Ashton & Backwell's season could "crumble" warns Jones

Tom Press scores for Ashton & Backwell against Cheddar

Tom Press opens the scoring for Ashton & Backwell in their 2-0 win over Cheddar back in February in the last meeting between the two sides. - Credit: Backwell Camera Club

Ashton & Backwell United manager Stuart Jones has warned their season could “crumble” and “could come to nothing” if his players haven’t looked after themselves over the course of the last four weeks, starting with Cheddar in the FA Vase this Saturday.

Callum Townsend heads home for Ashton & Backwell against Cheddar

Callum Townsend heads home to make it two for Ashton & Backwell against Cheddar back in February. - Credit: Backwell Camera Club

The Stags have endured a strong opening to the campaign after picking up 20 points from their nine games with six wins, two draws and one loss ahead of their tie at Bowdens Park.

“If you gauge our start to the season out of 10 I would have said it was between seven and eight,” said Jones.

“And the last two games (against Wells City and Hengrove Athletic) I have felt our performance was good but in terms of growth mindset it could have been better, we could have done more.

“If you had given me that at the start of the season I would have taken it. But on reflection we could have done more, which is good, because we haven’t peaked.


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“The worst thing would have been that we peaked in October. I was very pleased, there is room for improvement, which is a very good thing, so it leaves me very optimistic with the remainder of the season.

“The players will become the catalyst of how the remainder of the season evolves because their commitment over the last three-four weeks has to have been of a high level in terms of self discipline in order to come to terms with how we progress.

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“Our season could crumble, as well as everybody else’s, in four weeks because of the amount of games that have to be played. It’s been a really, really good start, by no means taking anything for granted.

"Our good start could come to nothing if the lads have let themselves go dramatically over the last four weeks.”

When asked if he had put in an exercise programme in place for his team over the last month, he added: “No, I’ve used it as a test. I’ve text them once or twice saying you need to do something boys, don’t sit around doing nothing, but I’ve used it as a test because now I can judge the players' character without them being able to blame anyone but themselves.

“When we go back I’ll be able to assess what the players actually want to do. Whether they want to do well, whether they want promotion by what they have been doing over the four weeks without any guidance.

“If the players have been drinking to excess and have done very little, he doesn’t want to be part of Ashton & Backwell going forward.

"If he’s been a doing a lot, looking after himself, drinking a little but not too much then obviously that’s the players we want at Ashton & Backwell. It's easy to blame a manager when he isn’t playing.

"But taking responsibility and asking himself do I want to do more? During this four-week lockdown I’m going to stay in that team, no one is going to shift me, I’m going to give myself the best chance, apply myself, do all the running, look after myself, enjoy myself at the right times or not.

“We are going to use this as a judging exercise in terms of how the players have looked after themselves and what they have done.”

But upon returning to training on Thursday, his side will have only 48 hours to prepare for Cheddar, which Jones admits puts his side into a “difficult situation” and “it goes against everything” but insisted they will “get on with it.”

FA Vase trophy

Ashton & Backwell have reached the first round since the 2013-14 season where they beat Westbury United and Keynsham Town in the first and second qualifying round before a 3-1 defeat to Brimscombe & Thrupp. - Credit: Archant

On Saturday A&B will be playing their first game in the first round of the FA Vase since the 2013-14 season, when they were knocked out by Brimscombe & Thrupp.

And after being given a bye in the previous round at Cadbury Heath, when The Heathens had to forfeit the match due to a small number of Covid-19 cases, Jones insists he is looking forward to taking on The Cheesemen.

“It’s a welcome distraction from a league point of view,” he said.

“It breeds confidence, keeps the spirits up and gives us another welcomed good distraction.

Newly appointed Cheddar manager Craig Mawford

Craig Mawford will take charge of his first Cheddar game against Ashton & Backwell, following the departure of Shaun Potter. - Credit: John Cuthbertson

“It gives us and Cheddar another opportunity to see how close we are to the teams in that division.

“Cheddar still remain a big scalp for everyone in the league. We still judge how good we are on how we come up against teams like Cheddar because they are still, I classify them as the benchmark, we want to do well to see how far and good we are.

“In terms of playing against teams like that, they are the games you want to play, the big games.

“They are the games you want to be involved in because people are going to be going back to it, Skyping or focusing on those types of games, Ashton & Backwell and Cheddar.

“The players are going to want stand up and be counted and be able to say 'I want to compete and do well at this level'.”

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