Westfield FC manager Tony Reid is hoping that his players can get back to business as usual this Saturday against Walton & Hersham, writes Andy Fitzsimons.
Following the postponement of last week’s Combined Counties League Premier Division fixture against Spelthorne Sports, The Yellows’ boss is hoping for another three points against his former club at Woking Park.
Reid, who spent just under two years managing The Swans between February 2014 and late 2015, does not see Saturday as a grudge match at all; instead, an opportunity for his side to keep up the pressure on title favourites Hartley Wintney.
Currently, Westfield lie second in the table; a mammoth 21 points behind their Hampshire rivals, but with three games in hand. And while Reid admits that Hartley Wintney are in the ascendancy, nothing is certain in football.
“As a manager, I’m not in the game to accept finishing second,” said Reid. “Yes, Hartley Wintney are quite a bit ahead of us, but anything can happen between now and the end of the season.
“My focus is solely on us winning games; and if we continue to do what we need to do, then the pressure is on Hartley Wintney to keep winning their fixtures. We’re still in January and there’s still plenty to play for.
“When I look back to when I first joined the club (Westfield) last season, we have come on a long way. I saw the potential in average-performing players to become good players, and good players capable of becoming even better players and playing in the Ryman League.
“I’ve been impressed with the players’ attitude and togetherness, and whilst there have been a couple of blips along the way, the lads have show real character,” he said.
Following The Yellows’ magnificent 10-match unbeaten run in the League at the start of the season, Reid believes that confidence rather than ability has been his players’ Achilles heel over the past couple of months. But it’s something that he is looking to put right.
“Sometimes the players need to believe in themselves at bit more,” explained Reid. “We’re second in the League for a reason – it’s not a fluke – we’ve got quality players for this level of football.
“The problem comes is that some players have not been in this position before, so it’s new territory for them, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t play at this level; they can and they are.
“My expectations are high – the players know that. Despite what some people think, the Combined Counties League is a hard league; only one team can get promoted for one, which makes it even harder.
“It’s about wanting to complete at the next level too and knowing what it takes to compete at that level. It’s very easy for players to come to me to say that they’ve played in the Ryman League (step 4 of the football pyramid), but there’s a bit difference to playing a handful of games in the Ryman League and playing for, say, two seasons solidly,” he added.
After losing to struggling Chertsey Town several weeks ago, Westfield were given, perhaps, the ultimate wake-up call. However, it’s one that Reid says his players have responded to well – having scored six goals on the road with only two in reply against an inform Hanworth Villa side and AFC Hayes.
He said: “After the Chertsey game, I had really strong words with the players; I didn’t hold back at. I told them that they were either onboard or not. Since then, the players have shown real character in the changing room and are notably playing with their heads up and enjoying their football.
“I am still looking to bring in another new face to help keep the players on those toes. However, we’ve been in good form since the turn of the New Year, so I believe now is as good a time as any to play against a Walton side, which have conceded the least number of goals in the League,” added Reid.
Westfield have yet to beat Walton & Hersham this season – having lost 1-0 in the preliminary round of Emirates FA Cup back in August – and drawing 2-2 with The Swans at Stompond Lane last month.