BOXING: Smith oozing with confidence as he claims maiden professional success

Jack Smith believes his first win as a professional has relieved some of the pressure from his shoulders.

Smith earned a 40-36 points victory over Gary Reeve at the Epic Studios in Norwich on Saturday, his first bout since suffering defeat at the hands of Craig Derbyshire in quite controversial circumstances in April.

And the 19-year-old fighter from Chatteris feels his maiden success in the professional ranks has been a real morale-lifter.

“For me to come back as soon as I did and to get the win, it’s boosted my confidence a lot and it’s took a lot of pressure off me”, Smith said.

“I learned that in my first fight, I was at the wrong weight – I was nearly three weight categories higher than what I boxed on Saturday.

“On Saturday, I was at the right weight and I felt fit and strong in there.

“The 32-year-old man came for a good go, but I just boxed clever and kept him at range and did what I had to do to get the win.”

Taking things slow: Smith feels more experience could lead to a promising career ahead

Not much mental preparation was needed ahead of the four-round contest with Reeve, but other targets were firmly in place in order to rectify previous mistakes.

“None mentally really, other than to study him more than my first opponent so I could see his style.

“Physically, I worked more on strength and conditioning and in the gym.

“Also, I did more rounds sparring and I just felt sharp in there.

“I put the time in the gym, on the roads and into my diet and finally the hard work has paid off and it feels amazing, no other feeling like it.”

Amid the setback over three months ago, Smith still had a large following to Norfolk, which the boxer could not have been more appraising.

“My supporters are amazing”, he said.

“What can I say; 115 in the first fight and around 70 in my second at this time of year is really good because everyone is away.

“But it’s not just who comes to my fights, it’s the messages on Facebook wishing me luck and congratulating me whether I win, lose or draw.

“It makes me feel confident with everyone behind me.”

Despite the jubilation of his victory, Smith, who fights out of the St Ives Boxing Academy, is not getting too carried away as he aims for the top of the tree.

“There are always areas inside and outside the ring to improve on, but that’s what I go to the gym and work with Steve Whitwell on.

“There’s no rush into fights that I’m not ready for.

“I just need more to get my experience and see where it goes from there.

As a boxer’s mentality is to win titles as soon as possible, that would be great, but I know my time will come.”

PREVIEW: Second-string get second bite at cup glory

After their heavy cup defeat last week, Chatteris Town Reserves are doubly prepared for a second final in quick succession.

The Lilies’ second-string face Peterborough League outfit Whittlesey Athletic Reserves in the North Cambs Junior Cup showpiece, six days after losing to Huntingdon United in the Creake Charity Shield, and head coach Benji Brittin feels renewed belief has been installed after their recent comeback win.

“We needed a response against Houghton & Wyton, who are second, and we certainly got that”, Brittin said following Saturday’s 5-2 victory, their first in four games.

“The team certainly needed picking up and now, heads are being held high and our confidence is restored.”

And with optimism looming large, Brittin knows exactly how to approach their opponents.

He said: “We were able to go and have a look at Whittlesey a few weeks ago, so we have a game plan set and we know their strengths and weaknesses.

“The final is important to the team; they have worked hard and deserve something for sure.”

The all-Fenland clash takes place on Wednesday (5th April), 7.30pm kick-off at The Elgood’s Fenland Stadium, the home of Wisbech Town FC.

New Year’s Resolutions: An unbeaten run and cup progress the main Lilies’ aims

Chatteris Town manager Ashley Taylor believes his side will improve further if they can maintain their unbeaten run.

The Lilies have made a solid start to the new year with a derby draw against Outwell Swifts in the Kershaw Premier League, followed by a 7-1 thrashing of Over Sports.

But with the next three games, including against two teams in the top half of the table, Taylor remains optimistic the run can continue.

“We now have back-to-back home games against Brampton and Linton Granta and although these are tough games, our target will be nothing less than six points”, he said.

“Come the end of January, if we can have 10 points from 12, I will be very happy and this will be a clear sign that the team is progressing.

“So far, we have got four points out of six, but really, we should have six points in the bag.

“After the Outwell draw, we were left frustrated, but credit to the lads who reacted perfectly on Saturday.”

I’ve been very happy with the additions of Carl Powell and Karl Anderson who have fitted perfectly into our squad

Injuries to key players in the first half of the campaign may have had potential to disrupt Chatteris’ run of good form, but new additions seemed to have steadied the Lilies’ ship, according to Taylor.

“The squad right now is looking strong, even though we are missing Lee Barnett (knee ligaments) and Alex Ashley (hernia), who is out for the rest of the season.

“I’ve been very happy with the additions of Carl Powell and Karl Anderson who have fitted perfectly into our squad and have been putting in impressive performances.

“The Reserve Team is also looking strong now, which makes things a lot easier for me.”

The second string look to maintain their quest for glory by booking a second cup semi-final spot out of a possible three.

Benji Brittin’s men capitalised on their Cambs Junior Challenge Cup exit to Bassingbourn by securing their place in the last four of the Creake Charity Shield with a 1-0 win at Soham United Reserves the week after.

I still feel a top-four finish is achievable, and the younger players pushing into the team is fantastic for their potential

However, the Reserves head-coach thinks cup progress was never so assured after the long festive break.

“Our departure from the Cambs Junior Challenge Cup hit home to the lads”, Brittin said.

“Take nothing for granted, playing teams like Bassingbourn away was never going to be easy.

