Saturday 2nd February 2019
Aylesbury v Cambridge City
Southern League Division One East
Aylesbury FC host Cambridge City on Saturday at Heywood Way for their first home game since the news broke that the club are accepting relegation at the end of the current Southern League Division One Central campaign regardless of league position due to the ground grading issues. As it happens the club are in a three-way scrap at the bottom of the league anyway, as the rest of the division has opened up a small gap from Aylesbury, North Leigh & Kidlington although there are still plenty of games left for those above to be dragged into the dreaded basement battle, but one of those two spots has already been decided no matter what with the issue of dressing room size meaning the Moles will kick off next season at step five. The club lost the services of assistant manager Matt Moran this week but were quick to bring in former Ampthill Town manager & coach Paul Toms & Peter Forssling respectively to add to the back room staff fighting to keep the club’s season going.
Coming to face Paul Bonham’s are twelfth placed Cambridge City who FC beat in Bonham’s third game in charge back in November, but the hosts are on a poor run of late that has seen just three draws and seven defeats in their last ten games, City however are not pulling up any trees themselves and their record shows just two wins in their last fourteen matches in all competition, can Aylesbury get their first three points of 2019?
This week Sports Shots caught up with manager Paul Bonham to ask if the news of relegation had sunk in yet, and how hard a decision it was to stay on as manager:
I’m not going to lie it did take a few days to come to terms with the club’s decision to take automatic relegation, but I do understand the reasons why it has happened. It wasn’t a hard decision to stay at the club at all once I had digested it all, the club have showed faith in me and I want to repay them
Will Paul be staying on at the end of the season to take the club into the new phase of its history assuming it will be in the Spartan South Midlands League?
I hope so and I want to but It all depends on the committee. It will be an exciting challenge managing in the SSMFL as the league is extremely tough to win, it currently has some very good sides in it all of which would do well at step four
Has the news taken any pressure off the manager with the league position immaterial now?
Not at all, in fact I would say we are under more pressure to perform and win games, I’m determined not to finish this season in the bottom two as it would then be a case of us being relegated anyway. It is our job to motivate and prepare the squad in the right way to make sure we do ourselves justice in the remaining games
How has the news affected the squad in terms of players leaving and coming in?
From the initial decision it has settled down now. We lost four very good players in Jordan Frederick, Carl Tappin, Austin Schofield and Harry Scott and although it was disappointing that they, it was on good terms and I wish them all the best. We have brought in a few players last week to replace them and all are looking very good replacements
Are the management team looking at the squad now with an eye on next season?
As a playing squad we are concentrating on this season and nothing else for now, there are players in the team who I’d love to keep at the club but understand we will need to sell the SSMFL to them. The management staff is different scenario as I’m keen to build as strong backroom staff who are committed for this season but equally ready for next year
We asked Paul if he feels any other clubs can be dragged into the relegation scrap despite a slight gap opening up from the bottom three:
I’m really not sure on what teams will be dragged into the mix, if I’m looking at form and players within the teams, I would confidently say both Kidlington and North Leigh are on an equal with all the teams in the bottom half of this league. It’s such a strong division this year where everyone Is beating everyone
Aylesbury lost Matt Moran this week from the backroom staff, but brought in Paul Toms & Peter Forssling from Ampthill, what do they bring to the club?
It was disappointing to lose Matty last week but I respect his reason for leaving, we’ve worked well throughout our time in charge and it was a shame we couldn’t see the season out. I’ve known Paul for some time now and we’ve always talked throughout the season, bouncing ideas of each other, discussing players etc. I know it was a tough decision for both Paul and Pete to move but I’m really looking forward to them joining AFC and hoping to enjoy success next season
Cambridge City this week who Aylesbury beat earlier in the season, what does the manager remember of that day and what does he expect this time out?
It was a fantastic team performance and we fully deserved the win that day, but we are under no illusions how difficult this game will be on Saturday. Cambridge are still one of the big hitters in the league despite their league position, we will have to be at our very best to get anything from them
Finally with it being such a difficult time for the club, does Paul have any messages for the Aylesbury supporters?
It is a very difficult time for everyone involved at the club, we really do appreciate all the support we get, and I can assure the fans that we will be giving 100% every time we cross that white line. We are still working so hard in training and the focus is to finish out of that bottom two in the league table
Joining the club from Ampthill Town this week, we asked Paul Toms how much he’s looking forward to his new role:
I’m really looking forward to my first game at Aylesbury, weather permitting!!! I’m an ambitious guy and I’m looking forward to the challenge of a different role as I have already coached at this level and higher, but more importantly look forward to teaming up with Paul and working towards something successful. Hopefully I’ve found a home where I can develop myself more in a different role other than a coach
Does Paul see this new role for the rest of this season for now, or does it go into next season with the relegation confirmed?
As you know there are no guarantees in football, but for me this was one hundred percent the main reason for me leaving a great club like Ampthill. I know it looks like doom and gloom and nothing to play for as relegation is over our heads, but straight away there’s a massive challenge of staying out of the relegation zone then over the summer while everyone goes on holiday, Paul and I will be planning for an assault on the SSMPL, a league I personally know very well
What is Paul’s position at his new club?
My title at Aylesbury Fc is assistant manager. My main priorities will be supporting Paul in every capacity I can from coaching to match days. I’ve not met any players yet as we are due to train tonight, where we will meet and greet
Does he feel he will be casting eyes over the squad with next season in mind, or just getting through until the end of this season?
All I can say is that I’ve not met the players yet and I’m only an assistant to Paul but when I do and see them train and play, I’m sure my opinions on building will hopefully be positive. But personally I only look one game ahead with one eye and plan for the future with the other
Along with Paul came Peter Forssling from Ampthill, whose choice was that?
Pete has been with me for past two years, after Paul approached me to come here I mentioned Pete and he was happy for him to follow with me. Pete is a very good young coach that brings lots of enthusiasm and energy with him with a fair amount of knowledge for a coach so young. And Aylesbury is a great progression for him on his coaching journey
What are the biggest differences Paul is expecting between South Midlands Division One and Southern League?
Obviously the step up in levels does bring lots of changes – attitudes and general professionalism, but that’s standard. Football wise, a more direct & quicker game with players that manage games better, with a tactical understanding and are better technically
What does he expect from Cambridge in his first game at the club?
I’ll be honest I don’t know much about Cambridge if anything, as all my focus up until this week has been on Ampthill and the teams around them
Finally we asked how Paul view’s the situation that Aylesbury find themselves in with regard to being relegated before he joined?
How I see it is on a personal front is I’m going to Aylesbury FC to give everything whether relegation looms or not. The mindset of ‘it doesn’t matter’ certainly doesn’t exist in me and I hope the players there have the same attitude, I’m sure they do. For me I can see massive positives as we know our destination and can already plan to build for next season
Sports Shots would like to thank both Paul’s for their time this week