After the draw in Heathfield in November, we had a welcome week off from a match. First fixture in December was away at Dartfordians, where a win would keep us in contention with Dartfordians & Horsham for promotion to London SE 2. Defeat would create a cushion between us and them.
Preparations on matchday were disrupted due to a misunderstanding in the kick off time. In December kick off times are normally 2:15pm, but there was a new rule stating that the home team can decide to change the kick off to 2pm. We found this out at 1:30, so the warm up was a lot shorter than we wanted.
Not only did we lose the match 23-14 and went home without a league point, we lost 4 players to injury. The shortened warm up contributed to two of those injuries. I was very annoyed having gone 10 matches without an injury to 4 in one game, all of them backs.
The rest of December the light numbers in training was evident on the pitch as we finished the year with 3 consecutive losses. Big blow to our form and confidence but I was glad that christmas had arrived. The next match was on 3rd January at home to Welwyn who were doing well in their league. Admittedly I was frustrated at having a game on the 3rd because the player’s wouldn’t be conditioned after the christmas & end of year celebrations. And also because I wanted a longer break.
We won & came through with an injury to the captain which was frustrating as I didn’t know he was playing until I turned up. He hadn’t fully recovered from the first hamstring injury in early December, and rehab wasn’t full or consistent due to the christmas break.
The rest of January was extremely cold, so cold that the back 3 were shivering on the pitch when we played Hastings & Bexhill away. Numbers again were low but we managed to win every game. It wasn’t easy with regards to injuries to key players.
We pulled through February by winning the battle of Barnet Wood Road, just lost to Horsham in a bruising & exciting match, before playing in a mudbath & hurricane at Lewes and winning 5-0. Admittedly that day, I didn’t want to be standing on pitchside with a bag of ice. It was extremely cold and a very dull game which was playing on one end of the pitch due to the extreme wind!
We also beat London Exiles in the cup, a very talented side who were probably the best side I’ve seen us play in 3-4 seasons. This game took the free weekend up, another month without a break for the players.