“Taking a one-goal lead was never going to be enough and the opposition wanted it more.

“Fitness was always going to be key after coming back from a two-week break, so a response was needed away to Soham United Reserves.

“The lads needed to show me the desire they had during pre-season, and although another scrappy cup game, up stepped 16-year-old Brandon Ransome to grab us the winner.”

Cup involvement may have hindered a possible climb up the Mead Plant & Grab 1B standings, with nine points separating them and the top four.

But having played the fewest games compared to any other side, Brittin is confident a top-four spot is still there for the taking.

“The squad is strong and at full strength, which is why I still feel a top-four finish is achievable”, he said.

“Our progress will be a huge test and will be fantastic for the lads and the club.

“The next few weeks will show me who will be regular starters now our cup run in two competitions has taken us to two semi-finals as we now need to work on our fitness and balance to the team.

“Selection for a starting line-up is proving a good headache for me.

“The younger youth players are pushing into the team, which is fantastic as their potential is looking very promising, which is what is needed for our season.

“Overall, it looks like an exciting cup and league run-in to be.”

The Lilies begin a run of three consecutive home league games against Brampton this Saturday (21st January), 2pm kick-off at West Street.

The Reserve Team are without a fixture this weekend, but return to league action next Saturday (28th January) away at Swavesey Institute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can the Lilies achieve success this season?

With two cup finals guaranteed, promotion still on the cards and their star striker missing, will Chatteris Town still be able to eye up a taste for glory? Dan Mason explains.

Goals Galore: The Lilies do not seem to be suffering without Gillies (far left)
Goals Galore: The Lilies do not seem to be suffering without Gillies (far left)

Even with silverware being a real target, the Lilies’ aim of playing at a higher level in the next campaign is proving to becoming more realistic. With at least seven games in hand over the top six and lying seventh in Kershaw Senior A, there is a real chance for a push towards the summit, which manager Ashley Taylor believes in: “We have a young and hungry team that will do all they can to bring success to this football club.”

Taylor’s men have been steadily progressing, having won five of the last seven games in all competitions. Speaking on his side’s improvement in terms of league and cup positions, Taylor said: “If you asked me at the start of the season if I would accept the position we are in right now, I would have happily accepted.”

After previously losing to runaway leaders Outwell Swifts, the gap between them and the top has widened, but with the mentality of winning “every game we play”, there could only be one way the season can plan out.

The attacking style that has been implemented since August has been a real advantage for the Fenland team, having scored 66 goals in total so far. In particular, 26 of those have come from striker Craig Gillies who recently departed, but Taylor isn’t concerned.

“Craig leaving has actually had a positive effect on the team,” he said. “I challenged the team to show anyone who thought we were one-dimensional and a one-man team that they were wrong and, so far, they have done that.”

Life without Gillies has not stopped this year’s goal machine from working. Eight have been scored in the last four since, which may not prevent their chances of success, according to Taylor’s philosophy. “Football is about the work of a team, not an individual,” he said.

The Lilies have 14 players currently occupying the first-team, with “five or six” other names trying to break into the side, so the Chatteris man is not short of options. But one thing that the ex-Doddington United boss wants to see is “the players playing with a smile”, which might be a guarantee if his players continue to improve.

Another of Taylor’s aims is to “inject enthusiasm back in the local community and increase the support.” Home form has been a reason to believe this as 12 victories from 14 in league and cup, plus 44 strikes, may tell the people of Chatteris what they are missing.

Having not recorded a home defeat since the opening day, Taylor is turning West Street into a fortress, which could prove vital for the Lilies’ hopes of success. But with potentially 20 fixtures still to play, glory could well be a larger uncertainty.

COMMENT: What more can be done?

If spirited comebacks and battling performances counted for victories, Chatteris Town Under 18’s would currently be in a very promising position. But a winless league season was compounded by an agonising penalty defeat in the Youth Cup to local rivals March Town United U18’s, after a thrilling 4-4 draw where 120 minutes of pure effort did not disappoint the West Street crowd.

From now, though, what can The Young Lilies do to end their unfortunate campaign on a high?

Scoring goals does not seem to be the main issue, but conceding is a weakness. Although Julian Young’s team have netted 12 in the last five league and cup games, they have leaked 16, which has to be improved upon if they want to finish on a positive note. Compared to the 48 conceded in the league alone so far, the award for the worst backline might not be a way off. Strengthening on defensive frailties may not be considered as important as attacking threats, but in Town’s case, this should be valued as a key aspect to be worked on.

Consistent skill and quality. Seen in some instances, but not enough shown. Even though there have been some bright sparks that light up the play, there is still a dull patch that has overshadowed the youth team’s displays this term. To compete with the rest, there has to be a mentality to prove your worth, which is something that has been uncommon on the pitch for many. Teamwork is vital in football, at any level, but this seems to be a long-term struggle, with most players on different wavelengths and sometimes out of position. Three points cannot be achieved if a team does not regularly play like one.

The desire to win should boil within every player who steps onto a football pitch. In the cup, this was clearly apparent; winning tackles, getting stuck in where it matters. In the league, it’s a different story. Not because of their position in the table, but seeing the general attitude of the side. Even when fighting to stay in the match or for a point, the belief does not seem to be shown, and this has to be a commodity if Young’s men are to come back stronger.

If something will be won for Chatteris Town Youth this year, it should be the enjoyment of victory, not the wooden spoon.