Archive for Ampthill Town Football Club

SSMFL D1; Ampthill winger determined to help team climb the Hill of Division One table

Saturday 23rd March 2019
Hillingdon Borough v Ampthill Town
Spartan South Midlands League Division One
Middlesex Stadium
K.O. 3.00pm

Ampthill Town travel down to Hillingdon on Saturday hoping to emulate the victory they enjoyed over the hosts in the return fixture back in November, whilst looking to avoid a repeat of the five goal hammering they took at the Middlesex Stadium in September in the Spartan South Midlands Football League Division One cup. Since Paul Blackman took over the managers position at the Bedfordshire club they have had a real mixed bag of results, but have managed to reach the final of the North Beds Charity Cup & with eight league games left to play will be looking to follow up last weekends win at Ampthill Park over Brimsdown as they try and break into the top half the table, in Borough they face a side in a sticky patch which has seen one draw and six defeats in their last seven, they have conceded a whopping thirty-five goals in that run and the draw was goalless! Victory for Town wouldn’t lift them any higher in the league table but would put them in a great position to finish the season strong and try and get in those top ten places.

Lawrence Burton

This week Sports Shots caught up with Ampthill winger Lawrence Burton to ask when he joined the club, how it came about & how it’s been settling in:

I joined the club during the Christmas period as I wasn’t getting any first team football at my previous club, I think this is what attracted me to Ampthill, the fact that I would be getting that experience that I needed at this stage. Everyone has made me feel welcome here, I believe that I’ve settled in well and I’m really enjoying it here

How does Lawrence rate his fitness & contribution so far?

I feel that this season I have performed okay, but I still think that I have more to contribute and offer to the team in terms of goals and assists as well as performances, this season I have been in good fitness so I have to keep this up

How good a squad is there at Ampthill, and have any players impressed?

I believe our squad is strong enough to compete at the top end of the table as well as to win trophies, but luck has not been on our side in games where I think we deserved more, we’ve started to play really good football here and I’m enjoying it. I’ve been impressed with all the guys here, especially Brad Clarke as he can create chances and the ability to create something out of nothing

What is Lawrence’s preferred position & formation in the side?

My preferred position is right wing or even left wing, with the majority of this season playing on the right in a three-five-two. But if I’m on the pitch I’ll play anywhere and give one hundred percent to help the team win

March has seen defeat at home to Codicote and at London Lions, followed by victory last week at home over Brimsdown, how were these games?

In the Codicote game we should have done better as it wasn’t our best performance, but in the London Lions game we definitely deserved more out of the game as we played really well with many chances to win the game, especially with a goal line clearance and a penalty save. Then in the Brimsdown win, we played some of the best football since I have been here so we hope to take this momentum forward and have a strong end to the season

Onto this week against Hillingdon, with their recent form is this another three points for Ampthill?

I think that if I’ve learnt anything in this league, it’s that anyone can beat anyone. In this division there is no such thing as an “easy game”, so the best thing we can do is prepare for the game with the right attitude and give our absolute best to win

What does Lawrence see as a target for himself and the team for the rest of this campaign?

I think the teams goal for the rest of the season is to finish as high up in the table as possible and I believe that we can definitely achieve this as well as to win the final that we are in. For me personally I would like to get on the scoresheet more often as well as providing more assists

Finally we asked if he could choose any team mate to go on any TV programme who & what he would choose:

I would probably say Will Coote on any comedian show because he’s probably one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met

Sports Shots would like to thank Lawrence for his time this week

SSMFL D1; Ampthill winger hoping his side can batter Cod-icote to seal success

Saturday 2nd March 2019
Ampthill Town v Codicote
Spartan South Midlands League Division One
Ampthill Park
K.O. 3.00pm

Ampthill Town host Codicote on Saturday knowing victory could potentially lift them into the top half of the Spartan South Midlands Football League Division One table, tenth is possible although obviously depending on other results on the day, but Town will be high in confidence after a thrilling semi-final win midweek at Potton United in the North Beds Charity Cup on penalties, two goals down at half-time they fought back to lead four-three going into added time where Potton equalised but Town showed some resolve to win the shootout. Fair to say that since Paul Blackman took over the reins at the club it’s been hectic and exciting, having played every Saturday & Tuesday since taking over which started with two wins in three days as they travelled to Park View where they led three-one but couldn’t hold on and lost in the final few minutes, onto Amersham where they led two-nil, three-one and four-two but were eventually pegged back for a draw, which was followed by a narrow odd goal in three defeat at second place Broadfields last weekend. Codicote come to Ampthill Park currently second bottom of the league and on the back of a four game losing streak, Town will see this as an ideal opportunity to build on their recent success.

Jake Kissiedu

This week Sports Shots caught up with winger Jake Kissiedu to ask how long he’s been at the club, and how it came about:

I joined back in early September after a strong season at AFC Dunstable under twenty-fives. I had been in and out of the first team there which gave me a taste to push on and get some decent experience, I then got given the opportunity by Paul Toms to try to show what I am able to do here. Fitting in hasn’t been a problem as everyone one at the club made me feel welcome from the start

How good a season does Jake feel he has had?

