08:00AM, Saturday 15 August 2020
Player/coach Luke Brooks-Smith admits he’s had to come up with some creative training methods to keep Windsor’s players fit and enthused after they were allowed back to training following the coronavirus lockdown.
The Windsor midfielder, who took on the role of caretaker boss last season prior to the arrival of Mark Cooper, said he had to do quite a bit of reading up on what was, and wasn’t, permitted during sessions as the club looked to kick off its pre-season preparations.
Slowly but surely Cooper is now putting together a squad he hopes is capable of building on last season’s improvements and competing for promotion from the Hellenic Premier Division. The squad has made an encouraging start in their pre-season friendlies as well, losing out narrowly to Combined Counties outfit Ascot United on Saturday before playing out a 3-4 thriller against Panteleimon FC on Tuesday night.
“The socially distanced sessions, from a coach’s perspective, you had to get quite creative on,” said Brooks-Smith. “You had to be up to date with what the guidance was and what you could or couldn’t do. You needed to do quite a bit of reading before you could go into planning the sessions.
“Once you sat down and started the session there were quite a few limitations as to what you would normally do, but it worked really well. When we were training in small group sessions, me, the manager Mark (Cooper) and the assistant Spencer, we would take a group of five each and limit it to a maximum of 15 players training. It worked fine, it was just a little bit more challenging than normal.”
The off-season has been anything but regular for Windsor’s young squad, but Brooks-Smith is confident they’re fit and adaptable enough to take it all in their stride.
“It has been slightly different to what I would say a regular off season is,” he said. “But the boys are so young and so fit, we’ve been able to do more ball work, position and shape work than what we would normally do in pre-season.
“Normally in pre-season, the first two weeks when you come back are a bit of a beast in terms of long runs, interval runs, sprints, but actually we’ve included that within the football work.
“So, there’s been lots of games where we’ve looked at transitioning from defence to attack and vice versa. It’s still very high tempo in terms of running and some sprinting and changing direction, but we’ve been able to incorporate the ball a lot earlier to what you would normally do in regular pre-season.”
Windsor’s 2-1 defeat to Combined Counties promotion hopefuls Ascot United at the weekend wasn’t without positives for manager Mark Cooper.
The Hellenic League outfit had the better of the opening exchanges and efforts from Ben Mulley and Billy Montague forced the Ascot keeper into action.
The home side then forged ahead when a corner kick was headed home by a player on trial for the Royalists, but their lead was short lived. On 32 minutes a low cross from the left was poked home and Ascot drew level.
There was a raft of substitutions for both teams at half-time, but again it was Windsor who started the brighter. Syd Woods raced clear but sent the ball just wide of the post with only the keeper to beat. Adam McNamara’s teasing cross was also begging to be touched home but no one in home colours could get on the end of it.
But as the friendly wore on Ascot looked increasingly threatening. After crashing an effort off the post from the edge of the area they then took the lead with 15 minutes to play, converting from the penalty spot to make it 2-1.
Windsor were back in action on Tuesday night in another behind-closed-doors friendly against St Panteleimon at Arbour Park.
McNamara scored one of Windsor's goals in a 4-3 defeat, the others coming from trialists.
Panteleimon's winner was scored deep into injury time after Windsor had equalised to make it 3-3 in the 90th minute.
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