This weekend saw Longlevens make club history by appearing in the FA Cup First Qualifying Round for the very first time. With a number a teenagers in the matchday squad, 19 year-old Ollie Long continued to repay the faith shown in him by manager Craig Martin.
Long, who has worn the captain’s armband for the last three league games and for the second half of the previous round against Northwood, was given the captaincy against Portland United just minutes before kick-off after club captain Shaun O’Connor had to withdraw in the warm-up.
“Having the chance to play in the First Qualifying Round was special for all of the lads. Yes, we are all disappointed with the result and still feeling it now, especially when we know we were more than capable of winning yesterday.
“We just didn’t quite get going really, but regardless of the result we’re proud to have come this far” Long said.
A young Longlevens side – including four teenagers on the bench as well as the likes of Logan Roach, Long and Harry Emmett in the starting XI – played their part in a gripping and close cup tie in front of a bumper crowd at Saw Mills and Long told us that losing in front of such a big crowd was the most frustrating part of the day.
“It was great to have so much support from within the club as well as the community and it was great to see, as we don’t get to play in front of that many too often. It was a shame that we couldn’t get a win to show the youth teams that came along to experience a First Team game and everyone else who came down what we are all about after a good start to our season.”
It has been a remarkable start to the season for Long, who missed a lot of football in the previous 18 months due to a long term hip injury, but he has found himself as an integral part of Craig Martin’s squad and has drawn plaudits for his performances this season – in particular appearing in both the pre-season and August editions of the Severn Sport Team of the Month.
Now, after being rewarded with the captaincy in the last few games, Long is looking to put his injury troubles behind him and fulfilling his potential at Longlevens.
“Having a player like Shaun [O’Connor] out is a big loss as he is a top player for us and I was gutted for him that he couldn’t play yesterday, but being given the captaincy in his absence of course makes me proud that people value my efforts and think I’m capable. It’s something which I don’t let effect my game too much though, but it certainly gives me a boost.
“I don’t want to jinx it but it’s been great to start a season fully fit from a personal point of view. I’ve had a frustrating few years but now seems to be the time for me.
“I have also finally found a solid position playing centre half and I’m enjoying trying to improve every week. I personally feel like I’ve got a lot more to give and it will come with more games under my belt and hard work. As a team though we have started well in the league, especially after our struggles last season and we have picked up points and put in some good performances, especially with the amount of young lads in the side” Long added.
After their defeat in the FA Cup this weekend, Longlevens’ attentions turn to two local cup fixtures this week with Moreton Rangers heading to Saw Mills for a Banbury Litho Floodlit Cup tie and Newent Town the visitors in the FA Vase on Saturday 14th September.