This game has been postponed due to the weather
Saturday 2nd February 2019
Brackley Town Saints v Ascot United
Hellenic League Premier Division
St James Park
Brackley Town Saints host Ascot United on Saturday at St James Park knowing nothing less than victory will do if their title challenge is to get back on track, they’ve dropped to third in the Hellenic Football League Premier Division table after just one point from six in their league games since the turn of the year and ahead of this game trail league leaders Brimscombe & Thrupp by four points. Brimscombe themselves did Saints a huge favour midweek by beating Wantage Town who were breathing down Gordon Kille’s sides neck, but now Saints have destiny back in their own hands as they have games in hand on most of the teams around them and if they win them all they will regain top spot, however Ascot this week are just a place and a point behind their hosts before Brackley then travel to Wantage next weekend in a period that see’s the two sides play each other twice in three weeks and those two games could well define the outcome of the league title. Saints drew at Ascot back in October and the visitor’s haven’t won in their last three league fixtures, with the home side looking for their first league success since Boxing Day, this is a vital game for both sides.
This week Sports Shots caught up with midfielder James Watts and first of all defender Joe Ward to ask how long he’s been at the club & what made him join:
I’ve been with the club since the youth development days, I was a part of the original team during the transition into men’s football when the Saints started. The attraction for me was to try and play a fast paced possession style of football in a men’s league to see what we could achieve
James has also been here from his younger days:
I’ve been at the club for about three or four years, I got asked to trial for the under eighteens, went, enjoyed it, got asked to sign, then moved my way up to the Saints and have been there ever since! When I first joined I was very shy but then I got to know everyone and have a laugh with everyone so I’ve settled in well
How good a season does James feel he’s had so far?
I think so far this season I have been fine with my fitness, I did a lot of work in pre-season to prepare myself for the upcoming season, availability wise I think I have missed one game due to injury but haven’t missed a training session or any other games. I think I have been performing this season, & always give one hundred and ten percent in training and on match days, I feel I have had a similar start to last season which was a good season for me so I feel like I’m on the right track!
Joe has suffered the aggravation of injury this term:
I feel that I started the season strongly, fitness was high and I had a good tempo to my game. When I’ve played consistently this has carried through, however I’ve had a couple of injuries this season which has been incredibly frustrating for me because as a player you want to be getting as much game time as possible. As an individual target I make sure I work as hard as I can every game and training session
How good a squad does Joe feel it is at Brackley this year, and which players have impressed?
As a whole the entire squad has been strong, both on and off the pitch. It’s hard to pick out a few players who have really impressed when the whole team has been playing well, however I’d have to say the consistently strong performances from Ali Worby (GK), Lewis Baldwin (CM) and Olly Goddard (CB) through the spine of the pitch has been class. Ali has made a few crucial saves for us over the season and his distribution is second to none in the league. Lewis solidifies the midfield when playing CM, he moves the ball well around the whole pitch and will rarely give away possession. Olly has been a great addition to the back four and is strong in the air
James can’t single anyone out for individual praise:
I think the Brackley squad this season is very strong, everyone has been doing their job, & everyone is working hard to get a good end result. Everyone has impressed me this season, the whole squad have been class!
What is James favoured position in the team & what formation does he prefer to play?
Favoured position would be centre-midfield as I love getting on the ball and beating my opponents! I think the best formation for me is four-two-three-one because I’m always involved with the play then, attaching and defending which is good for me because I like doing both
Joe also likes that formation:
My favoured position is centre-back, I’d say my most preferred formation is a four-two-three-one as it’s what I have mostly played. Although when we had a string of games at the beginning of the season playing 3-5-2 we had good success in games and it felt very comfortable to play in
We asked Joe how competitive this division is after being clear at the top to now being third, and which sides he feels will challenge for the title:
As we’re coming to the end of the season everything’s becoming tighter at the top, with three or four teams chasing the title, I think that goes to show how competitive the league has been this season. Although it’s tight at the top we’re focusing on each game as it comes, making sure that we prepare correctly. Biggest threats for us are Wantage and Bishop’s Cleeve due to matches played and points gained
James discusses the need to get a win to get back on track:
We have been playing very well this season but some results haven’t gone our way, I think we knew that it wasn’t going to be easy to keep a big lead but we are all battling to keep that top place. Our last two games haven’t been very good results for us so we need to get back to winning ways and cement that place at the top. I think our biggest threat is probably Bishops Cleave, they beat us in the cup and at home so haven’t won against them yet and they look like a danger side but I’m sure we can beat them away from home
The last couple of games haven’t gone to plan, how did James view those games?
I thought the Reading game was all about Brackley, we all stuck together from the first whistle, yes they did take the lead but we didn’t let our heads drop and we carried on working hard & came away with the victory. Going into the Flackwell game we all thought this is going to be a test, which it was! For the first twenty minutes they had most of the ball and pinned us in but when we got on the ball we looked good and sharp going forward and as always solid at the back. So I think getting a point was a good result in a tough game, the Windsor result was very poor in horrible weather conditions, we didn’t take our chances and it hurt us in the end!
Joe mirrored those thoughts:
The Reading cup game was a good opportunity for the lads to get game time, and it was a good result as well. The Flackwell game was a hard match with both teams putting everything into it, both teams had good opportunities to take the lead but never did and a point each was a fair reflection of the game. The Windsor game was frustrating but every team has a bad day at the office
Ascot at home this week whom the Saints drew with earlier this season, what does Joe remember from that game and what do they need to improve on to win?
I remember that it was a tough, physical game. Both teams played well and again both teams had good chances, the three points could have gone to either team. We need to prepare correctly for the game, start with good pace, energy and be clinical on the day. Their biggest threat on the day was the ball being fed to Nathan Minhas
James also appreciates the quality Ascot have in their ranks:
I think the Ascot game was a real test for us, we played very well and they have got some good players in their squad but we all battled and fought together from the first whistle, getting a point from that game was a good result in my eyes especially away from home!
Finally, we asked James to pick any television programme he could think of, and a team mate who he’d like to see on it, and the reason behind it?
I would have to choose Ali Worby and the programme would be Soccer AM because he is always on about it at football and he never stops watching it
Joe picked a different colleague:
I’d pick Olly Goddard to go on the Undateables; speaks for itself
Sports Shots would like to thank both Joe & James for their time this week