I don’t feel this season I have been able to contribute as much as I could have due to injury, I’ve also been struggling to get a good run of games due to work commitments, but over these past few weeks I have started to pick up some momentum and starting to get my name on the scoresheet recently aswell

How good is this Ampthill squad, and which players have impressed the most?

I think we have always looked a strong side but struggled to get the results we needed to put us in a decent position in the table, but now we are starting to find our own style of play and getting positive results from it. The players that have impressed most while I’ve been here are Brad (Clarke) and Jamie (Cerminara), recently we have started to link up very well and this has showed in the goals we are scoring

What is Jakes preferred position in the team?

My favoured position is to play as a striker but I have played the majority of my football out on the left

We asked Jake how it’s been at the club losing previous manager Paul Toms and the new man coming in, and have the targets been reassessed?

When the change of manager came about it wasn’t a hard time for me as I have known our new manager Paul for many years while coming up through the EJA and the floodlight league with AFC Dunstable. When it comes to what our targets are it is just to play with a high tempo and climb the table us much as we can, especially considering how tight the table is at the moment

We mentioned the recent run of form for Town, how has that period been for the squad?

With the last three games there have been a lot of positives to take out, we have been scoring a good amount of goals each game and playing some good free flowing football at the same time. We just need to stay switched on at all times and learn to manage the game when we are in winning position to not let it slip, sadly I couldn’t make the Broadfields game but against Potton midweek we started off a bit slow and let them have an easy first half letting them go two up before the break, second half we got ourselves further up the pitch and started to play football. But we got out of it what we put into it, which is the result we wanted but our focus now goes on to Saturday and pushing ourselves up the table

Codicote this Saturday, having beaten them already this season how does Jake view the game?

Sadly I wasn’t available for the first game at Codicote so I’m not too familiar with their team or how they play. I think if we go out and play as we have these last few games with a high tempo and the confidence to attack them with pace then we should find the success we need

Finally, we asked Jake if he could nominate any team mate to go on any TV programme who and what would he choose?

I’d have to get Danny Blackman on Britain’s Got Talent, some of the dance moves he pulls off in the changing room deserves to be seen by the world

Sports Shots would like to thank Jake for his time this week

SSMFL D1; Ampthill Town 2-0 Buckingham Athletic

Ampthill Town – 2
Buckingham Athletic – 0

09.02.2019

Ampthill Town began life under the new management of Paul Blackman with a two goal win over Buckingham Athletic at Ampthill Park to upset the form book, two first half goals were enough to take the three points and as much as the visitor’s tried to get back in the game they simply couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net, they then had to play out the final twenty minutes with ten men as two quick fire yellow cards for Rob MacDonald saw him sent for an early bath, after the game both managers agreed the better team on the day won the game. Town also hit the woodwork more than once during the ninety minutes & the win saw them remain in fifteenth place in the Spartan South Midlands Football League Division One table but close the gap on those above them and now only need another six points to put pressure on the top ten places, ahead of a midweek trip to bottom place Hatfield this Tuesday, meanwhile Athletic look to bounce back from this disappointment with a slightly more difficult midweek visit of second place Broadfields United.

Buckingham started brightly enough, from the kick off Immanuel Soetan was released down the left touchline and getting to the byline he pulled the ball back across the penalty area but behind the red shirts in the middle allowing the home defence to clear. An Ampthill throw then released Jamie Cerminara into the Ath area and as keeper Josh McAdoo went out to meet him the striker knocked the ball past him but away from goal and off balance he could only fire into the side netting, moments later a knock down to Cerminara saw him get his angles all wrong and loop high over the top, whilst at the opposite end Soetan did well in the corner to cut back inside his marker before curling around the far post.

Athletic skipper Dan Staley ensured the scoreline remained intact when a long range effort had to be headed away from inside the six-yard box after Lawrence Burton got the better of McAdoo, but then on seventeen minutes the home side did open the scoring and it was down to an excellent goal kick from debutant Town custodian Mitchell Howe who sent the ball long downfield & a flick on from Jake Kissiedu allowed Cerminara to run on and spotting McAdoo off his line execute the perfect lob over the keeper and into the unguarded net from twenty yards. That lead was almost cancelled out within seconds of the restart as a pass back to Howe saw some miscommunication between him and a defender allowing Soetan inbetween to stick out a boot and poke the ball across the six-yard box, it rolled across the gaping goal with no one anywhere near to knock home, and away to safety.

Brad Clarke celebrates his goal

Cerminara then caused more problems to the way defence and laid off to Burton who blazed over the crossbar from the eighteen yard line, Athletic then created a good chance when Kevin Owusu crossed from the right and in front of goal MacDonald headed straight into the gloves of Howe, on twenty-five minutes Jack Menday tried his luck from twenty yards but the ball skidded along the surface as it sailed comfortably wide. The visitors won a free kick which Neil King floated into the box, it was headed away but running in full back Ash Farmer drove over the top, and a fierce shot from Cerminara saw McAdoo having to parry with both hands and fortunately no other yellow shirts were close enough to pick up the rebound which allowed Staley to shield the ball until his keeper collected.

