Consistency is key as Horndean chase top-six place

Jack Maloney
Jack Maloney
Alfie Rutherford. Picture: Habibur Rahman

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A WIN against Cowes Sports at Five Heads Park can see Horndean march into the top six of the Wessex League premier division.

Michael Birmingham’s side bid to build on their excellent 3-1 home win against Brockenhurst in midweek.

The Horndean boss accepts his side is still a work in progress but insists they are getting better and better.

‘We were tremendous against Brockenhurst, showing an unbelievable desire and enthusiasm,’ said Birmingham.

‘They put in an unbelievable shift, the challenge now is to make it back-to-back wins.

‘If you seriously want to be a top six side in this league then you have to achieve a good level of consistency.

‘The win in midweek will mean little if we slip up against Cowes Sports.

‘We won’t be underestimating them because they are fighting for their lives at the bottom.

‘They also had a good cup win in midweek so they are a potential banana skin for us.

‘Games like these often boil down to having the right attitude and approach.

‘If our mindset isn’t right then we could easily get turned over.

‘We need to match our midweek performance and make sure we pick up the three points on offer.’

Birmingham is excited by the youth and enthusiasm in his side which allows them to play without fear.

Jack Maloney, 22, has proved a revelation in the Horndean ranks this season.

He can play wide on both flanks and has often been the leading playmaker in the side.

Often this season his ability to deliver a perfect pass has created chances for his fellow forwards.

His tendency to shift the ball quickly has presented opponents with all sorts of problems.

Maloney also showed what a cool customer he is with two successful penalties against Brockenhurst.

‘Jack has terrific vision and sees things way ahead of other players,’ said the Horndean boss.

Birmingham was also pleased to see central midfielder Jack Warren return from suspension.

‘Jack was immense and hunted the ball down from start to finish,’ said Birmingham.

‘He broke down numerous Brockenhurst attacks.

‘All the other players were able to feed off his determination.’

The home side have Ash Howes back from holiday but Charlie Walker is still out injured.

‘In our defeat at Sholing I felt we played more as individuals rather than as a team,’ said Birmingham.

‘I pointed this out to the players and they took it on board.

‘A lot of my team are still in the 18 to 23 age bracket and are still to mature as footballers.

‘They are showing signs of gaining greater maturity every game.

‘It makes them exciting to watch and scary to play against.

‘I am looking for us to break into the top six.’

Horndean: Price, Read, Sackman, Leigh, Wain, Howes, Richardson, Humble, Hookey, Warren, Smart, Duffin, Fancy, Heard, Tambling, Smith