Saturday 15th December 2018
Buckingham Athletic Development v Harpenden Town Development
U25 Development Challenge Trophy 1st Round 1st Leg
Buckingham Athletic development side have continued to impress this season, fighting it out at the top of the league table whilst progressing through four rounds so far in the in the Berks & Bucks county cup; this weekend they begin their campaign in the Spartan South Midlands Development Division Challenge Trophy with the first of their two legged first round tie against Harpenden Town, who the Ath have already completed a league double over this term. Last Saturday saw a determined draw against Penn & Tyler’s Green in the BB Cup having to be decided by penalties, the winners of this tie go on to face Kempston Rovers in the quarter-finals but with the second leg not until after the New Year, an exciting 2019 beckons for the Athletic boys.
This week Sports Shots caught up with last season’s club captain Dan Staley who has been out for a few months due to injury, but who has started the comeback trail in the development side, and asked exactly what’s been wrong and how he is now feeling on the road to recovery:
I have been out for an awfully long time, it’s been about six months now, I’d had a couple of training sessions back in the summer under Neil and his coaching staff but then unfortunately I hurt my ankle playing six-a-side. I knew at the time that something wasn’t right because of the amount of pain, but I didn’t think I’d be out for this long, a few doctor and hospital appointments later with trips to physio added to time out and resting up and here we are finally on the other side of it all. I’ve played just under one hundred and eighty minutes now and feeling like I’m on the way to recovery, I think personally I’d benefit staying with the development side for a bit and getting my fitness & confidence back up and getting back to enjoying football again, and I certainly have enjoyed the two games I’ve played for them so far. I have to say thank you to all the physio’s I’ve seen and a big shout out to the club’s former healing hands Jason Liscum, he has been great recently with all the injuries we’ve had at the club and always finds the time to help the club out when needed
How frustrating has it been on the side lines?
Its been very frustrating, I won’t lie! We’ve had some great games this year already, the two local derby wins over Winslow for instance were the types I games I love to play in, and all the players want to be involved in. Fortunately we’ve got a good group in the first team and they’ve kept me involved in any way that they can, and I’ve just been supporting them as best I can
So what are the targets for the remainder of this season?
My personal goals for the remainder are simply to play as much football as I can and to enjoy it. Missing six months of football sets you quite a way back, so just building up my fitness is my priority, and just getting the ball back to my feet. It’s been a bit of a blow playing ninety minutes again but nothing too drastic, so it’s full steam ahead from now
Being a local lad, how does it feel seeing so many of the club sides doing well?
It’s great seeing this club doing well, I started playing for the youth team at The Ath when I was fifteen and it’s gone from strength to strength. All three senior sides are doing well, especially the development side who will be right up there in the league come next May so silverware is a strong possibility this year, I feel it will be a disappointment if we don’t end up with any
Having had plenty of time to watch both senior men’s sides, how does he feel they are doing and which players have impressed?
I’ve seen a fair bit of both but mostly the first team, and I think they’ve had a steady first half of the season, ideally we’d like to be higher up the league table but with games in hand and also a lot of football still to be played, there is still lots of opportunities to get right up there. We’ve also been outstanding in the cup competitions and took a few scalps against higher level sides which has been great to watch, it seems we step up a gear against the better sides which is great but we need to be punishing the lower sides which is how we’ve dropped a few points in the league. If we can iron those problems out from here and we can get up the table then we can hopefully end up in an FA Cup qualification spot for next season, I think that’s a target. Our under twenty-fives have the best side they’ve had in a while I think, a number of them have done very well, players like Stu Ironmonger has stepped up and made a first team spot his own, and Ollie Golding who has also stepped up and is now having a run in the first team. It’s great to see and it’s what the club wants
We asked Dan how the game was last week and how nervous the penalty shoot-out was?
The win last week was a great victory to play in, I felt like we were unlucky to go one down so to come up with a late equaliser and take it to penalties was fantastic. Penalties are always a lottery and we knew that, so just showing the character we did to come back was great, and credit to the management and the team. Luckily, we won the game and progressed and now we can look at going all the way which I think we are more than capable of
How high a target has Dan set himself in non-league football?
We wanted to be up their fighting for promotion this season, all the players in the first team are capable of stepping up and they’ve shown that so that’s our aim. Long terms goals for me are to just get as high as possible and enjoy my football. Ideally that happens with The Ath at some stage, but who knows what will happen
Finally, we asked how much the club are looking forward to the two-legged Buckingham Charity Cup semi-final with Winslow?
Yes another semi-final up soon and we face our neighbours again. It’s always a hotly contested game against them and one which we all enjoy and the buzz you get when you win is great. We’ve beaten them twice already this year so we’ll go into these games full of confidence that we can do it twice more.
I’d just like to add our thanks again to everyone at Sports Shots, we say it week in week out but the work you put in to promote and cover local football is amazing. It’s nice to see you getting the hits and views you deserve; long may it continue!
Sports Shots would like to thank Dan for his time this week