Five minutes before the break Ampthill were denied a second by the woodwork when a cross was left by both keeper & defender allowing Cerminara to slide in and get the merest of touches to divert the ball goalwards but it bounced back off the foot of the post and McAdoo was able to get back to gather, but just two minutes later they did double their lead when Kissiedu got the better of his marker to cross from the right hand side of the area, as the ball rolled across the box defenders stood watching the ball as Brad Clarke stole in behind and tapped into the empty net, despite the vigorous claims of offside the goal stood. H/T: 2-0

Nine minutes into the second period saw a clearance from the Ampthill defence up to Kissiedu just inside the Ath half, with a defender on his shoulder he out fought him to get away and from eighteen yards fire across the goal face and wide of the back post, moments later a ball into the back of the penalty area was smashed at goal by Burton only for the ball to crash down off the underside of the crossbar, bounce down and away, as the home players claimed it had crossed the line the officials waved them all away.

Rob MacDonald is shown red card

If the task of getting back into the game wasn’t hard enough, it was made ever harder on sixty-nine minutes when MacDonald received his second yellow card within a few minutes to be sent from the field of play, both for niggly fouls that were born out of frustration as Athletic struggled to get their game going at all. Then the first attack from that point saw the ball played up to Soetan inside the penalty arc with his back to goal, his first touch flicked the ball up and his second saw him acrobatically go for the overhead bicycle kick but it cleared the goal frame comfortably.

The game drifted out to a conclusion with little other goal mouth incident, six minutes before the end a long ball into the Ath box saw Town left back Tom Carter presented with the opportunity to shoot but his dipping drive flew over the bar, ahead of substitute Tom Cooksley being released away down the flank and crossing into the box where Carter again cleared the bar. In the final minute an Ampthill corner was met at the near post by the incoming Mark Smith who got his head to it but again the ball crashed back off the woodwork and was cleared to safety. F/T: 2-0

Attendance: 53

Please Note: If you use any of our material or images, please ensure you credit sportsshots.org.uk

After the game Sports Shots spoke with Ampthill manager Paul Blackman: 
And also with Athletic boss Neil Griffiths: 

For match day photography (105 images over two pages) please click here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmAshZeK

SSMFL D1; Ampthill duo hoping they can Buck their recent trend against this weeks opponents

Saturday 9th February 2019

Ampthill Town v Buckingham Athletic

Spartan South Midlands League Division One

Ampthill Park

K.O. 3.00pm

Ampthill Town start life under new manager Paul Blackman on Saturday as they welcome Buckingham Athletic to Ampthill Park for what will be a stern test against the Spartan South Midlands Football League Division One seventh placed side, but it’s a new start for Town after Paul Toms resigned after two back to back defeats against Winslow a fortnight ago and the opportunity to kick start their season under the new gaffer. Town have won just twice in their last eleven in all competition, but have beaten higher place sides this season at home so this will be no stroll for the visitor’s and Town only need a couple of back to back victories to push them into mid table from where they can build going into their final third of the season, but this will be a real tough start as the host the side that currently boast the joint fourth best number of away wins in the league this campaign, the joint fourth least amount of goals conceded away from home, joint seventh best number of goals scored away from home, and have won four and drawn one of their last six away league games, but as this league continues to prove, anyone can beat anyone!

Louie Dillon

This week Sports Shots caught up with Ampthill duo Jamie Cerminara & Louie Dillon, and asked the latter when he joined the club, and how it’s been since:

I started at Ampthill playing in the under eighteen floodlit league at fifteen years old. I got given my first chance in the first team at sixteen and I’ve played here ever since, it’s a great club for bringing young players through the different youth & development squads. I’ve played in the first team ever since that first game at sixteen and have enjoyed it the whole time I’ve been here

Jamie has also been at the club a while:

This is my third season at Ampthill now, before that I was playing locally in the Bedfordshire league for Marston. I was there for six years so thought I’d have a go at playing in the league above, and Ampthill had asked me to come over and I’ve been here since. Gaz (Gary Maidment) the chairman and all the lads made me feel welcome from the minute I came over, so that side of things was really easy

How does Jamie feel his season has been thus far?

This season has been a difficult one for me personally as I’ve missed quite a few games through injury and suspension. So I haven’t contributed to the team as much as I would have liked

Louie has also had a disrupted campaign:

At the start of the season I felt I was the fittest I had been for a long time, I had a strong start and was available for every game, I contributed all over the pitch playing in various different positions and learning different roles. I then missed three months through illness which really halted my season and was tough to deal with as I felt I was playing really well. I got myself back to some sort of fitness over Christmas and was available again for the first game in January. Since then I’ve started nearly every game and have been getting my fitness back and playing well. I know I can contribute more to the team going forward and hope that I can bring that side of my game into the second half of the season

We asked Louis how strong he feels the Town squad is this season and which players have impressed?

