Saturday 19th January 2019
Bletchley Park v Buckingham Athletic Development
Berks & Bucks Intermediate Cup Quarter-Final
Scot Sports & Social Club
Buckingham Athletic Development travel the short distance to Bletchley Park on Saturday for their Berks & Bucks Intermediate Cup Quarter-Final and come up against a side who sit third in the North Bucks & District Football League Intermediate Division table and haven’t lost a North Bucks competitive game since they were defeated in their opening two games of the season back in August. Park have scored fifty-nine goals in their thirteen league games this season and have only conceded three at home so Athletic will need to be on their game at both ends of the pitch, although go full of confidence after a fantastic season that sees them sit third in their Spartan South Midlands development league table with games in hand that would take them top without having to win them all. Buckingham won last week-end after a battle with their top of the league contenders Berkhamsted but had to come from behind twice to win by the odd goal in five after a two-legged mauling of Harpenden in the divisional challenge trophy either side of Christmas, so with eyes on three lots of silverware this season will be given a tough test by the boys from Bletchley.
This week Sports Shots caught up with defender Luke McAndrew to ask how long he’s been at the club and what it means to be there now:
I started playing for the Ath youth team when I was fifteen, I hadn’t found a position then as a player so played both right back and left back but played most of the games that season on the left as we didn’t have anyone to play that side. Since then I have played all across the back four for youth, development and the first team but my main position nowadays is at centre half. I used to watch the Ath when I was younger and watch my brother play so once I finished playing junior football I knew that I wanted to play for the club and I can’t see myself playing for any other now
What is Luke’s preferred position these days and in what formation?
My favourite position in the team is at centre back, which would be my preferred position as I feel I can play at my best leading from the back. At youth level we played four-two-three-one and then the first & development team both used that formation so I have adapted to that, as a team I feel it gives us the best all round
How has the season been so far in terms of fitness and performances?
Fitness personally and as a team has never been better as we set our targets at the start of the season and all are working hard to ensure we reach those, and that is seen as we are still involved in both cups and in a good position in the league with games in hand, so we need to ensure that we keep pushing ourselves to get what we want out of this season. Again I and the team are having one of our best seasons that the development has ever had, and when I’m given the chance by Jake (Honor) & Ben (Townsend) I give my all as we have a big squad where people are constantly fighting for places. I’m contributing both on the field helping the team defensively by being vocal and talking to everyone, but also off the pitch where it is a great environment for everyone
Just how good is the development squad this season and which players have impressed so far?
The squad this year is the best I’ve seen since I joined the club, we are a young squad that are working hard for each other as we know what we want to get out of this season, so we’ve all been working hard for it off the pitch and especially on it. We have only conceded fifteen goals in fifteen games this season with four clean sheets, but we have scored forty-three goals which shows the strength in our squad, we also haven’t lost at home for almost three hundred days! Being three points behind top spot with four games in hand & recently beating Berkhamsted means the outcome of our season is down to us, if we win all our remaining games we win the league which is our goal whilst being in the quarter-finals of both cup competitions means we expect to win even more. It’s hard to pick out certain players when everyone has contributed to each game & playing in great form, a lot of players have boosted the squad this year such as our keeper James Green who has saved us in many situations, dominating in the air inside the box. Charlie Wright has helped with our attacking options with eight goals in six games, both Ollie Golding & Harry Heritage have helped dominate midfield and control the game all season & have made a real impact, all across our back four has been solid all season ensuring that we are playing from the back, creating chances, scoring goals & ensuring we don’t concede
A thumping two-legged win over Harpenden either side of Christmas was followed by an epic battle last week with Berko in league matters, how were those games?
During the six-one win over Harpenden in the first leg we went out and played the best football we have in a long time in the first half, but it was just a minute of losing concentration which created their goal. In the second leg I didn’t play as I was away with the first team in a good four-one win at Amersham. The first half against Berko was the worst we’ve played all season and nothing was going right but going a goal down woke us up a bit, at half-time we all knew it and some changes saw Corey (Bulley) come on to press every ball and to get us higher up the pitch as they kept playing at the back. Getting the equaliser from Dan McAndrew woke us all up and we had the majority of the ball and all was going our way but from a couple of mistakes we conceded again. However we didn’t let that stop our game plan, as we then kept fighting & pressing for every ball, for me to score our second equaliser to make it two-two was massive personally, to be able to contribute and help the team out, it’s rare that I ever score! It then came down to a battle of who wanted it more & credit to them they didn’t back down easy, but with a late goal from Kieran (Brady) we were all pumped with the hope that we can go all the way and win this league
Big cup game this week at Bletchley, what do Ath know about their hosts and will it change how the play?
We don’t know too much about them but we know that they are going to be a physical side and to get this far in the cup they must be a good side so we can’t under estimate them. We aren’t going to change how we play as we’ll still try to get the ball down and play, but know that’s going to be physical and are prepared for it
With the position the team are now in, what needs to be achieved for it to be classed as successful?
With being in such a great position in the league and also in the quarter-finals of both cups, for it to be successful we are expecting to at least finish with some silverware, but to get more than one would be a real bonus. The whole squad know that if we don’t finish with something we will all be disappointed with ourselves when we know we have such a good chance from here, so it’s up to us to finish the rest of this season on a high
Finally, we asked Luke if he could pick one player from the squad to have a different job for twenty-four hours, who and what would he choose:
I’d probably pick Louie Walters to do something in entertainment as he always brings a good atmosphere to the team & to the dressing room, he picks people or the team up when we are down
Sports Shots would like to thank Luke for his time this week