COACHES’ CORNER: Tim Flowers Previews Needham Market

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Ahead of Saturday’s league match, at home to Needham Market (3:00 KO), manager Tim Flowers has spoken about last weekend’s game, the opposition’s strength, our squad, and Sporting’s tremendous following with Non League Day in mind…

“I thought the Berkhamsted away game was one we dominated for pretty much most of it. We had the lion’s share of possession, chances, crosses into the box and entries into the final third. Whatever category you want to look at, we were the better side but, as I said after the game, you cannot make individual errors like we’ve done. On reflection, the first goal, it wasn’t a foul but even so, it was a couple of yards outside the box so the referee gave a penalty kick for something that was well outside the box.

That was a poor goal regardless, but Dave (Solademi) has won the ball, so I can’t really criticise him for that. The second goal was a calamity and there again, we press and press, it’s corner after corner, restart after restart, Billy (Shaw) scores a great goal with a fantastic strike, but it’s too little too late.

In terms of Needham, I’ve seen their game against Barwell, which was the same day we played at Berkhamsted. They’re not eight clear in the league for no reason. They’re the best team in the division, they’ve got the best defensive record, they’ve got the second best offensive record and they’ve only lost three games this season – so they’re a very good side.

They’ve been together quite a while; when I look at the names, there was a lot of the lads that were playing when I was at Stratford that are still playing now, so they’ve obviously been together a considerable amount of time. In that time, they’ve had a good FA Trophy run, where I remember them playing Stockport at home in the 2021/22 quarter final.

They’ve got good players and lads who are in the goals up top, so we’re going to have to be at our very best. But, if this league tells you anything, it’s that anyone can beat anyone on a given day, so we’ll clearly be setting our stall out to try and get a result.

I believe we’ve got some good players as well; I happen to think they’re better than they do. Sometimes, there is a lack of confidence, and there shouldn’t be, because those players have picked up 7 points out of the last 12 for us and that would have them, in a four game season, in a decent position in the league, so they’re doing alright.

Can we get better? 100%. We need to improve, but we’ve got seven games left. I’ve come in with 11 games left and there’s still a lot of work to do. We’re by no means safe – we’re eight points clear of Sudbury, but they’ve shown they can pick up results, so we have to make sure we get our own end of the bargain sorted out. We’ve got three really tough games coming up, starting with Needham, followed by Coalville away and Telford at home over the Bank Holiday.

These are real tough, which is why it would have been terrific to have hung onto the win here against Berkhamsted and got the point that we, at least, deserved down there… but we didn’t, so we’ve still got work to do.

Miro (Pais) comes out of suspension this weekend; he’s a really good player and he gives you a real good option in a number of positions up the top end of the pitch. Keanu (Cooper) trained this week, so he’s okay. With Miro coming back in, we’ve got a team, a bench, and one extra as it stands.

There’s a limit to how many bodies you want floating around, but you’ve also got to be mindful of the magic date – Thursday coming – where you can’t do any business at all after that. So, any injuries or whatever, you’ve got to make sure that you’re covered, so it is something that I’ve got in the back of my mind and I’ll speak to the chairman about it but we’re obviously not made of money either. We have got a budget clearly and it’s something I don’t think the chairman and executive board want me going over.

We’re in the middle of an absolute rats nest of clubs round here – even in our league, within a square 25 miles, you’ve got so many clubs. This is a traditional, big non-league club. Our supporters turn out and they always come. I know, if we get some results together, they’ll come and support us and back us like my very first game against St Ives, which was a great atmosphere. If we could replicate that, when we’ve got top of the league coming to town, then it’s the more the merrier.

If they could come and get behind the lads, then it gives us all a big lift – the players, the staff, everyone. That kind of atmosphere against St Ives was fantastic and we’re giving it everything we can possibly give as a group of players and staff to try and get this club over the line and sorted out for next season. It’s the sooner the better in terms of that, and the more they can get behind us, hopefully the quicker it can happen.”

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