We have one of the strongest squads I’ve been a part of at Ampthill this year, we are a very young team with some experienced heads but all over the pitch we have great players. The one thing we need to work on as a squad is to start games stronger, we are very much a second half team and we often start games slowly. Brad Clarke has always been a standout player and every year he continues to surprise me, he can single handedly get you a goal out of nothing and can produce magic on the pitch. Glenn Cooksley has really impressed me aswell, he’s got that engine and drive to never give up no matter what that you need in a team and he is a big voice in our squad. He never stops working and will always give his all on the pitch

Jamie Cerminara

Jamie has been impressed with the Ampthill goal keeper this season:

I think the squad we have this year is a lot better than our league position would suggest. Josh Thompson our keeper has impressed me a lot this season, he’s come up with a lot of very good saves this year!

What position and formation does Jamie feels best suits him?

My preferred position is as a striker, the formation I personally like is either four-two-three-one or old school four-four-two

Louie prefers a midfield berth:

My favourite position is central midfield, I enjoy contributing at both ends of the pitch and I feel that playing there I get the most out of myself as a player. I’ve played in almost every position this year and enjoyed them all but playing in the middle of the park is my preferred position. My favourite formation is four-two-three-one, I like the way you can press using this formation and how you can always seem to have players in the right places when defending or attacking, I think it really suits our squad

How does Louis view the departure of former manager Paul Toms?

Losing Paul Toms was a massive loss at this stage of the season, I understand his reasons for leaving and taking on the new challenge and I can only wish him the best of luck in his new role. The targets are now to build for next year and move up the league as far as we can, it would be great to get top ten and I feel with how consistent the squad is now that we can easily do this

Jamie agrees that the squad need to push on now for the remainder:

It’s never ideal to lose a manager half way through a season but it is what it is. We haven’t had a game since Paul left so we shall see if any of the other lads jump ship…… but as for the rest of the season, we’ve just got to try and get as many points as we can now and push up the table

How does Jamie view the draw at Risborough, home win over Hatfield and two recent defeats to Winslow?

I wasn’t involved in the game at Risborough, but I thought against Hatfield we were good, it is always nice to score a few goals as a team and get a clean sheet. Both games against Winslow were always going to be tough they’re a good side and are where they are for a reason

Louie feels the recent form has showed some character in the squad:

Since Christmas we have really come together as a squad and started playing for each other. The results against Risborough and Hatfield showed what we can do as a team and that when we play our game we can get the results. The Risborough game was a good battle and for long periods of the game I thought we would go on to score the winning goal. Both the Winslow games were very tough as they are a very good team, I feel we played well in both games but we didn’t do enough going forward in either games to worry them

How does Louie view this week’s game at home to Buckingham Athletic?

They have been a strong team over the last few years who we have struggled against previously. If we play our game and as a team I believe we can beat anyone in this league, we have a strong squad available and I think we can get a good result this weekend

Jamie isn’t that familiar with Athletic:

To be fair I don’t know too much about them but I’m sure like every game in this league it will be a tough one. Fingers crossed we will get the three points

Finally, we asked Jamie if he could pick any team mate to go on any television programme, who and what would he pick and why?

I’d have to pick Ash Higgins and I’d have him on The Chase. His all-round knowledge is second to none, so I’d tip him to do really well on there!

Louie picked Jamie for his:

If I could choose a player to go on any programme it would have to be Jamie Cerminara and I’d have him on any game show. People would pay good money to watch him hurl abuse and run his mouth at people like Noel Edmunds just because he got one answer wrong

Sports Shots would like to thank Jamie & Louie for their time this week

SSMFL D1; Ampthill Town FC announce new management team

Ampthill Town FC have this morning confirmed their new management team following the departure of Paul Toms almost a fortnight ago:

After some positive discussions over the last week we are delighted to announce that Paul Blackman is to step up & take over as the manager of Ampthill Town FC in the interim period, until the end of this season, and he will be assisted by Anthony Christophi.

The pair came on board a few months ago having had a successful time at AFC Dunstable in charge of their youth and development squads.  Paul will also retain John Philips and Martin Powell in his coaching staff.

Paul Blackman (right) and Anthony Christophi (left)

The first game for the new management team see’s them host Buckingham Athletic this Saturday at Ampthill Park with a 3.00pm kick-off.

SSMFL D1; Winslow United 3-1 Ampthill Town

Winslow United – 3
Ampthill Town – 1

26.01.2019

Winslow United maintained their push for second place in the Spartan South Midlands Football League Division One table, but for an hour or so looked like they were going to rue a hatful of missed chances; behind to a rare Ampthill attack moments before the break when Jamie Cerminara swivelled to fire home they then started the second half against a rejuvenated Town side who, following a first half where they had defended for their lives, started on the front foot. However, once United won a penalty after Aaron King was felled inside the box, Ryan Freshwater levelled the game and from that point the home side dominated but left it late before scoring twice more, the third being controversial which caused such debate amongst the Ants back line and the referee that full back Glenn Cooksley was shown two yellow card in quick succession leaving his side to face the final few minutes down to ten men, but on the balance of play both managers agreed that the hosts had fully deserved the three points.

