NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Derby success, regaining fitness and new recruits just some of the ideas on Taylor’s pre-season wish list

Chatteris Town boss Ashley Taylor believes his side can reign victorious on rival territory as they begin their pre-season campaign tomorrow.

The Lilies tackle March Town at The GER on Thursday (7.45pm kick-off) in the annual Bill Salisbury Memorial Cup fixture, their first test of a five-match friendly programme, in which they seek to reclaim the prestigious trophy back from the Hares after losing 1-2 at West Street last summer.

Taylor’s men have only had three training sessions since completing their return season in the Kershaw Premier Division in May, but he feels this is not a major issue against higher opponents.

“I’m optimistic and will always go into a game believing we can win”, Taylor said.

“March are a few weeks ahead of us in terms of preparation, but the lads have kept themselves in good shape.

“It would be nice to win the cup for Bill Salisbury’s family and if we do win, it will be good for our confidence with March being higher-level opposition.”

Activity off the field is in full flow for Town, having lost two star players from last season in Craig Gillies and Aidan Hollis to King’s Lynn Town and Wisbech St Mary respectively in recent weeks.

We are looking at all options right now – Ashley Taylor

And Taylor is committed to looking far and wide to replace them, but also wants to utilise pre-season for other reasons.

He said: ‘The main aim is match fitness, but also cohesion in the team, working on patterns of play and building team spirit.

“It (Gillies’ and Hollis’ presence) impacts how we used to play, but we are looking at changing the way we play this season and if we get things right, we will be fine.

“We will be looking to improve our squad in defence, midfield and attack.

“I would like to bring in three new players, but this is never easy with a lot of competition to sign new players.

“We are looking at all options right now.”

Pre-season training for the Reserve Team has began, while sessions for the A Team get underway tomorrow.

Reserve Team sessions run every Monday and Wednesday from 7pm at West Street, with A Team sessions, from tomorrow, running every Tuesday and Thursday thereafter, same time and venue.

New and current players are all welcome.

Friendly schedules for both sides have yet to be confirmed.

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MATCH REPORT: Second-string put to the sword by the champions

This final may have been judged as an easy victory for the Mead Plant & Grab 1B champions, and the predictors weren’t wrong.

A first-half that the Lilies’ second-string could have prospered in if it wasn’t for too many instances of dispossession and missed opportunities in the final third, not just conceding two goals in two minutes against a well-drilled Huntingdon United outfit.

Lilies front-man James Harness perhaps should have given the underdogs an early lead, but his first touch was uncontrolled.

It may well have been a different story if it wasn’t for Reserves’ goalkeeper Ryan Rayner clutching with ease on the line, a sign of things to come.

Lively winger Jermaine Watson had his low effort saved well by competent goalkeeper Jamie Crook, but the deadlock was swiftly broken as the Lilies’ back-line failed to stop a Carl Foreman dribble from the left that was tapped in underneath the diving Rayner on 24 minutes.

The advantage was soon doubled as Joe Bennett tapped in at the back-post a couple of minutes later as the Lilies were carved apart once more, this time on the right before a back-post cross to the unmarked forward.

A flurry of near-miss chances was displayed, particularly for Harness, who was unlucky to not receive better service in and around the opposition penalty box from those around him.

Reserves head-coach Benji Brittin would and possibly should have installed some belief into his players at the interval, but that seemed to have been a bygone.

Striker Dom Everett enhanced the champions’ lead soon after the restart with a well-taken finish past Rayner to some of the crowd’s delirium, after winning a one-on-one encounter with the unfortunate Lilies ‘keeper.

Any hopes of a comeback were finally dashed via a deflected free-kick from distance on 79 minutes, leaving Rayner helpless at his top-left corner to make it two for Foreman and four for Huntingdon.

The league winners showed their superiority, not just in attack, but at the back, thwarting any possible chance their opponents might conger up.

Brittin’s men searched for an opening with sparks of forward-thinking play and midfield surges from the likes of substitutes Mason and Goodger, but to no avail.

Substitute Scott Lindsay then added a fifth at the death to put the cherry on top of the champions’ cake to make it a perfect evening for his team and an even more dire night for the Lilies.

But they can hold their heads high after a determined effort, the difference in class finally paying off. For the winners, it’s a league and cup double, but for the losers, it’s back to the drawing board on Saturday.

 

Chatteris Town Reserves head-coach Benji Brittin said:

“I’m totally devastated with the result. I think 0-5 was a justified result. We gave it away sloppily at the back and we weren’t drilled enough. We were beaten by a lot better side and quite rightly so, they’re the league champions.

