Felixstowe winning battle despite crippling injuries
FELIXSTOWE & Walton United appear on course to retain their Ridgeons League Premier Division status this season - despite the crippling injury list that has blighted their campaign.
Club officials have never known a season like it for the number of long-term injuries suffered by first-team players.
But back-to-back wins at Great Yarmouth and Newmarket, stretching their run to just one defeat in eight matches, has created some daylight between Felixstowe and the bottom three, and greatly increased their chances of playing Premier Division football next season.
The Seasiders’ renaissance has continued in spite of the staggering statistic of still not starting with the same side in consecutive matches - and fielding an unprecedented 41 players so far this season.
Joint manager Andy Clarke admitted: “It is incredible to think that we still have not put out the same XI two matches running.
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“However, instead of five, six or even seven changes that we were having to make earlier in the season, it is more a case of tinkering with one or two who have not been available.
“The guys that have come in have done very well, and at the moment we seem to have the mentality that we were not showing earlier in the season and are playing with more maturity.
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“We are not going gung-ho and doing the right things at the right times.”
Clarke said that key players such as defenders Matt Ryland and Miles Powell had been instrumental in the team’s revival following their return from injuries, while experienced midfielder Jay Denniss had improved with every game following his arrival from Needham Market.
He also had special praise for Jordan Matthews, who is the club’s leading scorer this season, and right back Arran Sheppard, who has got “better and better” in recent games.
Clarke said that the side’s battling qualities were evident in the 2-1 win at Great Yarmouth last Saturday and the 2-0 success at Newmarket on Tuesday.
“We deserved to win both games, but the two wins were not about the quality of football we played and more about our desire, attitude and work-rate and our will not to lose.”
Two Allicion Blake goals inside the opening quarter of the match paved the way for the three points at Great Yarmouth, while Matt Mackenzie’s fifth minute opener put Felixstowe in the driving seat at Newmarket.
Clarke conceded: “Against Newmarket we had a couple of chances to kill the game off and didn’t take them, and they had a couple of penalty appeals that on another day may have been given - we are getting the rub of the green that we were not getting earlier in the season.”
Blake added a fine solo effort two minutes from time to wrap up the points and put Felixstowe in good heart for Saturday’s visit to CRC.
Liam Jones (broken leg) Oct 2 - March 1
Jamie Waters (thumb ligaments) October 13 - November 6
Dan Heath (ankle ligaments) February 22 - still out
Matty Ryland (ankle ligaments) September 25 - October 19; (later found as fracture) November 13 - January 1
Dan Davis (ankle ligaments) November 6 - January 1
Liam Butcher (calves) October 10 - still out
Miles Powell (hematoma) January 22 - March 1
Tom Agricole (groin) February 5 - March 12
Jordan Mathews (ankle) September 4 - September 25; (hamstring) October 13 - November 6
Ben Garnham (ankle ligaments) March 15 - still out
Allicion Blake (groin) August 24 - November 13
Roger Burton (hamstring) September 18 - October 16
Karl Andrade (groin) November 2 - February 1; (thigh) March 5 - still out
Reece Turner (groin) October 19 - December 11; (hamstring) December 11 - just returned to reserves.
Plus minor injuries to Kristian Haighton, Tommy Smith, George McCallum and Alex Ellwood.