Ampthill were first to threaten when a ball downfield for Cerminara to chase after had Winslow keeper Sam Ashmead having to advance from his area to head away, but on four minutes the home side had their visitor’s defence throwing themselves in front of a succession of shots when Aaron King got ahead of his marker only for Town custodian Josh Thompson to come sliding out at his feet, from the acutest of angles King managed to recover and aim for goal which saw Cooksley sliding in to block on the line but his clearance only found King again whose second attempt found the defender still on the post to clear again, despite the best efforts of Dan Parsons & Sean Coles trying to keep the ball in play the away side somehow got it out to safety.

A cross from the Winslow right found the head of Coles in the middle however he could only loop the ball up in the air where Thompson had to follow its flight until it landed safely on top of the netting, Aaron King then played a one-two with Parsons being aiming for the back post but his effort was never on target. Moments later a corner to the home side curled in saw Thompson come out to punch but the ball eluded his outstretched arm to find Aaron King at the back post but at full stretch he could only help the ball out wide, ahead of a ball played through the middle of the Town backline which saw Parsons in on goal, rounding Thompson who dived at his feet he advanced a yard too far which allowed the keeper to stick out a hand and push out for a corner.

Jamie Cerminara celebrates Ampthill opener

A throw then saw Parsons released down the left wing and he delivered a pinpoint cross into Alex Kedzierski at the back of the box, he volleyed back across goal forcing Thompson to readjust and somehow got fingertips to it to divert past his post, before Simon King powered a free kick over the top from twenty-five yards. It took until the twenty-fourth minute for Ampthill to have an attempt on target when Cerminara drifting away from goal fired low from twenty yards out but Ashmead was behind it all the way, at the other end a free kick to Winslow saw Simon King cross into the box and despite bodies tussling to get a touch it bounced harmlessly off for a goal kick. Then on the stroke of half time Ampthill took the lead, a corner swung in wasn’t cleared and the ball fell perfectly to Cerminara on the six yard line who pounced to fire low past Ashmead. H/T: 0-1

An early Winslow cross after the break found Kieron Schmidt at the near post but he could only screw wide, Parsons attacked down the channel before driving across goal and wide of the upright, and Aaron King saw a shot from the edge of the box comfortably saved by Thompson. King was then fed again twenty yards from goal, holding the ball up well he turned his marker before shooting straight into the gloves of the Town keeper, then on sixty-seven minutes the hosts won a penalty.

Aaron King was away down the left and as he powered into the area Ash Mead came across and slid in to challenge; the United striker going over the defenders outstretched leg and with a clear view behind the referee pointed immediately to the spot, Freshwater tucking home to level matters. The home side were now ruthless with their attacks and Parsons got down the left but his cross lifted over the crossbar before Simon King drove forward from midfield before unleashing a stinging drive that flew inches wide of the Town keeper’s right hand post.

Luke Desmond puts Winslow ahead

As time ticked away any hopes the Town side had of holding on for a point were dashed with six minutes remaining, a cross from the right by substitute Shiblu Miah eluded the Ampthill defence and keeper & at the back post fellow sub Luke Desmond side footed into the unguarded net. Desmond then did really well working hard down the left wing, battling it out shoulder to shoulder with his marker but getting the better of him to get to the byline and pull back across the eighteen yard box to Simon King who fired straight at Thompson, then with a minute to go the home side put the game to bed with some controversy.

Ampthill conceded possession high up the pitch and the ball was knocked long down field to Aaron King out on the left wing, with Coles galloping through midfield unmarked the striker passed to his team mate but the ball hit a divot and bounced up striking the midfielder high up his body, as the Ampthill defence screamed for handball play was waved on and Coles drove into the box before slotting past Thompson. As the home players celebrated the goal the Town defence surrounded the official, the protests were long and too strong from Cooksley who was shown two yellow cards within seconds of each other meaning he was first to the showers. F/T: 3-1

Attendance: 83

Please Note: If you use any of our material or images, please ensure you credit sportsshots.org.uk

After the game Sports Shots caught up with Winslow manager Paul Alleyne: 
And also with Ampthill boss Paul Toms: 

For match photography (127 images over two pages) please click here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskR7LPwu

BREAKING NEWS: Ampthill Town manager steps down

Paul Toms

Ampthill Town FC have tonight announced that first team manager Paul Toms has stepped down to pursue his career elsewhere:

Club News – After a conversation with this evening he has left the club to pursue his Managerial career at another club in a higher division. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Paul for all he has done at the club and wish him the very best in the future.

Ampthill Town FC

SSMFL D1; Town duo insist their squad can climb the Hill of Division One table

Saturday 26th January 2019

Winslow United v Ampthill Town

Spartan South Midlands League Division One

Elmfield Gate

K.O. 3.00pm

Ampthill Town travel to Winslow United on Saturday to face they side they lost by two goals without reply to last weekend, and face the daunting task of taking on the team that have only lost two league games at home all season, although both of those defeats have been in their last three home games and the Spartan South Midlands Football League Division One third placed side have won just three of their last nine games in all competition, so if there is a right time to visit this could be it. However Ampthill themselves are not enjoying a rich vein of form, just two wins in their last ten games in all competition and their last away league victory at Codicote in September would suggest a home win, but Town have proven this season they can compete with the higher placed sides in the league and are just a couple of wins away from pushing into the top half of the table.