“They all believed they were still in it at half-time, we were still in it and the next goal was crucial and unfortunately, they took it. We didn’t give up, we kept battling, but they were a quality team and they were up for it on the day.

“The heads are down so we’ve got to pick them up and we’ll go from there. We’ve got Houghton & Wyton at home this weekend so hopefully we’ll take this into it.

“There’s a couple of things we need to work on, but it’s a very down team at the moment and we’ll move on and learn from this. This is a good learning curve.”

Chatteris Town Reserves: Ryan Rayner, Jacob Butler, Matthew Eggleton (sub Dodman, 70’), Tony Brown, Dean Saunders (sub Richard Salisbury, 70’), Jermaine Watson (sub Brittin, 83’), Liam Birch (sub Scott Goodger, 53’), Paul Rowell © (sub Will Mason, 20′), James Harness (sub Craig Gillies, 53’), Josh Dodman (sub Brandon Ransome, 53’), Josh Brittin.

Ratings: Chatteris Town Reserves – Rayner 5, Butler 5, Eggleton 5, Brown 6, Saunders 5, Watson 6, Birch 5, Rowell 5, Harness 4, Dodman 5, Brittin 5. Subs: Mason 6, Goodger 5, Ransome 5, Gillies 5, Salisbury 4.

Referee: Jordan Marin – 7

PREVIEW: “The pressure is on them” ahead of second-string’s tough cup test

If Chatteris Town Reserves do reign victorious, they could become an opponent’s worst nightmare.

That’s the view of head coach Benji Brittin as his side prepare for their eagerly anticipated Creake Charity Shield final against unbeaten opponents in newly-crowned Mead Plant & Grab 1B champions Huntingdon United tomorrow evening (7.30pm at March Town FC).

And although the Lilies’ second-string may be judged as the firm underdog in this contest, Brittin believes there is a strong sense of optimism in and around his players.

“The squad and I are very confident going into this one”, he said.

“I feel now is the time to shine, step up and show me and the club that Chatteris Town Reserves are a team to fear.

“The players are getting back to full fitness and if we win, I feel confidence will rocket through the team.”

It hasn’t been the greatest run of form, however, picking up just one win in the last three league games, the latest setback coming in a 1-1 home point with mid-table Fenstanton.

But even though Brittin’s men haven’t been as prosperous as hoped lately, he thinks the pressure will all be on the opposition.

“To be fair, the pressure I’m sure is on them”, he insisted.

“They will not want to lose a game all season, so they will be going for it, which could prove to be their downfall.

“We are at full strength unlike when we first played them (in a 1-2 league defeat in December), so I’ll use our fresh legs and strength to give them a battle.

“We gave them a fright that day with an under-strength side and I know their weaknesses this time, so let’s see if our tactics pay off.”

 

 

Second-String Semi not to be missed, according to Reserves’ chief

Chatteris Town Reserves boss Benji Brittin believes his side’s cup tie versus local rivals March Town Reserves this Saturday is a game that should not be missed.

The Lilies take on The Hares in their rearranged North Cambs Junior Cup semi-final at West Street (3pm kick-off), and Brittin is optimistic for his team after coming off the back of five wins in the last six games.

“Our confidence is high, along with the desire to win”, he said.

“The team is getting together, they are believing in themselves and the hunger amongst the lads is brilliant.

“The lads are fired up and a semi-final against our greatest rivals is even better for their confidence.”

Brittin’s men have already reached one cup final in the Creake Charity Shield, beating their visitors’ conquerors in the last four, Duxford United, but this won’t act as a major distraction for the game ahead, according to the head-coach.

“Nothing seems to distract the lads”, Brittin said.

“The players believe they can go on a good run in both league and cup, and because our strength and fitness is getting better each game, anything is possible now.

“We’ve achieved one of our aims in reaching a cup final, which is what we as a team set out to do at the start of the season.

“Reaching a second final would show how well the players have progressed as a team and as a club, and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved so far.”

The lads take every game like it’s their last

The ‘second-string derby’ has not been too kind to the side from West Street, having only won twice in the last five meetings in all competitions.

Their opponents, meanwhile, have won eight of their 12 away encounters this season and lie second in the Mead Plant & Grab 1B standings, with four wins in their last five league fixtures.

But Brittin still remains confident his team will be unscathed by the opposition.

“The lads take every game like it’s their last, they all want to win and nothing is going to get in their way.”