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Dean Brennan's Pre-Match Thoughts

Ahead of Wealdstone’s FA Trophy opener against Royston Town on Saturday afternoon, Dec O’Reilly spoke to Dean Brennan to gather the manager’s thoughts ahead of hosting the Crows at The Vale.

Squad update…

“Cookie [Jacob Cook] wanted to play at the level [National League South] and we had an agreement with Billericay [Town] when we signed Michee Efete that he wouldn’t play against Billericay. We’ve reversed that now so Cookie [Jacob Cook] could go there [Billericay Town].

“He [Jacob Cook] knows Gifton [Noel-Williams], Dejon’s dad, really well and trains with him during the day so that’s the link there. That clause with Michee [Efete] has been wiped away and he can play against Billericay for us now.

“Shep [Jake Sheppard] needs games and needs minutes. His fitness levels at Dorking [Wanderers away] were poor; Hughesy [Paul Hughes, Hayes & Yeading Manager] took him off at half-time because he had a migraine on Saturday.

“Hayes [& Yeading] have a lot of games coming up because of their FA Cup run, so it’ll be good for [Jake] Sheppard to get some minutes. It’s good for all parties because Hughesy [Paul Hughes] gets a high quality player to add to his squad and a player we really like can get some game-time.

“Affie [Afolabi Coker] has had a stop-start season, but he has a great attitude. The two centre-halves [Jerome Okimo and Connor Stevens] have been outstanding for us, so it’s been hard for Affie [Afolabi Coker] to get in. When he did get his start when Connor [Stevens] was injured [against Eastbourne], the game got called off so he’s been very unlucky.

“[Fumnaya] Shomotun has come in and is way behind on fitness. He’s been out for a while with an injury so we’re hoping he can get some game-time on Tuesday [against Hayes & Yeading]. We can see he’s got magic in his boots but he’s got to get fit.

“The key for [Fumnaya] Shomotun is that he has to make a major personal sacrifice now if he wants to get back into full-time football to get himself as fit as possible. He’ll need to be able to do several sprints with and without the ball in our squad with the way we play, if he can do that [then] there’s no doubt he can be a player that can kick-on.

“George [McLennan] looks like he’ll return in the New Year. We had an update on Oxo [Aston Oxborough], we’re hoping he’s only six weeks away [and] everything is going smoothly with him.

“Kav [Kavan Cotter] is out on the pitch jogging and doing work with the physio. [Ryan] Sellers could be back in December.

“Everyone else trained really well on Tuesday night, it was a really competitive session. It will be lighter on Thursday night because it was so competitive and we trained for two hours [on Tuesday].

“We had a little conversation between us as a group and what’s important is after Saturday’s defeat [at Hampton & Richmond], we'll dust ourselves down and make sure we respond like we have done to defeat.”

On Royston Town…

“A lot of their players have played at this level, they have got a lot of experience and have really good resources for that division [BetVictor Southern Premier Central]. They have an experienced manager [Steve Castle] and an ambitious chairman [Steve Jackson] so it’s not going to be an easy game.

“They are in good form, they lost last Saturday [at Barwell] and that was their first loss in six games, they’ve been winning regularly. They have good speed on the flanks, [Matt] Bateman has scored some goals for them this season, I know Adam Watkins personally from his Luton Town days.

“Ben Martin, [Daniel] Brathwaite, there’s Ed Asafu-Adjaye who’s played for me [at Hemel Hempstead], they’ve got deep experience and good players. I’m happy the draw is at home but it’s going to be a really difficult game.”

On Royston’s form…

“I’ve been to Barwell with Hemel [Hempstead] in the Southern League and that’s one horrible place to go; it’s a really tough place to go and get a result there. The scouting report said they were in the game for the majority of the ninety minutes [and] things went against them in that fixture [down to ten-men].

“They are a good side and in the cup you need the luck. Luck went against us in the FA Cup across the two games against Maidenhead with [Jacob] Mendy’s red card and the offside goal, you do need the breaks in the cup but you have to earn and create your own luck.

“We have to make sure our work ethic when we’re on the front-foot stops them playing, we need to do that a bit better and we need to get back to earning clean sheets. We spoke about that last [Tuesday] night in training on how we do that and we worked on how we do that, I’m hoping we can start getting clean sheets again but it’s not easy.”

On the possibility of an FA Trophy run…

“We have to take it one-game at a time, we can’t look that far ahead and start dreaming, we’ll go one-game at a time and respect the opposition. I’ve won it as a player in 2005 with Grays [Athletic] at Villa Park, that game was so tight and we were short favourites to win [and] we had to win on penalties.

“We had a really strong squad [at Grays Athletic], Gary Hooper, Mitchell Cole, Stuart Thurgood, myself, Johnny Nutter, Ashley Bayes, Jamie Stuart, Lee Matthews and that was our team that day. We went into the final against Hucknall strong favourites, when I look back at that game it could have gone the other way.

“You need luck, you need breaks and you can only take it one-game at a time. It’s an unbelievable trophy, I remember that weekend like it was yesterday, it was a fantastic weekend. We had to wait three weeks to play the final, we had to go to Spain and play some friendlies against Spanish sides to prepare.

“These are the memories that these type of trophies give to you if you do well in them, they are dreams as well. To make the dream come true, you have to work extremely hard and much harder than the opposition. We have to be right on the front-foot from minute one and every penny that comes in helps the football club.”

On bouncing back from last Saturday…

“It’s important for any team that wants to be a good team to bounce back after defeat. From our last league defeat [against Havant & Waterlooville] we picked up seven points and from our previous defeat [against Dulwich Hamlet] we won nine on-the-bounce.

“We’ve shown good responses to defeat and we’re not afraid of getting beat, it will happen to us. I would like a clean sheet [on Saturday], but in the cup you just have to win, that’s all that matters in the cup, it’s all about victory.”


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