Fleetlands boss Bessey: Wessex League promotion uncertainty is affecting cup performances

Fleetlands boss Rich Bessey admitted uncertainty over what division the club will be playing in next season has impacted performances in the L4 Teamwear Challenge Cup.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 4:06 pm
Fleetlands boss Rich Bessey. Picture: Tom Phillips

The Coptermen, along with Infinity, Bush Hill and Stockbridge, are hoping they could be promoted into the Wessex League from the Hampshire Premier League should non-league restructure plans be ratified by the FA Council.

But while they await confirmation over whether upward movement is passed and if an application for promotion proves successful, Fleetlands have struggled in a tough group in the HPL’s supplementary cup.

Bessey's side suffered their second 1-0 group defeat at Locks Heath last night, and have also drawn 0-0 with lower tier Moneyfields Reserves.

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Fleetlands now must win their final two group 7 games - at home to Moneyfields on Saturday and against Hayling United - to make it through.

Bessey believes his troops have struggled to match pre-lockdown performance levels because of uncertainty over whether they'll be playing Wessex League football in 2021/22.

He said: ‘I came to the club two years ago at the end of this month with a chairman (Iain Sellstrom) who’s got huge aspirations of climbing the leagues, and I bought into that.

‘Last season, we were on track for promotion and this season we’d lost one league game and we were scoring hatfuls of goals, then Covid struck again and the restructure news is out now and we’re obviously linked to a promotion.

'The lads have come back from four months out and they don’t really want to play the cup.

‘It’s nice that we’re together and it’s great from the social aspect, I really respect that, but I think their heads are elsewhere.

'We want to get out of the league, we want to get promoted, it’s a nothing cup - it’s good we’re playing - we’re sounding really negative because we’ve not performed in the cup.

‘We know if we want to climb these leagues we’ve got to perform at a better level than we are. But at the same time, with the greatest respects, if this was a cup with promotion at the end of it, or if this was a league campaign, the lads would be performing at a level we were before (season curtailment).'

But Bessey conceded there were no excuses for the showing served up by his players at Locks Heath last night.

Jordan Whiteley's second half penalty proved the difference as Fleetlands failed to find a way past Locks stand-in keeper Joe Boggild, who is usually a striker.

Bessey gave his side a dressing down after the final whistle.

'Our group was hard but we can still get out it if we win on Saturday and we win next week,’ he said.

‘The lads did not perform (against Locks), they know my feelings on it.

‘I told them my feelings after the game and I was very, very clear with them that if they don’t want to play in this cup then don’t play in it.

‘If they’re here and they’re playing in this cup then give 100 per cent because it was awful.

‘The abilities we’ve got are great but the levels that we brought to the table (at Locks) were poor.

‘We now go into the weekend making it extra hard for ourselves as Moneyfields Reserves is going to be a hard game.'