3:29pm, Fri 13th Nov 2009
I spoke to Graham Baker earlier this afternoon for a quick update before tomorrowâ€™s game (weather permitting!) at Thurrock.
Graham is likely to have a full squad to choose from, with the only doubt resting on Tom Hutchinson, who has a tight hamstring. Joe McNerney is midway through his loan at Corinthian Casuals. Daniel Sintimâ€™s loan at Godalming Town is going to be extended for another month, with a continuing â€˜emergency call backâ€™ provision.
Graham is very much hoping that tomorrowâ€™s game will be on. He is keen not to miss a Saturday and is looking forward to the opportunity to play a side similarly challenging for a play-off place and, he hopes, to take three points off them.
Graham has been reflecting on Tuesday nightâ€™s performance against St Albans City. He doesnâ€™t think that the problem lay in team selection, pointing out that he brought back three players â€“ Sam Sloma, Luke Medley and Aswad Thomas â€“ who didnâ€™t play at Swindon and whose inclusion was sought by a number of fans. They were fresh but didnâ€™t play well and nor did any of the rest of the side with the exception, arguably, of Ross Worner but he too made a couple of serious errors towards the end. â€œWe started at a slow tempo and never picked upâ€�, said Graham. â€œEveryone â€“ whether they played at Swindon or not â€“ was â€˜flatâ€™. We didnâ€™t press the ball and no one came off the field with any credit. When everyone is below par you stand a very good chance of losing and thatâ€™s what happened.â€� Graham is aware of the criticism that he should not have changed both parts of the â€˜engineâ€™ room of Harry Arter and Mark Ricketts but believes that it was reasonable â€˜callâ€™ to select Jamie Hand, who was fresh, for this particular game alongside Jerome Maledon.
I asked Graham, finally, for his reactions to the FA Youth Cup draw, which would pitch the Youth Side at home to Chelsea if they were to beat Charlton Athletic at The Valley on Wednesday evening. â€œItâ€™s an amazing draw but the right thing is to focus on Wednesday. Beating Charlton Athletic away is a very tall order, so the players have got to concentrate on that game and not think beyond thatâ€�, he said.
13 November 2009