Jack Mordecai

This week Sports Shots caught up with Town duo Mark Smith and firstly Jack Mordecai to ask when & why he joined the club, and how it’s gone since:

I was at Ampthill a couple of years ago back in 2016 before joining Baldock Town last year in the promotion winning season. The main motivation for coming back here was to play first team football, which I didn’t envisage much of at Baldock. I also knew a few of the boys down here like Brad Clarke, Jack Leek & Glenn Cooksley too

Mark has also previously played for Ampthill:

I was at the club about ten years ago for a season, but on this occasion I been there since November, I knew a few of the lads at the club already & the management and club have some great ideas with some high expectations. I have settled back in really quickly, I was fortunate enough that there were a few injuries at the time so I started straight away, which as a player you want to get as much game time as possible

How good a season does Mark feel he’s had so far?

Luckily enough for me I have not yet missed a game through injury, so I feel really fit at the moment. I think collectively as a defence we have done relatively well and it helps when you have the same personnel alongside you at the back. I am a basic footballer, my strengths are winning the ball and giving it simple to the technicians in front of me, which I feel I have achieved this season so far, but then there is always room for improvement. The season for me & the team has not really gone well, we’ve been so inconsistent and like any other club we miss too many players through injuries or unavailability, but we still have a good enough squad to be dealing with this type of situation

Jack feels he has improved of late:

Before Christmas I would say my season wasn’t that great if I’m honest, I was in and out of the side due to being away a lot, and there were question marks over my commitment as I missed a few training sessions. Since then I’ve had a good run in the side and have played ninety minutes in the last three games where we’ve lost, won & drawn. I feel as though my performances in those games have really shown the manager what I’m about and I’m looking to keep that going

How good is the squad this year, and have any players impressed Jack?

When we have our full squad out, I believe we are up there with the top five or six clubs in the league, but due to various reasons we haven’t been able to have that a great deal. In terms of individuals, Jamie Cerminara has really impressed me, technically he offers a lot more than people think, and I also think that Josh (Thompson) our keeper has been superb

Mark Smith

Mark believes the squad has much potential:

I think our squad is good but nowhere near achieving what we should be, we work hard as a team but as the stats show we don’t convert enough chances when going forward, we are working on rectifying this so then our league position will improve. Also we have a very young squad, so it just needs time to come together and gel, they are learning all the time

What position & formation does Mark prefer to play?

I prefer playing defensive midfield, I have always liked to break up the play, up for the battle and to lay the ball off simply, I have always played there up until the last couple of seasons. I think the team is trying to say something to me by putting me at the back out of the way! I am old school and do prefer to play four-four-one-one as a system with one defensive midfielder and one box to box central midfielder, the wingers and the other central advanced midfielder then to support the striker

Jack likes to play in a similar role:

I’d say my best position is as a deep lying midfielder, I like to break up play and get us playing, and I feel I’ve done that well in the last couple of games. I have always been used to playing a four-three-three but as the season has gone on I’m becoming more accustomed to playing with a back three

We asked Jack how the run of one win in six has been from an Ampthill point of view:

When you put it like that it doesn’t sound too pretty, we have been very up and down and it’s really held us back, we have never really found any real consistency and put together a good string of results. But I do feel as though there has been a shift in the last couple of weeks & we are all pulling in the right direction now, our aim is to finish in the top ten but to do that we really need to start picking up some more points, I believe we are more than capable so let’s see what happens

Mark expressed how hard the squad is working to put this all right:

The run of games has been tough on the lads but we all remain focused and are showing good attitude in training, we just need that rub of the green sometimes to go our way. Again we have been disappointing, football is a simple game and I think we over complicate it sometimes with the way we play, we don’t play the simple ball to the players in good positions so our decision making has let us down a bit. But I assure you that with this team, and everybody working hard we will be a lot higher up the league table come the end of the season

Facing Winslow for the second time in a week, what does Mark think his side need to do different this time to get a result?

Winslow to me just worked a lot harder than us, they seemed more up for the battle but we were still in the game after conceding an early goal and had some good possession in some key areas, but could not convert any of our chances. We need to match their physicality and play our own game, as we all know in football anything can happen. Their defensive midfielder pulled too many strings for me and was allowed too much time on the ball, so he will need to be stopped and not given so much time on the ball

Jack thinks Ampthill need to concentrate on themselves rather than any particular Winslow player:

To be honest, I don’t really focus on individuals and I don’t think that is too important in this league, they are a good side who work very hard out of possession and are clever in terms of game management. But in order to win this game we will have to focus on what we are good at and be more positive going forward, we have to bring Jamie (Cerminara) into the game more as well, I feel he has to be a vocal point and we’ve got to get him involved in every attack

Does Jack have any targets for the remainder of the campaign?

