Avoiding relegation is the only thing on our minds right now, and we’ll be doing everything we can to make that happen, vows Phoenix Sports Reserves manager Del Oldfield

Friday 22nd February 2019

PHOENIX SPORTS Reserves manager Del Oldfield says he has been given a target of escaping relegation by the club.

The club are second-from-bottom in the Southern Counites East Football League First Division table, having banked 17 points from their 22 games, two points clear of Rochester United, who have a game in hand.

Oldfield’s men extended their winless run to five games in all competitions after coming away from FC Elmstead with a 2-2 draw last weekend.

“After being 2-0 down at half-time, we showed great character to come back and draw the game and maybe could have gone on and won it,” said Oldfield, who is the manager of the only reserve side in the division.

“We had enough chances at the beginning of the game to have been out of sight before they actually scored, but it’s been a common theme with us this season where we start well and then teams figure us out a bit and capitalise on our naiveties as a young side.

“Then we’re battling to get back in the game, which we haven’t always been able to do.  It was a good point though, so we were happy with that.”

Seventh-placed side Stansfeld are the visitors to the Mayplace Ground tomorrow.

“Stansfeld are a club that I have a long association with, knowing many involved with the club for many years now, and I’m looking forward to welcoming them all and catching up,” said Oldfield.

“They’ve had a good season so far and if they’d had more positive results in the eight that they have lost, then they would be up there challenging for the title, so they are not a team to be taken lightly.

“I’m fully aware of their strengths, playing style and key men but knowing about them and then combatting them are two completely different things.

“They have weaknesses too - like we all do - and we’ll be doing our best to try and exploit those and try and get something out of a game.”

Reflecting on his side’s league position, Oldfield said: “From the outside and to any other club in the division, our league position doesn’t look great – but considering the average age of the squad and their lack of experience at senior level, I don’t think we’ve done too badly - and probably won more games already than most would have had us down for.

“Of course, there’s a serious threat of relegation and we are doing everything that we can to avoid that, but perspective is also needed.

“I was given two main targets at the beginning of the season, one being to try and avoid relegation and the other to try and get players ready to step up to the first team when needed, which we have done to great affect as nine or 10 of the squad has played a small part in some way already this season.

“When you look at it, we’ve decided to do this little experiment at a time when the division is probably the strongest it’s been as a whole for a long time. Especially where quite a few clubs are paying half decent money for the level, and we aren’t going to be able to attract more experienced players with anything other than a pathway into the Bostik League with our first team.

“So again, when you put things into perspective, we do have to be quite proud of the work we’ve done up to now.

“Avoiding relegation is the only thing on our minds right now, and we’ll be doing everything we can to make that happen, but we are under no illusions how tough these last two months of the season are going to be.“

Sam Fitzgerald and Ryan Solan are still unavailable due to suspension but both will be back in contention from next Saturday.

Oldfield added: “Oliver Andrews is also still unavailable after suffering a broken hand in our game against Welling Town at the turn of the year, but he has resumed training this week and should return to playing in the next week or two. Everybody else is available, apart from those that may go with the first team.”

Visit Phoenix Sports’ website: www.phoenixsportsclub.co.uk

Phoenix Sports Reserves  v  Stansfeld
Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Saturday 23 February 2019
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Mayplace Road East, Barnehurst, Kent DA7 6JT