10:00AM, Friday 07 February 2020
Marcus Richardson is happy to see the Heathens come through a testing period of injury to bag back-to-back wins over Bishop’s Cleeve and Ardley United in the Hellenic Premier Division.
The wins were good enough to lift the side back up to eighth in the table and, with players returning from the treatment room, a top six challenge might not be beyond them.
Over the last few weeks Richardson has had to contend with a mammoth injury-list, with eight to 10 players missing their crucial games against the four promotion contenders.
It was no surprise that they lost them all, however, the shoots of recovery were evident in the side’s 1-0 defeat at Brackley Town Saints on Wednesday. They then responded with a 2-0 win at Bishop’s Cleeve on Saturday, where Khalid Simmo and Simeon Weekes were on target before Tuesday’s 4-0 dismantling of Ardley United. Dan Bailey, Ashley Howell (two) and Weekes were on target in that one.
“I’ve been pulling my hair out at times because we’ve had eight to 10 players out injured, including our goalkeeper, Josh Edwards – one of the best centre halves in the division and Dan Bailey. I hoped we could get through that period but we also had to play the top four sides.
“Getting some of those players back from injury has made a massive difference this week. We didn’t take our chances against Brackley even though I felt we were the better team so I had to change things a bit and the players have pulled together brilliantly.
“They’re working so hard and there are going to be some players who’ll struggle to get their place back when they return from injury. Simoen Weekes looked like he might go out on loan a few weeks ago but he’s scored in the last two games and is telling me he should be in the team.
“I’ve still got some big players out, but Dan Bailey is back now and he’s a colossus for us. He brings everything together defensively. Going forward the young players have been frightening. Ashley Howell, Simeon Weekes and Khalid Simmo have all worked their socks off.”
The Heathens dispatched 17th placed Ardley without breaking sweat on Tuesday night, but they weren’t as clinical in front of goal as they could have been.
“I would say that we were ruthless-ish. We scored four goals but that was a compliment to them really.
“I could have been seven or eight and I don’t think they could have argued with that, such was our superiority.
“Bishop’s Cleeve are a good side and with the games they’ve got in hand they’ll be challenging for the top six. But we came together on the day to get a result.”
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