Wokingham & Emmbrook FC will make title race interestingBy Adam Lee
April 18, 2012
Wokingham & Emmbrook will not roll over for this weekend’s title-chasing opponents Oxford City Nomads, manager Roger Herridge has promised.
Oxford City travel to Larges Lane on Saturday (3pm kick-off) probably needing at least a point to secure the Hellenic Premier Division title.
The only side that can realistically catch them, Shortwood United, needed to beat Wantage Town last night and then need to win against Shrivenham tomorrow evening to give themselves a chance of winning the title.
Failure to take maximum points in either of those matches will hand the league to Oxford City, but should the hunt go to the wire, then Herridge has promised to make things as difficult as possible for Saturday's opponents.
And although Herridge is likely to field a patched-up side, Wokingham’s record against the top teams in the league still makes them a difficult prospect for Oxford City.
“We owe it to Shortwood to make sure we put out a strong team on Saturday,” he said.
“I would much rather Oxford came to us with something to play for rather than it be a meaningless game and I would expect Shortwood to win their games this week and then who knows what will happen.
“Oxford have good players who keep the ball well, and they also have goals throughouit their side – their goals record is frightening.
“We will have to be compact and be hard to break down, but we have plenty of pace in our side and we can counter-attack quickly.
“We have to expect them to have an awful lot of possession so it’s important we press in the right areas.
“We had a good game with them earlier this season where they only won by a last-minute goal so they will know not to take us for granted.”
Shortwood have played an amazing 17 games in the past seven weeks, but have still managed to keep the title race open, as well reaching the Hellenic Floodlit Cup final, which they lost 2-0 to Binfield on Thursday night.
And, having been such good ambassadors for the league this season, most notably in the FA Vase, Herridge believes the Hellenic bigwigs should have given them a respite and played last week’s final at the end of the season.
The Wokingham boss has therefore promised to do everything he can to make sure the title race remains interesting.
“The guys at Shortwood know that I won’t be going out to give Oxford an easy ride,” he said.
“Shortwood is such a well-run club with good people, good management and good players and if anyone is geared up to playing at a higher level than it is them.
“It would certainly be fitting if Shortwood went on to win the league and we will be doing everything we can to help them out.
“That is no detriment to Oxford, though, as they are a very good side as well.
“Sides that have success in the league tend to face what Shortwood currently are facing in that they are playing catch up with their games.
“I don’t think the Hellenic League have helped Shortwood out in recent weeks. They have flown the flag for the Hellenic League an awfully long way in the FA Vase and the league could have been kinder to them.
“It seems strange that both them and Binfield were made to play a cup final on Thursday rather than at the end of the season.”
Herridge faces serious injury concerns ahead of Saturday's showdown.
Although Tom Hopper, Dean Thomas and Luke Lee are expected to return, doubts still remain over the fitness of Matt Jones, Ashley Mitchell, Nicky Bateman, Adam Cornell and Daniel Collier.
Meanwhile, Sam Whiting has broken his fibula, but will not require surgery.
He is expected to make a recovery in six weeks and should be fit again for the start of the new season.
n WOKINGHAM & Emmbrook’s Reading Senior Cup semi-final with Flackwell Heath will take place on April 28 at a neutral ground.
They will play the winners of the other semi-final, between Highmoor Ibis and Woodley.