Personally I just want to carry on playing & to help the team get up into the top ten for FA Cup football next season

Mark also targets those top spots:

It is well within our grasp to climb up the league table, I am sure as soon as we pick up a victory then we will kick on and move up that ladder. For me the realistic targets should start at getting into the top ten and then push on from there, for me playing in defence I just want to be solid as a unit and to make Josh Thompson’s job behind me a lot easier

Finally, we asked Mark if he could spend a day in the life of someone else who he would pick:

I would like to spend the day as our manager Paul Toms, just to see what goes through his mind when picking a team & playing a particular system to try & benefit the team. As a manager you are never going to keep everybody happy, and football is full of opinions!

Jack chose a Town player and also a celebrity:

From the club I’d choose Brad Clarke as his missus is quite fit, celebrity would be Joe Rogan, a very cool man

Sports Shots would like to thank both Jack & Mark for their time this week

SSMFL D1; On the twelfth day of 2019 Ampthill keeper wants 3 x 5 gold rings

Saturday 12th January 2019

Ampthill Town v Hatfield Town

Spartan South Midlands League Division One

Ampthill Park

K.O. 3.00pm

Ampthill Town host Hatfield Town on Saturday looking to build on a very good draw last week at ever improving Risborough Rangers, and come up against a side that have only won one of their twenty-one league games to date, and currently prop up the Spartan South Midlands Football League Division One table, cast adrift by eleven points to second bottom place side Amersham. Ampthill will be expecting to win but football is never that easy, especially as Hatfield are under new management of late, but the three points could be crucial for the hosts as their games in hand could really help push them into the top half of the table and help banish the memories of the defeat at home to Bedford the last time they played at home. However, Hatfield only lost by the odd goal in five against sixth placed Langford last week after a creditable goalless draw at mid-table Rayners Lane the week before, an intriguing fixture lies ahead.

Josh Thompson

This week Sports Shots caught up with Amps keeper Josh Thompson to ask how long he’s been at the club and how it’s been since joining:

This is my first season at Ampthill, I came across with the manager Paul Toms from Berkhamsted. For the short time I’ve been here I have to say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, the whole set up and atmosphere around the club is brilliant, from the backroom staff to the facilities this is one of the best set ups I’ve been at. I’ve truly been made to feel like part of the furniture here

How good a season does the keeper feel it’s been so far?

I don’t think we have performed at our best consistently enough so far, looking around the club there is some serious talent here and only a few games this year has seen it all come together to reflect how capable a team we are. We have suffered from injuries, suspensions & availability as do most teams at this level, but huge credit to how our development team has supported us and is valued within the club, which gives us such squad depth to be able to cope

Has Josh always played in goal?

I have pretty much always played in goal since the age of about nine, I came from Berkhamsted last year to get more first team football and to start enjoying it again. Prior to that I was playing university football at Loughborough

How good is this Ampthill squad, and have any players caught the eye?

When we have our strongest eleven out, I truly believe we can beat anyone in this league. Individually I’d have to mention Mark Smith, he’s an experienced defender and he makes my job a lot easier by solidifying our defence. We play some exciting football going forward and the link up between Brad (Clarke) especially and our forwards is great to watch

Defeat to Bedford just prior to Christmas and a good draw at ever improving Risborough last week for the squad, how were these games?

The game against Bedford was not one of our finest performances, we were missing some key players and Bedford worked much harder than us & deserved the win. Risborough’s league position definitely does not reflect how strong a team they are, they will surprise a lot of higher level teams later on this season. After going a goal down, a positive team talk at half time gave us something to play for, a physical game that we were much more competitive in

So onto Hatfield this week, what does Josh know about them?

Being relatively new to this league I don’t know much about them at all, but I do know that there are no easy games in this league, they will be fighting for points and we will have to work hard to take anything from them

Of all the sides Ampthill have played so far, which have impressed the most?

There have been a couple of teams impress me so far, notably Broadfields, they have some decent players who could play higher, and they work hard off the ball. Its been a tough start this year, with some players still learning their trade and youngsters still getting to grips with the physicality of this league. As a team we aren’t far off at all, we are starting to click and things are starting to fall into place, if we can get on a good run and gain some momentum then we could finish high in this league

Finally, we asked Josh if he could be anyone in the world for twenty-four hours, who would he pick?

That’s a tough question, from our club I’d love to spend a day as our assistant coach ‘Pistol Pete’ (Peter Forssling) just to get a behind the scenes perspective on what goes on match days, and to be able to confidently wear fifteen gold rings on each hand! As for anyone in the world, it would probably have to be David De Gea just to see what it’s like to be playing for the best team in the Premier League

Sports Shots would like to thank Josh for his time this week

SSMFLD1; Ampthill boss hoping to put tough December run to Bed with victory

Saturday 22nd December 2018

Ampthill Town v Bedford

Spartan South Midlands League Division One

Ampthill Park

K.O. 3.00pm

Ampthill Town host near neighbours Bedford on Saturday and with the sides separated by just a single place and a single point in the Spartan South Midlands League Division One table, three points would be a welcome Christmas bonus for Paul Toms’ side especially as they do not play after the fixture until the first week end in January. Despite the Amps having games in hand on the majority of the sides above them, they see this enforced break over the Christmas period knowing that a win over Bedford would see them close the gap on the top half of the table, and with those extra games to play could well go into the second half of their season with plenty to play for, despite the month of December seeing them bow out of two cup competitions.

