Cornard United finally taste victory after 315 days

CHRIS Symes believes a week away gave him the clarity needed to mastermind Cornard United’s first win after a grim run of 16 straight defeats.

Having not tasted victory since last October, United started the season with four defeats to leave them rooted to the bottom of the Thurlow Nunn League First Division – the only side not to register a single point thus far.

The FA Vase provided no form of escape last week when Haverhill Rovers hit 11 goals past them without reply.

But after a period of soul-searching from Symes, and his players having their own heart-to-heart, Saturday’s final scores included something that had been missing for 315 days – a Cornard win.

Eddy Butcher’s solitary goal shortly after half-time was enough to give United the victory in the First Division Knock-Out Cup over Stowmarket Town – and leave Symes a relieved man.

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“We got beat 11-0 by a good Haverhill side and everyone was very down. I went away to the Isle of Wight for a week and got a clear view of what to do. I decided to change virtually everyone around and it worked.

“At the same, my players got together and had a heart-to-heart and gave me a list of things to do – but I threw that in the bin,” joked Symes.

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After 18 years with the West Suffolk side, Symes has experienced both highs and lows , but it has been too many of the latter in recent seasons.

He said: “The problem is every time we get beat, we seem to lose another couple of players. We don’t pay our players so we can’t attract many, especially when they see the defeats. It is a vicious circle.

“We have had a fantastic youth side for the last five years but as soon as they are 18, they go elsewhere and get paid.”

Butcher’s winner offers some hope for the weeks ahead and while Symes would have preferred it to be a league match, he hopes the mix of relief and celebration will serve his side well.

He explained: “The victory was a big step in the right direction. There have been signs. We lost 2-1 at March before the FA Vase defeat and we should have got something out of that.

“There was a massive sense of relief. We would have preferred it to be a league match but a win’s a win and I am hoping it will give us the confidence to push on.”

Symes is still hoping to find a buyer for the club, admitting there are two interested parties with the matter currently in the hands of solicitors.

Until then, the one-man band – Symes is also chairman, secretary and groundsman – will continue to do all he can to get more points on the board.

He added: “We are just looking to keep our heads above water. Our first priority is always to remain debt-free and then to field a team.

“We make the best of what we have got though we have really struggled at times. Last Easter Monday, I was 10 minutes away from a match at Halstead when two of my players dropped out because they had to work.

“I had to pluck a player’s dad out of the crowd – but he turned out to be man of the match.”

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