Moneyfields boss Carter hoping late escape could be a turning point in ‘car crash’ season
For Dave Carter, a point at home against top six opposition was a ‘small step’ in the right direction for Moneyfields.
But the manager is acutely aware that far bigger ones must be taken in the next few weeks in order to stave off the harsh reality of a Southern League Division 1 relegation scrap.
A 1-1 Dover Road stalemate with Paulton Rovers was only Moneys’ second point in six league games in 2020.
Yet Carter saw enough in the 90 minutes to feel his side’s luck has changed for the better.
A ‘car crash’ campaign has left the Portsmouth club - among the pre-season promotion favourites - third bottom.
Injuries, players leaving, bad weather, suspensions, missing penalties, conceding last minute spot-kicks, even cars breaking down en route to away games … a list of Moneys’ 2019/20 woes is a long one.
Hope, however, always springs eternal and a late double escape at the weekend could be a turning point.
Paulton’s David Sims-Burgess arrived at the near post to flick a cross against Max Flintoft’s crossbar and, in the follow-up, Sam Pearce cleared a Ryan Gay shot off the line.
‘A week before and that shot would have gone in,’ said Carter. ‘Hopefully our luck has changed for the better.
‘It’s a small step. We played well, and I felt we played well at Larkhall last Wednesday even though we lost.
‘But we do need to start turning these home draws into wins.
‘We’ve drawn at home to Thatcham, Frome, Cirencester, Bideford, Paulton … last season we’d have been winning those games.
‘I’m a big believer no team is too good to go down, and we’ve got some big games coming up we need to win.’
The first of those is against second bottom Barnstaple at Dover Road next Saturday. The Devonians are three points adrift of Moneys but have played four games more.
After a visit to Cirencester, Moneys have successive home games against two more teams in the bottom half of the table - Mangotsfield and Bristol Manor Farm.
Then, on Tuesday, February 18, Carter takes his men to rock bottom Basingstoke.
The Hampshire club are four points behind Moneys - they were three but had a point docked last week for fielding an ineligible player - having played a game more.
Only the bottom club will be relegated, so Moneys – with their games in hand – should survive. But it's still a world away from the successes of recent years.
‘This season’s been hard to take,’ Carter reflected. ‘Since I’ve been here the club’s always been on a high - we’ve always been progressing.
‘This year we’ve taken a step backwards, but from here if we can get ourselves into a mid-table position and get to a cup final I’ll be happy.
‘We’ve had to regroup a bit and we need to build our confidence. I’d say our confidence is in the middle at the moment,
‘We haven’t got the biggest squad and we haven’t got bundles of money to tempt players to join us.
‘I’ve found players are happy playing in the Wessex League rather than wanting to play at the best level they can.’