Paul Toms

With two new coaches at the club as revealed by the manager last week to Sports Shots, the Town squad will be looking to build upon their superb win over fourth placed Hillingdon in their last league outing at The Park, Bedford have lost their last seven matches in all competition and those games have seen a total of thirty-five goals scored, Ampthill Park could be a goal fest on Saturday afternoon!

This week Sports Shots caught up with the manager Paul to ask if he is still enjoying the job since he took over in the summer:

That’s a great question to start with, yes I am one hundred percent enjoying it at Ampthill Town, I think all managers would ask themselves the same question – why do we do this to ourselves, but we all love it with the challenges on and off the field! It’s never ending and is a thankless task but when you pick up three points on matchday it’s all worthwhile. I’ll be honest, I joined Ampthill with an open mind and knew it was going to be a massive challenge, I knew I’d have to win over and earn the respect of the players and of the board, but also knew that I’d have to change a lot of things, especially with the team finishing the last three seasons in fourteenth place in the table. Rome wasn’t built in a day and at the moment we are building the foundations for long term success, results and performances will be inconsistent for a while yet. Huge changes have happened with a high turn over of players and management team needed at the club, I have to say Gaz (Gary Maidment (Chairman)) has been amazing in his support of myself and all the football decisions I have made so far, I will give everything to repay his faith in me

How happy is he with his squad so far and have any players impressed of late?

I’m very happy with the squad we have here, we have some unbelievable talent from the development squad right through to the first team squad. My philosophy is to develop young & hungry players and bringing Paul Blackman on board adds strength to that philosophy and he sings from the same hymn book as I, we have no budget and let’s face it pretty much any manager can bring success with money! But we have nothing and being honest I am happy for that challenge, ninety percent of our squad are under twenty-five years old and we use development players when we can, this year is all about preparing for next, we had a poor pre-season due to the shake up and I’ve been using this season to learn and to build. I am not going to single any players out for praise, but what I will say is that the potential in this group is huge!

How were the two recent cup games, and how does the manager pick the players up from here?

Whilst our results in December have been tough, the bigger picture is very much positive. Away to Langford we were poor, our work rate when we didn’t have the ball was shocking whilst our decision making was terrible. But when we turned it on, we had better moments in the game and managed to score a ninety-fifth minute equaliser to take the tie into a penalty shoot-out, which unluckily we lost but that’s penalties for you. Against Colney Heath we went down to ten men after ten minutes through a lack of discipline but the squad re-grouped and if I’m honest we were the better team against a tough, hard working sixth placed premier division team. I’ll also add that we played four development players that night as well. It will not be difficult to pick the players up, far from it, these boys will be buzzing come Saturday, Colney was if possible, a good defeat

Local derby against Bedford this week, a point separate the teams, is this must win or must not lose?

I see every game as must win, but that’s me, I hate losing. But look, we have an opportunity to gain local bragging rights for our level and more importantly a chance to show in front of our support how much it cares to win. For me as a footballer I’d be buzzing all week for a big game and I’d want to perform, big performers generally turn up for the big games, so for me in this building season it will be great to find out who our big players are

How much are the squad looking forward to this derby game?

It’s a huge local derby on Saturday that we are all looking forward to, these are the games that you look out for when the fixtures come out. I’m not going to give anything away apart from we will give everything to try and win. Our form has been up and down all season but hopefully the taste of bragging rights will raise us to a good level. It was a good game against them back in August where we both had chances to win, I imagine it will be the same again this time, an open, physical fixture that will be played fairly

This is the Amps last match now until January, is this a welcome break or does it detract from what the manager is trying to achieve?

Personally I’d prefer games thick and fast, we had Hatfield called off the other week so why can’t we play that game over the festive period, sometimes the fixtures just don’t add up! But we will be training & keeping the camp together which is so important, it also shows me who the committed players are, training is never anyone’s favourite but it is a must. How you train is how you play!

With so much time off over Christmas, what does Paul expect of his players?

We have to be realistic as it’s always a tough period, the boys are not contracted or paid so it’s all down to their own self-motivation and my job is to give them that positive kick to want to work hard, and to promote the bigger picture, which is to tick over. Sometimes a break is good and freshens up the enthusiasm in some, but who knows, for me a good footballer has their own self-motivation to tick over away from the camp and to want to stay at there own good level and to not let themselves down

Finally, we asked Paul for any final messages ahead of Christmas for the club and its supporters:

I can’t say thank you enough to everyone involved at Ampthill Town FC. I’ve had such unbelievable support from everyone, the supporters are honest and loyal & I can see that they want success which I hope if all stay patient and understanding then we can achieve. We have so many volunteers that for me I cannot thank enough, and also a big thanks from me to Sports Shots for the great coverage and we are now looking forward to a great 2019

Sports Shots would like to thank Paul for his time this week