Bishops Cleeve manager Stephen Cleal has called on his players to put their midweek cup disappointment behind them, ahead of Saturday’s visit of Hellenic Premier title rivals Brackley Town Saints to Kayte Lane.
The Mitres were beaten 2-1 in their Bluefin Sports Challenge Cup semi final against Almondsbury at Kayte Lane on Tuesday night and Cleal couldn’t hide his disappointment when talking to Severn Sport.
“It’s very disappointing to lose any game of football but we were poor on Tuesday night. Credit to Almondsbury though, they got their reward for working hard and caught us on the counter attack.
There were some things we did and some decision making, we just weren’t good enough all over the park.”
Before Tuesday night’s game you’d have to go all the way back to the 15th December 2018 for Cleeve’s last defeat – 1-0 away at Ascot United, but to some the Mitres are already at a disadvantage due to a fixture change.
Up until last weekend Bishops Cleeve were due to welcome Shrivenham to Kayte Lane, only for the fixture to be changed at the last minute and now Brackley Town Saints are the visitors. But Cleal has pointed out that his side’s preparation hasn’t been disrupted by the fixture change.
“I really struggle to understand how the fixtures are worked out! So far this season we have played Brimscombe & Thrupp twice in the first 6 games, Abingdon twice in a 7 day period and have played half a dozen teams twice and yet haven’t had to play sides like Flackwell Heath.
It’s crazy but you just have to get on with it. We haven’t allowed it to change our preparation that much. Obviously you know the different styles of play will be evident and how they line up is different but we have to concentrate on ourselves.”
Going into Saturday’s game Bishops Cleeve sit in 5th, with the weekend’s visitors two points ahead in 4th but at the time of writing Brackley Town Saints are playing at home against Virginia Water in their game in hand.
With Brackley potentially being 5 points ahead going into Saturday’s game, Cleal believes that his side are still in the running for the title along with Brackley, Ascot United, Brimscombe & Thrupp and Wantage Town.
“I expect Brackley to be 5 points clear of us by the time they arrive on Saturday so we’ve got to try and close the gap, otherwise it will be difficult for us to achieve what we wanted to do at the start of the season.
I had a points target in mind that I feel would be enough and to achieve that we can’t have many more slip ups! But there are between 21 and 36 points that the top five sides have to got to play for, we’ve got 33 ourselves so there is still lot’s at stake still.
Bishops Cleeve take on Brackley Town Saints in the Hellenic Premier at Kayte Lane on Saturday 16th February; kick off at 15:00
Check out this weekend’s football fixtures in and around Gloucestershire right here.