08:00PM, Thursday 27 August 2020
Football fans up and down the country have been unable to attend football matches at any level since the outbreak of COVID-19.
But for the first time since March, clubs at grassroots level have been permitted to accomodate socially distanced spectators.
On Saturday, non-league clubs at step three and below were given the green light to open their gates to a reduced amount of supporters under Government and FA guidelines.
And in what was a sellout match, 150 fans flocked to Stag Meadow to witness Windsor FC play their penultimate pre-season friendly against Slough Town on Tuesday night.
Spectators were required to buy tickets online and adhere to social distancing measures within the ground.
“It was great to see the supporters back and cheering us on,” said Windsor FC manager Mark Cooper.
“Unfortunately we were limited to 150 fans but it was sold out. I can't remember the last time we had a sellout at Windsor.
“We had to do online ticketing so we didn’t have to turn anybody away and that worked really well. Hopefully it’s all a good sign for the coming weeks and months.”
Windsor were defeated 2-0 by Slough courtesy of Sam Togwell and former Royalist, Dan Roberts.
With one friendly left to play before the start of the season, Cooper is confident his team can hit the ground running inspired by a handful of new signings he’s made.
Sam Coles, Matthew Ayres, Luke Paris, Ryan Parsons, Corey Parchment and Charlie Jaggers have all joined the Royalists’ roster for the new season.
"We’re certainly getting there, we’ve got a little bit more business to do in terms of getting a few more signed on,” added Cooper.
“But we’ve been getting better performances out of the players towards the back end of pre-season which is exactly what you want.
"It was a good all round team performance on Tuesday against a team at a much higher level and we competed really well.
“We’ve had a very tough pre-season schedule and now we play Henley Town in our final friendly which is a slightly better fixture for us. I don’t want to say it’s an easy game but they’re certainly a team that we should compete better with.
“I believe we’ve got a much stronger and larger squad than what we took over last year.
“We’ll probably have to trim that down just a little bit for the start of the season.
“But we’ve got just the one friendly to go on Saturday and then we begin the new season on Tuesday night when we play Aylesbury in the FA Cup.
“I can't wait to get started.”
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