best in the league.
Our last meeting
We traveled to Walton Casuals new home at the Elmbridge Xcel Sports Hub in late September and become the first (and currently only) team to win there thanks to two goals from Jamie Brotherton, one from the spot, cancelling out Luke Holness’s first minute opener for the home side.
Kick off on Saturday at The Pan is 3pm.