I thought it would be good to put pen to paper given we don’t have a game until Boxing Day. Our form has improved recently with two much needed league wins to get us back on track. The mood was lifted a little with the win in the League Cup at Maldon to give us a home quarter final against Burgess Hill on 15th January and then, after another false start at Carshalton, came the hard- fought win at Bognor. We showed good signs of recovery that night with a hard-working performance. We rode our luck at times, but so did Bognor. We got ourselves back in to a top 5 position, albeit temporarily as teams around us continue to have games in hand.
I was pleased with the performance here against Harlow. The early goal settled us, and we played with more freedom as we managed to extend our lead. We need to maintain the standard we set in that game as we look to push on back into the top five. That remains our objective. Plenty to do still, but we are well set as we have just about reached the halfway point of the season. We need a good run of picking up points now as the league sorts itself out and takes on a more realistic look with games in hand being played.
The enforced break from league games has meant we have been able to get back to the training ground, and players have been able to rest niggling injuries. We have built a squad across the calendar year that we now feel is capable of challenging for promotion. We continue to need your support every week as we look to maximise the opportunity. It will be a rollercoaster I am sure, with a number of teams having the same ambition. We are in it together. Feel free to speak to me or any of the management team about the next half-season ahead. We are always available post-match, and there is also of course the opportunity for a discussion at the Supporters Society AGM on 24th January.
I said there would be changes to the squad as we look to improve the quality of what we have to help us push on. With that in mind, we added young forward Muhammadu Faal to the squad in time for the Bognor game. Mo was one of our summer targets, and it was pleasing that we could finally get him at this time. He will bring some attributes we currently don’t have in the squad, having lost Brandon Adams and Liam Hope. Brandon and his agent wanted to move away from the club, leaving us little say in the matter. Liam we have known for a while would be taking a break with overseas work commitments. He will return in the New Year. Liam as you would expect has been a model of consistency around the place. A great help and a role model to our younger players.
In addition, we also added defender Marc Weatherstone to the squad in time for the Harlow game. We have said for a while that we wanted to add some experience to the back four, and Marc brings that, particularly with his success as Dulwich Hamlet. He is a leader and an organiser, something we have missed this season. It meant we have lost Taofiq Olomowewe as we needed to balance the squad and the playing budget. “T” understandably wanted to play regularly and we could not guarantee that with players coming in to the club.
In other squad news, Lewis Taaffe has had an operation to remove his appendix after a recent bout of sickness. We hope to see Lewis back training in the New Year. He is a big miss for us. Mat Mitchel-King has now had an operation for bone graft surgery on his knee. As I mentioned in my last programme notes, Jack Hockney has had some bad news - he has a serious hip problem that will require surgery. A real blow for this young player and for us. We will of course support him, Lewis and Mat all we can. On the plus side, we hope to see George Quarrington-Carter return to training very soon after a knee operation. Elsewhere in the squad, as those of you that saw the Harlow game will know, we have recalled young forward Josh Davison from Barking, as well as Mason Tunbridge from Egham Town. Mason was all set for the Middlesex FA’s Under 18 County Youth Cup match at Liverpool on 8th December, but it was called off due to a waterlogged pitch at Walton Hall Park. The new date is set for 5th January, the day we face Lewes at the QEII Stadium, so all the best to Mason.
Have a great Christmas, and I hope to see as many of you who can make it at the home Wingate & Finchley fixture on Boxing Day at 1 o’clock. Your support for the team continues to be very important. At the risk of repeating myself, it lifts the players and does make a difference. If you can’t make Boxing Day I hope to see you at Potters Bar on 29th December.